How important are senior citizens in our country?
I came up with three main reasons. First, they teach us a lot of things through their life experiences. Second, their advice through coping process is more effective than my friends’ advice. Lastly, they bring happiness to the family.
Perhaps, our government provides privileges to them like the 20 percent discount and exemptions from value added tax because of their contributions to the family, which is considered the solid foundation of our society. This I realized when I joined the Product Team for Special Benefits on a trip up North.
Ponciano Gallibe, 61, from Tuguegarao, Cagayan recently had a heart attack. He is married to Evangeline, a homemaker, and they are blessed with four (4) children, including a person with disability (PWD). The three other children already have their own families.
A retired electrician because of his condition, Ponciano helps make both ends meet by assisting their neighbor in hog raising. “Agkolekta nak iti kanin baboy ta ipakan ku dijay inahin da tapnu aganak ajay , ket ikan da kami iti burias nga mailaku mi,” (Nangongolekta ako ng kaning baboy upang may maipakain sa inahing baboy ng aming kapitbahay, dahil pag itoý nanganak bibigyan naman nila kami ng sarili naming baboy upang maibenta), narrated Evangeline. Simple yet happy is how she describes her family.
In February 2015, Ponciano was admitted to Cagayan Valley Medical Center (CVMC) due to a heart attack. He felt a sudden arm weakness and difficulty in breathing while speaking in his niece’s graduation celebration.
Even though Evangeline did not have any cent in her pocket during that time, she still decided to rush her husband to CVMC. She initially resisted confining her husband in the hospital due to anticipated expenses.
However, she was very happy when one of the staff of CVMC informed her that her husband can avail himself of PhilHealth benefit through RA 10645 or the Mandatory PhilHealth coverage for senior citizens. “Tinanong ng nars kung may senior citizen card na ang asawa ko dahil awtomatiko na daw itong miyembro ng PhilHealth,” stated Evangeline.
Heart attack or Myocardial Infarction is one of the leading causes of mortality for elders here in the Philippines. It occurs when there is inappropriate supply of oxygenated blood in the heart due to thickening and hardening of the arteries. Aging is one of the risk factors of this health problem.
In 2014, PhilHealth paid P376,730,150 for 16,344 claims for Myocardial Infarction while for the first semester of this year alone, it paid P 122,207,440 for 5,158 claims for the said disease.
As provided for in the Constitution, the state is duty-bound to recognize the rights of senior citizens by providing support though various social systems. Hence, true to its vision of “Bawat Pilipino miyembro, bawat miyembro protektado kalusugan natin segurado,” PhilHealth provides mandatory membership to all seniors by virtue of RA 10645.
According to Evangeline “wala kaming binayaran kahit isang kusing dahil sinagot ito lahat ng PhilHealth.” Now Ponciano is recovering pretty well.
Rehabilitation gave him a new perspective. “Surviving the heart attack and then going through cardiac rehab was life-changing for me,” Ponciano said. “You really learn not to take things for granted when you have such a hard time doing the smallest things like walking, eating, washing your face or even opening a door.”
“Agyaman nak ta ada iti PhilHealth nga timulong ka da kami, uray baket ken lakay kamin ada iti katunay-nay para pangsalung-at mi” (nagpapasalamat ako dahil may PhilHealth na tumulong sa amin,kahit matatanda na kami may kaagapay kami sa aming kalusugan), said Evangeline.
For their very important role in our society, senior citizens deserve to retire with dignity, after a lifetime of working, raising families, and contributing to the success of our country in countless other ways