The throngs of frenzied shoppers, a man screaming about Jesus over a bullhorn, and the trumpet duo playing Silent Night, all but drowned-out Princess Bustos as she pleaded through a small over driven amplifier for donations to help Philippine victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
Still, the poster covered in images of the typhoon’s grisly aftermath seemed to grip shoppers, who found themselves stuffing money into a donation box.
“Many people have lost their livelihood,” said Bustos, who works with the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. “We definitely need to provide relief for them, immediate relief.”
In the three weeks since the super typhoon, the official death toll has risen to 5,560 with another 26,136 injured and 1,757 missing. The Philippine government estimates reconstruction could run as high as $6 billion.
Emmalyn Munjar, who lost a cousin in the floods said many people have dire needs for basic supplies.
“They need help, they need food, they need shelter,” said Munjar, who grew-up a hundred miles from some of the hardest hit areas. “You cannot explain how much the damage, how much the loss, how much the pain.”
Munjar said her family has been unable to reach relatives in the Philippines since the super typhoon, smashed homes and flooded towns.
"I can see this recovery will take many, many years," Munjar said, "for those people that lost their lives and their homes -- their hope."
With a Filipino flag floating on a meager breeze, the group struck an alternative chord to the bustling Union Square consumerism all around them. Bustos watched as a spiraling line of people waited to board a cable car, wincing as the man with the bullhorn screamed about hell fire.
“It’s a hard time,” said Bustos, “and everyone is out here today.”
If you’d like to donate, you can go to www.nafcon.org.