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PAGCOR FEEDING PROGRAM HELPS HUNDREDS OF SCHOOL CHILDREN IN ILOCOS

by on Nov.27, 2014, under PAGCOR CSR

Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte – Growing up in the remote upland part of Laoag without much interaction with other people has made grade-4 student Eilahnia timid and shy.

Her teacher from Naguilian Elementary School (NES) in Nueva Era, observed that she is also a slow learner compared to her other classmates.

Eilahnia’s class adviser Marites Remos narrates that the young girl seldom participates in class activities. “She doesn’t like doing board work and her reading skills in English is at the ‘frustrated’ level – which is below the desired reading level for pupils her age.

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Employees of the Casino Filipino Laoag branch assist the PAGCOR Feeding Program beneficiaries during the project’s launching in Naguilian Elementary School in Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte. PAGCOR allocated more than P42 million for its nationwide feeding program for School Year 2014-2015.

Remos relates that Eilahnia’s performance in class is likely affected by the lack of proper nutrition. At the age of nine, she only weighs 16 kilos which is ten kilos lighter than the normal weight of 26 kilos for children her age.

Eilahnia is one of the many students of NES who severely lack nutrition. The barangay elementary school with only five teachers and a student population of 125 is constantly battling with malnutrition. To date, half of the school’s student population is classified as “severely wasted”.

Action Contre la Faim or ACF International which carries out the “Action Against Hunger” campaign in 45 countries, said “severe wasting” is characterized by massive loss of body fat and muscle tissue. Severely wasted children “look almost elderly and their bodies are extremely thin and skeletal.”

Eilahnia’s family is one of those who resort to unhealthy alternative food such as noodles, canned goods, soy sauce or bagoong in order to survive. One of the reasons why Eilahnia can be considered “severely wasted” is her family’s inability to provide nutritious food for her

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Employees of Casino Filipino Laoag take time out of their busy schedules to volunteer in the Feeding Program activities carried out by the branch in various public schools in Ilocos Norte.

Remos said they can only do so much to help their poor students. “Naawa kami sa mga batang kagaya ni Eilahnia. Kaso hindi rin naman namin kayang maibigay lahat ng pangangailangan nila. Kaya ang ginawa namin dati, yung budget sa canteen, nilagay na lang for feeding ng mga bata. Pero two weeks lang ‘yun at sopas lang ang naipakain namin sa kanila,” she recalled.

Fortunately, Naguilian Elementary School was chosen by PAGCOR as one of the beneficiaries of its Feeding Program for school year 2014-2015. Through this project, the students of NES who severely lack nutrition will now have a chance to attain their ideal weight and improve their health.

“We are thankful because this program will have a huge impact on our students’ health. Kapag healthy ang bata, mas active sila sa klase. Makaka-tulong din ito sa families nila at mas magiging maayos ang pakikipag-socialize sa kapwa nila,” Remos added.

PAGCOR through its Casino Filipino branch in Laoag, selected close to 400 beneficiaries in eight schools in Ilocos who will benefit from the PAGCOR Feeding Program for this school year. Apart from NES, other chosen beneficiary schools include Acnam-Caray Elementary School, Monte Elementary School, Danao Elementary School, Dingras West Elementary School, Cabittuaran Elementary School, Gubang Elementary School and Canaam Elementary School.

CF Laoag Nurse Karen Ignacio who is one of the committee members of PAGCOR’s Feeding Program, is hopeful that their target beneficiaries will be able to improve their weight and nutritional condition.

“At the start of our feeding sessions, makikita natin severely wasted sila. Then habang pinapa-kain natin sila, uma-angat naman ang timbang nila. Target natin after ng feeding, kung hindi man umabot sa talagang mataas na weight, nasa border na sila,” she said.

The PAGCOR Feeding Program will give 30 students of the Naguilian Elementary School in Ilocos Norte with complete, nutritious meals for 120 days to help them attain their ideal weight and improve their overall nutritional state.

The PAGCOR Feeding Program will give 30 students of the Naguilian Elementary School in Ilocos Norte with complete, nutritious meals for 120 days to help them attain their ideal weight and improve their overall nutritional state.

Ignacio helps monitor the progress of the beneficiaries’ weight. “Ako yung nagche-check at nagva-validate sa nutrition nila, gumagawa din ako ng menu ng bawat schools. Bini-bigay namin yung menu na dapat lutuin para sa mga bata,” she related.

For PAGCOR employees like Ignacio, volunteering and spending their spare time for the feeding program beneficiaries is one way of helping underprivileged kids in their province. “Hindi man financial yung maibigay natin, yung mai-angat man lang yung nutrition status ng mga estudyante, malaking bagay na.”

She also sees the feeding program as one of several admirable projects of PAGCOR. “Nationwide ang project na ito. Kung may wastong nutrisyon, mas magana ang utak ng mga bata, tatalino sila at a-asenso. Eventually yung mga bata pag-laki nila, mai-a-angat nila yung kabuhayan nila,” Ignacio cited.

Rowena Simeon, CF Laoag’s Financial Assistant, is also one of the branch’s feeding program volunteers. “Pag nakikita ko sila, parang madudurog ang puso ko. Kasi hindi naman tayo pare-pareho ng estado sa buhay. Syempre as a mother, naantig yung damdamin ko na tumulong din. Yung pag-aasikaso ko sa kanila, parang sarili ko na din silang anak.” (Darren Agaton)

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