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How everyone can–and does–pitch in

By: - Columnist
08:10 AM November 17, 2013

PHILIPPINE Red Cross family Angel Locsin, Sea Princess, chair Dick Gordon and secretary general Gwen Pang

Amidst all the tragedy brought about by recent supertyphoon “Yolanda,” heartwarming stories of generosity are also sprouting from all sectors. I’ve always wanted to focus on the positive things in life, so these stories of generosity and support are what I want to highlight this weekend.

I also realize that not all wonderful acts of kindness can be publicized, but I do want to cite those that I can, only in the hope that these examples may spur more to follow suit.

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The Philippine Red Cross has already mobilized tons of relief goods, medical supplies and water filtration systems in as many needy areas as possible. Much more needs to be done, of course.

I feel lucky that the Red Charity Gala last month raised some funds for the Red Cross, at that time earmarked for the Bohol earthquake victims. We’ve been able to get sponsors to donate more for the entire Yolanda-stricken Visayas area.

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RED CROSS family at headquarters with volunteers Gwen Pang, Sea Princess and chair Dick GordonRED CROSS family at headquarters with volunteers Gwen Pang, Sea Princess and chair Dick Gordon

Complex logistics

When I visited Red Cross chair Dick Gordon to present him checks from Sta. Elena Construction, The Manila Peninsula Hotel, Salome Uy, Leah Caringal, Joey and Marissa Concepcion and others, he graciously thanked everyone and explained to me the complexity of transporting all the goods to service each town. At the Red Cross, I joined beautiful actress Angel Locsin, who was volunteering at the repacking center.

Generous sisters Alice Eduardo and Small Laude have been supporting the Red Charity Gala for several years now. Riza Mantaring, head of Sun Life Financial, sent her personal donation, too. Megawide Foundation allowed me to halve their donation for the Philippine Children’s Medical Center Renovation Project and channel the other half to the typhoon victims.

Bobby Ongpin, chair of Alphaland Corporation, has been amazing. He has taken the company’s four planes and put them to the task of flying relief goods and medicines to Tacloban, Ormoc, Guiuan, Aklan, Roxas and even Coron.

RELIEF goods for Typhoon “Yolanda” victims being loaded onto Alphaland’s planes at the company hangar in Manila

In the first four days, the planes have delivered 25 tons, and another 100 tons are in the Alphaland hangar, delivered by donors ranging from 7-11, Balesin Island club members, company employees, and even Dr. Hayden Kho. Alphaland’s planes have the ability to land on short airstrips and were the first flights to land in Guiuan, Samar.

Restaurants are doing so many Yolanda fundraisers that it is hard to keep track of all. Vask is having one on Nov. 20, with all proceeds going to charity. I like the restaurant promos where all proceeds, not just an unnamed percentage, are donated.

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VOLUNTEERS from Alphaland and Philweb do all the repacking and loading onto the Alphaland aircraft.

Dinner party

Vask also supported the Red Charity Gala together with the House of Remy Martin, with an elegant dinner party at the ultra stylish Vask Gallery Room, next to the Vask Tapas Restaurant and Bar. The traditional Spanish cuisine prepared by chef J. Luis Gonzales was paired with Remy Martin cognac, and the dinner finished off with the Louis XIII Grande Champagne Cognac, a rare luxury spirit considered as the “King of Cognacs” as it uses grapes from the Grande Champagne territory in Cognac, France.

Christophe Bourrie, regional director of Louis XIII, Remy Cointreau International, flew in for the dinner. He gave the diners pointers on how best to appreciate the Louis XIII, which is dazzling in its handcrafted, crystal decanter from Baccarat. Also at the dinner were Remy Martin executives Su Chen, brand manager from Singapore, Noel Sebastian and Joey Pineda, and James DuVivier of Future Trade International.

OVER 6 metric tons of relief goods have been delivered to Alphaland; some 25 metric tons have been flown to the Visayas.

Another generous Red Charity Gala sponsor who has upped the ante because of Yolanda is Samsung. Deeply saddened by the devastation, Samsung has pledged $1 million  via donations to Red Cross, ABS-CBN Foundation and World Vision. In addition, Samsung Electronics Philippines is dispatching employee volunteer groups to the disaster area. The Samsung volunteers from various departments will provide on-ground assistance starting in Ormoc, Leyte.

Chung Lyong Lee, president of Samsung Electronics Philippines, turned over the first P10 million to Red Cross chair Dick Gordon last week. Last month, Lee joined Hans Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings, in inaugurating the new Samsung Hall at SM Aura Premier.

DR. HAYDEN Kho, who brought 300 water purification units to Alphaland, poses with Alphaland employees.

The Samsung Hall inauguration started with a mass at the Pedro Calungsod Chapel at the 7/L,  SM Aura Premier (www.sm-aura.com), attended by the Sy family and close friends. Steven Tan, VP of operations of SM Premier Malls, was excited to show guests the Hall and adjoining Sky Park, a lush garden offering the best dining experience in the mall.

Sky Park’s restaurants are led by Yabu, a fave Japanese resto of mine. Yabu, owned by John Concepcion, recently donated all the proceeds of a one-day sale from all outlets to Red Cross.

Highlight

The highlight of the Samsung Hall night was a live performance by international pop/jazz band, D’Sound. The band was great, but the state-of-the-art musical performance was markedly different from the Samsung Hall’s use last week, as it was pressed into relief service, with volunteers joined by celebrities such as Raymond Gutierrez to pack goods as part of SM Foundation’s #OperationTulongExpress, ongoing in all SM Malls throughout the country.

PRINCESS Violago,Nikki Tang

All the SM malls receive goods in cash and in kind, and volunteers can assist in repacking centers as well. Among the first recipients of SM’s efforts will be Ormoc, coordinated by Rep. Lucy Torres and flown via private plane.

Let me end with a story to show how everyone can and does pitch in. It was the birthday last week of my niece Trianna, who lives in Australia. We messaged each other, asking what she might want as a present. Her response was, “It would really be lovely if I could donate my gift to the victims of the typhoon.”

Welcome to the world of charity, Trianna!

Follow @tessavaldes on Twitter or visit www.tessaprietovaldes.com.

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