Wednesday, May 16, 2018


  Vangie (in checkered long sleeves) interviews patients who come to the office of PCSO General 
      Manager Alexander Balutan seeking for financial assistance for their hospitalization. 

LEGAZPI CITY (May 16) - Evangeline “Vangie” Villegas, a staff who does the social worker routine at the office of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan, understood the plight of patients who are coming over to seek financial or medical assistance.

Vangie is a single mother who struggled to support four children, including a child who had a heart illness.

She would always encounter angry patients during interviews but she has learned the art of handling them well. To calm the patients, Vangie patiently encourages them to settle down and that she is ready to listen to them until they will be able to tell their stories.

“May mga pasyente ditong naninigaw, nagwawala. Minsan ang lakas ng boses rinig na rinig sa buong opisina. ‘Yun ang pinaka-ayoko sa lahat. Napapahiya talaga kami. Sinabi ko, ‘Sir kalma po kasi andito po tayo sa opisina’,” Vangie said.

In a day, Vangie interviews an average of 40 to 50 patients a day.

“Some of them were from provinces, complaining the slow processing of their requests or would follow up their previous requests,” she said.

For the first quarter of 2018, PCSO has catered to 120,356 beneficiaries of Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) and has already released P2.35 billion IMAP assistance, a 39.96 percent increase from the same period last year.

A 55-year-old native of Davao City, Vangie used to work as an airport supervisor in a concessionaire in one of the airline companies, but her salary was not enough to support her children, including her sick child who needed three vials a day for his treatment that time.

“Isang vial P5,900 ang presyo, three vials a day ang kailangan n’ya. Nung time na ‘yun naghahanap ako ng malalapitan, doon ako humingi ng tulong kay [then] Mayor Duterte, mayor pa s’ya ng Davao noon. ‘Di ko pa alam ‘yung PCSO noon. S’ya yung tumulong sa anak ko,” recalled Vangie, referring to President Rodrigo Duterte who gave assistance enough to buy six vials.

Sadly, after six vials, her son eventually died of heart enlargement at the age of 14 in 2006 after more than a year of struggle.

But Vangie’s misfortunes didn’t end with her son’s death. In 2014, their house was caught on fire. She was devastated that she decided to visit her relatives in Manila and took that as an opportunity to start over again with her kids.

With the encouragement of friend, Vangie, who has a degree of Bachelor of Science in Commerce, major in Accounting, decided to apply in PCSO and there she was immediately hired as a clerk.

As a newcomer in the agency, Vangie learned the ropes by herself as no one was willing to teach her that time. She started by assisting social workers who were assessing patients, prepared transmittals, answered e-mails, and handled phone calls.

“Wala akong ka-alam-alam. Ang ginawa ko, nag-volunteer ako. Sabi ko, ‘Sir tulungan ko kayo.’ Ako ‘yung nagsusulat sa form ng pasyente. Nag-po-photocopy ako ng copies n’un, pinag-aralan kong mabuti, nakikinig ako kapag may interviews, tingin-tingin lang hanggang sa na-memorize ko na,” shared Vangie.

When then PCSO Chairman Jorge Corpuz and General Manager Alexander Balutan took over the agency, some of the experienced social workers under the previous administration resigned. No one was left behind that Vangie decided to step forward and started entertaining patients who are seeking financial assistance in the agency and the rest is history. 

Vangie’s tips

While Vangie understood the plight of very patient as she once sought financial help for her son in the past, she advised patients to submit complete requirements to avoid processing delays or to prevent them from going back and forth to the agency.

“Minsan walang endorsement from the hospital, okay na daw ‘yun. Hindi puwedeng verbal, kailangan documentary para makita ng Commission of Audit (COA) na tumatanggap talaga ang hospital [ng guarantee letter], para meron din silang ebidensya. Paano kung na-process na ‘yung papers, napagod na kayo, gumastos na kayo tapos pagbigay ng GL ayaw tanggapin kasi wala silang pruweba?” said Vangie.
Upon submission of documentary requirements, the social worker will review the completeness of the documents and will be evaluated and assessed depending on its case and classification.

Requests for hospitalization expenses needs a personal letter to PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan, original/certified true copy of medical abstract, signed by the doctor with license and PTR number, final hospital billing, endorsement from the hospital to accept PCSO guarantee letter, and photocopies of patient’s ID and immediate relative who will process the documents.

If a patient is discharged from the hospital and still have a remaining balance, a notarized promissory note is needed. Additional documents will be required for laboratory procedures, requests for chemo drugs or medicines, implant/prosthesis, and hemodialysis.

Vangie assures that PCSO chooses no one whether rich or poor, as long as you are Filipino, but her heart goes out more to indigent patients considering what she’d been through in life.

“Minsan ‘yung pasyente pabalik-balik sa PGH (Philippine General Hospital), kulang ang pera for laboratory exams or pamasahe. Minsan inaabonohan namin para ‘di na s’ya pabalik-balik, minsan nagbibigay kami lalo na kapag maliit na amount lang tapos kita naman namin na hirap na hirap ‘yung pasyente,” revealed Vangie.

“Makikita mo naman sa pasyente. Maluha-luha s’ya, mararamdaman mo naman kung totoo ang sinasabi o hindi,” she added.

But if there is one thing that Vangie learned over the years that she still applies up to now, that’s the virtue of patience.

“Bago umalis, we make sure na nakuha nila ang instruction. T’yaga talaga. ‘Wag kang magpadala sa galit nila. Many times, galit sila. Intindihin mo ‘yung nararamdaman nila na tulad mo rin noon, nangailangan ka rin. Kung may pera lang ako n’on, kung may kaya lang sana ako noon, ‘di sana namatay ang anak ko. Masakit mawalan ng anak, malambing pa naman ‘yun. Sana 25 years old na sana s’ya ngayon,” Vangie fondly remembered. (PCSO)


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