ANGELES CITY – The city government here, under the leadership of Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin, Jr., on January 26, 2023 facilitated the return of a Bale Pusu pioneer ward to her family in Makato, Aklan.
Elizabeth Girao, 67 years old, was reintegrated with her biological sister, Emma Girao Togoto, after 32 years away from home.
Upon the instruction of Mayor Lazatin, City Social Welfare and Development Officer (CSWDO) Edna Duaso and Bale Pusu Social Worker Jerramae Tolentino personally assisted Girao, who has been staying at the city’s Bale Pusu for one year and four months, to be reunited with her family in Aklan.
They were joined by Makato, Aklan Mayor Ramon Anselmo Martin Legaspi III and Municipality Social Welfare and Development Officer Bernadith Andrade during Girao’s return to her home.
“Mayor Pogi, maraming salamat po sa pagtulong mo sa akin at pagrescue mo. Mabuti na lang at mayroong Mayor na sumagip at tumulong sa akin, kasi hindi ko alam noon kung saan ako titira,” Girao said.
“Maraming salamat po Mayor Pogi at hindi mo ako pinabayaan at dahil sa inyong ginintuang puso pinahalagahan mo kaming nangangailangan ng iyong pagkalinga. Hindi ko po makakalimutan na mayroong Mayor Pogi sa Angeles, Pampanga kung saan ako nakatira ng mahabang panahon,” she added.
Meanwhile, Mayor Lazatin handed over P5,000 financial assistance from his personal salary to Girao to help her start her life in Aklan.
Chief Adviser IC Calaguas and Executive Assistant IV Reina Manuel also gave P5,000 to aid Girao.
Back in 2020, Girao was found homeless for almost a week and was referred by Barangay Pulung Maragul officials for the assistance from CSWDO.
Mayor Lazatin immediately instructed Duaso to temporarily shelter Girao at Bahay Pagasa while Bale Pusu was under construction in 2021.
The Bale Pusu, home for the female homeless elderly, was inaugurated on September 2021, a flagship program of Mayor Lazatin, supervised by Calaguas and Manuel.
Girao was the first resident at Bale Pusu.
Mayor Lazatin wanted to prioritize the safety and welfare of Angeleños and individuals living in Angeles, ensuring that no one will stay out in the cold streets of the city.
“Hangad ng city government na mapabuti ang kalagayan at kapakanan ng lahat ng naninirahan sa siyudad. Kaya naman pinapaigting natin ang mga ganitong programa, para mas marami tayong matulungan,” Lazatin said.
Bale Pusu, located in Barangay Sta. Teresita, can house 8 to 12 homeless female senior citizens. It has a receiving area, activity area, bedrooms, mess hall and kitchen. Locally-made dusters are also provided to the grandmas, made by Angeleña designer Rosette Ramos-Biag and hired home-based mananahis under the Angeleño First livelihood program.
Inside Bale Pusu are working staff composed of social workers and additional house parents from the CSWDO. There are also daily activities for the elderly.
Doctors and health workers from the Rafael Lazatin Memorial Medical Center led by Dr. Froilan Canlas conduct regular check-ups on the housed seniors.
In addition, city nutritionists prepare their meal plan.
To date, a total of 209 individuals were rescued in the city-wide inter-office rescue and saturation operation, which was supervised by Calaguas and Manuel, with teams formed from members of CSWDO; Angeles City Tourism Auxiliary headed by Michael Lising; Gender and Development Office led by Mina Cabiles; and representatives of the Angeles City Women and Children Protection Center and Angeles City Police Office.
According to Duaso, all children, elderly, individuals, and families who will be rescued will be reunited into their families.
If they are from the city, they will be returned to their homes, but if not, they will be turned over to the city’s custody centers – the city-run Bale Pusu for abandoned elderly and the Bahay Pagasa for the youth.
Since Mayor Lazatin took office, the city government had already conducted a number of rescue operations, specifically helping homeless elderly, street children and families, and mentally-challenged individuals return to their homes.