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The Light in Sight

“I cannot see anything but light.” These are the words of Marcela Agustin, a 104- year-old grandmother from Ilocos Norte. Inang Marcela, due to her old age, has been lying on her bamboo bed for as long as she can remember. Her age stopped allowing her to walk and go around the neighborhood, her eyesight was also affected, she has been feeling weak but that did not stop her from showing her jolly side when staff from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office visited her to tell her about the good news – Lola Marcela will receive PhP100,000.00 for reaching 100 years.

A mother of four, Lola Marcela lost her husband when she was only 60 years old. She and her husband worked as farmers to be able to provide for the family. Lola Marcela shared her secret of being healthy and being able to reach 104 years. She was very fond of cooking and serving vegetables; she also used natural and organic ingredients, also adding her daily routine of farming and washing laundry which served as her daily exercise.

Lola Marcela could not remember how many grandchildren she has, but she longs to be visited by them. She wants her family complete before she retires from this life. Her advice to the young people is to stay away from vices. Lola Marcela knows how these substances could destroy their health. She also emphasized the importance of going to school and studying hard, one thing she missed while growing up.

When asked how she will spend the cash gift received from the government, she readily responded, with tears forming around her eyes, that she plans to spend some of it her for funeral. Lola Marcela was very vocal about her life being taken from her very soon. She knows it is coming, and she has accepted it. “Igatang ko a ti noang, ta sida dan ton nu matayak (We’ll use it to buy a carabao to butcher and cook during my wake),” she said.

Lola Marcela was grateful that before the dusk of her life, she could leave some amount for her children and grandchildren. She can be at peace knowing that she did what she could to spend her life with the people she loves the most. “Ket matuukan nak metten ti rigat kon, kayat ko met makitan ni Apo, nu alaen nak ket agyamank a (My age is already taking its toll on me, I would like to see the Lord soon, if He takes me anytime, I would be thankful).” (By: Helen Veryan C. Valdez, Former Social Marketing Officer,Kalahi-CIDSS)

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Upholding Culture through the Golden Years

At 73, Salvador Marugay of Dumalneg, Ilocos Norte is strong enough to be a member of the Lupong Tagapamayapa, and his duty is to uphold and preserve the unique identity and culture of the Indigenous Peoples of Dumalneg.

Hailing from the Isneg Tribe called the Tiapayao, Apu Salvador is determined to protect the traditions that the tribe has long been practicing. According to the stories told by his parents, the Tiapayao tribe was originally from the provinces of Apayao and Kalinga. They travelled through the boarders of the province of Ilocos Norte to hunt animals and look for good soil for farming; they then built a community in the mountains of Dumalneg.

“Agkakadaraan tayo latta uray agsasabali nga tribo.” – Salvador Marugay

Apu Salvador has been advocating for the continuous teaching of traditional dances to the young people. The Municipal Local Government recognizes the importance of the preservation of traditional dances, thus, adding it to the curriculum in the local schools. The students practice these native dances and present it during the yearly celebration of the Municipality’s founding anniversary.
He still speaks the native language but believes that people who speak other languages are still his brothers and sisters, “agkakadaraan tayo latta uray agsasabali nga tribo (We are still of the same blood even if we belong to different tribes).”

Apu calls for a united stand for the recognition, protection, and preservation of the Indigenous Peoples rights, culture, and identity. He believes that the IPs are strong and powerful if they only unite as a family.

Apu Salvador is also a beneficiary of the Social Pension Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. He and his wife receive a monthly stipend of PhP500.00, which according to Apu Salvador, is a big help in meeting their needs, “Dakkel unay panagyaman mi iti Gobyerno iti itited da nga tulong kadakami nga lallakay nga nakurapay (We are very grateful to the government for giving help to the poor elderly).” (By: Helen Veryan C. Valdez, Former Social Marketing Officer,Kalahi-CIDSS)

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The hope in the eyes of Lola Cely

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)

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How love defines Lola Ipang’s future as a centenarian

Lola Ipang (third from left) holds her Certificate of Recognition for being one of the centenarians in Ilocos Sur and the only one from Caoayan, Ilocos Sur. Seated beside her are (from left to right) her grandson Armando Cesario, Armando’s wife, and his biological mother.

One of the biggest fears for some people is to grow old with uncertainties and without someone to take care of them. But for the oldest person and only centenarian in Caoayan, Ilocos Sur, she comfortably aged to 103 years with so much security, love, and care from her grandchildren whom she helped rear to become what they are now.

Felipa Jeremias Quicio Alconcel, who is a picture of an accomplished elderly, was surrounded by her loved ones, some of them were on vacation from the United States of America (USA), when she sat down for an interview in their house in Brgy. Pantay Tamurong. She is thankful because none of her relatives have neglected her in her old age. She even joked by telling that “God has not remembered her yet.”  She meant that she is happy to face her Creator anytime.

“Why would I neglect her if from my childhood I already considered her my mother?” exclaimed Armando Cesario Alconcel Adoc, her grandson, who resigned from his promising career in the air transportation industry just to be with her in the last few years of her life.


Born on 1 May 1916, Lola Ipang, as she is fondly called, has no child of her own, but she considers all her grandchildren she helped raise as her own.

“I also had my suitors during my prime years and they used to send me love letters,” laughed Lola Ipang when asked if she never had any admirer. “But how would I entertain them when I needed to look after my grandchildren?”

She remained single because she was pre-occupied with taking good care of her siblings’ children and even their grandchildren. Since she was the only sibling who worked at home as a dressmaker, her siblings would entrust her their children so they can do their works outside their home.

Armando Cesario was the eldest of her grandchildren and the first one she raised as her own child while his mother was working as a public school teacher.

“I grew up feeling she was my real mother because I only see my mother in the evening after her work in the school,” said Armando Cesario. “I sleep beside her. She feeds and bathes me. She prepares all my things.”

When Armando Cesario went to Manila to pursue his education, his Lola Ipang went to live with him in the city.

With a very soft voice, Lola Ipang whispered that it was probably her destiny to remain single so that she could help her siblings raise their children and grandchildren whom she now considers her joy and treasure.

Armando Cesario revealed that her Lola Ipang can still move and work in her own with less assistance despite her conditions. She can barely see and hear now, but she doesn’t want a day without doing anything.

If Lola Ipang gets bored lying on her bed, she rises and goes around the house to sit in the sala, go to the dining table and eat her meals, and go to the bathroom and bathe.

Armando Cesario and his wife only need to prepare her foods in the table so that she could eat her meals or fill up the bucket with water so that she could take a bath.


Except her poor sight and hearing, Lola Ipang is not suffering from any illness like hypertension despite her big appetite for “bagnet”, a locally-produced deep-fried crispy pork belly dish. She could not eat without it, but Armando Cesario could not protest because she gets easily upset and throws tantrums if not served with her favorite dish.

“Surprisingly, she prefers to eat the fatty part of the meat. She is the exact opposite of her late sister who also turned centenarian before she died,” said Armando Cesario.

In order to maintain Lola Ipang’s love for “bagnet”, Armando Cesario is using part of her PhP100,000.00 monetary incentives to buy for it while the bigger portion has already been invested into a burial plan for her grandmother.

Lola Ipang also received one time PhP10,000.00 cash incentive from the Municipality of Caoayan when she turned 100 years old and an annual PhP15,000.00 from the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur as long as she lives.


With a cracked voice and almost tears on her eyes, Lola Ipang could no longer contain herself while she was repeating her words of gratitude for all her grandchildren who are helping her financially especially Armando Cesario.

“Mama Ipang sacrificed her happiness of not marrying in order to raise me for who I am now so it is my turn to take good care of her because no one is left except me,” said Armando Cesario. “She showered us with love when we were young, so she must also be showered with love now that she is old.”

Armando Cesario was working in Manila when his biological mother, who was then taking care of her Lola Ipang, was petitioned to live abroad. No one was left to look after her since all her grandchildren were already based and working abroad. Armando Cesario was left with no option but to go back to the province in 1996 – a decision he will never regret in his entire life!

For more than 20 years, Lola Ipang has been under the love and care of Armando Cesario. The amount of love she has shown to her grandson is the same amount of love her grandson is showing her now. (by Ruperto A. Sabalo, Jr., Social Marketing Officer, Kalahi-CIDSS)

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DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS honors community volunteers for championing CDD approach

Twenty-five (25) community volunteers of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi – CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 (DSWD FO 1) were honored recently for championing the community-driven development (CDD) approach to local planning during the first Municipal Community Volunteers’ Congress held in San Gabriel, La Union.

The CDD Champions of San Gabriel, La Union pose with DSWD Field Office 1 Regional Director, Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo, and other Kalahi –CIDSS staff.

The awardees who are volunteering for DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS since its inception in the Region in 2014 have been instrumental in the implementation of community-driven development strategy in San Gabriel.

DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS aims to empower poor communities in the country by applying the community-driven development approach as technology in allowing people to participate in more inclusive local planning, budgeting, and implementation of programs and services.

Tagged as CDD champions, said community volunteers were awarded plaques of recognition handed to them personally by the Regional Director of DSWD FO 1, Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo.

In his speech during the awarding rite, Director Castillo highlighted the importance of community involvement and cooperation in achieving better results in community project implementations.

Mas may bunga po ang proyekto kung ang mga tao mismo ang siyang gumagawa nito. Kung anuman ang resulta nito ay bunga po iyon ng pagkakaisa ninyo (A project bears better results if the people implement it by themselves. Whatever the result is the fruit of your cooperation),” the Regional Director said.

Director Castillo also added that everyone is already empowered, so what one must do is to tap and use it for community works and volunteerism.

All 15 barangays of San Gabriel were also given plaques of appreciation for their support to DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS during the activity.

San Gabriel has a total of 315 community volunteers in 18 sub-projects since the first cycle. (by Ruperto A. Sabalo, Jr., Social Marketing Officer, Kalahi-CIDSS)

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Centenarian 101

A youthful glow behind the old age is manifested in the face and personality of a centenarian in Brgy. Puroc a Dacquel, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

Her secret? Those sweet smiles, laughter, and charm have been part of her daily life leaving her body invigorated. 

This is Lola Michaela “Maxima” Adriatico, the only centenarian in Vigan City. At her very old age, she can still remember her birthday, 21 April 1917 and her experiences during the Japanese regime. 

According to her, “Ragragsakek lang ti bagik tapno nalag-an a kanayon ti riknak. Inaklon kon a saan nakon a nakaasawa ta saan a simrek ditoy pusok ti inpakita da a panagayat  (I always make myself happy to make me feel better every day. I already accepted that I do not have the chance to get married because I did not feel the love my suitors showed me).”

Despite her metal plated low extremities, she can still manage to take few steps and sit on her wheel chair and roam around her house.

Amazingly, Lola Maxima can still insert thread into a needle with her naked eye since she was then a dressmaker during her younger years. Aside from that, she also raised pigs and cows and planted corn and peanuts for a living.

Lola Maxima received her centenarian gift last year and was deposited in the bank for future purposes. Annually, the City Government of Vigan is also giving PhP10,000.00 and PhP15,000.00 from the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur to all centenarians.

Behind her optimistic outlook in life is the tender loving care of Cely Adriatico, 63, wife of Lola Maxima’s nephew who lives few meters away from her house.

Cely has been attending to the needs of Lola Maxima for four years. “An-anusak isuna ta siak to met ket kaslan to kanyana. Ken siak lang ti nabati ditoyen a mabalin a mangkita kanyana (I patiently take care of her because I will be like her also. And I am the only one left here to look after her),” Cely said.

Lola Maxima’s ultimate prayer is for the Lord’s daily guidance and mercy and make her live more according to His will. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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Retired but not Tired

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)

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A home that is made of hopes and dreams

Twenty (20) brand new housing units were blessed and turned over by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office 1 through its Core Shelter Assistance Program (CSAP) in partnership with the City Government of Alaminos, Pangasinan at Sitio Sto. Rosario, Brgy. Lucap, Alaminos City, Pangasinan.

Jenny Mina, CSAP beneficiary, expressed her gratitude and happiness. “Hindi naging madali ang pagbuo ng aming pangarap, ngunit sa pagtulong-tulong at sa tibay ng aming samahan ay nakamit at nabuo namin ang aming pangarap na bahay. (Building our dream was never easy, but with the help and stability of our community, we have achieved and built our dream home.)”

DSWD Field Office 1 head (from left to right) Dir. Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo together with BM Arth Bryan Celeste and CSAP beneficiaries poses for celebratory photos during the ceremonial turnover of CSAP housing units.

Sana ang libreng pabahay na ito ay inyong alagaan kahit ito po ay libre na handog ng gobyerno. Ang aming tanging hiling ay sana kahit lumipas na ang 20 hanggang 30 na taon ay intact pa rin ang inyong mga tahanan at matitirhan pa ng inyong mga apo. (We hope you will take good care of the house from the government even if it is for free. Our only wish is that even after 20 to 30 years your home is still intact and your grandchildren will be able to still live there),” said Board Member Arth Bryan C. Celeste in his speech.

Meanwhile, DSWD FO 1 Regional Director Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo reminded the recipients to abide by the rules and regulations for the maintenance of their shelter units and other operational purposes. “Isa sa mga mapalad ang Alaminos City na napagkalooban po ng CSAP dahil hanggang ngayon po ay naka-moratorium pa po ang programang ito; meaning wala na pong nabibigyan pa ng ibang lugar ng ganitong pabahay. Kaya atin po itong pangalagaan at sundin ang mga patakaran. (Alaminos City, Pangasinan is very lucky to have been granted CSAP because the program is in moratorium which means that there were no other areas that were granted CSAP. Let us maintain and abide by the rules.) “

Top shot of the newly turned over CSAP housing units in Sitio Sto. Rosario, Brgy. Lucap, Alaminos City, Pangasinan. (Photo courtesy of LGU Alaminos City, Pangasinan)

CSAP is a DSWD program funded to assist family victims of disaster to acquire decent shelter. DSWD provided PhP6.5 million shelter assistance grant used to buy construction materials and supplies for 500 housing units intended for Brgy. Lucap, Alaminos City, Pangasinan while the City Government of Alaminos, Pangasinan provided land construction site and technical support. #By: Nicole Kasandra A. Lipawen, Social Marketing Unit

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