17 January 2014 – In the shadow of world-renowned British landmarks Big Ben and Nelson’s Column, more than a hundred Filipinos braved the winter cold to publicly express heartfelt thanks to the people and government of the United Kingdom (UK) for their assistance in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
Last January 12, over a dozen UK based-Filipino organizations came together in historic Trafalgar Square and staged a Thanksgiving Rally to show their gratitude and appreciation for all the British support towards the typhoon victims in the Philippines.
The rally’s overall chairman, Mr. Renato Lucero of Guian, Samar, addressed the gathering and emotionally recounted the devastating effects of the typhoon, as well as the heartening response of the international community, particularly the UK, to the subsequent appeal for help.
“Within a short span of time, it became obvious that the people of the United Kingdom and its Government showed unprecedented generosity in the amount of financial and material help raised and given” Mr. Lucero said.
“The magnanimity and munificence of the British heart and soul echoed amongst the volunteers,” he further stated.
In his remarks, Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Enrique A. Manalo likewise cited the significant British contribution to the critical rescue and relief operations.
“During this difficult time, we did not stand alone”, Ambassador Manalo said. “In an unprecedented manner, the UK Government and the British people manifested their solidarity with the Filipino people through their generosity and valuable support for the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the affected areas.”
Members of the Filipino community presented a Thank You Letter to Mr. Matthew Warnock-Parkes of the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC), the umbrella UK organization coordinating British charity assistance to the typhoon-ravaged areas. The letter thanked the UK government and people for having, among others, “opened your arms and hearts to us without hesitation and without condition; resolutely stood by us throughout this difficult time; (and) encouraged and empowered us to move on knowing we are not alone.”
The thanksgiving rally also staged a moment of silence and floral offering for the typhoon victims. The event concluded with the gathering linking arms and singing “If We Hold On Together.”
According to the Philippine government’s Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), the UK government has pledged USD$954,000.00 in cash and USD$95,400,000.00 in non-cash assistance. The DEC’s Philippine Typhoon Appeal has also raised £86,000,000.00 (approximately USD $140,437,366), and its different partners and member organizations have helped over 1.6 million Filipinos.
The Philippine Embassy in London has likewise been informed of numerous meaningful acts of assistance by the British public, including no-uniform days in schools, cake sales in care homes for the elderly, Christmas parties transformed into fund-raising events, prayers and retiring collections in churches and mosques, and Christmas cards for children in Tacloban hand-made by children in the UK.
“We are moved by all these expressions of support and sympathy, and we draw inspiration from them as we face the more difficult task of rehabilitation and reconstruction” said Ambassador Manalo. END