Philippines ambassador joins Jerusalem youths in effort for typhoon victims

In coordination with embassy, students prepared 25 boxes filled with ready-to-eat food, blankets,and other necessities.

PHILIPPINE AMBASSADOR Generoso DG Calonge students 370 (photo credit: Courtesy of Moshe Kotzen)
PHILIPPINE AMBASSADOR Generoso DG Calonge students 370
(photo credit: Courtesy of Moshe Kotzen)
Philippine Ambassador Generoso D.G. Calogne rolled up his sleeves, along with 21 eighth-graders from Boys Town Jerusalem in the capital Monday morning, to pack much-needed relief supplies for Typhoon Haiyan survivors still reeling from the devastating tropical storm.
Working in coordination with the Philippine Embassy, Calogne and the students prepared 25 boxes filled with ready-to-eat food, blankets, pillows and other basic necessities donated by the school, located in the Bayit Vagan neighborhood.
Since the storm ravaged the islands in the central Philippines, approximately 4 million people have been displaced, with some 350,000 remaining in over 1,000 evacuation centers.
“Especially after this typhoon, words cannot describe how much we appreciate the aid of the Israeli nation,” said Calogne Sunday.
“It’s a sorrowful event, but we’re overjoyed and overwhelmed by Israel’s help.”
Calogne said Israel was among the first country’s to set up a fully functional and staffed field hospital in Bogo City, on the Island of Cebu, which has cared for thousands of victims who fled the adjacent Island of Leyte, which bore the brunt of the powerful storm.
Additionally, Calogne said the JDC, IsraAid and Masa have dispatched hundreds of volunteers to aid the beleaguered nation.
“It’s a very special response in an already strong relationship that will only be strengthened,” said the ambassador.
Several of the eighth-graders from the school who helped Calogne pack the boxes expressed empathy and compassion for the Filipino victims.
“I was happy as an Israeli youngster to be able to help people in need,” said 13-yearold Itamar Ziv. “I’ve been in difficult situations myself and can appreciate how important help is when you need it most.”
Fellow student Yosef Meir Karasanti said he was proud to help the many victims and held a special place in his heart for the nation, which granted 10,000 visas to European Jews to take refuge in 1939.
“It was a special feeling to be able to help people in need that we don’t even know, and I was proud to be able to give,” he said.
He added that he’ll “never forget the honor of shaking the ambassador’s hand next to the school’s Righteous Gentile memorial.”
Boys Town Jerusalem first formed a bond with the Philippine nation in 2011, when the school was among the first institutions in Israel to pay tribute to the little-known efforts of the Philippine government to save the lives of thousands of Jews during World War II. The school conferred its “Jan Zwartendijk Award for Humanitarian Ethics and Values” to honor the late Philippine president Manuel Luis Quezon, who in 1939 provided the visas.
Since 2011 relations have remained strong between the country and school, which has hosted a number of visits from high-ranking Philippine dignitaries to its campus, including Philippine Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, cabinet ministers and ambassadors.
According to Calogne, who noted the two governments recently signed a deal for direct flights between Tel Aviv and Manila, there are presently about 500 Jewish families living in the nation.
Boys Town director of international development Yoni Strimber has traveled to the Philippines several times to meet with leaders of the Jewish community there, government officials, and descendants of Quezon.
Rabbi Moshe Linchner, Boys Town’s dean of students, said the school was delighted to aid the victims of the disaster.
“We are happy to be able to provide some small assistance, as we remain mindful of the help the Philippine nation provided the Jewish people in our terrible time of need,” he said.
While Calogne said his government was prepared to face the devastation alone, he noted that Israel’s ongoing support will help the nation “rise up faster.”
“I want to express the heartfelt gratitude of the Filipino people and government for this outpouring of good will and compassion,” he said.
Calogne said the supplies will be shipped midweek from a port in Tel Aviv by an area shipping company that has agreed to deliver the boxes free of charge.