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.
CAMANTILES, Pangasinan – Camantiles Elementary School may no longer have to suspend classes during typhoons and heavy flooding after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) allocated P13.4 million for the construction of a 2-storey school building here.
Once fully constructed, the new building in Camantiles Elementary School will have 10 spacious rooms that could accommodate 55 to 60 students and four comfort rooms. The building is being constructed at an elevated height of 1.5 meters to withstand heavy floods. The construction of the building began 4th week of October this year. It is estimated to be completed in 5 months.
PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino L. Naguiat, Jr. said the school building that is being donated by the state-owned gaming firm to Camantiles Elementary School is part of government’s efforts to address the backlog of classrooms in the country.
“One of our priority Corporate Social Responsibility projects is to help the Department of Education (DepEd) solve the classrooms shortage in public schools. Last year, PAGCOR allocated P1 billion for the construction of 1,000 classrooms nationwide. We are planning to continue with this project by allocating bigger funds for the construction of more classrooms in public schools across the country,” he explained.
Naguiat was among the special guests during the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new school building last October 29.
Joseph Tabelin, Principal III of Camantiles Elementary School, said the school building being constructed through PAGCOR’s help “will bring great relief to students and teachers whose classes have to be suspended from time to time whenever calamities like flooding occur in the area.”
Tabelin narrated that major calamities hit Camantiles three to four times a year. “Kapag dumadating ang kalamidad, dinadayo din kami ng putik at baha. Almost two feet ang putik na pumapasok sa aming mga classroom. Iyan ang nagiging sanhi ng delay sa aming klase.”
To catch up on lost time, teachers of Camantiles Elementary School conduct make-up classes and provide modules to students for them to study at home. But Tabelin admitted that providing students with a venue conducive to studying will greatly help in the students’ learning process. Malaking ginhawa ang classrooms na ibibigay ng PAGCOR. Hindi ito basta-basta mapapasok ng baha dahil elevated,” he explained.
The school administrator narrated that the town of Camantiles is surrounded by two rivers. Whenever these rivers overflow, their small town is also submerged in floodwaters. “Kami ay nagpapasalamat ng lubos sa PAGCOR sa pagbibigay sa amin ng 2-storey building. Hindi lang siguro ito magsisilbing classrooms kundi evacuation center na din,” Tabelin added.
Meantime Urdaneta City Mayor Amadeo G.E. Perez IV expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for addressing the concern of his constituents. “Lubos po tayong nagpapasalamat sa PAGCOR dahil alam nila ang sitwasyon dito sa atin. Alam nilang madalas tayong maapektuhan ng pagbaha,” he said.
Besides the construction of the 2-storey school building in Camantiles Elementary School, PAGCOR has funded the construction of 1,000 classrooms in various parts of the country as part of its “Matuwid na Daan sa Silid Aralan project” in 2011. More classrooms will be built once the 2nd phase of the project is implemented this year.
Melody Terados was terrified when flood waters suddenly swept into their humble abode in Barangay San Isidro, Tanay, Rizal in the morning of August 7, 2012. The murky water quickly rose waist-high, forcing the 41-year old housewife, her husband and their two children to flee for safety.
“Nilikas po namin agad ang bahay namin dahil naging mabilis ang pagtaas ng baha. Wala po kaming magawa kundi iwan ang aming mga gamit dahil kaligtasan ng mga anak ko ang inuna naming mag-asawa,” recounted Mrs. Terados. (“We hastily left our house because of the rapid rise of the flood water. We cannot do anything but leave our belongings because we had to prioritize the safety of our children,” recounted Mrs. Terados.)
Like Mrs. Terados and her family, Habagat’s incessant rains which lasted for more than a week left thousands of families in Metro Manila and the nearby provinces homeless and devastated. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reports that close to 600,000 families or more than 2.6 million individuals in 156 towns and 34 cities in 16 provinces and the National Capital Region (NCR) were gravely affected by the massive flooding.
With the floods subsiding at a snail’s pace and with thousands of affected families left wanting for basic necessities like food and water, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) readily took heed of calls for help. The agency conducted nine relief operations for 10,000 affected families simultaneously.
According to PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr. this is only the first tranche of the agency’s relief operations. “We have allocated a total budget of P8.14 million for this undertaking. We intend to give help to at least 20,000 families. Many of our countrymen were badly affected by this recent flooding. Itong aming relief operations ang paraan ng PAGCOR para matulungan ang ating mga kababayan na labis na naapektuhan ng kalamidad na ito.”
PAGCOR has so far distributed relief packs to 2,000 families in Barangay Baseco, Tondo. It also provided relief goods to 3,000 families badly hit by the flooding in Tumana and Nangka, Marikina City; Sta. Ana, Manila; and Malabon City. In the provinces, PAGCOR conducted relief operations for 5,000 families in Concepcion, Tarlac; Guiguinto, Bulacan; Rosario, Cavite; Taytay, Rizal; and San Isidro, Tanay, Rizal.
Several barangays in Tanay, Rizal were still submerged in water when the PAGCOR team arrived in one evacuation center located at the Patricio Jarim Elementary School in Barangay San Isidro on Monday, August 13, 2012. Mrs. Terados and her family were among those who benefited from the relief operations.
“Maraming maraming salamat po sa PAGCOR sa pagtulong sa aming naapektuhan ng matinding pagbaha,” said Mrs. Terados. (“Thank you very much to PAGCOR for helping us and the other people who were affected by the flood,” said Mrs. Terados.) Around 150 families in Barangay San Isidro lost their properties.
Board Member Emigdio Tanjuatco III of Tanay, Rizal also expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for helping their constituents. “Malaking bagay na natulungan kami ng PAGCOR sa pagbibigay ng relief goods sa aming mga kababayan. Isang linggo na pong baha at ang mga tao ay hindi pa makabalik sa kanilang mga kabahayan.” (It is a big help that PAGCOR distributed relief goods to our constituents. It has already been a week since our place has been flooded and the people cannot go back to their homes yet.”)
Rehabilitation efforts are underway in many affected communities. The immediate priority now is to provide the residents with basic necessities like food, water, clothing and shelter.
“Kaya kami po ay nagpapasalamat sa pamunuan ng PAGCOR sa pangunguna ni Chairman Naguiat at mga miyembro ng Board at pati na rin sa mga empleyadong tumulong para maisaayos ang relief operations na ito,” Tanjuatco added. (“We are very grateful to the management of PAGCOR led by Chairman Naguiat and the members of the Board, and also to the employees who helped organize the relief operations,” Tanjuatco added.)
Providing immediate relief and assistance to people like Mrs. Terados and her family is proof of PAGCOR’s unrelenting commitment to be a responsive partner of the Philippine government in times of disasters and calamities.