happy thoughts and worthy causes

Archive for June, 2018

Draft Ordinance Supporting Elderly Programs

Republic of the Philippines

Province of ______________

City/Municipality of ________

Barangay Council of __________


Ordinance No. _______


An Ordinance Providing for Additional Mechanisms to Support

the Implementation of Social Protection Programs and Services

of the Government for Senior Citizens/Older Persons


WHEREAS, there is a regular 5-year Philippine Plan of Action for Senior Citizens (PPASC) developed and promulgated in compliance with our commitments under the Macau Regional Plan of Action, the Madrid Programme of Action, and the Shanghai Implementation Strategy where there are seven (7) major areas of concern, including health and nutrition as well as financial security of older persons;

WHEREAS, Republic Act No. 9994, otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 seeks to address the needs of the elderly sector and provide social protection to Filipino older persons through various government assistance;

WHEREAS, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently directed through its Regional Framework on Ageing and Health that different Western Pacific States should look into their healthcare systems and develop responsive interventions for ageing and health;

WHEREAS, under RA 9994, the Social Pension Program and Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage for senior citizens are two (2) of the most important and availed of benefits by Filipino older persons;

WHEREAS, while the National Government Agencies (NGAs) and Local Government Units (LGUs) are the primary duty-bearers in ensuring the efficient and effective implementation of the programs, there is a need for additional human resources and support mechanisms to assist the current operations and staffing contingent;

WHEREAS, one of the greatest assets of the Filipino elderly sector is its organized communities of senior citizens under various federations, associations, and other civil society groups, able and willing to work for the interests and welfare of their fellow older persons;



SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE – This Ordinance shall be known and cited as the “Support Mechanisms for Social Protection Programs for the Elderly”.

SECTION 2. DECLARATION OF POLICY – The Philippine Constitution mandates that the State shall promote a rising standard of living and an improved quality of life, and at the same time prioritize the needs of the underprivileged, such as the elderly.

Republic Act No. 9994 also states that it aims to give full support to the improvement of the total well-being of the elderly and their full participation in society.

SECTION 3. OBJECTIVES – Towards this end, this Ordinance seeks to:

  1. Recognize the importance of supporting social protection programs for the elderly and ensuring their efficient and effective implementation by providing all necessary assistance and resources;
  2. Enjoin senior citizens organizations and other civil society groups who are willing and able to assist in the implementation of the Social Pension Program and mandatory PhilHealth coverage;
  3. Formalize specific institutional arrangements at the local or community level which have been effective mechanisms in reaching out to the target beneficiaries;
  4. Promote transparency and accountability in the efficient implementation of social protection programs;
  5. Ensure accessible and equitable availment of resources and benefits under government programs.

SECTION 4. DEFINITION OF TERMS – For the purpose of this ordinance, the following terms shall be defined as:

  1. Senior Citizen – A Filipino citizen and resident who is at least sixty (60) years old or older, who may be entitled to rights and benefits under RA 9994, including social pension and mandatory Philhealth coverage; It may be used interchangeably with elderly and/or older persons.
  2. Social Pension – The monthly stipend of P500 granted to indigent senior citizens who are sick, frail, disabled, without any pension benefits, no permanent or regular source of income, nor receiving any financial assistance from family or relatives to support his/her basic needs;
  3. Mandatory Philhealth Coverage – The healthcare coverage granted to all senior citizens under RA 9994 and its amendment RA 10645, regardless of economic status to ensure that healthcare is accessible and available to all Filipino elderly;
  4. Senior Citizens Organizations (SCO) – A collective of local senior citizens organized officially as a federation, association, or People’s Organization (PO) with registration at the Securities and Exchange Commission or as an affiliate, and/or with LGU registration;
  5. Civil Society Organizations (CSO) – A general term for all private sector groups catering to specific underprivileged or marginalized populations, which are not from the business or industry sector;
  6. OSCA Head – The Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) Head is a senior citizen from one of the legitimate local senior citizens groups nominated and duly appointed to be primarily responsible for ensuring that senior citizens in their locality enjoy all their rights and privileges under the law;
  7. C/MSWDO – The local social welfare and development officer (LSWDO) lodged with the city or municipality level who works closely with OSCA Heads in implementing elderly programs and services;
  8. Regional Social Pension Unit (RSPU) – The social pension unit lodged with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional/Field Office responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Social Pension Program with the LGUs.

SECTION 5. ADDITIONAL MANPOWER – To ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the programs, and to address the difficulty of having limited human resources, the LGU shall:

  1. Activate and authorize all available barangay workers (i.e., barangay health worker, Day Care worker) to assist in the verification and validation of potential elderly beneficiaries;
  2. Encourage and recognize senior citizens organizations or civil society groups (i.e., church/parish organizations, sectoral or human rights NGOs) who are willing to assist in the identification and referral of potential beneficiaries;
  3. Maximize linkages and interface with existing local councils or committees organized by the LGU like the Gender and Development (GAD) Focal, Violence against Women and Children (VAWC) Desk, or Barangay Human Rights Action Center (BHRAC) who may also have some referrals

SECTION 6. CONSTITUTION OF SUPPORT MECHANISMS – The Mayor, upon the recommendation and initiative of the OSCA Head and C/MSWDO or senior citizens groups, may authorize the constitution of additional committees such as but not limited to initial screening/verification committees, local grievance machinery, senior citizens task force, etc. to assist and provide administrative support in the implementation of the programs.

SECTION 7. DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF STAKEHOLDERS – The following shall be the authorized acts of the above-mentioned stakeholders:

  1. Senior Citizens organizations and other civil society groups may refer potential beneficiaries from their own Membership Rolls who they believe are qualified under the programs. They may also assist in verifying the eligibility of the target beneficiaries based on the requirements stated in the guidelines and the standard General Intake Sheet/Registration Form. SCOs and CSOs may likewise conduct their own independent advocacy activities to create awareness about the program. However, they are not in a position to use their discretion and outrightly reject any application, and must forward all applications for final assessment by the OSCA Head and C/MSWDO.
  2. Barangay Workers such as barangay health workers and Day Care workers, if it will not conflict with their regular duties, may be requested and authorized to assist in the verification of potential beneficiaries based on the requirements stated in the guidelines and the standard General Intake Sheet (GIS)/Registration Form. They are not in the discretionary position to reject any application and must forward all applications for final assessment of the C/MSWDO and OSCA Head.
  3. The OSCA Head and C/MSWDO must ensure that all applications are registered in their LGU database, so that potential beneficiaries are able to access all available resources and programs they are entitled to besides social pension and PhilHealth. Granted the authority to conduct They are the only ones who are empowered to use their discretion in accepting or rejecting any applications, and must duly notify in writing the applicants of their decision of whether or not they are to be included in the “masterlist” to be transmitted to DSWD for possible funding and inclusion in the Social Pension program. As for PhilHealth coverage, upon request of authorized PhilHealth officials, they may share their database or record of Senior Citizens ID card issuances to facilitate registration and inclusion in the PhilHealth database.
  4. The DSWD, through its Field Office – Regional Social Pension Unit (RSPU) shall conduct regular advocacy, orientations and briefings on the above-mentioned programs with the LGUs to raise awareness and propagate correct information to the public, and more importantly to train and capacitate other stakeholders willing to assist.

SECTION 8. COORDINATION WITH THE LOCAL CIVIL REGISTRAR – To further facilitate the efficient implementation of the programs, the OSCA and C/MSWDO may regularly coordinate with the Local Civil Registrar on the following:

  1. To facilitate the issuance of a (Late Registration) Birth Certificate for senior citizens without any documentation which can be used as basis for the issuance of a Senior Citizens ID;
  2. To waive necessary fees for copies of other relevant documentation like marriage certificates or their children’s birth certificates as additional documents to prove the age and identity of a senior citizen for the issuance of a Senior Citizens ID;
  3. To submit to the OSCA a list of recently deceased senior citizens based on the Death Certificates registered with them;

SECTION 9. RELEVANT RULES AND GUIDELINES – This ordinance shall be enforced according to and only in compatibility with the existing Social Pension and PhilHealth guidelines and issuances. Any conflict or confusion shall be resolved in favor of the latter program guidelines which shall prevail.

SECTION 10. APPROPRIATION – To sustain the noble objectives of this ordinance, the initial amount of ________________is hereby allocated to be charged against the administrative funds implementing these programs.

SECTION 11. SEPARABILITY – If any provision or part hereof shall be held invalid, the remaining provisions of this ordinance shall remain valid and subsisting.

SECTION 12. EFFECTIVITY – This ordinance shall take effect immediately upon approval.



Travelling Smart: My 10 Tripping Tips

I love travelling and going on trips – whether they are just short daytrips or long-winded, extended ones. I especially love impromptu, spur-of-the-moment travelling because I need an occasional change of scenery and change of pace, either because I am bored or getting too stressed out in the office. Personally, I think travelling clears my head, making my brain feel so refreshed after. On those long bus rides with landscapes flashing by, I get to daydream, reflect on things, and plan out my daily living. Sometimes, after simply napping during 2-3 hour flights, I end up with a sharper mind. Indeed, I find that long drives and plane rides give me the best quality sleep sometimes. So yes, I travel for both my mental and physical health.

But I am also a staunch believer that there is real value in learning from actual experiences. Visiting new places teaches you many things – from local history and regional dialects, unique cultural heritage of its people, as well as interesting cuisine. And as a writer, I believe there is a story somewhere in each trip. As my creative writing professors said, in each travelogue, there is an external journey and an internal one. I always come back from each trip a changed person.

But I have a few tips for travelling smart. Let me share with you ten rules I travel by:

1.Work hard, Play hard – Whoever said you can’t mix business with pleasure especially when it comes to trips? Travelling for work is unavoidable, if not inevitable. This fact I have come to accept after decades of travelling for work as a regular Resource Speaker and attending various conferences/trainings abroad for my various advocacies. To make being away from your family for days on end a bit more endurable, try to make your official, business trips more enjoyable by taking time out from your busy schedule to just “see the sites”.

Don’t worry because it’s a practice for activity organizers/sponsors to always include in the programme a “free day”.  For Filipino hosts, an expression of true hospitality is showing you around local tourist spots they are particularly proud of – from museums, ancestral homes, and heritage sites, to natural wonders or even small-town factories and workshops producing delicacies and souvenir items.

The big advantage here is that you actually save on travel costs since your office/conference sponsor already covered your transportation and accommodation expenses. I used to say I am not just a “smart” traveler, I am a typically “cheap” one. All those people who got so jealous of my trips abroad couldn’t believe that, except for my college graduation gift of a Hong Kong-Macau-Bangkok tour, each one that followed after was duly applied for or “by invitation” only. As such, my trips abroad were either organization-sponsored or awarded scholarship grants.

2.Go Off-Season – Notice how ticket prices and hotel rates always go up during holidays and summer breaks because that’s when everyone goes on vacation. Tourist “peak season” also brings crowded beaches, long queues at terminals, and heavy traffic. So travel every chance you get, take advantage of long weekends, and especially during off-season. Set aside your accumulated leaves and rest days and go when the crowds are gone.

The best part of this strategy is that you get the best deals with plane tickets and hotel accommodations. There are big discounts and upgrades to be had for plane fare and even on lodgings. You can also enjoy hotel facilities all to yourself on these dates.

3.Stick to the Basics – Decide on what’s your bare minimum on accommodation requirements because you can get reasonable lodgings for less cost. Mine simply include airconditioning, a comfortable bed, and cable TV. Hot showers and wifi access are actually negotiable for me depending on the purpose of my trip. If I am going to be out site-seeing or shopping the whole day, when I get back, all I need is a shower and a place to sleep. These basic amenities make for cheaper accommodations, and they are usually not very spacious rooms. But who needs the space if you’re just going to spend a maximum of 6-8 hours a day there for sleeping, quick showers and changing clothes. So instead of 3-4 star hotels or exclusive resorts, try bed and breakfasts, pensionne inns, or even motels.

When I am abroad, like Bangkok, Thailand or Singapore, I even don’t mind staying at Red Light District hotels. They are so much cheaper, are accessible by numerous forms of transport, and are surrounded by all-day restaurants and 24/7 groceries. Apparently, having people walking around at all hours of the day sometimes makes for a much safer environment.

But when push-comes-to-shove and you find yourself in an area without any commercial lodging or restaurant facilities around, always settle for the most important things like a safe place to sleep and decent bathroom plumbing. Clean toilets with sufficient water are non-negotiables for me.

Some exciting destinations only have “home stays”, or actual residences of locals which offer travelers basic lodgings and meals in exchange for a small fee. This living arrangement makes for a perfect opportunity for some genuine interaction with the locals and a truly unique “immersion” experience when it comes to food.

4.Make a beeline, Follow the Leader – Speaking of eating and interacting with local folk, pay attention to where the locals go to eat. Those long queues prove that is where the best tasting food is to be found. And this is a strategy that works especially when you can’t speak the local dialect and not many locals understand English.

On our first night in Beijing, my fellow conference participants and I went to an upper-class Chinese restaurant hoping they’d have English-translated menus. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and none of the waiters and waitresses spoke English. Since the cooked sauce-covered dishes are virtually unrecognizable as either beef, pork, chicken, or fish-based viands, we were reduced to playing charades and resorting to modified “sign language”. One of us was vegetarian and made a slithering motion with his hands, meaning “fish”. We quickly reminded him to be careful because what he was gesturing seemed a lot like “snake” and they do serve snake dishes in China.

The next day, we went straight for the “street food” being enjoyed by the hotel staff outside during their breaks. We saw scrambled egg-based, crepe-looking patties cooked in front of you from just a food cart. This was followed by a beeline we made to a street-corner food shop selling assorted “finger-foods” like grilled meatballs, sausage/cold cuts, and crispy mushrooms, They were quite tasty, but virtually unrecognizable from the rumored cardboard box or human fetuses being circulated in media as Chinese food staples.

But not all epicurean experiences are horror stories; some can be really novel and interesting. In Camiguin island while visiting the famed white sandbar, I got to eat fresh sea urchin for breakfast. Freshly caught and costing only about P15 each, the fisherman chops off the spines before breaking it open to scrape the precious meat inside. In Palawan, every visitor has to sample at least one crocodile meat-based viand. I tried the adobo and sisig versions and discovered that while the meat was fibrous like chicken, there was a fishy after-taste.

Try to stay away from the popular fast food restaurants you see at home; you can eat that kind of food anytime when you get back. In a new place, always try their local fare and get a taste of their favorite cuisine especially those dishes they are quite known for. It is an experience that is not to be missed because eating local cuisine completes the travel experience for you. It already shows you the unique character of the place – a signature type of cooking for an endemic fruit or vegetable, and even some foreign influences which result in a fusion of sorts.

So, unless the place is known to have incredibly unhygienic food preparations, try to be more adventurous and tickle your palate with unfamiliar tastes.

However, I always resort to bottled water though wherever I go, just to be on the “safe” side. And if that’s not available, I make sure a bottle of Coke is on-hand. Coke serves a “preventive” purpose against food allergies, contamination or infection, as well as an emergency remedy and corrective measure when I do get unlucky and get a sudden case of stomach flu.

5.Avoid Tour packages – While it is quite tempting to take advantage of tour packages promising big discounts and tour guides, be warned that this is usually attended by a hectic schedule of traveltime and frenetic site-seeing. You end up rushing from place to place without any time to enjoy the sites and take as many photos as you want. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) trips are far better sometimes because you can design and follow your own itinerary.

If the place is notorious for safety and security issues, better to have a local tour guide with you.  Note that a local tour guide is also a necessity when you can’t speak the language or dialect of the place. Otherwise, DIY tours is the way to go, since they are so much more fun.

6. Try Local Transport – Besides the local cuisine, another “must-see” and “to-do” on your list should be the locality’s popular mode of transport. While getting to the place usually entails plane, boat, or bus rides, once you arrive, you need to familiarize yourself with local transport to be able to get around. Abroad, you have no choice but to learn the train, bus, and cable car routes. Here in the Philippines, our unique brand of hospitality plus explicit directives from respective local government units compels local drivers to be friendly and helpful. Local drivers not only provide you a vehicle, they can also double as tour guides especially if they are proud natives of the locality.

During my visit to the Camotes islands a few years back, I literally got to travel by air, sea, and land. I got to ride a plane from Manila to Cebu, an ordinary wooden passenger boat instead of a hydrofoil ferry from Cebu City to Camotes, a habal-habal (shotgun on a motorcycle) across the main island of Poro, and finally, a small motorized banca to the farthest Camotes island – Pilar. Going back, I took the other route via Ormoc, since Pilar island is closer to Leyte already instead of Cebu. As such, I got to experience for myself how people actually get to-and-from Camotes island.

In Puerto Princesa, Tuguegarao and Naga cities, I tried their tricycles to go site-seeing. It was in these locations that I noticed that each place has a trademark design for their tricycles, another unique feature of each place. Fronts of Puerto Princesa sidecars are elaborately decorated to look like cars, complete with insignias, while trikes in Tuguegarao are higher and significantly more spacious than those found in Manila.

Up North, kalesas (horse-drawn carriages) are still quite popular as a mode of transport, but they also quite differ. Vigan’s kalesas are quite high, with large metal wheels like karuwahes, and a bit classy with its strong Spanish influences. Meanwhile, Tuguegarao’s wooden kalesas are much smaller and simpler, with wheels still made of hard wood.

7. Learn Myths, Legends and Folk Tales – While interacting with locals is a key to getting to know the place, realize that tourist spots and popular cuisine are not the only topic you can discuss. Ask about their local myths and legends; these are usually attached to their local mountain range, or the river or lake running across their locality, or simply how the place got its name.

Visiting Ilocandia during my childhood, my parents used to regale us with stories of the giant, Ang-galo and his giantess-wife. They say up the mountains in Sta. Maria where a popular waterfall is found, a big hole in the shape of a human foot is said to be Ang-galo’s footprint. Meanwhile, along the Ilocos coast near Narvacan, there is a place called Suso Beach, because the mountains form the shape of a sleeping giantess with her breasts pointing up to the skies. Years later, while visiting the volcanic island of Camiguin, an oldtimer relayed to us stories of his ancestors. Fisherfolk used to all go back to the mainland of Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental when darkness falls. While those few who remain on the island shut their windows and doors completely because small, red men with horns and tails are said to climb out of the volcanoes at night.

8. When in Rome, do as the Romans do – The traditional protocol for travelers – always remember that you are merely a visitor and the locals own the place, so you must respect their way of life there. Be conscious of their practices and be careful not to offend their sensibilities.

For example, Filipinos love to whistle and make “sitsit” to call one’s attention. Such catcalling is impolite in some cultures. We also love to make hand gestures like making a rectangle with our fingers to ask for the bill after eating, but some places prefer to spell it out for them and ask, “check please”. Even sitting down has certain nuances – in some Asian cultures, it is rude to sit cross-legged, or to do the de-kwarto and point your foot towards them. There are also eating customs such as the Chinese belief that it is not right to turn a fish once one side is consumed. This comes from their belief that it is unlucky for one who will be crossing a bridge home, so someone who isn’t travelling across water is the only one who can turn the fish. Meanwhile, some Westerners are “touchy-feely”, they can get all kissy-kissy (both cheeks even), and just love to hug. But Asians like their personal space and will simply nod, bow or smile. For most Asians, someone touching the top of our heads is a big No-No. When addressing someone older, we have generic terms to show respect even if we don’t know them personally. These are small, simple things but which one must pay attention to.

9. Find Best-Buys – The proof of our travels is usually based on our souvenirs – whether they are Tshirts, ref magnets, or key chains. For Filipinos, we have a tradition of bringing goods from home to our Filipino Hosts abroad as a way of thanking them for their hospitality especially if we’re crashing at their place. On the way home, we must also bring something back, so our pasalubong-shopping is a serious matter.

So, don’t fall for tourist traps and their over-priced souvenirs. Find out what the best-buys are and source them out with help from the locals. I have discovered that the wet markets and SM supermarkets have the cheaper food stuffs – from standard dried fish, fruits, breads and biscuits, you can get a better price at these stores.

In Cebu, find out where Taboan is. In Ilocos, check out Vigan market. In Davao, try Aldevinco for those gorgeous batik cloths and ornamental accessories, or go to Magsaysay for the freshest durian, mangosteen, and pomelo.

10. Get that Body Ready – Most trips can be physically taxing from the number of hours of travel time, to change of vehicles, or connecting flights. So you must psychologically and physically prepare yourself. If you know that there will be a lot of trekking, hiking, and climbing to be done on your trip, better get in shape long before your trip. It may be a good idea to start hitting the gym again and stretch out those muscles lest you strain yourself during your travel. Remember, there is always a bit of physical effort to be exerted – from merely lugging your own excess baggage to those long souvenir-shopping and site-seeing walks.

So there it is – now go off and see the world.