This week was supposed to be a happy one for the First Philippine Baptist Church in Missouri City. On Sunday, they’ll be celebrating their 25th anniversary. But then, of course, came Typhoon Haiyan and destroyed parts of the Philippines last Friday.
Ernest Howard Dagohoy is the church’s executive pastor. His mother lives in Antique province, one of the areas affected by the storm.
“But the good thing about it is that we live in the southern part of the province, and the areas affected in our province are in the northern part. So, when I tried to call my mom the day of the typhoon, I (couldn’t) get in touch with her because, of course, communication lines have been down. But after two days I was able to talk to her and she said, we’re fine here but the winds are strong.”
In two weeks, Dagohoy will be traveling to some of the harder hit towns in Iloilo province. Together with five other members of Texas Baptist churches, he will distribute food and assess the damage the typhoon has caused there.
“If there need to be long-term projects, we will be sending back teams to help with the reconstruction of homes (and) churches. We’ll do medical missions, we will do feeding, and hopefully we can just help alleviate the pain and the difficulty that our countrymen are going through at this time.”
In the meantime, donations from the community have been rolling in. Dagohoy says just last Sunday, the church collected $2,000 for relief efforts from the congregation. And other Houstonians have called the church to inquire how they can help. Later this month, the church will hold a garage sale and donate the proceeds to typhoon victims.
Other local Filipino organizations are also committed to help. Even before the storm hit, the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce Texas sent $20,000 dollars to its sister chamber in Manila.
Tess Tuazon-Chase is the chamber’s South Texas chair in Houston.
“And as soon as it all cleared, they shipped the goods, medicines and the first-aid kits to Cebu. And from Cebu, they loaded in on a boat to Tacloban and all the other outlying areas, and they’re on the ground as we speak.”
She says the chamber together with many of the other 40 to 50 Houston area Filipino organizations are doing fundraising and plan to send more money to the Philippines. She also says this is not the first time for Filipinos in Houston to help out those back in the home country.
“We’re in the typhoon belt, we are in the ring of fire, you know, we have active volcanoes in the Philippines. So, we are… the Filipinos here in Texas, or worldwide, are ready when disaster hits.”
Tuazon-Chase says the office of Houston Mayor Annise Parker has reached out to the chamber and there will be a candlelight prayer vigil in front of City Hall this Friday at 6:30 p.m.