A 70-year-old Swiss national who had been sleeping beside an ATM along Rizal Avenue for three days was rescued in Puerto Princesa City.
The predicament of the foreigner, whose name was not disclosed, was relayed to City Tourism Department (CTD) chief Demetrio Alvior Jr. last Sunday, April 16, by Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Jerry Alili, who was attending an event at the time at Filigans Hotel.
Alvior told Palawan News that he called the Tourist Police Unit (TPU) led by Capt. Rebecca Libarra, who responded promptly on the same day to rescue elderly traveler.
He was taken to the TPU office, where it was discovered that he had a problem with his pension that was meant to go into his account, which was why he was unable to withdraw from the ATM.
“Dumating siya sa Pilipinas ay April 14—pagdating dito, wala na siyang pera so ini-expect niya, may papasok na pera sa account niya, parang pension niya. Yong mga tao doon, pinipilit siya ng mga staff na doon matulog sa loob. Nahihiya siya kaya pina secure na lang niya sa mga staff ng Filigans ang mga gamit niya,” Alvior said.
(He arrived in the Philippines on April 14, but upon arrival, he had no money. He was expecting money to go into his account, like his pension. The staff there insisted for him to sleep inside, but he felt embarrassed, so he just requested the staff of Filigans to secure his belongings.)
Alvior told Palawan News that the diabetic traveler was given food, drink, and cardboard to sleep on by tricycle drivers and other good Samaritans during his three-day stay by the ATM.
He would weep anytime someone offered to feed him, yet he would turn down the opportunity to sleep on a bed if it was presented to him because he wanted to wait for his money.
“Medyo may edad na talaga, diabetic siya, namamaga nga ang paa. Doon ko na-a-appreciate yong ating mga tricycle driver na dinalhan siya ng carton na hinihigaan niya, at binibigyan siya ng pagkain. Grabe ang iyak niya daw talaga kapag binibigyan siya ng pagkain,” he said.
(He’s already quite old, and he’s diabetic. His feet were even swollen. That’s where I appreciate our tricycle drivers who gave him a cardboard to sleep on and gave him food. They said he cried heavily whenever he was given food.)
In addition to their office, Alvior said that the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) also provided him with food after his rescue by the tourist police, and the City Health Office (CHO) conducted a medical check-up and prescribed medication for his diabetes, taking care of his needs.
Alvior said, it was the CTD that purchased his diabetic medication since he had run out of supply.
He noted that the foreigner refused to leave, stating he still wants to see the city, Roxas town, Port Barton in San Vicente, and El Nido, even after they requested assistance from the Department of Tourism (DOT) in MIMAROPA to help in contacting the Swiss Embassy in the Philippines.
“Ayaw niyang umalis. Ang sabi niya, dati na siyang nakarating dito at maganda raw dito at mababait ang mga tao. Marami pa daw siyang papasyalan. In-assist siya ng mga staff natin na bantayan, at dumating din naman ang pera niya noong April 19 ata. Yong in-offer na bayaran ng DOT MIMAROPA yong accommodation niya habang wala pa siyang pera, siya na rin ang nagbayad noong matanggap niya ang pera niya,” he explained.
(He didn’t want to leave. He said he had been here before and found it beautiful and the people are nice. He mentioned that he still had many places to visit. Our staff assisted him and kept an eye on him, and his money arrived on April 19. The Department of Tourism MIMAROPA offered to pay for his accommodation while he didn’t have money, but he insisted on paying for it himself when he received his money.)
Hospitality is critical to the success of the tourist sector because it makes a favorable impression on guests and provides a friendly environment. The case of the Swiss national, according to Alvior, represents this, as it demonstrated how the help offered not only protected his safety and well-being but also showed the city’s dedication to the welcoming and generous greeting of visitors.
The prompt response from various agencies, such as PDRRMO, TPU, CSWDO, and CHO, in providing food, medical care, and accommodations for the elderly traveler in need also reflects the city’s commitment to providing excellent hospitality services.
Furthermore, he praised residents of Puerto Princesa for their genuine care and concern, as shown by the tricycle drivers who provided him food while he was in a difficult situation.
“Yong ginawa nila na gesture, hindi lang nakatulong na ma resolve ang isyu niya, nakatulong din siya sa positive image ng city bilang destinasyon na may pag-aalala rin sa kapakanan ng mga bisita (This kind of compassionate gesture not only helps in resolving immediate issues but also contributes to the positive image of the city as a tourist destination that values the well-being and satisfaction of its visitors),” Alvior said.