Typhoon Haiyan

Kung fu practitioners in Hong Kong raise money for for Philippine victims

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 November, 2013, 5:03am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 November, 2013, 5:03am

Fundraising efforts for survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines got a kick-start yesterday, with an afternoon of martial arts and meditation classes in Central to raise money.

The classes in wing chun, a form of kung fu, and meditation were held at a martial arts and pilates centre, to help those affected by the super typhoon, which has claimed at least 3,633 lives and displaced at least 1.9 million people, according to the United Nations' humanitarian agency.

"When we heard of the devastation we just wondered how can we give back," said John Cogan, chief executive of the Pangea Centre, which organised the event. Cogan has about 300 relatives living in the Philippines. "It's obviously something dear to my heart," he said.

As news of the storm that ravaged the Philippines reached Hong Kong, Cogan and his wife put their heads together, hoping to do something for the victims - and they came up with kung fu.

"My wife said we could do kung fu for the Philippines - it's what we all know well," he said.

The centre yesterday began offering unlimited wing chun, pilates and meditation classes for anyone who donates HK$2,000 - with all proceeds going to Philippine relief efforts. The fundraising drive will continue until the end of the year, by which time Cogan is hoping to raise HK$1 million.

To generate more enthusiasm for the campaign, private lessons were auctioned off yesterday, with staff offering creative ways to encourage donations. One male staff member offered to wax his chest when the first collection box is full. Another said he would shave his head when the second box filled up.

The first four collection boxes will be given to Oxfam.

"It's important to help out [in a time like this]," said Cogan's wife, Heather, who teaches pilates and meditation. "We would want to make a trip out there in January, maybe make some actual connections later to see what are the needs exactly."

Meanwhile, Alane Cahalane, a veterinarian, is campaigning to help animals affected by the typhoon.

"I contacted Dr Amie Babasa, the current president of the Philippine Animal Hospital Association. Together, we have formed a coalition to raise awareness and collect donations for the animals affected by [the typhoon]," she said in an e-mail to the Sunday Morning Post.

Cahalane said they had been using social media websites to raise awareness. "The response has been incredible, with donations coming in from the UK, Ireland, the USA and more."

Cahalane said that while the devastated city of Tacloban was still not reachable for safety reasons, veterinarians were reaching out to other damaged areas with food, water, medicine and aid for all kinds of domestic animals. She added that animals also needed to be cared for, as injured or hungry animals in desperate circumstances could become aggressive.