‘Taal-Ong Tayo’: West Ranch HS students, alums call for donations for Taal Volcano victims

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Dora and Peter Cruz (2nd and 3rd from left), owners of Gong Cha in Santa Clarita, are shown handing over their donation of $500 to West Ranch High School students (L-R) Nathan Almeda, Julia Camia, Troy Boggs and Tristan Manalang for their fundraising drive to help the people of Batangas due to the eruption of Taal Volcano.

THE recent eruption of Taal Volcano in the Philippines last January 12 has forced many Filipino to flee their homes and move to evacuation centers.  Those most affected are villagers in the hard-hit province of Batangas. 

Here in the United States, a group of Filipino American students from West Ranch High School (WRHS) was touched by what they’ve seen on the news and were inspired to do something  — in their own little way — to help their fellow Filipinos back home.

WRHS students Nathan Almeda, Troy Boggs, Julia Camia, Indigo Garcia, Katris and Joseph Fabian, Hans Lontoc, Tristan Manalang, Dani Nalangan, Joaquin Santos and Marcus Salvador and alumni Josh Alvarez and Camie and Jared Sotiangco all met through the West Ranch Band and Colorguard Program. The group is working with their families to collect funds to support the humanitarian and medical missions of the Batangas Medical Center Taal-Ong Tayo (Tulong Tayo) program in Batangas City. 

To kick off their donation and fundraising drive,  Almeda wrote a letter and sent it to a few local organizations and businesses in Santa Clarita.   First to respond were Dora and Pete Cruz, Peter Cruz, and Pia Sadaqatmal; owners of Gong Cha in Santa Clarita.  Recognizing the immediate needs of kababayans back home, they generously donated $500 to the students’ cause, and even expressed support to future charitable work and projects.

Among the urgent needs of the victims are food, water, medical supplies, hygiene kits (like toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, baby diapers and sanitary napkins), clothing, and linens/blankets. However, collecting donations in kind and then shipping them to the Philippines will take almost a month.  The students instead are calling for cash donations, and will hold fundraisers (i.e. a bake sale) to get all funds quickly via money transfers.  Through this fundraising, it is assured that their donation will get to the victims immediately and will be able to help more in need.

Receiving all donations is Dr. Licarte-Macalalad, who will then purchase supplies and bring it all to the people of Batangas. One hundred bags of relief goods were already sent last January 16. 

Among the urgent needs of the victims are hygiene kits (like toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, baby diapers and sanitary napkins), clothing, and linens/blankets.

To date, the students have raised $1,200. 

“Learning about this disaster and seeing how the people of Batangas were affected brought sadness to many people including myself,” Almeda wrote in his fundraising letter to organizations and businesses.  “As a Fil-Am, who has learned to love the country and people, would like to help in any way just to let them know that even if we are in a different country, there are still people who care about them.”

For any person, organization and/or business interested in supporting this cause, please contact Ivy Manalang at ivyamanalang@me.com 

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