Local Filipinos worry about their family members

Author: , Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published: Nov 12 2013 05:00:21 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 12 2013 07:26:39 PM EST
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

The world has been watching the tragedy in the Philippines unfold on TV.

Filipino Americans in the Lehigh Valley are also watching and worrying about family and friends in their native country.

It's the worst natural disaster the Philippines has seen, and Filipinos stateside said they feel a little helpless.

The TV at the Pinoy Kitchen and Grill in Bethlehem has been on nonstop since the deadly typhoon devastated the Philippines.

"It breaks everyone's heart what happened, especially the children. They say 10,000 people already," said owner Amy Jordan.

Amy and her husband, Michael, have family in the devastated island nation. Amy Jordan's brother was evacuated along with thousands of of other people, but every day, she and her husband watch the international effort to help survivors, and they are not alone. Their Filipino customers are watching, too.

"It's devastating because we normally have those typhoons every year, but this one is really, we never had a strong typhoon like this one," said Oliver VillaVicencio.

Villavicencio has lived in the Lehigh Valley for 23 years, but she still has family in Manilla.

While his family is okay, he said he feels helpless watching the images of destruction.

"It's tough. We feel guilty somehow that we are not there to help them out, and we are kind of thinking ourselves as to what to do," said Villavicencio.

The Lehigh Valley Filipino community is focused on prayer and is assembling resources to help the typhoon victims and survivors now struggling in the Philippines.

A 24-hour prayer vigil will start at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Barnabites Spiritual Center in Bethlehem Twp., Northampton Co. It will conclude with a mass on Wednesday.

The Red Cross is also asking for donations.