“Mahirap pala talagang tumandang mag-isa.”
Remedios Seda, 69, details how lonesome and hard it is for senior citizens like her to brave every waking day alone.
Lola Remedios, a resident of Brgy. Sapang 1 in Ternate, Cavite Province, has been living by herself for over 30 years now. She did not marry and has no children—a reason she is alone in her wobbly house made of scrap wood and worn-out roof.
“Dati, nagtitinda ako ng peanut butter dito sa amin, pero ngayon, di ko na talaga kayang magluto at magtinda,” Lola Remedios said.
Aside from being old and sickly, Lola Remedios has an inborn disability, which limits her physical movement. Thus, she could not work and support her daily needs.
“Umaasa na lang din ako sa mga bigay ng mga kapitbahay ko. Pag may sobra silang ulam, minsan binibigyan nila ako. Madalas nangungutang ako sa tindahan dito para kahit paano ay may makain ako. Ganito na talaga ang buhay ko,” she shared.
With her condition, Lola Remedios has no other choice but to rely on her neighbors and distant family members for her daily subsistence.
In 2011, Lola Remedios found a helping hand when she became a beneficiary of the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“Napakalaking pasalamat ko sa nakukuha kong P1,500 kada tatlong buwan. Kung wala ‘yun, hindi ko na talaga alam kung paano na ako, wala na akong ibang aasahan,” she gratefully shared.
The Social Pension program provides a monthly PhP500 grant to senior citizens in accordance to the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
Qualified beneficiaries are those senior citizens who are 60 years old and above, are frail, sickly or with disability, and are not receiving any pension and have no permanent source of income or regular support from relatives.
Further, the beneficiaries of the program are identified by the Listahanan, an information management and targeting system that identifies who and where the poor are in the country through a house-to-house assessment of households.
This system generates a database of poor households, which is used by the DSWD in selecting beneficiaries of its programs and services for the poor such as the Social Pension and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
Lola Remedios’ household was identified as one of the 389,811 identified poor households in the CALABARZON Region during the Listahanan’s first round of assessment in 2009. As a result, Lola Remedios became one of the 314 beneficiaries of the program in their municipality.
“Napakalaking tulong talaga na napasama ako sa programa. Ang halagang natatanggap ko ay pinambabayad ko sa tindahan na inuutangan ko, saka sa kuryente kada buwan. Kahit paano, may nahahawakan na akong pera,” Lola Remedios happily shared.
Convenience at their doorsteps
Since the implementation of the program in 2011, beneficiaries of the program collect their pension in a quarterly basis at their respective municipal/city hall.
Every payout, Lola Remedios commutes to the town proper to get her pension.
“Nahihirapan na talaga akong maglakad kaya nag-aarkila na lang ako ng tricycle papuntang munisipyo para makuha ko ang aking pension kasi wala rin naman akong makakasama pagpunta doon,” she shared.
Like Lola Remedios, most of the beneficiaries of the program experience this because of physical limitations brought by their old age and illnesses.
As a resolution, the DSWD Field Office IV-A formed a partnership with the Philippine Veterans Bank to facilitate the door-to-door delivery of pension to the beneficiaries of the program.
Starting September 2016, Lola Remedios, along with the 85,638 social pensioners in the region, will be receiving their monthly pension at their respective homes.
According to Ms. Melinda Cabillo, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer of Ternate, this new payment scheme will be helpful to a lot of senior citizens in their municipality, especially those who live in remote areas and who are disabled, weak and sickly.
“Sana ay patuloy pa rin ang ganitong mga programa para sa aming mga matatanda, lalo na yung katulad ko na mag-isa lang talaga sa buhay. Dito, kahit papaano ay may nakakaalala po sa amin at may tumutulong,” Lola Remedios gratefully shared.
For her, living alone during her twilight years became a little easier because she feels there are still people who care for her.#