“One could see in the President’s eyes his genuine concern for the young who were either orphaned or abandoned, ending up at the shelter”
A retired colleague in the police beat recalled recently that the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. used to have a meal with an ordinary family on his birthday.
“It serves as an indelible memory seeing every year Apong’s photograph on the front pages eating lunch with the ordinary man like a farmer and his family to mark his birthday September 11th,” recalls my Ilocano friend, now aged 62.
His reporter’s nostalgia came up over a cup of coffee following the birthday of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. who celebrated his own birthday last September 13.
After having lunch with us, members of the Cabinet, BBM and First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos (LAM) proceeded to an orphanage in San Juan City, called the White Cross Orphanage.
Accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the child-caring agency provides temporary shelter for children, aged 0–6 years born to unwed mothers, indigent families, mentally or physically-incapacitated parents, or victims of incest or rape.
At White Cross, the children are provided with medical assistance, early-childhood education and infant care.
The orphanage visit shows that President BBM takes after his father and he shares such qualities with the First Lady LAM, a big heart for the disadvantaged poor.
So, Christmas came early to the orphanage as the First Couple treated them to snacks from Jollibee, including spaghetti and Chicken Joy, and toys that brought smiles to the children there.
Actually, BBM and LAM ordered the same Jollibee foods for all the kids under the care of all DSWD reception centers all over the country.
At White Cross, BBM in casual clothes gestured to several kids to come near him and said hello. I heard him asking them in a fatherly voice, “Anong gusto nyo, anong kailangan nyo?”
One could see in the President’s eyes his genuine concern for the young who were either orphaned or abandoned, ending up at the shelter.
A law practitioner and professor known by her initials “LAM,” the First Lady shares BBM’s sympathy for the poor. Charity is something they both have been involved in long before the idea of running for president came up.
Before leaving with BBM for the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, First Lady LAM discussed with me extending assistance to people who go to her personally for help with various concerns, such as medical and burial assistance.
Although LAM is a very private person, people in dire need go to her through friends, connections in the law practice or the academe, and she turned out to be a truly helpful person.
I learned that LAM has also asked the assistance of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for “ayuda” or financial aid on hospitalization costs of ailing poor kababayans.
She has also inquired from me about visiting the Bahay Kalinga in Valenzuela City, a facility operated by the LGU in partnership with the DSWD providing a temporary shelter for street wanderers, foundling children and battered women recovering from spousal abuse.
Also concerned about the welfare of single parents or solo parents, LAM asked about the progress in the drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2022.
The new law aims to develop a comprehensive package of social development and welfare services for the growing number of solo parents and their children to be carried out by the DSWD.
During the height of the pandemic crisis in 2020 and 2021, the government implemented the blended learning and holding of online classes as face-to-face schooling was suspended nationwide amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Former senator BBM and his wife LAM knew many, many poor students lack the capacity to buy cellphones and tablets needed to use in their online classes and research to accomplish their modules and chat online with their teachers.
BBM was a regular guest on my tele-radyo program Tutok Tulfo at PTV-4 and Radyo Pilipinas during which he gave away tablets to hundreds of poor parents and children who called in.
During our Cabinet meetings, BBM never forgets to ask me about the status of the various DSWD assistance programs for poor Filipinos.
To prove true to his first State of the Nation Address promise, “Di namin kayo iiwan,” the President vowed to muster all available government resources to augment the financial aid to Filipinos in extreme difficulty.
Indeed, hope floats as BBM and LAM have a special place in their common heart for the poor and the commitment to help the disadvantaged to overcome difficulties and hardships.