Residents in Calumpit, in Bulacan province, north of Manila, made their way along a city street today in makeshift rafts used as a taxi service. Damaged infrastructure has hampered rescue efforts and the flow of relief goods to far-flung villages.

Typhoons worry
isle Filipinos

As the death toll rises in the Philippines,
groups continue to plan charity drives

The mood at a Filipino philanthropic society's annual Christmas party in Waikiki last night was less upbeat than past celebrations.

Attendees paused to remember the hundreds killed in back-to-back storms that have slammed northern and eastern regions of the Philippines.

"It's really bad right now," said Jose Ancheta, a member of the Catuguing Association of Hawaii. "A lot of people are still missing. ... We feel saddened, greatly saddened."

Hawaii's Filipino community leaders plan to meet today at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu to coordinate a donation campaign and set up drop-off locations.

State Rep. Felipe "Jun" Abinsay Jr. (D, Moanalua-Kapalama) was also expected to go live at 6:30 a.m. on KMVI 1270 AM radio to make a public plea for assistance in the relief effort.

The deadliest storm hit the Philippines' northeastern provinces last Monday, leaving at least 1,100 people dead or missing, devastating mostly poor agricultural regions and setting off flash floods and landslides.

Late Thursday, Typhoon Nanmadol struck the same region. At least 37 were killed in the storm and 38 are missing.

The previous week, a typhoon and another storm killed at least 91 people and left 84 others missing in the east.

Rescuers have not been able to easily access the devastated regions. Many have been left to fend for themselves.

"I don't even know how the people can survive at this point," Ancheta said. "Everything is devastated."

The association's members are from Catuguing, not in the area most affected by the storms. But some have relatives in the hardest-hit regions.

Ancheta said the philanthropic group will discuss whether some of the proceeds from last night's Christmas party could be sent to the storms' most desperate victims.

"We sympathize with them," said Teofilo Coloma, whose family in the Philippines got mostly heavy rains and wind in the storms. "We worry about them. That's all we can do."

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Francis Ricciardone flew by helicopter yesterday to villages in the eastern province of Quezon, where he said roads and bridges needed to be repaired immediately to allow relief goods to flow to isolated areas.

"The devastation was worse than I had imagined," Ricciardone said. "It was quite distressing -- logs everywhere, mud everywhere, roads were cut off in many places and bridges were down."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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