TANAY, Rizal, Philippines – Like everybody else, we dream to have a comfortable life in our twilight years.
But due to poverty, there are some old persons who go through this last phase of their lives alone, abandoned by their children and relatives.
The good news is that there are facilities like the Haven for the Elderly that welcome abandoned seniors – ready to provide the love and care they need.
Formerly known as Golden Acres and located in Quezon City, the Haven for Elderly was transferred in 2010 to Barangay Sampaloc in this hilly town and renamed Haven for the Elderly.
In 2013, the center was accredited by the Standards Bureau of the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWD).
Since its transfer, the center has improved its facilities and quality of service.
Aside from the cottages with 300-bed capacity, the Haven for the Elderly has facilities, which include therapy and fitness room, music room, and a recreational room.
Also, the climate-controlled rooms make the elderly feel comfortable during hot or cold weather.
It is an environment-friendly place surrounded with trees and flowers – fostering a serene ambiance.
Usually, the center provides reintegration service when an older person can remember the names and addresses of their families and relatives.
If the families or relatives are just leaving nearby, personnel of the Haven for the Elderly interview them to assess their capabilities in taking care of older persons.
If the family or relatives are living in far areas, the Haven for the Elderly coordinates with the Local Social Welfare Development Office (LSWDO) or DSWD Regional Office for assessment.
At present, mosty of the older persons at the Haven for the Elderly are separated or widowed, but 63-year-old Lola Emma de los Reyes, single, found love for the first time in Lolo Dominador Estrada, 82.
Both admitted that the blossoming relationship started as “friendship.”
“Hindi naman kami nabighani sa una naming pagkikita, wala nga kaming kilig na nararamdaman (It was not love at first sight, and we were not even excited),” Lola Emma and Lolo Dominador both said.
Lolo Dominador then realized that he needed someone to love again, and courted Lola Emma for eight months.
“Hindi naman ako naghahanap ng mapapangasawa, gusto ko lang mayroon akong masasabihan ng aking iniisip at mga plano. Nakaka-miss lang kasi ang mayroon kang taong gustong alagaan (I’m not looking for someone to be my wife, just someone to share some of my thoughts and plans. I miss having a person to care for),” said Lolo Dominador.
Lola Emma narrated that she never had a relationship with men since she grew up in a convent with nuns after her parents died during her early age.
“Hindi ko naman pinili na mag-isa ako sa buhay pero kung ikaw, itinapon ka sa ganitong tadhana, wala ka nang magagawa kung hindi tanggapin ito. Wala talaga akong hilig sa mga lalaki, ang gusto ko lang noon ay makaahon (It wasn’t my choice to be on my own, but when you’re thrown into this situation, then you just have to accept it. I never had any interest in men before, my only goal in life is how to survive),” Lola Emma said.
It was learned that at first, they concealed their relationship because the center does not encourage this kind of interaction.
But because Home for the Elderly head Ricky Bunao views the relationship as more platonic than romantic, he allowed it.
“Whatever their reason, I believe that every human has the need to love and be loved even in your later years. The center allows them for an hour to talk, but not beyond that. We strictly practice some rules, no holding hands or any gesture of affection,” Bunao said.