Listahanan Enumerator Albin Tuco interviews couple Petronila and Zacarias Jadol, both social pension beneficiaries of Barangay Gabi, Compostela town.

Compostela, Compostela Valley –Unmindful of his exhaustion and the stinging of his skin due to the heat of the sun, enumerator Albin Tuco reached Barangay Gabi after a ten-kilometer ‘habal-habal’ motorcycle ride to interview older persons enrolled in the DSWD Social Pension Program.

The arrival of workers in red vests will never fail to put a smile on the faces of residents here since to them it always signals a forthcoming assistance.

Compostela Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) Focal Person for Senior Citizens Cherry Ligan briskly conducted the DSWD enumerators to where the indigent senior citizens live.

Ligan used to be a utility worker but when the position of focal person was offered her, she didn’t hesitate to grab it as she has a soft heart for older persons especially the poor ones. She even spends her spare time visiting her clients.

Hopeful oldies

The team of Tuco and Ligan came to the house of Zacarias Jadol, 81, and his wife Petronila, 83.

Both beneficiaries of the Social Pension Program, the couple, teary-eyed, yet joyfully welcomed the workers into their humble home.

Salamat kay niabot mo dinhi sa amoang balay, makita man ninyo nga dili na kaayo ko kalakaw ug akoang asawa dili napud kadungog, inyohang tabang na lang amoang paglaom (We are thankful that you have come to us. You see, it’s hard for me to move around now and my wife has a difficulty in hearing. Our only hope is your assistance).”

The couple has eight children who could not fully provide for their aging poor parents as they are also having a hard time sustaining the needs of their own families.

“Kung wala pa gyud ning pension namu nga madawat ambot asa mi padulong ani, kana nga kwarta gyud ang nakatabang na makabalay kami bisag kawayan lang sa panahon nga nilupad amoang balay sa bagyong Pablo. Karon nagahulat mi nga ma-release napud amoang pension (Without the social pension, we wouldn’t know where to go for help. The pension was a big help when we built this house made of bamboo since our former house was blown away by Typhoon Pablo. Now, we are awaiting the release of our pension).”

After having been interviewed by Enumerator Tuco through the DSWD Listahanan, the two are hopeful that following the validation, they will continue to receive the monthly stipend they used to get.

Special validation

The DSWD Listahanan or Talaan ng Pamilyang Nangangailangan, [formerly National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction] is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are.

Currently, a nationwide special validation of existing social pension beneficiaries is being administered in accordance with the provision of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for CY 2014 which states: Only the Indigent Senior Citizens enrolled in the DSWD Listahanan will continue to receive the Social Pension of Php 500 monthly to augment their daily subsistence and medical needs.

Aside from being included in the Listahanan profile, social pensioners must be 77 years old and above, frail, sickly and disabled, without a regular source of income and/or support from any member of the family, and not receiving other pension benefits from government and private agencies.

The special validation also upholds Listahanan’s objective of ensuring that all potentially poor families are assessed and included in the database which is the basis in identifying recipients of social protection programs of the national government.

Learning along the way

“This is beyond income and experience. This journey taught me my real purpose in life. I may not be as poor as these beneficiaries nor as rich as my friends are but at least I learned to appreciate the meaning of life,” shared Bernie Magunot, Listahanan Area Supervisor in Compostela Valley and Tuco’s supervisor.

It’s a difficult task to accomplish, Magunot said.

“We have to go to remote areas where roads are seemingly impassable but the perseverance of all made us strong in our chosen job. We developed good relationships with the people and learned from their different inspiring stories.”

For the conduct of the Special Validation, Magunot has five enumerators under his command.

In Region 11, targeted for validation are 12,788 social pension beneficiaries.

The team has a long way to go yet, and more stories to learn from. (DSWD)