Students raise first aid funds for Taal Volcano eruption victims

West Ranch Band members from Left, Marcus Salvador, Nathan Almeda, Indigo Garcia, Julia Camia, Troy Boggs, and Tristan Manalang. Dan Watson/The Stgnal

Students from West Ranch High School collaborated with Southern California organizations to raise funds that will help bring first aid and basic necessities to the people displaced by the Taal Volcano eruption, which struck the Philippines on Jan. 12.

The students had a common ground with each other because they are Filipino-Americans, which is also the reason they felt the need to help victims of the eruption. To date, about $2,775 has been raised by donations the students have been coordinating.

“We’re pretty fortunate for what we have here. We have a secure environment, we have secure families and everyone (in the Philippines) may not be as fortunate,” said Tristain Manalang. “They may not have as many resources as we do here and we want to give back because that land is where we came from.”

The eruption displaced almost a million people in the surrounding cities and villages, according to reports from local authorities the day after the eruption, leaving them with minimal food, water, medical supplies and other basic necessities.

After deciding the group wanted to help, junior Nathan Almeda wrote letters to organizations asking if they would be interested in donating. Among the donors were owners of Gong Cha, a bubble tea restaurant in Santa Clarita, who told Almeda they wanted to help their fellow Filipinos. 

The funds were donated to Dr. Licarte-Macalalad of the Batangas Medical Center in Batangas City, the Philippines, who then purchased the supplies and handed them out to people in need. 

Although the students were not born in the Philippines, many had extended family members living in areas affected by the eruption.

“I text my family through messenger and some of them have experienced the ash fall so it’s kind of scary to hear how much ash is coming down and how it’s affecting the roads and the air,” said Julia Camia. “It’s scary to hear about it coming from someone that you actually know.”

The students have reached out to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic church in hopes to have a bake sale in the near future to raise more funds that can be sent to victims.

“Families are losing their homes and losing their livestock and property,” said Indigo Garcia. “I can’t personally relate to that All we can do is try to help.”

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