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Coupeville man heading to Philippines as volunteer
Eric Tremblay isn’t sure what to expect when he touches down in the Philippines next week.
When he signed up to help with disaster relief work, his job was to help salvage and take down structures damaged by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake that hit the islands on Oct. 15.
That was before a massive typhoon struck the Philippines three weeks later, leaving thousands dead and creating more widespread devastation.
Tremblay, a 60-year-old retired Boeing worker, will be joining forces with an organization called All Hands Volunteers, which provides hands-on assistance to communities around the world impacted by natural disasters.
It’s the Coupeville man’s first venture into relief work and his first time in the Philippines.
“I was already planning a trip to the Philippines,” Tremblay said. “This just seemed like a good way to repurpose the first portion of the trip to helping people who really need it and don’t have a lot of resources.”
Tremblay is handy at building things. He spent his career at Boeing fabricating and installing interiors in planes and even built his own house.
He’s bringing with him some construction tools that are currently hard to come by in the Philippines, including a spirit level and spool of braided mason line, and taking a tent and other staples.
“They’re begging for good coffee,” he said, “so I’m bringing good coffee over there.”
Tremblay will be a part of “Project Bohol,” a team that is focusing its efforts on helping the central Philippines’ province hit hardest by the earthquake.
Bohol also was impacted by the typhoon but escaped most of the severe damage suffered in other parts of the Philippines from the tropical storm, Tremblay said.
Tremblay said that he will be extending his stay after the relief work and had originally planned to spend some leisure time on a more remote tourism spot, but now isn’t sure what he’ll face.
He finds it ironic that a few months ago he purchased a 19th century woodblock print by Japanese artist Yoshitoshi titled “Clinging to a rock.” It depicts a man holding on to a rock with swirling waves all around him.
The painting is on his living room wall.
“It looks like a tsunami or typhoon is going on,” Tremblay said.
Tremblay is bracing himself for Bohol. He doesn’t expect to arrive until the middle of next week.
“I really don’t know what to expect,” he said. “They’re suffering from the effects of two disasters.”
How to help
To help support the efforts of Eric Tremblay and other volunteer relief workers in the central Philippines as part of All Hands Volunteers, go to www.hands.org
The Filipino-American Association of Oak Harbor is holding a “Karaoke Fundraiser” for typhoon victims at 6 p.m., Nov. 22 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Oak Harbor.
The organization is accepting donations to send to relief efforts. Donations may be mailed to: Filipino-American Association of Oak Harbor, P.O. Box 38, Oak Harbor, WA, 98277.
For information, contact Marlyn Hikade or Gil Umayam at 360-672-8110 or Mhel Jimenez at 360-632-6665.