Feature: Common Tao Day, a glad tiding to Josefina folks
Zamboanga City (30 October) -- A celebration of hope, confidence, empowerment and approval by the common tao of the services their government provides them is what a 'common tao day' is all about.
Josefina is one of the remotest and poorest town in the province of Zamboanga del Sur. A six class municipality, it is a slow growing town with a population of 10,934 (NSO 2008 census), mostly dependent on agriculture for livelihood.
First ever in Mindanao, Josefina was given the privilege to rate and approve government services to common tao like them.
A medical, dental and optical outreach mission was brought by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in Josefina as decided by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
It could be recalled that the President expressed her goal of visiting all the 5th and 6th class municipalities nationwide before her term expires. This she intended to purposely bring good tidings to all these depressed areas she would visit.
PCSO recorded 890 indigent beneficiaries of the outreach mission. Among these, 173 patients consulted with eye problem and were given free eye glasses.
In the said visit, President Arroyo, assisted by PCSO-IX Regional Lottery Officer Raul Regondola, Zamboanga del Sur Governor Aurora Cerilles and Josefina Mayor Maria Fe Pitogo handed over medical kits to all 14 Barangay Captains of Josefina who right away turned it over to their respective barangay health workers.
Mayor Pitogo herself received one (1) unit of brand new ambulance donated by the President through PCSO for the town folks.
Affliction and Poverty
Handicapped with congenital defect, Cherry Mae Mangubat, a 9 years old pupil, suffer with clubbed feet and polio.
Her dream of becoming a teacher someday dimmed when her mother, Lorna, got sick of pushing the wooden cart her father made to ferry her to school.
Lorna pushes the cart daily on weekdays through one kilometer of rocky and muddy home-to-school road. During the 4-month-routine since June this year, her mother got sick, which prompted Cherry Mae to quit school.
Bienvenido Solatorio, 56 years old, a carpenter and a father of 5 siblings in Upper Bagong Tudela, Josefina, Zamboanga del Sur is a diabetic. His right foot was amputated years back to avert further damage to his body. Despite his condition, he has to eke out a living through carpentry to provide for his family.
Rufa Leonardo, 62 years old, a retired teacher of Gumahan, Josefina is also a diabetic. She was afflicted by the disease since 1995. She also suffers from high blood pressure. In March this year, she was prescribed a routine dialysis in Cebu City.
Family savings including her retirement benefits were getting drained due to a lifetime medication requirement.
Expressions of Gratitude
All of the these 3 people afflicted by sickness and the cruel effects of poverty cycle, all felt blessed as each of them were recipients of a wheel chair from the PCSO which President Arroyo personally handed to them during her visit.
Cherry Mae, the youngest in the seven siblings of farmer Celso and Lorna Mangubat was swift to answer President Arroyo why she wanted to become a teacher. She said, "gusto ko mahimong usa ka magtutudlo kay gusto ko motabang sa mga kabataan nga makakat-on." (I want to become a teacher because I want to help the children learn).
As early as 7 in the morning, Cherry Mae is propped in her new wheel chair with her supportive mother pushing her way to school. Doctors who attended to her during the medical outreach said they still have to assess her case whether an operation could correct her club foot to normalcy. But for now, she counts it a dream come true to have a wheel chair and be back to school once more. After all, not all persons with disability (PWDs) got a chance to see President Arroyo up-close and receive an enabling gift.
Mr. Solatorio and Mrs. Leonardo were both happy recipients of a wheel chair from the President.
Mr. Solatorio expressed dependence and a skill-booster feeling in his new-found livelihood support. His new wheel chair gives him ease to move around while doing carpentry work.
With a smiling face Solatorio expressed his gratefulness to President Arroyo who personally handed him the wheel chair that he would need for the rest of his life.
Mrs. Leonardo was also given medical assistance by President Arroyo through the PCSO in the amount of P50,000.
Similarly, as a token of gratitude, Mrs. Leonardo prepared a short letter addressed to President Arroyo to express her heartfelt thanks on the very day she received her wheel chair and the medical assistance of P50,000 through the PCSO. A portion of her letter reads, "with this, I am expressing my heartfelt thanks to you for your valuable support to me and to my family who are very hard up due to my illness. Madam President I will never forget this memorable gift you gave me, for this is an extension to my life in this world. I will always support all your endeavor in making the Philippines a progressive country."
The said financial help could go a long way as she needs to be dialyzed twice a week, spending some P7,000 per session at the Misamis University Medical Center in Ozamis City, Leonardo concluded.
Medical-dental practitioners from the government and the private sector including that of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (PA), nurses and other health personnel came together as "Kaibigans" of PCSO to serve the common tao for free.
PCSO Regional Lottery Officer Raul Regondola said the day of the common tao in Josefina is the first ever held in the island of Mindanao. Its activities include the provision of free medical, dental as well as optical services to all the beneficiaries. It is being conducted every Friday in selected 5th and 6th class municipalities throughout the country with no less than the President herself choosing depressed municipalities as launching pads of this kind of one-day outreach mission, Regondola added.
On October 9, 2009, the Office of the President through the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) commemorated the so-called 'Common Tao Day' in the town of Josefina, Zamboanga del Sur.
It was a memorable day for the local folks who give a seal of approval to the highest ranking official of the land, who lead the "common tao day" initiatives and set foot in their town with glad tidings for the poor. (calanipa/pia9) [top]