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Friday, February 18, 2005


The heart of THE FREEMAN newspaper
by Maria Eleanor Elape Valeros
December 27, 2004, posted at www.thefreeman.com and at www.4architects.ph.tc

For a decade now, THE FREEMAN Foundation – the heart of the 85-year-old THE FREEMAN community newspaper – has catered to The Freeman’s public-spirited efforts.

It is a privilege to be a member of THE FREEMAN Foundation volunteer team. Its community outreach programs brought me close to the foundation’s beneficiaries. It makes all my almost seven-year stay at THE FREEMAN meaningful – a path I would always cherish because each new experience allows for selflessness, unfailing sympathy and undying love. I am all the more convinced that I am not a fluke of nature, that I am by no means an astronomical random chance in the universe. That together with the rest of the members of the TFF core group, we all share in this purpose of connecting THE FREEMAN Foundation’s donors to their beneficiaries.

Through this column, I would like to give a salute to all of those who have supported the foundation’s humanitarian efforts. THE FREEMAN Foundation, through this paper’s public service section, will have its yearend inventory of donations that have been significant, even life-saving, to all the beneficiaries.

Been there, done that!

Forty days after tragedy struck three municipalities in Southern Leyte, THE FREEMAN Foundation Team moved donations in cash and in kind generated from a campaign drive intended for the families of Pinut-an, San Ricardo in Panaon Island. Pinut-an was identified as “priority area” by Romana Cuizon, Provincial Social Welfare Development Officer of the Province of Southern Leyte.

THE FREEMAN management and foundation administrator Dr. Remedios Bacasmas wish to thank all of those who responded to the urgent call for assistance for those families who survived such massive and devastating landslides; and to Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Inc. for facilitating the movement of cargoes, free of charge! List of donors include former Rep. Jose Gullas, Lancer Security Agency, anonymous donors and concerned citizens and groups, the UP-TAO, Atty. Joseph Baduel, Rudy and Lilian Monte de Ramos, Royeca family, Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Margot, Miguel and friends, Philippine Airlines-Mactan station; Dodo Canoy, Melanie Velez, Sumampong family, CSCST-Main Campus Student Teachers, Antonio Cohon, Lilia Lasola, Global Carrier Phils. Inc.; Employees of Global Carrier, Maximiano Sumaoy, Cherubim Security Agency, Asian Park Tower, Sinulog Foundation, Inc. Cash and check donations amounted to PhP162,050.

Barangay Pinut-an is the biggest barangay in San Ricardo, described by its punong barangay as the “center of trade and commerce” in the southeastern side of Panaon island. It has an estimated population of 1,961 with 366 households. Casualty was placed at 24 with a total of 102 damaged houses, and 292 partially damaged houses.

Hospital tour

I also had the blessed task of distributing bundles of joy to sick indigent children-patients of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Cebu City Medical Center, and Talisay District Hospital, as well as the Parian Drop-In Center last December 5 on a pre-Christmas gift-giving activity.

Headed by TF General Manager Melandro “Boy” Mendoza, the core group gave away some 200 gift bags to nine children at the neurological ward of the VSMMC, 70 kids at the pediatric ward, and 40 at the communicable diseases ward, 42 children-patients at the CCMC, 22 in Talisay, and 16 at the Parian Drop-In Center.

The giving of the bundles of joy was enlivened by the presence of another volunteer, Canadian Byran Bellamy, who played Santa Claus at Ratsky at the Ayala Center Cebu to help raise P150,000 for the sick children beneficiaries of THE FREEMAN Foundation.

Christmas with the Ati tribe

I was moved by another work of charity last December 13 when I played host to a short program wherein over eighty children of the Ati tribe grabbed toys in a game of “pabitin”, smashed a clay pot full of candies in a game of “hampas palayok”, and danced to the familiar beat of the Ati-Atihan.

THE FREEMAN Foundation tied up with Ratsky – Ayala Center Cebu to distribute 80 Christmas bundles of joy and gift packs to some 56 Ati families relocated in South Poblacion, Naga town.

I learned from Ati tribe chieftain Manuel Sanger, 49, that real estate developments in their hometown in Iloilo had snatched away from them their ancestral domain.

Sanger said they arrived in this new settlement in 1996 from Iloilo after the National Commission on Indigenous People facilitated their “exodus out of home” to the proverbial “promised land” in the municipality of Naga.

To date, THE FREEMAN Foundation has received P14,960 from Friends from Connecticut for Adam Taboada, nine years old, who has cyanosis and heart disease.

The foundation acknowledges that the solid base of donors and sponsors has been its lifeblood. It could not have functioned efficiently in saving lives if it weren’t for charitable readers, young and old, from basically all walks of life.

Donations that continue pouring in at THE FREEMAN Foundation give us the hope to touch more lives and the energy to move on with these humanitarian efforts.

(For your donations either in cash or checks please call (032) 255-0926 to 27 and ask for Arlene for questions or comments. Official receipts are issued and acknowledged publicly in this paper’s public service section. For reactions, comments, suggestions and contributions to this column, crank up my addy:
pinay_mangatkatay@yahoo.com. Walking an extra mile through THE FREEMAN foundation wouldn’t hurt, because after all we are helping our brothers. They ain’t heavy!)