FOR THE ELDERLY. News and Information Bureau (NIB) assistant director Lee Ann Pattugalan leads the distribution of goods donated by NIB personnel during their outreach program at the Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderly and other Special Cases (GRACES) in Quezon City on Thursday (Oct. 6, 2022). GRACES envisions providing a friendly and home-like atmosphere to vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalized senior citizens. (PNA photo by Rico H. Borja)

MANILA – During crucial times in life, home brings warmth. Finding the proper care, especially for the elderly, is essential in ensuring that they live in comfort.

For some senior citizens, state-run Golden Reception and Action Center for Elderly and other Special Cases (GRACES), formerly known as Golden Acres Home for the Aged, is home.

Some of them took time to express their gratitude for a variety of reasons.

George Morante, 76, said the facility provides everything that they need. Here, senior citizens find emotional stability, peace of mind, knowing that they are accepted, protected, and well-cared for and provided with quality services. The facility provides the companionship they need especially at this point in their lives.

“Andito naman lahat, dito libre kami. Lahat, ‘yung mga damit namin… kung anong kailangan mo rito. Ayos naman sila (elders) rito. Mababait naman, parang magkakapatid na kami rito, sama sama na kami dito. Tinutulungan nila kami rito. ‘Yung mga ‘di namin alam, sinasabi nila. Meron kami minsang talakayan… ‘yung mga nasa loob mo, sasabihin mo (Everything is free. Our clothes, everything we need is here. They are all nice and we treat each other as siblings and discuss what’s in our mind and heart),” he said.

GRACES is a residential care facility managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development - National Capital Region (DSWD-NCR) that provides temporary shelter, programs and services to senior citizens who are indigent, abandoned, neglected, lost and unattached who are in need of special protection.

George said that in his early years, he used to own a club before he was transferred to GRACES. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed his business, losing everything he had. He realized that he had nowhere to go home and started to sleep at the Chinese Temple in Harrison Plaza.

Josefina Rigoti, 89, said she has been staying in GRACES for four years already. She shared that she was confined at the Philippine Heart Center for more than two months but being extremely sick, her nephews and nieces didn’t want to take care for her.

“Noong nasa ospital ako, yung pension ko, sila ang kumukuha for 3 months. Nang pumunta ako rito, wala akong pera kahit isa (When I was at the hospital, it’s them who would take my pension for three months. When I arrived here, I had no money),” Josefina said.

Virginia Daniles, center head of GRACES said the elders arrive in their facility through walk-ins, reach-out cases or are referred by concerned local government units.

They have funds for the residents’ medication, other basic needs, and even activities for leisure such as exercises and prayer meetings to reconnect with their spiritual beliefs.

They also offer different psycho-social interventions for the elders.

Aside from the fun activities they share, the residents in the facility also told us that they have their own council; and the committee consists of ambulatory elders such as George.

On Thursday, the News and Information Bureau (NIB) under the Office of the Press Secretary, distributed gifts to the shelter and residents as part of its annual outreach program.

The donation included basic necessities from the elders’ wish list, such as home appliances and essentials needed to follow pandemic protocols.

Lee Ann Pattugalan, Director III of NIB said the donation drive aimed to check on the welfare of the abandoned and neglected elderly and give them the love and care they deserve.

“Yung ginawa ni (former) First Lady Imelda Marcos na Golden Acres ay nagkakalinga sa mga ating mga matatanda na wala ng ibang mapupuntahan kung ‘di dito. Dito kumpleto rin, ‘yung mga may sakit, may infirmary agency ‘yan, may doktor and nurse rin na talagang nakatutok din sa kanila kaya hindi sila napapabayaan dito. Pati pagkain at ibang pangangailangan din nila (Golden Acres, established by former First Lady Imelda Marcos, provides care for the elderly who have nowhere to go. They get quality care here. There’s an infirmary, doctors, nurses),” she said.

“Natutuwa ako sa mga istorya nila. Kahit sila’y matatanda na at ‘yung mga walang pamilya, ‘may dignidad pa rin sila. Huwag silang mawalan ng pag-asa, kahit na wala silang pamilya, nandito pa rin ang pamahalaan, sa pangunguna ni President Ferdinand Marcos na magkakalinga sa kanila (It’s good to know their stories. Though they are elders without families, they have dignity. They should not lose hope. The government is here to help them, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos is here to care for them),” she added.

During the program, Resty Reyes, 67, dedicated songs for NIB.

Resty said that he was rescued by the personnel from GRACES not too long ago. He also shares his love and talent for singing with the elders.

“Dati po akong kumakanta sa amateur kapag may piyesta po…dumadayo kami. Bale lima kami. Halimbawa po isa lang po ‘yung nanalo, hahatiin po namin pareho. Nakahiligan ko na po ‘yan. Mula kabataan po kumakanta na ako (I used to sing in amateur singing contests. My group also used to share the prize with each other. I really like singing. From youth, I have been performing),” he added.

George, Josefina, and Resty, expressed their appreciation to the NIB for the donation and gifts.

“Maraming maraming salamat po sa suporta ng News and Information Bureau, 'yung inyo pong ibinahagi na biyaya para sa ating mga lolo't lola, napakalaking tulong po 'nun, considering na government agency din po kami, ‘yung suporta niyo po is add-on sa regular nating supply (Thank you for the support of the News and Information Bureau. We are also a government agency but your donation is a great help for us, an add-on to our regular supply),” Daniles said.

Blood donation for the elders

In celebration of Filipino Elderly Week from October 1-7, GRACES calls for volunteers who can donate to the elders in their community.

In partnership with an organization, GRACES will also be conducting a bloodletting activity on Oct. 7 at their facility.

GRACES is located along Misamis Extension St., Bago Bantay, Quezon City beside SM North Edsa. For donations, they may be contacted through landline number (02) 929-1187 and mobile number 09323422654. (Irish Marie Caidoy and Anne Lorraine Bustamante/PNA)