PAMPANGA

Tulabut: Of Covid and service

My Palm Notes

THE pandemic is getting to be a real scare these days. It is a scourge, a major health crisis, if I may say.

That social media post that says that statistics on cases used to be just plain numbers now have names is so true. And the names are those of people we know -- our neighbor, co-workers, friends, and acquaintances.

They include our leaders -- Mayors Cris Garbo of Mabalacat City, Bon Alejandrino of Arayat, Romy Pecson of Magalang, Rey Catacutan of Capas and Andy Lacson of Concepcion, to name a few. Good thing they have recovered.

Mayor Garbo will be back this week in his office after being hospitalized and competing a 21-day mandatory quarantine.

One good strategy to cure for Covid was started by the Provincial Government of Pampanga. This involves the utilization of a portable xray that detects at early stage the condition of the lungs of patients.

That donation sought by Governor Dennis “Delta” Pineda for such and granted by the CDC was a great move. And the P3.8-million machine is not just an ordinary xray unit. It is portable and has online capabilities. Meaning, doctors can view from their cellphones the xrays taken by the machine and sent via emails or whatever messaging platforms. There are no films necessary that are to be viewed against a light as the old school would have it.

The request was requested and approved last year during the time of former CDC President Noel Manankil and it was delivered under the time of current President Manny Gaerlan. Both of them made sure that the provincial government would get the machine despite tedious procurement process.

It was part of the P10.5 million worth of medical equipment, medicines, rice, canned goods given to the LGUs since last year as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility program of CDC for the communities under Metro Clark Advisory Council.

***

A quarter of a century!

Or in other measurement -- a little bit lower than half of my age now.

That’s the time I spent in Clark Development Corporation, starting in 1995 as an information officer. It is here where I got to raise my family, met friends, honed craft, served media, saw leaders come and go.

It is also where tough challenges were faced, issues answered, grew white hair and eventually start lose them too.

14 presidents, 5 office movements, and several pounds lighter ago, I started a career in public relations and communications when ashes literally billowed in Clark.

The operative words back then were still “clearing” and“ rehabilitation”. Descriptions of Clark back then included ghost town, sellers market, field of dreams and many more.

***

The big issues back in the day were the takeover of Mimosa by CDC which has led to protracted and ugly fights in and out of court rooms (media included). There were environment issues like tree cutting, toxic and hazardous wastes left by the Americans.

CDC has had its share in management issues, especially during the time of businessman Sergio Naguiat, Jr. who served shortest as CDC president (about 5 months).

There was this opposition to the establishment of SM Clark too especially at the main gate area. The same was repeated with Capilion which has been slowly finishing its buildings across the mall.

These are but few of them.

***

Of course, Clark chalked up some big points too.

Triumphs include the establishment of New Clark City – how the facilities are helping in the fight against pandemic. If they were not put up by Boss Vince Dizon and former CDC top honcho Noel Manankil and backed by their Boards and employees, there would be tens of hundreds in grave peril today.

The realization of everyone’s dream to have a working commercial airport which as early as 1989 (when the American troops were still very much around) was being pushed by the late Cong. Tarzan Lazatin with bills he filed in Congress.

The passage of RA 9400 that institutionalized and legitimized incentives for locators and thus prevent an exodus from Clark.

The biggest win of all? How Clark’s stakeholders since the early 1990s got together to make it an investment destination, a tourist attraction, a place for events, a family getaway vacation, a jobs center, a major airport city. All these put together make Clark one of the country’s major economic engines. And am glad to have been part (and would still be as media) of all that.

***

I am so saddened by the news that CDC Director Nestor Villaroman passed away due to Covid.

I’ve known him to be a man with outreaches where he seeks help and donate them to many of his kababayans and friends who are in need. He brought scholarship too for many young kids.

So down to earth and respectful too. In my dealings with him, he made sure that I and many of our colleagues would not feel intimidated even if he was a member of CDC Board. Nice guy. He would be sorely missed.


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