SJSU, Project Pearls hold relief drive for survivors of typhoon


San Jose State University are holding a relief drive to help survivors of the deadly typhoon that ripped through the Philippines. This comes as relief operations in the typhoon-devastated central Philippines are picking up pace. Only minimal amounts of water, food and medical supplies are making it to the hardest-hit areas still, but aviation authorities have reopened two more airports in the region, allowing for more aid flights.

The president of the Philippines says the initial projection of 10,000 deaths now appears to be too much. He believes it may be closer to 2,500. Just over 1,800 people have been killed.

A massive international relief effort is underway, with the U.S. pledging $20 million in immediate aid, and the USS George Washington is on its way to the region. The United Nations has launched efforts to raise more than $300 million in disaster relief.

Nearly half of California's Filipino population lives in the Bay Area, so it's no wonder the desire to help is strong. People in the Bay Area pitched in by donating food, supplies and cash during an all-night relief drive at the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center in San Francisco on Monday night. Another group has donated the money to ship the donations.

Students at San Jose State University are holding a relief drive. Akbayan, the student association of Filipinos at San Jose State, was joined by other student groups, including fraternities and sororities. The food and cash donations will be turned over to Project Pearls, a Peninsula group already active in helping the poor in the Philippines.

One major focus is meeting the needs of babies.

"We had boxes specifically just for baby items; we had a lot of diapers, a lot of baby formula and stuff like that, so yeah, we're trying to emphasize any type of toiletries and sanitation things," Francesca Mateo said.

The Philippine government estimates over a quarter-million people in need are pregnant or new mothers.

The vivid images of suffering and destruction motivated many students to do what they can. Vanessa Castillo gave up her lunch money to donate to the super typhoon victims.

"It's really hard watching something like that; it makes you want to help," Castillo said. "It doesn't really matter how much you give as long as you help out."

Tuesday evening, San Francisco International Airport was a hub for people trying to get to the country. A round-trip ticket to Manila costs $1,500 but that is not stopping people from making the trip.

The Monges were rushing to catch the last flight to the Philippines Tuesday night. They bought their tickets a few hours ago after getting confirmation that Raymond's parents are alive in Tacloban.

"They are soaking wet and cannot leave the house because no one is helping them; it's to each his own," Raymond Monge said.

The Clementes are also from Tacloban and will land in Manila on Wednesday. They don't know how they'll get to their home town about 350 away where their family home has crumbled. Their business is still standing, but barely.

"It's really torn apart, it's not safe; my brothers want to go back and look for our employees but I told them to don't go yet," Ariel Clemente said.

The Clementes are not only going to Tacloban to see their families, but also to help. Friends and family in the Bay Area have given them money to take back with them.

More than half a million people have been left homeless by Typhoon Haiyan.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.