The Philippines

HelpAge has been working in the Philippines for around 25 years. Our aim is to build the capacity of older people in order for them to play an active role in their communities and be part of the development process in the country.

We work with our Affiliate, the Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE), an organisation which conducts community-based programmes addressing the need for livelihoods, health and sanitation. Together we have set up a national network of 270 older peoples organisations that lobby local and national government agencies to support older peoples access to their rights and entitlements.

Since Typhoon Haiyan hit in November 2013, we've helped over 150,000 people rebuild their lives by providing them with food, shelter, cash transfers and psychological support.

Ely, 70, with his nebuliser that he bought with money from HelpAge and our local partner. Ely, 70, with his nebuliser that he bought with money from HelpAge and our local partner. (c) Vincent Henson/HelpAge International

Life story: Ely, 70

Ely is 70 and lives by himself in Old Sagay Village, Negros Occidental. He is one of thousands of residents in the province who lost their homes to Typhoon Haiyan.

He received 2,000 pesos (US$45) from HelpAge and our local partner, the Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE) through our joint cash transfer programme.

He said: "I was having difficulty breathing, but endured the wind and rain as the typhoon pummelled my house. When I could no longer stand it and the walls of my house had already caved in, I decided to crawl out of the house and to the nearby market.

Ely told us he is very grateful for the support he received. He immediately bought a nebuliser, some medicines, vitamins and food with the money we gave him. The rest he said he will use to fix his house.

Supporting older people in the Philippines

Over the last year we have worked with and for older people in the Philippines in a number of areas:

Emergency support

  • HelpAge supports older people and their families when disasters strike. Community service radio announcements raise awareness of older peoples needs and roles in disaster prevention activities.
  • We help communities prepare for future disasters in order to increase their resilience.
  • We ask the government to commit to making policies and take action that involves older people.
  • Across the country, older peoples organisations have been formed to ensure the views of older people are included in community matters and programmes.

Livelihood support

  • Older people's organisations have been supported to start businesses that older people can work together to improve village life. HelpAge has installed water filtration units to enable group members to filter and sell the clean water.


  • With COSE, we advocate for social protection for older people. As a result, the Expanded Senior Citizen Act was passed in 2010 and the Government approved a national social pension scheme.
  • After extended campaigning, disaster risk management legislation is also being enacted. One feature of the law is the active participation of vulnerable groups such as older people.

What next?

  • We will help older people recover from the impact of natural disasters by providing essential supplies and support to rebuild houses and livelihoods.
  • We will continue to support the sustainability of older people's organisations through activities to help older people earn an income.
  • We will engage in advocacy activities with older people's organisations throughout the country to seek to increase the numbers of pension beneficiaries and the amount of benefits received.

Our affiliates

Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE)

Our partners

Confederations of Older Peoples Organisation (COPAP), the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the University of the Philippines College of Social Work and Community Development, the Department of Health

Our donors

Age UK, DEC, CORDAID, MISEREOR, Sponsor a Grandparent, HelpAge Korea, HelpAge Germany, the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA), ECHO, UKAID (DfID), AA and AWO (Relief support), HelpAge Germany (HAD) with AWO and TerraTech (Recovery support), Conrad Hilton and AARP via HelpAge USA (recovery support).

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Striking facts

  • More than a quarter of Filipinos live below the poverty line of US$1.25 a day. And 16% of older people live in poverty.

  • 6% of the population is aged 60 and over - 5.9 million people.

  • According to the 2011 United Nations World Risk Index, the Philippines is the third country most vulnerable to natural disasters in the world.


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Godfred Paul
HelpAge International

6 soi 17, Nimmanhemin Road
Suthep, Muang
Chiang Mai, 50200

Tel: +66 53 225440
Fax: +66 53 225441

Emily Beridico
Executive Director, Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE)

1407, Quezon Avenue, West Triangle, Quezon City, Metro Manila 1104, Philippines
Tel: (632) 709-6567  

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