PAGCOR brings hope to 98 abused and abandoned women

Saturday | December 3, 2011 | 9:01 AM

Finding a place that she can call home has been a long journey for 34 year-old single mother Carmelita (not her real name).

Left by her biological parents in a hospital in Mindoro right after birth, Carmelita was adopted by a family who maltreated her when she was growing up. No longer able to endure the years of repeated ill-treatment, Carmelita decided to run away from her adoptive family at the age of 18.

Carmelita says living alone without a home and a family is not easy. She worked as a maid to survive. Fate seemed to have been favoring her until she fell in love, got pregnant, and was abandoned by her lover with a child to care for.

Carmelita is one of the abused and abandoned women who were given temporary shelter by Haven for Women, a rehabilitation facility under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which cares for female adults aged 18 to 59 who have been victims of abuse, or are in conflict with the law.

It was in November last year when Carmelita and her son found a new home in the shelter. “Dito ko naramdaman ang kalinga ng isang tahanan. Dito ko ulit sinimulan ang buhay naming mag-ina,” she shared.

At the onset of the Christmas season, Carmelita and 98 other women under the care of the institution felt more loved after they were chosen as beneficiaries of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s “Pamaskong Handog ng PAGCOR 2011: 25 Days of Christmas, 25 Years of PAGCOR” gift-giving project.

Now on its eight day, PAGCOR’s nationwide gift-giving program will have over 7,000 beneficiaries coming from 36 charitable institutions nationwide. The state-run gaming firm announced it has set aside P25 million to carry out the project, which is PAGCOR’s way of celebrating its Silver Anniversary this year.

Aside from the 140 Christmas gift packs for the beneficiaries and support staff of the Center, PAGCOR also provided the Haven for Women with one 32" LCD TV, one DVD player, one digital camera, one 8 cubic feet refrigerator, one chest freezer, three electric fans, three ceiling fans, one double burner, and one computer with printer.

DSWD National Capital Region Director Alicia Bonoan said they are very thankful that PAGCOR chose their institution as one of the beneficiaries of its Christmas gift-giving project. "I thank PAGCOR for making us a part of this project. This brings much happiness to the residents of Haven for Women. This event makes them feel accepted despite the traumatic experiences they went through.”

DSWD Assistant Regional Director Delia Baoan also expressed her gratitude to PAGCOR for its generosity. "Maraming salamat at nabigyan ng pagkakataon ang mga residente ng Haven for Women na magkaroon ng ganitong pamaskong handog mula sa PAGCOR. Maraming salamat at napaligaya ninyo kaming lahat," she said.

For Carmelita and the women under the care of the institution, the Haven for Women is more than just a place; it helped them become better persons. Aside from counselling, spiritual development and social communication development programs which the Center provides, the Haven for Women also offers livelihood training programs like rug-making, dressmaking and baking to prepare them for independent living.

“Dito ko natutunang maging responsable,” she said. With a one-year-old son to take care of, Carmelita wants nothing but to change their lives, especially the fate of her child. She is also thankful that PAGCOR remembered the institution and her family at the Haven for Women this Christmas season. "Maraming salamat po pamaskong handog ninyo sa amin. Sana marami pa kayong matulungang institusyon at mga nangangailangang kagaya namin," Carmelita said.

Meantime PAGCOR President and COO Jorge Sarmiento said the PAGCOR management is honored to be instrumental in touching the lives of women like Carmelita in this season of giving. Sarmiento said PAGCOR's Pamaskong Handog Project hopes to reach out to more Filipinos by making them feel they are not neglected.

Other PAGCOR officials present during the gift-giving event were Director Eugene Manalastas, Casino Filipino Heritage Branch Manager Arthur Malatag, Assistant VP JC Manalo of the Property and General Services Department, Assistant VP Chris Tio of the Marketing Department, and Assistant VP Henry Reyes for Community Relations and Services Department. They were also joined by Miss Casino Filipino 2011 4th runner-up Reina Cuneta. Singer and actor Lloyd Zaragoza, the PAGCOR Voice Symphony, and the residents of Haven for Women also rendered special numbers to make the event merrier.

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