Senior citizens of Makati continue to enjoy benefits and privileges provided by the city government that no other local government unit in the country has been able to replicate to date, making them the envy of elderly citizens across the nation.
These perks come on top of their free access to quality health care and medicines that include maintenance drugs for hypertension and diabetes.
Programs for senior citizens implemented by the Elderly Welfare Section of the Makati Social Welfare Department (MSWD) include the BLU Card program, which is now being enjoyed by 66,546 members. Now on its 13th year, BLU Card started out with P3,000-burial assistance, then was later expanded to include cash gifts given twice a year, free birthday and golden wedding anniversary cakes, free groceries every Christmas, and recently, P100,000 cash gift for centenarians.
MSWD officer-in-charge Ryan Barcelo said the other privileges granted by the city to elderly residents beyond what the national law requires include unlimited free entrance to all Makati cinemas, free tours to the country’s famous tourist destinations, and a grand welcome party for new senior citizens.
Under the BLU Card Program, senior citizens who are 60-69 years old are entitled to a P2,000 cash gift, those aged 70-79, P3,000, and for 80 and above, P4,000. The cash gift is given in two tranches—half in June and the other half in December.
To date, 21 centenarians of Makati have received P100,000 each from the city government since the initiative took effect in 2012 through City Ordinance 2012-099. For 2015, the city has allocated P194 million for the cash gift and centenarian incentive under BLU Card.
Last year, a total of 61,255 birthday and golden wedding anniversary celebrators received free cakes from the city government. For this year, the city allocated P22 million for the free cakes program.
Every December, BLU Card holders also receive a bag of groceries through the city’s “Pamaskong Handog” program.
The city government has also earmarked P5 million for its Lakbay Saya program, which was launched in 2004.
The program gives able-bodied senior citizens the privilege to travel to popular spots and historical sites within Metro Manila and other parts of the country, all for free, including meals and lodging. They also get the chance to have fun as live studio audience in the country’s popular noontime TV shows, and to watch monthly free “Aawitan Kita” concerts at the University of Makati theatre.
For its free movies program, the city has allocated P20 million for this year to cover both senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWD). In 2014, the city government paid around P21 million to four cinema owners as its 25 percent subsidized share of the cost of tickets issued to senior citizens and PWDs who availed themselves of this privilege.
The four cinema partners of the city government are Ayala Land, Inc., which operates theaters in Glorietta 1 and 4 and Greenbelt 1 and 3, Rockwell Land for Power Plant cinema, Adebe Realty Company, Inc. and Century City Development Corp.
Every year, the city government hosts a grand party to welcome residents who have turned 60 years old to the city’s elite Tribe of Senior Citizens. It is also at the party that the new tribe members receive their BLU Card. If they are qualified for the mid-year or year-end cash gift, they will also receive their first P1,000 cash incentive.
For 2014, the elite tribe welcomed 600 new senior citizens. This year, the city government has allocated P340,000 for this program.