The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) turned over a total of P4.1 million in cash incentives to the 82 members of the Philippine Inter-Agency Humanitarian Contingent to Turkey.
Each member of the contingent will receive a P50,000 cash incentive from PAGCOR. The contingent consists of volunteers from different agencies including the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Air Force (PAF), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and Office of Civil Defense (OCD).
“Before the volunteers returned to the Philippines last February 28, PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco committed to give incentives to them as tokens of appreciation for their selfless acts. They sacrificed themselves to help and were able to conquer the challenges including bearing the extreme weather conditions. It was a huge task, but they all did it and made the whole country proud,” PAGCOR’s AVP for Community Relations and Services Eric Balcos said.
The ceremonial turnover of check was held during the welcome ceremony and recognition of the volunteers at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City on March 6, 2023. The event was attended by Department of National Defense Officer-in-Charge Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., DOH OIC and Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire, OCD Administrator Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno, MMDA Chairman Atty. Romando Artes, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino, and PAGCOR’s AVP for Corporate Communications Carmelita Valdez and AVP Balcos.
The Philippine response team was sent to Turkey on February 8, 2023, to help the victims of the devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit the country and the northern border of Syria on February 6, 2023.
During their two weeks deployment, the team was able to serve 1,022 patients, helped recover bodies of six earthquake victims, and assessed 36 buildings in Turkey, according to USec Galvez. They also distributed blankets, bonnets and gloves to the victims.
One of the volunteers from MMDA, Dr. Ted Esguerra shared his five-point learning experience from their volunteer work.
“First, marunong tayong tumanaw ng utang na loob. Turkey was one of the first countries who helped us after typhoon Haiyan, it’s our way of giving back. Second, despite being number one in the World Index for having lots of disaster, pinakita natin sa mundo na tayo ay world-class humanitarian in work. Third, Filipinos need to become versatile para maging equipped for international response. Kailangan masanay humarap sa lugar na malamig, disyerto o mataas ang altitude. Fourth, we must learn from the experience of Turkish people. Maging handa tayo sa ganitong kalaking disaster. Isa ang Turkey sa bansang handang-handa sa lindol pero sa sobrang laki nito, na-overwhelm sila. Lastly, we need to create a humanitarian team who are trained in cross-cultural currents.”
Dr. Esguerra also expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR for the grant given to the volunteers. “Pasasalamat para sa PAGCOR dahil nakita ninyo ang kabayanihan at talento ng Pilipino. Hindi ito pabuya lamang kundi pambili rin ng gamit ng mga volunteers na nasira during our rescue,” he shared.
DOH Chief of Medical and Professional Staff Dr. Alfonso Danac likewise thanked PAGCOR for its help.
“We are very grateful to the PAGCOR management for giving this token. None of us are expecting this. We were deployed in full volunteerism. Malaking bagay ito dahil yung iba sa amin ay mababa lang ang salary grade but they willingly volunteered,” he expressed.
Dr. Danac shared that the DOH team did not just render medical services, but they also served as cooks, electricians, plumbers, cleaners, and did administrative works, among others.
“Based on self-sufficiency ang team natin. We rendered medical services but we also did our part sa camp. ‘Yung deployment natin will show to the world that our rendering services are based on professionalism and standards,” Dr. Danac shared.