Love of life and family

Published April 7, 2021, 1:41 AM

by MJ Tantoco

This is the secret to longevity, based on what this grandson has learned from his 100-year-old grandfather

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH FAMILY (standing from left) Shake Shack chief global licensing officer Michael Kark, Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti, Anton Huang, Tokie Enriquez, Nina Huang, Marilen Tantoco, Elizabeth Quiambao, Issa Rossi Tantoco, Issoleta Tantoco, (sitting from left) Amb. Bienvenido Tantoco Sr., the author, and Nikki Huang

My brother, Chris, and I grew up with Lolo Benny. If I were to pick one thing I’d learned and carried on to this day, it would be that one should always keep an open mind. He constantly took us traveling to experience different things around the world and encouraged us to experience things we were not initially interested in such as viewing museums, giving various cuisines a try, watching shows (ballets, theater, operas). No matter how many times he’d been to a place or seen a show, he would take us there because he wanted us to experience it all as well and form our own opinion.

My grandfather found it very important for us to be there and to show up, no matter the situation. Since I was young, grooming has been so important. He would advise us to always look presentable as you never know whom you would meet.

You see his eyes light up and smile when his family is around him.

Aside from keeping an open mind, the key takeaway from Lolo Benny is to listen to others to find the best way to move forward in any given situation. Lolo taught us to take care of and treat those around us with respect, both family and employee, no matter what position. 

I believe we will all have many and different answers if you ask us about Lolo’s secret to long life. He constantly jokes about his diet, such as eating fish, although I know he is not a fan of eating vegetables. He has always been sharp. Personally, I would have to say his love of life and family—his overall simple yet enormous enjoyment of life and his ever abundant and extending love for his family, from his children all the way down to his great grandchildren. You see his eyes light up and smile when his family is around him.

WHAT MATTERS The author with his mom Marilen Tantoco and his Lolo Benny

The author is business development head at Specialty Food Retailers, Inc. under the Rustan Group of Companies.