In January 2013, I visited Palawan for the first time with Tao ("tao" means "people" in Tagalog) Philippines (www.taophilippines.com). There, I experienced island life the way my family, just a couple of generations before me, probably did - with few modern accoutrements, but with so much fulfillment taken from living harmoniously with the land and people.
While Tao Philippines is an eco- and adventure-tourism venture, their mission also includes preserving marine life and island communities through collaborative efforts with the locals. To illustrate, during my trip I slept in basic huts (made of bamboo and coconut fronds) built and operated by locals, and ate fish caught that morning by fishermen. Today, these tours are on hiatus and these huts (the only source of income for some families) are likely destroyed. There is a saying in Filipino - "Bahala Na" - no direct English translation, but loosely means "Leave it to God." While it sounds fatalistic, it is actually a symbol of the Filipinos' resilience. Plagued by numerous natural disasters, past political conquests, the Filipino people use "Bahala Na" to tell themselves they are "ready to face the difficult situation before them, and will do their best to achieve their objectives." It's a pep talk spoken among a people who face little predictability.
Typhoon Haiyan, dubbed as the strongest typhoon in world history, destroyed many parts of Central Philippines, including Palawan. No one predicted its magnitude, being likened to Hurricane Katrina AND the 2006 tsunami. Water surges engulfed buildings, ran large ships aground, tossed families apart. It's estimated that 10,000 have died and millions have been affected. I know they will one day rebuild, as they do, but tragedy of this proportion needs immediate assistance.
Tao Philippines has stepped up to provide relief, leveraging their own resources - their boats, deep knowledge of Palawan, and crew of locals - to reach areas that are otherwise inaccessible to outside help. This fundraiser will support this organization's efforts because they know how to mobilize people to work together and build for themselves and for the community as a whole. They do it with dignity and with great care, as Tao themselves are part of that social fabric.
If you're able, please consider making a donation. Any amount helps, but if you'd like to sponsore a family for 2 weeks, $86 would provide them with food, medical supplies, and basic rebuilding materials.
You don't need to donate here, you can also send a PayPal directly to Tao Philippines firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include: YOUR NAME + TAO AID PACK (for the $86) or TAO RELIEF (any amount)
Thank you, Friends for all your support!