To be a centenarian or to reach the age of 100 years and beyond is an amazing feat. Even with today’s advancement in science and technology, the prospect of reaching the centenary age still seems slim for the majority of the world’s population.
With the different findings on how to live a longer life, it seems that a best way to learn the secrets of living a long life is to unlock the secrets of a centenarian.
Fingkayen Sabangan Maggay who is currently living in Banawel, Natonin, Mountain Province will be celebrating her 103rd birthday this year. She was born in Balangao, Natonin in the year 1916 when Mountain Province was still under the American rule. She has witnessed the second world war when Japanese forces invaded the country. Hence, her children, grandchildren and the people around her are very lucky to have been a witness to Maggay’s life because her life story somehow exemplified how much can actually happen in a century.
While growing up, she was taken cared of by her paternal relatives because she was orphaned at an early age. She got married at the age of 19 to Bannawe Maggay and they were blessed with three children. Fingkayen has 32 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.
When her husband passed away in 2010, she still preferred to live alone in her house where her children and grandchildren visit her to attend to her needs.
Despite her age, she can still walk a distance and she still has a sharp memory. She can still manage to cook her own food.
Fingkayen has been an active member of the Senior Citizen Organization in their barangay until she was advised by her children to slow down because of her age. At present, she enjoys sitting in her yard especially in the morning just to wait for the sun to rise.
Aside from her longevity, Fingkayen’s health is also unparalleled. According to her second child Rita M. Guinawen (76 years old), for as long as she can remember, her mother was never hospitalized nor have they witnessed her being seriously ill.
Since small-scale farming was their source of livelihood, Fingkayen engaged in rice farming until she was 95 years old. While she was allowed to move around, she was much weaker so her family advised her to stop going to the fields for her own safety.
Fingkayen attributed her long life to eating purely organic fruits and vegetables. For condiments, she uses only salt to enhance the taste of her food. She shunned the use of monosodium glutamate and other seasonings. In addition to her healthy diet, she shared that she preferred to eat organic animals like rice field shells and fish which were then abundant in the land which she tilled.
She also credited her long life to her unwavering faith in the Almighty. Also, Fingkayen shared that being happy and being contented on the things she has in life are contributory factors to her longevity.
“She wanted me to share that ‘Embracing a simple life and being satisfied with it’ is one of her secret to long life as it may have unconsciously kept stress away,” said Maylanie G. Amsia, a Natonin Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office’s staff who have been assisting the Natonin centenarian.
Recently, Fingkayen was honored by the Provincial Government for qualifying as a Provincial Centenarian. She received a cash gift amounting to Php 30,000, a plaque of recognition and a congratulatory resolution from the Provincial Government.
In addition, she also received a cash amounting to Php 100,000 and gifts from the national government in pursuance to Republic Act 10868 or the Centenarians Act of 2016.
Board Member Salvador K. Dalang, Sanguuniang Panlalawigan who is chairperson for the Committee on Women, Senior Citizens, Differently-Abled and Family Relations, expressed high hopes that the proposal to amend the Centenarians Act will push through.
According to Dalang, in 2018, there was a proposal by Atty. Romulo Macalintal, a staunch advocate for the plight of senior citizens and persons with disabilities, to amend the present Centenarians Act.
In his publicized letter to the Senate committees, Macalintal proposed that a senior citizen is to receive the amount of P 30,000 at the age of 80, another P 30, 000 at the age of 90 and then the remaining P 40, 000 shall be given to the senior citizen when he/ she has reached the age of 100. Moreover, he proposed that the amount of P 50, 000 shall also be given to senior citizens every year from 101-year of age onwards.
Per Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office record, Maggay is the third centenarian to be awarded from Natonin and the sixth centenarian-awardee this 2019. 36 centenarians have already been recognized by the Provincial Government since the inception of the program.