Araceli Tadeo Sabalo shows her infectious smile while she is being interviewed in Pantay Tamurong, Caoayan, Ilocos Sur.

Despite her old age, a happy disposition is evident on the face of 73-year-old, Araceli Tadeo Sabalo, of Pantay Tamurong, Caoayan, Ilocos Sur. She has an infectious smile and exudes positive aura. When she talks, she laughs a lot – a laughter that can lighten up the mood of everyone around her.

But behind those smiles and laughter is a touching story.

In 2013, Lola Cely’s husband died. She went to the office of the Local Social Welfare and Development to make a plea that the slot of her husband as social pensioner should be transferred to her. Her appeal was denied. At that time, she was  67 years old.

Nancy Querubin-Llanes, the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer, explained that Lola Araceli was not qualified yet to be accepted in the social pension program. The priority age at that time for social pensioner was 70-years old, Lola Araceli was 3 years younger.

During that time, Lola Cely did not know how to make ends meet. Her only hope to survive was the social pension her husband used to receive.

Lola Cely and her husband never had a child because they got married when she was already 40 years old. But her husband had three children from his first wife. She helped raise them when they got married. She considered them her own children. Unfortunately, two of her step-children died in accidents before their father’s death.

Although devastated, Lola Cely had to be strong in order to survive. She relied mostly on the help of her relatives and neighbors. With a twist of fate, she became a social pensioner when the priority age was set to 60 years old.

The financial assistance from the government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 Lola Cely has been receiving proves to be a big help for her. She uses the money to buy medicine and food.

Today, Lola Cely has one realization. “Adda kanito idi nga kumitaak ti ngato tapos damagek ti Apo nu apay nga dinak pay laeng alaen tapno saanakon agrigrigat. Ngem siguro saan na pay kayat (Before, there were times before that I looked up on the skies and asked the Lord to end my suffering. But probably He doesn’t like it yet)”.

Lola Cely thinks she still has a purpose in life because she is still strong. So when she is not helping her neighbors and other relatives in their household chores, she actively participates in the activities of the organization of senior citizens in their barangay. (by Ruperto A. Sabalo, Jr., Social Marketing Officer, Kalahi-CIDSS)