Even before Typhoon Haiyan had made its devastating landfall November 7 over the Phillipines, three UAA professors were watching and waiting anxiously for news. All three have family ties back to the islands.
The Philippines sees multiple typhoons every year and its residents know how to handle them, said Joy Mapaye, a professor in the Journalism and Public Communication Department. But this time, said Mapaye, there was something in her mother’s voice over the phone from Luzon that alerted her to the particular potency of this typhoon. “I’d never heard that tone in her voice before,” Mapaye said. “It scared me.”
Indeed, 10-minute sustained winds of 145 mph, with 1-minute peaks to 195 mph, made this storm unique. It was at full intensity when it hit the eastern Philippines, making it the strongest storm on record to make landfall. While more than 4,000 deaths have been recorded, numbers continue to climb. More fatalities are anticipated as the impact of disease and low or poor quality water supplies take hold in affected communities over the next weeks and months.
UAA professor Joy Mapaye at vigil Nov. 15, 2013 in The Den
UAA professor Joy Mapaye welcomed the UAA and Anchorage community to the vigil on Nov. 15, 2013.
Mapaye and public health professor Gabe Garcia of the College of Health and psychology professor E.J. David from the College of Arts and Sciences were in almost immediate contact by email and text message.
“It was a case of, ‘we care about this, so what are we going to do?’” David said. All three, along with their colleague Christine Marasigan, are founders of the Alaskero Partnership Organizers of UA. Local efforts to collect relief items will continue through Friday, Dec. 6, Mapaye said. Donation details are below.
The Alaskeros quickly connected with Father Luz Flores of the Holy Spirit Center in Anchorage and began organizing a UAA and UA effort to help, as well as link in with Anchorage-wide and statewide relief efforts. Communities in Kodiak, Dutch Harbor and Juneau are involved. “This is very much a statewide effort,” said Garcia.
The three professors and Marasigan quickly organized a community-wide vigil at UAA’s Den on Friday night, Nov. 15. About 60 people gathered to see news images from the hardest hit areas, to sing their national anthem and the Alaska Flag song, and to pray for victims and for all people moving in to help them.
Psychology professor E.J. David capture the vigil on video while public health professor Gabe Garcia provided a slide show of news images from the hard hit eastern Philippines.
Marasigan told the gathering that Alaska has 19,000 Filipinos, and more than 25,000 Filipino-Americans. This is the largest Asian Pacific Islander group here, according to U.S. Census data. The history between the Philippines and Alaska runs deep, as do contemporary connections.
E.J. David pointed out that the first Filipino arrived in Alaska in 1788. Mapaye said, “It’s been said before, but the Philippines greatest export has been its people.” To the three professors, this helps explain how and why the relief effort grew so quickly in Alaska. “Everyone knows someone from there, or has been there,” said Garcia.
Even among the three professors, connections run deep. David and Garcia attended the same elementary school in the Philippines. Garcia met Marasigan at UCLA when he was in the first year of his doctoral program there. Garcia’s wife comes from the same town as Mapaye’s father and where her brother was born. Garcia’s cousin has taken Mapaye’s classes and talked to him about them.
Anchorage community gathers at The Den to remember Typhoon Haijan victims.
Anchorage community gathers at The Den to remember Typhoon Haiyan victims.
“We are all so connected,” Garcia said. “That is how small the Filipino world is here in Alaska.”
All three said the response from UAA was overwhelming. They publicly thanked New Sagaya and Kaladi Bros. Coffee for their support and agreeing to be collection points for donated goods. At the vigil, Father Luz Flores said that DHL had donated shipping costs to get Alaska relief goods to the Philippines.
Below are the donation details supplied by Gabe Garcia to the UAA community:
Checks made out to “Catholic Relief Services”
Small household items (Small pots and kitchen utensils to help boil water and make food; camping gear essentials); blankets; clothes (especially for babies, toddlers, teenagers, adults)
DONATION DROP OFF POINTS:
You can also drop off donations to the Alaskero Partnership Organizers who work on campus. You can drop them off to Dr. E.J. David’s office at the Social Sciences Building Room 303F, at Dr. Joy Chavez Mapaye’s office at PSB-203, or at Dr. Gabriel Garcia’s office at Diplomacy Building, Ste. 405.
At Kaladi Brothers Cafe Brayton – community room
At Sagaya Midtown – 3700 Old Seward Hwy. Collection jars for cash and check donations will be at the registers
You can also donate online through the Catholic Relief Services website at: https://secure.crs.org/site/Donation2?df_id=6140&6140.donation=form1&s_src=home-page-interupt