The Filipino community in Boston is waiting for word from relatives in the typhoon-ravaged country. And, during this emotional time, gathering food, water and shelter materials to send.
The Sure Panoy Filipino food shop in Quincy had a steady stream of shoppers and visitors Monday morning. Typhoon Haiyan, or Typhoon Yolanda, as it’s being called in the Philippines, was on everyone’s mind. Customers chatted with each other and store owner Engracio Awatin.
“They’re worried because they have no contact with their relatives. And the Internet is down because there’s no communication," he said. "I tried to call them this morning and it’s still down.”
Awatin has relatives living in an inland city, which was not as hard hit as the island of Bahol or other coastal cities, where few buildings remain standing.
“They are okay because they are far from the water. People around the water are the ones devastated. Especially in Bahol because of the earthquake, they were living in a tent, and this is what happened.”
The vulnerable homes, many huts made from bamboo and coconut leaves, were almost entirely destroyed. Awatin said he expects it’ll be at least a week before he speaks to anyone in the Philippines.

In the meantime, he’s organizing weekly shipments of nonperishable food and drinks. Census data shows there are approximately 11,000 Filipino Americans living in Massachusetts. Awatin left the Philippines in 1985 but remembers typhoons from when he was younger.
“I remember the typhoons, when I was a kid. If the trees have no leaves, that’s very powerful.”
The Newport, R.I. Filipino-American Association is accepting donated clothes and nonperishable food to send. Red Cross chapters throughout New England are accepting monetary donations.