22 December 2009

SBMA ‘Pamaskong Handog’ benefits 500 indigents, Aeta kids

Some 500 residents from poor families in Olongapo City enjoyed an early Christmas treat when the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) held a gift-giving activity and children’s party under the agency’s annual “Pamaskong Handog” project.

As an initiative of the offices of the chairman and the administrator, “Pamaskong Handog” endeavors to bring smiles and the spirit of Christmas to less fortunate residents, especially children, in the area.

“This is only a simple way of returning part of the blessings that the SBMA and the Freeport community have received this year,” said SBMA administrator Armand Arreza.

“We’d like to make some of the poorest members of the community feel that we are here for them, that somebody also loves and cares for them, and would like to share the spirit of Christmas with them,” he added.

Arreza said the annual project has benefited thousands of indigent families and street children, as well as members of the Aeta tribe in upland communities near the Subic Bay Freeport.

At the remote Aeta community of Mampweng in barangay New Cabalan, Olongapo City, 61 students from the local grade school were among those who enjoyed a Christmas party sponsored by the SBMA this year.

“Masaya po ang party namin, kasi po lahat kami ay nagsaya, nabusog at may regalo pang naiuwi,” said Paulo Jugatan, a grade 1 pupil.

The gifts given to Mampweng schoolchildren came from the SBMA unit of the Couples of Christ Handmaids of the Lord. Olongapo City councilor Ellen Dabu also sent some gifts for Mampweng.

The Mampweng community is populated by about 150 Aeta families whose main livelihood is subsistence farming, selling bananas and other crops.

The SBMA Christmas outreach project also benefited more than 400 children and adults who received their Christmas gifts at the San Roque chapel in Subic’s central business district.

The distribution of gifts was led by Mrs. Pat Arreza, wife of the SBMA administrator, and Ms. Rose Baldeo, head of the Global Terminals and Development Inc., a Subic investor.

Global Terminals, as well as some other business locators in the Freeport, donated most of the gifts, while SBMA personnel and church lay groups serving at the San Roque chapel helped out in the gift-giving activity.

Rev. Joven Descartin, tribal pastor of the Word of Hope Assembly of God church, who helped organize the Christmas outreach project, said the activity exemplifies the true meaning of Christmas — that of giving life and hope to others.

“As we celebrate the joy of Christmas, let us then remember our less fortunate brothers and sisters, and share our love with them through giving gifts,” Descartin said. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

SIMPLE FEAST: Schoolchildren at the Aeta village of Mampweng in Olongapo City partake of a simple feast prepared for them by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority during the agency’s Christmas outreach project.