'Pamaskong Handog' means Christmas joy, data-driven governance, fairness -- Mayor Vico

Why does Pasig City conduct its annual "Pamaskong Handog" holiday gift bag distribution? It's to bring joy to Pasigueños during the holidays, help the local government implement data-driven governance, and strengthen inclusivity in the city.

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto shared these reasons in a video uploaded on his official YouTube channel on Thursday, Dec. 8.

The first and most important reason, Sotto said, is to bring holiday cheer to Pasigueño homes. The gift bags contained Noche Buena items for their Christmas celebrations.

He added that the local government will continue to improve its distribution method, along with the procurement of goods through public bidding for the "Pamaskong Handog."


Sotto said "Pamaskong handog" also aims to help the local government's projects towards data-driven governance.

Data collection for the city census is the "Pamaskong Handog" program's foremost design, Sotto said. Their teams gave short surveys as they distributed food packs in December 2019.

However, the census collection was delayed from March 2020 due to the pandemic and the non-contact regulations imposed at that time.

"Nagpractice tayo paano bumaba sa mga barangay, paano umikot ng house-to-house na susuyurin natin hanggang sa kadulu-duluhan, kasuluk-sulukan ng lungsod Pasig, pupuntahan natin (We practiced how to reach out to the barangays at the grassroots level, how to do house-to-house where we can go even to the furthest corners of the city)," Sotto said.

The surveys conducted in 2019 served as a basis for the current comprehensive surveys the local government uses for its census.


In the post-Covid world, PasigPass is a "building block" for creating the local government's "smart city" program, serving as its database or "ecosystem."

Sotto said the new upgraded application for the PasigPass, or "PasigPass 2.0" is under beta testing, and is being integrated into the "smart city" program's ecosystem.

PasigPass was first created in 2020 as a Covid contact tracing tool. It was also developed for Covid testing and monitoring of isolation and quarantine periods.

In the new version of the application, citizens will be able to use PasigPass to apply for business permits, register for government services, report emergencies, search for information on local Pasig-made goods, and integrate micro chipping services for pets.

"Now, requirement ang PasigPass para makakuha ng 'Pamaskong Handog' para nasasanay ang tao na ginagamit ang PasigPass (Now, PasigPass is required for citizens to avail of their Pamaskong Handog in order to get citizens acclimated to using the app)," Sotto said.


Through the application, the distribution teams are also able to verify the account owners and help cleanse the database of fake accounts.

These are all done for a smoother and full implementation of the smart city program in the near future, he added.

Sotto said the third reason for "Pamaskong handog" is "close to his heart" - to make Pasig City more inclusive and veer it away from patronage politics.

Previous holiday gift bag distributions were plagued with politics wherein only groups affiliated with or who have connections with officials in positions of power get exclusive perks or gifts, he remarked.

"Ngayon, kakampi mo ang mayor? Meron kang Pamaskong Handog. Kalaban mo yung mayor? Sa politika magkalaban tayo, pero meron ka paring Pamaskong Handog (Are you an ally of the mayor? You get a Christmas gift bag. You are opposed to the mayor? We may have different political affiliations but you will still receive a Christmas gift bag)," Sotto said.

He emphasized that services that are fair for all is what the local government aims for in all aspects of governance.


Price reveal

In the video, Mayor Sotto also shared that the Pamaskong Handog program cost around P290 million.

The local government prepared around 400,000 bags which are being distributed to barangays daily since Dec. 1.

Sotto also shared the cost of each item included in the food pack.

One pack of spaghetti noodles and sauce was P132.75, while one can of chicken luncheon meat was P73.75. Sotto said they bought halal-certified canned goods in consideration of the local Muslim community.

The can of mixed fruit cocktail was P79.50, a can of sweetened creamer was P58.00, 10 sachets of chocolate powdered milk drink were P80.00, two cans of corned tuna were P71.50, and the pack of 400g elbow macaroni was P34.50.