“People Power is Road to Recovery for Sendong Survivors” Said Youth Group

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Queens, NY- Progressive Filipino youth group, Anakbayan New York, held “R2R: Road to Recovery” last Saturday at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church as community celebrates the 26th anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising. They called on the community anew to launch people power to protect and save the environment in the Philippines.

The benefit concert, a fundraising as part of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns’ (NAFCON) Bayanihan for Typhoon Disaster Relief Campaign, featured a wide array of talents. Among the list is the Philippine Chambers Rondalla of New Jersey which performed wonderful authentic Filipino music. It was then followed by Kinding Sindaw, which featured cultural performances from Mindanao, the region most affected by the typhoon Sendong last December.

Bayanihan Kultural Kolektib also performed songs depicting the current situation in the Philippines and the hardships of migrants and how they cope through collective action while away from their loved ones during these types of calamities. Another performer, Melanie Dulfo of Philippine Forum, said, “I wanted my poem to transform people’s sadness, anger and sympathy into action against the ungoverned greed of multinational logging and mining companies, for change.”

Youth and students also offered their talents for the cause. Mike Acoba and Francis Maling of Anakbayan New York both did spoken word pieces that depict the resilience of our people to overcome calamities, both natural and man-made. Rachel Hangad of Pilipinos of Hunter ended the night with a Saxophone performance prompting the young Filipino crowd and members of their families who came to see the performances to a line dance.

People Power and the road to recovery

Just like the uprising in EDSA People Power, R2R: Road to Recovery was a product of different Filipino youth and student organizations in New York coming together for the cause of our kababayans.

According to the organizers, this is their way of upholding the spirit of People Power. “The Filipino youth coming together shows that we are aware and are able to make a difference. It shows that we are proactive,” said Jobeth Arceo, President of the Philippine-American Organization, a Filipino student club at the City College of New York.

Also, “The speakers were able to engage the audience and empowered them in becoming more involved to continue the movement for improving Filipino society,” Ms. Arceo added.
Speakers included Anne Beryl Corotan, current chairperson of Sandiwa, the National Alliance of Filipino-American Youth, and Yves Nibungco, current chairperson of Anakbayan New Jersey.

Youth unite to protect environment

The benefit concert did not only aim to raise funds but also awareness on the environmental situation in the Philippines.

“Large-scale mining, quarrying and logging operations combined with the Aquino government’s neglect are the main culprits for the high death toll in the wake of typhoon Sendong,” said Matthew Cheirs, one of the lead organizers for Anakbayan New York.

Anakbayan announced the start of a petition campaign addressed to Pres. Noynoy Aquino and other Philippine government officials to protect the Philippine environment. The petition is calling on the Philippine government to impose moratorium on multi-national companies that are causing environmental degradation. It also called on a stop to monoculture, cash-crop plantations and to increase the budget on disaster preparedness and management.

“That is why we call on the community to come together and take action to hold Pres. Noynoy, the DENR, and the respective local government units accountable on their failure to protect the welfare of our kababayans. It is only through our collective action can we affect change”, Chiers added.

*Photos by Don Gutierrez

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