Cebu archdiocese partners with PLDT-Smart

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

Here is one big breaking news from Cebu. Last week, the Archdiocese of Cebu joined hands with PLDT-Smart for the Philippine celebration of 500 Years of Christianity next year. The celebration, spanning a period of two years, would feature a series of online and on-ground activities, mostly in Cebu, officially recognized as the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines. Also unveiled during the partnership launch were the Panaw sa Pagtuo (Journey of Faith) mobile exhibit app and Gasa: 21 Historical Snippets to 2021 video series.

This was done in a video message. During the ceremony, Alfredo Panlilio, PLDT chief revenue officer and Smart president and chief executive officer, expressed his appreciation for being part of this important milestone that will enable the Catholic Church and tourism stakeholders with digital technologies to mark an important milestone. He said, “I am happy to see how our partners are able to pivot and integrate digital technologies into their current mode of operations with the help of innovation.”

These initiatives underscore PLDT-Smart’s commitment to rebuild our nation. “We are always ready to be of service to the country and the Church – whether it is to deliver innovative solutions that drive economic growth and development, or social services that enable people and communities to live better,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma expressed his heartfelt gratitude for PLDT-Smart for its support to the Archdiocese for the 500 Years of Christianity Celebration. I’d like to point out that this event would have been one great big historic celebration for Cebu; unfortunately, it does seem that the global pandemic might still be with us on those historic dates, hence the decision to bring in the PLDT-Smart technology of connectivity, which in effect can be broadcast to Catholics worldwide, especially the Vatican and in Spain.

Archbishop Palma pointed out, “I’d like to sincerely thank PLDT-Smart. In this age of connectivity, virtual spaces and social media enable us to continue being in solidarity, being connected, with the desire to offer something that can lift up the spirit, that can give hope, that can tell people despite COVID-19, we have reasons to believe. I am excited. I may not be a digital native, but I am learning.”

Palma added that in Cebu, “it is our joy, our privilege and our responsibility to show that God has blessed us. As I said, we have a thousand reasons to thank the Lord, that God loves us through all these beautiful things. From the archdiocese, daghan kaayong salamat (thank you so much). Let the world know that we are grateful to be Christians, we are thankful for the gift and we are willing to share our giftedness.”

Present during the ceremony held at the Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu were Archbishop Palma, assistant vice president/center head for PLDT-Smart corporate communications Maria Jane Paredes, 500 Years of Christianity Celebration chairman Fr. Mhar Balili and Cebu Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church chairman Fr. Brian Brigoli.

Palma added, “I am most pleased to know PLDT-Smart is a big part of enabling tourism in the new normal. What better way to help reinvent tourism in one of the most beautiful archipelagic countries in the world – the only predominantly Roman Catholic country in Asia – than through the digital platform.”

“We at PLDT-Smart feel blessed to have been selected to be the official partners of the Archdiocese of Cebu in mounting the celebrations of the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines,” said Cathy Yap-Yang, first vice president and PLDT-Smart corporate communications group head.

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Thirteen years ago, this was our everyday headline story that had do with the preparation for Cebu’s hosting of the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in the year 2007 that we dubbed the “Lamp Post Scam.” This report was headlined in The Freeman/Philippine STAR last Friday. I was having a board meeting with the family and picked up my Freeman newspaper when it was already evening after our meeting and I had no time to read the news item entitled “Four Found Guilty” which pointed to the four people guilty of the so-called Lamp Post Scam.

Among the four found guilty was former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-7) director Robert Lala. He and three others were sentenced to six to eight years of imprisonment in connection with the anomalous awarding of contract for decorative lamp posts installed in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu for the 12th ASEAN Summit in 2007.

In an 85-page decision promulgated on Sept. 29, the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division found Lala guilty of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Also found guilty of the same offense were Pureza Fernandez, former DPWH-7 officer-in-charge chief of the Maintenance Division; Agustinito Hermoso, former member of the bids and awards committee and private respondent Gerardo Surla, board chairman of GAMPIK Construction and Development Inc. They were all sentenced to imprisonment of six years and six months as minimum up to eight years as maximum with the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.

This decision may have come quite late…but in the end the Sandiganbayan allowed Justice to take its course. Back then we suspected that this was a scam because less than a year after the 12th ASEAN Summit was held, many of the lamp posts no longer worked. Clearly the materials used in the lamp posts were very cheap and obviously made in China. At this point, we certainly hope that the officers in the DPWH know that fooling the Filipino people will land them in jail.

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