PAGCOR funds Estero de Paco clean-up drive

Monday | January 21, 2013 | 2:42 PM

PAGCOR funds Estero de Paco clean-up drive
(Left photo) Prior to its rehabilitation, the Estero de Paco was overflowing with tons of garbage. The second photo (right) - taken on January 17, 2013 after the rehabilitation of the creek – shows the same spot as the first showing the vast improvements done to rehabilitate the waterway using PAGCOR’s P20 million donation for the “Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig” project spearheaded by ABS-CBN Foundation. (Photos courtesy of ABS-CBN Foundation’s KBPIP)

RESIDENTS living along Estero de Paco now live cleaner, healthier, and safer lives following the rehabilitation of their local waterways, which used to be heavily polluted and contaminated, with the help of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the ABS-CBN Foundation’s Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig (KBPIP) project.

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr. praised the ABS-CBN Foundation for the remarkable work that their foundation, together with local volunteers dubbed as River Warriors, have done in rehabilitating Estero de Paco.

PAGCOR funds Estero de Paco clean-up drive
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr. and ABS-CBN Foundation Managing Director Regina Paz Lopez, together with other executives of PAGCOR and River Warrior volunteers tour the newly rehabilitated Estero de Paco on January 18, 2013. PAGCOR donated P20 million to ABS-CBN Foundation in 2010 for the rehabilitation of Estero de Paco and the nearby Paco Market.

“Unang-una, gusto ko magpasalamat kay Gina (Lopez) at sa mga kasamahan niya, lalong-lalo na sa River Warriors na napakalaki ang tulong dito (First of all, I would like to thank Gina Lopez and her staff, especially to the River Warriors, for their great help in this endeavor),” Naguiat said. He also underscored the importance of rehabilitating the Ilog Pasig and adjacent waterways. “Sa lahat ng mga bansa, ang river po ang may napakalaking importansiya sa pagunlad. Kung hindi po maganda ang ating ilog, hindi po tayo uunlad ng ganun kaganda (In all countries, the river plays a great importance in development. If our rivers are not clean, our progress will not be so pronounced),” he said.

In a presentation during the formal unveiling of the marker at Estero de Paco held last January 18, 2013 commemorating the partnership between the ABS-CBN Foundation and PAGCOR, ABS-CBN Foundation Managing Director Ms. Regina Paz Lopez reported that the crime rate in the locality has gone down by 40 percent. Occurrences of diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia have also gone down significantly.

“They were interviewed, and people there said 89 percent feel less sick, they feel more safe, 97 percent said they can feel God, they have life satisfaction, they have pride of community. I mean, that goes beyond peace and order. That goes beyond the economy, into the very way you feel about yourself. That’s mega, that’s really good,” said Lopez who is also the Chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.

She also expressed gratitude to PAGCOR for the P20 million donation they gave in 2010 by virtue of a memorandum of agreement for the rehabilitation of Estero de Paco and the nearby Paco Market.

“I just have praises because they saw the project and they agreed to help in a short amount of time… They had the vision to see that yes, it’s really good,” Lopez said.

Estero de Paco used to be inhabited by more than a thousand families of illegal settlers and was clogged with tons of garbage from residents of the estero and nearby communities.

“Dati po napakarumi, maraming basura, maraming nagkakasakit kasi ang estero na pong ito dati parang patay na po talaga. Hopeless na kami before, pero ngayon, nung dumating ang opportunity para linisin ang estero, kami, bilang nakatira dito sa estero, nag-volunteer po kami para linisin ang estero at pagandahin ito ulit (Before, this estero was very dirty, it was full of garbage, many of us were getting sick because this creek was almost dead. We were hopeless before, but now, when the opportunity to clean up the estero came, we, as resident here, volunteered to clean and beautify it again),” River Warriors Vice President Ruby Cientos said.

After the rehabilitation, various plants have replaced the shanties of illegal settlers and garbage, and a clean walkway was also built along both sides of the creek’s banks wherein residents and tourists may take a leisurely stroll.

According to KBPIP Project Director Atty. Grace Sumalpong, half of the P20 million donated by PAGCOR was used for the rehabilitation of the creek itself, which had to be dredged in order to remove the tons of garbage that have accumulated in the estero. Meanwhile, the rest of the amount was used for the restoration of the Paco Market, a 101-year-old landmark and one of the oldest markets still in existence in Manila.

She added that the foundation, together with partner organizations like PAGCOR, have spent close to P130 million in rehabilitating Estero de Paco which is now the model for all other rehabilitation projects for other creeks connected to the Pasig River.

“Our goal is to really be able to convert the Estero and the Pasig River into a Class C or, if not, a Class B River, that’s actually where you can actually have leisure, boating, and in fact hopefully in the future people can swim in the river again,” Sumalpong said.

She added that the KBPIP, together with the PRRC, have 46 more estero in the list for rehabilitation and clean-up which they target to finish by 2016.

Aside from Chairman Naguiat, also present during the inauguration of the marker were PAGCOR President and COO Jorge Sarmiento, Assistant Vice President for Community Relations Henry Reyes, Assistant Vice President for Corporate Communications Maricar Bautista and Senior Executive Liaison Officer Ramon Stephen Villaflor.

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