The Brennan Park auditorium was basically transformed into a suburb of Manila on Saturday (Nov. 30).
The Squamish Filipino Canadian community came together with music, food and positive vibes during a fundraiser in the wake of the Typhoon Haiyan disaster. More than 100 people packed the auditorium to donate money, take in the music and participate in a silent auction.
Co-organizer Dennis Raņada said he was happy with how the fundraiser went, especially with the quick turnaround required.
“We had to get this all organized in two weeks and there's been a lot of work behind the scenes from everyone,” he said. “We had to mobilize our volunteers, get the word out about our event and let the community know. It's been a good turnout and I think this shows that deep down inside, people want to help out.”
Haiyan devastated the Philippines and Southeast Asia in November, with nearly 6,000 confirmed deaths and more than 20,000 people missing. Winds of more than 300 km/h ravaged the central part of the country. The fundraiser in Squamish helped raise more than $14,000 to the Canadian Red Cross for rebuilding efforts. Raņada said it wouldn't have been possible without all the volunteers who stepped up.
“We had about 30 to 40 volunteers who signed up to help us out immediately,” he said. “It's nice that events like this can bring us together as a community. There are about 400 of us living in Squamish and it's good to see us all come together like this.”
The event featured performances from the Kaleidoscope band, the Ironic Pitch rock band, Phebe Jacobson and Gina Damaso. For Damaso, who travelled to the event from Nanaimo, the typhoon was horrifying to watch.
“Everything I saw on TV was really devastated,” she said, noting that her mother was born in the Philippines. “It was so shocking to see how hard they were hit.”
Damaso spent some time in the country just last year representing Western Canada in a beauty contest. She said she was pleased with the turnout and the scope of the fundraiser in Squamish.
“I think it went really great here tonight,” she said. “It shows how Canadians really care because it's not just Filipinos that showed up tonight.”
She said much of her mother's family still lives in the Philippines but they lived far away enough from the disaster to not be adversely impacted. Damaso performed at another fundraiser on Sunday (Dec. 1) and said she hopes to return to the Philippines in the spring.
Raņada said one positive from the disaster was that the Filipino community came together and developed a deeper bond in Squamish. He hinted that more Filipino-themed events could occur in Squamish if there is enough interest.
He also thanked businesses and volunteers for their help and noted that the Canadian Red Cross will be accepting donations until Dec. 23. For more information on how to donate, visit www.redcross.ca/donate/donate-online/donate-to-the-typhoon-haiyan-fund.