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Tres Reyes Island view of the Marinduque Mainland

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Sudden Reality Check as a Senior Citizen in the Philippines


The following is a repost of the article in FB by Adolfo Aquino*-a Face Book friend and a fellow Filipino-American also residing in California. He went home to the Philippines on July 15 to help in the burial ceremonies of his eldest sister. He described his personal experiences during this trip a sudden reality check as a Senior Citizen in the Philippines. Here is his interesting story for your reading pleasure.

" Before I delve into the crux of my story, let me tell you first about the events that led me to a reality check of myself. I came home to bury my eldest sister in the Philippines on July 15, 2016. The experience was so stressing and at the same time very nostalgic of my childhood in Barangay Malinis of Lemery, Batangas where I grew up under the strict but doting guidance of my sister whom I fondly called Ate Ciana.

We were 18 years apart in age and she was already a teacher when I began my recognition of things and events surrounding my infancy. It was she who brought me first to the city of Manila when I was about 5 years old. It was the time when the provincial bus would fetch you from your homes before the crack of dawn and wait for you until you finish your shower and get your travel things ready. My thought of going to the big city was more exciting than my first travel to the US or to any of my travels in Europe. What could be more fascinating to a child’s eye than to see the neon lights of the Jai Alai across the old Luneta Park? It was then and so many more enthralling sites other than the hundred camachile trees and corn fields that abound our Barangay Malinis. As I was looking at the lifeless face of my Ate Ciana, I was overwhelmed by emotions and memories of my childhood days when she was always part of my daily life as my protector, my counselor, my second mother.

Once again, I felt the infantile sensation within me, having been pampered as the baby of the family and now confronted by the frozen and helpless body of my guardian. As I turned around from the white casket after a few minutes of prayer and recollections, I was met by a few couple of children who grabbed my right hand to say, “Mano po, Lolo Addie”. “Mano po, Lolo Addie”, yes it was me because that’s my name and that’s what my family and friends always call me, but hearing the word “lolo” jolted me like a lightning bolt. One second ago, I was crying inside me like a child who lost my sister like I lost my mother, and the thought that I was old, a grandpa, a senior citizen was not so uplifting. The un-invigorating thought of being called a “lolo” came to pass and the consoling notion that they were just little children was understandable and made it easier for me to ignore.

The day after the burial of Ate Ciana, I went to the BPI bank of Lemery to withdraw some cash. It was a busy day in the bank and I found myself at the end of one of the three queues when the security guard approached me and directed me to an empty line where a teller was waiting. Trying to be respectfully gracious to the people on the queue, I asked the guard why. He said, “Sir, you are a senior citizen and we have a special line reserved for you”. I was so flabbergasted but elated at the same time. There were three long lines of people, some of whom seems to be older than me, and yet the guard picked me up and addressed me as a senior citizen. Again, it was not a very stimulating idea but I felt relieved from the thought of standing in the queue for the next ten minutes or more.

On Saturday morning, my elder sister, Ate Emma and I went to Manila and took an air-conditioned bus to save our dole-out money for some of our friends and kin who need and expect financial help from us. The bus conductor issued us our tickets with discounted fares for two senior citizens worth around P40.00 pesos. Now, I am getting to like my status as a senior citizen.

After a day’s shopping for some cheap electronic gadgets (of course we know they’re made in China, where else) and some gift items around Carriedo and Echague streets (Ang bakya naman!), we took a UV Express (mas class naman kesa jeep) to the provincial bus terminal of DLTB Co. plying Manila-Lemery-Batangas. A 30-meter queue for the Lemery bound bus confronted us at the terminal but as soon as we got off from the UV Express on Taft Ave., two bus conductors/staff helped and directed us to go to the very front of the line saying, “Sir, Mam, Seniors po kayo, dito po kayo sa pinaka-una ng linya”. This time, I knew I was a “Senior citizen” but for God’s sake, how did I became the oldest out of the hundred people on the line? I thought I belong to the baby-boomer age? Whatever happened after 1947 in the Philippines? Was it another baby-boomer more explosive than the atomic bomb of WW-II.

Three days later, my two elder sisters went to Xntro Mall in our Barangay Malinis to see a Filipino movie. I refused to go with them ……………..it was Tuesday, a “free movie day” for Senior Citizens!

For the veracity and authenticity of my story and social status, my Senior Citizen Control No. is 2016-0738, issued by the Republic of the Philippines, Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA), Municipality of Lemery on July 28, 2016 signed by the Hon. Mayor, Eulalio M. Alilio ".

My Comment: Heart felt condolence from the David B Katague Clan. Not mention in your interesting story is that Senior Citizens also get discounts on groceries, medicines, and airline tickets. Senior citizens are granted several benefits and privileges under Republic Act No. 9994 and Republic Act No. 10645.

*Adolfo Aquino ( Addie or Adel)was born in Malinis, Lemery, Batangas, 69 years ago. He is the youngest of 9 siblings. He finished elementary at Our Lady of Caysasay, Taal, Batangas and high school at Our Lady of Fatima in Tanauan City, Batangas. He majored in Management and studied law until his 4th year in various universities in the Philippines. He worked at Filinvest group of companies as Manager of Credit Dept. & Bus. Development Dept. He later was engaged in retail business at Cartimar Pasay & Central Shopping at Shaw, Mandaluyong. He and his wife from Marinduque immigrated to US several decades ago. He retired from the California Highway Patrol in 2013. Welcome to the club, Lolo Addie!

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