In a heartwarming encounter during the Bambanti Festival in Ilagan City, Isabela, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go’s Malasakit Center initiative was praised for its significant assistance to a local family. Go was invited to attend the festival on Thursday, January 25.

Nenita Azurin, a 55-year-old resident of Roxas, Isabela, shared her family’s challenging journey and the crucial aid they received from a program spearheaded by the senator.

In 2021, Nenita’s husband, Carlos Azurin, underwent a medical procedure at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City. Unfortunately, complications led to a stroke, resulting in an extended 22-day stay in the Intensive Care Unit.

Amid the pandemic, the Azurin family faced overwhelming medical bills and the daunting prospect of seeking help during a global crisis.

“Nagkaroon po ng komplikasyon at siya po ay na-stroke,” Nenita recounted, highlighting the severity of her husband’s condition.

The family, unable to meet in person with government offices due to the pandemic, turned to online channels to seek assistance. They sent a letter to Go, hoping for a miracle.

Their prayers were answered when the senator’s office extended a helping hand. The Azurins received substantial financial assistance through the Malasakit Center, a key initiative spearheaded by Go. This aid significantly alleviated the financial burden of Carlos’s medical expenses.

Malasakit Centers bring together representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). These one-stop shops aim to support impoverished patients in reducing their hospital costs to the least possible amount.

Go is the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 11463, or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which institutionalized the Malasakit Centers program.

Currently, 159 Malasakit Centers are operational nationwide, poised to assist with patients’ medical expenses. The DOH reports that the Malasakit Center program has already provided aid to around ten million Filipinos.

During the festival, Nenita expressed heartfelt thanks to Go.

“Huwag po kayong magsawang tumulong sa mga mahihirap na katulad namin,” she urged. “Mahal na mahal na po namin kayo. Maraming salamat po,” he added.

Through Go’s determination and leadership as the Senate Committee on Health’s chairperson, the Malasakit Center initiative has played a crucial role in giving Filipinos easy access to healthcare, particularly in times of need. The tale of the Azurin family serves as evidence of the program’s efficacy and significant impact on regular people’s lives.

Before his visit to Isabela, Go was invited in the 2024 Kalinga Provincial Athletic Meet held in Rizal, Kalinga. He then inspected the Bono-Bongat Road in Rizal, an infrastructure project he had earlier supported.

In Isabela, Go inspected the new Super Health Center in Mallig as well as its Public Market and a bridge in the town, both projects he earlier advocated for as well. He then attended the Bambanti Festival in Ilagan City, and joined the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Super Health Center in Echague.