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The wait is over: 2 IP centenarians get P100K cash gift

103-year-old Tboli elder Luheng Aloy Cayok during the centenarian gift awarding Thursday noon (June 22) at his house in Purok Tanda, Barangay San Jose, General Santos City. (Photo by Allen V. Estabillo of the National Commission of Senior Citizens)

Tears rolled down the cheeks of 103-year-old Tboli elder Luheng Aloy Cayok as he finally received his centenarian gift from the government on Thursday, June 22, after waiting for several months.

He then cracked a smile as cheers erupted inside his modest house in Purok Tanda, Barangay San Jose, in General Santos City, while a government representative counted one by one the bundle of 1,000 bills amounting to P100,000 granted to him as a cash incentive for reaching at least 100 years old.

Though betrayed by poor eyesight due to old age, Luheng sensed the excitement of around 20 people composed of close relatives, barangay officials, and government personnel who gathered at his house around noon for the simple awarding ceremony. “I am so happy. Salamat, salamat (thank you, thank you),” the centenarian quipped in his native Tboli language as translated by his daughter Sareya.

Luheng, who celebrated his 103rd birthday on February 28, was one of the two indigenous people centenarians who were honored and received their cash gifts on Thursday through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC).

101-year-old Blaan matriarch Rebecca Latimbon Sambog during the awarding of her centenarian gift in Barangay Poblacion, Tupi, South Cotabato, on Thursday afternoon, June 22. (Photo by Allen V. Estabillo of the National Commission of Senior Citizens)

In Tupi, South Cotabato, 101-year-old Blaan matriarch Rebecca Latimbon Sambog also received her P100,000 centenarian gift in a simple awarding ceremony on Thursday afternoon at her house in Barangay Kablon proper. Both centenarians also received an additional P10,000 each as cash gifts from NCSC through Commissioner Edwin G. Espejo.

They also received a letter of felicitation signed by President Ferdinand E. Marcos Jr. The granting of the P100,000 centenarian gift was provided for in Republic Act 10868, or the Centenarian Act of 2016, which seeks to honor and grant additional benefits and privileges to Filipino centenarians.

“This is in recognition of their invaluable contributions to our society and in nation-building,” Espejo said.

Labinia Bañes, DSWD XII focal person for senior citizens, said they endorsed the release of the centenarian gifts following a meticulous assessment of documents submitted by the families of the beneficiaries and a series of validation processes in coordination with the concerned local government units.

She said they make sure that the documents are authentic, and they conduct personal visits to verify the status of the prospective recipients. “We carefully check the documents, match them with other existing records and conduct proper validation to ensure that the grants are given to the deserving recipients,” she said.

As of Thursday, Bañes said 30 verified centenarians in Region XII had already received their P100,000 cash gift, which is on top of the additional incentives granted by local government units (LGUs).

This week alone, DSWD approved the release of the centenarian gifts of nine centenarians in the region, including Cayok and Sambog. The region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and North Cotabato, as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.

In this city, centenarians get an additional P100,000 cash gift from the local government, and those still living receive a monthly medical stipend of P5,000.

The provincial government of South Cotabato grants qualified centenarians a one-time cash gift of P20,000 each. Bañes said other LGUs in the region grant additional one-time incentives ranging from P10,000 to P100,000, food packs, and other goods.

She added that the validation process is ongoing for the other prospective beneficiaries in parts of the region. (Allen V. Estabillo - NCSC/PIA 12 SarGen)

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Harlem Jude Ferolino

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Region 12

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