COVID-19 Fails To Stop TGU’s Pamaskong Handog 2021

by Elpidio R. Estioko

Christmas is the time for people to rejoice, have fun, bond together, reunite, and enjoy each other’s company. So, despite the pandemic, the spirit of Christmas must go on anywhere, everywhere… including in Hawaii, of course.

As early as my birthday on Sept. 1, the start of the “ber” month, my wife Delia put up in our Milpitas home our traditional 7.5 feet Christmas tree, adorned with her decorating skills.

Many believe the Christmas season started when the “ber” months came. So, I started the season on my birthday, right?

That day was a blessed day, and to me signaled the holiday season is here with our tree (and gifts underneath it), standing tall for us to enjoy all season long!

Gift-giving is just incidental during Christmas which really serves as a reminder for us to reflect on the Three Kings presenting their gifts to Jesus who was born in a manger.

During this season, it is also a time to remember what we did earlier in the year, and perhaps to reflect on what lies ahead.

The prevailing spirit this time of the year is to take joy in giving. And since the pandemic started, most of us agree large gatherings are to be discouraged. As we celebrate in our own more restricted way this year, let’s remember that we still need to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

The Global Urdanetanians (TGU)
Giving back to the community is what The Global Urdanetanians (TGU) is known for during the Christmas season.

TGU is a non-profit organization based in Southern California, but its membership is global. What they all have in common is their roots from Urdaneta, a city in Pangasinan.

Foremost among their “giving back” community projects is the scholarship program, the Help the Kids program or Handog Pamasko, and the Medical/Dental services or Alay Pangkalusugan.

TGU’s Pamaskong Handog 2021 will help 200 indigent families (instead of just kids this time) in the barangay of Oltama, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, according to TGU president Yvonne San Juan-Sera.

“The Handog Pamasko this year will be a food relief to impoverished barangays. We will be giving away 200 food baskets to our poverty-stricken townmates for them to have a happy meal in celebration of the birth of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. This is a way to share our blessings to our brothers and sisters who need compassion and love during this pandemic,” she said.

The food baskets to recipient families will be distributed at the Oltama Elementary School by TGU-Urdaneta officers VP Raei Soliven Escudero, Rockin Ramil San Juan, Dr. Fe Sumera Ranada, Engr. Elpidio Angeles, Jr., TGU Scholarship Chair Dr. Clare Adalem, TGU President Yvonne San Juan-Sera, Ron Sera, Greta Manaois Ricarte, Menchu Madriaga, Fe Gonzales Sepulveda, Evelyn Duzon, Dado Fabro, and Lolay Celeste, among others.

They will be assisted by 13 of TGU’s 24 scholars. The one-day distribution will be on December 18, 2021.

The annual Handog Pamasko to children from indigent barangays duly chosen and recommended by the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) started in 2014.

The first barangay recipient was San Vicente with about 250 indigent kids as beneficiaries. In 2015, about 366 kids benefited from the program, all coming from barangay Lananpin.

Then in 2016, about 500 kids were recipients from barangay Badipa. For 2017, there were 350 plus kids from barangay San Jose Leet and for 2018, barangay Sugcong was the recipient barangay.

In 2019, about 500 students from the Urdaneta Central School were recipients of the program. All the recipients were treated with Jollibee lunch, gifts, plus a lot of entertainment/parlor games courtesy of the Help the Kids Program of TGU.

The success of the Christmas for Kids program and previous Handog Pamasko was made possible through the challenging work and dedication of TGU-Urdaneta coordinators who sacrificed their time, treasure, and talent (3 Ts) in reaching out to people in need.

Bringing joy this Christmas knows no boundaries! TGU’s HKB Pamaskong Handog is now on its 7th year. The board pledged that the joy of giving will shine for as long as there are kids/families needing their assistance. This will be an annual activity of the global organization.

As to the scholarship program, currently, the non-profit organization has a total of 24 scholars.

The first scholar graduated with a degree in Nursing and is now a registered nurse working at the University of Derby and Burton Hospital in the United Kingdom. He was joined by his family in less than a year.

Moreover, 12 scholars recently graduated. The remaining eight are in their junior and senior years.

Thank you so much for the sponsors who are making the program possible until the scholars graduate from their four-year degree courses.

If not for them, the poor but deserving scholars would not be able to go to college and earn their college degrees. Indeed, TGU’s scholarship program is one antidote to poverty!

Merry Christmas to all members and officers of TGU. You did a very noble gesture this Christmas and in your previous projects, especially the scholarship program!

Despite the pandemic, let us enjoy the Christmas season and prepare for the coming New Year!

Gift-giving knows no boundaries… so kudos to TGU’s Handog Pamasko 2021!

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO, was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @

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