Generous gesture: (Behind mock cheque from left) Philippines Red Cross (PRC) secretary-general Dr Gwen Pang, Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo S. Romualdez, PRC chairman former senator Richard Gordon, Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson Sr, Fernandes and AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani (back row right) posing for a photo during the cheque presentation ceremony in Tacloban.
MANILA: On Nov 8, Super Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the central Philippines, leaving over 8,000 dead or missing and levelling thousands of homes, causing RM42bil in damage and destruction.
Almost seven months on, the worst-hit communities are still struggling to rebuild their shattered lives from makeshift tents they now call home.
On Friday, a gift of love flew in with AirAsia, bringing news of a US$2.17mil (RM6.97mil) aid to help them reconstruct their shattered lives. At a press conference in Tacloban, one of the worst-hit locations, the airline’s group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes announced the amount raised region-wide through its six-week “To Philippines with love” campaign.
The fund-raising was a multi-faceted effort by AirAsia Foundation and comprised public-giving, a matching component by the AirAsia group and contributions by the airline’s partner companies, the last comprising Credit Suisse, Tune Insurance, Queens Park Rangers Football Club, CIMB Group and EQ8.
The main recipient, the Philippine Red Cross, will be building 345 homes in Panay with public contributions of 46 million peso (RM3.3mil). From the matching and partner funds managed by AirAsia Foundation, Habitat for Humanity Philippines will be receiving 37.4 million peso (RM2.7mil) to construct 187 permanent housing units in Tacloban – structures designed to withstand an Intensity eight earthquake and over 200kph windspeed.
“We started this campaign as an expression of Asean unity for survivors who lost so much and we are incredibly touched to find that the campaign received donations from people in 75 countries all over the world,” said Fernandes.
The campaign marked the second phase of AirAsia’s contributions to post-Haiyan relief and reconstruction efforts.
After Haiyan, AirAsia was one of the first commercial carriers to operate humanitarian flights, carrying close to 5,000 relief workers and survivors as well as 400 tonnes of aid items to Tacloban, Cebu and Kalibo. It also made available 250,000 free seats across its Philippine network for people to travel in search of missing family members.
In selecting the reconstruction partners, AirAsia prioritised its approach to ensure that beneficiaries were better equipped to face future weather challenges. The airline also has taken the approach of empowering victims through livelihood creation projects.
Towards this end, 8 million peso (RM578,160) will be allocated to Hapinoy’s Project Bagong Araw to revive disrupted sari-sari store networks. A total of 133 women from low-income households in Palo municipality in Leyte will receive grants and loans of 60,000 peso (RM4,304) per household to set up home-based sari-sari stores or provision goods businesses.
This revolving capital is expected to continuously provide loans to other low-income households affected by the typhoon.
“We believe that for people to get their lives back on track, it is crucial that they have jobs and the opportunity to earn an income.
“The livelihood projects we support also help restore damaged supply chains to address the problems of inflation and shortages in typhoon-affected areas,” Fernandes said.
The fourth recipient of AirAsia Foundation’s allocation is Rags2Riches Inc, a Filipino social enterprise that trains underprivileged individuals in craft skills and engages them in its value chain to enable them to earn fair wages.
Rags2Riches will train 50 individuals in Tacloban in sewing and painting skills so that they are able to join the social enterprise’s artisans network.
Fernandes said AirAsia did not simply hand over money but took pains to find out how best it could be utilised to serve the community.