Police presence in the community is quite normal these days as they provide security and disseminate information to protect ourselves from crimes and accidents, and from various infectious diseases especially with the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Police officers conduct barangay visitations to check the situation in the community and deliver pamphlets containing vital information from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and various national government agencies.

In Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur, police officers visit villages not just to deliver these pamphlets but also to deliver happiness to children by giving each of them a pair of slippers.

Through the Project T.A.P.A.K. or “Tsinelas, Alay ng Pulis sa Ating mga Kabataan” of the Sta. Lucia Municipal Police Office (MPO), police officers provide slippers to less fortunate children in the said town which will be used in their daily activities since they are mandated to stay in their residences during this time of pandemic.

TOP PHOTO: PROJECT T.A.P.A.K. Sta. Lucia MPO police officer assists one of the recipients from Barangay Lubong in wearing a pair of slippers. (Photo credits: Sta. Lucia Municipal Police Office)

According to Sta. Lucia MPO Officer-in-Charge (OIC) PCPT Juan Jhayar Maggay, project T.A.P.A.K was launched on June 8, 2020, and it was conceptualized by Pat. Rosalina Wagayen.

Pat. Wagayen said that she would often observe children playing on the road without wearing slippers and as a mother, it was painful on her part to see children roaming around without slippers.

Simple it may seem, Pat. Wagayen pursued this project not just to paint smiles to the faces of the children but to use these smiles to draw a bright path in their minds that they will fulfill in the future.

“For we value the lives of these children, we need to show brighter paths for their future. We encourage them to work harder for the fulfillment of their dreams. Let a pair of slippers be golden rays of light for their brighter tomorrow. And even if the future remains unclear due to COVID-19, we can be part of the hand that leads these children to whisper to a brighter tomorrow. Let us unite and fight for their future,” she said.

PCPT Maggay also hoped that their act of kindness had taught the recipients to use the slippers to take a step higher in achieving their dreams in life.

“To our recipient youth, our simple act of kindness is just an ordinary thing that we can extend. It may not change your lives but we hope it will change your mindset to aim higher and achieve not only a slipper but to fulfill your dreams in life,” he said.

To date, the project has provided a pair of slippers to 489 children in Sta. Lucia town.

When asked about the source of funding for the project, PCPT Maggay answered, “The initial funding of Project T.A.P.A.K. was from the contribution of some personnel of Sta. Lucia MPO, which was taken from their mid-year bonus.”

“Our policemen believe that a blessing received must be shared to the less fortunate,” he added.

Some private individuals also extended their help by giving cash donations including pairs of slippers.

Project T.A.P.A.K is only one of the many “good deeds” programs being implemented by the PNP as part of their community public service.

As the OIC of Sta. Lucia MPO, PCPT Maggay said that he is very proud to lead a group of creative and intelligent police officers in providing quality service to the public.

“It feels great to lead men and women in the PNP who have their own initiative and are also sensitive to the plight and sufferings of others and willing to render acts of kindness even beyond their call of duty,” he added.

As the project is being implemented regularly during the conduct of barangay visitations, he hopes that this will help erase the adverse notion of common folks in using policemen as scarecrows to children.

With the health crisis the world is facing, he challenged those who have capabilities to extend help not just to children but to all, especially those who are in need.

“To the community, I, being the OIC of Sta. Lucia MPO, challenge those who are able to share and extend their blessings to others,” he said.

“No one ever became poor by giving,” he added. (Joyah Mae Quimoyog, PIA Ilocos Sur)