“Turning a century old is the biggest milestone a person can achieve. You are very special and honored for all the great experiences and accomplishments that life has given you. May you be surrounded with happy memories from your family,” reads the letter of felicitation of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte given to living centenarians.

With the approval of Republic Act (RA) 10868 on  23 June 2016, all living Filipinos who reaches 100 years of age shall be honored with a Letter of Felicitation from the President of the Philippines congratulating the centenarian for his/her longevity and cash/check gift worth P100,000.00

With this, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been tasked to deliver the incentive to qualified beneficiaries. Guided by DSWD Memorandum Circular No. 11, series of 2017 and MC No. 06 series of 2018, Filipinos whose age reaches at least a hundred on or after the approval of the law is entitled to the incentive. Heirs of centenarians who died after 15 July 2016 may still receive the cash/check gift with Posthumous Plaque of Recognition if the heirs are able to present documentary requirements for posthumous centenarian.

More than the financial gain, the DSWD hopes to instill family values such as caring for one’s own family members, respecting the elderly, and the enriching family bond through shared responsibility in caring for an elderly family member.

In the Cordillera Administrative Region, since its implementation to 15 November 2020, there are 215 recorded centenarians in the region however, only 203 centenarians have been awarded with their cash gifts. Of the record, forty four (44) are from Abra, six (6) in Apayao, thirty seven (37) in Benguet, twenty seven (27) in Baguio, twenty two (22) in Kalinga, twenty five (25) in Ifugao and forty two (42) in Mt Province.

Of the recorded centenarians, 145 are female and seventy (70) are male, 171 are still living while the remaining forty four (44) are posthumous centenarians. In this case, the cash gifts are being received by the nearest surviving heirs upon presentation of documentary requirements for deceased centenarians.

“Our oldest living centenarian awarded with the incentive is 119 years old from Tuba, Benguet. Despite their age, some of them still have sharp memories of their experiences during the war. They even shared how they used to hide because of fear. Generally, the centenarians from the region are still able to do basic tasks such as reading, planting, and even playing the violin”, DSWD FO CAR OIC Regional Director Leo L. Quintilla shared.

Most of the centenarians are living in the remote or mountainous areas of the region and the families and caregivers believe that it has contributory factors for the centenarian’s longevity. Furthermore, centenarians or their companions share that most of them prefer vegetable, fish, and lean meat only flavored with salt with less to no oil at all. They also do not use artificial flavorings. The centenarians also shared that during their younger years, they usually eat organic fruits and vegetables and consume meat of animals they raise which were not fed with commercial feeds. They take “sebang” or water of boiled camote as their beverage.

“May our centenarians remind us how valuable life is. If we take care of it, we can enjoy and gain from it. But let us keep in mind that beyond the monetary incentive, the presence of our beloved centenarians are far more precious.

We would like to encourage everyone to take care of and respect their elderly family members not just because it is in the law, but because they deserve to receive the love sacrifices that they have also given during their younger years”, Director Quintilla shared.

For 2020, the DSWD FO CAR served sixty one (61) centenarians. Of this number, fifteen (15) are from Abra Province, fourteen (14) from Mountain Province, eleven (11) from Benguet, eight (8) from Baguio City, six (6) each from Ifugao and Kalinga Province, and one (1) from Apayao Province.

Aside from the Centenarian’s incentive, the DSWD also provides assistance to indigent senior citizens through the Social Pension Program. Under the program, qualified senior citizens receive PhP 3,000.00 every semester.  #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Nerizza Faye G. Villanueva- Trinidad with reports from Michelle Pinmilliw

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