(PNA photo by Robert Alfiler)

MANILA – A total 1,415 golf caddies, golf workers, and employees in five major golf clubs in Metro Manila have received payouts close to PHP7.075 million under the government’s cash assistance program for tourism workers displaced by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The cash aid, distributed by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), is part of the second tranche of the Bayanihan 2 Act, wherein a total of PHP3.1 billion in direct cash assistance has been allocated to displaced workers, including those in the informal sector of the tourism industry.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Thursday led the virtual ceremonial awarding of the certificates of the DOT-DOLE Cash Assistance Program.

“For the beneficiaries of the cash assistance program with us today, I hope that this amount can help you and your families in this difficult time. We humbly ask for your continued trust and support as we continue to seek out or develop additional solutions to help all tourism stakeholders and workers through this ongoing health crisis,” she said.

A total of 509 caddies, tee boys and girls, golf instructors, vendors, and other employees from Camp Aguinaldo Golf Course received the cash aid certificates.

Also receiving the certificates are 340 caddies from the Veterans Golf Club, 293 from Alabang Country Club Inc., 167 from Club Intramuros Golf Course, and 106 from Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.

Josie Sta. Clara Arevallo from the Intramuros Caddies Association extended her gratitude as she expressed elation after being chosen as one of the beneficiaries.

“Napakalaking tulong po ang naibigay nyo sa aming mga caddies, alam po namin na napakahirap pero lumalaban kami. Sa inyong mga tumulong sa amin, ay gusto naming ipahatid ang buong pusong pasasalamat (This is a great help for us caddies, we know life is difficult at present but we continue to fight. We are extending our deep gratitude for this aid)," she said.

Jocelyn Calamaan, a golf caddie for more than 15 years, turned emotional as she was acknowledged in the virtual ceremony.

“On behalf of Wack Wack Golf and Country Club Employees, lubos po kami nagpapasalamat sa cash assistance na pinagkaloob nyo po sa amin. Maraming salamat po DOT at DOLE. Malaking tulong po ito (We thank everyone for the cash assistance given to us. Thank you DOT and DOLE, this is a big help)," she added.

Unlike other tourism destinations, golf courses have been operating in full swing in areas under the general community quarantine such as Metro Manila, provided that they are compliant with the prescribed health and safety protocols.

In the National Capital Region, 50,856 workers have gotten approval to receive financial assistance amounting to PHP254 million.

As of May 18, 35,214 tourism workers working in different industries have received the DOT-DOLE cash aid amounting to PHP176 million.

“Despite the odds, challenges, and hurdles before us, we must never give up hope. It will take effort and perseverance but with all of us doing our part, I believe that the country’s tourism sector can recover and prosper once again,” Romulo-Puyat said. (PR)