MAITUM, Sarangani, Philippines—Claro Ducusin Cabading celebrated his 105th birthday on August 9 and became the oldest surviving resident of Sarangani.
Lolo Arong, as he is fondly called by his family and friends, was born on August 9, 1906 in Pakpakak, San Juan town, La Union.
He said there were a few things that helped him outlive many of his childhood friends. In fact, he is the only surviving member of class 1935 of the Ebenezer Bible School, an all-American faculty theology institute in Zamboanga City.
Lolo Arong said he eats a full diet of rice and vegetables, which according to him, includes “long” talong (eggplant) and “long” balatong (string beans) and anything that is long.
Gifted with an innate sense of humor, he starts the day with a smile and goes around cracking jokes, making others laugh.
Lolo Arong’s daily routine includes early morning prayers, exercise, reciting Bible verses and singing religious hymns and great oldies.
Despite working with a mining firm in Northern Luzon during his teen-age days, he cares a lot for nature. His favorite color is green.
Lolo Arong grew up under disciplinarian parents. From their teachings, he said, he learned to value life and take good care of his health.
Quoting an excerpt from the Bible, he said, “Our body is a temple of God. Hence, we must be conscious of what we are taking in.”
Lolo Arong admitted he once smoked rolled tobacco leaves to drive away mosquitoes.
“I used to bring the carabao to pasture and since there were lots of mosquitoes, my mother taught me how to smoke,” he said.
But Lolo Arong said he gave up smoking when he enrolled in the public elementary school because it was prohibited inside the campus.
In 1929, his family came to Mindanao in search of the proverbial greener pasture.
“My father didn’t want me to travel alone. My father sold our harvest and all our properties in La Union, then, we all went to Mindanao,” he said.
Through the help of the Bureau of Lands, they found an area in Luma in Kiamba town.
He later married Pastora Garlitos, with whom he had five children. His wife died long ago.
Today, Lolo Arong still lives in Luma, in the same area where his parents raised him.
“Love your body and honor your father and mother. This is my secret to a long life,” he said.