Categorized | Social Pension

Easing her burdens

Old age may have hit her hard as evidenced by her wrinkled skin and her gray hair; however, 86-year-old Juana Maranan is still a woman who makes way to support herself.

A resident of Brgy. San Diego in Lian town of Batangas Province, Lola Juana still accepts jobs weaving nipa leaves, which are used as materials for huts and houses. When she is younger and is not yet suffering from high blood pressure, she even manages to work as a paid laborer in a farm in their barangay.

Though she knows how to earn money, Lola Juana admits that production has been slow as years go by. As she grows older, she can only make up to two sacks per day, which pays her around PhP200 per sack. What is saddening is that there are fewer and fewer people who use this material for their houses. As a result, she is not guaranteed of a steady source of income.

Despite her age, she continues doing this as she has no children and has been supporting a nephew, who she struggled to discipline because of his vices and abuse of drugs.

They have been living in a cramped house with a damaged roof and no secure window and door.

Making ends meet

Lola Juana admits to having a hard time, particularly in ensuring that they have food every day.

“Nangungutang ako sa tindahan ng bigas para may maisaing ako,” she shared.

She sometimes would ask for her help from her other relatives, but she does not want to bother them all the time because she understands that they have expenses of their own and children to feed as well.

“Noong nakasali ako sa pension, tuwang tuwa ako. ‘Yung 1,500 (pesos), malaking tulong sa akin,” Lola Juana said.

As an indigent senior citizen, Lola Juana became a beneficiary of the Social Pension program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as stipulated in the Senior Citizens Act of 2003. This program provides a monthly stipend of PhP500 to beneficiaries for their daily subsistence and medical needs.

Qualified beneficiaries of this program are senior citizens identified as poor in the Listahanan database of poor households who are frail, sickly and disabled, with no source of regular income, with limited support from relatives, and have no existing pension from other government agencies such as GSIS and SSS.

Previously, senior citizens receive the stipend quarterly, which is equivalent to PhP1,500 per payout period. Starting 2019, however, the DSWD will be distributing the pension per semester (or twice a year).

“Kapag nakakatanggap ako, diretsong pinambabayad ko ng utang sa tindahan,” said Lola Juana, who shared that this is where her pension is spent most of the time.

She said that when she no longer have money, she would go to the sari-sari store to get rice and would promise the owner to pay when she receives her pension.

“Napagkakatiwalaan nila akong pautangin dahil alam nila na may ibabayad talaga ako,” added Lola Juana, who shared that because of this, she no longer worries about their day-to-day food like she used to.

Finding hope for her nephew

Lola Juana has also become more positive with their life since her nephew started changing his lifestyle. He is one of the residents in the barangay who surrendered to the police under the anti-illegal drug program of the administration.

Through various interventions provided to drug surrenderees like him, Lola Juana is grateful.

As part of the anti-illegal drug campaign, the government implements the Yakap Bayan program, an inter-agency collaboration providing rehabilitation, aftercare, transformation and reintegration support for drug surrenderees.

Today, her nephew works as a ‘tanod’ in their barangay. Lola Juana is happy that he is able to at least provide minimal support for their daily food.

At her age, Lola Juana does not dream of anything big anymore. What is important to her is that she lives a happy life without much of the burden she used to have.#

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