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Barry Andrews, chief executive of Goal. Photo by: goal.ie

Irish Filipinos shocked by Typhoon Haiyan’s wrath

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Barry Andrews, chief executive of Goal. Photo by: goal.ie

On Tuesday a Filipino man living in Ireland was given the devastating news that 10 members of his family are dead and others are missing following typhoon Haiyan.

Jaime Casilian, a chef who has been living in Dublin for several years, was told by his sister that his niece, aunt, uncle, and cousins were killed while more family members are still missing.

He told RTE’s "Morning Ireland" radio show, “I was so shocked when I heard from my sister. I was hoping that it would be only the material things that would be gone.”

He said his relatives decided not to evacuate their homes because they believed they were in a rocky area which would not be ravaged by the typhoon.

Casilian said, “Part of the island where I was born is erased from the map.”

The Filipino community is up to 15,000 strong in Ireland. Prayers were offered and candles lit in special services for members of the community at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel on Bachelors Walk in Dublin.

Fundraising events were organized to support rescue operations in devastated towns and islands in the Philippines.

Dublin-based Filipino priest Father Rene Esoy said difficulties communicating with home were heightening the sense of anxiety and uncertainty.

“We can see the images on TV. But the communications systems are down and there is no power, so it is very difficult to know what is happening on the ground. We are sharing news with other members of the community on Facebook. All we can do is pray and hope that our families and friends are safe,” Esoy said.

Many Filipinos, including nurses in nearly every hospital, are in Ireland to earn money to support families at home.

Karl Perocillo, the president of the Filipino group at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, said some of them had lost family members and others were still waiting for news.

Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore announced €1 million ($1.35m) in aid to assist the recovery effort. It will go towards shelter, food, water and health.

“Ireland has strong bonds with the Filipino people through our missionaries and through the many Filipinos working in our hospitals and elsewhere in Ireland,” Gilmore said.

Irish development agency Trocaire is distributing 8,000 tarpaulins to provide temporary shelter and is working with its partners to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.

Other Irish charities are mobilizing emergency response teams or already have volunteers on the ground.

Goal chief executive Barry Andrews said, “We have almost 20 years’ experience in the Philippines, providing health services, shelter and water and sanitation and other aid through a network of partners, and we will use this knowledge and expertise to examine which needs need to be prioritized.”

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