Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Act your rage
By Bong Lacson

Apr 03, 2018

JUST BEFORE the Holy Week past, resurfaced in the memory section of my Facebook account a video of six years ago showing me dancing – two left feet and all desynchronized – with the convicts of Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan.

It amused my friends no end to see me in gay – basic meaning now before the term got genderized – abandon: one even asking what medication I was in, others in so many ways suggesting that I act my age.

It is definitively that which I defied – to act my age. It is precisely that which I live – at the least try to at every given chance – to act my rage. Ain’t that what living is all about?

“Act your age” is not only condescending, but outright discriminatory to seniors. It is a contemptible compartmentalization of the “aged” to some suitably sedate pigeonhole preordained by a society that puts premium on youth.

Retired, but not retarded. So, we cry. Aged, but passionately alive. There’s the rage. No need to make and follow some list of must do’s before one kicks the bucket, all it takes is to seize the opportunity at its every turn. Carpe diem, as the lively Latins do.

Verily, it is past 50 that the rage to live goes on maximum (over)drive, to the superlative degree: the sense of mortality beginning to settle in.

So, I exhilarated in the twists and turns, dips and dunks, of whitewater rafting in the Upper Davao River in 2012. Twice falling overboard only maxxed the experience. The adrenaline rush so intense that I still craved for more after the three-hour 13-kilometer spin.

An emotional high was swimming with the butanding, the gentle whale sharks, in Oslob, Cebu via Dumaguete City in 2011.

At 51, I first climbed Mount Pinatubo. Did it again in 2016, aged 62. The long, hard way on both occasions.

Majestic Mount Fuji I set foot on last year, albeit only at Station 5, the take-off point of the climb to the summit.

Ditto Mount Kinabalu in 2011, only at the Taman Negara Kinabalu, the national park at its foot.

No summitting of Mount Takao in metro Tokyo last year too but managed to hike up to the Yakuo-in Temple, just below the apex.

All 272 steps to the temple inside Batu Caves in Malaysia I climbed – without huffing and puffing – in 2012.

All 268 steps I scaled – no sweat! – to reach the Tian Tan Buddha at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island in Hongkong in 2016.

No tomb raiding ala Lara Croft but did explore the wats of Siem Reap in 2016, with the awesomeness of Angkor searing my very soul.

Searing of a different kind was the Dubai Desert Safari in 2012, with much younger riders fainting and vomiting in the sand.

The pinnacles – okay, the topmost floors accessible to visitors – of one-time tallest buildings in the world I had the opportunity to set foot on: Taipei 101 and Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers both in 2012.

Conquered acrophobia as well at the Macau Tower in 2010, but failed to summon the nerve to bungy jump. Acted my age there, ha ha.

On the intellectual, ahem, plane, it was past 50 that I churned out six of my seven books: Brigada .45 (2004), About Oca: A Story of Struggle (2005), Oca: Isang Istorya ng Pakikibaka (2006), Pinatubo: Triumph of the Kapampangan Spirit (2008), Reverend Governor: A Chronicle of Irreverence (2010), and Agyu Tamu: Turning Tragedy into Triumph (2011).

In 2015, some nerve endings somewhere in the lumbosacral area protruded causing excruciating pain. Age and body abuse, the doctor said. Surgery was prescribed for cure. I opted for therapy, to manage the pain. No more strenuous activities, not even sitting for so long, I was ordered.

Unresigned to debilitation, tested the limits in some derring-do – under the circumstances of the age of aches – and drove all the way from the City of San Fernando, Pampanga to Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte with overnight stop in Vigan Ilocos, Sur. Three days after, drove all the way back with nothing but food and pee stops in between. Did my lower back crumble? Nah! Was there any pain? Yes, but all too bearable.

Rage triumphing over age. The command to act lies there. Age being but a number, as that truism holds. And youth is eternal.

Come to think of it, I may have that in me. What with that great writer Ram Mercado once bestowing me the greatest accolade I ever got – “the enfant terrible of local journalism.”

So, age notwithstanding, I shall continue raging. And go on living.

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