Run, to save lives
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2019 - 12:00am

So many companies are staging runs to raise revenues for specific projects.

Most runners for the fun of it; their stamina is tested; the many miles they are able to cover gives them a thrill. In almost all cases, runners pay an amount to participate in the run. The more runners there are, the nearer is the realization of the targeted funds.

One such activity is the yearly Million Volunteer Run (MVR) project of the Philippine Red Cross. I’ve not joined any run simply because I’m not a good athlete – perhaps the better term is I’m the too feminine type – but I encourage you, readers, and my friends and relations to join the PRC’s million volunteer run on Dec. 8 because you can help save lives of others – and perhaps, one day, your own life. 

On Dec. 8, the fifth nationwide MVR will be held in different PRC chapters in the country. Like in Manila where the starting point will be at the Quirino Grandstand/Rizal Park, the local chapters’ MVRs (including the Gingoog Red Cross chapter) will kick off at appointed spots at 5 a.m. for the 3 km and 5 km distances. Participants will consist of long-time and beginning runners, men and women, and children. Families running together are a welcome sight.

The PRC is the premiere humanitarian organization in the country – in services provided and the number of people served. It is also one of the front-liners during disasters, natural and man-made emergencies, the leading institution in terms of voluntary blood donation and provision of safe blood products and the preferred organization of volunteers and stakeholders. Joining the MVR means making a contribution to PRV’s life-saving programs.

“Dec. 8 makes an opportunity to do a lot for humanity,” says PRC Chairman and CEO Sen. Richard Gordon, who conceptualized the project, even the choice of the word “run”. “You can help the Philippine Red Cross save lives and alleviate human suffering by joining the largest humanitarian run in the country.”

PRC Governor Ernesto Isla is the over-all chairman of this year’s Million Volunteer Run 5.

People have associated Philippine Red Cross with just providing blood for victims of disasters and those medically in need of blood to stay alive. While blood-letting (receiving blood from donors) and blood transfusion are indeed needed, PRC also helps victims get back on their feet by giving them shelter, water, food, counselling, and means of livelihood.

There has been a preponderance of medical, natural and man-made emergencies in the news. Health emergencies followed one another – measles, dengue, the polio, in unprecedented numbers. Typhoons have rendered farmlands flooded and destroyed crops. The Haiyan experience is bad memory for everyone. Lately, a series of high intensity earthquakes rocked the province island of Batanes in the middle of this year, and in various Mindanao provinces.

Being the leading organization when it comes to providing services to the most vulnerable, PRC has been able to assist more than 55,000 patients through its 156 ambulances nationwide. It has responded to almost 300 fire incidents this year and given first aid to more than 2,000 riders and passengers involved in motorcycles crashes. It has provided the blood needs of more than 169,100 patients and given 1,700 dialysis treatments to indigent patients. PRC has built 151,477 houses for survivors of various typhoons since 2006. Currently it is extending assistance to those distressed by the series of earthquakes in Davao and Cotabato.

In the light of recent health emergencies which rendered the country reeling from the number of affected individuals, PRC has been able to work in tandem with government entities. On its own, has provided six health care units which served 3,735 measles patients and helped protect a total of 16,956 children from measles through vaccination. In response to the dengue outbreak, PRC was able to provide health care units which catered to 6,697 patients. Just recently, the humanitarian organization joined the Department of Health in a nationwide mass vaccination activity against polio and was able to vaccinate 62,656 children against the highly contagious disease.    

PRC’s presence can be felt from Batanes to Cotabato – its aid has broken barriers and has always been true to being always first, always ready and always there. Proceeds from the nationwide MVRs will ensure the continuity of PRC’s life-saving projects.

This Dec. 8, humanity calls, run for a cause. Join the Million Volunteer Run 5 wherever you are.

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Upsilon celebrations are happy events, as was the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Upsilon Sigma Phi Batch ’69 and that of its sister sorority, Sigma Delta Phi Batch ’69. The grand ballroom of Okada Hotel was filled to the rafters, with the brods and sis renewing bonds, laughing as they watched films of their antics and saw their photos in an expensively bound souvenir program, and muttering, “Dem were da days.”

Chairman of Batch ‘69 for the last ten years is Wilfredo “Willy” Beltran Fernandez, who wore a dapper checked grey shirt, is a publisher of a metropolitan broadsheet. He spoke about the batch’s scholarship program that enabled scores of Upsilon neophytes to finish college. Emmanuel “Manoleth” Ocampo, one of the event’s coordinators, echoed Willy’s description of their being part of the fraternity as the best time of their lives. He didn’t speak, but brods told me that Fernando “Erdie”Balaaldia Malveda should be given a line or two in my column, for Erdie has been, and continues to be, a generous man, a multi-awarded farmer and environment specialist. Another 69iner was Enrico “Rico” Alfiler, vice-chairman and director of the Philippine National Bank. Strutting and rightly so, around the tables, were brods flying in from abroad and local chapters.

Majority of the attendees were batches below and above Batch ’69. Prominent Upsilonians belonging to other batches were Senator Richard Gordon, the Philippine Red Cross’ chairman and CEO, and Martin Romualdez, House Majority Floor Leader.

For the part of the Sigma Deltans, Lyn Holazo Hamilton did the emceeing. In the souvenir program, she had written, “Our years in UP taught us to excel, to be leaders, to be the best that we can be.” She and all her ’69 sisters – all looking in their 50s only – gamely danced on the floor with each other, to the music of RJacinto’s band, with lovely silver shawls around their shoulders. Their batch has a foundation that provides scholarships to deserving students.

The night wore on, but a handful were still talking at a table, talking about past conquests and funny experiences, future events and – politics, I guess, at a table. Maybe their bonding and fellowship would last till the wee hours of the morning. But all of them, within and outside Batch ’69 are proud of their being Upsilonians.

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