Rebuilding the Philippines: 3 local initiatives you can support right now

When Typhoon Haiyan struck my homeland of the Philippines this past November, I was in Portland, Oregon where I now live. As I read about the mass destruction, I felt helpless being so far away. Tacloban, after all, was home to some of my family.

As the international community came together to help in the aftermath, it was quite moving to witness the generosity of people the world over. Much of the aid addressed immediate needs such as food, shelter, and medicine.

Now that the situation is under control, efforts to reinstate livelihoods and ensure a promising long-term recovery are the priority this new year. It’s true the Filipino spirit is resilient. But it’s the support of friends and strangers alike that keep us going.

These three grassroots organizations have sprung up in the Philippines to contribute to this work. If you’re still looking for a way to help, please consider donating to one of them.


Constructing a bangka on Bantayan Island, a boat typically used for fishing.
(photo courtesy Bangon Bantayanons Facebook page)

Adopt A Small Island Initiative

Started by a group of friends who all happen to be development workers, this initiative gives you the opportunity to directly help small island communities.

“Small islands are particularly vulnerable to typhoons not only because of their physical nature but also because a lot of small islands tend to face many socioeconomic challenges—hence the idea of ‘adopting’ an island or two was born,” says co-founder Monica Ortiz. “Recovery is very different from relief—it takes time! We also want to make sure it is sustainable and equitable.”

When you donate, you can help residents purchase a crucial tool for life on a small island: a motorized boat locally known as a bangka.

Bangkas are vital to these small islands. They serve several purposes: they link people to other small islands and the mainland for access to essential goods and services, and they are also a means of livelihood,” says Monica.

If you would like to make a donation, visit the Adopt a Small Island Initiative’s website. For updates on their progress, visit their Facebook page.


Project PAGLAUM is an initiative of the youth empowerment group, NEWGENRocks!, with the overall goal of helping displaced people get back on their feet and move forward.

Paglaum is the local word for hope—and this, simply, is what the project would like to give the residents of the Visayan province.

“In the aftermath of the Yolanda disaster, it is urgent to enable basic services to be delivered, assist victims’ self-help efforts to repair physical damage and community facilities, and provide support for the psychological and social well-being of the survivors,” says founder RJ Barrete. “The project serves as backroom logistics to match assets with relief provisions and enable rehabilitation and reconstruction.”

They also want to make sure devastation of this magnitude doesn’t happen again.

“The Project PAGLAUM team wants to build something better for the victims, and avoid another disastrous event that can put the lives of the Filipino people at stake,” says RJ.

For more information, visit their Facebook page. To give hope, visit their page on Publicus Asia.

Bangon Bantayanons

Bantayan Island was one of the islands greatly affected by the typhoon. The island’s poultry farms were all but destroyed, and 95% of homes lost their roofs. With your help, Bantayanons are determined to rise from all this devastation.

The initiative was started by an owner of a beach house there.

“I told my husband and sister we will help the island. They were really hesitant because it’s hard to do that and ask for donations. I told them there is nothing impossible if we really want to help,” says chairwoman Gail Roska. “So I messaged my cousins and put up a Facebook page.”

Within a week, the page had over four thousand likes with donations pouring in.”Honestly, I never really expected much response from the public,” says Gail.

But help from individuals is still needed. “The government can’t do it on their own,” she says.

For information on how to lend a helping hand, visit Bangon Bantayanons’ Facebook page.

If you’re unable to give financial help to any of these organizations at this time, a shout-out is also much appreciated. Share their information with family and friends, and leave a message of support on their Facebook pages. Salamat!

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Roundup: LGBT community around the world

Each June, millions gather worldwide in parades, rallies, festivals, and more to celebrate LGBT pride. We end our weeklong spotlight by zooming out of the U.S. and onto firsts in the international sphere.

As LGBT rights become more prominent in the U.S., other countries are quickly catching on. Here’s a quick roundup of the latest happenings:

South Africa—

In April, South Africa (the first—and only—African country that’s legalized gay marriage) saw its first traditional gay marriage between Thoba Sithole and Cameron Modisane. From Zulu and Setswana outfits to a cow slaughter, the couple and their families spared nothing to stick to their ancestral roots.

“People are still ashamed because the vast majority of the black community is not accepting of being a homosexual. They see it as largely being a ‘Western trend’ that is in fashion lately,” Cameron told reporters at the ceremony. “[We want people to see that] being gay is as African as being black.”


Meanwhile, in Singapore, where sexual contact between men is still punishable with up to two years’ in jail, a less traditional movement has taken flight—in the form of an online magazine directed toward the country’s gay male community. Launched in February, Element has managed to bypass the government’s strict media laws with it’s solely online presence while still capturing the attention of readers across Asia, if not the world. Publisher Noel Ng told the Atlantic that he sees the magazine as a way “to restore the dignity and worth of every gay man.”

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Shortly after Amnesty International published an article urging the Ukrainian government to introduce anti-distcriminatory legislation (following a slew of anti-gay attacks in the country), the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, held its first gay pride parade on May 25. Told to dress in comfortable shoes (for running) and non-offensive clothing, the peaceful, un-dsirupted crowd was flanked by police support and public encouragement as they marched through downtown. “This can be considered a historic day,” said Elena Semyonova, one of the event’s organizers.

Photo credit: Associated Press

Photo credit: Associated Press

Want to get involved in the LGBT cause? Search almost 6,000 nonprofit jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, events, and like-minded people from around the world on Idealist

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