To promote the older persons’ rights and recognize these rights as a factor for just society, DSWD Field Office (FO) 1 led the celebration of the 2018 Elderly Filipino Week (EFW) with the theme: “Kilalanin at Parangalan: Tagasulong ng Karapatan ng Nakatatanda Tungo sa Lipunang Mapagkalinga.”

In celebration of the EFW, the Department conducted a three-day activity on 3-5 October 2018 to exhibit the talents, skills, wit, and beauty of the older persons from the four provinces of the region. Senior citizens participated in individual and group singing contests to showcase their unique and dynamic vocal prowess. Likewise, a competition tagged as “Senior Citizens’ Got Talent” was facilitated to underscore their extraordinary acting competencies, dancing abilities, and dramatic monologue skills.

Newly crowned 2018 Ambassadress and Ambassador (center, seated). Both winners are 64 years old who hail from Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.

This year’s Search for 2018 Ambassador and Ambassadress had eight beautiful female and eight debonair male senior citizens vying for the titles. During the pageant, the contestants answered questions related to the promotion of their rights and wellness, the advancement of their social functioning, and the elimination of elderly abuse.  When asked how to prevent elderly abuse, Mr. Victor Respicio responded that we should actively raise awareness of this issue to help curb neglect or abuse occurring to elders. Mr. Respicio took home the crown for 2018 Ambassador while Ms. Esperanza Cachatero was crowned as 2018 Ambassadress. The winners who were both delegates from Laoag City, Ilocos Norte received PhP10,000.00 cash each. Laoag City has been winning the title for Ambassadress for three consecutive years now.

Mr. John Hilary Magsaysay graced the celebration on behalf of Senior Citizen Partylist Representative Milagros Aquino-Magsaysay and served as the keynote speaker of the activity. Mr. Magsaysay said that “For our elderly to be accorded a life of decency and dignity, they must be assured of health, opportunities, protection, and empowerment.” Senior Citizen Partylist envisions an equitable and healthy society for senior citizens in Ilocos Region and the rest of the 8.7 million senior citizens in the country.

DSWD FO 1 Assistant Regional Director for Operations (ARDO) Marlene Febes D. Peralta shared with the participants that “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”. ARDO Peralta, a senior citizen herself, encouraged the older persons to try out and explore new things and to always remember that their small acts toward the good of humanity can create a ripple and a huge impact to the society.

The ARDO further revealed that with the increasing number of abused, neglected, and abandoned senior citizens in Region 1, DSWD FO 1 Regional Director Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo initiated a successful dialogue with the Provincial Government of La Union (PGLU) relative to the transitioning of Home for the Aged in San Juan, La Union to provide a free and decent home to indigent and unattached senior citizens. The lot and construction for the Home were funded by DSWD while operations and management will be the counterpart of the PGLU.

Region 1 has a total of 373,400 senior citizens with 44,078 (20,163 males and 23,915 females) belonging to the poor. In 2018, 167 centenarians throughout the region were eligible to receive PhP100,000.00 under Republic Act 10868 or the “Centenarians Act of 2016.” (by: Darwin T. Chan, Social Marketing Unit)