In broad daylight, 74-year-old Necitas Cristobal brings out her small flashlight and switches it on.
Suffering from eye cataract, Lola Necitas, a resident of Brgy. Sabang in Burdeos, Quezon Province, needs the extra light so she can better see the paper in front of her. She needs to sign her name on the paper—a payroll of beneficiaries—so she can receive her much-awaited cash assistance as a beneficiary of the Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The Social Pension provides a monthly PhP500 grant to indigent senior citizens based on the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010. Qualified beneficiaries are those age 65 years old and above, are frail, sickly or with disability, and are not receiving any pension and have no permanent source of income or regular support from relatives.
In the island municipality of Burdeos, there are a total of 623 senior citizens who are beneficiaries of the said program.
Lola Necitas’ eye problem started two years ago and according to her, it needs to be operated to prevent blindness.
“Kahit gusto kong magpagamot, wala kaming panggastos,” shared Lola Necitas, who came with her daughter.
Her daughter admitted that they cannot afford to finance the health needs of her mother because she has a family of her own now. They only have a limited source of income and needs to attend to the needs of her growing children first.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa tulong na ito, sa natatanggap naming PhP500 kada buwan. Parang sagot ito sa panalangin namin,” said Lola Necitas.
For Lola Necitas, this cash assistance that she receives every quarter is a big help not only for her daily needs. For her, it is hope—a blessing that she’s long waiting for.
As she goes home after receiving the grant, Lola Necitas is secured that she’ll have some money to save for her operation. In time, she’s positive that with her savings, she’ll enjoy seeing a brighter day again.# with reports from CMSSantiago