Filipinos turn to Web for typhoon help

Philippine online community rides on blogs and social networking sites in bid to galvanize relief efforts and assistance for victims of Typhoon Kestana.

Internet users in the Philippines have turned to blogs and social networking sites to initiate relief efforts for victims of Typhoon Kestana, or "Ondoy" as it is known to the local community.

The country was severely hit by the typhoon over the weekend, which saw torrential rains and massive flooding across most of Metro Manila and nearby areas in Luzon.

According to the government, the continuous downpour was the highest recorded in the country since 1967 and has left at least 70 dead and thousands homeless.

Aside from providing up-to-the-minute updates, Filipino online users have started using their blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, to galvanize relief efforts in the wake of the flooding.

Numerous blogs have started pitching in to provide contact details and other pertinent information on the various assistance schemes early Sunday, when the floods started to recede.

One Filipino blogger listed other blogs that posted photos of flooded areas, traffic updates, information on relief goods, as well as online appeals for help to stranded victims. Some blogs used Google Maps to provide data on severely hit areas that should receive priority in relief efforts.

Twitter was also extensively used for the campaign. Numerous tweets were exchanged to provide kept updates on relief efforts. One memberinitiated a personal campaign to solicit help and maintains a list of relief goods such as water and other basic food items.

The site also manages a list of volunteers that have signed up to help with the distribution of relief goods and relevant information such as contact details, telephone numbers, addresses and locations, where donors and volunteers can coordinate relief efforts. One such group is non-government foundation, WorldvisionFoundation.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a Filipino freelance IT writer currently based in Saudi Arabia.

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