Cebu News

Centenarian gets perks, shares secret to long life

SPORT EYE - May B. Miasco - The Freeman
Centenarian gets perks, shares secret to long life
104-year-old Maria Ochia plants and eats her own vegetables, which, she shared, is one of her secrets to living a long life.
May B. Miasco

CEBU, Philippines - Reaching the age of 100 is now rare and also special since perks come together with living longer.

Maria Ochia, who will be turning 105 on November 24, was one of the centenarians honored by the Cebu City government with a P100,000 cash incentive.

On top of that, the Department of Social Welfare and Development-7 will also be giving out P100,000 tax-free cash gift to the centenarians in the region.

At her age, Ochia still has a fit figure and can still work effectively and enjoy leisure activities. Her secret? Simple and healthy lifestyle that includes eating organic farm produce she herself toiled.

In an interview with reporters, the centenarian shared that she oftentimes eats vegetables and fish and shuns away from bad practices, such as smoking.

She also makes her own coffee or "kape nga mais" by using mortar and pestle.

She seldom uses condiments like monosodium glutamate, locally known as "bitsin."

She only takes in food supplements and has not maintained any prescribed medicine.

She can still walk and talk straight, although she admitted to having slight hearing problems and minor muscle pains on her feet.

Ochia hailed from San Remigio town but was forced to move to Cebu City when she was around 50 years old to find better source of income.

She worked as a helper in Sitio Purras, Barangay Sambag 1 to a well-off family who has also been supporting her until now.

She and her husband then built a structure near a bridge along the Guadalupe River that is only a few walks from her employer's house.

The widowed Ochia is now living with her 68-year-old only daughter, Teresita.

Within the property of the family she is serving, she was allowed to plant crops such as malunggay, alugbati (or malabar spinach), and eggplant, among others, bringing with her the life she had in her rural hometown.

Ochia considers every blessing she receives as grace from God.

Since little, she said, she always takes refuge in the Lord for every adversity in life as well as thanks Him for every blessing, such as the cash incentive from the city government.

Flora Bering, the senior citizen focal person of the city's Department of Social Welfare and Services, said the city has been granting cash incentives to centenarians since 2012 after a local ordinance was approved.

In five years, at least 23 centenarians in Cebu City has been given the tax-free cash incentive.

The DSWD field office in Central Visayas has identified over 200 centenarians across the region, as announced yesterday in a radio-live forum dubbed "Kapihan sa PIA" and hosted by the Philippine Information Agency-Cebu Information Center, in cooperation with the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.

One of the panelists, DSWD-7 social welfare officer Artemia Degamo, said that the total registered centenarians in the region are 236, with Cebu province has the most number at 145.

These listed centenarians, including the oldest at 112 years old, may receive the one-time cash gift.

There is no specific date yet though as for the release of the cash benefit.

This is because, Degamo said, the budget has not been downloaded yet since the law supporting the program was enacted just recently, in June.

The law she was referring to is Republic Act 10868 (Centenarians Act of 2016), the act honoring and granting additional benefits and privileges to Filipino centenarians.

Degamo said the regional office requested for funds but is still waiting for feedback from the agency's head office.

While waiting, she said, the closest relative may register their centenarian family member to the Office for Senior Citizens Affair for free.

They only need to bring a supporting document that will attest that the member is at least 100 years old such as birth certificate, marriage certificate, a child's birth certificate or even school or employment records. (FREEMAN)

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