Monday, January 24, 2011

Korina’s Closet and Barangay Umiray

Korina’s Closet and Barangay Umiray
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Life Style Section
January 23, 2011

‘It was cathartic,’ says the broadcaster of raising money from her unused clothes for this community devastated by typhoons in 2004 from Nov. 14-Dec. 3 in 2004, a mountainside barangay in Aurora was hit by one of the worst tragedies ever to befall the country. Two super typhoons, “Yoyong” and then “Winnie,” ravaged Aurora, Quezon and Nueva Ecija, leaving children orphaned, wives widowed, and families homeless and without a means to live.

The mountain soil in Aurora could not bear the weight of too much rainwater. Trees were uprooted, and tons of cut logs from illegal logging activities once rampant in these mountains came tumbling down the mountainsides, ploughing through homes where families with many children lived.

An estimated P700 million worth of property was destroyed, including the homes of 216 families. Most tragic of all is that more than a thousand lives were lost.

Right after the storm had subsided, Umiray in Aurora could be reached only by helicopter to receive relief goods and help from outside.

It was this story of loss that ABS-CBN reporter and anchor Korina Sanchez was assigned to cover.

“I could not forget the image of this Aeta mother, sitting alone by a tree, looking like she had lost her mind,” she recalled. “It was the devastation of having lost all her three children and husband in the storm that gave her that look. All I could think of was how unthinkable it was to any of us to have gone through that. “There are stories of two siblings saving each other while seeing their parents and other brothers and sisters go with the water back to the sea, or a child hanging on for dear life to a piece of the house structure while the storm was raging, only for the father to lose hold of the child’s hand and watch his child be taken by the wind—it was too much to comprehend, but it happened.”

It was then that Korina made her panata to help Barangay Umiray in whatever small way she could.

But she promised not to solicit help from anyone else.
Price tags

How she would help was to start off with her own money.

“I thought it was too easy to solicit and ask for donations,” she said. “So I promised that the funding would come only from me. And then I saw my closet. The clothes hardly fit into the space. Many items had price tags still attached, unused. I buy but I hardly go out to socialize, so I never get to wear them all. Many of us buy too much for ourselves without much thought. “I thought it a waste to just give away designer clothing when I could sell them at a much lower price, and have more to use for the people of Umiray.”

Korina then started what she called her “traveling tiangge.”

“Two years ago I put all those clothes, shoes and bags in a box, sorted them out, and tagged them with the discounted prices. I asked a friend to house the merchandise and, with some advertising, people came and bought! I was too thrilled. For two weeks we sold and raised almost P1.2 million clean, without any capital outlay—just clothes and shoes and bags stored in closets, waiting to be sold to help out the needy. It was cathartic. “I call it the traveling tiangge, because that same merchandise, before it was sold, found its way to several homes all to the way to Cebu City, where friends of friends of friends look into these maletas with cheap designer items. The only limitation really is my size, and I’m a small. But some clothes can fit a medium. Not all are unused. The slightly used—like used once for a taping—are indicated and priced even lower.”

20 concrete houses

With the money raised by Korina’s traveling tiangge, 20 concrete houses with their own sinks and toilets with jalousie windows were built for 20 families in Umiray.

This year, before continuing the house-building, Korina used the proceeds of this year’s traveling tiangge to support the community’s means of livelihood. She bought a vehicle that could help the community’s produce reach the town marketplace directly and cut out middlemen.

She is also experimenting with the help of the local chapters of the National Economic Development Authority and Department of Trade and Industry on how the women can embellish rubber slippers and sell them for a profit.

“There’s a long way to go, but it’s a start,” Korina said. “Now that I’ve sold so much of my stuff, I’m asking friends to donate stuff they don’t use to help this community. Some of them have charities of their own, so I sell their stuff for them and get 20 percent of the proceeds for Umiray. I tell them, ‘Pampabawas ng listahan ng kasalanan sa langit.’ They laugh and then give. Nakakatuwa.”
For those who would like to have a viewing of Korina’s travelling tiangge, she is set to start selling online. It will be called Korina’s Closet, and will feature bought but unused items sold at huge discounts from their original price. In some cases, she can even send the items to your home. E-mail her assistant Een Pagayon at korinascloset@


Post a Comment

<< Home