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Sisters’ Keeper: Senior Citizen worthy of Marble Monument

 

‘My Sister’s Keeper’ is a story of a girl who was conceived to be a savior of her sister, who is suffering acute leukemia, by donating compatible organs, blood, and tissue at her own risks.

In Capaclan Romblon Romblon, there is a heroine comparable to Sister’s Keeper. However, unlike in the movie, she preserves her promise to keep her sisters alive.

As sturdy and pure as a marble, Luisa Maduro Tome serves as the strong foundation and savior of the two elderly— Lourdes Lachica, 83, and Celedonia Mojar Tome, 84 —  who live alone near her home in Brgy. Capaclan, Romblon Romblon .  Even they are not related by blood, she considers them as her true family.

Luisa is their sisters’ keeper.

It may not be organs, blood, and tissue that she has donated, but it is her own life and soul that she has offered and dedicated to Lourdes and Celedonia.

What makes her extraordinary keeper? She is also a senior citizen, with nothing but dignity and purest heart.

Life as thin as stick

Luisa, 77, a widow for 10 years, without children, is a true image of a loving and dedicated sister with a heart like Mother Teresa.  She is altruistic, always others-oriented.

Luisa, Lourdes, and Celedonia are all Social Pension beneficiaries since 2015.

The government’s Social Pension Program (Social Pension) implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development provides a monthly stipend  of P500.00 to indigent senior citizens as mandated by Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 Hardships in life.

According to Luisa, life before Social Pension Program is full of hardships and challenges especially that no one is taking care and supporting her.

“Sobrang hirap po talaga ng buhay ko bago yaan (Social Pension Program). Kasi balo na ako ng 10 taon. Tapos wala rin akong anak. Wala ring mga kapatid na tumutulong sa akin. Ako lang lahat, ako lang bumubuhay at nag-aalaga sa sarili ko. Kahit may sakit ako, ako lang,” narrated Luisa while she tries to pose her sincerest smile behind all pains she had experienced.

She has been pierced with irony of life. Even Romblon is known for Marble, she lives in a Nipa Hut made of light materials, with weak foundation, with no electricity and with no direct source of water. Every time there is typhoon, her heart is covered with fear because of danger posed by strong winds and heavy rainfall.

“Dyaan lang po ako nakatira. Mabilis pong magiba yan. Mag-isa lang po ako kaya nakakatakot talaga kapag bumabagyo.”

 

Luisa doesn’t have a regular source of income. She used to be a ‘walis tingting’ or broomstick vendor.  However, due to her old age, she had difficulty producing broomsticks and peddling it in town.

“Walis tingting lang po ang pinagkakaabalahan ko dati. Kaunti lang po ang kita… Pero hindi na po halos ngayon kasi mahirap na pong maglako sa bayan,” recounted Luisa.
Luisa remains selfless and generous even she had nothing for herself.  She is more concern for the well-being of Lourdes and Celedonia whom she treated as her true sisters.  She always prays for God’s guidance and for her survival — not for her own sake, but for the sake of her sisters so she can continue to take care of them.

Sisters’ Keeper: Sisterhood bonded by heart and soul

“Kahit matanda na po ako. Ako po talaga ang nag-aalaga sa kanila. Wala rin po sa kanilang tumutulong. Kaya gusto ko na lagi akong malakas at hindi magkasakit para mabantayan ko sila,” narrated Luisa as she presses the shoulder of her sisters, showing her unwavering love and support.

Just like Luisa, Lourdes and Celedonia have no one and nothing for themselves. They are also frail and sickly. Lourdes is deaf, mute, and can’t stand on her own while Celedonia has eye problem and has ear impairment.

Luisa, even as senior citizen herself, served as their light and foundation.

“Ako ang tumutulong sa kanila. Kapag may sakit sila, ako ang tumatakbo ng hospital pagkuha ng gamut. Iniigiban ko rin sila ng tubig. Sinasakay ko rin sila sa traysikul kapag pupunta sila sa bayan,” humbly narrated by Luisa.

She is their sisters’ keeper.

She make sure their daily needs are met; she accompanies them in town; she fetches pails of water for them; she takes care of them and buys their medicine every time they are sick.  She does everything to keep her sisters alive.

Social Pension: A program for senior citizens which is sturdy as a marble

Despite all the trials she had encountered in her life, she stays resilient and optimist. She always has a reason to smile and always pray hard for God’s guidance.

Her life becomes even brighter when she became Social Pension Beneficiary last 2015. Luisa is thankful for the regular remittance she receives from DSWD saying that it is a vast help for her to meet her daily needs. She also uses the money to buy her medicines and for the repair of her house.

“Malaking tulong po talaga ang P500.00. Nakabili po ako ng pagkain, ng isda, ng gamut, ng bigas. Nakapagpa-repair din po ako ng bahay. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa inyo at sa Ginoo.”

The priority beneficiaries of the Social Pension are senior citizens who are frail, sickly and disabled, without a regular source of income and/or support from any member of the family, and not receiving other pension benefits from government and private agencies.

As of 2015, there are 7, 575 Social Pension beneficiaries in Romblon province.

Being altruistic, she also helped Lourdes and Celedonia to be Social Pension beneficiaries. She assisted them in processing their requirements and documents. Until now, she serves as their guide in life. Every time there is pay-out in town, she escorts and accompanies them.

“ Tuwing kukuha po ng pera sa bayan. Ako po ang umaalalay sa kanila. Sinasakay ko po sila sa traysikul bilang hindi na nga po sila makalakad ng ayos,” recalled Luisa.

Worthy of monument made of marble, Luisa generously shares her blessings. Her P500.00 per month is not only for her but for the three of them.  Her sisters are more important than her life. She prays that God will extend her life so she can continuously serve Lourdes and Celedonia.

“Sabi ko nga, sana hindi na muna ako kunin ng Ginoo (Panginoon). Dahil iniisip koi tong’ dalawa. Ako lang ang nag-aalaga sa kanila,” said Luisa while she is trying to hold her tears.

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- who has written 130 posts on DSWD Field Office IV Mimaropa Official Website.


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