This article was revised to reflect the corrections on the background of finalist Atty. Almaria
SEVENTEEN senior-citizen leaders are vying for this year’s Dangal Awards for Elderly Care, the sixth edition of a joint undertaking by United Laboratories Inc. (Unilab), RiteMed Philippines Inc., United Bayanihan Foundation Inc. (UBF) and the BusinessMirror.
“Dangal” stands for Dakilang Adhikain ng Ating Lahi. This year’s awards will be held on Wednesday, October 24, at the Unilab Bayanihan Center on Pioneer Street, Pasig City.
The senior-citizen nominees are mainly from Metro Manila, but a couple come from Bulacan and rural Aurora province. All are bound by an unwavering faith in God and a desire to serve the older population in their respective local government units.
Five senior-citizen groups will also be recognized: Muntinlupa City’s Parkhomes Senior Citizens Association, the SSDD Senior Citizen Volunteers of Quezon City, the Association of Retired Educators of Makati, Senior Citizens Group of District 1 in Manila and the Legion of Vibrant Elders in Parañaque City.
The Dangal Awards is an offshoot of the pioneering retirement program Unilab launched for its employees in 1959. The Unilab’s United Retirement Plan sought to provide for retirement, resignation, disability and death benefits to its members. Over the years, the program expanded, planning activities for retired employees, subsequently including the communities where the retirees reside and where the company and its subsidiaries are located.
Activities include information sessions on their health, dental, senior-citizen and related benefits, as well as proper nutrition and many topics relevant to aging; organized tours or visits to movie houses, local fun spots and museums; group birthday and anniversary celebrations; dancing; sports fests; and other activities that help enliven the elderly in their twilight years, culminating in the yearly celebration of Elderly Week in the first week of October and the monthlong festivities for Elderly Month, held every year in October.
The growing number of Unilab retirees each year has helped bolster the company’s retirement program, carried by the spirit of volunteerism that Unilab retirees embody. Retirees serve as resource speakers, group leaders and spearhead medical and other community-based missions.
The 17 nominees are: (representing Pasig City) Myrna Almaria, Ma. Corazon Benavidez and Zenaida Perez; (Taguig City) Lucy Franco; (Navotas City) Santiago Alvarez; (Pateros) Julia Chupungco; (Makati City) Teresita Conlu; (Quezon City) Purita Pura and Salome Bautista; (San Juan City) Renato Santos; (City of Manila) Necita Salivio; (City of Las Piñas) Yolanda Chan-Tan; (Parañaque City) Crisostomo Diaz Sr.; (Pasay City) Elizabeth Lim; (Mandaluyong City) Cornelio Valencia; (Bulacan) Abelardo Ramos; and (Aurora province) Loreto Binuya.
Myrna Almaria—Atty. Almaria is a retired lawyer who was previously based in the US for nearly 30 years. She retired in the Philippines in 2004, but even when she was abroad was very active in volunteering in the Filipino community. She spent her free time volunteering in nursing homes and even taught English to her kababayans. She has always possessed a passion to serve others. Mrs. Almaria is currently the president of the senior citizens group in their barangay, and through their hard work have greatly improved organizational procedures in the barangay and have encouraged senior citizens to be more active.
Santiago Alvarez—He has mounted money-raising projects, including bingo socials twice a year and Christmas caroling. He organized free haircuts for both young and old, and values formation for teenage and adolescent boys.
Salome Bautista—Mrs. Bautista works for the Diocese of Cubao, sharing her knowledge in cooking and livelihood projects not only with the needy elderly but also poor parishioners in the seven parishes under her jurisdiction.
Ma. Corazon Benavidez—A retired public high-school teacher, she has used her experience to reach out to people in her work as a barangay official and senior-citizen leader.
Loreto Binuya—Mr. Binuya spent most of his adult life working as a United States marine. He renounced his US citizenship when he returned to the Philippines and saw the poverty of senior citizens in his home province of Aurora. Often using his own resources, he scoured the rural areas, persuading older people to be active again and access benefits accorded them by law.
Yolanda Chan-Tan—As a kagawad in Pateros, Mrs. Chan-Tan became exposed to the needs of her community. As president of the senior citizens’ group in her area, she has added food and medicine to the assistance provided to the elderly.
Julia Chupungco—As an officer of the Pateros Office of Senior Citizen Affairs for 21 years, she has spearheaded cultural, fund-raising and fun activities, and helps collect food, medical and medical equipment for needy seniors.
Teresita Conlu—She studied Fisheries at the University of the Philippines and spent most of her career as an employee of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. She organizes service activities, including feeding programs for poor constituents (including informal settlers and children living in cemeteries).
Crisostomo Diaz Sr.—He has used his agriculture engineering background and religious affinity to help 4,000 poor contract growers—about 1,000 of them senior citizens – in the cassava industry hike their production and earn better.
Lucy Franco—Mrs. Franco helps 60,000 seniors from the city and nearby Pasig, Makati and Pateros get their basic benefits as seniors.
Elizabeth Lim—As a senior-citizen leader for 15 years, she teaches livelihood skills to the elderly, raises funds for food and medicine for the poor elderly and helps them access benefits.
Zenaida Perez—She organizes information sessions on senior-citizen rights, nutrition, physical fitness, health and fun activities for her constituents.
Purita Pura—Mrs. Pura leads a very active life helping other seniors by sharing her learnings and practical knowledge on benefits and money-making ventures.
Abelardo Ramos—He has organized 6,000 senior citizens in his hometown from only 500 active members when he began his work. He has led information sessions on Republic Act 9994 and other laws enacted for senior citizens; social gatherings; and walks for a cause.
Necita Salivio—Representing Manila, she visits constituents at home, talks their language and shows her genuine concern by sharing basic information about senior rights and privileges.
Renato Santos—From San Juan, he has helped restore the faith of many seniors disillusioned by previous leaders. He has raised money for the poorest seniors.
Cornelio Valencia—With 33 years of government service, he has continued his service to the public, this time to the elderly.