Thousands of senior citizens in Bantayan Island welcomed the distribution of rice in their home villages last March 15-17.
Governor Hilario P. Davide and Vice Governor Agnes Magpale spearheaded the distribution of rice in the island including the islets of Kinatarcan and Hilantagaan.
Every senior citizen is entitled to three of kilos of rice under the Halad alang ni Lolo ug Lola program of the Capitol.
No matter how little it is, they said, they needed every aid they can get because of their poverty.
“Dako kaayo pasalamat namon nga nakadawat jud kami mga grasya kay dili man jud malilong nga pigado gayod ang mga senior citizens,” said Alipio Villaester, president, Barangay Sulangan (Bantayan town) Senior Citizens Association.
Rosalinda Desabillo, 64, from Barangay Kinatarcan also stated, “Pobre man kayo ming makaluluoy, ang ako bana wa la na pangita na mild stroke man dili na makalakaw.”
Desabillo added that NFA rice in the island is sold at P33 per kilo. Without the support from the head of the family, she said they are now relying on their sons who work as laborers in Manila.
Dilma Jordan, 62, also from Kinatarcan, also welcomed the plan of the Capitol to distribute cash in lieu of rice starting this December.
She said they will use the money to buy medicines as her husband has become drug-dependent since suffering from arthritis.
Cresenciano Necesario of Barangay Sulangan, Bantayan, also stated he will use the financial aid to pay his debts. At 68, Necesario said he is still planting corn, banana, coconut, and mango. He also goes fishing from time to time.
But he was unable to plant corn last cropping season because of less rainfall due to El Niño. “Mangutang na lang ko bugas usa, kung wala nako kwarta. Ako na bayran inig harvest nako sa ako gitanom,” he said.
Kinatarcan Island has 753 senior citizens, according to the initial list of the Capitol. It was one of the two islets that Davide and Magpale visited during the distribution of rice.
Kinatarcan has 3 barangays, namely; Hagdan, Langub and Kinatarcan or locally called Bitoon.
The other islet that the officials visited was Hilantagaan, which has 286 senior citizens. The islets are part of the territorial jurisdiction of the town of Santa Fe.
In the mainland, Vice Gov. Magpale led the distribution in the barangays in the towns of Madridejos and Bantayan. Madridejos has more than 2,261 senior citizens while Bantayan has 5,513. The number of senior citizens in Santa Fe reached 2,891.
The figures, however, are still being updated through the office of the vice governor who implemented the program.