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"In spite of poverty, I know I can still serve the community"

16 Sep 2010

ADA TatayHelpAge first met Tatay Delfin Caranzo after his house was completely destroyed by typhoon Ketsana in 2009.

HelpAge and the Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE) helped him and his wife to rebuild their home . A year later, he is working as a leader in his community and has even become an Age Demands Action activist.

Here, Genny Macaiba, from COSE, interviews him:

"It has been almost a year since the devastating flood hit Metro Manila. Bagong Silangan in Quezon was one of the areas that was most severely affected by the flood.  Many poor older people were victims of the flood and are still struggling to survive.

Delfin, 72 years old and an active leader of the Bagong Silangan Elderly Group, was one of the victims of the flood. He and his wife would have drowned if their neighbours had not helped them. They lived in the evacuation centre there before they were transferred to relatives who took care of them.  

Tatay, 73In November 2009, he and his family put up a shanty through the help of the shelter assistance from Helpage International.

Delfin said: "I am very grateful that through the shelter assistance, we were able to construct our shanty -  we will start a new life here with my wife and my son."

He told me that they don't want to leave Bagong Silangan because it is where they have spent their lives and, more than that, they just would not know where to go. 

He has taken that as a challenge to carry on his work as a leader in the community. He joined the church and takes part in community activities such as tree planting to prevent more flooding.

"I want to apply for work but there is none available"

He said: "I am very thankful that we received help from other people because if not, our life would be miserable.  

"Me and my wife don't have work and it is only our son who works for a living.  I want to apply for work but there is none available - except  at the garbage dump." 

"In spite of poverty, I know I can still serve the community. That's why I am still very active in the elderly organisation."

He said he was excited to receive 500 Pesos pension so he can help his son to meet their daily needs. Unfortunately, he read in the news that the Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office said that they are thinking of only giving the pension to those above 80 years old because of the tight budget. 

"It is very clear in the law that the social pension should be given to those 60 years old and above"

Tatay with his arrow

Tatay Delfin said "I am really disappointed because there are only very, very few poor older people who survive to the age of 80, if they will do that I don't think poor older people will benefit.  I think it will again defeat the purpose of the law to help elevate the poverty among older people."

Most who reach the age of 80 are those older people who live comfortably - who have the luxury to buy nutritious foods and medicines.

"I am joining the Age Demands Action campaign to advocate again for the government to give the pension to older people who really deserve it. It is very clear in the law that the social pension should be given to those 60 years old and above who are truly indigent senior citizens."

He emphasised that: "Madalang lang ang mga mahihirap na nakatatanda na aabot ng 80 years old". (Very few poor older people actually ever reach the age of 80)

He hopes that the government will listen to older people and give them what is right according to law.

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Tatay Delfin Caranzo

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.