Before COVID hit, Arsenio “Bojie” Bonifacio II, 78, and Lydia Bonifiacio, 83, led the born-again church Home of the Lord Christian Assembly.
The husband-and-wife pastor team started their congregation in 1989.
But with the government banning mass gatherings, including religious ones, and with the lockdown strictly imposed on seniors, the two had to find a new way to stay connected with the members of their Church.
With the help of their daughter, they started streaming daily live fellowships on Facebook as early as March 12, 2020—the very day the March 15 lockdown was announced.
“Face-to-face gatherings were prohibited, but there was a need for people to hear the Word of God and pray against COVID and pray for the sick, the front-liners and the nation,” said Bojie.
During their hour-and-a-half-long online service, they preach, take prayer requests, share testimonies, pray, sing worship songs, greet birthday and anniversary celebrators, and talk about how Church members are doing amid the pandemic. They continue to do this five times a week.
The Bonifacios also hold counseling sessions with their members over the phone or via Zoom.
Bojie, who is also a practicing lawyer, managed to meet with clients and continue to attend hearings via Zoom.
Strictly staying at home
Miles Almendrala has spent the pandemic working from home. “I tend to spend longer hours working. I miss the days when you can go out freely with the family and the growing grandkids,” the 60-year-old finance and accounting director told Lifestyle.
Because of the quarantine, Almendrala gets to see only one of her two grandkids. “My other grandkid seldom goes out and is spending the lockdown with her other lolo and lola.”
Dina Bonifacio, 65, and also a grandma of two, has been tending to her plants. But she’s not a newly minted plantita. “I’ve been doing it even before the pandemic.”
There’s more time to sleep now that she’s strictly been staying at home, Dina said. One thing has helped her cope: “Praying and praising the Lord.”
Seventy-five-year-old Eden Chua, who has three grandkids, stays connected with them through FaceTime because they live abroad.
She finds ways to stay busy without going out. “I read the Bible, tend to my plants, watch K-drama, play games, solve puzzles.”
Bernadette Sibayan, 63, thanks her granddaughter for “making my pandemic life stress-free. I’m a hands-on granny to her. I’m the one preparing her meals and I keep her company all the time. I kept myself busy doing house chores and watching Netflix.”
The family of Imelda P. Solis, 70, also uses the internet to stay connected. “We formed a group chat where all of us can share stories, post old pictures so we could reminisce about happy times together and not allow a day to pass without saying hi and expressing our love for one another.”
The lola of two has also been busy throughout the pandemic. “I was fixing things in the house, planting new plants, experimenting with new recipes. I tried to bake bread and cookies, look for suppliers for food deliveries, convert old items to use, and more.”
Elisa Cruz, 71, who also has two grandkids, said, “During this pandemic, I became a plantita. I enjoy taking care of plants. Since my children do not allow me to leave home during lockdown, I spend days praying and doing household chores.”
Now a vlogger
Music has been helping Maria Paz Zamora throughout the pandemic. “I’ve been listening to music from the ’60s to the ’90s, mostly. I’ve also been baking and doing a little bit of gardening,” said the 71-year-old grandma of two.
Flor Rivera, 68, hasn’t been bored during the lockdown. She has planted vegetables, but that’s not all. “I started making content for YouTube and it keeps me so busy.”
The grandma of three, a writer, is now a vlogger, too. She’s on YouTube as Active Grandma and is posting all kinds of videos—from clips of komiks she has written, recipes and recordings of her grandkids to family memories, short stories and what she calls senior moments. She has over a thousand followers.
Annabelle Oaman, 63, has 13 grandkids. “They keep me busy with their activities like with their online class. I assist them whenever they need help. Just watching them, seeing them healthy and lively, kept my sanity during this pandemic.”
She, her children and her apos bond in what she calls their “humble farm resort” from Fridays to Mondays. “They learned to play Chinese garter, marbles or holen, jackstone, charades, sungka, pickup sticks, etc. We swim together, we barbecue, eat and laugh while reminiscing about their parents’ childhood and theirs. We recall how their grandpa spoiled each one of them. They enjoy their movie nights before going to bed.”
The devoted grandma loves cooking for her grandkids. She also spends time reading the Bible, watching preachings, doing household chores and using the internet to learn to landscape and implement designs in their farm. “I also have a collection of art materials specifically for coloring. I find it peaceful and fulfilling whenever I can finish a page of a coloring book.”
One thing that’s also been a priority for Oaman is coming to the aid of those who need it. “Through God’s grace, I also extend my help whenever possible to our barangay and close friends.” INQ