Salamat po

By Ernesto Cullari

Ernesto_Cullari_GDA1Over 5,000 people were killed and nearly 2,000 are still missing since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in early November. We can easily recall the devastation and the loss that occurred on the Jersey Shore following Hurricane Sandy. Many of us are still rebuilding lives, homes and businesses. Haiyan was the most violent storm to ever make landfall and only you can begin to imagine their suffering. On behalf of my mother Lee, my step dad Matt and the 27 orphans living under their care in Bohol, the Philippines, I thank you for recently coming to their aid in such a desperate time of need. Street Kids Philippine Missions will continue to meet the needs of these children because of your generosity.


Even before the storm, the Philippines was a place of both beauty and squalor. The Philippine Islands are home to many of the world’s most alluring beaches. Yet not far from the tourist attractions and the luxurious hotels are some of the filthiest shantytowns on earth.StrKids Top300x250


Imagine a neighborhood constructed of trash and debris; with walls and roofs made of cardboard, tin and sheetrock. Pirated electricity from neighboring gated enclaves lights the dark and dingy nights, for the few foolish enough to reroute the current into their hand patched shack. Fires often ravage and raze shantytowns.


Not everyone who is poor or destitute lives in shantytowns. Entire families live on doorsteps, street benches, inside cardboard boxes erected on sidewalks. Many of these are former sales clerks, teachers or small business owners. In the Philippines, there are only rich and poor. Corruption, addiction, cronyism and the mindset of those who have lived under multi-generational poverty have seen to it that the middle-class does not grow roots and flourish.

It is this downtrodden environment that has given rise to the street kids that have become so commonplace in Philippine society. Hundreds of thousands of these little ones travel in packs and run through the streets in every city on every island, like wild dogs, engaging in drug use and other crimes. Poverty does not discriminate and the street kid can range in age from 3 years old and up. The Bloods and The Crypts have long been established in every major city.


Three young siblings, a girl and two boys, once ran away from the orphanage, either because they missed their extended family still living in the shantytown or they were running away from the accountability and the structure that is required at the mission. Soon after they returned to the streets there was a late night fire that engulfed a neighboring slum. All three children ran toward the chaos to get a better glimpse of what was happening. Two of the brothers were struck and killed when a dump truck was being moved to avoid the fire. The sister was hospitalized for months because the same truck that took her brothers’ lives crushed her feet. This was life on the streets for too many children before the typhoon.


Typhoon Haiyan took a bad situation and made it worse for millions of people and especially for the countless children who roam and wander the dangerous streets of the Philippines.


Nonetheless, since the storm many of you have been a Godsend, providing light at a time of such darkness by donating so generously to the orphanage. On Wednesday December 4th, we were able to raise nearly $8,000 because of you and the efforts of the following people:


Bill Nelson, former CEO of HBO and his wife Marguerite;  Senator Jen Beck, Senator Joe Kyrillos, Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, and her husband Bob; Freeholder Serena DiMaso; Janine and Kimberly the owners of Seagrass Restaurant; Russell Lewis, Andrew Hacking and Nona Lloyd of Watermark; Dr. Glenn Gabisan and his wife Dr. Leizle Gabisan; Art and Lori Gallagher (MoreMonmouthMusings);  Pat Lee and Campbell Elementary School in Metuchen. A very special thanks to Jana Manning and TriCity News publisher Dan Jacobson who are always among the first to support all of my endeavors.


Last night my mother and Matthew took a truck full of relief supplies to the neighboring island of Leyte, an area that saw the most destruction from the typhoon and remains dangerous because of armed looters. But because of all of you they were able to get many needed materials like food, clothing, soap, shampoo and water to those who need it most. In fact they fed hundreds of people. On their behalf I wish you a blessed and Merry Christmas. The situation remains grave. To do more:


Thank you (Salamat po).



Posted: December 20th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Ernesto Cullari, Typhoon Haiyan | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

One Comment on “Salamat po”

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