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Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 0 comments

Text and photos by Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer

DateFirst Posted 22:05:00 03/01/2010

TENS OF THOUSANDS OF devotees and pilgrims, local and foreign, flocked to Cebu city for the Sinulog celebration.

This year was the 30th anniversary of the festival, and just as it was in the previous ones, the devotion of the faithful was in full display from the early morning fluvial parade on Saturday to the grand celebration the next day.

For Albert Ampil, however, his devotion goes beyond attending the celebrations. The Cebu-based employee of Smart Communications Inc. has been a long-time volunteer in the first-aid stations scattered all over the city during the festivities. The initiative is a partnership of Smart and the Philippine National Red Cross.

“I’m very thankful to Smart for supporting and giving us employees this opportunity to volunteer,” Ampil says. “Being of service to the community is our act of devotion to the Sto. Niño.”

Ampil has seen how the program has steadily evolved through the years, from the steady increase in the number of volunteers to the addition of the station’s own ambulance to further improve its operations. This was evident when a young girl had to be whisked away to a nearby hospital after collapsing during a Mass at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.

It didn’t end there, however, as several devotees young and old were brought to the first-aid station at the Basilica, to which Smart volunteers readily responded. The same goes for the stations at the University of San Carlos Boys’ High School, along PLDT Jones, and Imus.

Early next morning, after the parade, Smart employee-volunteers helped sweep clean the Fuente Osmeña Circle, Juana Osmeña Street and Mango Avenue.

Done in collaboration with the Cebu City Department of Public Service and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as well as a few Boy Scouts, the post-event cleanup has become a yearly tradition for the volunteers.

“Festivals are central to the lives of these communities,” says Ramon Isberto, public-affairs head of Smart Communications. “Smart, as a major player in the telecommunications industry, would like to make its participation as meaningful as possible by establishing linkages with Cebu and its people through our CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives.”




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