Philippines tragedy marked with ceremony at school

St Joseph's School pupils sing the Philippines national anthem while the country's flag is raised...
St Joseph's School pupils sing the Philippines national anthem while the country's flag is raised at a ceremony in Oamaru yesterday. Back row (from left): Tristan Serrano (10), Keane Pe (10), Chelsea Lacerna (8). Front row: John Orillo (8) and Rebecca Demonteverde (6). Photo by Andrew Ashton.
Pride and sadness were on display in equal measure in Oamaru yesterday, as Filipino children at St Joseph's school were joined by their Kiwi school-mates in a flag-raising ceremony and a rendition of the Philippines national anthem.

About 20 Filipino children from the school stood to attention with hands on hearts to sing the national anthem as the Philippines flag was raised and then lowered to half-mast in respect for the huge loss of life and devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan last Friday.

The official death toll from the typhoon was yesterday 2357, with about 660,000 people displaced, and St Joseph's School principal Jenny Jackson said pupils and staff wanted to show their support for a nation and people that had a ''strong commitment to their faith''.

''We have got quite a large number of Filipino children at the school, and some of them have family in the Philippines that have been affected.''

She said St Joseph's had run an after-school Filipino language class for about a year, and those who had either been learning or already knew the language had sung the Philippines national anthem while the flag was raised.

Mrs Jackson said the flag ceremony had also been attended by elders from the North Otago Filipino community, and a mufti day at the school had raised more than $525 for the Rotary Club of Oamaru's disaster relief fund.

Rotary Club president Robert Gonzales, who was born in the Philippines, attended the flag ceremony and said he was thankful for the support shown to the Filipino community in Oamaru and throughout New Zealand.

Mr Gonzales said he had received a lot of calls from people who wanted to make donations.

''The typhoon has left a trail of devastation and people are in desperate need of the basics for survival.

''The most effective way for people here to help is by giving money, which will be used for immediate needs of drinking water, food, medicine and shelter.

''It will go through a credible agency to ensure that every cent that is raised goes to people who need it most. It will not be used for overheads.''

He said people could leave money in the collection box at Oamaru Hospital or make a direct credit to the club's bank account Rotary Club of Oamaru Trust (Inc), ANZ Bank 06-0941-0175865-00.

There would also be a collection box by the Rotary Club's chocolate wheel at the Victorian Fete on Sunday.



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