As we all know, the tourism industry is one of the most badly hit sectors in the country as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country last year. And from being one of the most famous tourist destinations in the country, Baguio City found itself losing billions of its estimated annual income after all tourism activities were prohibited, including the Panagbenga Festival.
Thus, in order to reach out to those individuals and groups terribly affected by the current crisis, yet still doing their best to help their families and other people, Iba ‘Yan went there to personally meet and give them assistance that could ease their plight.
Host Angel Locsin first went to Mines View Park and was accompanied by her tourist guide for the day, Grail Lomas-e, who belongs to the Balangaw tribe in Mountain Province. Her inquisitiveness and fervor to explore and meet various people from different walks of life motivated her to start her career as a guide in 2013.
The pandemic took a toll on everyone in their organization, especially for those who completely rely on their job. Thus, being the president, Grail decided to seek the help of the Baguio Tourism Office. They were granted cash-for-work assistance by holding a training workshop where they served facilitators and by having virtual guided tours for tourists, from which the money they accumulated were distributed to their members. Besides, she also gives equal chances for work in their organization through practicing rotational scheme for their tourist guide members.
So, in order to help them get back to work safely, Iba ‘Yan gave them face shields and face masks that they can use. Meanwhile, Gail also received a wireless lapel and speaker, flag for visual cues, first aid kit and emergency bags, as well as groceries for her and her family.
The next destination was the Wright Park, wherein Angel met Licoy Fernandez, a 33-year old pony boy. He admitted that ever since the pandemic started, they had to shell out money from their own pockets in order to provide feeds and maintenance medicines to their horses, which was still not enough.
Since they weren’t able to have decent income, he and his fellow pony boys came up with another way to generate income by turning horse manure into fertilizer. So, to help him alleviate his situation, Iba ‘Yan gave Licoy gadgets and pocket Wi-Fi for the online schooling of his children, diapers and baby clothes for his newborn kid, as well as groceries and ligtas kits for his family. Their group was also given food and maintenance supplements for their horses.
Angel then got to meet a strawberry taho vendor named Arnel Garcia, whose daily earnings of 1,000 pesos was diminished to around a half because of the restrictions caused by the pandemic. This hindered him from supporting the “new normal” education of his two kids currently in Tarlac, so Iba ‘Yan provided the gadgets and pocket Wi-Fi that they can use, along with the financial assistance for his wife’s small business, ligtas bags, groceries, and vitamins and medicines.
Their last stop was La Trinidad, Benguet, wherein the Good Shepherd Convent – the famous pasalubong house of certified Baguio products like ube jam, strawberry jam, and peanut brittle. The host met Sister Mary Guadalupe Bautista the project manager of the congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd.
Unfortunately, they were forced to close and stop operations during the lockdown, which awfully affected their 189 student-workers then. At present, only 89 of them were able to continue their studies. Even though the situation has been very challenging for them, Sis. Guadalupe said that they won’t stop as long as there are students who would want to apply and study.
One of the working students is JM Cominal, a food handler and convent boy in Good Shepherd, who’s assigned in the packaging and delivery of their products. He’s currently an industrial technology student, yet he was forced to stop since it was difficult for him to juggle modular schooling and working. At the same time, he also didn’t have the finances to pay for his tuition fees and buy himself a new gadget. So, Iba ‘Yan pledged to pay for his school fees for one year and gave him a tablet that he could use for his studies.
Our journey here on earth may be long and winding as the roads that need to be traversed going to Baguio City, but just like our fervor to get there, we should also choose to keep on moving forward in order to arrive to the destination we’ve been aspiring to reach.
Get your weekly dose of inspiration by not missing an episode of Iba ‘Yan, Sundays on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.