From birthday cakes to free movies, these five cities prove why growing older is more fun in Metro Manila.
Grandparents’ Day is coming up, which means our elderly loved ones get to have the extra special treatment they deserve. But on top of the greeting cards and dinners out, the best things grandparents who are senior citizens can get are the benefits afforded to them due to their age.
Under the Expanded Senior Citizen’s Act of 2010, all senior citizens carrying the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) card are granted specific benefits such as a 20% discount on purchases and exemption from value-added tax (VAT), income tax exemption, and mandatory PhilHealth coverage. But local governments in Metro Manila are going the extra mile to ensure the comfort and happiness of citizens going through their golden years. Here are some of the great perks our grandparents can get by city.
Makati has always been the envy of other cities in when it comes to senior citizen benefits, and it’s easy to see why: they tend to treat their elderly like royalty. First, they welcome citizens who have recently celebrated their 60th birthday into their Tribe of Senior Citizens through a grand party, which is held every year. When a senior citizen applies for a Makati BLU card, they enjoy perks such as birthday and anniversary cakes, special groceries every December, maintenance medicine, and unlimited free access to movies. The BLU card also guarantees them cash incentives ranging from Php2,000 to Php4,000, depending on their age, and awards their beneficiaries Php3,000 as burial assistance in the event of their passing.
And did you know that turning 60 also gives Makati residents travel benefits? For one, they’re exempted from number coding in Makati, whether they are the driver or passenger of a vehicle. They can also participate in Lakbay Saya leisure tours, which are excursions held within Metro Manila, as well as various provinces in the country (with free food and accommodation!). Under Lakbay Saya, they also get to be audience members in different noontime shows, and they have free access to “Aawitan Kita” concerts every month at the University of Makati theater.
In Quezon City, centenarians receive the biggest perks: when they celebrate their 100th birthday, they get Php10,000 as well as a certificate recognizing their hundredth birthday, a monthly allowance of Php1,000, a cash gift of Php1,000 on every succeeding birthday, and Php1,000 every Christmas.
For senior citizens who aren’t quite at that age yet, they can receive an additional 18% discount on medical and dental services within two weeks of their birthday.
With their OSCA card, they are entitled to free parking in business establishments, and also lets them use pay restrooms for free. They can also watch movies for free, but their access is only limited to two films every Monday and Tuesday, and only from opening until 5 p.m.
A recently approved ordinance also grants senior citizens a new tax break: when they sell their house and lot in Quezon City, they are no longer required to pay transfer tax. That is, if the citizen has been living in the village for 10 years or more, and the benefit can only be availed if the senior citizen can buy or build a new home 18 months after selling their old home.
Physical health appears to be one of the major focuses of Manila when catering to their senior citizens. The city’s OSCA office is in partnership with the National Parks Development Committee—which manages Rizal Park—to develop a garden dedicated to senior citizens within the park. On Thursday mornings, senior citizens head to the park for aerobics, and a round of gateball is held for the elderly who are still physically able to handle the sport.
Another Rizal Park activity happens on Tuesdays, though this one’s less physically exerting. From 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., senior citizens are invited to the park, where they are coached on landscaping and planting vegetables and organic herbs.
At day-care centers within the city called “Timbulan,” senior citizens can stay active by playing parlor games and socializing. During their down time, they can also get haircuts, massages, and general checkups.
Manila senior citizens get some perks similar to those doled out in other cities as well. Senior citizens with OSCA cards can also watch movies for free on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and are invited to join occasional tours to different places in the city. Also, Manila followed the lead of other cities in Metro Manila last year when they began the cash gift program for senior citizens. Under the new ordinance, Manila’s elderly will receive Php300 every year on their birthday.
Like Makati, Pasig also has a special card that gives special privileges to its elderly community members. To start with, senior citizens who avail of the blue card are given a cash gift of Php2,000 every December as a Christmas gift. Birthday celebrations are also made more fun, as seniors receive birthday cakes on their special day as well.
As a form of financial assistance, the local government also provides Pasig’s seniors with free hospitalization, granted they are blue-card holders. Senior citizens are also given free prescribed medication (depending on availability at the hospital’s pharmacy), as well as free anti-pneumonia and anti-flu shots.
For fun, elders can watch free movies at two of Pasig’s malls.
In 2014, Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez amended the “OSCA Cares Program” to include other factors that will benefit the city’s elderly. The Senior Cash Transfer Program will grant them Php500 in cash as a birthday gift, as well as a Php500 year-end cash gift. Seniors celebrating their birthday from January to June will get their cash gift in June, and the rest will receive theirs in December. On the other hand, the year-end cash gift will be doled out every October.
Also, should a senior citizen pass away, a financial grant of Php2,000 will go to their beneficiaries.
Through the “OSCA Cares Program,” senior citizens will also get free laboratory examinations and medical checkups during their birthday months. They are also entitled to free passes to movies within the city.
Last year was also the start of the city’s Outstanding Senior Citizens Achievement Awards, wherein senior citizens with valuable contributions to Parañaque are recognized and are given plaques and gift products.
Sources: gmanetwork.com, untvweb.com, manilatimes.net, mb.com.ph, inquirer.net, pasigcity.gov.ph, paranaque.gov.ph