In my past three columns, I wrote on the amazing foreign aid and loans that the Philippines received from foreign governments and multinational corporations as well as the assistance from foreign volunteers for the relief and rehabilitation from the devastation of super-typhoon ‘Yolanda.’
Likewise, I cited the contribution of the business sector with their donations in cash and in kind and the private sector initiative to coordinate their efforts through the newly – organized Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF). The top conglomerates together with the non-government organizations (NGOs) and the Church will be working together sharing information and their resources to achieve synergy through PDRF.
However, there were still some donations from foreign companies and governments that were missed out in the last three articles. There is the $1-million contribution of 7 Eleven Japan for the rebuilding of homes of the victims of the super-storm through the Habitat for Humanity Philippines. The generous amount came from the wonderful 7 Eleven customers in Japan that experienced a tsunami in 2011.
The American logistics company UPS, United Parcel Service, gave the same amount of $1 million or the equivalent of P44 million. It was also given to the Habitat for Humanity and other established Filipino NGOs. The information was kindly shared with me by my good old friend Jose Eduardo “Ed” C. Delgado, president & CEO of DelBros and the local partner of UPS in the country.
It is interesting to note that donations from foreign companies for shelter of the survivors are now going to the Habitat for Humanity Philippines. Nothing much has been heard of donations from overseas going to the once-famous Gawad Kalinga (GK). It now appears that the donors have been advised that Habitat is far better-managed than GK.
The other foreign companies mentioned in my previous column was Daimler AG, the German maker of Mercedes Benz and trucks who gave 500,000 euros or P30 million which was given through the German Red Cross. Hyundai of South Korea and Toyota Motors Philippines together the GT Corporation of George Ty gave P50 million each.
I may have missed out the news that Honda Motors and Isuzu Motors where Ayala Corporation is their local partner gave a total donation of P 13.5 million. Honda Motors Japan gave P5 million, while Honda Motors Foundation gave another P5 million. Isuzu Motors gave P3.5 million. (I have to research on the donations.) Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) also gave P10 million in its contribution to the relief efforts.
What was not mentioned in my past columns were the contributions of the Nordic countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. They were the first countries to pledge aid and even later increased their donations. Their total contributions have reached US$ 50 million or P2.2 billion that does not include technical and other forms of assistance like supplies, equipment and personnel sent to the Philippines.
The people and the respective governments of the Nordic nations are really very caring just like the British, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders (kiwis). The donations of the Nordic countries were coursed through the United Nations Office of the Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs (Unocha), World Food Program (WFP) also of the United Nations and the International Red Cross.
No less than the Norwegian Prime Minister, Mrs. Elma Solberg, joined the Filipinos in a special mass at St Olav’s Church in Oslo on 16 November 2013. She later said: “We want to help alleviate the suffering that children, women and men are now undergoing in the affected areas in the Philippines.” There are close to 30,000 Filipinos living in Norway that gave 20 million Norwegian krones (NOK) or $3.2 million.
What I find also very touching was the contribution from Denmark which gave an initial contribution of 10 million Danish krone (DKK) or $1.8 million. However, after only a few days later, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr. Christian Friis Bach, announced an increase in its aid to the Philippines making its donations amount to DKK 42.5 million or $7.8 million or P350 million.
“The disaster has hit much harder than we initially feared,” said Minister Bach. “Assistance from the international community is urgently needed and I have, therefore, decided to increase significantly the Danish contribution to the relief efforts,” he added. I find this statement truly very heart-warming.
What is most surprising is the contribution of Iceland with a population of only 300,000 and with some 1,000 Filipinos living there. In spite of its own economic woes brought about by its bankruptcy caused by the 2008 global economic crisis, Iceland made a donation equivalent to $100,000 or about P4.5 million. This was the same initial contribution of China, but it later increased its donation out of apparent embarrassment.
Thus far, the biggest contribution to the relief efforts came from the United Kingdom (UK) with 80 million pounds or P5.6 billion. The amount is even bigger than the $86 million or P3.8 billion from the United States of America (USA). I find it rather curious why the UK gave 50 percent more than the USA.
There are almost four million Filipinos living in America, compared to only 200,000 of our compatriots living in the United Kingdom. So why did British Prime Minister David Cameron increase their aid of 50 million pounds to 80 million pounds? In peso terms, the aid increased from P3.5 billion to P5.6 billion.
One reason could be the former Filipina nanny of Prince William and Prince Harry who took care of them for 14 years. Ms. Lillie Piccio of Bacolod, Negros Occidental, was nanny to the two sons of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana in Balmoral Castle when they were growing up. Ms. Piccio also once worked with Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth. Her royal wards, William and Harry, may have asked Prime Minister Cameron to kindly increase the aid to the country where their beloved former nanny lives.