So, if you're a senior, you are taken seriously. Very seriously. Many balikbayans who have been to the Philippines can't help but notice how the elderly (and yes, people with disabilities) have the respect and recognition they so deserve.
You have priority in a taxi line, premium seats in buses and jeepneys, designated windows for government and private service transactions, special crosswalks in streets and thoroughfares, and much, much more.
Anyone who has reached the age of 60 is entitled to obtain a senior citizen card -- free of charge -- which is the gateway to a host of benefits and privileges.
A senior card automatically entitles the bearer to up to 20 percent discount on essential goods and services -- from groceries and medicines to food and transport services. One also gets free admission to movie theaters on certain days of the week.
Specifically, these are the perks of having a senior card, as laid out in Republic Act NO. 9994:
20% discount in purchase of unbranded generic medicines
20% discount in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants, recreation centers, etc.
20% discount in theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, etc.
20% discount in fare and domestic air, sea travel and public land transportation
20% discount in funeral parlors and similar establishments
20% discount on medical and dental services, diagnostic and laboratory fees in government and private facilities
20% discount on professional fees for medical and dental services in private hospital facilities
Free medical and dental, diagnostic and laboratory services and professional fees, service ward and 20% discount in pay ward of government health facilities
5% discount on basic necessities and prime commodities
Thanks to a Philippine law, RA 10645, senior citizens are automatically covered under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), without having to spend a single centavo in premium payments.
If you happen to be an indigent senior, you will be surprised to see your hospital bill at zero balance under PhilHealth's “No Balance Billing” policy (NBB). The policy mandates that no other charges or fees will be charged the indigent patient over and above the normal coverage package for health care or hospitalization.
As many seniors often deal with age-related cataract, yet another policy offers free surgery at government hospitals. If the patient chooses to avail of the services of private hospitals, he or she gets a credit of P16,000 per eye.
Many establishments and local governments go beyond the provisions of law.
In some supermarkets, not only are there designated cashier lanes for seniors, but benches are even provided for their use while awaiting their turn for checkout.
In Dagupan City, there is even a public park -- complete with exercise equipment -- for exclusive use by senior citizens.
In Makati City, seniors not only get a free birthday cake, but also an annual cash gift. (http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/02/16/cash-gift-for-makati-seniors/)
So, whether you are a senior who has lived all your life in the Philippines, or an expatriate (dual citizen) who decides to retire in the country, expect to be pampered on a daily basis.
And if you're lucky to reach your 100th birthday, the government will give you a hefty gift of P100,000.
Rene Astudillo is a writer, book author and blogger and has recently retired from more than two decades of nonprofit community work in the Bay Area. He spends his time between California and the Philippines.
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