Economic growth may be a credible gauge in determining a nation’s development. However, it is also important to ensure that as a country grows, the environment is also preserved and kept healthy.
This is the thrust of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) when it provided a P20 million funding for the rehabilitation of the Estero de Paco in Manila under the Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig (KBPIP) project of the ABS-CBN Foundation.
“In all countries, the river plays a great importance in development. If our rivers are not clean, our progress will not be so pronounced,” said PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr.
By virtue of a memorandum of agreement signed by Chairman Naguiat and KBPIP Managing Director Regina Paz Lopez, the state-owned gaming firm donated P20 million for the KBPIP’s pilot project which is the rehabilitation of the Estero de Paco.
“The financial aid for the rehabilitation of the Estero de Paco is part of PAGCOR’s advocacy on the preservation of our environment. This is our agency’s way of helping restore the Pasig River which is regarded as one of our country’s historical landmarks,” the PAGCOR Chief said.
Nearly three years after the MOA signing in 2010, the product of this partnership can now be enjoyed by the local residents and tourists in the area.
After the rehabilitation, various plants have replaced the shanties of illegal settlers and tons of garbage. A clean walkway was also built along both sides of the creek’s banks wherein residents and tourists may take a leisurely stroll.
Aside from the physical and aesthetic improvements of their surroundings, residents living along the creek noted some more significant developments in their lives.
In a survey, 85 percent of the residents said that since the clean-up of the estero, they have lower monthly medical expenses and 89 percent said that they feel safer due to the lower crime rate. At least 97 percent of residents also said they feel greater life satisfaction after the rehabilitation of the Estero de Paco.
Last January 18, 2013, a marker along the rehabilitated Estero de Paco was unveiled to the public as a testament to the partnership between PAGCOR and ABS-CBN Foundation to help bring the Pasig River back to life.
The event was attended by Chairman Naguiat together with PAGCOR President and COO Jorge Sarmiento, Assistant VP for Community Relations Henry Reyes, Assistant VP for Corporate Communications Maricar Bautista and Senior Executive Liaison Officer Ramon Stephen Villaflor.
For the elderly, especially those who are staying in homes for the aged, happiness comes from simple things. A greeting, a hug or a few minutes of conversation would already mean a lot to them.
82-year old Vicente Simolaba said he and his fellow residents in St. Mary’s Home for the Aged Foundation, Inc. find joy whenever people come to visit them. “Our home is far from the city proper, about 20 kilometers. The road here is bumpy and rough that is why only few outsiders come to see us,” he narrated.
Lolo Vicente has been residing in St. Mary’s Home for the Aged for five years now. When he reached his retirement age after 39 years of teaching at the Bacolod City National High School, he did not go back to his hometown in San Joaquin, Iloilo to live with his relatives. Instead, he preferred to stay in Bacolod City and be with the other elders at St. Mary’s Home.
Lolo Vicente shared he finds fulfillment staying in the foundation. Even though he never married and has no family to call his own, St. Mary’s gave him a loving home that makes his stay there very happy and peaceful.
According to Lolo Vicente, donors are the lifeblood of St. Mary’s. “We have our daily meals because of the donations from kind-hearted benefactors. For as long as we have donors, there will always be supplies for our daily needs,” he said.
He was very happy that PAGCOR picked their institution as one of its Pamaskong Handog beneficiaries this year, making their Christmas different and much happier. “Minsan kasi dumadaan lang ang Pasko na parang ordinaryong araw lang, walang gathering o Christmas party. Kaya masaya kami na kahit hindi pa Pasko, nakatanggap na kami ng regalo,” Lolo Vicente shared.
On the 11th day of its “Bayanihan: Pamaskong Handog 2012”, PAGCOR gave an early Christmas party to the 59 elderly residents of St. Mary’s Home for the Aged Foundation, Inc. and St. Vincent’s Home. The event was held at the Amphitheater of Casino Filipino Bacolod.
Each beneficiary received Christmas gift packs containing various goodies. They were also entertained by special numbers from Casino Filipino Bacolod employees.
The state-owned gaming firm also fulfilled the wish list of the two institutions.
St. Mary’s received 22 pillows, 22 pillow cases, 5 desk fans, 1 karaoke magic sing, 12 monoblock tables, 3 rechargeable camping lights, 1 megaphone, 2 BP apparatuses, 2 nebulizers, 4 four-layered plastic drawers, 1 portable typewriter, 24 monoblock chairs, 24 plastic food trays, 24 coffee mugs, 3 pots, and 3 kettles. Apart from the gifts, PAGCOR is also repairing the dilapidated doors, roofs and windows of the institution’s 17-year old building.
Meanwhile, St. Vincent’s received a computer set with printer, 24 monoblock chairs, DVD player, fax machine, karaoke magic sing, portable pressure washer, steel filing cabinet, 3 plastic rectangular tables, water dispenser, 2 portable water heaters and a 22” LCD TV. PAGCOR will also repair and repaint St. Vincent’s clinic and rehabilitation center, their recreation and working area, comfort rooms, male infirmary, Marian Hall and function rooms.
Sister Susan Advincula who is the administrator of St. Vincent’s Home expressed her gratitude to PAGCOR for helping the elderly residents of their institution. “St. Vincent’s has been the haven of hope for older citizens of our society, those who have been abandoned or forsaken by their own families, those needing care and support. We especially thank the PAGCOR management and employees for the help that they generously extended to us, for our lolos and lolas. Your help made them feel appreciated and loved. May God reward you a hundredfold. In behalf of St. Vincent’s family, we thank you and advance Merry Christmas!”
PAGCOR also remembered the blind folks under the care of the Association of Home for the Blind Residents in Mansilingan, Bacolod City. The 34 beneficiaries received Christmas gift packs. The institution was also given a computer set with printer, 2 units of banduria, canapy tent, monoblock chairs, DVD player, guitar, harmonica, karaoke magic sing, relaxing chair with armrest, cellular phone and ceiling fan.
PAGCOR will also be funding the construction of the Association of Home for the Blind’s new office and the repainting and repair of their stage ceiling.
President of Home for the Blind Guillermo Atillano said they are thankful that PAGCOR employees did not close their eyes to aid blind people like them. “Nagpapasalamat kami, mula sa Home for the Blind na kahit ito yung sitwasyon namin, may tumutulong pa sa amin tulad ng PAGCOR,” he expressed.
CEBU CITY – So many good things have happened to Florenda Abendan since she became a beneficiary of Rise Above Foundation Cebu. Receiving Yuletide treats from other good Samaritans which she calls as “extra blessings” is one of them.
On the 11th day of its “Bayanihan: Pamaskong Handog ng PAGCOR 2012” on December 10, 2012, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation gifted Florenda and 349 other poor individuals under the care of the Foundation a truly memorable Christmas by providing them with early Yuletide presents.
“Napakasuwerte ko nang maituturing ang sarili ko dahil bukod sa tulong na naibibigay sa akin ng Rise Above Foundation ay nakatanggap pa ako ng regalo galing sa mga sumusuportang organisasyon sa kanila gaya ng PAGCOR. Dagdag na blessing ito para sa akin,” Florenda cheerfully noted.
The 32-year-old mother of three had to take up the slack in supporting her children when her husband was imprisoned for three years. She was a laundrywoman earning a measly income before she discovered the Foundation which taught her how to augment her earnings by making bags. The Foundation also helps send her three kids to school.
Along with 349 other beneficiaries of Rise Above Foundation, Florenda received gift packs from PAGCOR containing various grocery items and toiletries. The children under the care of the Foundation were also given food, Yuletide gift packs and assorted school supplies. The institution also got its wish for computer sets with chairs for their I.T. room which will be used to train poor children and out-of-school youths.
“Maraming salamat po sa PAGCOR sa mga regalong ibinigay sa amin dito,” exclaimed 10-year-old Jennifer Abalo after receiving her gifts.
Rise Above Foundation President Flemming Hansen said the Pamaskong Handog event of PAGCOR made them experience the real joy of the Yuletide season as they feel very blessed with the chance to widen the scope of their services for less-fortunate individuals through the facilities that the agency donated.
“We are very grateful to PAGCOR for making our Christmas really special. It didn’t only bring cheers to our beneficiaries but more importantly we received equipment that will help us carry out our objective of serving more underprivileged people,” Hansen enthused.
Casino Filipino Cebu General Manager Roque Cervantes, who led the distribution of Christmas gifts to the Foundation and its beneficiaries, related that being able to make other people happy in this season of giving and sharing has always been a gratifying experience for him and his staff.
“Seeing smiles on the faces of these people make us feel that we have done something great to bring them joy this Christmas. Masayang-masaya kami na nakapagbigay kami ng kasiyahan sa mahihirap nating kababayan na nasa pangangalaga ng institusyon na ito, ayon na rin sa direktiba ng butihing Chairman and CEO ng PAGCOR na si Mr. Bong Naguiat,” Cervantes explained.
The Rise Above Foundation is operated by missionaries and volunteers coming from different countries and various walks of life. Established 12 years ago under the Channel of Hope Foundation, the institution helps make life better for many underprivileged locals by teaching them livelihood activities like making bags from recycled sacks, leather accessories like bracelets, earrings and greeting cards.
The group also invites dentists from other countries such as Denmark to provide free dental treatment and education on oral hygiene to local children. Aside from dental missions and feeding programs, the foundation also helps provide basic education to poor children.