Fil-Ams to help Japan calamity victims

MANILA, March 25, 2011—Filipino-Americans in the United States are once again united in helping their kababayans who have been affected by the earthquake, tsunami and radiation leaks in Japan.

Filipino communities, especially those who have been engaged in the religious service, had launched their own help campaign drive for Filipinos severely affected by the catastrophe. Dubbed as Help for Filipino Migrants in Japan (HFMJ), it aims to collect money and other forms of assistance to give the victims.

In a statement, Nerissa N. Allegretti, secretary of the HFMJ and a coordinator for Lay Scalabrinian Missionary Movement-US Nucleus, had said that they are targeting to gather enough aids in order to immediately help the 20,000 Filipinos living in northern Japan, particularly in the Sendai coasts, who are heavily affected by the disaster.

“The HFMJ coordinating committee is partnering with SAGIP-MIGRANTE Japan to assist migrant Filipinos as well as other migrant groups affected by this tragedy. We are soliciting your financial donation,” reads the letter of appeal posted by the HFMJ in the social networking site, Facebook.

Aside from the financial help, the group is also joined hands with other organizations and individuals who have been praying for Japan. A three o’clock daily habit was launched for the fast recovery of Japan, where every Catholics and other Christian denominations are asked to pray, in silence, three (3) Our Fathers or compose their own prayers.

Famous Filipino-Japanese model, Mayo Okawa, who is based in Nagoya-shi, also appealed for help.

Trying to inspire and comfort her compatriots in Japan and elsewhere, who have been affected by tragedies and war, she wrote on her Facebook wall:

‎”Trials should not surprise us, or cause us to doubt GOD’s faithfulness. Rather, we should actually be glad for them. GOD sometimes sends trials not to punish us but to strengthen our trust in Him so that our faith will not fail. Our trials keep us trusting; they burn away our self confidence and draw us near and close to Him.”

In addition, in a private message to this reporter, Okawa extends her deepest sympathies to the victim of the tremor and tsunami.

“To my kababayans who were affected in Sendai and Miyagi Prefecture:  My heartful sympathy and condolences to your friends and loved ones who died and still missing. To all survivors, trials and hardships will make you closer to our Savior. With your faith in Him, you can make it we can make it! Don’t lose hope, GOD is in control. I just wanted to announce that this is not God’s plan. GOD is love, He is merciful. We should not blame GOD for natural disasters instead, let us pray to our LORD that whatever happens, we love and praise Him and we need His mercy for whatever sufferings we have since March 11. I am praying for all of us,” she said in her message.

Meanwhile, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (Nafcon), a multi-sector alliance in the United States assailed the “slowness” of the Benigno C. Aquino III’s administration in helping Filipinos in Japan.

“The Aquino administration so far has failed to effectively assist Filipinos in Japan. The President should use all available resources to ensure the refuge and safe return of our kababayan. Up to now no emergency money has been allocated for relief and the administration has proposed only a single C-130 military plane to fly our distressed Filipinos home,” said Fr. Benjamin Alforque, president of the Nafcon, in a statement sent to media.

The priest also said, in spite the huge amount of remittances that Filipino overseas workers Japan are sending to the Philippines, the help that the Aquino government is still wanting. According to the statistics, Filipino workers in Japan had sent US$883 million worth of remittances last year.

“Considering the tremendous amount of money Filipinos in Japan contribute to keeping the Philippines afloat, it is unconscionable to know that Aquino has done so little to help our kababayan,” Alforque added.

On the other hand, Nafcon is encouraging all Filipinos in America to come to the aid of the Japanese people by making monetary donations to trust worthy sources that can ensure the money goes to people in the most need.

“In our experience with catastrophes such as Typhoon Ondoy, it is very important to coordinate relief efforts with organizations working directly with people on ground because there are some, including government agencies, who try to profit from relief efforts,” said Alforque.

For Filipinos in the United States, they can mail their check donations to: The Good Shepherd Congregation-PIC, located at St. John Lutheran Church, 4707 W. Pratt Avenue, Lincolnwood, IL 60712. Write HFMJ on the left bottom part of your check.

Or they can send their money donations directly to Sagip-Migrante in Japan on this address: SAGIP-MIGRANTE Japan, Tokyo Bldg, Room 405, Nagoya-shi, Naka-ku, Sakae 4-11-10. Write HFMJ on the left bottom part of the check.

To confirm donations, an email must be sent to HFMJ Secretary Nerissa N. Allegretti at lay_scalabrinian_missionaries_us@yahoo.com. (Noel Sales Barcelona, for CBCPNews.com)