Hollywood scribes pitch in for Filipino flood victims

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) on Thursday (Friday morning in Manila) donated a check worth US$25,000 to the United Nations Children¿s Fund (Unicef) Philippines to help in the long-term recovery programs for children affected by tropical storm ¿Sendong¿ (international name Washi) in Mindanao, south Philippines.

Accepting the check in Los Angeles on behalf of Unicef Philippines was ¿Glee¿ actor Darren Criss, whose mother is a native of Cebu.

The HFPA, a nonprofit association of international journalists who vote on and present the annual Golden Globe Awards, announced the donation through a statement by its president, Dr. Aida Takla-O¿Reilly: ¿As an association, we aim to give a quick response to any natural disaster around the world. This donation to Unicef Philippines will help toward long-term efforts dedicated to children affected by the storm.¿

Through the years, the HFPA has donated more than US$13.5 million to entertainment-related charities, schools, film preservation projects and in relief efforts during devastating international disasters, including the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and the tsunami in Japan last year.

First for PH

However, this was the first time that the association donated funds to help survivors of a disaster in the Philippines, said Inquirer Entertainment columnist Ruben Nepales, who also sits in the HFPA¿s board of directors.

Nepales, the first Filipino member of the HFPA, said he was ¿truly grateful to the members for their generosity.¿

He recalled: ¿We were in the midst of preparing for this year¿s Golden Globe Awards when ¿Sendong¿ devastated Mindanao, especially (the cities of) Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. I was really distressed to learn about how entire villages were wiped out, killing more than 1,200 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. News reports of children clinging on trees for dear life, to avoid being carried away by the sudden floods, moved me, as did stories of many children being separated from their families.¿

Nepales said he appealed to his fellow HFPA board members during a meeting and the board ¿generously approved a donation, which was presented to the membership for approval. My fellow members magnanimously voted on a $25,000 donation.¿

Unicef Philippines

HFPA donations, explained Nepales, are made possible by the income derived from telecast rights to the Golden Globe Awards every January. He added that the HFPA chose to send the donation through Unicef Philippines ¿because (the organization¿s) projects are especially geared toward helping the children victims and their families.¿

Unicef Philippines implements programs on education, health and nutrition, HIV and AIDS prevention, child protection, communication and local policy and institutional development. Its goal is to provide the best quality of life for every Filipino child.

Nepales added that the HFPA thought it was ¿appropriate¿ for Criss¿best known for portraying Blaine Anderson in the Fox TV series

¿Glee¿¿to accept the donation on behalf of Unicef Philippines because he¿s a talent of Filipino heritage.

¿Criss agreed to accept the check right away,¿ said Nepales, whose column ¿Only in Hollywood¿ comes out thrice weekly in the Inquirer Entertainment section. ¿We thank him for taking the time to do it despite his tight shooting schedule for ¿Glee.¿¿

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