Sitting on a rocking chair while sipping a hot coffee and rubbing her cane in a gloomy afternoon, playing around with her grand daughters and sons, or challenging her reflexes with crochet.  

This is how other old women spend their senior years but not to a 62-year-old Super Lola in Brgy. Salindeg, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

“Mas lalong sumasakit at nanghihina ang katawan ko kapag wala akong ginagawa. Nakasanayan ko nang araw-araw na may pinagkakaabalahan (My body feels more pain when I am not doing anything. I am used to be busy everyday”, said Lola Florenda Areola.

She wakes up as early as 3 o’clock in the morning to prepare her bicycle loaded with vegetables, fish, meat, among others.  As the sun rises, she pedals her bicycle and roams around in their barangay and even reaches nearby barangays Pong-ol and Baraca.

According to her, “Hindi ako nakakaramdam ng pagod. Kung mapapagod ako, paano na lang mabubuhay ang pamilya namin (I never feel tired. If I get tired, how will our family survive?)”

For 15 years, her source of income is being an ambulant vendor to support her family’s needs. She allots P500.00 a day for their expenses and saves for electric and water bills. She even took the responsibility of taking care and sending to school her youngest granddaughter because of no occupation of her parents due to low educational attainment. Meanwhile, her husband, Florentino, 61 manages their small variety store.  

When she turned 60, she never thought of staying at home but to continue her daily routine to sustain her family. That was also the time she became one of the beneficiaries of Social Pension Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Nagagalak ako dahil may katulungan na ako sa araw-araw. Dinagdag ko sa puhunan ko sa pagtitinda ang natatanggap kong pension. At laking pasalamat ko din dahil napabilang ako sa Pantawid Pamilya at may pandagdag na ako sa mga gastusin ng apo ko sa pag-aaral niya (I am delighted because I now have something to hold on to every day. I added my pension to my capital for my mobile store. I am also grateful after being identified as a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary and so I can now provide more to the school needs of my granddaughter.

As she pedals, she also catches her breath due to her asthma. “Magpapahinga lang ako tapos tutuloy na naman ako. Hindi ako titigil dahil ito ang kailangan kong gawin (I will just take a rest and I keep going again. I will not stop because I must have to do this),” said Lola Florenda.

Lola Florenda said that Social Pension is like a pedal and wheels of her bicycle because in order to have a better way of living, one must exert extra effort and roads may be difficult but life must go on and never lose hope. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)