The Times West Virginian

Local News

November 19, 2013

Area residents send aid to help typhoon victims in Philippines

FAIRMONT — When Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines a little over a week ago, the storm was a category 5 super typhoon.

The death toll has risen to more than 3,600, with an estimated 11.5 million people affected by the storm and more than 2.5 million people in need of food aid. The United Nations has put out an appeal for $300 million in aid and has released $25 million in emergency funds.

Countries around the world are sending aid, including the United States, which has donated tens of millions in humanitarian aid, 90 Marines, an aircraft carrier and logistic support.

Individuals in North Central West Virginia are also trying to help.

Rowena Tagalog Smith lives in Fairmont with her husband, Fairmont native Chris Smith, and their daughter Maggi.

Rowena Smith was born and grew up in the Philippines. She has family in the northern and southern part of the Philippines, so her family members were not in the central areas of the country that were directly impacted by the storm.

The Philippines is an island nation, made up of 7,107 islands and home to more than 98 million people. That’s made recovery from the typhoon more difficult.

So Smith and others in the community have been sending aid packages back home.

Her daughter Maggi is 9 years old and in the fourth grade at Fairmont Catholic Grade School. She wants to help, too, and is putting together a package of toys, food, canned goods, ramen noodles, clothing and toiletries, such as soap and shampoo.

Her school has also fundraised to send aid to the Philippines. Normally, they wear uniforms. On Friday, the kids were allowed to wear casual clothes as part of a “dress-down” day if they brought a $1 donation for aid to the Philippines.

“If every kid in the whole school brought $1, it would make $204. But they brought extra money, and got $714,” Maggi said.

Smith said that because the government doesn’t have a lot of resources for aid, help from other countries has made all the difference.

The situation is made even more difficult because most people in the Philippines were already living day-to-day. In the Philippines, there is no government assistance for the poor or unemployed, like there is in the United States, Smith said. All medical costs must also be paid out of pocket at the time of the appointment.

“Back home, it’s a different life. You work just to survive for that day,” Smith said.

In the Philippines, people are paid by the day instead of by the hour, Smith said. Forty-five percent of people in the Philippines earn less than $2 a day, according to the U.N.

Now, Smith works as a dental assistant for a dentist in Fairmont. Her husband works for the Fairmont-Marion County Transit Authority.

Chris said that even though they sometimes struggle financially, his wife is always generous with her family back home.

“Even though we struggle here, and we’re basically payday to payday, she still sends money every month to feed her family, to help them buy rice and buy medicine,” Chris said. “Because there, there is no health care. If you get sick or you get injured, you have to pay the doctor up front or they don’t see you.”

Smith’s parents are both deceased. She has four brothers and four sisters back home, as well as other relatives. She also has an aunt who suffers from hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Smith doesn’t feel resentful sending regular help to her family.

“For me, it’s a blessing that I can help them, because I am blessed enough that I have a job and a very supportive husband, and we have a happy family here,” Smith said.

Rowena and Chris met in the Philippines when Chris was vacationing there, meeting up with friends he knew through his time in the Air Force.

Many people in the Philippines speak English, something that aided in their courtship. They met in late 2005 and were married Aug. 27, 2006, in Cavite, Philippines. It took 2 1/2 years for her visa to the United States to come through so she and Maggi could finally join Chris in the United States.

Smith has been keeping in close touch with family and friends in the Philippines using Facebook.

Chris said he’s been amazed by Rowena’s friends’ gratitude for aid during this time of crisis.

“They are very thankful for even the little bit of help they get from other people,” Chris said. “Even though they have been devastated, they take the time to thank anyone who has helped them, and they still take the time to pray to God.”

Smith said that what people need most are things to cover their basic needs.

“They need water, food and candles,” Smith said. “They don’t have electricity.”

Smith said people in Marion County who want to help by sending aid packages can contact her at home at 304-816-4411 or by emailing her husband at

Email Colleen S. Good at or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

Text Only
Local News
  • Military Kids 1 - CB.jpg Military children honored for their sacrifices: PHOTOS

    Military children were honored for their sacrifices Tuesday at the Hershel “Woody” Williams Fairmont Armed Forces Reserve Center.
    The event was planned to coincide with Purple Up! Day, a nationwide initiative that encourages everyone to wear purple in honor of military children across the country.

    April 16, 2014 4 Photos

  • Child health: ‘Room for improvement’

    Children living in Marion County are doing better in some respects than children in other counties in the state, according to a national study released Tuesday.
    “The 2013 West Virginia Kids Count Data Book,” published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, compares states and their counties to each other and to the national average of various areas of child health.

    April 16, 2014

  • Another civil suit filed by Marple

    Though a civil case in already pending in U.S federal court, former state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple has filed another civil suit over her 2012 termination.
    The main difference between the two cases, apparently, is that in addition to naming the West Virginia Board of Education as a plaintiff, former president of the board and current member Wade Linger is individually named in the suit as a defendant.

    April 16, 2014

  • County man indicted for murder of infant

    A Marion County man has been indicted on charges for the death of an infant.
    Marcus Curtis Lewis, 55, was indicted for charges of first-degree murder and death of a child by a parent, guardian of custodian by Taylor County grand jurors Monday. Judge Alan D. Moats is expected to arraign Lewis on Friday.

    April 16, 2014

  • Three arrested on charges stemming from armed robbery

    Three men were arrested in the Fairmont area on charges stemming from an armed robbery.
    Corey Joseph Richardson, 35, of Montgomery Village, Md.; Stephen Joseph Brewington, 26, of Allston, Mass.; and Wallace Anthony Booth Jr., 21, of Fairmont, were arrested on Tuesday and charged with robbery, burglary and conspiracy to commit a felony.

    April 16, 2014

  • marcus lewis.jpg Marion County man indicted in murder of infant

    A Marion County man was indicted by the Taylor County grand jury Monday on charges for the death of an infant.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Weather Pic 1 - CB.jpg Marion County soaks up the warm rays of spring

    Spring is in the air.
    Trees are beginning to blossom in Fairmont, sprinkling the streets with pink, white and yellow blossoms.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • White Hall to address Route 250 traffic woes

    Possible traffic patterns in White Hall could change.

    April 15, 2014

  • Fairview adding more customers to water system

    The Town of Fairview hopes to add more new customers to its water system as soon as possible.

    April 15, 2014

  • Arrests made on burglary and possession charges

    Two Fairmont men were arrested after one of them allegedly broke into a home.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
TWV Video Highlights
NDN Editor's Picks
House Ads