Halad Alang Kang Lolo ug Lola, a tribute for the elderly, resumed this year with the first distribution of food packs on Jan. 11 in four barangays.
Around 1,000 senior citizens in Barangays Cambang-ug, Canlumampao, Malubog, and Poblacion in Toledo City received food packs which the recipients fondly call gasa.
Governor Hilario Davide III, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale and Provincial Board member Gigi Sanchez led the distribution activity.
Davide assured the elderly the continuance of the program as well as the addition of new services in the future.
Magpale shared that the elderly should be aware of the benefits available to them through the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 or Republic Act 1994.
This act recognizes their rights in their family, community, society, and the government through the provisions of benefits and privileges.
During the halad, senior citizens were encouraged to avail of free health services from government hospitals in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Department of Health (DOH) in cooperation with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
For Lorenzo Sepada of Barangay Canlumampao, more important to him than the food packs is help for his mentally-challenged son.
This son of 65-year old farmer used to be very good in class. Matter of fact, he reached first year college but due to their poverty, the family could not afford to pay for his tuition.
“Sukad atong maglisod na mi pagbayad sa iyang tuition kay minus sad amo harvest, magmokmok na siya, naguol nga di maka-eskwela, nadugay nawala na siya sa iyang panimuot. (The time we were not able to pay his tuition was also the time our harvest decreased. Since that time, he became reclusive, sad that he could no longer go to school. Eventually, he lost some of his mental capacity),” Sepada explained.
This son is Lolo Lorenzo’s escort to the halad.
Sepada also has his need for medicines. Fortunately, Toledo City Councilor Dr. James Gaite was also present during the activity and assured Sepada and all the elders in the barangays that he would try to serve their health needs.
“Hangtud nay kinabuhi, naay paglaum (As long as there is life, there is hope),” said Melquiades Segarra, a 72–year-old farmer from Barangay Malubog.
“Among mga pananom sama sa saging, kamote, ug uban pang mga lagutmon, usahay gamay lang ang ani, kining gipanghatag karon, dako kaayo kini og tabang namo. (Sometimes our harvest is not enough. These food packs help us a lot),” Segarra added.
For Segarra, even if the food packs last for only few days, what makes them special is that officials from the Cebu Provincial Government themselves bring it to them.
Meanwhile, during the distribution in Barangay Cambag-ung, Sanchez announced that the wheelchair, which was requested by senior citizen organization president Norita Panugan, was granted.
The beneficiary, 83-year-old Fedilla Paran, was overjoyed at seeing her new wheelchair. She’s been having difficulty walking because of her old age and Panugan wasted no time trying to find a way to get Lola Fidella a new wheelchair. Cris Lanie de los Reyes