NEARLY 300 working students and Special Education (SPED) pupils in Parañaque became the first recipients of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) gift-giving program as it kicked off “Pamaskong Handog 2016”.
Students of Parañaque National High School (PNHS) are among the 9,000 individuals who stand to benefit from the nationwide gift-giving project until December 21.
PAGCOR Assistant Vice President for Community Relations and Services Department Jeffrey Jude Thaddeus Opinion who graced the program said the event has become a highly-anticipated activity of the agency every year.
“Umpisa pa lang po ng taon ay pinaghahandaan na namin ang Pamaskong Handog. Sa pangunguna ng aming Chairman na si Ma’am Andrea Domingo, nais po ng PAGCOR na makapag-abot ng kaunting kaligayahan sa ating mga kababayan -- sa inyo ngayong Pasko,” Opinion said in his speech.
One of the beneficiaries from PNHS is 11th grade working student Veer Macula. With both his parents unemployed and eight more siblings to support, Macula works as a gardener during weekdays and as a carwash and errand boy on weekends. “Nagtatrabaho po ako bilang gardener sa tatlong bahay malapit po sa amin. Ang pasok ko po sa school 7 a.m. hanggang 3:00 p.m. tapos magtatrabaho ako ng 4 p.m. hanggang 10 ng gabi,” he shared.
Due to abject poverty, he was forced to drop out of elementary school. Now at 21, he is still in high school. Despite his age, Macula strived to go back to school and is determined to finish his studies.
“Lumaki po ako na hirap sa buhay at ayoko po na habang buhay ay ganito kami ng family ko. Kaya po nagsusumikap ako. Kapag nakatapos ako ng pag-aaral, mas malaki ang pag-asa namin na makaahon sa kahirapan,” he said.
Macula expressed his excitement when he first heard that he and his schoolmates will be treated to an early Christmas party by PAGCOR.
“Sa dami po ng ginagawa ko ay hindi ko naiisip na i-celebrate ang Pasko. Noong nalaman po namin na magkakaroon kami ng malaking Christmas party sa school ay na-excite po ako kasi first time kong makakaranas ng ganito,” Macula added.
PNHS Assistant Principal Rodel Vallejos said this is the first time that the school experienced a Christmas party as festive as the one conducted by the state-run gaming firm. Students and school staff were treated to free meals as well as performances from local RnB singer Thor Dulay, PAGCOR artist Dash and The PAGCOR Voice Symphony. They also received gift packs containing noche buena items.
“Karamihan po sa mga estudyante naming nandito ngayon ay kinakailangan pang magtrabaho para masuportahan ang kanilang pag-aaral kaya po napakalaking bagay para sa kanila itong selebrasyong ito. We are very happy and grateful to be chosen as one of PAGCOR’s beneficiaries,” Vallejos said.
Apart from PNHS students, over a hundred neglected children under the care of Concordia Children’s Services, Inc. in Sta. Mesa, Manila will also benefit from the state-run gaming firm’s gift-giving project today, December 8. Concordia is a non-profit organization licensed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to operate as a child-caring agency.
PAGCOR has allocated a total of P22.4 million for the 13-day gift-giving activity. It will benefit a total of 23 institutions caring for the less-fortunate Filipinos nationwide.