Growing old in the Philippines comes with the major challenge of communities’ perception of a sense of duty, defined by established family roles and strong family bonds. Elderly Filipinos recognize the potential for physical deterioration that often accompanies aging, but they generally maintain an optimistic perspective that portrays aging as a phase marked by heightened productivity and promising life experiences.


Apparently, many senior citizens continue to contribute to their families and communities in various ways – just like Nanay Lina Tatel, 76, a young wise leader we met in the happy island of Catanduanes.


Surrounded by lush abaca palms in Barangay Cagraray in Bato, Catanduanes, Nanay Lina lives with her mentally challenged daughter and her 18-year-old granddaughter. Nanay Lina has led the Barangay Association for Senior Citizens Affairs (BASCA) for 15 years and still counting. Since her tenure as the BASCA President, she has been among the beneficiaries of DSWD Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens in the Happy Island of Catanduanes.




Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens, in accordance with the Republic Act 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, is the assistance program of the DSWD which offers a monthly stipend of PhP 500, to augment the daily subsistence and other medical needs of indigent senior citizens.


Historically, Catanduanes Island, particularly the municipality of Bato, has the smallest number of indigent senior citizens receiving social pension from the agency in the region. From 300 social pensioners in 2019, the number skyrocketed to 1600 social pensioners as of date.


As of August 2023, Catanduanes has a total allocation of Php 114,870,000.00 for 19,145 target social pensioners.


Dati po ang konti lang ng tinitipon kong social pensioners dito sa Cagraray. Ngayon, 60 na po sila dito lang yan sa Barangay namin. Lahat po sila, laging nag-aattend ng meeting, walang palya,” Nanay Lina narrated.


For 15 years, Nanay Lina would walk down the community to reach out to other pensioners about latest announcements from the LGU and the agency such as payout schedules, activities of OSCA, and the likes.


For the time being that Nanay Lina rendered service to the community, she acknowledged the fact that she also gets tired. However, the community would encourage her to still serve for them as she has the skills to lead.




Nanay Lina, before being appointed as the BASCA President of Cagraray, Bato, worked as a public servant. She was a Barangay Health Worker who then served as the topnotcher Barangay Kagawad of the said barangay. She has to work hard to provide and raise her eight children especially after being widow.


“Wala na po akong ibang naging libangan kundi ang magserbisyo sa aking kapwa,” Nanay Lina added.


According to Nanay Lina, serving the community bring a sense of fulfillment to her. Thus, the reason why DSWD Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens is so important for her that she loves the program and serves for it naturally.





Despite experiencing favorable economic growth in recent years, the Philippines continues to grapple with elevated rates of poverty, susceptibility, and disparity particularly to the elderly.



“Dilema ng mga senior ang minsan ay hindi napapansin o nabibigyan ng pansin ang mga katulad namin, pero sa Social Pension ramdam na ramdam namin na kami ay pinapahalagahan din,” Nanay Lina explained.






A lot of the conditions of social pensioners in the community evidently improved after the augmentation funds received from the program.


“Bukod po sa SocPen, marami saming mga social pensioners ang tumutulong pa na mapatapos ang mga apo. Ako po personal, ay may apo na Grade 12, laking tulong ng DSWD  samin kasi di ko naman mairaraos ang aking apo kung hindi dahil sa [Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program] 4Ps,” Nanay Lina added.


As Nanay Lina narrated, her granddaughter living with her is her ally in taking good care of her mentally challenged daughter.


“Nature na yan sa matatanda, na hanggang sa kaya at may maitutulong, ay tutulong pa rin,” shared Nanay Lina.


Nanay Lina has to help her family and to attend to their needs because as she reasoned out, “walang ibang tutulong sa pamilya kundi pamilya rin.”


Most senior citizens look to their families to fill the gap left by work and pensions, but this support is often inadequate. In general, the culture of utang na loob (debt of gratitude) remains strong in the Philippines, with most older people looking to their children for care and financial support.


However, not all older people receive financial support from children and when they do, it is often inadequate to cover basic needs such as health expenditures.




Nanay Lina’s story is among the stories from communities of senior citizens. The program has allotted over P1.7 billion for some 288,155 target senior citizens in the Bicol region. As of first semester, a total of 279,551 indigent senior citizens has already received their monthly pension. Meanwhile, 285,015 target beneficiaries are still waiting for the second semester release.


DSWD, through Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens is one of the programs of the agency that seeks to improve the condition of indigent senior citizens by augmenting their daily subsistence and medical needs; reduce incidence of hunger; and protect them from neglect, abuse, deprivation, and natural and man-made disasters.


DSWD unites the collective knowledge upholding the value of “Bawat Buhay ay Mahalaga” that even senior citizens matter and feel regarded. DSWD through program implementers and focal persons holds regular meetings with senior citizens’ groups to address issues and concerns raised by seniors themselves and to ensure that the program is implemented effectively and efficiently.