Club Filipina and Faculty Members Work to Raise Awareness, Support for Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

November 26, 2013

On the morning of Friday, November 8, one of the largest storms ever recorded in world history slammed into Visayas, the central region of the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, affected more than 11.3 million people—many of whom still need food or continue to be displaced from their homes. In the days immediately following the disaster, Wellesley’s Club Filipina started mobilizing efforts on campus to raise awareness about, and support, those affected.

Club Filipina, which has existed at Wellesley for nearly two decades, works to promote social, political, and economic awareness of the Philippines. On November 13, the club invited Alex Orquiza, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in American Studies, and Maria Dulce Natividad, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Women’s and Gender Studies, both of whom have personal and professional ties to the region, to speak at an event discussing the broader political context of the disaster and what’s missing from news coverage. 

Orquiza also explored this topic with the Wellesley Townsman in a recent article titled “Responding to Typhoon Haiyan.” Orquiza, a cultural historian who researches the 20th century American empire and Philippine history with a focus on the exchange of American and Filipino culture, told the Townsman that the news has been unable to fully capture the enormity of the situation and cost to the people of the region.

The Filipino government has been slow to respond, Orquiza said, tying into his focus on media coverage to information shared by Natividad. "The government would be capable of responding if it happened in Manila," Orquiza told the Townsman. However, the largest impact was in the poorest parts of the country and the lack of infrastructure has only slowed aid.

Alyssa Bacay ’14 and Nicole Francisco ’14, co-presidents of Club Filipina, with the other members of Club Filipina, have continued to work on their own response efforts and are now collaborating with family members in the Philippines to raise funds specifically for rebuilding homes. According to Bacay and Francisco, all money raised will go to the Knights of Columbus, an organization with many councils in the Philippines.

Bacay and Francisco expressed deep appreciation for the support they received from  Orquiza and Natividad along with administrative staff from other departments across campus. “Without their generous aid, we would not have had the opportunity to raise awareness about this storm, which has ravaged our beloved home country.”

Club Filipina, Professor Orquiza, and Professor Natividad have compiled a summary of information on the typhoon and on ways that the Wellesley community might wish to give towards the rebuilding and recovery of the Philippines. This information was also shared at a community vigil held on November 14 in Houghton Chapel, where the community came together to offer prayers and words of compassion and remembrance.