Mara Valdez, Contributing Writer
In an effort to help those in the Philippines affected by super typhoon Yolanda, Camille Salazar and her family raised $15,627 by holding a benefit concert for the victims.
Salazar was born in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, one of the island provinces of the Philippines, and moved to Dallas with her family when she was 10 years old. She has lived in the United States for 12 years, but the Philippines has not ceased to be her home.
“I felt utterly helpless because I felt so far away,” the University of Dallas senior said about her reaction to the typhoon, “and I know how difficult life is in the Philippines in general. People have to work hard for everything they have.”
Some 14.9 million people were affected in the two hours during which Yolanda pounded the country. At least 4.1 million were displaced and the death toll has reached at least 5,000. Salazar knew she had to help. The Salazars were determined to contribute their time and their talent to help the victims of the storm.
When the family first arrived in Dallas from the Philippines, Salazar’s father worked as the music director at their local church. Camille and other family members joined the choir and, in the process, her younger brother, Paulo, taught himself to play the guitar. Pretty soon, they had become a “sort-of band,” said Salazar.
“Everything we did, we sang,” she said. “We may not have a lot, but we’re gifted with these abilities to bring joy to other people, and we use that to raise funds for people who are in need of it.”
After hearing about the extensive damage caused by the typhoon, Salazar called her father and asked if it would be possible to set up a benefit concert. With the help of a few friends, she and her family held a concert on Nov. 17, a little more than a week after Yolanda hit.
The event was called “Open Mic, Open Heart: A Benefit Concert for the Victims of Typhoon Haiyan Yolanda,” and it was held at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Mesquite, Texas. The church works with the Poor Ministry of Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life. Salazar’s family selected that group to ensure that 100 percent of the money raised went directly to the Philippines.
An estimated 200 people attended, with those who couldn’t attend sending checks and a few others donating clothes. Many groups performed and food, catered by Salazar’s mother, was sold to add even more to the funds raised.
“People were so responsive, and it was so great, but that was just the beginning of all the opportunities to help the people there,” Salazar said. “It’s not over.”