Like stones that were forged by setting through fire and submerging in water multiple times to produce one of the most valuable metal which is gold, old people have undergone various challenges in life as they reach their golden age. Like gold, they are treasured and have to be handled with utmost care.

Living a long life is a dream to many and an achievement to few.  Reaching 100 years old might be one of the hardest things to achieve these days. With the world where everything is becoming instant, so is our life expectancy.

On the contrary, with the development of modern medicine, one can achieve long life as long as you have an access. But this doesn’t seem to be the case for the four newly recognized centenarians from Baguio City.

Mr. Calixto Chachacan Batiyeg is one of the newly declared centenarians of the city who just turned 100 last January 3, 2020. In his age, he is still active and is engaged in community activities. Mr. Batiyeg is engaged as a mambunong or a native priest where local people ask for his interventions during various rituals or other gatherings in their area.

The most common task of a mambunong is to recite a prayer directed to deities or souls of the dead or malevolent spirits, give directions to ceremonial participants on what to do or say, narrate a story such as the origin of a certain sickness or a story that instructs people on what to do, interpret signs and give words of fortune to the host or participants. The prayers vary in length and content and are intended to offer a sacrifice, ask for healing, seek for good harvest or fortune, and seek blessings for betrothals, weddings, divorces, deaths, and burials. At times, reciting a prayer would include other actions such as offering a cup of rice wine and/ or holding a chicken. When praying or narrating the origin of a sickness, the mambunong would hold an object that symbolizes the cause or the cure of the sickness. As a mambunong who possesses  vast amount of knowledge about deities and spirits, sicknesses, rituals, and things that are yet to come, proves that Mr. Batiyeg has still sharp memory and still strong to perform his tasks in the community.

For Mrs. Juanita Pulmano who just turned one hundred years old last January 20, 2020, believes that long life is a result of one’s capability to adapt to life’s changes and challenges

Mrs. Pulmano grew up in a family of farmers in Tubao, La Union. She married at the age of 19 with Mr. Hornorio Pulmano who was then a teacher at Tubao. Their family moved to Baguio City when her husband was transferred in one of the elementary schools in the city in the year 1950.

Mr. Pulmano, being the sole breadwinner of the family worked hard to provide for his family and send their children to school. Even though she stayed at home as a housekeeper, Juanita made sure that she supports her family in any way she can. The couple strived hard to send their children to school because they both believe that education is the only and most intangible gift they can give to their children.

Their family was shaken when his husband and two (2) children succumbed to lung cancer while her first and fifth child died of brain tumor and drowning respectively; leaving her with three (3) children. Living a long life carries the consequence of seeing your loved ones leave you one by one. Despite the challenges encountered, Juanita stayed strong all her life and made sure that she would not to be a burden to her last child and grandchildren who have been taking good care of her. With her age, she remains very healthy and has retained her sharp memory.

Another centenarian who was blessed with long life is Ms. Carmen Chagyumen who just turned a century last November 2019 had the luxury of being able to watch her five grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.

As recalled by her granddaughter who is currently taking good care of her, when they were still in Mankayan, her grandmother kept herself busy gardening in their backyard and even raised hogs to help them in their studies. Carmen also used to weave blankets using the traditional back strap loom. Her weaving skills is also passed on to her grandchildren.

Growing up with their grandmother, her grandchildren have looked up to her and see her as perfect example of a self-sustaining, industrious and strong woman who was never confined in a hospital and is not suffering from chronic illnesses.

It is inevitable for the memories of the elderlies to slowly fade as days go by. In Mrs. Macaria Tambic Monton’s case, she has been talking about her life during the Martial Law period and lives as if she is still in that time. She also talks about her life when she was in Kibungan and sometimes tells her daughter to join her do gardening. Though she remembers bits of memories, her daughter and grandchildren enjoys those stories that were shared to them unintentionally.

To live a long life, the four centenarians have shared one common practice, to eat more vegetables and very less on seasoned and meaty foods. It goes with the saying that”you are what you eat”.

All four (4) centenarians received the cash gift worth PhP 100,000.000 as mandated by Republic Act No. 10868 or An Act Honoring and Granting Additional Benefits to Filipino Centenarians and for other purposes or Centenarians Act of 2016. Aside from the cash gift, they also received a letter of felicitation from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

With the recent awarding to these centenarians, the Department of Social Welfare and Development  Field Office Cordillera Administrative Region (DSWD FO CAR) has already completed the release of grant to 60 centenarians for 2020.### DSWD-CAR, Social Marketing Unit, Jezebel L. Gumatay

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