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Manila – The Institute for Labor Studies successfully helmed its first online advocacy webinar for Senior Citizens, titled as “Zoomba at Iba Pa for Senior Citizens: Making the Digital World Age-Inclusive,” last September 8 via Zoom from 9:30 AM to 12 NN.

“Zoomba at Iba Pa…” is the ILS’ third offering in a series of 10 online advocacy webinars under the banner “Revive & Thrive: The ILS COVID-19 Webinar Series,” which strives to take the public discourse on post-pandemic recovery to new frontiers.

Aside from age, factors seen contributing to substantial differences in technology adoption by senior citizens also include limited opportunities to enhance their technology literacy, poor infrastructure, and income inequalities. The webinar looked into the opportunities and challenges relating to equitable access of senior citizens to digital technologies and identify areas for action toward harnessing opportunities for them.

While the Philippines is still considered a young population, senior citizens comprise a notable percentage of the country’s total population. Based on the latest Census of Population conducted by the Philippines Statistics Authority in 2015, about 7.5 million or 7.5% of the total Philippine population or 100.9 million are people ages sixty (60) years old and above. This figure is higher than the 6.0 percent and 6.8 percent elderly population recorded in 2000 and 2010. It should be noted that 42.1% (3.2 million) of them were recorded as gainful workers. This 2020, the PSA is conducting a Census of Population, and the changes in these figures or statistics would be worth taking note of.

“Zoomba at Iba Pa…” featured two distinguished speakers who are staunch advocates of bridging technological gaps for Senior Citizens: Ms. Koree Monteloyola, Founder of Techie Senior Citizens and Retirees Philippines, and Ms. Marianne Pastor-Mananzan, health economist, online sales support agent and an avowed “techie Lola.”

Ms. Monteloyola spoke at length about Techie Senior Citizens, an online support group for senior citizens and/or retirees who are enthusiastic about exploring technology—the World Wide Web in particular—while developing an appreciation for its day-to-day real-life applications. For the benefit of the senior citizens who were watching the webinar, Ms. Monteloyola also gave a primer on installing and using communications apps that would enable them to get in touch with their loved ones. She also shared tips on how to discern online information and verify its sources in order to protect seniors who are highly susceptible targets of unverified online information and scams.

Ms. Marianne Pastor-Mananzan shared about her life experience as a longtime working professional who transitioned from analog work to getting accustomed to using digital technology in her line of work. She also talked about the digital challenges experienced by senior citizens and how to overcome them, as well as talking about the importance of keeping up to date with essential trends in technology that seniors like her must be aware of in the midst of fast changing times.

Chief Labor and Employment Officer Ms. Maria Isabel D. Artajo, co-proponent of the webinar and co-host, also shared the story of her 73-year old mother who recently started using social media. “I taught her remotely how to install, and use social media. So now, she has a messenger, viber, whatsapp and telegram accounts.”

Among the key takeaways from the presentations of the speakers were the following: 1) Digital ageism is a form of discrimination faced by senior citizens; 2) Policies and resources supporting the elderly’s use of technology must be in place; 3) Community-based programs providing a range of services to senior citizens can be contributory not just for their personal development but for the entire community; 4) Senior citizens should fight for their digital rights; 5) Establish necessary measures to ensure that technology becomes a vehicle toward making the future of work works for all.