On ageing in this young country
On a recent visit to Tacloban, Leyte, a complete stranger gave me an unexpected reality check.
It was a bright, sunny morning and I decided I’d take a walk and have breakfast at the nearest McDonald’s, only because it was on the harbor and gave a refreshing viewof the sea. I was wearing flip-flops, slacks, a plaid blouse,
and my usual face—which means, plain me, a bit of color on my lips, slightly darkened eyebrows, and baby powder, unevenly applied because the lights in my no-star hotel room weren’t bright enough.
I ordered egg muffin, minus the ham (Or was it pancakes? My memory is sagging!) and asked for tea (which they didn’t have, never had, I guess, and apparently won’t offer anytime in the future). That left me without hot breakfast beverage so I asked for the bill.
Here’s how our conversation went:
Cashier (in his late teens or early twenties, alternated glances between me
and the cash machine): May senior citizen’s card ho kayo?
Me (in my mid-fifties, in a surprised tone): Ha? Bakit mo naitanong ‘yan?
Silence from the cashier (who noticed my near state of shock, looked down and appeared to count a wad of bills).
Me again (in a low, hushed but emphatic tone as a few others were behind me in the queue): Wala. Wala akong senior card.
Wow! This earnest young man just made history. He was the first to ask me if I were a senior citizen. That’s still five years into the future! Soon, though, it will be just four more years.
I’ll remember him, perhaps, the way I remember my first failing grade in a college examination—with humor, accompanied by a realization. I’ve been around for more than half a century and I’m older than two presidents—Noynoy Aquino and Barack Obama. It seems that, in most gatherings, everybody else is younger than I am. But here’s one consolation: I’m definitely younger than the United Nations.
schedule a weekly facial? And consider getting lightweight girdles, particularly the Spanx Power Panties which, the New Yorker says, has sold six million units since it was introduced in 2002? Or follow Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s beauty regimen?
Our former president elicited a chorus of wows after she appeared on TV looking gorgeous and enviously young at 64. Her photographs were posted on abs-cbnnews.com.
Her secret? “Masasabi mong siyensiya siguro yung hot pack science… mga nira-rub samukha in that sense. Wala yung mga invasive.”
When the reporter asked who did her facials, Arroyo replied that it’s her manikurista who goes to her La Vista home. For the higher-tech hot pack and machines used on the face, she visits the Zen Institute.
Well, to each her own desire—and treatment. Since cost is a factor, I’ll stick to my current paradigm: stay with the natural. Three basic things: exercise, diet (As my mother and elementary school teachers used to say, “Eat your vegetables!”) and sleep. Yes, sleep deprivation is fatal to one’s looks. Who wants to carry heavy eye bags?
Still, I expect my experience in Tacloban to be repeated elsewhere in the country. After all, we have a young population. The youth, ages 15 to 29, comprise about a third of us. Some also talk of a youth bulge. One study says that the sixty-and-above age group will comprise only ten percent of our population in 2020—and that’s still a long way to go.
Many of the young, I imagine, look at anybody who is outside their age group—30 and up—as “old.” I know this is sounding like an excuse for the McDonald’s cashier. But this is the context in our society—so here’s my message to those who have been wrongly identified as senior citizens: Don’t fret!
Maybe this is one reason I enjoy being among Westerners. Whenever I travel to the US or Europe, where the demographics are different, people always think I’m much younger. When I was on a year-long fellowship in a Massachusetts university—I was thirty one then—the liquor store person asked to see my ID before he would sell me a bottle of gin. Of course, that was a long time ago. But you get the drift.
Well, we can also see it this way: age 60 is just a demarcation, the way birthdays are. It marks the beginning of one’s senior citizenship, announced by a discount card.
In a few years, I’ll be there. And I can see myself with Mr. McDonald’s. He need not even ask me for my senior citizen card. I’ll gladly offer it—and enjoy my hefty discount! – Newsbreak
TAGS: Gloria Arroyo, Philippine Youth Population, Senior Citizen's Card