Model elderly who serve | Inquirer Opinion
Human Face

Model elderly who serve

/ 05:06 AM November 05, 2020

After reading the scathing Inquirer editorial last Sunday (“Officials behaving badly,” 11/1/20) and gnashing one’s teeth in dismay at the series of bad behaviors displayed and bad words uttered by government officials these past days against their targets/victims, I thought I needed a breath of clean air.

But first I must exhale and fling something back to those concerned: Stop and look inside yourselves and find out if something is beginning to rot. Power and fame can make you rot inside and you do not know it.


Now for a breath of clean air. Last Oct. 30, the Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE) recognized the important services of 10 older persons in their communities. Note the preposition “of” in “services of the elderly.”

COSE’s annual Sampung Ulirang Nakatatanda (SUN) or Ten Outstanding Older Persons is on its 29th year. An NGO, COSE “partners with older persons to address their issues on poverty, exclusion, and invisibility. It believes in a society where everybody can get old with dignity.”


The annual SUN Awards is COSE’s “way of recognizing the voluntary services and valuable contributions of the Ten Outstanding Older Persons… to the sector, organization, and or community where they belong.” This year’s theme is “Inspirasyon tungo sa malaya at maunlad na komunidad.”

Here are this year’s 10 honorees:

Zenaida Soriano, 67, of Pinyahan, Quezon City, is the face and voice of women farmers. She is described as feisty, nationalistic, pro-women, and a spring of talent and progressive thinking especially in caring for the earth, family, and community. She is a leader of Rural Women Advocates.

Alfredo Lagumbay, 81, of Hinundayan, Southern Leyte, is a medical “doctor to the barrios” and human rights defender. He founded a community hospital in Southern Leyte. He was suspected by the military as allied with rebels, but he was also suspected by the rebels as a military spy. In the end he proved that he was simply serving everyone.

Josefina Lusoc, 91, of Narra, Palawan, is a known teacher in Tinagong Dagat. She took in students from remote places so they could continue their studies. Since 1997 she has been the president of the Senior Citizens Association of Tinagong Dagat, and through her efforts a senior citizens’ center was built. She served as president of the Coconut Farmers Association for five years.

Virginia Gandia, 71, of Trece Martires, Cavite, was a board member of Damayan ng Maralitang Pilipinong Api, Inc. A known community organizer of the urban poor, she was involved in relocation, disaster management, and issues involving women, the elderly, and the disabled.

Victor Donaire Cunanan, 83, of Tungkalan, Davao City, is a farmer who cares for the environment. He was a volunteer educator and trainer of the Davao City Free Farmers Cooperative and was a leader of the Basic Christian Community in their barangay.


Lily Odi, 71, of Brooke’s Point, Palawan, has been a community leader since her youth. Among her main concerns is the indigenous community of which she is a part. She helped them register with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and be recognized.

Erlinda Concepcion, 71, of Mabolo, Valenzuela City, established Pagibig Kay Jesus Apostolic Team in order to help prisoners. Her group also gave spiritual formation to policemen. She became the president of the senior citizens group of Mabolo in 2012.

Benjamin Palacol, 79, of Burauen, Leyte, organized farmers in his barangay in 1997 so that they could have access to government services. He also organized the senior citizens of the barangay and set up a sampaguita farm which generated income for barangay residents.

Ellen Fortugaleza, 71, of Hinoba-an, Negros Occidental, is a church volunteer who serves the women and the elderly. In 2007 she donated a property for an elementary school and helped farmers acquire farm equipment and machinery. She also donated a property for a church. Distance did not prevent her from soliciting help for those affected by the Taal Volcano eruption in Batangas.

Maximo Rabanal, 69, of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, is a recognized farmer and innovator in the agriculture sector. He shares his expertise in organic farming using the Organic and Integrated Farming System. He adheres to “pro-environment and sustainable reusable energy” in his piggery and teaches others to do the same.

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TAGS: Coalition of Services of the Elderly, COSE, elderly in public service, Human Face, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Ten Outstanding Older Persons
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