Sick, indigent children get early Christmas wishBy Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines – Her only wish is for her three-year-old son, Erich, to survive leukemia.
But as a young widow with no means of livelihood, 32-year-old Ritchel Perdigones from Surigao del Sur was clueless how she would finance her son’s treatment.
Erich, who was diagnosed with leukemia with severe sepsis early November this year, has been confined at the Hematology Ward of the National Children’s Hospital in Quezon City.
Ritchel said her son undergoes blood transfusion every day and when his body is ready, he will be subjected to several cycles of chemotherapy.
“Ang pinakahiling ko talaga ay mabuhay siya. Sa ngayon kasi yung maliit na tindahan lang namin sa Surigao ang inaasahan ko. Sana matulungan ng Pagcor ang aking anak para tuluyan na siyang gumaling at makauwi na kami ng Surigao (My greatest wish is for her to live. For now, I only depend on the little variety store I maintain in Surigao. I hope Pagcor could help us so my son’s recovery to health would continue and we could all go home to Surigao.),” she said, referring to the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation.
Like an answered prayer, Pagcor granted her wish when it donated P2.29 million for the 100 poor sick children confined at the hospital.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. led the gift-giving event held at the said health facility on Tuesday.
Of the amount, Pagcor said, P1.78 million will be spent for the purchase of much-needed hospital equipment such as one mechanical ventilator, three infusion pumps and three syringe pumps which will be used by the patients in their treatment procedures.
Naguiat, Jr. said the agency continues to stand by its commitment to uplift the plight of many less privileged sectors, including indigent children at the NCH with serious medical conditions.
“We believe that these simple acts of kindness and generosity can go a long way. These children are the hope of our country,” he said.
“We pray for their speedy recovery and we look forward to the day when they will be free from illness and have normal lives again,” Naguiat said.
Binay, who also graced Pagcor’s gift-giving activities in the past years, lauded the state-owned gaming firm for continuing its Christmas tradition, saying this gives many less privileged countrymen a chance to experience firsthand the efforts of the government to make their lives better.
“Kami ay narito bilang kinatawan ng Pangulo. Ang kalusugan ay isa sa mga prayoridad ng gobyerno. Lagi po itong ginagawa ng Pagcor. Noong isang taon, nandoon kami sa Social Security System (We’re here as representatives of the President. Health is one of the priorities of the government. Pagcor always does this. Last year, we were there at the Social Security System),” he said.
Binay said this “Pamaskong Handog” is also an opportune time to remind the sick that they do not face their battles alone.
“Kasama sa ating pagpupugay sa Panginoon ang ating pagtulong sa nangangailangan (Helping those who are in need is part of our saying praise to the Lord),” he said.
According to Dr. Epifania Simbul, chief of the NCH’s Medical Center, hematology ward patients have to be confined for a longer period of time because treatment for serious conditions like leukemia takes time to cure.
“The survival rate for each cancer case differs. We provide everything we can despite our limited funds. We call on different donors to augment the funds given by the government,” she said.
But Simbul said there is hope for children with cancer if they will be given proper medication and a good environment.
“We are hoping for cure for these patients. Pagcor’s renovation project in our hospital is dedicated to our hematology section so it will be more conducive for the patients’ faster recovery. We will try our best to save more lives,” she pointed out.