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Erwin Dolera, one of Gloria Arroyo’s ‘bangkang papel’ boys, passes away

Erwin Dolera, one of the three boys that then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presented to the public during her first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2001, passed away this morning. He was 24.

According to a report by DZMM’s Dennis Datu, Dolera died of complications from pneumonia. He has been confined to a hospital in Manila for the last two weeks.

erwin dolera and gloria arroyo

Dolera with then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (photo taken from his Facebook page)

Dolera, together with Jason Vann Banogan and Jomar Pabalan, used to live at the Payatas dump site in Quezon City but was forced to leave the place after the 2000 tragedy. The local media gave them the moniker “Bangkang Papel” boys because they attempted to send letters to Arroyo via Pasig River, hoping that those will reach Malacanang.

It was later clarified by the President herself that she reached out to the boys’ families after she read about the letters through news reports. One article at that time described Dolera, Banogan, and Pabalan as the “new faces of poverty in the country.”

gloria arroyo bangkang papel boys

The three so-called “bangkang papel” boys was presented to the public during Arroyo’s 2001 State of the Nation Address

The media occasionally checked on the boys’ plight as Arroyo’s term of office came to a close. Newsbreak Magazine, for example, reported in 2009 that the government’s livelihood and educational assistance for their families continued years after they receded from the spotlight.

Dolera took up Mass Communication at the Trinity University of Asia, where he graduated in 2012. He went on to work for the television network TV5.

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