Over 1,000 children with their parents living in the streets of Paranaque and Manila became the first recipients of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation's (PAGCOR) "Pamaskong Handog - 12 Days of Christmas" gift-giving mission. It will run from December 9 to 20.
The beneficiaries are under the care of the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission Inc. and Childhope Asia Philippines (CHAP) which are among the 24 charitable institutions in Metro Manila and nearby provinces chosen by PAGCOR as part of its first-ever massive Christmas gift-giving project.
The Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission Inc. is a charitable organization founded by Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo that serves the needs of malnourished and street children, indigenous people, and the urban poor. The foundation also administers a 100-bed charity hospital that extends assistance to the medical and health requirements of the poorest of the poor, even those from the far-flung provinces.
A medical surgeon by profession, Sr. Maamo said they could not have done anything if not for the help of institutions like PAGCOR. "We consider our relationship with PAGCOR as one of the most generous partnerships we have had over the past 25 years. We thank PAGCOR for helping us in our mission to help the marginalized sectors of our society," she said.
Sr. Maamo recalled that among the various forms of assistance given by PAGCOR to the foundation over the years was the financial aid for the education of indigenous people. "Because of PAGCOR, we were able to send some Aetas to College. Two of them are now professionals who are helping us carry out this work for the poor," she said.
"We thank the men and women of PAGCOR for being generous to us and for helping in our advocacies. We are also thankful that our foundation was chosen as one of the Pamaskong Handog beneficiaries," she added.
On the other hand, Childhope is a charitable institution conducting outreach missions for the past 16 years to street children in Paranaque, Pasay, Quezon City, Caloocan and Valenzuela.
According to Childhope Executive Director Teresita Silva, their institution has 32 street educators and social workers deployed all over Metro Manila.
"We conduct alternative education sessions on sidewalks, parks, parking lots or some vacant space with privacy.
We also have a part-time psychologist providing psychological therapy to these kids," she said.
Childhope uses two Mobile Education vans to conduct teaching sessions among its beneficiaries. A mobile health clinic also operates from Tuesdays to Saturdays to address the health needs of street children.
"We are very grateful that PAGCOR has chosen us to be one of the beneficiaries for its Christmas gift-giving program. We hope this will be the start of a lifelong partnership between Childhope and PAGCOR," she added.
During the gift-giving activity, the children were handed gift packs containing toiletries, slippers, coloring books, and food while their parents and guardians received canned goods, toiletries and other emergency or first-aid necessities like flashlight and transistor radios. Food was also served during the program.
PAGCOR also granted the wish list of the two charitable institutions which are intended for the long-term use of their beneficiaries. The Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Inc. was given monobloc chairs, a 32" LCD TV, a computer set with printer and scanner, one 10 cubic feet refrigerator and 100 bedsheets. Childhope meantime was given one laptop with printer, three filing cabinets, one 10 cubic feet refrigerator, one airconditioner and two industrial fans.
PAGCOR also held entertainment programs for the beneficiaries. Rachel Alejandro held a mini concert at the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace event while Giselle Sanchez sang and brought laughter to the gift-giving activity in Childhope. The PAGCOR Voice Symphony group also serenaded the beneficiaries with Christmas songs.
Also present to give gifts to the beneficiaries were PAGCOR officers and employees led by Director Eugene Manalastas, AVP for Corporate Communications Maricar Bautista and AVP for Community Relations and Services Henry Reyes.
According to Bautista, the Pamaskong Handog ng PAGCOR 2010 is being observed not only in Metro Manila but in the provinces as well. "Our Casino Filipino branches will be holding their own outreach missions during the next 12 days. Our Cebu and Mactan casinos, for instance, will be conducting their gift-giving activities on December 11 to almost 700 beneficiaries in seven charitable institutions like Home for the Dying and the Destitute and DSWD Center for Abandoned Babies," she added.
Close to 9,000 are expected to benefit nationwide from PAGCOR's 12 days of gift-giving. "Our management plans to hold this project on a yearly basis so that we can reach out to more of our less fortunate countrymen," said Bautista.