Gathering of ‘angels’ guarding elder rights Part 1

San Mateo Supervisor David Canepa (holding plaque) commends ALLICE and collaborators for bringing enlightenment and healing to families. From left: ALLICE secretary Rev. Leonard Oakes, SSF Counsil Members Flor Nicolas and Mark Nagales, Daly City Council Member Pam DiGiovanni, Consul Gen. Henry Bensurto Jr., ALLICE 2019 president Elsa Agasid and vice president Allen Capalla and Frances Dinglasan. Photo by EDD PALOMAR
ALLICE with special guests, from left, seated: Paulita Malay, Hon. Pam DiGiovanni, Hon. Flor Nicolas, Hon. Henry Bensurto Jr., Hon. Mark Nagales, Elsa Agasid, Allen Capalla; standing: Dr. Jei Africa, Bettina Santos Yap, Malou Aclan, Frances Dinglasan, Ofie Albrecht, Nan Santiago, Rev. Oakes, and ALLICE founder-executive director Cherie Querol Moreno.

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Family members learned to reinforce healthy behaviors and consider options for interacting with each other, especially with elders, in the 12th annual Our Farmily, Our Future program and resource fair staged May 18 by ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment in collaboration with the Phlippine Consulate General and the Mater Dolorosa Church Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary and Music Ministry.

Mater Dolorosa Knights of Columbus Luis Moreno, Ed Pomposo, Audie Gener, Edd Palomar and Nenar Nicolas at the ready to stage 12th Our Family, Our Future.
Legion of Mary president Bea Pineda with consulate volunteers Maria Antonia van Espen-Boonen and Ethel May Castillo.

San Mateo Supervisor David Canepa presented a resolution honoring the “empowering work” of the collaborators, South San Francisco City Council Member Flor Nicolas keynoted with a personal anecdote about her mother’s courage, SSF City Council Member Mark Nagales and ABC7 News reporter Frances Dinglasan co-emcees, and 25 family resource providers consulted with attendees about their community-based services.

Co-emcees Frances Dinglasan and Mark Nagales present statistics of elder abuse in Mateo County.

In his welcome message, Consul General Henry Bensurto, Jr.  highlighted caring for the elderly both as a moral and constitutional duty.  In her keynote address, Council Member Nicolas defines “angels.” Following excerpts encompass the objective behind the annual celebration of elders:

Carry on traditions

despite global change

By Consul Gen. Henry S. Bensurto Jr.

All of us are duty-bound to know more about available resources and establish linkages with resource providers, to enable us to work together in addressing imminent problems involved in this aspect of our familial relationships. 

To a number of cultures, especially among Asian societies, the family, the basic unit of the society, is essential to having healthy communities. It is held in high regard and for Filipinos, family means the world to us. Our successes and failures, our hopes and dreams, our aspirations and challenges, all seem to start within our homes and our families. We nurture our family in the same vein as it nurtures us. Our family is the root of our growth and development as human beings. It is composed of people who ideally nurture us — from cradle to tomb. Our family is ideally our shield from imminent danger, our recourse when there are a few options to take in every stage of our lives, the inspiration that serve as fuel in realizing our dreams.

The family, however, can also be a source of disenchantment, or worse, a cause of danger and abuse. With our focus for this event on the elderly, caring for them and preventing abuse, it is my fervent hope that we turn our attention to them and give back to them since we all came from our elderly and they have paved the way for us to realize our goals and aspirations.

Aside from children, the elderly is probably the next most vulnerable members of our families. Now past their prime, our elderly is in need of good health care and protection from abuse. As most parts of the world are currently experiencing an increase in the number of ageing population, there is an urgent need to ensure that the rights and welfare of the elderly are upheld.

In the Philippines, almost a decade ago, some 5.6% of more than 100 million Filipinos constitute the elderly. While this is a small number compared to other ageing societies, there is still a need to attend to our elders and give them the respect and care they deserve. We are fortunate that our culture embraces the elderly and they are held in high esteem. Our customary kissing of the hand or “mano” to show respect for the elderly attests to our culture’s affinity for the senior members of our families. Our families are mostly extended families, composed of grandparents among other members.

Under the Philippine Constitution, the family has the duty to care for its elderly members while the State also has to take care of this vulnerable section of the society through social security programs.

We hope to carry on with our traditions in spite of societies’ changing attitudes for the elderly around the globe. At the Philippine Consulate, we try to foster respect for the elderly as we maintain our Courtesy Lane for members of the public who need assistance, including the elderly. Respect for our elders is also the reason why we gather some of our Filipino American senior citizens at the Consulate for the yearly Christmas party or Paskuhan ng mga Seniors. For us, this is a way of honoring our ancestors and caring for the elderly. 

We at the Consulate believe that the elderly and their role as first generation Filipino Americans, is crucial in handing down their knowledge and love for Filipino history, culture and traditions to present generation of Filipinos. This is crucial in realizing the objectives of our Spark*Connect*Empower Movement or the SCE Movement.

The SCE Movement’s aim is to see young Filipino-Americans become the new vanguards of Filipino culture and heritage and of a more united although diverse and empowered Filipino community. They are then able to contribute more to the greater community here in the US and back home in the Philippines.  We believe that to realize this, the first generation must be able to nurture these traditions and serve as mentors to the younger generations.


We are working towards providing Filipino Americans, especially the younger generation, an opportunity to discover their Filipino roots and heritage, through the Spark*Connect*Empower* Movement. We wish to spark interest and eventually, love for the country of their ancestors, among Filipino Americans, or even Filipinos outside the United States who make up the Filipino diaspora around the world.


We are happy that ALLICE Kumares and Kumpares continues the Filipino tradition of family-orientedness and thus, we take that its projects and activities positively contribute to the improvement of our societies and nurturing healthy relationships. ALLICE’s programs also contribute to the Spark*Connect*Empower Movement for reasons I have just mentioned.

We hope to learn more about preventing elder abuse and caring for the elderly, and pave the way for fostering environments that are elderly-friendly. We hope to ensure that their rights are respected and their dignity remain intact even as they approach the end of life. I hope that we at the Consulate can learn from ALLICE and also connect ourselves with one another, making the most of our networks and available referral systems. In the end, we hope to empower one another through worthwhile and sustainable activities such as those of ALLICE.

To be concluded.