by Emanuelle Dominique Mendoza and Neil Arwin Mercado
Over a hundred senior citizens from various barangays benefitted from the free medical check-up, aerobic exercise sessions, and pampering during the Los Baños week-long celebration of the Filipino Elderly Week. Themed “Ang Nakatatanda ay Yaman, Katuwang sa Pag-unlad ng Bayan, Pangalagaan Kanilang Kapakanan” October 29 in Los Baños Municipal Covered Court.
According to Baby Escobin of the Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs (OSCA), the idea of celebrating the Filipino Elderly Week for the first time in Los Baños is in line with Presidential Decree 470 Series of 1994 when the first week of October was declared as Linggo ng Katandaang Filipino or Filipino Elderly Week. OSCA sought to recognize the importance and value of the elderly in the community. The office also started meeting with each barangay’s Senior Citizen Association (SCA) head to identify the needs of the elders in each community.
The free medical check-up was facilitated by the Municipal Health Office (MHO) headed by Dr. Alvin Isidoro. Free medications and vitamins were also given to the Los Baños elderly. According to Erlinda Darvin, one of the participants from Brgy. Timugan, she was pleased to join the event because she is really excited about the idea of the Los Baños honoring the elders in their community. She added that, even at the age of 77, she received vitamins and cough medicines from the medical mission since she does not have any lifestyle-related diseases.
The medical mission also served as an opportunity for the Los Baños elderly from different barangays to build new friendship. “Masaya ako kasi marami akong nakita, marami akong nakasalamuha (I am happy because I was able to see and mingle with many people)” says Beatriz Cruz.
The medical mission concluded the weeklong celebration of the Filipino Elderly Week in Los Baños. Other activities included the following the:
- (October 20) flag raising ceremony where the municipal office honored key senior citizens with special awards
- (October 21) Lakbay Aral at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) where the Los Baños elderly were oriented on the different rice varieties as well as various rice cultures and cultivation
- (October 22) Zumba and Tai-chi Sessions where the representatived fro the UP Los Baños Department of Human Kinetics facilitated exercise routines for the senior citizens; sports olympics where the elderly played chess, dama, sungka, and basketball free throws, and pampering day.
“Masaya ako kasi nakikilala nila [ng mga tao], at hindi lang kilala kasi nbibigyan din nila ng panahon ang mga matatanda (I am happy because people get to know and eventually give time to the elders),” Beatriz Cruz said when asked about how she feels about the celebration of Elderly Week.Erlinda Darvin shared that “Ngayon lang nangyari yan dito sa Los Baños yun. Natutuwa kaming lahat, kaming mga matatanda.”
Through the coordination among the barangay SCAs, the list of activities in the four-day celebration of the importance of the elders was finalized. OSCA partnered with the local government unit of Los Baños, which provided the venue and food for the activity. Other partners for the elderly week celebration included the UPLB DHK, MHO, and IRRI.
Dr. Federico Cruz, the OSCA director, shared that they were overwhelmed with the turnout of elderly participants as over 150 people gathered to join the flag raising ceremony and the inauguration of the elderly week celebration.
Most of the senior citizens who joined the program were from Brgy. Timugan with 33 elders, Brgy. Lalakay with 21 elders, and 19 elders from Brgy. Bagong Silang. The big turnout of participants was credited to the combined efforts of OSCA and the barangay SCAs. OSCA and the barangay heads meet every first Thursday of the month to orient the heads on the dissemination of information about the event. Beatriz Cruz, vice-president of Senior Citizen’s Association of Timugan (SeCAT) explained that in their barangay, she paid a visit to every senior citizen’s residence to distribute printed letters regarding the activity.