PCSO makes govt presence felt in North Luzon

column-jose rojasTHE Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office  (PCSO) made its presence felt in northern Luzon on August 18 by making a donation of 47 ambulances in Cagayan and other provinces up north.

With fellow PCSO Directors Betty Nantes and Francisco Joaquin III and other PCSO personnel, we traveled to Tuao for the formal turnover ceremony held at the pavilion of the Cassily Lake Resort.

In attendance were local government unit (LGU) officials from Isabela province and three out of six provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)—Apayao, Abra and Kalinga—to receive their ambulances.

The event was all the more special for the presence of physician Manuel “Manny” Mamba of the Office of the President. A son of the town, he celebrated his birthday there the following day in the company of his wife, PCSO Director lawyer Mabel V. Mamba.

Also held that day was the blessing of the new PCSO Cagayan branch office in Tuao. It was a historic day in the agency’s annals because this is the first branch office constructed by the PCSO. It was formerly near the Tuao Gym in a space lent by the LGU, but now its clients and beneficiaries may be served in a more spacious area still within the municipality, which is accessible by residents of nearby provinces.

The PCSO will open two more branches this year, in furtherance of its goal to establish an office in every province.

That evening, we were warmly welcomed at the Tuao Gym by residents and neighbors celebrating the San Roque Patronal Fiesta of the municipality. The festivities, which began the night before, included town dancing, a beauty pageant, a carnival, and other forms of entertainment.

* * *

The three other provinces of the CAR—Benguet, Ifugao and Mountain Province—received 27 ambulances on August 28 in a turnover ceremony at the Baguio Convention Center.

I and fellow PCSO Directors Nantes and  Joaquin, along with other PCSO personnel, were greeted by the governors of Benguet and Ifugao provinces and some of the mayors of the three provinces.

Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan said, “We can see the national government [through the PCSO] responding to the needs of the LGUs…the mobile clinic that the PCSO donated to us before helped us save lives during the last calamity [Typhoon Ineng]. We will tell our people that the national government is making us feel that there is indeed a government.”

Mountain Province received five ambulances for the municipalities of Sabangan, Bauko, Natonin, Paracelis and Besao.

Ifugao Gov. Dennis Habawel explained that his province is the seventh poorest in the country; its terrain is mountainous and difficult to develop, with only two of their municipalities being categorized as second-class, while the others are fourth-class.

Thus, he said, the PCSO’s donation of ambulances “is timely; hulog po kayo ng langit.” 

He added that the PCSO helps the residents of Ifugao province in many other ways. “We are lucky to be the recipient of the generosity of the PCSO,” he said, by way of “stocking our health centers with basic medicines, while people with illnesses are referred to the PCSO.”

Ifugao Province was given 10 ambulances for Asipulo, Mayoyao, Hungduan, Lamut, Aguinaldo, Lagawe, Public Health Office  (PHO) of Ifugao, Mayoyao District Hospital, Hungduan Municipal Hospital and Ifugao General Hospital.

Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan thanked the PCSO and gave his assurance that the people of Baguio “will support your endeavors.”

Baguio City’s ambulance was one of 12 allotted to Benguet Province; the rest were given to Tublay, Bokod, Bakun, La Trinidad, Kibungan, Blessed Association of Retired Persons Foundation, Baguio City General Hospital, Kabayan, Mankayan, Kapasigan  and Benguet PHO.

The PCSO’s ambulance-donation activities continue later this week in Tacloban, Leyte.

Atty. Rojas is vice chairman and general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

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