ASIA raises money for Philippines relief funds

by Casey Campbell / Beacon Correspondent • January 29, 2014

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Members of Asian students for Intercultural Awareness pose.
Members of Asian students for Intercultural Awareness pose.

In early Nov. 2013, a Category 5 typhoon devastated the Philippines, leaving millions homeless and over 5,000 dead. Now, a few months later, the recovery process from Typhoon Haiyan has only begun.

On Wednesday, Emerson hosted the “Sun After the Storm: Philippines Fundraiser” in the Cabaret. Asian Students for Intercultural Awareness, or ASIA, and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs sponsored the event. ASIA is one of the many multicultural organizations on campus that aims to spread awareness of various Asian cultures.

The fundraiser was a night filled with comedy, music, and entertainment. Admission was $5, and ASIA sold t-shirts for $10. All of the money raised went to Doctors without Borders, an organization that sets up relief funds for people who have experienced disasters like Typhoon Haiyan. Overall the event raised a little over $100 with just over 20 attendees.

The comedy troupe Stroopwafel opened the performance with two different improv acts. Alexandra Bender danced and sang self-written parody songs of Ke$ha and Lady Gaga, while Sean Clampett later rapped. Multiple members of the comedy troupe Derbyn and the Drakefish performed solo acts, and a few additional comedians performed as well. Ricky Downes gave his own rendition of the song “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen complete with a full costume of Elsa, one of the main characters.

The night ended with the ASIA executive board calling for a group sing-a-long to “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles. Hope and awareness was an over-arching theme for the night, and ASIA expressed its dedication throughout the event.

“We want to make people aware of what’s going on,” said Daniel LeMar, a junior writing, literature, and publishing major, and President of ASIA. “Even if it’s something that happened in November, it’s still a continuation of efforts.”

Although the storm has long passed, the Filipino people still feel its effects. According to a recent report by the United Nations, 1 million homes are damaged and almost 2,000 people are still missing.

Sandrayati Fay, a sophomore performing arts major, said she has family and friends who live in the Philippines. She said she is thankful that her immediate family is safe, but has heard many intense stories from friends and other relatives. Fay performed last at the event, singing and playing the guitar.

“We had a lot of friends and relatives who were affected,” she said. “All the consequences of the storm are still happening there. People are still starving. It’s easy to forget because we’re so far away. We should be having events like this. It brings more of an awareness about it.”

Wednesday night’s event brought relief for what has been a serious topic by bringing comedy into the conversation. 

“When I found out this happened I really wanted to do something about it,” said Kelsey Jance, junior visual media arts major, and also a member of ASIA. “I’m a Filipino-American, and my family wasn’t directly affected, but obviously it still really resonated with me. It’s really great that we were able to do this.”

ASIA is not the only organization that hosted a fundraiser for the Philippines. In November, shortly after the storm hit, Emerson sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi contacted ASIA to help raise money. They made and sold thank-you cards that students could send to their friends on campus. The fundraiser was called “Cards to Show You Care” and all the money raised went to the Red Cross to assist in recovery.

“We really can make a difference when we work together,” said LeMar. “I think there is an incredible strength in numbers and in community. It was really touching to see some people who care about helping the Philippines.”

LeMar said he was very pleased with the outcome and with the event as a whole.

 “I was so surprised at how funny people were and how much we laughed,” he said. “Emerson students have a certain way of exceeding my expectations.”

Typhoon Haiyan struck right before the Christmas season, a widely celebrated holiday in the Philippines. According to Fay, though the typhoon struck so close to the holiday, Filipinos are able to find hope among the chaos.

“Christmastime is the celebration of the year in the Philippines,” Fay said. “People celebrate for months, and a typhoon during this time is always difficult to see. But at the same time, the funny thing about the Philippines is no matter what, the people there can still find hope and still find a way to celebrate, which is a beautiful thing about the Philippines.”