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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Serving the Filipinos

At 87, her arms are already frail and weak but on Sunday morning at BAYS Center in Bacolod City, Angelina Alontaga of Barangay Banago lifted her hands, looked up and clapped her hands for about a minute.

“She’s looking up to thank God and applaud those responsible for giving her a new wheelchair so she can be moved around,” said her daughter, Jessyryn, who was as teary-eyed as her mother.

Another mother, Minda Jabagat, cried, too, as she came to grasp with the thought that she will no longer carry in her arms her daughter, Jessica, diagnosed with cerebral palsy and polio, whom she has been carrying in her arms for most of the 22 years of her life.

The mother-and-daughter tandem is a daily fixture in front of San Sebastian Cathedral begging for their survival. That’s our only way to survive since I am already a widow, she said.

Their thanks and appreciation were profuse for Bombo Radyo Bacolod and Star FM – and their partners – which held their medical, dental and optical mission to celebrate Bombo Radyo Philippines’ 52nd anniversary of public service to the Filipinos.

Bombo Medico, now on its 11th year, is apparently the biggest nationwide outreach program covering medical and allied services by a private institution.

It was held simultaneously in 24 key centers, including Bacolod, Iloilo, Kalibo and Roxas City – where the network operates nationwide.

All in all, Bombo Medico served 84,365 patients nationwide with its about 2,500 medical and health volunteers rendering about P33.75 million worth of professional services.

Free medicines worth P16 million were also dispensed.

Another P2 million worth of dentures, walkers, crutches, reading glasses and hearing aids were also distributed.

In Bacolod City, about 5,550 Negrenses were served. The number includes 641 dental service beneficiaries and 680 recipients of reading glasses.

Beyond the numbers and amounts, the beneficiaries proved they were more than just statistical facts.

Practically each had a story to tell – of want, desperation and need for attention and help.

Many stories were heart-wrenching, like that of a 53-year-old stroke victim, whose husband died two days before she was scheduled to come to the city, prompting Bombo Radyo Bacolod Manager Mary Divine Grace Cuello to lead her team to deliver her wheelchair a day later to the recipient, Jocelyn Trono, who despite her grief as her husband lay in state in their home, managed to smile and in slurred speech thank the Bombo staff.

Beside her was her son, Ramy, in tears as he recounted how her parents sold fish in the village to feed their impoverished family and send the young ones to school.

Amid the desperation were people who have kept their hopes that help would come their way, like what the broadcast organization did. The Bermudo couple, who were the first on line at the venue entrance were optimistic they could get help for free. They came the night before from their remote community in upland Talisay and stayed in the vicinity of BAYS Center. “We know the doctors can help us with our diabetes, arthritis and heart problems as they had helped folks in our neighborhood last year, they told Bombo Radyo.

And for many whose lives were touched by the services, the experience was life changing – like recipients of dentures, who are now flashing new smiles and the elderly who can walk more confidently with their new crutches.

Just as important is the spirit of caring which scores of volunteers demonstrated in Bacolod City – from doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists to students, masseurs, barbers, therapists, military and police personnel, soup donors and others who shared efforts and time in the spirit of volunteerism.

Dr. Hector Gayares Jr., president of the Bacolod Adventist Medical Center which has been annually supporting Bombo Medico congratulated the network for sustaining the program and those who helped made it a success as he also challenged the beneficiaries to find time to return the gesture by helping others as he added, “Let’s continue to serve as volunteers.”

Cuello, on her part as station manager, reiterated the appreciation for doctors, nurses, medical staff, dentists and other volunteers as well as partners, sponsors and donors. From the bottom of our hearts, we express our deepest gratitude, she said, adding: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”*

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Binalbagan boosting tourism

More developments are underway to boost the tourism industry of Binalbagan town in Negros Occidental, its mayor, Emmanuel Aranda, said Sunday.

Among these is the ongoing construction of roads, through a contractor of the Department of Public Works and Highways, going to the falls and caves discovered in Binalbagan, which are possible attractions to tourists in the town, Aranda said.

The Department of Tourism had allotted a P100 million budget this year for the Binalbagan government, on their request, Aranda said.

He said the budget covers the concreting and widening of the road leading to the Sunoy Bambi Falls in Barangay Santol, which is about 28 kilometers from the town proper, via Barangay Bi-ao.

“Every year there is a budget and the target for the completion of the project, according to DPWH, is five years from now,” Aranda said.


Aranda said they are starting to plant 2,000 high-value fruit trees such as rambutan, pomelo, durian, mangosteen, and lanzones, as well as vegetables and flowers inthe 17 to 20 hectares of land.

Animals, such as carabaos, cows, horses, and chickens will also be raised there, he said, adding that they already have some of the equipment for farming.

“Our plan here is integrated farming and the budget came from the 20 percent Internal Revenue Allotment which is P5 million,” he said.


The development of the Sunoy Bambi Falls is also being eyed to boost the livelihood of at least 4,800 indigenous peoples (IPs) in barangays Bi-ao, Santol, and Amontay, Aranda said.

The existing IPs in Binalbagan are from the tribes of Ituman, Magat and Bukidnon, he said.

Aranda said the income that will be generated at the Sunoy Bambi Falls, through its entrance fees and other services, will go to the IPs and Bantay-Bukid personnel.

Comfort rooms before the entrance to the falls are also being constructed, Aranda said, adding that they will prohibit bringing of bottles and plastics to the falls to maintain its cleanliness.

He said they will also craft other rules and regulations in line with the care of the environment.

So far, Sunoy Bambi Falls is good for daytime trips as there is no available electricity in the area yet, but people are using solar power instead, Aranda said.

The bridges that the visitors need to pass going to the falls are also to be improved so even the elderly may also enjoy the beauty of the falls, he said.

The falls were re-discovered in 2010, but it had been there since late 1970s, Aranda said.

Other attractions in the mountain, such as the area where residents can display their souvenir products, are also being developed.


A part of the road that is now being constructed that had some “gravity” is also being improved. The water, instead of flowing down, appears to be going up the road, and this is similar to the magnetic road in Murcia and Salvador Benedicto, Aranda said.

The Binalbagan local government is also planning to improve the entrance to the cave located in the area before entering Sitio Bulwang in Binalbagan, so people can enter and see a rock with water flowing on it, he said.

Roads leading to seven more caves near the Mabunga and Nabuak elementary schools will also be constructed next year, Aranda said.

He said Binalbagan is not known yet for its tourist spots but they have a lot of potential, it is only that they are not promoted well.

Those who want to experience trekking to Bambi Falls may go to the Binalbagan Tourism Office or contact Aranda at 0920 901 9417.*SGG

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Binalbagan boosting tourism
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