‘Healthiest’ Centenarian Adventist Awardee Recognized: World’s Oldest Person Alive?

By: Gaudencio C. Buque, Jr.

An Adventist great-great grandma dubbed as the ‘healthiest and oldest’ among 75 centenarian awardees in Negros Occidental, gets a blessing visit and recognition by
NOC as multiple news outlets brought her name into spotlight as the world’s oldest person alive possible. Official pronouncement of such ‘coveted’ honor will have to be made on her upon verification of substantial evidence by the Gerontology Research Group (GRC) or Guinness World Records, a multi-national body of researchers from different fields that validates and reviews people who live up to 110 years and above
worldwide.

Lola Francisca M. Susano of Inawayan Seventh-day Adventist Church in Barangay Oringao, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental is turning 119 years old this coming September 11, according to her birth certificate. She was born in 1897 two years ahead of the 116 year-old Emma Martina Luigia Morano of Vercelli, Italy who is declared world’s oldest as per GRG’s declaration last May this year and recognized by Guinness World Records, CNN reported.

Still capable of walking, Lola Francisca climbed the hilltop of Inawayan Church and gathered her family members to welcome the visiting team from NOC headed by Pr. Renito C. Inapan, the president and Mr. Ebenezer C. Loriezo, Jr., the treasurer.

Centenarian“I can still walk up and down,” she answered in the dialect when she was asked whether she was carried in going up and down of the church. (She then proved it after the meeting when she went down the hill unassisted.)

She is still able to hear clearly inquiries thrown to her by Pastors Renito C. Inapan, Gaudencio Buque, Keven Giovanni Cañal, John Chavez and Joenie Samillano who alternately took their turns during an hour-long interview. Though spoken in short sentences, she could give sensible answers. However, memory-wise, she had made some long gaps and usually lost her thoughts of the topic being asked.

She never got hospitalized. Generally, she’s living a vibrant life of a super old age that visiting team saw nothing similar to compare.

Her short but understandable messages correlated with the facts that her children and grandchildren testified.

Growing up perhaps in unschooled home, she never was allowed by her parents to go on schooling.  “My parents did not allow me to go to school because I would become…,” she intentionally left her words hanging. If we based it from the old folks’ belief where women are just homemakers, one can simply infer that Lola Francisca was not sent to school by her parents because she will just become a wife and a mother, and need not to go to school to learn her roles and responsibilities.

She got married at the age of 14 and gave birth to her firstborn daughter at the age of 17. Susano is privileged to see one centenarian offspring of her own.  She has 14 children with some living longer lives also. She has a lively family of more than 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, according to his son from Davao that was present during the meeting.

She used to live and support their family’s need with her husband through farming work. “I worked with my husband in the farm and get our food directly from what we grew,” she said.

Some reports reveal that “her secret for a longer life is eating fresh vegetables without any additives” and she demonstrated her love for music by playing a tuneful harmonica before NOC delegation.

Lola Francisca loves to cook and eat simple, fresh and wholesome food supplies from the garden. But on top of her farm-based subsistence, she lives on a God-centered dependence.

“I go to church and pray. I gave my tithes to the Lord,” she said in answer to the question how much she obeys and trusts the Lord.

Her face exudes with beaming smiles as she expressed her happiness and thankfulness knowing that they are being watched not only by fellow believers and fellow countrymen but also by the people around the world.
“I am very much happy,” she said as she nods her head in downward gaze of amazement. Her family members remember how the provincial government honored
her when she was recognized as “the oldest and healthiest” among 75 centenarians in Negros Occidental who were awarded P100, 000.00 each during the 117th year celebration of Negros Island freedom from Spanish occupation. And reportedly, it is expected that another P100, 000.00 award will be served to all Filipino centenarians nationwide by the national government through the newly approved Republic Act 10868 or the Centenarian Act which was filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and was
signed by former President Benigno Aquino III before he stepped down from Malacañang.
Were the NOC and the worldwide church not be able to reward financially Lola Francisca for the wellness and longevity message she sends to the world? NOC’s smaller sphere of health and wellness advocates were able to recognize it with sacred words, blessings and encouragement bestowed to our beloved honoree along with the fruits in the basket sealed and shared in prayer.

Gaudencio C. Buque, Jr. is the health and communication director of Negros Occidental Conference (NOC).

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