The large and active Filipino community in the San Antonio area is mobilizing forces to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in their homeland. The typhoon devastated entire regions of The Philippines and is estimated to have killed between 10,000 and 12,000 people.
"The Filipinos are very close, said Laura Allison, who heads the group Organization of Filipinos on Texas. "If you are from the Philippines, we think we all are related somehow."
The ties between The Philippines and San Antonio come largely from the military, as generations of San Antonians were stationed at the former Subic Bay Naval Station and Clark Air Force Base. The Philippines are, like Texas, a former colony of the Spanish Empire, and, even though Tagolog is the primary language, Spanish is also widely spoken in The Philippines.
"In fact, most of the Filipinos who are here are from that part of the country, that was hit by the typhoon, the southern part," Allison said.
Filipino businesses and two large churches with largely Filipino congregations are springing into action. Chris Javier, who runs Filipino Express Restaurant on the city 's northwest side, says he plans to hold several fundraisers and donate a large portion of his proceeds to the typhoon relief operation.
"A lot of us are really affected by that emotionally," he said. "Our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters over there."
Allison says this is a situation where Filipinos in San Antonio and those who support the local Filipino community can come together and make a real difference to support the typhoon victims.
"We are very very devastated with the news about what is happening back home," she said. "I am very happy that local people are reacting faster than the typhoon."