For these centenarians, old habits just don’t die

PACITA Aujero and Faustina Labarejos have reached 100 years, but each has a habit from younger years they cannot give up just yet.

On her 101st birthday last Tuesday, Aujero drank half a bottle of beer in her sequined orange dress before she was led to her bed around 6 p.m., tipsy.

Already blind and hardly able to walk, the Barangay Pajo resident demands a glass or two of rum some days, her 58-year-old daughter Evangeline Hermosura said.

Their secret

Labarejos, who turned 100 last Monday, walks out of their house in Barangay Canjulao every day with a cane in one hand and hand-rolled “lomboy (java plum leaves)” cigarettes wrapped in a plastic bag in the other.

“My secret is smoking,” she said with a toothless smile when asked about her secret to her long life.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza visited the centenarians on their birthdays, bringing cakes and other food and handing each of them P25,000 from her own pocket as a gift. Last month, she also visited Feliciana Pagobo, a centenarian in Barangay Punta Engaño.

It was the second time Radaza threw a small party for Aujero, a native of Dueñas, Iloilo. She also went to the centenarian’s house when the latter turned 100 last year.

Aujero, whose husband died almost three decades ago, lives in a village inside the Brigadier General Benito Ebuen Air Base with her daughter, son-in-law (a retired Air Force officer) and their child.

Only she and her 92-year-old brother remain alive from their brood of seven.

Evangeline said her mother is not choosy with her food, but she eats a lot of vegetables and sometimes asks for humba and roasted chicken.

Sometimes, after dinner, she asks for a glass of rum and insists on drinking another glass right after.

Early smoker

Unlike Aujero, Labarejos swore off hard drinks three decades ago. She said: “I used to drink coconut wine, Chinese medicinal wine and beer before but I stopped when I turned 70 because my body could no longer take them.”

Born and raised in Barangay Pardo, Cebu City, Labarejos grew up farming and learned how to smoke at the age of seven while tending a carabao.

She is the eldest in a brood of six. Her three brothers have passed away. After several years, she saw her two sisters, ages 82 and 80, again on her birthday last Monday. “She was so happy,” said Patricia, her 70-year-old daughter.


Patricia said her mother eats whatever food is on the table, from buwad (dried fish) to guinamos (brined small fish) to vegetables.

Both centenarians have never been admitted to a hospital.

Patricia said the only time her mother stepped into a hospital was when she had her checkup for a swollen arthritis-stricken wrist last year. “She doesn’t like being in a hospital. She’s afraid of needles,” she said.

Except for her weak knees and loss of hearing—one has to speak loud on her right ear to be heard—Labajeros does not complain about ailments, Patricia said.

At her age, she can still read the bible, which she does every day along with praying. “I have no other refuge but to read the bible,” she said.

As for Aujero, being blind doesn’t mean you can no longer go to a salon and get your hair and nails done.

Evangeline said she guides her mother into the salon once a month. “She is fond of face powder, perfumes and makeup,” she said.

She is also on Facebook, but it’s her granddaughter who posts her photos. One of the recent uploaded photos shows her taking a swig of beer.


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