By Isabel de Leon
I became a grandmother for the first time to Ben, who was born with sepsis (and a host of medical issues that he almost died), at the age of 40. Quite young, yes, to be a grandma. Fourteen years hence, and four more wonderful boys who followed Ben, I now carry the badges of several “Aha!” moments of grandparenting.
It’s true. The love you have for your grandchildren differs in intensity with the love that you have for
your children. You’re a putty in their hands and you can’t say “NO” to them.
Maybe a little “no” and it turns into a “YES” in one flip. (You hear the long “Maaaaaaaaaa….” in the background from the mother or father of the spoiled ones with matching bulging eyes but you are “deadma” or unaffected.)
Here are five reasons why I believe grandparents rule:
- 20 PERPERCENTENT DISCOUNT AND VATAT EXEMPTEMPT – It is indeed more fun to be a grandparent/senior in the Philippines because of the 20 percent senior citizen discount and exemption from the Value Added Tax or VAT. The discount covers medicines and vitamins, medical supplies and equipment, medical and dental services including laboratory tests and diagnostics, professional fees of attending physicians and licensed health workers, domestic air and sea travel fares, public land transportation fares (jeepneys, buses, taxis, shuttle services, MRT, LRT, PNR), hotels, restaurants, recreation centers, and places of leisure.
- YOU GET PRIORITIZED – You will find that there are priority areas and seats for seniors in most public places – toilets, airports, seaports, government offices, restaurants, parking spaces, hospitals, medical clinics, and even pharmacies, among many others.
- FREE MOVIESIES – There are cities in the metro that offer free movies to senior citizens. Quezon City offers free access to movie theaters limited to two films every Monday and Tuesday, from cinema opening to 5 p.m. This doesn’t cover IMAX or 3D cinemas, “blockbuster” films within a week of initial of screening, and non-working public holidays. The City of Manila offers free movies on Mondays, Tuesdays,
and Thursdays. Makati City offers free access to movie theaters like Glorietta 1 and 4, Greenbelt 1 and 3, and Power Plant. In Paranaque, seniors get a one-year movie pass that they get to use on Mondays and Tuesdays in Parañaque’s SM cinemas. In Pasig City, free movies are offered to seniors in two malls. Las Pinas gives free movie access on Mondays and Tuesdays at SM Southmall, Robinsons Las Piñas, and Vista Mall. Malabon gives free access to movies once a week to seniors.
- YOU CAN DO ZUMBA, TAITAI CHI, QIGONG in your most outrageous and flamboyant outfit in city parks or open areas with an energetic coach and not worry about keeping pace because after all, you are your own boss (and you get away with anything) and it’s your own bones we are talking about and getting worried about here. Brisk or leisurely walking also does the trick. Most seniors do the walking in malls or groceries which is good for the heart (but may not actually be good for the pocket).
- SUBSIDIES – You’re lucky if you have children who are subsidizing all your needs. Some have pensions to tide them over. Some local governments provide allowances to seniors. Most though still work until they are able. It has become a global thing to see seniors still working in restaurants, in hotels, peddling their goods in stalls, and driving taxi cabs, even trucks and lorries in the streets of Japan, Korea, China, and elsewhere in Asia and the world.
It is common knowledge that grandparents tend to spoil their grandchildren a whole lot. You can get away with anything as long as Lola and Lolo are on your side. Everything on your grocery list now carries the favorite drinks, snacks, candies, gummies of apo (grandchild) No. 1, No. 2, and down the line. You go shopping for cereals, food, matching outfits, shoes, briefs, and just about everything for the spoiled ones that you end up scratching your head and wondering: where did my money go?
You rejoice in their victories as if they won the presidency of the universe and cry an ocean when they stumble, fall, did not get a star, did not get a medal, get bruised, get bullied or they do the bullying themselves. Again you wonder: did they get it from me? You end up channeling your inner Gabriela Silang or Tandang Sora, roll up your sleeves and storm their schools with an invisible ‘tagak” (sword), ready to do battle with the “salarin” (suspect) and authority.
You realize that when they are sick, you storm the heavens with prayers to spare them and probably ask for the illness to just strike you instead of them. We all did the same for our own children. But believe me, heaven never heard that much wailing than it did from grandparents like me!
Grandparents have the luxury of turning over to their parents the crying or cranky or misbehaving grandchild and enjoy unhampered rest or sleep unless called upon to do “Lola” or “Lolo” duties during emergencies. You also want to do a lot of things with them – go biking, long drives or out-of-town, they go swimming while you watch them like a hawk, grocery shopping, theme park visits, moving up, recognition,
and graduation days.
You want to teach them the ways of the world and inure them to its dangers. You want to protect them as much as you can. You give them pep talks on how to be “Mr. or Miss Congeniality.” But when push comes to shove and the bully starts to walk around your precious cargo, you tell them: “don’t get intimidated. Don’t cry. Never be afraid. Just be nice” while at the back of your head, you are already churning out ways and means to get even.
I was once asked: what was the greatest role you played in your life? My answer then was being a mother. Now that y two children are grown and have become more accepting and mature and not the jealous types anymore, I am nvoking my right as a woman to change my answer. My greatest role is being “Nana” or grandmother to Ben, Soy, Gab, Pipo, and Nathan.
Live! Love! Laugh! Lolo and Lola!