DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Sixty-seven-year old Ma. Cristina Teofilo walks with a limp as she keeps pace
with other senior citizens who are joining this annual commemoration of the Filipino Elderly Week on Monday.
“This is my first time to participate, I am happy because through this, I become aware of my rights such as discounts that I may avail, financial support and so, especially now that I am living alone,” Teofilo said.
She resides in Barangay Sto. Niño in Matina, some five kilometers west of downtown,
Teofilo and some 500 other Davaoeño senior citizens attended the launching of the “Walk of Life: Elderly Filipino Week” on Monday at SM Davao, an activity that was being held elsewhere in many parts of the country.
The “Walk of Life” started the commemoration of the Elderly Filipino Week, or the Linggo ng Nakatatandang Pilipino held annually on the first week of October. This year’s EFW in the region is spearheaded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region XI and co-organized by Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHeath) and Department of Health (DOH) Region XI in partnership with the Davao Local Government Unit.
This year’s theme “Kilalanin at Parangalan: Tagasulong ng Karapatan ng Nakakatanda Tungo sa Lipunang Mapagkalinga”, aims to give acknowledgement to the elder Filipinos for their valued contribution to the community.
“This event’s main objective is to really recognize and acknowledge our senior citizens and their rights in the society as they are part of a huge sector,” DSWD Social Welfare Officer John Ruzeel Sampiano said.
The commencing event “Walk of Life” of EFW started at 7:00 am senior citizen participants came mostly from Barangays Poblacion A and B, Talomo A and B and Agdao, who walked in groups around the SM Davao periphery.
“We say “Walk of Life” because it signifies their strong capabilities despite their vulnerability,” Sampiano added.
The DSWD also tackled in the speeches the common senior citizens’ concern on express or priority lanes, senior citizen freebies and discounts and social pension. It cited existing laws for the elderlies such as the Republic Act 9994, which grants senior citizens 20 percent discount on the purchase of certain goods and services, special 5 percent discount on prime commodities and basic necessities, and 5 percent utility discount on electric and water consumption.
There is also the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens which provides P500 monthly cash grants to indigent senior citizens, as also stated in RA 9994.
PhilHealth Public Affairs Officer-in-Charge Dr. Jose Cleo Bañes said the participation of senior citizens in the
walk event was beneficial “as it gives easier access for the elders to sign up for PhilHealth membership as well as avail services that aids the Filipino elders’ needs”.
“We have different services and booths, [such as] massage and haircut services, online registration,” Dr. Bañes said.
The Elderly Filipino Week is annually celebrated during Sundays of the first week of October,however, due to venue conflicts, the celebration was forced to launch on Monday. The week-long celebration for the Filipino senior citizens is set to conclude on October 7.
The EFW is also declared as National Respect for Centenarians Day, where Filipinos who age 100 or above are awarded with a plaque of recognition and a cash incentive by their respective city or municipal governments in appropriate ceremonies. Moreover, the recognized centenarians will also receive a Letter of Felicitation and a centenarian gift. (Cyntelle Joanne Saguan and Danielle Fanlo, ADDU Interns)