Lesson too late for the learning

>> Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Ramon Dacawi 

BAGUIO CITY -- I’m referring to that “Kalayaan Trail Run Music Festival” last June 9 at the grounds in Scout Barrio. It was announced as presented by the City of Baguio, Project 7, Philippine Air Force and other sponsors, including John Hay Management Corp., San Miguel Corp. and others.
“This project is for the benefit of Baguio General Hospital Dialysis Center,” the promo poster advertised. As there was hardly a detailed explanation following that announcement, controversy in the accounting eventually hounded the project, with the would-be beneficiaries holding an almost-empty bag.
In the end, the dialysis center received no cash support. It was an omission the dialysis patients, nurses, doctors and relatives of the patients found unusual. The fund drive for the patients was the main reason for the run, as understood by the whole staff of the dialysis center and as announced in the poster.  
That’s why they had to cancel their treatments that day just so they could participate and assist, together with their doctors and nurses,   in the run they understood they were the sole  beneficiaries of.
They were wrong. They ended up cursing their naivete when the run organizers presented the whole financial picture.  The organizers earlier donated 38 dialysers which the dialysis patients thought  were the initial support, while expecting the fund raised from the ran still to come  to ease the daily financial pressure of their continuous  treatment for life.  
It was not meant to be, as the patients came to know only after the event.  In a meeting last week called by City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, the project organizers submitted a three-page financial statement indicating a total of P578,500 income from cash sponsorship, run registration and beverage sales, among others. Juxtaposed to this were the reflected expenses, placed at P591,794 that exceeded the income.
As signed and submitted by  “Kalayaan” organizers Bong Reyes, Eric Coronacion and Omeng Fallarme during the dialogue, the expenses were broken down to: Physical set-up (Venue, Stage, Sound system, Start/Finish Arc, Barriers, etc.) – P198,500; Singlets, shirts – P122,800; Tarps, printouts (forms), Flyers, installation, Finisher’s Mugs, Medals – P80,792; Staff and Dialysis Patients’ Food (event) – P29,000;
Staff’s Salary – P31,800; Operational Expenses (2 months: fuel, food, PR, etc.)-P49,672;Talent Fee (Hosts, Entertainers, etc.) – P16,000; Musicians’ s Food and Drinks – P18,700;  Transportation (Shuttle Service, Freight Service, etc.) – P21,930; Beverage (giveaway to runners, in excess of the sponsored SMB: water, Coke, etc.) – P22,600.
Some of these details, specially the staff’s salary of P31,800 and  talent fee of P16,000 came as a surprise to us who have had experience raising funds through humanitarian  concerts and fun runs.
We never charged for “salaries” or “talent fees” as they would whittle down the gross and negate the humanitarian purpose of the project, in this case for people at a loss daily on how to fund their next dialysis.
To prevent future misunderstandings on would-be humanitarian projects, be it for patients like us who are undergoing life-time dialysis, the city should provide guidelines in the issuance of permits. At the start, the city should require the project organizer to specify for whom the proceeds should go, with the full knowledge and consent of the beneficiary group before the project fires off.
The dialysis patients in this case would have declined being the run’s would-be beneficiaries had they been advised beforehand that the organizers would charge “salaries” and “talent fees” for their humanitarian efforts.
 Even some sponsors would have begged off had they known beforehand that no cash support would go to the dialysis patients.
What happened hurts, given that dialysis patients spend hours and days figuring out where to get the next amount needed for their next twice- or thrice-a-week blood-cleansing session.
Being a dialysis patient myself, I feel I’m tied to a treadmill that keeps gaining speed until I’m thrown off to oblivion by my inability to cope with the costs. We hope our medical situation won’t be muddled by another fun run, with the financial costs, specially talent fees and salaries of volunteers, revealed only at the end, with nothing left “for the benefit of Baguio General Hospital Dialysis Center”, as the Freedom Day Run proclaimed.  (e-mail: mondaxbench@yahoo.com for comments).   


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