No. of :

No. of Shares:

Currently viewed by: Marcus Rosit

Borongan: A city for the aged

Urbanization rapidly progresses in the Philippines, and with it, the global phenomenon of an aging population is also creeping into the country.

The Commission on Population and Development projects that 12 years from now, 14% of the population will be senior citizens from the current 8.5%. Additionally, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) revealed that the number of Filipinos aged 60 years and above has doubled to 9.22 million in 2020 from only 4.6 million in 2000.

As population aging and urbanization swiftly advance worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) crafted a framework of programs that can be established and sustained in every country to accelerate the creation of age-friendly communities.

Recently, eight cities and communities in the Philippines were recognized by the WHO and the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) as Age-Friendly Cities and Communities (AFCC) models, and the only AFCC-recognized community from the Visayas is Borongan City in Eastern Samar.

Senior Citizens in #FunBorongan

True to the city’s official hashtag, Boronganon senior citizens are indeed experiencing fun in the city. The local government unit has established various social services and programs tailored to cater to the needs and well-being of the “seniors” in the community, ensuring they have a fulfilling and enjoyable experience.

Borongan City Councilor Lyra Gel Limbauan, who serves as the chairperson of the Social Welfare Development Committee, shared in a Facebook post that the city government is committed to consistently backing age-friendly programs within the city.

“We will continue to improve existing programs and develop new ones for the benefit of our senior citizens. With the support from the national and local authorities, we will succeed in attaining a progressive community,” Limbauan wrote.

So, what are the perks championed by the city of Borongan for the senior citizens in their community?

Monthly Monetary Allowance

Under Republic Act 9994, commonly known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, all Filipino residents 60 years or older are automatically entitled to benefits and privileges as granted by law. This also extends to elderly dual citizens who have resided in the Philippines for at least six months.

A senior citizen receives her monthly pension from the city government of Borongan (Photo by BCIO)

With this, indigent senior citizens below the poverty line can receive a social pension of P500 monthly, which is a subsidy program by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to help fund the medical and daily needs of senior citizens with little to no stable source of income.

In the City of Borongan, however, the LGU has afforded a Monthly Monetary Allowance of P500 monthly for all its senior citizens who are not qualified to receive DSWD’s social pension.

According to Virginia D. Buna, president of the Federated Senior Citizen Association of Borongan (FSCAB), around 5,109 senior citizens in the city are beneficiaries of the monthly monetary allowance and each one received P3,000 for the months of January to June 2023. The total amount disbursed to senior citizens amounted to P14,817,000 for the aforementioned period.

Mrs. Ester Basada, 65 years old, a widower, intends to use the P3, 000 she received to buy maintenance medicines and food.

Another is Mrs. Leonila C. Devora, 76 years old, a widower from Brgy. Songco shared that she will use the money to buy medicines, milk, diaper, and food.

“As much as possible, let us give our senior citizens small things to celebrate which I believe that whenever the pay-out is done, the few crispy bills in their hands give them a secret leap and energy," Borongan City Mayor Jose Ivan Agda said in an interview with PIA.

"I'm so inspired by the Mayor saying mouthfuls for the seniors, that we are welcome here and we will inspire you, but the truth is, it is the Mayor who inspired us when we came here in Eastern Samar. The social pension here in Borongan is supplemented because ang mga indigents ay nakakatanggap at ang mga nagrereklamo na hindi indigents ay nabibigyan din ng City Government through Monthly Monetary Allowance. This is the most inspiring act Borongan has done because in other big cities, wala nito except Borongan," said Atty. Franklin M. Quijano, chairperson and chief executive officer of the National Commission on Senior Citizens (NCSC).

Libre Medisina Program

With advancing age comes an inevitable decline in health. Managing chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes necessitates ongoing medication, which can be financially burdensome, particularly for senior citizens.

Nevertheless, in Borongan City, a solution has emerged. A pharmacy has been set up right in front of the city hall following the enactment of Ordinance No. 153, also recognized as the "Free Medicines Assistance Program Ordinance of Borongan City." This initiative was introduced by Mayor Dayan Agda and has garnered unwavering support from the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Borongan, led by Vice Mayor Emman Tiu Sonco.

A physician examines a senior citizen in Borongan City during a Medical Mission in their barangay spearheaded by the city government of Borongan. He was then given free medicines after the free check-up. (Photo by PHN Reynan Araba)

The good news is that the benefits of the free medicine program are not exclusive to senior citizens. Since its commencement on September 18, 2021, all residents of the city have been able to take advantage of this program.

To avail of the free maintenance medicines, they only have to present the doctor’s prescription issued within three months and for those who cannot go to the city pharmacy due to physical or mental problems, their representative will have to present an authorization letter, the prescription, and their valid ID.

Libreng  Sakay Program

Affordable and flexible mobility options for the elders are essential for accessing community services, especially medical services, obtaining necessary goods, and maintaining important social linkages, such as participation in recreation.

The mobility of seniors, however, is hampered by their age and limited public utility vehicles available, leaving those ageing in place completely auto-dependent and stranded in their homes.

In support of Borongan City’s programs such as social services for the senior citizens in the community, tourism, and education programs, the LGU procured five (5) units of Sweden-made Volvo buses amounting to P40 million for its Libreng Sakay program.

Mayor Agda clarified in an interview that the primary beneficiaries of the Libre Sakay program will be the senior citizens, PWDs, senior high school and college students, healthcare workers, and tourists in the city.

“The idea is to develop a reliable public transport system in the city, eventually the program will benefit all of the Boronganons, but for now the focus is on the highly vulnerable sectors in the community,” Mayor Agda added.

Dukwag Agrikultura

Senior citizen farmers will be able to borrow a collateral-free loan at zero interest from the city government to set up and boost their agricultural, fishery, or livestock production through the  Dukwag Agrikultura program of City Mayor Jose Ivan Agda.

During its initial year of implementation during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the city government appropriated funds amounting to P26 million to complement or augment the national government-initiated farm programs in the city.

This landmark program aims to intensify and accelerate agricultural development in Borongan City by minimizing its reliance on importing food from other areas while uplifting and improving the quality of life of farmers, fisherfolk, livestock producers, agri-entrepreneurs and workers, and agricultural  organizations/cooperatives through a zero-interest credit financing program and several projects which will provide technical assistance, marketing interventions, and entrepreneurial education to the beneficiaries.

Recently, the Department of Agriculture Region VIII awarded a certificate of recognition for the city government's exemplary performance in initiating and facilitating "Dukwag Agrikultura."

A Dukwag Agrikultura (DA) farmer sells her crops at the DA Agri-Trade Fair, one of the initiatives of the city government of Borongan which provide opportunities for farmers and exhibitors to become known for their focused commodities and will help connect the farmers to the consumers. (Photo by BCIO)

It has been mainstreamed and given an annual funding allocation of at least P100 million providing livelihood opportunities to the city's poor and marginalized farmers regardless of age.

During an interview with Alice Nicart from the Borongan City LGU, Virgie Buna, the president of the Federation of Senior Citizens of Borongan (FSCAB), shared that when the WHO representatives visited the city, they were enthusiastic to learn more about the programs that Borongan has put in place for its senior citizens.

“They were happy to know that Borongan’s elderly are well-taken care of and encouraged still to become productive as they witnessed how Brgy. Bato seniors are still able to produce vegetables in their garden, how the Taboc seniors group manages the operation, efficiency, and effectiveness of their office and how the seniors execute in morning Zumbas with vigor,” Buna added.

The sheer number of benefits from the city government of Borongan is a testament to how Boronganons value and cherish the older members of their family and community.

As a fun-loving, age-friendly model community in the country, Borongan City aspires for other local government units (LGUs) to emulate its efforts in advocating active and healthy aging within both rural and urban settings.

Undoubtedly, Borongan City isn't solely a hub of enjoyment but also a dedicated haven for the elderly population. (MMP/VTG/PIA Eastern Samar)

About the Author

Leonilo Lopido

Assistant Regional Head

Region 8

Feedback / Comment

Get in touch