BONTOC, Mountain Province – Four female centenarians in this capital town recently received cash gifts of P100, 000.00 each from the national government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).100-year-old Gertrude “Yappo” Gayumba Chilem from Barangay Maligcong and 101-year-old Dominga Panday Bangniwan of Barangay Gonogon personally received their cash gifts of P100, 000 each in their respective dwellings. Aside from this, they both received a letter of felicitations from President Rodrigo Duterte for turning a hundred years old.
“Turning a century old is the biggest milestone a person can achieve. You are very special and honored for all the great experiences and accomplishments that life has given you. May you be surrounded with happy memories from your family,” reads the Letter of Felicitation from President Duterte to the two living centenarians.
Ikit (grandmother) Chilem who has 40 grandchildren and 43 great-grandchildren had not gone to till the fields since 2010, but she had her share of the load in the household, would look after the season’s harvest of drying palay from prying birds and chickens, and attended masses and prayer services. Her daily routine gradually changed year after year as aging limited her mobility and physical strength. The centenarian has been bed-bound for three years now and has lost her eyesight, but still manages to urinate and defecate in the tub placed beside her bed. The centenarian’s daughter, Brenda and her daughter are the ones taking good care of Ikit Chilem.
Apo (local term in respect to the elderly) Bangniwan known in the Ili as Dolinga is blessed with 28 grandchildren and 72 great-grandchildren. Despite her age, she used to love traveling to Baguio City and Manila and enjoyed riding a bus to visit her children and grandchildren. However, on October 8, 2019, she fell down the stairs while she was napping that caused a fracture on her right arm. She cannot hear well, but can still walk, has clear eyesight, and sharp memory.
Meanwhile, the two posthumous centenarians are 100-year-old Hilda Kenept Charongen of Barangay Guina-ang who joined her Creator on January 28, 2021, and Paula “Kuya-an” Sew-ag Kalang-ad who was 102-year-old at the time she joined her Creator. In the case of posthumous centenarians, the cash gifts are received by the nearest surviving heirs. The cash/check gifts intended for the posthumous centenarians were handed over by Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey, representatives from the DSWD- Provincial Office, and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) to the nearest surviving heirs at the Bontoc Municipal Capitol on May 14, 2021.
Grandmother Charongen was able to see her 22 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild before she joined her Creator. In 1993, the centenarian lost her vision on the right eye after a palay’s blade cut through her eyes. Due to difficulty in life, the family was not able to seek immediate medical attention. The centenarian’s daughter Hilda prohibited her mother from going to the rice field so as not to hurt herself. Despite this, the centenarian looked after her grandchildren and cooked for her family. These have been her routine for almost 30 years. Likewise, losing her vision did not prevent her from fulfilling her social obligations like attending wakes; visiting the sick; attending weddings, and community affairs albeit with a companion to guide the way. Her sense of hearing was still good before her passing.
Ikit Kalang-ad known in the Ili by her name “Kuy-an” has 62 grandchildren, 141 great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren. A respected figure in the community, the centenarian’s life is well appreciated with the understanding of Bontoc’s culture and traditions.
Per interview with the living centenarians and the nearest heirs of the posthumous centenarians by the social workers from the MSWDO, simple living has always been the secret of the four centenarians.
In a separate interview with Mayor Odsey, he lauded the centenarians for living for 100 years and more.
He mentioned that the Filipino values of caring for one’s family members, respecting the elderly, and enriching family bonds through shared responsibility by taking care of elderly family members have always been appreciated in every life story of centenarians.
“May our centenarians remind us how valuable life is. If we take care of it, we can enjoy and gain from it. Beyond the monetary incentives, the presence of our centenarians is more precious,” the mayor added.
The cash award given to centenarians is by Republic Act No. 10868 otherwise known as ‘Centenarians Act of 2016’. By Alpine L. Killa