Stronger as ever.

Last week’s 73rd anniversary celebration of the Pampanga Press Club (PPC) proved this once again. But more than just the strong bonding between and among members, the gathering at the Royce Hotel in Clark Freeport was an event with a common goal – to highlight the partnership between media and our leaders in government and the private sector. Especially for the past two years.

The PPC recognized partners in recovery as we all reel from the impact of the global pandemic that hit since 2020. It doffed its hat to LGU leaders like Governor Dennis Pineda, Vice Governor Lilia Pineda, Mayor Cris Garbo and Mayor Pogi Lazatin.

From the private sector: The NLEX Corporation; Mr. Rene Romero of Romac and Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and, Mr. Prudencio Garcia of Mekeni Food Corp.

The Clark Development Corporation and two of the busiest and most sought after government doctors were also feted – Dr. Dax Tidula and Dr. Monserrat Chichioco. A brief description of their contributions is written on their profiles, down this article.

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I am just grateful to PPC pillars – the former Club’s presidents for carrying the torch for us. Bert Basa, Lincoln Baluyut, Perry Pangan, Bong Lacson, Lino Sanchez, Jr., Max Sangil and Lincoln Baluyut. PPC Chairman Tonette Orejas calls them “elders”. Fittingly for their wisdom and guidance.

Due recognition is also given to other PPC presidents Chris Navarro, Ashley Manabat, Eric Jimenez, and Peter Alagos. Immediate past president Tonette Orejas’ shoes are so big to fill. It was her who first made sure that members’ needs for medicines, vaccination, hospitalization and other financial help were met during the height of the pandemic. Such care has not ended when she handed the helm to me.

Tonette, notwithstanding her battles with various health challenges, did not waver when it comes to pushing for the interest of the club and its members. She has always been a strong leader, guiding and motivating the officers and members even with our idiosyncrasies. She is such a remarkable (nanay) leader of the Club.

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Gov. Dennis G. Pineda. During the onslaught of the pandemic, the provincial government under Gov Pineda's helm initiated various initiatives including the Balik Pampanga program that helped returning overseas Filipino workers. The province set up quarantine and isolation facilities and treatment centers in the provincial and district hospitals, provided free medicines for adults and children, fielded mobile swabbing vans, gave free antigen testing and vaccination roll-outs for primary, booster and pediatric shots, implemented multi-sectoral strategies for vaccination and homecare program.

The campaign he led against Covid was so hailed by the national government, proving always how the Capitol is ever so serious in taking care not just of the Kapampangans but everyone who lives in the province and are taken under his wings for care and protection.

In between Covid fight and management, Gov. Pineda also went out of his way to even extend a helping hand to other provinces who were hit by other natural calamities. Such a selfless devotion to duty, our fellowmen and even the country.

Vice Gov. Lilia G. Pineda. During the height of the pandemic, she led the Covid-19 Rehabilitation and Recovery Program Committee, and initiated measures on how to address the social and economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She helped Gov. Pineda implement the various responses of the province against Covid 19 - the latest of which is the Alagang Nanay Preventive Healthcare which is her brainchild.

The Provincial Board approved the Alagang Nanay Preventive Healthcare Ordinance of 2022, institutionalizing the provincial integration of RA 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law.

Mayor Cris Garbo. As a mayor of the one of the 3 Pampanga cities, Mayor Garbo remained focused in the fight and management of covid cases in Mabalacat, including those at Clark Freeport. With his no let-up drive, the city was one of the first to reach herd immunity in vaccination, first to issue electronic vax cards with QR codes and phone app. His covid management program was hailed even by the national government

But more than those accolades that merely fulfilled those tasks, Mayor Garbo went beyond by helping even the other municipalities of Pampanga. He gave patrol cars to PNP units in all of the towns, as well as the Pampanga Provincial Office.

He also accommodated vaccination of non Mabalacat residents, even those from other parts of the region and even Metro Manila. Truly, the hallmark of leadership where kindness should not know boundaries and limits.

Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin. A few months into his first term, his leadership was tested by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic where he continued to provide services to the people, especially during the height of the lockdown periods.

Mayor Pogi continued to deliver the much-needed aid to Angeleños and helped those that have been afflicted with the disease, including us members of PPC. With our friend IC Calaguas, Mayor Pogi sought and cared for us media (not just PPC members), who underwent hospitalization and quarantine. Pogi, like his late father Tarzan, believes that quality public service can be best delivered through realization and implementation with less talk and promises.

A champion of the people, protector of the afflicted and the environment and the personification of public service.

Mr. Rene Romero. His line of business was adversely affected but that did not stop nor slow him down with his ways to help fellowmen. During the height of the pandemic, he spearheaded the call among the PamCham member-companies to extend subsidies to their employees and implement full vaccination. This was something that was beneficial.

Romac and PamCham conducted two major vaccination drives at Robinsons Pampanga in 2020.and 2021. ROMAC employees were the first to complete herd immunity in its industry covering about 3,000 employees.at should be pegged

One might also note that Mr. Romero, despite the hardship felt even by his own company due to Covid, also advocated for a wage increase that should be pegged at P1,000 minimum daily. He also went on to donate audio-video equipment to his alma mater the Pampanga High School but has named it after their batch. That’s how kind he is. Philanthropic and so concerned.

NLEX Corp. Who would forget the times when NLEX Corporation stopped collecting toll fees at the height of pandemic?

That was a noble act as the Corporation, whose main source of income was to collect tolls, had to forego of its revenues. This went on for several months. It was a sacrifice which ultimate result was to ensure delivery of essentials like food and medicines, and that medical and frontline workers are able to reach their destinations and thus perform their critical jobs.

NLEX Corp also went out of its way distributing PPEs to various hospitals, clinics and even to frontliners of Clark.