Relatives’ plight in Philippines spurs fundraiser

By Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate November 18, 2013 07:59 pm

The Philippines may be far away from Del Norte, but the recent typhoon has had a devastating affect on the family of a local teacher.

Laura Chandler’s three uncles, including her mother’s twin, two aunts and cousins live on the island of Leyte near the city of Can-avid, which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda.

The typhoon struck the Philippines on Nov. 7. At least 3,976 people were killed across a swath of islands, with 1,598 still missing, according to the Los Angeles Times. More than 4 million were displaced.

Chandler, who teaches kindergarten through third-grade at Klamath River Early College of the Redwoods, said her family is safe, but there’s no electricity or communication capabilities. As farmers and fishermen, they support themselves by living off the land, but the storm took that from them, Chandler said. She said she is receiving updates on her family via a cousin in Manila.

Unable to be with her family in the Philippines, Chandler decided to reach out to the local community. Chandler will bring Del Norte a taste of her family’s homeland on Wednesday.

“She’s the one asking for help for the rest of the family,” Chandler said, referring to her cousin. “There’s nothing right now. I decided to do what I could here, and that’s why I’m throwing everything together at the last minute.”

Chandler, who grew up in southern Mississippi and taught in Northern Louisiana before coming to Del Norte, said she does a lot of volunteer work. She has painted faces at the health fair, donated artwork to the Humane Society and given free art lessons to students in an alternative school at a Louisiana housing project.

“It’s never been anything for me to give my time or my talents or my care,” she said. “But the tables are turned now, and I’m asking for help. For me to ask for anything it’s really hard, but I’m putting myself out there.”

Chandler and volunteers will serve Filipino egg rolls, chicken adobo, jasmine rice and melon water for $7 per person or $20 for a family of four.

“What’s the best way to get people together other than with food?” Chandler said. “People really like the egg rolls, and so I thought that would be a good way to share a little bit of our culture and to make it relevant for the cause.”

Chandler said she’s also received help from the owner of Cazadores Family Mexican Restaurant, who donated 40 pounds of chicken breast for the chicken adobo.

“I didn’t ask for it,” Chandler said, adding that when the owner remembered that Chandler’s family is from the Philippines, she got teary-eyed. “She said, ‘is there anything I can do?’ I thought she was being nice, but she really meant it.”

Chandler said the funds she raises on Wednesday will be sent to her cousin in Manila and then divided amongst her family. She pointed out that even though aid has been arriving, many Filipinos have to find a way to care for themselves.

“They don’t have the system quite like the system we have in the U.S.,” she said. “Government aid and things like that, it’s not as prevalent over there.”

The fundraiser for the Philippines will kick off at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday inside the community recreation room at Hidden Creek Apartments at 1000 Scenic Creek Drive in Crescent City. Hidden Creek Apartments is located behind Walmart.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it