By Karla Betania Sánchez Arismendi
Ignacio ‘Nachito’ Aguilar, a native of Quilanga canton in Loja Province, celebrated his birthday last week in Catamayo. The event would not be notable except for the fact that Nachinto just turned 117 and is the oldest person in Ecuador and possibly the world.
It was such a special occasion that the regional director of Ecuador’s Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion, the mayor of Catamayo, and other local officials were in attendance. During the party in an elder day care center, Mayor Janet Gerrero Luzuriaga toasted Nachito as “Ecuador’s symbol of love and tenderness.”
Nachito, who has lived in Catamyo since 1981, still gets around on foot without the help of cane. He does not need glasses and loves to dance, according to his 68-year-old niece Maria Teodolinda Lima with whom he lives. “The most important thing for Nachito is to have fun,” she says.
Lima says that the care she provides is “pay-back” from her childhood. “When I was little, Panchito took care of me after my parents left,” she says. “I am returning the favor and am very honored to do it.”
Ecuador has recognized Aguilar as the oldest living person in the country but he may be the oldest in the world, according to a representative of the Guinness Book of World Records. His family has not yet located his birth certificate or baptism record, which Guinness requires as proof of age. The ministry of social inclusion is assisting in the search.
According to Lima, Guinness is rightfully suspicious of old age claims from Ecuadorians. “In the 1960s and 1970s, three people from Vilcabamba said they were over 120 but when they checked the birth certificates they found that they actually belonged to their parents and grand parents,” she said.
She added: “Folks in Vilcabamba are known for telling tall tales. We can’t follow their bad example.”