MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon — The Local Government Unit (LGU) of Valencia under its Public Employment Service Office (PESO) organized a gift-giving activity to the profiled and identified child laborers in the city.
In coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-X) – Bukidnon Provincial Field Office (Buk PFO), 170 children were served and assisted on 6 December 2019 at the Valencia City Covered Court, this province.
DOLE-X Buk PFO Chief Raul L. Valmores said the gift-giving program of the Department through the Project Angel Tree had been regularly implemented in the LGU since 2010.
The beneficiaries, aged 9 to 12 years old, were profiled by DOLE-X from the different barangays of Valencia City. Through the Angel Tree program, they received gifts or “aguinaldos” from their sponsors or “manitas and manitos” from the benefactors in the private sector and the LGU.
Fiona, an identified and profiled child laborer of Barangay Kahaponan said, “Karong Pasko, gusto ko makadawat ug mga sinina, mga dulaan ug bag-ong sapatos. I wish naa pud mi kuryente ug tubig sa among balay. Gusto pud unta ko makadawat ug mga pagkaon pareha sa bugas, noodles ug mga tinapa.” (This Christmas, I want dresses, toys, and new shoes. I also wish we can have electricity and water connection in our house. I also wanted to receive food such as rice, noodles and canned goods.)
At an early age, Fiona helped her parents in planting corn, resulting in missing classes during the planting season. She is also the eldest of five siblings to parents who are both farmers in their barangay.
“Karon, nagapasalamt ako kaayo sa naghatag sa ako ug mga regalo. Nalipay pud akong mga ginikanan kay naa pud mi nadawatan na bugas ug de lata nga sud an. Lami pud kaayo ang Jollibee na gipakaon sa amoa karon,” Fiona said upon receiving her gifts.
(Today, I am so thankful for the gifts I received, most especially to the rice and canned goods which my parents are also very grateful.)
The children were asked to list down their wishes for this Christmas. Most of them wanted toys, educational supplies, clothing, and especially food for their families.
Valencia City PESO Manager Elna B. Guzman said, “Christmas is one of the biggest and most awaited festivity in the Philippines. Filipinos love to give and receive presents, especially during Christmas time. It is indeed a merrier Christmas to our children, thanks to our LGU in coordination with DOLE-X.”
Guzman said the gift-giving project aims to prevent and eliminate child labor in all areas of the city. At an early age, they have already experienced assisting their parents in providing food for the family. Thus, the PESO of Valencia City continues to commit and support Mayor Huervas’ desire to put smiles on the faces of these kids in this yuletide season with the help of our supportive partners from the private and government sectors.
Likewise, Valmores said DOLE-X envisions to uplift the lives of these children and remand them back to school for their education through livelihood and employment undertakings with their parents.
Project Angel Tree, a component of the DOLE Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program, provides an array of assistance and services that may include food, clothing, educational school supplies, and even work and training opportunities made available by sponsors or benefactors (‘angels’) to child laborers and their families.
It aims to improve the economic and social conditions of child laborers and their families and increase the number of allies and advocates of child labor prevention and elimination.
It also supports Republic Act No. 9231 which defines child labor to be any work or economic activity performed by children under 18 years of age that subject them to any form of exploitation or is harmful to their health and safety or physical, mental or psychological development. (Jessamie A. Jorquia/LEO III/DOLE-X/Bukidnon Provincial Field Office)