Tag: Cristino Naguiat
For the longest time, people thought that the gaming business is all about the rich throwing away their money in fancy VIP casino rooms and chandelier-lit hotels like there’s no tomorrow.
But as the years passed, gaming has become a vehicle for tourism and economic development of progressive countries in the world like the US, Australia, Singapore and Macau. Where there is gaming, there are jobs generated and booming economic activity.
In the Philippines, the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is not only instrumental in spurring economic growth through higher tourist influx and enhanced economic activity. PAGCOR is also the government’s staunch partner in reaching out to the less-privileged sectors of society.
Besides its contributions to the national government and other mandated beneficiaries, PAGCOR strives to touch the lives of more Filipinos by putting corporate social responsibility at the core of the organization’s existence. Here’s a sneak peek of how the state-run gaming firm brings basic social services closer to the Filipino masses:
Health services and relief missions
PAGCOR partners with various government and non-government agencies in delivering basic services to marginalized communities through service and medical mission caravans and provision of medical supplies to low-income households.
The Corporation also provides immediate response to victims of calamity and natural disasters. When the locals of Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro lost their homes and loved ones to flash floods in December last year, PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr. immediately ordered the release of a P2 million financial aid for the victims. Similarly, the state-owned gaming firm reached out to hundreds of families affected by the landslide in Compostela Valley early this year by providing basic needs like food, medicines and potable water for the victims.
PAGCOR subsidizes the nutritional needs of underweight children from community-based day care centers and public elementary schools nationwide through a supplemental feeding program, which is conducted in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the DepEd.
The program, which has been in place since 2008, has helped thousands of children battling with malnutrition, achieve their ideal weight. Monitoring reports show that from underweight status, a big majority of the recipients gained normal body mass index, after the four-month feeding session.
Since its new management assumed office in July 2010, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has taken on a more meaningful role other than regulating games of chance in the country and generating revenues for the Philippine Government.
In less than two years of the Aquino administration, PAGCOR has emerged as one of – if not the biggest – CSR organizations in the Philippines today, funding life-changing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects for the Filipino youth.
Building lives through a thousand classrooms
Among PAGCOR’s biggest funded projects is the “Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-Aralan” project in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd). PAGCOR earmarked P1 billion for the project for the construction of 1,000 classrooms nationwide.
Chairman and CEO Bong Naguiat shares that PAGCOR’s foray into the school buildings project is the agency’s way of helping the Aquino administration address the country’s perennial problem on the shortage of classrooms. Per DepEd’s records, there is a massive backlog of over 70,500 classrooms in public schools nationwide as of 2011.
“We know that there is a long way to go in solving this problem. The 1,000 classrooms that will be built using PAGCOR funds will reduce the total shortage by less than 2%. Still, we hope this will go a long way in providing thousands of our public elementary and high school students studying with sturdy structures that will make their schooling more comfortable and conducive to learning,” says Naguiat.
“We believe in the importance of education, that it can be a family’s way out of poverty. So building these classrooms is much like helping our poor school children to have the chance to make their lives better and give them a better future through education,” added the PAGCOR Chief.
New seats of learning
The state-owned gaming corporation also allocated an initial funding of P100 million for the Pnoy Bayanihan project. The program, which is in partnership with DepEd, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA), intends to manufacture thousands of school desks out of hot logs confiscated from illegal loggers.
“We are making the problem on illegal logging a solution to address the lack in school desks. It is like returning to the nation these logs that were illicitly taken by illegal loggers,” Naguiat points out.
As of 2010, the total backlog in armchairs stood at 5.38 million nationwide – 3.7 million for elementary public schools and 1.68 million in public high schools. DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said the Pnoy Bayanihan project aims to end this backlog by June 2013. “Hindi na natin hihintayin pang matapos ang term ng ating mahal na Pangulo bago tuluyang masolusyunan ang problemang ito. Agad nating tatapusin ito sa susunod na taon. (We will no longer wait for the end of the President’s term before solving this problem. We will immediately finish this backlog next year.)”
Secretary Luistro also thanked PAGCOR for bankrolling the Pnoy Bayanihan project. “Hulog po ng Diyos sa DepEd, DENR at TESDA si Chairman Naguiat at ang PAGCOR (Chairman Naguiat and PAGCOR are heaven-sent to DepEd, DENR and TESDA)” he said. The agency’s initial P100 million funding for the project was utilized for the retrofitting of existing TESDA and DepEd facilities. It also financed the woodworking facilities established by TESDA in 10 sites nationwide.
To date, a total of 6,596 armchairs have been donated to 10 public schools since the project’s roll-out in March 21, 2011.
The first recipient was the Ramon Magsaysay High School in Cubao, Quezon City which got 500 new chairs. The donation enabled the school to attain a zero backlog in their school desks requirements.
Nine public schools in the CARAGA Region also got new chairs from the Pnoy Bayanihan project. They are the Butuan Central Elementary School (1,900 armchairs), the Agusan National High School (2,000), the Butuan City School of Arts and Trades (800), La Trinidad Elementary School (450), San Vicente Elementary School (350), Villa Kanangga Elementary School (260), Libertad Elementary School (186), Ong Yiu Elementary School (100), and Kinamlutan Elementary School (50).
TESDA Secretary General Joel Villanueva, for his part, stated that around 15,000 chairs are still due for delivery to other schools. “By April, depende sa delivery ng logs ng DENR, sinisiguro po namin na zero backlog na ang buong CARAGA Region pagdating sa armchairs (By April, depending on the delivery of logs by the DENR, we will ensure that the entire CARAGA region will already have a zero backlog in armchairs),” he vowed. TESDA is presently looking at other provinces that have needs for additional armchairs like Isabela and Quezon.
Chasing the World Cup dream
The country’s long journey to an ambitious stint in the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup also got a big boost from PAGCOR as the agency shelled out P20 million in support of the Philippine Football Federation’s (PFF) “Kasibulan” project.
A grassroots development program, the Kasibulan project aims to discover and develop potential football talents from the grassroots level through a seven-year development plan (2012 to 2019). It targets Filipino football enthusiasts aged 6 to 12 years old, and the ultimate goal is for the Philippines to qualify for the FIFA Under17 Cup 2019.
“With the rising popularity of football in the country, it’s high time that we promote a grassroots sports development program like Kasibulan that will aid further in stimulating the interest of our younger generation in football. We believe the Philippines stands a good chance of regaining lost glory in the arena of international sports through the game of football,” notes PAGCOR Chairman Naguiat.
“Dito manggagaling ang bagong henerasyon ng magagaling na Pinoy football players na tatawagin nating mga Batang Azkals (From this program will emerge the new generation of excellent Filipino football players whom we will call Kid Azkals). We hope that through this project, we will be able to produce more competitive sportsmen and further raise the bar of Philippine sports,” he added.
No less than FIFA Vice President for Asia and Executive Committee member Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan graced the launching event of the Kasibulan project last February 11, which also formally introduced the Philippines as the pilot site of football development in the Asian region.
“We have chosen to launch the Asian Football Development Program in the Philippines because we see its potential to become globally competitive in the sport. Through the valuable support of agencies like PAGCOR to the PFF, the Philippines will one day realize its dream of figuring in a major football event like the World Cup,” Prince Al-Hussein explained.
This is not the first time that PAGCOR is funding a project related to the promotion of the football game. Last year, the agency also gave a P2 million financial assistance to Team Azkals relative to its participation in several international competitions.
For the many underprivileged Filipino children, food isn’t a basic right but a luxury that their families can’t afford. Find out how PAGCOR’s feeding program makes a difference in their lives.
Every day, seven-year old Malen Andrade together with her mother walks for an hour through the busy highways of Paranaque City to get to San Agustin Elementary School. The young girl’s family lives in a gillage, a colloquial term for “gilid” (side) and an upscale village where informal settlers thrive on its outskirts.
When I first saw Malen, a first grader with a fragile frame, I couldn’t imagine how she manages to walk to school for an hour every day. Her 50-year old mom Elvira Andrade shares that Malen should have been in second grade now. But since she was always tired, they decided let her quit schooling last year.
Little did Elvira realize that sending her daughter to school on an empty stomach could make her youngest child weak and sluggish. When Malen re-entered Grade One last school year, she was still the same frail little girl. At less than 13 kilos, she was underweight for her age.
When the San Agustin Elementary School was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of PAGCOR’s Feeding Program in Paranaque, Malen was one of the 50 malnourished students who qualified for the program.
Poverty and malnutrition
According to the latest report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about 4 million pre-school children in the Philippines are underweight while 3 million adolescents are chronically energy deficient.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) also reported that the case of malnutrition and stunted growth among Filipino children is greatly influenced by the pre-natal practices of mothers who do not receive proper pre-natal care. Thus, malnutrition during infancy is carried on until the child’s growing up years.
When PAGCOR started its Feeding Program in San Agustin Elementary School in July 2010, Malen’s journey towards nourishment began.
The PAGCOR Feeding Program is designed to augment the existing programs of the Philippine government through a partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Education (DepEd). The Corporation subsidizes the nutritional needs of underweight children from community-based day care centers and public elementary schools nationwide. Its partners, meanwhile, identify the program beneficiaries and periodically assess their development within a four-month period, until the children reach their ideal weight.
Since its re-launch in July 2010, the PAGCOR Feeding Program has been carried out in public elementary schools in Davao, Mimosa, Laoag, Paranaque and Olongapo. Thousands of undernourished public school students have already benefited from the activity.
When I visited Malen and her classmates during one feeding session at the Agustin Elementary School, I saw how she finished her food with much gusto. Back home, she is a picky eater, says Elvira.
“Siguro kasi masasarap ang pagkain dito sa school. Hindi katulad sa bahay na halos pare-parehas ang ulam. At kadalasan, hindi sapat ang pagkain namin para sa boung pamilya. (Perhaps, it is because the food they serve at school is delicious. Unlike at home, we always have the same kind of viand. And more often than not, it is not enough to feed the entire family),” she reveals.
Without any source of livelihood, and having to care for a bed-ridden husband, Mrs. Andrade depends on her three children who get seasonal jobs at a construction company. But while making ends meet remains a struggle, she is grateful that her daughter can now eat nutritious meals everyday through PAGCOR’s Feeding Program. Malen has gained two to three pounds per month. Now, the once malnourished kid has reached her ideal weight.
“When children are well-nourished, they are more attentive and participative in school activities. Absenteeism is minimized and they get better grades,” Rhodora Villar, Principal of San Agustin Elementary School explained.
The road to a hunger-free Philippines may still be far from sight. But as long as organizations like PAGCOR continue to become part of the solution by curbing malnutrition among the poorest of the poor, there is after all, hope for children like Malen.