Picture by: Me
This past winter break I had a chance to visit the homeland from December 29, 2019 - January 11, 2020. This was the first time in 15 years since I visited my homeland and I was excited to experience the Philippines in a new way with 11 other participants of the YouLeaD immersion program. During my time in the Philippines, I visited places in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Cabatuan, Makati, Tagaytay, Paranque, and Metro Manila to learn how communities function and true Filipino values. I am forever changed by how hospitable people were to us especially through the non-profit organization, Gawad Kalinga, which are communities built to help solve the poverty problem in the Philippines. I learned so much about Filipino history, the value of community, and took pride in my own Filipino identity. It brought me to tears to hear after my stay in the Philippines ended that the Taal Volcano exploded on January 12, 2020. Before the eruption, I had the opportunity to hike up one of the mountains on January 10, 2020. As my family and I followed our tour guide, she showed us the Sulfur steaming from the mountain and emphasized the volcano was still active with it's last eruption happening in 1977. I watched as various visitors walk along the trail witness this beauty while recognizing how this community prospers from tourism.
Visiting the surrounding areas near Taal, the communities thrived and I was thankful I got to see Tagatay before leaving. Coming back to the United States a day before eruption was a blessing in disguise, but I was sadden to see that the communities I visited during my time were all affected by the ash fall. As family and news stories rushed in, I found out the eruption was issued at an Alert Level 4 by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) meaning a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours or days. To be greeted by family the day after coming back to only hear about this disaster, I was in shock. I was immersed in this culture for two weeks and found a home away from home; I felt for all the families and communities I visited. I wanted to do something to help since I had the privilege to just visit and not live in the aftermath. Those displaced by the eruption were put into accommodations in about 500 state-run emergency shelters, mostly school and government buildings. The eruption forced the shutdown of Manila’s main international airport for a night from the volcanic ash, resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of flights. Environmental aftershocks from the eruption go from sudden earthquakes, destroyed roads and bridges, and killed wildlife and vegetation from horses to pineapples.
Picture by: Travel Daily Media
As of Saturday, January 25, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and PHIVOLCS have reported a total of 950 volcano tectonic earthquakes in the Taal area since the eruption, 176 of which were felt. On January 26, 2020: PHIVOLCS has downgraded to an Alert Level 3 due to the inconsistent, but decreasing volcanic activity in Taal. The dust has yet to settle from the Taal Volcano, which shot magma and ash miles above a Philippine island while displacing more than 200,000 residents. Currenntly, the Philippines has entered the recovery phase after this disaster.
The decline in volcanic activity means that many of the region’s 376,000 displaced villagers can return to their "homes."
Picture by: Global News
MAFA supporting Kabataan Alliance's Taal Relief Program
This year's MAFA board (2019-2020) is choosing to get involved with Kabataan Alliance's (KA) "Kapit Bisig Relief Program" by donating funds to their cause. To find out more about the aftermath of Taal eruption, please read this Informational Powerpoint provided by KA to understand the places affected. KA's Taal Relief works toward educating, uniting, and acting to help the communities affected by the fastest means of monetary donations. The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns will be the recipient for all donations. The Philippine local economy depends on tourism, agriculture and fishing. The latest eruption caused economic losses of $150 million, according to the Philippines National Economic Development Authority. Our donations will help the communities bring back basic necessities, but our ongoing support and showcasing the issues of the Philippines can help bring long-term success for our families and communities that need our backing.
Please keep a look out on our social medias for upcoming fundraising initiatives!