Drive to help typhoon victims

The disastrous effects of Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines second-most destructive tropical storm on record, have surfaced in the Bronx.

A massive relief operation is underway, hoping donations can help rescue native Philippinos from the fallout.

The typhoon struck on Nov. 11, just a week and a half following an earthquake in Bohol.

“They haven’t even recovered from that calamity, and here comes this typhoon,” said Hilda Diongon, president of The Philippine American Association of the Bronx (PAAB). The Pelham Parkway resident is leading a collection effort with help from the Morris Park Community Association.

“We do need your help, it’s really hard for us to accept the fact that my countrymen are suffering there,” said Diongon.

Diongon pleaded for funds at the Nov. 13 MPCA meeting, stopping with her husband Art and PAAB members.

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj attending the meeting committed an undisclosed amount to the cause.

“Cash is the best because if we take clothes it will take two months for the ships to get there,” said Diongon, whose family in the Philippines was spared by the storm that killed over 4,000 people.

Diongon has partnered with the Philippine-niche group dubbed the United Filipino American Communities of Connecticut & New York to collect funds.

Diongnon has carved a life for herself in Pelham Parkway, immigrating from the Philippines in 1983. She’s worked at Jacobi Medical Center for nearly thirty years, serving as an Infection Prevention Practioner.

She’s also taken part in the Bronx Columbus Day Parade and hosts a line dancing event each Sunday at Our Lady of Solace. With only 5,000 Phillipinos in the borough, mostly in Morris Park and University Heights, the weekly get-together often serves as a home away from home to catch up on homeland events.

Diongon’s community involvement was already a plus for Tony Signorile, MPCA’s president, who reached out to her after Typhoon Haiyan.

“Today it can happen to the Phillipines,” said Signorile. “Tomorrow it can happen to the Greeks.”

Joe Bombace, an active member of MPCA, echoed Signorile’s sentiment.

“Just as we did what we did for Italy with the earthquake, we should try and do something for the Philippino community,” Bombace said of the 2009 L’Aquila quake.

Anyone wishing to donate can make checks out to PAAB, and send it to the Morris Park Community Association at 1824 Bronxdale Ave. at Zipcode 10462.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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