October 1, 2023

Dear Manang,
I am one of the people who never thought that I would become old and desperate. I smoked and drank alcohol with abandon, thinking that it was a natural course of life well into my 50s. Now that I am a senior citizen, my body has taken its own revenge with weakened lungs and suspected cancer. Desperation has also taken over my life because I am penniless and need all the welfare assistance. I wonder where I can go to get assistance because my family is not able to help me.
Eloisa of Lucnab, Baguio City

Dear Eloisa,
Your best ally is still the Malasakit Center at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. This is a one stop shop where all the agencies that help the indigent patients get the necessary treatment and tests for free. As I know it, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, PhilHealth, and other elective officials have their indicated sectors to be assisted by their special funds there. Patience is still the virtue in completing the requirements they will ask for, but it is still a valuable option for people like you. If you get confined, directly have yourself admitted to the charity ward for you to not worry about the mounting bills. I am sorry about your predicament. I wish that everyone could have been more aware that they can pay for their own social security with the Social Security System while they were young and to complete 120 payments so they could have a pension to avoid your situation. But, put a little faith in the Malasakit Center because it is your better choice than to just resign and pity yourself. They are ready to help.

Dear Manang,
My marriage was arranged by our parents. In this modern day and age, my husband and I have demanding and nagging parents who have total control over our lives. Maybe we are both good children who have no self-esteem to allow this. Unknown to our parents, we are both gay. In our private chats, we have expressed these thoughts to each other but have agreed to follow our parent’s wishes. We have also agreed to just pretend and go through the process. Maybe we are also fearful that we might lose our parents any time if we dare to defy their wishes. It is beneficial to us because our parents are landed and wealthy in the province, and if we keep the agreement, we will have our own family businesses to run. We have become good friends with my wife to be, but I am not sexually attracted to her at all, neither is she drawn to me. What do you think?
Gabby of Pinsao Pilot, Baguio City

Dear Gabby,
Anything is possible in this day and age. You are truly unusual because you will stand by your parental decisions like obedient children which is near impossible with all the diverse beliefs and ideas expressed online. The friendship that you have developed is a good start to keep your family relationships harmonious. I would think that you have your own dreams and plans but given that you do not have any that would contradict the arrangement, then indeed, why not just bow to the elders. My naughty thoughts say that one day you may just like each other and truly become husband and wife. Anyway, so long as you continue to agree with each other, go on. There’s no broken law.
Step up to it,