PAGCOR brings Yuletide cheer to Badjao families and less fortunate children in Pampanga

Monday | December 3, 2012 | 09:00 AM

Despite limiting conditions, optimism runs high in the active and vibrant Badjao community also known as the “Sama Dilaut” in Mabalacat, Pampanga. For Guzman Kalingalan, one of the Badjao refugees, Mabalacat has become not only a sanctuary but a beacon of hope for Badjaos like him.

Pamaskong Handog 2012 - Day 20 (PAGCOR brings Yuletide cheer to Badjao families and less fortunate children in Pampanga)

Like the other Badjao refugees of “Sama Dilaut”, Guzman was forced to flee the hostile environment of Zamboanga to escape war and ethnic persecution. However, the pursuit of a peaceful life has cost the seafaring “Sama Dilaut” their homes, means of livelihood and way of life as they were forced to settle in Luzon, an unfamiliar territory for them.

“Mangingisda talaga kami. Ang kabuhayan namin nasa laot. Iyon ang kabuhayan ng mga lolo namin. Napadpad na lang kami dito dahil natakot na kami. Kapag nagpupunta kami sa laot, kapag nakita kami ng mga pirata, kinukuha yung mga makina namin. Kapag hindi namin binigay ang mga makina at mga bangka namin sa kanila, pinapatay kami,” Guzman narrated.

On the fourth day of its “Bayanihan: Pamaskong Handog ng PAGCOR 2012”, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) fostered hope and optimism among the marginalized sectors like the “Sama Dilaut” community in Pampanga. More than one hundred Badjao families received Noche Buena gift packs that would address their immediate needs and provide them with some holiday cheer this Yuletide season.

PAGCOR also pledged to build two deep wells for the sustainable development of the “Sama Dilaut” community in line with the “Bayanihan” component of its ongoing nationwide Pamaskong Handog 2012 gift-giving project.

General Manager Alexander Ozaeta of PAGCOR’s Casino Filipino Angeles branch in Pampanga which spearheaded the gift-giving activity said they chose to extend help to the Badjao families because “we want them to feel that they are all part of our extended community.”

Pamaskong Handog 2012 - Day 20 (PAGCOR brings Yuletide cheer to Badjao families and less fortunate children in Pampanga)
Sama Dilaut children in Mabalacat, Pampanga cheer as their families receive early Christmas treats from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) during the fourth day of the state-owned gaming firm’s “Bayanihan: Pamaskong Handog ng PAGCOR 2012”. The Badjao families of “Sama Dilaut” are among the more than 8,600 beneficiaries of the ongoing nationwide Christmas gift-giving project of PAGCOR.

“For us in PAGCOR, there is no such thing as cultural minority. Lahat ay pantay-pantay. This gift-giving activity for the “Sama Dilaut” is our way of letting them know that PAGCOR and our employees are here to support them,” Ozaeta added.

The family of retired artist Sigfried Ranada, also known as Ysagani Ybarra, owns the lot where the “Sama Dilaut” community resides. He was grateful that PAGCOR was able to give the Badjao families a more meaningful celebration of the Christmas season, adding that the “Sama Dilaut” need all the help they can get from government agencies like PAGCOR.

Ybarra shared that the community was established to provide the nomadic “Sama Dilaut” a sense of stability and empower them so that they can determine their own course as a people.

He narrated that when he got stranded in Mindanao 20 years ago, the Sama Dilaut came to his aid. “Twenty years later, I had the honor of meeting some of them again and I repaid their kindness. The reason why I gave them sanctuary in our hometown is for them to stabilize themselves, to be able to determine their own course. They intend to put up a peace village somewhere near here in cooperation with the indigenous Aeta people who own most of the land here. They have friendly relations now and eventually they will become neighbors,” Ybarra said.

Although life in the community can be difficult due to lack of livelihood opportunities for them, the Badjaos are thankful for the stability and new way of living brought about by their newfound home. They are highly positive that they will realize their dreams of a better life for their children.

Aside from the “Sama Dilaut”, PAGCOR also gave early Christmas treats to the less fortunate children under the care of the Angeles Bahay Bata Center in Pampanga. Apart from gift packs distributed to the institution’s 119 beneficiaries, PAGCOR gave Angeles Bahay Bata Center a 32-inch TV, a washing machine, eight ceiling fans, eight wall fans, 30 monoblock chairs, five pieces of volleyball and five pieces of basketball. Officers and employees of Casino Filipino Angeles also refurbished the center’s basketball court.

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