ONLY one word could aptly describe it: Frustration.
Because suddenly, the supposed money to complete the construction of the social center for the Senior Citizens of Larap is no more – apparently all of the PHP250,000, which Vice-President Jejomar Binay has allotted for this project as early as May this year.
Binay is in charge of a national government office that looks after the welfare of senior citizens across the country.
The sad news, or to be more exact – bad news - was relayed to the Larap seniors: that the 1% allocation from this year’s budget where the funds for the social center project would be sourced has been exhausted. And that new allotment from next year’s budget would be available only during the first quarter of 2013, February to be exact.
Mrs Josepina Francisco, president of the Larap Seniors Citizen Associaiton, apparently, is not interested in the 1% budget allocation for the municipality’s infrastructure project.
She’s after the PHP250,000 that Binay has allocated to complete their social hall.
Last October, the Seniors were told that Mayor Ricarte Padilla – Meyor Dong for short – has approved the release of the Php250,000 and that construction would resume ASAP.
This was confirmed by Larap Kagawad Raul Retona, who is in charge of the program for the Larap Seniors. He had been in contact with the LGU-JP following up the movement of the funds till it is finally released for the purchase of building materials.
But shortly after Meyor Dong came back from a brief errand in the US, he relayed the message (to Mrs Francisco) that the social hall won’t be completed this year as there’s no more money for it.
Where did it go? Was it diverted towards the LGU’s baranggay road concreting program?
Again, Mrs Francisco was told a while ago by the mayor’s office that the money was “hindi pa naibibigay … sa February na lang …”
This is really bad. This is heart-breaking news for the Seniors.
All along, Mrs Francisco was hoping that they would have their own center by the end of this year as funds have been made available for this – courtesy of Binay.
It would be a nice Christmas present for them.
In an interview with MWBuzz early last May, Meyor Dong said that Binay had allocated a total of Php500,000 for the construction/completion of two senior citizens’ social hall – Php2500,000 for Larap and the other half for Nakalaya’s senior citizens social hall project.
Mayor Dong repeated the assurance just last October on the funds’ availability for the completion of the Larap project before the end of 2012.
But this was not to be so.
We need not have to belabor the importance of this infrastructure to the Larap Seniors.
In our previous report, we stressed that this place is the Seniors’ second home, a place where they could be themselves without having to bother about what their own families back home would think about the things they do here.
At the center, they could play cards, mahjong, read komiks, pray, watch TV (if there’s one), smoke or chew their favorite tobacco, chat, dance, sing or simply bum around while making themselves happy, or while getting all the good kicks they could at age 60 or 100.
Mrs Francisco said a place of their own in the likes of a center would solve once and for all the problem of getting a venue for important meetings the seniors have to make. For these days, they have become tired of being a “squatter”.
At the moment, holding such has always been a problem owing to the number of seniors who normally would attend.
And when somebody celebrates her or his birthday, there’s a place that they could have to themselves alone, far from the peering eyes of their mocking, younger counterparts.
There’s no need to stress the fact that a senior would love to be with another senior, talk with him or her about life or maybe go back to the mystery of the birds and bees.
There’s no need to stress the fact that seniors would like to be with another group of seniors and make all the noise they could in celebration of life – the past 60 or 70 years - something that would be frowned upon at home.
They could only do this in a place they can call their own – their own center.
It’s one way to improve their well being despite the difficulties they are now in – financially or otherwise -- and add a few more of healthy years to their lives as they head towards their sunset.
The shell of the incomplete center building, which the Seniors built in a “pa-unti-unti” fashion through their own fundraising activities, has been standing in the elements since 2010.
How could Meyor Dong keep the Seniors hanging?
- A P Hernandez