here are few people who have not heard about the devastation that Typhoon Haiyan wrought upon the Philippines November 8, leaving thousands without homes and in need of aid. I had the chance to speak to Wella Anne Ladera, a judge who lives and works in the Philippines, about a charity event that took place on November 16 that started in the Philippines judge community and Neutral Ground, a chain of game stores located in the Philippines, and spread throughout the entire Magic community in the Philippines.
The idea for the event started in the Facebook group for the Philippines judge community, when Wella asked about whether there were plans for creating a charity event for raising funds for the disaster relief effort already in motion. When she found out nothing was being planned, she took it upon herself to get an event in motion. Wella even went as far as donating her time to coordinating the event and adding recently acquired judge foils as prize. From that suggestion, the community came together and a larger event began to form, where other judges and community members began donating items to this growing event. They were able to raise over 50,000 pesos (about $1,000 USD) in product and prizes to put up for the event.
With the outpouring of support and interest from the community behind this event, there was little time to find a venue that could hold the numbers that were being anticipated, as the event seemed to be gaining interest beyond what Wella initially expected. Wella told me Neutral Ground was very gracious in helping to line up an event space for them. However, due to the short notice of the event, finding an adequate space was difficult. The only space available to them could only support 100 players, and from the interest Wella had already been receiving, she felt that was not enough space to hold everyone who wanted to attend. Her intuition was spot on, as 129 players showed up for the event. To give you an idea of the size of the event for the region, Pro Tour Qualifiers in the Philippines do not normally break 100 participants.
Planning for this contingency, Wella had already arranged the event to have players play in flights throughout the day and split the collected prizes up throughout the flights. The idea went over wonderfully with the community, allowing players to play in several different flights throughout the day. This also allowed players to show their support through playing in their favorite formats, and leaving no one out who wanted to participate. Wella was able to run flights with formats from Commander to Legacy and everything in between.
Not only was the player community excited to come out to show its support, but countless judges also chose to spend their day coordinating this multi-format event. The top-notch judge staff was able to keep the events running quickly and smoothly, allowing for seven flights to finish on the day. Keep in mind, this is the same group of people who already donated their own product toward the prizes for the event, now giving their time to judge the event.
One thing Wella said to me that I feel captures the essence of the event came from one of the players: "The players were happy about the prizes, and those who didn't win were still glad that they were able to help. I even heard one player commenting that his standing is currently zero wins, three losses, but that was the first time he was actually happy about it, [because] the money he paid for his entrance is going to a good cause."
Thanks to an ambitious judge community, a willing local store, and players who wanted to pitch in and help out their fellow countrymen when they were in need, a wonderful event was created that is a statement of what is possible when the magic community comes together.
The relief effort for the typhoon is still going on in the Philippines, and if you would like to donate to the cause, here are a few places that could you can use to show your support:
The American Red Cross: They are assisting with the relief effort and can accept donations online.
The UN World Food Program: You can make donations to this international food relief organization for Typhoon Haiyan online or by texting AID to 27722 to donate $10.
UNICEF: This organization is providing emergency aid and delivering supplies to children and their families. Donations can be made online or by texting RELIEF to 864233 to donate $10.
If you are a store or TO running a unique event, know of a group of players helping out the gaming or the community at large, or a judge going above and beyond, we want to hear those stories. Let me know about these stores in the feedback and we will try and use them in future features!
John Wade has been playing Magic since 1995 and joined Wizards of the Coast in November of 2012. He is now a part of the trade marketing team, where he writes content for the WPN site about our programs and events for our retailers.