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While sitting alone under a shady tree during a windy afternoon and as the birds are flying and chirping around, she takes pleasure in the cool breeze that embraces her as she still longs for someone who will be with her on the last days of her life.

Not only young ladies can fantasize like this but also an eighty five year old woman does. That is why Lola Ernesta Daus, a widow, still feels so youthful, alive, and kicking as manifested by her sweet smiles and crunchy giggles.

From Imaginations to Reality

The urge of Lola Ernesta to have a lifetime partner who will unselfishly cherish her despite of her grey hair and wrinkles somehow came true since she is now one of the Senior Citizens in Brgy. Bitalag, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur who is enjoying social pension from the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 (DSWD FO1).

She further said, “Numanpay balo nakun ken awan pagsapulak, ammuk nga adda ti pagbiagko babaen ti maaw-awatko a pension.” (Though I am widowed already and not able to work anymore, I know that I can still sustain my life through my pension.) Lola Ernesta strongly believes that the Social Pension Program of the DSWD leads to the realization of her dream to have a little comfort despite of being a widow.

Dominador Lardizabal, 63, one of Lola Ernesta’s six children chose not to build his own family house in a distant place in order not to forsake her aging mother. According to him, “Saan ko a mabalin a panawan isuna ta kasapulan nak a mangtaripato kankuana ta agkapsut met isunan.” (I can not leave her because she needs me to take care of her especially that she is getting weaker.) Lola Ernesta easily gets dizzy and might fall while walking moreso that her right eyesight was lost already because it was accidentally injured by a rice grain.

A Piggy Bank to Break


She plans to save what is left from buying viands, coffee, milk, and other needs after her pension lands to her hands. Centavos when being saved become hundreds, that is the principle of Lola Ernesta so she keeps every single cents from her pension.

Because she earned some amount, she confidently said, “Adda bukodkon a de kuryente a paglutwan iti inapoy.” (I now own an electric rice cooker). She decided to buy such appliance because their house almost turned into ashes after she unintentionally left their claystove unattended.

By Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Administrative Assistant V, NHTS-PR

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As they get older and weaker, they are still entangled with the vows they made as they were united in the holy matrimony so many years ago. The promise of being together for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health made their relationship stay longer and even stronger till their last breath despite of both being blind.

Glowing Inside

Being at the stage of old age, chances are to forget everything due to loss of memory and to suffer from illnesses. But to Lolo Aurelio Llapitan, 86 and Lola Magdalena, 85 they consider their life as vibrant and meaningful because they are still together. It is in their hearts and minds that strengthens their relationship and makes them visible in each other’s vision

This blind couple is among the social pensioners of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur who enjoys their life together living in a salvaged dwelling situated in Brgy. Parola. With them is one of their three siblings who has mental disorder. The other two have their own families already in Baguio City and in Manila but they seldom visit them and give some money.

Pledge being carried on

Lola Magdalena tries hard to straighten her back and approach their clay stove through the aide of her wooden stick just to cook their food. She even does her very best to serve food to her husband. “Awan met sabali a kamanganmi a mangaywan kadakami nu di laeng ti bukodmi a bagi” (We cannot expect anybody to take care of us but just our own selves), said Lola Magdalena. “Uray nu nakusel, nabasa wenno nakset ti lutwen na nga inapoy, mayat lattan basta adda kanenmi ken ammok nga isuna ti nangisagana” (It is just okay though she serves half cooked, over cooked or even burned rice, what is important to me is that we have something to eat and I know that she really strived her very best to prepare it.), said Lolo Aurelio while he lifts his cheeks towards Lola Magdalena sitted on her side as if there is no trace of hardships in his face.

Milk and Honey on the table

Avelina Lasaga, 70, younger sister of Lola Magdalena prepares or gives them ready to eat viands. According to Lola Magdalena, when the time they received their pension they will let Avelina buy their food such as meat, fish, vegetables and other needs like medicine, coffee, milk, and rice.  Because of that she uttered, “Agyamankami ta adda maaw-awatmi a pagbiaganmi ta saanmin pay a kabaelan ti agsapul.” (We are grateful that we are receiving pension that is very helpful in our daily living especially now that we cannot work anymore.)

Lolo Aurelio and Lola Magdalena are among the reasons why Tagudin Senior Citizens and Friends Drugstore Cooperative, a project of the Senior Citizens was established through the Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs (OSCA) according to its Head Dr. Alejandrino P. Villanueva. This project has been going on for 15 years in giving at most 20% discount to all senior citizens in Tagudin.

By Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Administrative Assistant V, NHTS-PR

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A Ray of Light from Within

Being blind does not mean darkness but when hope glows, there will be light. Lola Salome considers DSWD’s Social Pension Program as a tool to revive her eyesight.

Being blind does not mean darkness but when hope glows, there will be light. Lola Salome considers DSWD’s Social Pension Program as a tool to revive her eyesight.

Nine decades have already passed in her life and she witnessed how the wheel of time rolled furiously. Gone are the days of childhood and being youth, now she is getting weaker and weaker and almost lost everything but not her faith and courage to see again the light she enjoyed during her old times after her eyesight was gone.

That is the very desire of Ma. Salome Castańeda, one of the social pensioners of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 (DSWD FO1) from Brgy. Butubut Oeste, Balaoan, La Union.

 To Believe is To See

“Babaen ti maaw-awatko a pension, mapaagasak daytoy matak ta sapay la kuma ta patgan ti Apo ti pannakaisubli ti panagkitak.” (I do hope that through my pension, I can be able to visit an ophthalmologist and may God grant my prayer to bring back my eyesight), said Lola Salome as being witnessed by her daughter in law, Teresita Castańeda, 58 who takes care of her every day.

According to Teresita, every morning Lola Salome asks her assistance so that she could be able to sit in front of their door. This is where Lola Salome says her prayer as she aims her eyes towards the rising sun. She always asks for God’s mercy that someday she will be able to see the light again.

Caress she deserves

Teresita did not left Lola Salome alone after she got separated with her husband instead she took the responsibility of taking good care of her. “Isunan ti nanangkon. Panunutek ti panangistimar ko kenkuana, saan nga ti panagsinami kenni asawak.”(She is now my mother. I do not mind my broken marriage with her son anymore but to focus my attention to her.) Teresita promised with her teary eyes.

Teresita even gave up her occupation being a housemaid just to give full time in keeping an eye on her mother in law. According to her, she serves the right and nutritious food like vegetables and meat to her since she was the one who takes care of her, not just like before she only feasted on rice mixed with sugar, cooking oil, soy sauce, and fish sauce.

According to Teresita, “Siguraduek a maigatang laeng ti pensionna kadagiti bukodna a pagkasapulan. Kayatko a nadalus ti konsensiak idinto a siak ti mangtengtenggel ti pensionna.” (I am ensuring that her stipend will be spent well based on her needs alone. I want my conscience to be clean since I was the one managing her stipend.) She further added that she gives the care that Lola Salome deserves until her final day comes. (by Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Administrative Assistant V, NHTS-PR)

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Yearning For More


Zosima Antela, 82 year-old social pensioner in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur.

A contagious smile painted in the fine-lined face of 82- year- old Zosima Antela makes one who sees her also wishes for longevity. Her meek laughters that depict contentment in life could hide her pains of recurring sickness and frustrations in life.

Despite often attack of ulcer and anemia, Zosima displays a happy disposition where she gets much of her strength and good vibes.

As narrated during a home visit, she just recovered from several days of severe dizziness because of her low blood pressure.

Regardless of these physical hindrances, she attends the release of her quarterly stipend from the Social Pension Program. In one instance, while patiently waiting for her turn, she collapsed because of intense heat and weakened body.

Stipend as Source of Medical Support

After receiving her stipend, Zosima directly goes to a drugstore to buy her maintenance drugs for ulcer, anemia and Vitamin B complex.

Accordingly, she also buys several kilos of rice upon receipt of the stipend.

When asked about the stipend she uttered ‘Diyos ti agngina ta adda tumulong iti panagrigrigat ko’ “(Thank you for there is help to my distressful situation). Her five children very seldom give a hand because they are not also well-off in life.

Hoping for More
‘Manayunan koma pay (the stipend should increase), Zosima wished’. This, according to her, sustains her life and she still wants for a longer life to see all her grandchildren grow well. Like how she took care of her grandchild Rochelle Gay Antela who stayed with her since she was a baby, now 18 years of age.

Rochelle in return mentioned to take care of Zosima and help in the household chores.

Together with Rochelle, they live in bamboo house that is nearly going down (bent at 30 degrees),because of this she also wished for an assistance for house repair. Upon learning of the situation DSWD Regional Director Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo sent Crisis Intervention Unit staff to assess the situation of Zosima and prepare necessary documents for her availment of said assistance. (by: Iryn D. Cubangbang, Regional Information Officer)

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Frugality in Scarcity

Francisca Guillen, a 79 yr-old social pensioner, in her out of shape abode made of bamboo.

Francisca Guillen, a 79 yr-old social pensioner, in her out of shape abode made of bamboo.

To make both ends meet, even the smallest  food item such as one pouch of noodle is consumed for 3 consecutive meals. This is the life of Francisca Guillen, 79 years old of Paras, Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur as narrated to DSWD staff during home visit.

In times of shortage and old age, Francisca still worries on the situation of her children whom accordingly also live very poor since none of them got a good education.“Panglaw dagiti annakko, kakaasi da met (My children are poor, how pitiful they are).”

Scarcity of food had become an ordinary situation for her, ‘guduaek pay ti nalingta  itlog ta mamindua a kanek (a boiled egg is also halved  good for 2 meals), she narrated.

Francisca lives  in her simple abode with her son who has slight mental retardation.

Delighted  with Social Pension

Despite her thin body and blurring sight, Francisca still does the laundry and often takes care of her grandchildren.

When asked about her stipend from Social Pension  Program, ‘nu awan daydiay matayak a mapilpilit (I may die easily without the stipend), Francisca said in teary eyes.

Pagyaman tay bassit a tulong ta nasaysayaat ngem tay awan (The small amount is better than nothing, I am very thankful).Agtultuloy koma daytoy (This should continue), she wished.

According to Francisca, she is trying all her means to make the Php 1,500.00 – stipend enough for her food and other needs for three months until the next stipend is again given. Fortunately, Francisca has no ailment aside from being weak.

Francisca is among those elderly who were not able to climb the ladder of education because of poverty. During her younger years, she helped in planting tobacco and rice. At present she can still  gather  dried twigs and tree branches used for cooking in her clay stove. (by: Iryn D. Cubangbang, Regional Information Officer)

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Social Pension Program, A Right of the Poor


A garden beside their simple abode augments the social pensioners’ healthy food stuff.

Life’s simplicity yet abounding with natural amenities such as spring water, the mountains and streams teeming with plants and animals,  a vegetable garden, and a wood stock for a clay stove complete the everyday routine  of Marcelino and Magdalena Buenavista in Carasi, Ilocos Norte.

Both 88 years old,  Magdalena and Marcelino are among the 16,821 poor beneficiaries of the Social Pension Program. Left out by their three (3) children, they try to sustain life in the  simplest ways. With the Social Pension Program,  ‘dakkel iti panagyamanmi iti tulong ti gobierno (We are very grateful of the government’s assistance), they exclaimed.

They deserve the assistance from our government, they are real indigent, said Municipal Social Welfare Officer Leonor Reyes. The old couple were identified through the database of poor of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction.

Life is Great Amidst Old Age

88-year old Marcelino still work in the mountains, planting  banana and vegetables such as squash and ‘kangkong.’ The harvest are then sold to  the neighborhood by Magdalena. Accordingly, she earns at least Php 50.00 a day at an  irregular interval.

To buy basic needs such as food stuff and medicine, Marcelino has to join the jeepney- ride going to  either Solsona or Laoag City. Accordingly, most of the food they consume are plain vegetables.  They buy meat very seldom.

Most often Marcelino  pick  native ‘kuhol’ (snails) and gather  wild ferns for their food .

With the stipend that they receive every three months, they are able to buy  1 sack of rice amounting to Php 1,500.00. They are very proud of it and even showed it to the DSWD staff who visited them. (by: Iryn D. Cubangbang, Regional Information Officer)

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