Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Opinion
Thy elders
By Bong Lacson

Oct 03, 2017

A NICHE second only to God’s in the hierarchy of human respect and devotion – that is what the Fourth of the fi re-inscribed divine decrees on the tablets Moses brought down from Sinai ordained for the old folks.

Last time I looked, the first three still invoked of God-man relationship; the rest, man-toman, with honoring the elders as primus inter pares.

That primacy God decreed on the elders, their off spring trample with impunity.

Hear how your friendly jeepney driver addresses just about every sexagenarian passenger a most disrespectful and thoroughly politically-incorrect “Baby” or “Junior.”

Witness how drugstore despachadoras dismiss with dispatch senior citizens’ prescriptions with the overly practised stock reply of “Out of stock.”

Or, how waitresses sour up when senior citizens cards are placed alongside Ninoys to pay for the food tab.

Or, the absence of prescribed “senior citizens’ lane” in restaurants, drugstores, and other service establishments. In these, Republic Act 9994 or The Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 be damned! As were RAs 7432 and 7876 in the past.

Honoring thy elders has become sheer lip service, celebrated less in true devotion than in crass commercialization – read: three-day sale events for Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day and Grandparents’ Day at the malls.

It was then a cause for celebration that some semblance of sense, if not sanity, was put in the cause of honoring the elderly lately.

SM greeters

Like SM malls for their Senior Citizens Community Service Program aimed at “empowering” the elderly by “promoting the dynamic use of their skills and talents.” This, through the provision of job opportunities for them.

In SM City malls senior citizens – aged 60- 70 – have been hired for the past few years for “light duties” like greeters/guides at the mall entrances, female room assistants and cinema ticket booth guides.

Their work hours usually on weekends, holidays or peak days between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. -- “light schedule and period of assignment” so as to safeguard them from exhaustion.

Come to think of it, only in the Philippines that age is made a requisite to employment, notwithstanding that law that forbids such. Do that in the US and you’d be charged with discrimination.

In Japan too, a good number of seniors are employed as saleswomen in malls, and hotel boutiques, even as street sweepers.

Nanay

Under Gov. Lilia G. Pineda, the provincial government preceded even the national government in providing P100,000 to centenarians through its Senior Citizens Code or Ordinance No. 647, further amended to lower the benefi ciary age to 95. Just last week, the Nanay herself personally handed P800,000 to senior elderly. This, on top of the over millions earlier given.

Some years back, Balibago village chief Tony Mamac started tapping senior citizens in his clean-up campaign.

“Seniors are generally early risers, so I engaged their services to clean our streets early mornings. This will allow them some sort of physical activity and at the same time contribute to the well-being of the community,” the T-Mac Mamac said then. “Not to mention getting paid (P3,000 monthly) for it.”

Senior citizens in Angeles City’s premier barangay also get from their chief P500 on their birthday.

Some people – steeped in Filipino culture – may not look too kindly on the elderly still working, deserving as they are to reap the fruits of the labor they put in during their younger years.

It has been too long noted though that inactivity among elders is the main cause not only of creeping physical ailments but also of debilitating if not fatal psychological ones, depression being foremost.

Isolation, aloneness – their children struggling with lives of their own, leaves not much choice at socialization for the elderly. Especially in a nation that needed each family member to contribute to the family table.

Can-do

The 60’s, way up to the early 70’s, still make years of active productivity.

Puede pa kami. As the cry of elders resounds. As proven in celebrations past and present of the Week of the Elderly where senior citizens display their remaining potentials – despite, mayhaps, because of age – to still make a difference in their community. Not a wisp of dotage but every bit of wisdom in their poesia and polosa. Not one arthritic joint creaking but a sweep of grace in their ballroom twists, turns, and gyrations. Not the slightest trace of senility but all gung-ho in their drive to be heard, to be active key-rolers in community affairs.

Aye, deprive them not of the ennobling essence of labor for their dignity. Consign them not to mere cases for charity. They still serve those who are 60 – and above – years of age.

“Honor thy father and thy mother,” the first commandment that has a promise added: “so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land.” So, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians. So, it was written in Exodus 20:12.

Else, be damned.

The fourth commandment carries too an injunction: “God’s curse on anyone who dishonors his father or mother.” So, it was proscribed in Deuteronomy 27:16. I am writing this as much as a celebration of October 1-7 as Elderly Filipino Week as championing my right as a senior citizen myself, for the past three years now.

Luid la ring matua!

(Updated from a Zona column dated Oct. 23, 2013 in celebration of the Elderly Filipino Week)



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