Gathering of ‘angels’ guarding elder rights

Courage knows no age, SSF City Council Member Flor Nicolas explains in keynote address at ALLICE 12th Our Family, Our Future. Photos by EDD PALOMAR
Kumares act scenes showing potentially abusive behaviors to elders and alternative ways toward healthier interaction. From left: Nan Santiago, guest actor Hanna Baluyot, Allen Capalla and Paulita Lasola Malay.
AARS counselor Anthony Chen staffs the first and largest Asian American recovery service agency in the US.

Part 2 & Conclusion

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – National statistics show that 90 percent of elder abuse reports often involve a family member or care giver, the San Mateo County-sponsored Elder and Dependent Adult Protection Team reported recently to the San Mateo County Commission on Aging.  The jolting statistic redoubled ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment’s efforts to remind the public to be mindful of how to treat each other, especially the elderly and dependent adults.

San Mateo Pride Center program director Lisa Putkey (left) and StarVista therapist Stephanie Weisner (right) give program updates to Supervisor David Canepa and Dr. Jei Africa, Marin County Director of Behavioral Health & Recovery Services.
Ten years ago, 5.6% of over 100 million Filipinos constituted the elderly, Consul Gen. Henry S. Bensurto Jr. cites statistic spurring a public initiative for the older population.

“All of us, regardless of our education, economic status, titles, or experiences, are subject matter experts on family because we all belong to one,” South San Francisco City Council Member Flor Nicolas said in her keynote address.  “It is our link to the past and the road to the future in this journey called life.”

Second Harvest Food Bank and 24 other providers at the resource fair distributed treats to attendees.
Mater Dolorosa Parish Church embraced the event wholeheartedly, deploying its Helping Hands volunteer to serve refreshments from donor allies.

In a 4-scene roleplay, ALLICE Kumares & Kumpares depicted behaviors often minimized as harmless but over time can crush the self-esteem, lead to depression, and loss of independence. The forms of abuse may be psychological, financial, spiritual, neglect, and of course physical.  The skit concluded with portrayal of alternative behaviors that affirm and encourage, boost elders’ self-worth and inspire independence.

 

Founding collaborator Philippine Consulate General joined ALLICE anew on the annual presentation and resource fair to commemorate May, Older Americans Month, and Mental Health Awareness Month.

 

“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.” He defined SCE Movement’s aim as 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.” (See full speech in last week’s issue.)

 

San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa presented a plaque honoring ALLICE and its partners for empowering the community. South San Francisco City Council Member Mark Nagales and ABC7 News Frances Dinglasan co-emceed.  Mater Dolorosa Catholic Church through its Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary and Music Ministry headed sponsors of the event that was free and open to the public.

 

Asian American Recovery Services, Catholic Charities, Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse, Daly City Partnership/HART Healthy Abuse Response Team, Filipino American Law Enforcement Officers Association, Kaiser Permanente Filipino Association, Peninsula Family Service and Project Sentinel led 25 providers at the concurrent family resource fair.  Raffle prizes were drawn at the end of the program.

 

Donor allies included Philippine News, Philippines Today, Inquirer.net and Positively Filipino; Lucky Chances, Moonstar, Baby & Boy Pastries, Hapag Filipino, Cafe Savini, Noah’s Bagels, Ed and Lydia Pomposo, Hanna Baluyot, and Edd Palomar.

 

Following is the text of the remarks by Council Member Flor Nicolas:

 

 

Let’s all gain our wings

By SSF City Council Member Flor Nicolas

My day job and the one that pays the bill is my being the Head of the Pharmacovigilance department of Forty Seven, a company dedicated to defeating cancer.  Foremost, beyond those responsibilities, I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother, and a proud member of the Nicolas family.

All of us, regardless of our education, economic status, titles, or experiences, are subject matter experts on family because we all belong to one.  It is our link to the past and the road to the future in this journey called life.

Families are the building blocks of a society.  Therefore, strong families could be effective tools in eliminating the evils in our society such as hunger, inequality, abuse, violence, and hatred.

From the first moments in our lives as children, we depended on our parents and family for protection and our needs.  We grew up and became the protectors of and providers for our children.  Inevitably, as our children are growing up, our parents became older and now, needing our protection and care.  This is the cycle of life.  If it is not your present yet, it will be our future soon.

My mother, the dutiful daughter, took care of my sickly grandmother to the day she died while raising six children without domestic help while running a business.

More than a decade ago, my mother, the loyal wife, took care of my father who had dementia after almost 50 years of marriage. Although health professionals described my father as a pleasantly confused man, it was still challenging to take care of him.  My mother took care of him until the day he died.

As a mother, my mother has a very fierce devotion to all six of us. One extreme example was one afternoon, the doorbell rang at my parents’ home.  My youngest brother opened the door and a masked man armed with a gun forced his way in.

 

My parents kept cash in the house because they owned grocery stores.  The man demanded the cash.  My mother who was a few steps away saw the gun pointed at my brother’s chest.  Like a mother bear who sensed that her cub was in danger, jumped between the man and my brother, wrestled the gun away, and forced the man to flee.  My sisters who witnessed the whole thing froze in shock.

Now, it is very hard for me to see that strong woman is debilitated by arthritis. This once athletic woman needs a walker to ambulate.  Most of the time, she is in pain and frustrated with not being able to do a lot of what she used to.  Recently, after an intensive neurological examination, my mother was diagnosed with mild dementia and had started taking donepezil.  I am beginning to mother my mother.  I watch the evolution of my mother with sadness. Possibly, it will also be my future.

I consider my mother blessed to grow old surrounded by a supportive family which includes my husband, children, children-in-law, and grandchildren.  My brothers and sisters live hundreds and thousands of miles away.  We vow to take care of her.  Our family is far from perfect, but we truly love and support one another.

Kudos to Alliance for Community Empowerment (also known as ALLICE) Kumares and Kumpares for your tireless efforts to build healthier families, prevent elder abuse, and care for elders. The awareness of having resources around us to help when needed gives me courage and hope.

Right now, it is for my mother and in the near future, for me.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines elderly as someone age 60 or older.  In two short months, I will definitely qualify.

God bless you, all, for your dedication to our families! I believe God sends angels to help us all in our daily dealings.  I am sure, you, Kumares and Kumapres will soon gain your wings.

***