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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 8 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 45
Local drag entertainers raises thousand for family in need in Philippines
Section One
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Local drag entertainers raises thousand for family in need in Philippines

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The unprecedented natural disaster that came in the form of Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands of people when it set its sights on the Philippines, November 7. As we mourn the dead, there is something very important to remember: There are always survivors.

And those survivors need aid if they are to truly survive in the long run. Haiyan's fallout has caused a medical disaster for the Philippines. The government and emergency services are dealing with the fact that, well, no matter how big the storm, not everyone dies.

In response, the Red Cross ordered 10,000 body bags in preparation for the number of bodies it believed it would have to retrieve. They would use more than half; but not all of them.

What is left behind are some 4.2 million people who have been affected by the storm. Many of them were injured and remain, even today, thirsty or hungry. The Philippines storm - some three and a half times more forceful than Hurricane Katrina - created serious food and water shortages.

Some of the survivors, as well as victims, have family living in Seattle. A feeling of helplessness must have crept into their hearts as they watched the news for updates about the monster and what it was potentially doing to their family. One of those people is Atasha Manila, a local drag queen and activist from Cebu, Philippines.

Atasha's family reached out to her and what they told her, she couldn't believe. In the aftermath, services have been down so people are looting; basic supplies like food and water - essential for survival - are not being met. Her family, thankfully, is not as badly hurt as some of their neighbors. But they still need to eat and be clothed and have clean water. So Atasha reached out to local drag icon Aleksa Manila and the two of them got to work and produced 'Coast to Coast,' a benefit for the victims of typhoon disaster, that was held on November 30, 7-9 p.m. at Neighbours Nightclub (1509 Broadway). The event was a total success.

To date, Atasha Manila has helped to raise over $3,000 for families affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

'When my drag daughter (Atasha) approached me about doing something about the typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines, my quick response was a resounding 'Yes!' I wasn't too particular of how we were going to do it, but just the fact that we were going to do something about it was enough to commit to it,' Aleksa Manila told Seattle Gay News.

'In a matter of days, she was able to gather close to 20 performers who were so generous and eager to help the cause. I couldn't be happier.'

'Of course, I was a bit nervous with the quick event-organizing but realized this is a humane response to a globally-affected calamity,' she continued. 'This one in particular hits home.'

Atasha and Aleksa are both Philippine immigrants.

'Although I am not from the provinces severely hit by the catastrophic storm, my heart was just filled with sadness when I found out that Atasha's biological family was actually affected,' said Aleksa. 'As her drag mom, I felt the pain of knowing one's family's home destroyed and relatives searching for food and other vital supplies.'

'I couldn't be more proud of the success of the event. Admittedly, I was nervous when we started with an intimate crowd, but love truly endured that evening,' she continued. 'The small audience came in with big hearts that truly appreciated the efforts of the performers and the organizational support. Before the event started, $200 was already donated at a Thanksgiving dinner and at the end, over $2,600 was raised.' [Ed. note: More money has been raised since this interview.]

'Atasha has a huge heart and her friends and drag family were there to support her efforts,' said Aleksa Manila. 'I am glad she saw an oversight in the current relief efforts where only certain regions were being helped. The funds raised will go directly to these families, as many as we can support, to help buy food and other supplies.'

Next week, Seattle Gay News will talk to Atasha Manila and get a firsthand update on her family's situation in the Philippines.

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