By: Derin Denizkusu, Divina Sallentes, Jill-Anne Santiago, Justin Arios-Dela Cruz
The Ryerson community is made up of thousands of students from the Filipino diaspora, many of whom have loved ones directly affected by the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in recorded history, Typhoon Rolly.
Rolly touched down near the island of Catanduanes in the early morning of November 1st, 2020 with an initial wind speed of 315 kph. Communities and livelihoods that lied in its path were met with immense wind and rain, decimating nearly 90% of Catanduanes’ public infrastructure and displacing around 177,000 Filipinos.
The Filipino people are no stranger to typhoons. Two weeks before Rolly, the Philippines was met with Typhoon Quinta; one week after Rolly, Typhoon Ulysses brought a month’s worth of rain in just 24 hours.
More than one million Filipinos have been affected by these catastrophes, and those who were affected are still struggling to recover. The agricultural industry in particular has been devastated in the wake of these 3 typhoons, which affected 150,000 farmers and damaged 275,000 hectares of farmland. This has left farmers with little access to food and no livelihood to depend on.
In addition to a slow government response, the flow of information was widely disrupted by the undemocratic shut down of regional news networks which added to confusion and uncertainty in vulnerable regions. Meanwhile, all that was offered to farmers were zero-interest loans to supplement their loss of livelihood. These loans will inevitably run dry, forcing farmers to take on predatory loans at high interest rates from other parties to feed their families.
With the Philippines’ vulnerability to recurring typhoons, it would be expected of the government to have a comprehensive system in place that provides adequate relief to the masses. Despite this, the government slashed the national disaster risk and management fund by P11.1 billion in 2019 - money that could have eased some of the burden facing the Filipino people today. Another notable government cut is the scrapped Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazard), a research program dedicated to disaster prevention and mitigation. The project collapsed in 2017 due to lack of funding, prompting urgent calls for the government to implement better infrastructure to combat inevitable natural disasters in the future.
The geographic location of the Philippines has made the country prone to natural disasters. The frequency of these calamities have been exacerbated by global climate change, despite the Philippines producing some of the lowest carbon emissions per capita in the world. Yet this has not prevented the Duterte administration from cutting calamity funding by 11 billion pesos and instead allocating billions of taxpayer dollars to unnecessary military efforts. The millions of people affected by these disasters need immediate relief aid which the government is refusing to make a priority.
In response, the Ryerson University community are rallying together to raise funds for Philippine typhoon relief in the form of an online panel event on January 22 and a fundraiser. In solidarity, Ryerson clubs Student Christian Movement Ryerson and Filipino-Canadian Association Ryerson have teamed up with Anakbayan Toronto and Canadian-Philippines Solidarity Organization (CPSO).
Together, these youth-led groups aim to raise $3000 for Filipino organizations: Student Christian Movement Philippines, Sagip Migrante, and Tulong Kabataan. These groups have been working hard to deliver disaster relief to the people whose lives are still reeling from the impact of the typhoons.
The money you donate would allow these organizations to go into the affected communities and give educational talks about the root causes of displacement and exploitation of urban poor in addition to providing disaster relief. In this way, these organizations are aiming to create a long-term, systemic solution to a systemic problem.
If you would like to contribute to the disaster relief funds please visit bit.ly/ryephfund
The organizations are also hosting a fundraising event in which there will be cultural performances, guest speakers, and a silent auction. To register for this event, please visit bit.ly/rye4ph
All photos in this article have been kindly provided by Tulong Kabataan.