Happy, Clarissa & Monica’s Grocery Runs for Victims of Typhoon Ondoy.

The first batch of relief goods they purchased from Facebook donations
The first batch of relief goods they purchased from Facebook donations
Relief Center in Ateneo.
Relief Center in Ateneo.

I had originally posted the 9/27 note below on Facebook (see original note) — and made it viewable to “everyone”, not knowing that “everyone” did not mean people without Facebook accounts! So here it is — the most important part is the ONLINE DONATIONS section close to the bottom:


Hi folks, here’s a slightly more direct way of helping out the victims of Typhoon Andoy — my brother Happy Vergara has set up an email account just for Paypal donations (paypal [at] and has raised $1500 today from Facebook friends alone! He and his spouse Clarissa David, and her sister Monica, have been running off to the supermarket and buying the canned goods themselves and dropping them off personally at the relief center in Ateneo. Please help!

See also pictures of Happy, Clarissa and Monica in action. (Requires Facebook login.)

UPDATE (9/28: 12:30 PST): They’ve raised enough money to make a second run to the supermarket this afternoon (9/28 Manila time) and will keep returning to the supermarket to buy canned goods as long as the donations keep coming in. But we know that won’t be enough — some people are still stranded on the roofs of their houses, the flood waters aren’t all receding yet, and thousands of people are still displaced from their homes (or what’s left of them).

UPDATE (9/28, 6:00 PST): And once again, the Facebook posse has come through: my brother woke up this morning to find over $790 more in funds, bringing the total up to $3031 in 24 hours! He’ll be making a third run to the supermarket and the pharmacy today (vitamins and rehydration salts are what is needed right now).

UPDATE (9/29, 8:30 AM PST): The third batch of groceries were just purchased and delivered, and they’ve raised $4,100 — thanks to all you Facebookers!

UPDATE (9/29, 9:15 PM PST): the total is now $4,700 in 48 hours from Facebook — thanks again! Clarissa and Monica are out buying groceries again; we’ll keep you folks updated!

UPDATE (9/30, 7:00 PM PST): the total is now $5,900 — money and relief are going to to Sta. Cruz, Binan, San Pedro, Tadlak in Laguna. Thanks again!

UPDATE (10/1, 7:50 PM PST): we’ve raised $6,300! Pictures from the donations to Laguna will be posted soon.

UPDATE (10/2, 7:00 PM PST): we’ve raised $8,400 thanks to you amazing people. An increasing number of donations have been coming from people who aren’t in any of our friend networks — just people who saw them reposted on a friend of a friend’s profile, and those were only the ones I could locate on Facebook.

UPDATE (10/4, 9:00 PM PST): we’re up to $9,100, thanks to you! Please see Benjamin Pimentel’s article, “For FilAms, a ‘Happy’ Way to Help”, on



I know it’s frustrating for those of us who live away from the Philippines and can’t seem to find a way to do this securely online [EDIT: not true anymore, see below] (and not have to bother with wire transfers and check clearing, or worry that the funds may go into the wrong hands). Happy just took the initiative and set up the Paypal account. They’re not set up to give out receipts for tax deductions or anything (sorry); all we’ve been doing is sending quick thank-you notes on Facebook and tagging donors in photos of the relief goods. (But yes, I think it’s great that you can see what was purchased with your donations just a few hours afterwards, and see them being delivered to the relief centers, and no, the trio are not getting paid for any of this.)

[What I do find amazing about all this is the speed in which this all took place, not to mention the fact that an increasing amount of the Facebook donors had never even met Happy or Clarissa or Monica. My and their Facebook friends in turn reposted the original note on their profiles, and we started receiving donations from people who weren’t even friends of friends. So you see, Facebook isn’t just for inane quizzes after all!]

There are now many other places that also accept online donations:

And see even more here, at the Moongirl blog.

There’s probably a drop-off site in a city near you as well; NAFCON/Sandiwa, among others, are coordinating them.)

Whichever way you donate, it’s extremely appreciated, and a little goes a long way in the Philippines. Of the grocery items that the three have purchased:

– $1 will buy 10 juice boxes,
– $5 will buy 5 cans of tuna,
– $10 will buy 24 packs of powdered milk,
– $17 will buy a 55-pound sack of rice (more or less, we think, 100+ cups of cooked rice, which means a hundred-odd people!)

PLEASE, PLEASE HELP. (Yes, I’m shouting here.) In three villages in the city of Sta. Cruz in my home province of Laguna alone — and it’s not even the worst-hit area, unlike Metropolitan Manila which was 80% submerged — 5,000 people are still in waist-deep flood water, and reports are still coming in of entire baranggays still stranded, with no food or drinking water for the last three days. All in all, 280,000 people have been displaced from their homes.


PAWA Arkipelago Reading Series.

I’ll be at the Philippine American Writers and Artists Arkipelago Reading Series in SF on August 23rd — stop by and say “hello!”

Where: The Bayanihan Center 1010 Mission Street @ 6th Street, San Francisco

When: Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Who: Penélope V. Flores, Joaquin Jay Gonzalez III, Kevin L. Nadal, and Benito M. Vergara, Jr.

More details at the PAWA blog.


No Tears.

Corazon Aquino is dead, and — especially since I’m writing this in the Philippines — I’m in the midst of a fit of national mourning. It’s all over the place: the funeral procession on TV, people wearing yellow T-shirts, banners on buildings, tweets and Facebook status updates, constant newspaper coverage, the lines of mourners, tributes from world leaders. Even Pope Benedict XVI has lauded Aquino’s “courageous commitment to the freedom of the Filipino people, her firm rejection of violence and intolerance”.

Yet I can’t seem to feel any sorrow over her death. Quite frankly, I’m a little disgusted by all these encomiums and how easily people forget.

This is not to say that I’m some sort of heartless grump — quite the contrary — but I’m hoping that this blog entry may serve as more of an explanation. It really has to do, I think, with where I was twenty-three years ago, about my emotional maturity and my political education. It has to do with what I remember.


Pinoy Ethnography, American Suburb.

Cutting and pasting from the Facebook invitation — many thanks to Maria Jovita Zarate for setting this all up!


A lecture by Dr. Benito Vergara
Host: Dean’s Office, UP College of Arts and Letters

Tuesday, August 4, 2009
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Bulwagan ng Dangal, UP Main Library
University Avenue, UP Diliman
Quezon City, Philippines

The College of Arts and Letters takes great pleasure in inviting you to a public lecture to be delivered by Dr. Benito Vergara, author of Displaying Filipinos (UP Press, 1995) and Pinoy Capital (Temple University Press, 2009).

In this lecture, Dr. Vergara will talk about his ethnographic forays into the lives of Filipino Americans living in Daly City.

Dr. Boi Abaya (UP Anthropology Department), Dr. Patrick Flores (UP Arts Studies), and Dr. Raul Pertierra (UP Asian Center and ADMU Department of Sociology and Anthropology) sit in the panel of reactors.


Book Talk at Eastwind Books, Saturday, 4/4/09.

Please mark your calendars! I’m having a book reading / talk / Q&A at Eastwind Books in Berkeley — come over, bring friends, have your book signed! I’ll be talking about my new book, Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City, out earlier this year from Temple University Press.

Here are the details:

Saturday, April 4, 3:30 pm
Eastwind Books
2066 University Ave. @ Shattuck
Berkeley, CA

Please see for more info about the reading; more information about the book itself can be found here: