By Ali Macabalang
BULUAN, Maguindanao – Thirteen centenarian-residents in this province received P100,000 in symbolic rites, dubbed Valentine’s Day for Bangsamoro ultra senior citizens, here on Tuesday.
Local officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Maguindanao has 17 validated centenarians with ages ranging from 100 to 104 years old under the government’s social pension program.
But according to Provincial Social Welfare Officer Emma Ali, said four of them passed away a few months before the DSWD central office could download the P1.7-million social pension program for fund century-old beneficiaries to this province, through the DWSD regional office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
She said DWSD-ARMM Secretary Laisa Alamia opted for the distribution of pensions to the 13 living centenarians in Maguindanao on Thursday in time for the Valentine’s Day, which coincided with the end of the province’s weeklong 3rd Inaul Festival here.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu handed the pension to each of the recipient-centenarians, who were assisted by relatives, at a local restaurant here.
Among the recipients were Aisa Peenkil Endaila, Engkal Akmad Guiamadel, Dimalen Among Salik, Usman Ebus Ebrahim, Aisa Sampan Omal, Saiba Anta Buisan, Liya Pendulat Milog, Kusay Liwa Undas, Melan Manid Pensing, Amoy Dandan Guiambangan, Saliya B. Samad, and Feliza Labio Curpuz.
Corpuz, speaking on behalf of fellow recipients, said that, although they no longer had “any love-life to celebrate on Valentine’s Day, the cash we received meant a lot to make us happy in our remaining days on earth.”
“I am very thankful to the administration of President Duterte, especially to Gov. Mangudadatu, who provides special attention to his senior citizen-constituents like me. I love the governor very much because he visited me on my 100th birthday celebration and danced with me,” said Corpuz, who turned 100 years and eight months old last Thursday.
“Sana tuloy-tuloy ang paninilbihan niya. Nakaramdam kami ng pagpapapahalag sa kanyang paglilingkod (I wish his leadership is continuous. We feel government care in his leadership),” Corpuz said, referring to Mangudadatu, who is on his third and final gubernatorial.
In his brief message, the governor confessed having “very big heart for elders,” recalling that in his bachelor life, he would easily feel “turned-off” with prospected girlfriends he found out to be disrespectful of parents.
Attending DSWD officials said the cash pensions of similar amount to four deceased centenarians in Maguindanao will be handed to their surviving kin within this month.
They said the DSWD Maguindanao has had 44 centenarians given P100,000 pension each in 2017.