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Modern Ageing: Elders in compassionate, collective action for inclusive development 

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TOFESCO members Atty. Aida Laruda and Dalila Villlegas claiming their triumph as one of the awardees for 4th National Bayani Ka! Award on Elderly sub-category.

The active members of TOFESCO waving in front of Day Center for Senior Citizens implemented under Kalahi CIDSS.. (From left to right) Purisima Ocana, Felicidad Encina, Atty. Aida Laruda, Dalila Villegas and Fe Tecson.

Elders have been ticketed with negative stereotypes as ‘grouchy’ members of the society and incapable to be initiators of change. But in Tolosa, Leyte, this typecast has been endeavored to be redefined by the Tolosa Federation of Senior Citizens’ Organizations (TOFESCO). It is a federation of active senior citizens whose passion for development work goes beyond Kalahi CIDSS.

TOFESCO was organized in April 2014, with the help of Coalition of Services of Elderly Inc. and DSWD. TOFOSO is a municipal federation of   Citizens’ organizations whose members come from the Older People Organizations (OPOs) coming from the 15 barangays of Tolosa. Their selfless services extend  to getting involved with Kalahi CIDSS as most of their members are Kalahi CIDSS Community Volunteers.

Lawyer Aida Laruda, the President of the federation and members Fe Tecson, Felicidad Encina, Purisima Ocana and Dalila Villegas are only few of those who build a way for senior citizens to move into leadership roles and initiators of change.

One successful KALAHI CIDSS sub-project they have implemented is the Rehabilitation of Day Center for Senior Citizens in Brgy. Poblacion,  with a fund of Php.500,000.  Up to this date, the center serves as hatch of TOFESCO members to exchange insights and plans about activities that can expand the well-being of senior citizens in their locality.

Municipality of Tolosa had implemented 95 sub-projects under Kalahi CIDSS Bottom Up Budgeting, Livelihood & Enterprises and National Community-Driven Development Program.

Shared vision for empowerment and inclusiveness

TOFESCO members perceive significant common objectives of Kalahi CIDSS program and their organization.  As Laruda said, “ We believe so much in Community Empowerment. We believe that Kalahi CIDSS empowers marginalized sectors, making them active partners through development process.”

Laruda added, “Kalahi CIDSS enhances good practices of our organization in terms of promotion of transparency and empowerment.” She underscored how they apply collective decision – making in their organization. She added, “Everybody is contributing to the positive outcome of planned activities. We also institutionalize regular meetings for transparency.”

She shared their idea of empowerment;  TOFESCO is assertive to make the senior citizens in their locality empowered about their rights and benefits through governments’ programs and initiatives. For example, they entail in their usual meetings how the senior citizens can avail social pension from DSWD. They hope to achieve Older People empowerment, valuing mutual support and assistance.

The members invested time and resources to educate other elders who are most in need of attention. On the one hand, Villegas asserted, “ Malipayon kami na nakakahatag kami hin knowledge sa iba.” [We are happy that we can impart knowledge to others.]

Unleashing and inspiring broad change through compassionate, collective action

Another member, Tacson,  is appreciative of the rehabilitation of Day Center for Senior Citizens. The Day Center is not a mere physical structure but it is an avenue to plan out activities of how the federation can reach and serve more senior citizens.

For example, the TOFESCO initiated home care visitations for elders in their locality every week. The federation went to the houses of elders to know their living situations and think of ways to help them. They did it to show their compassion towards them. As of this writing, this initiative of TOFESCO stopped due to budgetary constraints but they plan to revive and institutionalize it in their organization within this year 2018.

President Laruda added that the learnings they have as Kalahi CIDSS Community Volunteers heightened what they have and do now in federation. They believe that the harmonized voice of elders is powerful to grasp broader change. They encourage other senior citizens to join the federation or any ways to advance compassionate, collective action in the community which is what the CDD (pls. spell out first)  pushes through.

TOFESCO shows compassion towards the welfare of elders thru initiatives, including the Social Welfare Support, through the organizations’ mutual aid fund.  Members from OPO voluntarily contributed Php 5.00 per month. When a contributing member dies, the contribution will serve as an assistance to the deceased family.

Each of the Older People Organization has its own livelihood program through CMED which is annually assessed by TOFESCO through their year-end PRA and a Healthy Ageing Program.  The latter comes as a Physical Fitness Exercise in the form of plain walking in the plaza and along the seashore, and Zumba,

Merit for advancing compassionate and collective action

TOFESCO has a heart for service and empowerment of the marginalized sectors which is what the DSWD exemplifies. It only shows that elders are resources for development, most especially if they act in synergy.

For their exemplary contribution to push for compassionate and collective action in community and to be of the service to disadvantaged sectors, TOFESCO is the 4th National Bayani Ka! Awardee on the subcategory of Elderly amongst 11 other awardees from different regions.

 Bayani Ka! Awards is an annual and highest recognition by DSWD Kalahi CIDSS  to communities and partner LGUs that are engaged in DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS and whose efforts significantly contributed to advancing Sama-samang Pagkilos Nang May Malasakit or compassionate, collective action in their respective municipalities.

Kalahi CIDSS redefines roles of elders’ sector

Villegas said that Kalahi CIDSS and the gains of CDD relived her trust in government programs because of the appropriate process and its objective to include marginalized sectors in development activities. She said, “ Mayda mahihimo an mga kalagasan pinaagi han mga programa hit gobyerno kun hatagun la hira hin higayon.”  [Senior Citizens can really do something through the programs of government when they are just given opportunities.]

For Encina, she looked back at her experience as a Procurement team member in the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC). She said that to be a Community Volunteer, age does not matter, and she proved it herself. Volunteerism is finding your strength to contribute in development sphere.  She added, “Volunteering in Kalahi CIDSS and in TOFESCO builds harmonious relationship with others and I am enjoying it.”

In Region VIII, there 12, 577 who are Kalahi CIDSS Community Volunteers and whose collective effort contributes to build a better country.

#DSWDMayMalasakit

article written by Jonna Marie Marquez

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