AFTER distributing ambulances in Cagayan Valley and Baguio City recently for the provinces in the area, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office continued its activities in Northern Luzon last Friday
With fellow PCSO Directors Atty. Mabel V. Mamba and Atty. Francisco G. Joaquin III and other PCSO personnel, I traveled to Vigan City to turn over 18 ambulances to three provinces.
Ilocos Norte received seven for Batac City and the towns of Pagudpud, Vintar, Marcos, Solsona, San Nicolas and Piddig; Ilocos Sur nine for the towns of Lidlidda, Suyo, Caoayan, Santo Domingo, Santa Maria, Sinait, Banayoyo, San Esteban and Nagbukel; and La Union two for the towns of Bangar and Luna.
We also handed over a total of P5 million in endowment funds to two hospitals in the area: P2 million to La Union Medical Center and P3 million to Mariano Marcos Memorial Center.
We were warmly welcomed by Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson (Second district), Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, Ilocos Sur Vice Gov. DV Savellano, Provincial Board Members Jerry Singson and Jaime Singson, Caoayan Mayor Germelina Goulart, and other mayors, vice mayors and local government unit officials from the area.
At the turnover ceremony held at the main hall of the Ilocos Sur Provincial Capitol, Governor Singson said the PCSO ambulances will provide health security for the populace, one of the priority concerns of the local government.
This activity is in line with the PCSO’s Ambulance Donation program that seeks to put an ambulance in every municipality in the country that requests one. This year 700 ambulances will be distributed nationwide.
With each ambulance comes the basic equipment necessary to transport a patient to a health center or hospital: a spineboard, oxygen tank with cannula, collapsible stretcher and first aid kit. Recipients may opt to add other equipment at their own initiative.
First- to third-class municipalities and private hospitals receive ambulances on a 60-40 percent cost-sharing scheme, while fourth- to sixth-class municipalities, associations and government agencies, such as hospitals and state colleges and universities, get them via 100-percent outright donation.
Those who wish to apply for PCSO ambulances should comply with the necessary documentary requirements, which they can view at pcso.gov.ph.
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I have often mentioned art tourism and how LGUs can develop their cultural heritage resources to come up with programs that will not only preserve, protect, and share their unique customs, t radit ions and cultural ar t ifacts, but also provide business oppor tunit ies and economic development.
Vigan City is an excellent example of how an LGU can accomplish this.
The Vigan plaza, like those others built during the Spanish colonial period, embodies many of the town-planning concepts prescribed in the Leyes de Indias, or Law of the Indies, wherein a plaza mayor is built in the center of town, around which are clustered the seat of government, the church, and other prominent and important buildings.
What is interesting is that the provincial and city government drew up a plan and embarked upon it logically by first performing cultural mapping. They identified core zones and buffer zones. Establishments within these two zones have to conform to architectural and other style standards that reflect the area’s heritage.
Thus, shops around the plaza and nearby streets are built in restored bahay na bato or new structures that draw from Spanish colonial architectural styles. New establishments in the modern style may only be constructed outside the cultural buffer zones.
This makes for an interesting tourist experience. It is like stepping back in time, but with the ease and enjoyment of current comforts and technologies.
The plaza is a place for strolling, with certain areas off-limits to vehicles. Whether day or night, the area is safe and secure for tourists. At night, it is well-lit and alive with bustling establishments, many of them big-chain restaurants.
Surrounding the main square are antique shops, eateries and any number of quaint hostelries.
Vigan is the perfect example of how LGUs can spearhead the movement to revive old traditions and use old artifacts and make them serve present-day purposes.
I’ll have more on Vigan in future columns. It is a must-see place and a trip there will not only inform and educate, but also inspire a deeper appreciation of the area’s history, culture and tradition.
Atty. Rojas is vice chairman and general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.