Yolanda survivor among thousands of PAGCOR Feeding Program beneficiaries

Friday | March 21, 2014 | 2:13 PM

Juliana moved to Cavite with her family middle of November last year after super typhoon Yolanda devastated their home in Tacloban City. Their family took refuge in the home of Juliana’s paternal uncle in Cavite to start anew and rebuild their lives there. “Wala na po kasing natira sa amin. Wasak na wasak po yung bahay namin. Pagka-tapos ng bagyo, marami po yung nagkalat na patay sa labas ng bahay namin. Akala po namin mamamatay kami,” Juliana tearfully recalled.

Yolanda survivor among thousands of PAGCOR Feeding Program beneficiaries
Nine-year-old Juliana Cassandra Encomio (second from left, front row), a beneficiary of the PAGCOR Feeding Program in Anuling Elementary School in Mendez, Cavite, shows no trace of the trauma brought by super typhoon Yolanda as she actively participates in their class activities.

Being in a new environment helps Juliana forget the tragedy. She savors joining the daily feeding sessions of PAGCOR in their school. “First time ko lang po nasali sa isang feeding program. Sa dati naming school, ang binibigay lang po sa amin ay vitamin supplements,” she added.

Her mother Lanie is grateful to PAGCOR for sponsoring the feeding program. She is at least spared from having to prepare Juliana’s lunch every day. “Malaking tulong talaga kasi hindi ko na pinu-problema kung ano ang baon nya sa school. Medyo sumigla na rin ang anak ko at natuto ng maki-halubilo sa mga kapwa niya bata mula nang dumating kami galing ng Tacloban,” Lanie said.

Class adviser Cecilia Panganiban observed the positive changes in Juliana’s behavior. “Noong una siyang dumating dito sa school namin, tahimik lang si Juliana at kimi tuwing may klase kami. Simula nang isali namin siya sa PAGCOR Feeding Program, napansin namin na naging active na siya sa class discussions,” Panganiban noted.

For School Year 2013-2014, PAGCOR conducted its feeding program in 173 public elementary schools nationwide. Included in the project were students who were initially assessed to be “severely wasted” by nutritionists and health workers of the public schools prior to the start of the program’s implementation. These children are underweight for their age.

Yolanda survivor among thousands of PAGCOR Feeding Program beneficiaries
Typhoon Yolanda survivor Juliana Cassandra Encomio enjoys a hearty meal in Anuling Elementary School in Mendez, Cavite during one of PAGCOR’s feeding sessions. Juliana is one of the more than 10,000 public school students in 173 state-subsidized schools nationwide who benefited from the PAGCOR Feeding Program for School Year 2013-2014.

According to Priscilla Lo-Allan who is the over-all coordinator of the PAGCOR Feeding Program, the student-beneficiaries gained as much as four to six pounds at the end of the program.

Allan attributes the significant weight increase of the children to the nutritious and complete meals served to them every day. “Apart from gaining weight, absenteeism among the beneficiaries was also lessened. Their teachers told us that these children became more attentive, more energetic and participative in class,” she said.

Allan added that the beneficiaries also learned about proper grooming and eating habits. “The teachers who facilitate the feeding sessions teach them to pray before meals, to wash their hands, and to sit and eat properly. They learned good values and we can see they are now more cheerful,she noted.

PAGCOR’s Feeding Program is the state-owned gaming firm’s way to help provide the nutritional needs of underweight children enrolled in community-based day care centers and public elementary schools in cities hosting Casino Filipino branches. The agency serves nutritious meals to the beneficiaries every day until they attain their ideal weight and improve their health.

For School Year 2013-2014, PAGCOR provided a budget amounting to P45 million for the project. The feeding program is conducted in two batches: the first batch from June to October and the second batch from November to March. Of the 173 public schools covered by the PAGCOR Feeding Program this school year, 54 schools are located in Metro Manila, 30 in Pampanga, 12 in Bacolod, 24 in Cebu, 20 in Davao, 10 in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, 11 in Olongapo, and 12 in Tagaytay.

Employees from Casino Filipino branches also volunteer to take part in the feeding sessions. One of them is Gregorio Eusebio, Treasury Administrative Supervisor of Casino Filipino Pavilion. “When I entered PAGCOR in 1991, hinanap ko talaga is voluntary work. I really want to work in a company na may puso, so I joined the medical missions, relief operations and other charity works of PAGCOR including the Feeding Program. I have been participating in feeding sessions since it began in 2007,” he said.

Eusebio shared that he motivates his fellow employees to join the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) projects of PAGCOR. “Yung pag-tulong lalo na sa walang makain ang nag-iinspire sa akin kaya ginagawa ko ito. I encourage my fellow PAGCORians to also participate para makita nila ang tunay na nagagawa ng PAGCOR sa mahihirap. Kung saan napu-punta ang income at sino ang mga natu-tulungan,” he added.

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