LAOAG CITY, May 8 (PIA) – “Balikbayans” (or Overseas Filipino Workers) here are giving back to their hometown by raising funds to support the education of high school students.
Through the annual fund-raising “Balik-Pinili Sarabo” (gift for returning to Pinili), which started in 2003, OFWs donate a portion of their income everytime they go home during the town’s fiesta.
“It started with a Christmas Tree where balikbayans coming home for the Holidays are asked to fill in a donation box found at the foot of the tree,” former Pinili Mayor Anunciacion Pagdilao, whose husband Samuel Pagdilao, Sr. is the incumbent mayor.
Seeing its potential to help the poor students in town, Pinili officials turned the program into an annual fund raising campaign dubbed “Mr. and Ms. Sarabo” where “balikbayans” are tapped as candidates for the coveted Pinili crown.
The candidates compete for the crown by raising the most amount of money out of donations from locals and other balikbayans.
Every year, the program is able to raise an average of P80,000 enough to support ten high school scholars in Pinili Polytechnic College and Pinili Institute.
“We are planning to extend our scholarship program to college students so that the high school graduates today can continue their schooling until college,” Pagdilao said.
Secretary Sonny Coloma of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office, who was born in Pinili, was invited to grace the town fiesta but was unable to show up because of prior commitments in Malacanang.
In a video message, he extended his gratitude to the balikbayans for helping the students to make the Pinili even more progressive.
“We should always be hopeful that we could attain our great aspiration in life,” Coloma said.
PCOO Assistant Sec. Cathryne Jonne Licudine-Dalen, who spoke on Coloma’s behalf, also thanked Pinili locals for inviting the secretary to the event and inspire his fellow Ilocanos.
Dalen appreciated the gesture of balikbayans in paying back to their hometown in the form of scholarship programs.
“Sarabo is a gift that is given to special people or to give honor to people that serves as a model. Puwede pala gawin ito sa mga (this can be done in) mini reunions, class gathering, this one is a very worthy cause that can be emulated by other LGUs or organizations,” she said.
Addressing the scholars, Dalen said: “When you try to come back here soon and become professionals, you try to give back, you try to look back to where you came from and look back to what they have given you.”
“Always remember that Pinili is always here for you not because they’re waiting for you to give back something but they are waiting for you to see that someday there will be a next Sec. Coloma in Malacanang,” Dalen said. (Cherry Joy D. Garma/CDG,PIA-1, Ilocos Norte)