Dean of Awesome Calgary challenges Filipinos to step outside of comfort zones

    Reg Tiangha at the Awesome Calgary “Meat-Filled” Zebra Piñata Party initiative inspired by a grant awarded by The Awesome Foundation - Boston.
    Reg Tiangha at the Awesome Calgary “Meat-Filled” Zebra Piñata Party initiative inspired by a grant awarded by The Awesome Foundation - Boston.
    Reg Tiangha at the Awesome Calgary “Meat-Filled” Zebra Piñata Party initiative inspired by a grant awarded by The Awesome Foundation – Boston.

    Born-and-raised Calgarian and self-proclaimed volunteer-aholic, Reg Tiangha’s love for Calgary shines through his involvement in countless local volunteer organizations. A passionate advocate for volunteerism, he urges Filipinos to step out of their comfort zone.

    “My mother couldn’t wrap her head around why anyone would want to work for free,” Tiangha jokes. “But the fact of the matter is that volunteering can open so many doors for people.”

    Stuck in a dead-end job, he found himself questioning if there was more to life post-grad than his work as a computer scientist.

    “My prime motivator was that I needed some kind of change in my life,” Tiangha says. “Through various volunteer opportunities, I now have great experience in social media, public relations and communications and event coordination.”

    His foray into the world of volunteering began in 2006 as a weekly blogger for the Calgary Herald to promote the Stampede and events and activities that happened at Stampede Park year-round.

    A few years later he joined the Stampede’s promotion committee during the rise of social media platforms. As a brand ambassador for the organization he attracted heavy-hitters in Calgary’s social media scene and helped kick-start social media programs for various Stampede volunteer committees.

    “I still volunteer with the Stampede today,” he says, continuing his work as a social media liaison for volunteer committees like the concessions and exhibits which is responsible for designing the program that awards “best of” food awards to varying categories for midway vendors.

    Outside of his Stampede volunteer commitments, Tiangha has kept busy as a blogger for Downtown Calgary, a brainstormer for grassroots public engagement activities for 3 Things for Calgary and an organizer for the Calgary Mini Maker Faire. He’s also the Dean of the local chapter of The Awesome Foundation.

    “How it works is that a $1,000 no-strings-attached micro grant is awarded to an idea every month, funded by trustees who put in $100 of their own money each month,” Tiangha explains.

    “I figured that it’d be cool if I could help enable someone else to bring their awesome idea to fruition.”

    Tiangha took over as Dean of Awesome Calgary when founder Lori Stewart stepped down.

    “I was able to organize some pretty cool events in our own right,” says Tiangha. “From a Valentine’s Day pink balloon bomb downtown, a Cardboard Fort Day and even a ‘Meat-Filled’ Zebra Pinata Party.”

    Besides making a positive impact on the community, volunteering promotes self-growth and development. It helps people diversify their skill set at no cost except for a few hours of time and gives an edge to job candidates.

    “It shows that they’re active in the community and that they’re mature enough to juggle other responsibilities, Tiangha points out. “Plus, relevant volunteer experience can help make up for any shortfalls that may appear in the work experience section of the resume.”

    Tiangha praises Filipinos in particular for their hardworking and positive work ethic which he believes would be an invaluable contribution to Calgary’s volunteer corps and help spread ethnic diversity.

    “Anyone I talk to that has dealt with a Filipino in a business capacity has had nothing but kind things to say,” he says. “To bring those qualities to the forefront, it’s important for more Filipinos to volunteer to show the city the value that we can bring to the community as a community of people ourselves.

    He rationalizes that the increased visibility of Filipinos volunteering in Calgary would ultimately help Filipinos who want to immigrate here or find work in the future. They would benefit from the reputation that the local Filipino community would have helped built and make Filipinos a desired commodity for any organization looking to recruit new people. “Plus, volunteering is fun and is a great way to meet new people, which is especially important if you’re new to the city and don’t know anyone who lives here yet,” Tiangha says.

    He sympathizes with the frustration newcomers feel when they first immigrate, looking to gain citizenship and sacrificing their happiness by taking on unfulfilling jobs to support themselves.

    “Volunteering in those circumstances could help improve their quality of life,” he says. “Especially if they can find an organization or mission that they could buy into where their work would be seen as valued and relevant.”

    If you are interested in getting your career in volunteering started, consider joining Awesome Foundation – Calgary for their re-launch as a volunteer or trustee at

    Filipinos bringing fiesta to Calgary

    Fiesta Filipino will be held September 5 at Canada Olympic Plaza.
    Fiesta Filipino will be held September 5 at Canada Olympic Plaza.
    Fiesta Filipino will be held September 5 at Canada Olympic Plaza.

    This fall, a new festival will be launched in Calgary to celebrate Filipino culture. The festival, called ‘Fiesta Filipino,’ will bring vendors, musicians and dancers together to feature the culture of the Filipino community in Calgary.

    Fiesta Filipino will be held at Canada Olympic Plaza on September 5 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The festival program will feature traditional Filipino dances and music from various regions in the Philippines. Local Filipinos will also perform dance and music from other genres.

    Filipino food and drink prepared by local businesses and individual vendors will be served at the event alongside the entertainment program. Visitors will be able to sample local specialties across the Philippines.

    Filipino crafts and merchandise will be sold from Filipino-owned local business owners.

    The Philippines comprises a large amount of cultural subsets and regional identities while also having a large and globalized diaspora. Fiesta Filipino organizers hope to bring together these elements of Filipino culture and bring awareness to the fact that Filipino culture is very diverse and multi-faceted.

    “I believe this festival will be a good way to bring Filipino people together without focusing on one region or religion of the Philippines,” says Robert Sison, the head of the Fiesta Filipino vendor committee.

    “We want to encompass the whole community and help people share and appreciate their Filipino heritage.”

    Filipinos constitute a large percentage of the visible minorities in Calgary, but there is yet to be a large-scale festival specifically featuring Filipino culture within the city. Fiesta Filipino hopes to fill this gap, especially among other cultural celebrations such as the Chinatown Street Festival or Expo Latino. Filipino culture has been displayed as parts of other local celebrations, such as GlobalFest. Fiesta Filipino hopes to spread awareness and appreciation of the contributions of the Filipino community in creating Canada’s multicultural identity.

    “Depending on the success of this year’s Fiesta Filipino, the hope is that it becomes an annual two-day event which draws not only Filipinos, but all Calgarians,” says Sison.

    As the Filipino community grows in Canada, other major Canadian cities such as Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto have also held Filipino cultural festivals in the past decade.

    Fiesta Filipino is currently still in its planning stages as vendors, artists and sponsors are contacted.


    Biggest Simbang Gabi in Calgary

    Kababayans from all quadrants of Calgary sing together as they celebrate the biggest Simbang Gabi in the city.
    Kababayans from all quadrants of Calgary sing together as they celebrate the biggest Simbang Gabi in the city.

    The most revered and favourite Christmas tradition of Catholic Filipinos is alive and well here in Calgary as proven by the enormous turnout at several of the special mass celebrations held across the city.

    In Calgary the first of the nine days of the simbang gabi was held at St. Albert the Great Parish on November 30 and turned out to be the biggest simbang gabi ever held in the city.

    Kababayans from all quadrants of the city braved the cold weather to celebrate and experience an amazing early simbang gabi for 2014. Many Filipinos came with their families and loved ones to feel the Christmas spirit and give thanks to God. Many also came with the hopes of fulfilling a tradition and completing all the simbang gabi masses.

    Gemma Bulan-Santos came to the mass with her whole family and was in awe of the Christmas carols sang by the choir and the festive atmosphere in the church.

    “Ang masasabi ko sa simbang gabi na ito ay sana nga mabuo ko dahil noong last na nag-simbang gabi sa Pilipinas ay nabuo naming mag-anak so kasama ko na ang husband ko sana mabuo naming,” she says. “Gusto naming maging maganda ang pamumuhay, maganda ang pangangatawan at sa aking mga anak laging malusog.”

    For Filipino-Canadian youths, celebrating simbang gabi is a way for them to keep in touch with their culture and their roots.

    James Nefulda, one of the youth volunteers during the mass, finds the simbang gabi brings the whole Filipino community together and other nationalities as well.

    “I think it’s cool,” he says. “People lose touch with their culture and it’s really great to see a lot of people kind of keep in touch with that and especially introducing it to their friends who aren’t Filipinos. I think that’s the one thing for me; the most exciting thing for me—to see people just to be enthusiastic and not forget where they came from.”

    Simbang gabi organizer Mar Aquino said that the large turnout would not have happened without the Lord’s guidance and the passionate and hard work of so many volunteers.

    “Hindi namin ine-expect ito na ganito ang mangyayari,” Aquino says. “Ineexpect lang talaga namin mga 600 ganoon. Pero thank you kay Lord siya ang nagdala lahat dito at napuno, punong-puno ang simbahan, for the first time ever na nangyari dito sa St. Albert the Great Parish. Kaya
    nagpapasalamat ako sa mga committee sa simbang gabi dito sa St. Albert the Great. Salamat kay Rey, na siyang aming main chairman at kay Bernard, aming vice chairman at si Adele ang aming secretary at sa bumubuo ng simbang gabi dito sa St. Albert the Great.”

    Father Badiola and Father Benedicto, who officiated the mass congratulated everybody for the successful turnout of people.

    “Mabuti ng pumunta kasi mas malaki ang grupo ng Pilipino na ipatunay nato na tayo pala ay may paniniwala sa Diyos,” says Badiola. “Hindi lang tayo kailangang pabayaan kasi kung tayo ay pababayaan lalo na ng simbahan, mawawala ang simbahan dito dahil kahit pumunta ka kahit saan mayroon mga Pilipino na nagsisilbi sa simbahan.”

    Filipina victim in Northeast sex assault

    Suspects of sex assault, Correy and Cody Manyshots will be back in court December 10.
    Suspects of sex assault, Correy and Cody Manyshots will be back in court December 10.

    Family, friends and members of the community are rallying around a 17-year-old Filipina who was the victim of a brutal sexual assault last month.

    On November 14 waiting at a Taradale bus stop, a teenage girl was attacked and dragged to a nearby alley where she was sexually assaulted.

    The teen was then dragged to a Martindale home, where she was repeatedly sexually assaulted.

    The girl was able to escape the next morning at around 8 a.m. and get to family members, who took her to the police.

    Calgary Police Services Sergeant Melanie Oncescu says the victim was treated in hospital and released and is in the care of her family.

    “She’s being cared for,” Oncescu said.

    Police are also offering their support to the girl, Onsescu says.

    “Obviously, in a circumstance like this, this is a very traumatic incident,” she says. “We will make sure she has supports in place to deal with this.”

    Oncescu says this is a particularly troubling case.

    “This case is very disturbing in the sense a young girl has been attacked and these people were unknown to her,” she says. “Anytime a situation like this occurs, it is very traumatic.”

    The victim was able to lead police to the house where she was assaulted and the next day they executed a warrant on the home and took three men into custody for questioning.

    Police arrested brothers Corey George Manyshots, 25, and Cody George Manyshots, 21, and charged them with sexual assault causing bodily
    harm, assault causing bodily harm, kidnapping, uttering threats and robbery.

    Corey and Cody Manyshots have not had a bail hearing and remain in custody.
    They will be back in court December 10.

    On November 21 hundreds of people met at the Taradale bus stop where the girl was snatched to hold a vigil and show their support for the girl and her family.

    “I was in shock because I grew up in this community — so obviously we felt like we were safe in that,” says university student Alberose Landingin.
    “We were always so secured, but hearing that also she is from the community and the people that hurt her was in the community, I was really shocked and felt that as if we weren’t safe anymore. I was ultimately shocked and really sad for her and her family and that the reason why we came here is to support her.”

    Vigil organizer and Taradale community association president Khalil Karbani
    says it is amazing this young girl was able to escape.

    “For one thing, I admire very much is the courage of the victim,” says Karbani. “Had she not escaped, situations could have been different. Now she is a survivor and also the perpetrators are in custody. And that’s due to her
    courage and her braveness.”

    Philippine patient adjusts to normal life thanks to Calgarians

    Maria Fe Labial is seen lying in the hospital bed while recovering from surgery for a spinal implant to help treat her scoliosis.
    Maria Fe Labial is seen lying in the hospital bed while recovering from surgery.

    It has been over eight months since Maria Fe Labial underwent her surgery for a spinal implant to help treat her scoliosis.

    Thanks to the fundraising efforts of former Miss Universe Canada Riza Santos last winter, Labial was able to get her much needed surgery in April during her school vacation.

    Labial’s spinal implant cost $5,000 CDN with additional doctor and medical fees, but through the support of Santos’ fundraising efforts the bill was covered.

    “To my sponsors, especially to Miss Riza Santos and family, I would like to express my infinite thanks to all of you,” says Labial “I know that my millions and even billions of thanks is not enough to pay price of your help.”

    Labial understands that the work Santos did for her in Canada could not have been accomplished without the generosity of others and is grateful for those that were touched by her story.

    “To all my sponsors in Calgary, thank you for your help even though you don’t know me yet,” says Labial. “I’m glad that in this modern and complex world, there are still people who have good hearts. I am indebted to you all.”

    It was a long five years for Labial as she waited for the opportunity to fix her spine. After years of praying, she is glad her life can finally go back to normal thanks to the goodness of the Calgary community led by Santos.

    Labial is now back in school as a sophomore student taking her Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English at Camiguin Polytechnic State College.

    We Day inspires youth to shift “me” mentality to “we”


      Filipino-Calgarian youths were amongst a large crowd who were inspired to think about others before themselves as part of a North American-wide movement.

      On November 3, thousands of students and teachers from over 600 schools across Alberta came together at the Scotiabank Saddledome to celebrate We Day, an educational initiative that empowers youth by providing a global platform for social change.

      Organizers say We Day’s goal is to empower a generation to shift focus from the individual “me” to “we” and the power of community. Admission is earned by taking on one local and one global action through volunteer service work.

      “I was unsure about whether I wanted to try it, but my friends strongly recommended it, so I was determined to put in hours so I could go—and it really was a valuable experience,” says teen leadership program volunteer Juancho de Castillo. “The energy is amazing and you learn a lot from the speakers. They inspire youth to create their own change.”

      There were speakers whose message still remains with him, he says.

      “I liked what Spencer West had to say about how in certain situations, you just have to make the best of it and focus on the positives,” de Castillo says.

      de Castillo is eager to attend next year’s We Day.

      Other local Filipino youths were also excited to take part in We Day after spending time helping out others.

      “I volunteer through-out the year, going with my mom when she helps out in the community,” says St. Michael’s student Elisha Caoile, recalling her volunteer work for Operation Pagbangon, a fundraising telethon for Haiyan victims.

      “It was my second year attending We Day and I noticed it’s always very diverse and continues to evolve,” Caoile says, adding there were more guest speakers and performers this year.

      “My favorite was Alissa Reid,” Caoile says. “She’s amazing. Her message is how we can all make a difference in the world, even small differences help to create change.

      “I didn’t have a favorite speaker or performer, the entire We Day as a whole was so fun and entertaining,” University of Calgary student John Ray Dy Buco says. “It’s absolutely amazing. The main message I took home from the experience is: don’t be afraid to be who you are. Ignore the bullies because when you think about it, people who hate to see you happy aren’t happy with themselves.”

      Among the special guest speakers and performers present at the Calgary We Day event were co-founders of Free the Children and We Day Craig and Marc Kielburger, Free the Children ambassador and author Spencer West, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media Steve Forbes, actress Mia Farrow, Canadian Olympian Silken Laumann, rap artist Kardinal Offishall and recording artist Shawn Desman, Alyssa Reid, and JRDN.

      Singing sensation Darren Espanto’s homecoming concert a major success

      The Voice Kids Philippines’ first runner-up and Calgary’s pride Darren Espanto at the Grey Eagle Hotel in Calgary.
      The Voice Kids Philippines’ first runner-up and Calgary’s pride Darren Espanto at the Grey Eagle Hotel in Calgary.

      Calgary’s pride and The Voice Kids Philippines’ first runner-up Darren Espanto came back to his hometown with a sold out one-night concert at the Grey Eagle hotel.

      Darrenatics from all over Alberta and neighbouring provinces came to watch their young idol perform after being away from Canada for many months. He went back to the Philippines to compete in the first-ever The Voice Kids Philippines, where he shot to fame worldwide with his impressive song and dance performances.

      As a crowd favourite, Espanto captivated the hearts of Filipinos. He started his path to musical stardom when he became one of the finalists in YTV’s The Next Star singing contest last year.

      Sherrill Ang, a member of the Darrenatics Fans Club of Saskatoon has been waiting to watch her idol perform live in Canada.

      “Of course, ina-admire namin siya sa sobrang humility, kindness and of course, super talented,” she says. “We love you, Darren.”

      Espanto’s fellow Calgarians were happy to see him finally have a concert in Calgary.

      “Simula pa noong nandito si Darren sa Calgary, sa Northeast, nakikita ko na sa C-Train iyan, kaya ng simula ng pumunta sa Pilipinas iyan, at sumali sa Voice
      Philippines, talagang idol ko na iyan simula’t sapol,” says Allan Bryan Mendros. “Kaya Darren, nandito ako para sa iyo.”

      Although Espanto was under the weather, he still gave his all and thrilled the crowd by singing the songs he sang in The Voice Kids like Domino, One Moment in Time and Ngayon.

      Espanto says his stint at The Voice was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and he
      learned a lot of things from the contest.

      “The experience I had on The Voice was amazing kasi po not everyone could have the same experience that I did and not every 13-year-old boy, actually po,” Espanto says.

      Espanto and his family are thankful for all the people who have supported him throughout the competition.

      “I’d like to thank them po because their support is incredible, they’re amazing and ah, maraming maraming salamat po sa pag-believe sa kakayanan ko at talento ko po, maraming salamat po,” Espanto says.

      Espanto’s proud dad says they could not be happier for their son.

      “Naku, walang sawang pasasalamat po sa lahat ng sumuporta kay Darren,” dad Lyndon Espanto says. “Ever since iyung journey niya nag-start sa The Voice, he is so blessed na napakaraming tao talagang nagmahal at sumuporta despite hindi siya nanalo naipakita niya ang kakayanan niya, talento niya.”

      R&B OPM music artist Jayar, Espanto’s special guest artist at his concert, only had praise for the young star.

      “You know Darren is very impressive talaga,” Jay-ar says. “The first time I saw him singing talaga, sabi ko this kid is amazing. So you know our first guesting together, the first time I met him actually was at Kris TV in the morning at kumanta siya. Sabi ko, ‘Wow, ilang taon ka na ba?’ Thirteen lang pala tapos ganoon na kagaling kumanta. So you know, I’m very proud to be part of his homecoming show. I’m very proud of him. He’s the first Filipino to fill-up and to do a concert here at Grey Eagle and it’s sold out pa, 2,500 Filipinos ang nandito so it’s really good to see the support for Darren in his hometown.”

      Knights of Columbus hosts Pacquaio fundraiser

      Members of the Knights of Columbus watch as Manny Pacquiao took on  Chris Algieri at The Venetian in Macau, China.
      Members of the Knights of Columbus watch as Manny Pacquiao took on Chris Algieri at The Venetian in Macau, China.

      A group of Filipinos combined fun and fundraising while watching the people’s champion Manny Pacquiao again prove his dominance.

      The all-Filipino Knights of Columbus Council 14746 San Lorenzo Ruiz Council of Calgary hosted the fundraiser at the Buffalo Wild Wings Macleod SW location.

      Grand Knight Hardy del Castillo led the group for a feel-good night of pure boxing fun and entertainment.

      “I sincerely thank those who still support the all-Filipino Council of the Knights of Columbus,” del Castillo says. “It only shows the great brother erhood of those who believe in this Council. Manny Pacquiao is an all-time favourite and the council supported this type of fundraising get together in the last four years.”

      The night’s 6 p.m. ticket call was worth the wait for the awaited match of the year in Pacquiao’s career.

      The boxing match that brought the entire Philippines to a halt was on November 22 when Pacquaio took on Chris Algieri at The Venetian in Macau, China.

      Speed and strength were once again the key elements in Pacquiao’s punches that took Algieri to a defeated seat on the Welterweight division of the World Boxing Organization with the judges’ unanimous decision to retain Pacquiao’s
      title belt on his waist.

      Families of murdered victims ask for privacy


      The families of five murder victims, killed at a small house party on April 15, are asking that information surrounding the deaths of their children remain under wraps until the man accused in their murder is on trial.

      In a letter passed on to the media through the Calgary Police Services the parents of the murdered youths asked that the media stop pursuing a legal attempt to get more details about the case.

      “We struggle to understand the benefit to the public of publicizing this information prior to a trial,” the letter reads. “We would suggest the details of this case are such that no one should want or need to hear [or] read about
      them prior to them being presented in a court of law.

      Our priority as we try and rebuild our lives is to protect the dignity of our lost children and try and prevent the re-victimization of the young people who were traumatized by the events of April 15, 2014. They continue to relive every detail of that night, and the last thing any of us need at this time is additional anguish and sorrow.”

      Lawrence Hong, Kaitlin Perras, Jordan Segura, Joshua Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell were stabbed to death at a Brentwood house where they were celebrating the end of the post-secondary year.

      Hong’s parents are immigrants from the Philippines who came to Canada in the 1990s. The Hongs have not spoken about their personal story and so far the five families have only spoken in public as a group.

      Twenty two-year-old Matthew de Grood is charged with five counts of first-degree murder. He has been found fit to stand trial, but his mental state at the time of the murder is still in question.

      Members of several Calgary media outlets have hired a lawyer to challenge a publication ban placed on psychological reports written about de Grood and are also requesting that the information police used to obtain a warrant be unsealed.

      A decision on the media’s request has not yet been handed down.

      Following is the letter sent out by the grieving families:

      To Members of the Media:

      We once again write to you as one voice; a group of devastated family members who have lost our children in an unimaginable way.

      It’s been just seven months since we lost Joshua, Kaiti, Jordan, Lawrence and Zackariah, and while time is supposed to heal all wounds, our families and friends have yet to begin to mend.

      Each and every day we relive what has happened, as do the several young people who witnessed many of the events that evening.

      On Wednesday, November 26, 2014, a judge will rule whether the media’s request to unseal an information to obtain and warrants surrounding the most graphic details of the crime are granted. We can only hope our wish to have the information remain sealed until the trial is granted, however, we respect the decision of the courts in this matter.

      Prior to the decision, we struggle to understand the benefit to the public of publicizing this information prior to a trial. We would suggest the details of this case are such that no one should want or need to hear [or] read about them prior to them being presented in a court of law.

      Our priority as we try and rebuild our lives is to protect the dignity of our lost children and try and prevent the re-victimization of the young people who were traumatized by the events of April 15, 2014. They continue to relive every detail of that night, and the last thing any of us need at this time is additional anguish and sorrow.

      The families are well aware of the important role the media plays in informing the public, including helping the Calgary Police Service appeal for witnesses and information pertaining to certain crimes. In this case, however, that assistance is not required and while we understand the details of the case will be made public at trial, we struggle with the need to obtain the information earlier.

      We, the five families of the victims, oppose the release of the information and we ask for your sympathy and understanding at this time. Please, Calgary media, consider discontinuing your efforts to obtain these details.

      We choose to celebrate how they lived, as opposed to glorify how they died. We implore you to do the same.

      In the meantime, we are using our voice on social media to create awareness about our concerns. We feel we need to do this for our kids and their friends, and to protect the families that have been left behind.

      Thank you for your consideration. We ask that you publicize this letter in its entirety.

      Sincerely, The Hong family, The Perras family, The Rathwell family, The Segura family, The Hunter family.

      Visayans brace for typhoon one year after Haiyan


        Like a bad dream Visayans were again dealing with a potentially devastating typhoon a year after one of the most powerful typhoons wreaked havoc in the region.

        People, many of whom still have not recovered from Typhoon Haiyan, were hunkered down awaiting the landfall of Typhoon Ruby December 6.

        However, Ruby has not proved to be nearly as powerful as Haiyan, which knocked out power, flattened homes and killed more than 6,000 people.

        On December 7 the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council released an update on the situation. At that time the only casualties were a one-year old child and 65-year old man from Iloilo who died of hypthermia.

        A small number of roads were closed down because of flooding and landslides and widespread power outages were reported in Visayas, including in Tacloban and northern Samar.

        Hundreds of thousands of people were affected by the typhoon, including those in the hardest hit city of Tacloban, where some people remain in temporary shelters and tents close to the sea.

        However, most of the debris has been cleared away and homes have been repaired and rebuilt in many areas.

        But with Typhoon Ruby continuing to pummel Visayas many people are praying that history does not repeat itself.

        Calgarian Connie Bassana says she is frightened for her four children, six grandchildren and extended family and in-laws who live in Visayas and are still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan.

        “It’s scary,” Bassana says.

        She replaced the roof on her home in Roxas City, where her children live, but left smashed windows in the kitchen unrepaired because of the expense. Her son covered the openings with bamboo to try to keep out the expected 220 kilometre per hour winds coming from Typhoon Ruby.

        Her other relatives who live in Jamul Awan Panay Capiz close to the sea are having an even harder time to recover from Typhoon Haiyan.

        “My own family is less than 50 percent recovered,” she says, adding she has several family members who have moved into one house.

        One of her brother-in-laws received 10,000 pesos to rebuild his home, which was totally destroyed.

        Bassana says she just hopes her loved ones will not be starting all over again when Typhoon Ruby is finished.

        “Life is so hard for them,” she laments.

        Canadians were instrumental in helping out in her hometown, says Bassana.

        “Canada stayed a long time in Roxas City,” she says. “There has been a lot of help.”

        Canadian Red Cross program manager for early recovery Sylvie Zangger travelled to the Philippines twice since Haiyan hit and says she will be back in January or February to again assess the situation.

        Red Cross workers have been closely watching the outcome of Typhoon Ruby as they continue to assist people recovering from Haiyan.

        “We have two delegates there in the Philippines and we are preparing to respond to Ruby,” Zangger says.

        Canadian Red Cross staff and volunteers have been on the ground helping in the early days after Typhoon Haiyan to restore essential services and now working on a long-term recovery and future preparation plans.

        The Canadian contingency assisted the Orcon City hospital to get back on its feet by setting up a field hospital with tents in front of the medical centre, which had been 80 percent destroyed.

        Working with the medical staff and Philippine Red Cross volunteers and staff they were able to put up tents in the front courtyard of the hospital. The emergency field hospital has since been handed over to the Philippines Red Cross to use in future disasters.

        Now the Canadian Red Cross is halfway through a two-year recovery and future disaster preparation plan in the Philippines, Zangger says.

        The plan includes providing shelter for those that need it, rebuilding public infrastructure like schools and health facilities and providing support to people trying to rebuild their livelihoods.

        “So for example it could be providing seeds to farms or for fishermen boats,” Zangger explains.

        To see a video about the emergency field hospital set up in Orcon City visit:

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