The first batch of the one hundred twenty trained tour guides of the tourism department that are servicing local and foreign tourists around Intramuros received a livelihood upgrade from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on October 27, 2022 at the Plaza Roma, Intramuros, Manila.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma led the awarding of the Pedicab Rehabilitation Package Certificates for the 42 pedicab drivers and Nego-Karts for three vendors in coordination with DOLE-NCR Regional Director, Atty. Sarah Buena S. Mirasol.

In his message, Laguesma explained both the Departments’ goal of providing livelihood assistance and training for a long-term financial independence. He also emphasized the need to enhance the image of the said beneficiaries because they also serve as one of the symbols and faces of tourism in Intramuros.

“Simple lamang po ang aming kahilingan sa inyo, sa atin pong mga benepisyaryo o mga tatanggap ng ayudang pangkabuhayan. Sinupin, pagyamanin ninyo ang inyong trabaho at negosyo. Nais naming makita na kayo ay magtagumpay. Maaasahan ninyo na ang Department of Labor and Employment ay laging aagapay sa inyo,” he said.

DOLE-NCR also distributed uniform shirts and shoes as part of the assistance package worth 990,720.00 pesos. The beneficiaries are also entitled to a one-year insurance coverage under the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and free training as part of their skills enhancement as tour guides.

For its part, the Department of Tourism (DOT) also mentioned how said collaboration will make a great impact in promoting the country’s tourism while helping the beneficiaries extend their subsistence.

“Sa kasalukuyan, may 1.7 million na turista ang bumisita sa bansa ngayong 2022 at karamihan sa kanila ay pumapasyal sa Intramuros,” said DOT Undersecretary Ferdinand Jumapao in his message.

“Dahil sa bagong Pedicab at Nego-Karts ay sigurado kaming mas enjoy sila kapag namasyal dito sa ating top world tourist destination. Sigurado po kami na ito ay magandang simula ng mas mahaba pang pagsasama ng Department of Tourism at Department of Labor and Employment pagkatapos ng Trabaho, Turismo, Asenso Job Fair noong September,” he added.

Meanwhile, Intramuros Administration Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Edgardo Baysic said that the activity is a milestone for their City. He also thanked the DOLE and DOT’s support for their on-going effort to sustain the City’s cultural heritage through provision of livelihood enhancements for its pedicab drivers and vendors.

“Alam n’yo po, ang Intramuros ay hindi magsu-survive kung wala ang community. It’s essential for the survival of our cultural heritage,” Baysic said.

He added: “Kaya nga po ang aming strategic direction dito, habang dine-develop po namin ang mga heritage assets natin katulad ng Fort Santiago, dapat po ay kasabay umunlad ang buong community kaya ni-recognize na natin ang importansya ng ating pedicabs and vendors.

“So sa ating drivers and vendors, pangalagaan po natin ‘yung ating mga makukuha ngayon…Suklian po natin ‘yung pagkilala satin sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng maayos na serbisyo sa ating mananakay at bumibili ng ating produkto. Ang lahat po ng ito, mapaserbisyo ay iko-continue sa ikagaganda, ikaaayos ng ating mahal na Intramuros.”

Key officials also graced the ceremony, including DOLE Undersecretary, Mr. Ciriaco Lagunzad III; DOLE Assistant Secretary, Ms. Dominique Rubia-Tutay; DOLE-NCR Assistant Regional Director, Atty. Jude Thomas Trayvilla; DOLE-NCR TSSD-Employment Promotion and Workers’ Welfare Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Mr. Rey Sanglay; DOLE-NCR Senior Labor and Employment Officer and livelihood focal, Ms. Aurora Halcon; DOT-NCR Regional Director, Ms. Sharlene Zabala-Batin; and DOT Manpower Training Division OIC, Mr. Ryan Sebastian.

END / Esteban Chua Jr. and Mark Louie Conde with report from Aurora Halcon; photos by Gladys Lopez