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Bicol centenarian’s secret to longevity: Coconut milk, prayers

Lola Ayoy of Juban, Sorsogon, is still not taking any maintenance medicine at age 100

NEW BICOL CENTENARIAN. Corazon ‘Ayoy’ de los Reyes-Barcia celebrates her birthday with her family. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

SORSOGON, Philippines – The newest member of Bicol’s centenarian community says prayers and her preference for coconut milk and local produce are among her secrets to longevity.

Corazon “Lola Ayoy” de los Reyes-Barcia celebrated her milestone with her family in Juban, Sorsogon, on June 18. Her remaining children – 8 of 11 – and their children and grandchildren trooped to their hometown to hold a birthday celebration for the centenarian with the entire village.

Relatives of Lola Ayoy describe her as a housewife who was "treated like a queen" by her late husband, farmer Honorato Barcia.

At a hundred years old, Lola Ayoy can still dance. She still has a keen sense of smell and her eyesight is just barely clouded by age. She is not taking any maintenance medicine.

Lola Ayoy can be a poster girl for the benefits of coconut milk and juice – which is the subject of debates in health circles – as these have been part of her diet ever since. (READ: The centenarians of Narvacan)

Asked about the secret of her long life, Lola Ayoy pointed to her healthy lifestyle. She said she ate "small" fish, vegetables cooked in coconut milk, local fruits, coconut juice, and the occasional piece of meat. She also cited her daily prayers.

BIRTHDAY WISH. Surrounded by family, Corazon ‘Ayoy’ de los Reyes-Barcia blows out her birthday candle. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

Benefits

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol said that the region recorded 171 centenarians.

Among the 6 provinces of Bicol, Albay has the highest number of centenarians with 39, followed by Camarines Sur, 36; Sorsogon, 22; Camarines Norte, 20; and Masbate and Catanduanes, 9 each.

Among the country’s regions, Western Visayas has the most number of recorded centenarians, totaling 360 as of early 2017, according to the DSWD.

Like her fellow centenarians, Lola Ayoy will receive a P100,000-cash gift from the government as provided under Republic Act 10868 or the Centenarian Act of 2016. The primary proponent of the measure in the House of Representatives is A Bicolano, Albay First District Representative Edcel Lagman.

Lagman earlier said the measure "honors aging senior citizens who have served their families, communities and country for the longest period of time."

The DSWD said 59 Bicol centenarians had received the cash gift from the government. Jesseshan Marbella-Aycocho, DSWD regional information officer in Bicol, said the department was still processing the papers of at least 20 other centenarians.

“Processing depends on the compliance of documents as proof of their age eligibility,” she said.

Arnel Garcia, DSWD regional director in Bicol, said that RA 10868 is a big help to the senior citizens.

Under the law, every Filipino citizen who celebrates his or her 100th birthday shall receive a cash gift of P100,000 from the national government in addition to any cash incentive from the recipient’s city or municipality. – Rappler.com