Davao City (DSWD XI) – Centenarians and their families expressed gratefulness over the recently released ‘centenarian gift’ of Php 100,000.00 through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Regional Director of DSWD Mercedita P. Jabagat personally visited the residence of some centenarians and handed over the Php 100,000.00 cash gift beginning third week of May.

“Most of them were teary-eyed and speechless upon their receipt of the large cash. Others seemed confused and even asked ‘why’, overwhelmed of the unbelievable amount they got,” Director Jabagat shared.

Director Jabagat stressed to the grantee and to other members of the family who were present that the money should only be used to buy the needs of the recipient like milk, medicines, clothing, food, vitamins, among others. “This amount is a present from the government and is solely intended for the enjoyment of our centenarians who deserve this once-in-a-lifetime reward.”

According to one daughter, they will use part of the amount to buy a hospital bed for her 104 year-old father. Another granddaughter said they can finally provide her 116 year-old grandmother a brand new wheelchair.

Witty and candid reactions from the senior grantees were noted during the payout.

Buotan ang gobyerno, very good. Pasalamat ko sa Ginoo kay gihatagan ko og taas nga kinabuhi (Government is good. I thank God for giving me a long life),” said 104 year-old Nanay Flordiluna from Davao Del Sur. Nanay Flordiluna has 10 children.

Tinood ba ni? Ako ba jud ni? Karon lang ko nakagunit og ani nga kuarta (Is this true? Is this really mine. This is my first time to have this much money). Nanay Eleuteria exclaimed. She said she will buy a rosary and a bible, adding, “Maninda ko para duna koy income (I will continue my sari-sari store to earn income).” At 105, Nanay Eleuteria is very fond of Coca Cola.

102 year-old farmer Tatay Francisco still sings the ‘Our Father’ and prays the rosary.

Tatay Sixto, 100, said he will offer a mass and share some amount with his children. “Magpa misa ko ug bahinan pud nako ang akong mga anak (I will offer a mass and will also share this with my children).”

A bubbly 104 year-old farmer Tatay Melecio still wished for a longer life. He said prayer is very important in his life. “Kanunay jud ko mag-ampo kay importante kini (I always pray because it is important).” Surprised but grateful, he even prayed twice and cried before receiving the cash. Tatay Melecio’s secret to long life is bahal (coconut wine), he claimed.

Tatay Casimero at 104 refused to receive the cash, insisting that he wanted food instead. “Dili ko (I will not accept that).” But it was made clear to him that the cash was a gift from the government and it’s his which could buy whatever food he desires.

Tatay Margarito, 102, taught it was a loan and must be repaid. He was reluctant to receive it because he believes he could not pay it when the time comes. “Wala koy ikabayad pag-abot sa panahon (I could not repay that).”

Most of the recipient centenarians have more than 10 children and have no illness nor maintenance medicine, and some are still able to talk and move around. Tatay Margarito still has a complete set of teeth.

When asked what her secret is for a long life, a 112 year-old Nanay Diosdada who bore 12 children said, “Wala koy vetsin, walay coke, walay karne. Permi ko gulay, patatas ug kamote (I don’t take food seasoning, coke and meat. I always eat vegetables, potato and camote).”

This tough lady even ably climbed the stairs to the second floor of the DSWD seminar hall where she received the cash gift on Monday. She was advised to stay and wait at the ground floor but she replied, “Makasaka pa man gani ko sa flyover (I could still even climb the flyover stairs).”

Centenarians poor or rich are entitled to receive a Php 100,000 “centenarian gift” among other incentives, as well as recognition from the government for reaching 100 years under Republic Act 10868 or the Centenarians Act of 2016.

Under R.A. 10868, all Filipinos who live up to 100 years, otherwise known as centenarians, will also receive a Letter of Felicitation from the President whether he or she is in the Philippines or not. In addition, centenarians will receive a plaque of recognition and a cash incentive from their respective cities or municipal governments, to be decided by their local government unit.

Under the 2016 budget, 52 centenarians in Davao Region are qualified to receive the Php 100,000 cash gift. Twenty-five of whom are from Davao City; eight from Compostela Valley; six each from Davao Del Norte, Davao Del Sur and Davao Oriental; and 1 from Davao Occidental. (DSWD)