Express Week

NYU Rallies Together for Victims of Typhoon Yolanda

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Contributing to ongoing nation-wide relief efforts for the victims on Typhoon Yolanda, students from New York University (NYU) organized a benefit concert on Thursday to raise funds for the victims of the typhoon.

Held at NYU’s premiere Skirball Theater, the concert, entitled “NYU Can Help,” featured a variety of performances by school-based groups and guest artistes to raise awareness and support for disaster relief efforts.

“The disaster left people without homes, and some even lost their lives”, said David Vogelsang, Executive Director of the Division of Student Affairs, “and we at NYU have to show our support for all the people who are going through this calamity.” Organized by the NYU Student Senators Council, the concert provided multiple avenues for audiences to contribute financially to relief efforts to the Philippines, with all proceeds from the concert going directly to organizations aiding in relief efforts. The concert was also greeted by a generous contribution by Dean Michael Purugganan and his wife, who have pledged to match a $5 donation to the UN Typhoon Relief Fund for every seat sold for the concert.

To many, the concert was a long-awaited avenue for them to provide their support for people in the Philippines. As Prakaimum Saraithong, a visiting scholar from Thailand, attested, “the typhoon reminded me of the times when I helped out at a tsunami disaster relief in Thailand. I was supposed to identify corpses by their teeth, and it was utterly depressing to see loads of unidentified corpses greeted by nervous family members. Unfortunately I am not able to help out at the relief efforts this time, but I’m glad I can now at least contribute while I’m here in New York.”

The concert opened with the Philippine national anthem sung by the International Filipino Association’s (IFA) acapella group, Pinakapella. The nationalistic pride evoked through the singers aptly set the somber mood for the predominantly non-Filipino turnout. The performance was followed by an address by H.E. Mr. Eduardo De vega, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, who provided heartfelt reflections on the disaster. “There are a lot of people missing,” he commented, and “every life is one too many in any natural calamity.”

 NYU student groups Cleftomaniacs and N’Harmonics also performed for the cause and slam poets recited the poems they wrote in response to the disaster. “We are overcome by numbness,” asserted Afraz Khan, calling the audience to action in contributing to relief efforts in the Philippines.           

But the concert was not just about entertainment, for various speakers took the stage to give the audience an insider’s point of view of the impact of the disaster. Analisa Balares, founder of Womensphere, gave a heartfelt account of her formative years in Leyte, which was one of the islands hardest hit by the typhoon. Recounting how her father had to save up for 7 years to build their house, Analisa provided insights on the humble yet interconnected community in which she grew, putting faces and emotions to the glaring statistics of the damages by the typhoon. The IPA further built on Analisa’s account, providing footages before and after the typhoon to provide the audience a more visual understanding of the extent the typhoon has affected the livelihoods of millions. Citing the importance of assisting locally-based relief groups that can reach areas that big NGO’s cannot, the IPA provided recommendations for relief groups to which people can donate, such as NAFCON and the Advancement for Rural Kids, which was a much needed recommendation for the visibly enthusiastic crowd.

After a 2-hour concert of outstanding performances and precious information briefings for a crowd eager to do their part, the concert closed with a performance by members of the IFA singing a tagalog song, “ingatan ka”, which means ‘taking care of you.’ The song aptly encapsulated the purpose and spirit of the event: to express solidarity and support for our friends in the Philippines.


Kahit na sandali / ikaw ay mamasdan / ligaya tila ay / walang hanggan”

The Filipino Express

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