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Compassion extends from Carbon to Philippines

The family sends handwritten thanks to the Kiahtipes Family, Market Express and the Circle K Ranch for the aid.
Regina Duncan

By JOHN SERFUSTINI
Sun Advocate associate editor

What if the wind sprang up at 4 o'clock and blew away the roof over your head, blew in rain that washed away the roads, blew down all the wires and left you in the dark?

Multiply that by millions of people and you have an idea of what Supertyphoon Haiyan did to the Philippines. Lives won't be restored to normal for a long time - if ever - but the generosity of some Carbon County folks and visitors did save the lives of a Filipino family and friends recently.

The family belongs to Castle Country residents Regina Duncan and her sister, Perla Silliman. Regina has been here since 1993.

She said her two brothers and a sister living in hard-hit Ormoc City, Leyte, all lost their homes to the winds.

She works two jobs, one at the Price Holiday Inn and a few days at the Market Express on south Carbon Avenue in Price.

When co-workers and hotel visitors learned of the dire situation of her family, they began to donate gifts of cash to help out.

Then her employer, Angelo "Gopher" Kiahtipes, gave her family a gift that brought tears to her eyes. It was a check made out to her for $2,000.

"I cried when he gave me the check," she said. "And I am so glad he gave it to me personally. This way I know where it went." Thanks to photos posted on Facebook, the Kiahtipes family knows as well.

That kind of money goes a long way in the Philippines. The cash assisted not only her immediate family, but their neighbors as well, Regina said. However, her family had to go a long way to spend it.

They had to go clear to Cebu on the other side of the island to find an open grocery and stock up on sardines and other canned and dry goods.

"They only let 20 people in the store at one time, and only one basket," Regina said.

Food isn't the only thing that is scarce. Electricity is also hard to find. "Think of Price, Helper and Wellington, and Price is the only place where there is power," she explains. People had to travel some distance to find a place where they could charge their cell phones. Then they had to sit by their phones until the batteries were full.

Her family has been living in tents since the typhoon. It is inconvenient, but it has also gotten scary.

During the typhoon, there was a jailbreak in Tacloban, about an hour's drive away. Eighty convicts got out.

"So what do you do when you are in a tent and you don't even have a door to lock?" she asked.

Regina said that person-to-person giving such as the Kiahtipes and other Carbon residents donated is good because it bypasses the government of the Philippines, which has been overloaded by the scale of the disaster and has also been accused of corruption in some instances.

There are also examples of profiteering. Home construction repair materials have doubled in price since the typhoon.




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