Both church members credit their faith and a healthy lifestyle for their longevity.

Life is short, as they say, but a few privileged people live longer than most of us do these days.

Francisca Montes-Susano, who is probably the oldest person in the world today, lives in the province of Negros Occidental, in the central Philippines. Lola (Grandma) Francisca celebrated her 124th birthday on September 11, 2021, and is a faithful Seventh-day Adventist who practices a healthy lifestyle. 

Francisca was born on September 11, 1897, and is recognized by the Philippine government as the oldest centenarian in the country. She loves playing her harmonica and singing hymns. Her favorite song is “In the Sweet By and By.” In her younger days, Lola Francisca enjoyed hiking, and she would often narrate her experiences during World War II. 

She has weakened considerably lately. She still sleeps early, going to bed at 7:00 in the evening, but often wakes up at 1:00 a.m. to eat her porridge or oats. What used to be 10 spoonfuls has dwindled to just two. She can barely move her body and cries in pain whenever she tries to change position. Her great-granddaughter, Rosalie Himaya Muleta, bathes her every morning and feeds her fruit juices daily to sustain her. “Even at this age, Lola still loves to tell stories of bygone days and calls her children by name,” Muleta said.  

Francisca’s eldest daughter, Magdalena, is a centenarian too. Magdalena celebrated her 101st birthday in May. She has four children from her first husband and seven children from her second husband. When the second husband also passed away, she married a third. Magdalena can hardly hear and speak now, but her influence of being a faithful mother who led her children to church every Sabbath has been passed from one generation to the next.

Magdalena and her family went through many hardships that, she believes, have strengthened their faith. They overcame, the family said, through earnest prayer. “They went through a period of famine, when revolutionaries burned all the farms in their place,” a family member shared. “They hid in the bushes from five in the afternoon to five in the morning so the rebels couldn’t find them.”

Lola Magdalena believes it was prayer and faith in God that preserved her and her children. According to a family member, she is thankful to her mother for leading them on the right path through all those years. Both Francisca and Magdalena believe that their healthy lifestyles, their faith in God, and God’s faithfulness made it possible for them to live this long.

“Lola Francisca and Lola Magdalena are living testimonies of what life can become if it is fully dedicated to God,” regional church leaders said. “Not all of us can live this long, but while alive, we can spend our time rightly and productively for God.”  

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.

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