Philippines: Rally for people hit by Typhoon Bopha
Last Saturday, around 500 older people from Metro Manila and of various faiths came together to offer spiritual support to those affected by the recent disasters in Mindanao, south Philippines. The rally also included young people and took place all day despite the rain.
"We are gathered here this morning to give the victims new hope and offer them help," said Nanay Julie Catangay, the manager of the event, in her introductory message.
The group, composed of members and officers of HelpAge's local partners Confederation of Older Persons' Associations in the Philippines (COPAP) and Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE), marched in solidarity around Quezon City Memorial Circle.
Singing and dancing in the park
They raised money for those hit by the disasters from members of the public in the park, as well as donating their own money. "If we have 10 pesos (US$0.25), sharing half of it would ease the hunger of our fellow older people. However small, when all these amounts are added up, they will make a difference," Nanay Julie added.
The park was filled with song and dance and prayers from different faiths, including two Buddhist volunteer staff from Cambodia and Thailand. Around 50 students from the National Service Training Program of San Beda College showed young people's support for older people.
Older people hit by Typhoon Bopha are in desperate need of help. Eliseo is 63 and has lived on his banana and coconut plantation since 1959. His plantation was completely destroyed in the typhoon.
He said: "It will take at least two years for my life to return to normal. The trees need time to grow. We have no income at the moment; we are dependent on relief assistance and donations. We need rice, food and shelter."
Natural disasters impact at least 200 million people a year. However, while older people typically make up between 11-22% of national populations, less than 1% of humanitarian aid is allocated to their needs.
On 20 February, World Day of Social Justice, HelpAge launches the UNJUST campaign, which focuses on older people affected by humanitarian emergencies. As well as ensuring state actors and the international community are just in their humanitarian response, older people will take action to influence how they are included in national emergency responses.
Older people taking action in the Philippines in support of those affected by natural disasters is a crucial part of this campaign. UNJUST has at its heart the voices of older people and their calls to improve their lives.
Find out more about our work in emergencies to support older people and their families.