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Local Filipino community aids typhoon victims

Filipino community members in Southern California are mobilizing relief efforts to send supplies and aid to areas in the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

With a population of more than 330,000, Los Angeles has the largest Filipino diaspora in the U.S. Given that the island nation in Southeast Asia remains constantly vulnerable to fierce storms like Haiyan, regular or annual fundraising efforts will often allocate some of the proceeds for potential disasters as they occur, said Hellen Barber De La Vega, consul general for the Philippines in Los Angeles.

“I did see an overwhelming expression of support from our community at least here in Southern California,” De La Vega said. “In the last two days, with the images of what’s happening in the Philippines, we have already received so many queries.”

The central Philippines has been suffering from a  “one-two punch” delivered by Typhoon Haiyan as well as a 7.1 earthquake that rocked the region last month, said her husband, Jovena “Bing” De La Vega, who has been organizing a 5K walk for Sunday at 6 a.m. in Van Nuys.

The walk is being organized by a nonprofit Bing De La Vega co-founded, the Philippine Disaster Relief Organization (called PeDRO for short) and the ROMAH Foundation. Earlier, the walk was intended to help victims of the earthquake, but will now probably aid victims of the typhoon as well, he said.

“We don’t know how much damage this storm has done to the country,” Bing De La Vega said.

The walk will be held at 6335 Woodley Ave. in Van Nuys.

Some are boarding commercial flights loaded with supplies, Bing De La Vega said. Philippine Airlines, which offers direct flights from L.A. to the Philippines, has been asked to waive fees for travelers bringing boxes of relief supplies, he said.

Many individuals directly send money back to friends and loved ones, Hellen De La Vega said. Others are organizing through their church organizations.

The Philippine Consulate has also named organizations through which donors can aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Among them: National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in the Philippines, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Philippine Red Cross.  

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amina.khan@latimes.com

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