A 68-year old Eleazar Valdez could not hold his tears as gifts and cash were rained down on him on a cold rainy morning.
“This is a big help for us,” said the father of three who for nine months had been rendered jobless by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
His source of livelihood washed down the drain when the city was declared under an enhanced community quarantine last March 17 and Baguio once again isolated from the rest of the country like in 1990, Valdez had to borrow money to feed his three children ages 5 – 15.
Left by his 38-year old wife, Valdez has tended to his small family, the eldest, Christian Dave, 18, is a fourth year high school at the Rizal National High School, middle child Ashley Ann, 8, is grade 2 and 5-year old Bryan, a mentally handicapped.
Valdez was only able to receive reprieve twice during the pandemic, the Special Assistance Program, that for some way helped feed his brood.
“But there is no source of money to pay for our rent. Sad, that I am given until the end of the month to pack up and leave,” he said of the single room he rents at Greenwater Village. “But what can I do, I could not get a job even as a taxi driver or as a jeepney driver,” said Valdez, who used to drive a cab and jeepney before becoming a full time tour guide in 1996.
Last year, he was one of the senior citizens who was trained by the City Tourism Office as a tour guide.
On Saturday morning, December 19, Valdez with Ashley, received the windfall from Padilla as the Lucky Christmas Family in the 47th staging of the Silahis ng Pasko program.
“This is a toned down version thanks to the pandemic. So a simple lunch and then we will give the family their windfall,” said Padilla in mixed English and Tagalog.
It is also the first official activity of the month long Silahis which his father, Narciso, a former councilor and sportsman founded in 1973, then the city tourism officer and aimed to promote tourism as well as involve the whole community in providing for the less fortunate during the most joyous month of the year.
“I believe in the spirit of caring and sharing that a man can only be happy if he shares his happiness to make other people happier,” the older Padilla said in founding the Silahis. Silahis is a not often used word but it means a ray of hope, the younger Padilla explained.
And so the activities are meant for those less in life like the day for the people with disabilities and the lucky Christmas and New Year babies.
These are also of the other activities slated by the younger Padilla during this Covid-SnP. The day for the PWDs will be toned down with them receiving gift packs that include personal protection equipment, alcohol, gloves, among others as well as a little grocery.
The lucky Christmas and New Year’s babies will be staged definitely, the younger Padilla said, with the babies getting cash and grocery.
The last activity will be the Tala awards for senior citizens to be staged also at the Eco Lodge wherein five senior citizens will be feted in a coffee and cake event.
“Earlier this year, I promised a grander Silahis but then the pandemic struck. So everything is toned down,” he added.