Local resident with ties to the Bol-anon community organizes fundraiser
N3- Typhoon Rai, known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Odette, was a powerful and catastrophic tropical cyclone that struck the Philippines in December 2021. The storm devastated the central Visayan Islands including the island where Spectrum Gerber Physical Therapist Ethel Lobrigas was born and where her family still resides.
Ms. Lobrigas is well known throughout the Newaygo County area for being an instructor in the art of Qigong/Tai Chi and has often volunteered her services for community events.
Though months have passed, the residual effects of the disaster continue to impact the lives of the Bol-anon community.
In an effort to provide much needed assistance to the people of the Bohol province Ms. Lobrigas has organized a benefit concert to be held at the Dogwood Center on June 10th. Proceeds will go to a Non Government Organization with expertise in survivor community led response for the rehabilitation phase of rebuilding and livelihood.
We caught up with Ms Lobrigas to inquire about the event.
Tell us a little about the island where you grew up.
Bohol is the 10th largest island of 7,000 islands in the Philippines. It lies in the heart of the Central Visayan islands. It is composed of 47 municipalities and 75 outlying islands surrounding the mainland. Thirty of these municipalities (62.5%) are situated along the coast. The rest are interior towns. Majority of the Boholanos are directly dependent on the coastal resources for food and livelihood. Tourism also plays a role in the island's economy. Bohol is famous for its Chocolate Hills. 1,200 uniformly cone-shaped hills named for the grass growing on the hills that turn brown in the summer, making the landscape look like chocolate mounds. They are hills made of limestone left over from coral reefs during the Ice Age when the island was submerged.
How did the typhoon affect the lives of the people who live there?
Supertyphoon Rai packed maximum sustained winds of 150 kph (93 mph) near the center with gustiness of up to 205 kph (127 mph). It made landfall in Bohol at 6:30 pm on Dec 16th 2021.
12 municipalities mostly in the northern part of Bohol were 90% affected where the center of the typhoon passed.
6 interior towns were between 75 to 90% affected.
12 towns including my hometown, Maribojoc was in the 50 to 75% affected.
17 towns in the southern part of Bohol were below 50% affected.
Everyone was a survivor except for over 100 lives lost.
Estimated families in the hardest hit area were 175 thousand. 87,583 houses were totally washed out and damaged especially among Bohol's 75 or so outlying islands either from storm surge, high winds and massive flooding.
My friends from elementary and high school who experienced the wrath of the typhoon, felt traumatized having to listen to the strong howling winds and take cover from the heavy rain for over 7 hours in the darkness of the night.
Next to shelter, livelihoods of the people are heavily devastated. Agricultural crops and livestock were lost including family vegetable gardens that were products of the previous year's Covid lockdowns and limited mobility.
You have family there. How has this impacted their day to day lives?
First we are grateful that the house our grandparents built in the 1940s is still standing and is serving a purpose of shelter from the elements. For a while there, work and hybrid school were suspended due to no power and school buildings were used as evacuation centers. Power was not fully restored until March 2022. So they were dependent on candles, oil lamps and generators. The line to get fuel from the pump took up to 3 hours until it was their turn. Water was delivered via scheduled water trucks.
I have 3 brothers who live there. One of them is a priest and this is his response:
“Growth and resilience. People are moving on with new challenges each day. And to think we survived a typhoon as strong as Typhoon Rai (Odette) and the earthquake in 2013, we are getting used to natural disasters. We have accepted the course of nature. We fall, we stand and move on. Learn lessons from the experience. Try to see it as an opportunity to become better persons.”
My niece said: “It brought back the sense of community because of no power and less screen time, it resurrected in-person sharing of experiences, hope and strength.”
How will the funds be used?
Funds will be forwarded to ECOWEB and Bangon Bohol 2 to benefit typhoon survivors in an outlying island community in the northern part of Bohol for shelter repair/reconstruction and livelihood recovery (fishing boats).
Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits, Inc. (ECOWEB) is a Non-government and Non-Profit organization with expertise on community-based disaster risk reduction and management. ECOWEB’s programs and projects are focused in the marginalized and vulnerable communities to natural and human-induced hazards which also promotes integrated risk management through localized actions while doing national platforming. It works to localize response on climate change adaptation and to decrease the community’s vulnerability from both natural and human-induced hazards.
Bangon Bohol 2 is a consortium of Bohol-based civil society groups organized to undertake relief and rehabilitation in areas ravaged by super typhoon Odette (Rai).
What gave you the idea of a benefit concert?
My heart gave me the idea of the benefit concert. Because I am not able to physically be in Bohol to do volunteer humanitarian work at the moment, I was inspired to search for different campaign ideas to increase awareness and raise funds on this side of the world and support the boots on the ground crew who have the expertise. I came across an organization, Human Aid who coached me with this project and got blessed by musicians who volunteered to perform.
What do you want people to know about the event?
Come listen to great music and enjoy! Tickets are $20 at the door.
Featured main artist is Bob Wallis. Bob is a singer/songwriter and keyboard player based in Michigan. He has two independently released albums, one with a song featured on NPR's "Car Talk". He plays keyboards and sings backups for Kaitlin Rose and The Band of Thorns. Bob is my husband's nephew.
The opening act is Madeline Kraemer, an 18 year old solo artist from Southfield, Michigan. She is currently studying at Oakland University in Rochester. Maddie hails from a family who inspired her love for music. Maddie is Bob's niece. She has been making music for over 7 years.
There will also be a cameo of my niece and her partner covering the song Peace Train.
How can people donate if they can’t make it to the concert?
People can go to the URL link below and donate if they can't make it to the concert
Click here to support Benefit Concert at the Dogwood Performing Arts Center Fremont, Michigan USA by Mary Ethel Lobrigas
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