City’s newest centenarian is Ibaloi-Japanese


The city just honored its newest centenarian – a woman of Ibaloi and Japanese descent. Mayor Benjamin Magalong signed resolution 403 signed recently recognizing 100-year old Marcela Peruko Saito Unghiyan who will be accorded the benefits and privileges provided for under Ordinance Nos. 45, 53 and 84, passed in 2013, 2016 and 2019, in that order.

Unghiyan, who was a married 20-year old woman when the Japanese came to the city in 1941, lives with her second child Erlina at their family house at Dominican- Mirador barangay.

The grandmother of 16, great grandmother to 26 and great-great grandmother of two said that she is very happy and contented with the overflowing love and care her progenies give her.

She sticks to a strict health diet of fish and vegetable diet, a daily exercise of stretching and walking and a regular check-up, which are the formula for her long life.

Unghiyan has eight children, three of them including Erlina are here, while five are in Japan with their families who regularly visit her. The eldest of seven children who was born on June 19, 1921 was born and raised at Camp 7 to an Ibaloi mother and Japanese father from Fukushima, Japan.

Marcela can speak Nihongo fluently which she learned as an elementary and high school student in a Japanese school, then located along Otek Street.

Her father, who pioneered silk farming in nearby La Trinidad, Benguet, died during World War II from a bomb explosion while evacuating for safety to the mountains.

After the war, Marcela and her siblings visited Japan, where her siblings opted to stay, while came back to the Philippines because of her growing family.

Her youngest brother, John, who lives in Fukushima, is the only surviving sibling. Marcela was already to Ifugao businessman Alberto Unghiyan, when the war broke.

To raise their 11 children, she helped in augmenting their income by taking cleaning and laundry jobs from their neighbors. Alberto Sr. died in 1992 at the age of 73 due to a lingering illness.

Pigeon Lobien/ABN