National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) Chairman Franklin Quijano is set to visit Francisca Susano, the oldest living person in the country and probably in the world, who will celebrate her 124th birthday today (September 11) in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.
Lola Francisca, born on September 11,1897, is a resident of Barangay Oringao, a mountainous area of Kabankalan, which is in the southern part of Negros. She never left her birthplace where she enjoys a lifetime of peace and tranquility, away from all kinds of pollution.
Lola Francisca has 14 children. Her eldest daughter is also a centenarian who is now 101 years old.
Ms. Jake Carlyne Gonzales, public information officer of Kabankalan City, told the BusinessMirror that Mayor Pedro Zayco and other local government officials will join NCSC’s Quijano to celebrate Lola Francisca’s 124th birthday.
Gonzales said that a day before Lola Francisca’s birthday, the office of Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, through the Provincial Health Office, has sent their gift in advance—a new wheelchair.
“We are also here with Lola Francisca now to check on her before her celebration tomorrow,” Gonzales said over the phone. She said they will ensure that minimum public health standards will be “strictly observed” during the celebration.
Cake and spaghetti
Rosalie, Lola Francisca’s granddaughter, said they will just buy a cake and cook spaghetti to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday.
But Lola Francisca will be served with the usual food she likes to eat: oatmeal or vegetable soup like squash.
The family is happy that Lola Francisca reached this age without some of the serious diseases that become more common as people age.
Before the pandemic, this reporter visited Lola Francisca when she celebrated her 122nd birthday in 2019.
She entertained her guests, mostly her “Kabankalanon fans” by playing the harmonica.
Lola Francisca also loves to sing.
Well-wishers like Grace Conlu and Marites Siason were amused to see the birthday celebrant playing harmonica. The visitors are from Kabankalan City. They traveled more than 30 minutes just to greet Lola Francisca on her birthday.
Both of them said it was a great experience to celebrate the birthday of Lola Francisca as this provided them an opportunity to honor elderly citizens and let them know they are appreciated and valued. This is something they will never forget because the city considers Lola Francisca as a “natural treasure.”
Lola Francisca’s other granddaughter, Marlyn, said that her grandmother loves to play harmonica while inside the house or when she is relaxing outside to get some fresh air.
Lola Francisca’s secret to longevity, according to her family, could be attributed to her physical activity tending their farm and to her diet of fresh vegetables and fruits.
She loves to eat sweet potato and “bisol” (gabi or taro). She eats meat, but not pork.
According to Marlyn, Lola Francisca, during her younger days, doesn’t spend her time gossiping but focused on her work as a farmer for she and her husband have children to feed.
“Lola is very optimistic in life. She chose not to dwell on problems and life’s challenges back then,” Marlyn said in Ilonggo.
Vying for the Guinness Record
The Guinness Organization has already received all the needed documents for Lola Francisca to be officially declared as “the oldest living person.”
Lola Francisca was also one of the recipients of the Negros First Centenarian Act of 2015.
The Gerontology Research Group is currently verifying documents it received last year to determine if Lola Francisca can be declared by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest living person.
“If Guinness will officially declare her as the world’s oldest living person, Mayor Zayco will also give her cash incentive,” Gonzales said.