There’s so much to look forward to
Old means different things to different people. Children consider their 20something parents as old. What is old and why do many people fear it while a few successfully even enjoy its benefits?
I did not find it odd when at 70 I covered the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda in 2013 for Australian TV, hustling and competing with journalists younger than my grandchildren. For two weeks I waded in murky flood waters, climbed mountains of debris, survived on sardines, and stale bread, and walked among bloated corpses.
Being a foreign correspondent requires no age limit. One just has to be physically, mentally, and emotionally fit, as shown by colleagues Gaby Tabuñar (CBS NEWS), Alice Villadolid (New York Times), Zeny and Manny Silva (Visnews), Teddy Benigno (AFP), who kept writing well beyond normal retirement age. Like me, they chose to continue working because it is what they loved to do, and their age gave them the freedom to do so.
Freedom is the best fringe benefit of getting old, freedom from the traditional restrictions imposed by society. A senior citizen can flirt, curse, wear unconventional clothes, and behave a bit oddly without being thrown out of the room.
To age gracefully, one needs to prepare mentally and physically. Follow doctor’s orders, eat properly, drink moderately, and exercise regularly. A healthy body will allow you to enjoy the tranquil life we all look forward to.
One should also be prepared financially, with a home and a pension to take care of medical requirements. A family support system is what majority of Filipinos count on.
Emotional security should not be overlooked. This is very important particularly when one loses a partner.
Aside from my foreign correspondent colleagues, there are friends who prove that seniors can look forward to the best years of their lives.
Economic analyst Ernie Tolentino kept busy by engaging in egg production, fish farming, and restaurants while enjoying his grandchildren. All this time, government officials and politicians continue to seek his services for public relations and political strategies.
Singer-song writer Marlon Sedino settled down in Europe after stints at Hobbit House and My Father’s Moustache. He continues to tour as “Europe’s James Taylor” while happily raising a family.
Tina Monzón-Palma, veteran broadcast journalist and iconic news presenter, is still one of today’s top news anchors. Palma’s cool and impeccable delivery nightly is considered by many as unmatched locally.
National Artist Frankie Sionil Jose continues to hold court at his Solidaridad Book Store while regularly writing essays and political commentary.
Manila Bulletin publisher and editor-in-chief Crispulo Icban Jr. was already a Manila Times staffer when we met 50 years ago. Showing no signs of slowing down, Icban is still at his desk daily until all the pages are laid out and closed.
My youngest idol is only 57, the best example of how to prepare for the future. Charie Villa, gutsy news producer (ABS-CBN and Reuters), has gone independent, affording her more time for her purebred dogs and a productive farm in Lipa City.
She knew early in life what she wanted: a self-sustaining homestead away from the city where she could grow fruits and vegetables while raising horses, chicken, dogs, and other farm animals. Her earnings went into making her dreams come true.