Rafael Comes to Support Typhoon Relief

On Nov. 8, 2013, a particularly strong tropical storm known as Typhoon Haiyan struck a large area of Southeast Asia, chiefly devastating the Philippines. The deadliest storm on record, bodies are still being found in
January 2013.

In order to support the people of the Philippines, Seattle University’s Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability is hosting a concert and fast to raise money for those affected. AJ Rafael, a YouTube sensation, will be performing at the event.

The Filipino-American musician has gathered over 90 million hits on his YouTube channel since he started posting original works in 2006, as well as covers of popular songs. Most of his work has something of a pop sound, particularly his most recent posts. According to a video post made by Rafael and released on Jan. 11, “Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most destructive storms of all time, in the history of the world.” As he stated in the video, Rafael is excited to come to Seattle U and support those victims of the storm.

Courtesy of Berklee College of Music
Courtesy of Berklee College of Music

On Jan. 11, Rafael stated that he was excited to come to Seattle U and support those victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

The choice of Rafael as the headliner at the benefit was a highly intentional one. The large Pacific-Islander population at Seattle U drew event organizers toward his name. In fact, Mia Bernadino, a student intern from the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, was the first person to get in contact with Rafael and ask him to perform.

Mike Schut, the program coordinator for the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, said the event is an opportunity to advertise the effects climate change has had, and will continue to have, on low-income communities around the globe. Schut spoke about the fact that communities like those affected in the Philippines are most at risk for damage from increasingly violent weather patterns that tend to strike in the more tropical areas of the world.

As part of the benefit, members of the Seattle U community will be fasting in solidarity with Yeb Sano. According to the Seattle U web link for the event, Sano is “the chief Filipino negotiator to the UN climate change meetings this past November.” After the storm hit, Sano fasted during the meetings he attended. According to Sano’s press release from the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, his choice to fast was “in solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home; I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this meeting, until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

“The fast is what I’m looking forward to most,” said Schut. He talked about the fast as an opportunity for members of the Seattle U community to actively take part in the movement to support members of affected populations in solidarity.

“People interested in the fast should join others in the little chapel in Chardin Hall at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday to reflect and converse with other fasters,” he said.

As well as being an act of solidarity and support on the part of Seattle U, all proceeds from the benefit will be going to the Sea and Earth Advocates (SEA). SEA is a leading environmental education organization whose facilities were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. Schut said that the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability had an interest in benefitting an organization that not only purports to educate people about the environment, but was also affected by the storm itself.

Recovery from the storm has been difficult, however the Philippines and other affected areas are making strides to normalize their communities. According to The Washington Post, in Talcoban, the largest city to take a direct hit from the storm, “26 hardware stores have reopened. (They have lines out the door.) So have six grocery stores and mini-marts. Fifteen banks are open, too, though many close by 1 p.m.”

The event takes place on Thursday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Campion Ballroom. Student tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

William McQuilkin

Will McQuilkin is a senior Communication major, hailing from a small California farm town in the San Geronimo Valley, often described as a hamlet. He has survived not one, but two surgeries on his right hand (pinky finger and thumb) due to baseball related injuries. His favorite candy is Sugar Babies.

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