A changing world
It’s been said that nothing is permanent in this world but change. True enough, everyone undergoes change daily, from birth to death.
Some changes are progressive, as in physical growth and intellectual maturity—the results of improvement or advancement. Other changes are imperceptible.
In my case, an abrupt change came when the House of Representatives’ human resources department gave me forms to fill out preparatory to compulsory retirement at age 65. I suddenly felt old; retirement had never entered my mind.
After my retirement took effect, I was rehired as a member of the congressional staff whose tenure was coterminous with that of my boss.
The change seemed quite favorable: No longer did I have to rush to the office to punch the bundy clock. That being the case, I stopped driving myself and instead took the MRT train and the UV Express shuttle to the Batasan complex. At that time the MRT trains never had aberia and were running smoothly.
When I was still racing daily to get to the office on time, I used to drive through the old Army camp that is now Bonifacio Global City. I could navigate the old Fort Bonifacio easily, but now I get lost in the modern city better known as BGC.
Talking of driving, I used to drive all the way from Manila to Legazpi City with no need for an alternate. I made the trip at night (when there were no holdups yet), with two or three coffee breaks at safe stops. In the United States, I alternated driving with
my son Marlo in our trips from San Francisco to Las Vegas or to Hoover Dam, which is a common boundary of three states.
The greatest change in my senior years involved driving. While years ago the Department of Motor Vehicles in California renewed my New York driver’s license and the Land Transportation Office in Manila renewed my Philippine driver’s license, I am now without a valid license—by the unanimous vote of my wife and all our eight children.
Their reasons? I had been driving for decades, so enough is enough. Or my vision is no longer 20-20. Our son Ching, who most often drives for his mother and me, provided the best reason for the “restraining order”: I easily fall asleep even on short-distance drives!
One pleasant change is that I can now wake up late. So our friends have learned to tarry before collecting us for lunch (discounted for the elderly).
I’ve learned as a senior that the elderly usually get carried away by the fact of having nothing much to do, and thus tend to take it easy. But taking it easy can make one lazy.
Luckily, a professional can never really retire. Family members and friends, even new acquaintances, will consult the professional for advice. It is providential that when I was sent to the Michigan State University and the US Department of Agriculture on a study tour on biotechnology, I bought a book on the subject of working at home, an alternative to formal employment.
It inspired me to do things within my
capability. I wrote a book based on my experience in Congress, “How Bills Become Philippine Laws,” put out by Anvil Publishing Inc. and distributed by National Book Store. Based on this book, my daughter Peachy who is into events organizing and PR organized a seminar for those interested in legislative lobbying. Consequently I was signed up for certain consulting projects, one of which concerned the passage of a law, Republic Act No. 10747, mandating the treatment of rare diseases.
Changes occur daily. Instead of being discouraged, we seniors should respond positively by making changes work for us. Getting older does not mean we can’t do anything anymore. The biggest incentive to overcome unfavorable change is to think of your family. Raise your children properly while you still can. Bring them to a state of security by teaching them the proper values.
I remember that when our granddaughters born in California were young, my wife and I helped their working parents cope. My wife tended to the girls and I drove them to and from school whenever their parents’ schedule required.
The most dramatic change I can think of now is this. Last June, Andrea, now 16, and Carmela, now 10, came to visit, and they were constantly solicitous of their grandmother, now 82, who has pain in her left leg and cannot walk fast. “Mama, now that we are big enough, we can help you,” they said.
I once wrote that family is forever. It’s really true, even in a changing world.
Mafeo R. Vibal, 84, is a lawyer, legislative consultant, and current vice president for external affairs of the Philippine Association of Retired Persons.