Luis Matnog has been in the U.S. for 10 years working for the American Red Cross in Boston.
Now he’s heading back to the Philippines to help direct relief efforts after Typhoon Haiyan cut a swath of devastation through the nation.
Typhoon Haiyan swept across the central Philippines on Friday leaving a trail of massive destruction in its wake. With sustained winds reported at over 145 miles per hour, and significantly stronger gusts, Haiyan was the second category 5 typhoon to strike the Philippines this year.
“This will be emotional,” Matnog said as he was testing his gear in his Malden living room before taking off for Logan Airport. “I am very proud to be serving my home country with the Red Cross.”
Matnog worked with relief agencies for years in the Philippines before following his wife to the United States. After getting a job with the Red Cross in Boston, he began to train with international responders, taking assignments in logistics support in Asia and Africa. His last big deployment was to Haiti after the earthquakes in 2010, where he slept in a tent for a month helping move relief supplies.
Since 2010, he has been deployed to help manage the fleet of trucks and cars that came to New York’s aid during Superstorm Sandy. He was in charge of logistics during the Boston Marathon Bombing and the February blizzard that dumped nearly three feet of snow in Massachusetts.
Matnog is the territory manager for disaster relief in Boston, the busiest sector in the American Red Cross of Massachusetts. Just Thursday night he himself was responding to a fire in Boston, knowing he had just told the Red Cross he was available to deploy as an international responder.
When asked what made Matnog the proudest of his service in the Red Cross, he pointed to his son David. David, 20, is a Red Cross volunteer who was assigned to bulk distribution during the Boston Marathon relief effort, getting supplies like water and food to first responders at the bomb site and the manhunt. “He was on my team,” the elder Matnog said. “That meant a lot to me.”
Matnog is one of two American Red Cross is deploying to assist with assessments in the Philippines. The Red Cross has also activated its family tracing services. If you are looking for a missing family member in the Philippines, please remember that many phones lines are down. Please continue trying. If you are still unable to reach them, you can contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross to initiate a tracing case.
To support relief efforts in the Philippines you can send funds to your local American Red Cross chapter designating Philippines Typhoons and Flood in the memo line.