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Formula for a longer life

/ 01:56 AM October 01, 2012

I am going on 85 now, which is the best gift God has blessed me with. Whenever and wherever I chance upon my friends and relatives and former schoolmates and office coworkers, they are happily amazed to see that at my old age, I am still up and about, healthy and strong. They invariably ask what my formula is, if any, for an extended life. (Indeed, if life is short, then why should we complicate and shorten it further?) They also ask what I do nowadays, having long retired from public service.

My answer to the first question is simple living, if you can call that a formula. Simple living for me includes a modest house with a few pieces of locally made wooden furniture, where I live with my wife. To this day I continue to wear the remaining few pairs of my ancient office uniform. Some new pants and shirts were small gifts from our children. Our simple fare consists mostly of fruits, vegetables and fish. We have eggs and a little meat at least twice during the week. For our relaxation, we have a small TV set bought for us by our only daughter.

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As for the second question, well, I do a lot of work in the house, barangay and school. Oh, yes, work greatly contributes to healthful living. For instance, on a mini “hacienda” beside the house I have planted a variety of fruit trees, root crops and vegetables. At harvest time I share some of the produce with our neighbors.

At home, my wife and I share the chores; we do not have a house helper. The kitchen is the exclusive domain of the lady of the house. Being the favored “kasambahay,” I attend to the routine tasks of marketing, washing the dishes, pots and pans, cleaning the house and environs, and running errands. I do minor repair jobs like fixing a leaking faucet, and even the roof. I repaint the house in areas that need a new coat. I tend to potted plants to enhance the ambiance of the place, no matter how small and simple.

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In the barangay some two years or so ago, I went around to raise funds for the construction of a shelter for the water pump on our street. The completed project cost a little more than P6,000, but not a single centavo was contributed by the Sangguniang Barangay.

On two occasions I organized and managed a 9-ball billiards tournament for senior citizens. Billiards is not exactly my cup of tea, but I can still play the game for three hours nonstop without gasping for breath (an obvious sign of exhaustion). While playing, I do not need my eyeglasses. I use these only when I am reading.

At the Camalig North Central School where I am a member of the Parents-Teachers Association’s board of directors, I supervised the construction of the water and toilet facilities in three classrooms. My personal services were all pro  bono, for the sake of the schoolchildren. The greatest joy that keeps me up and going is anything good that I am able to do for others.

Exercise is an important factor for keeping the body healthy and strong. I maintain three forms of daily exercise—spiritual, physical and mental. My spiritual exercise consists of our morning and evening prayers. In spite of our sinfulness and transgressions, we strongly believe that God will always take good care of us. I spend an hour, more or less, for my physical fitness. It is not the vigorous gym type of workout but the light and moderate kind appropriate for old people like myself. For my mental exercise, I read at random three books, including the Bible, after which I read my favorite newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, to keep me updated on events happening around the globe.

At our age, we need to keep the mind stimulated in order to prevent memory loss, dementia and, God forbid, Alzheimer’s disease. My other simple passions are writing and painting with watercolor or acrylic during my leisure time.

In addition to exercise, social relationships are crucial to good health and an antidote to various age-related illnesses, according to research studies. Medical authorities also say that such relationships significantly increase our chances of living happier, healthier and longer lives.

I have been sick and hospitalized a number of times, but not seriously, thank God. True, there are days when we cannot avoid the little aches and pains, the stress and tension, as we go about the daily grind of living. This is normal. I nonchalantly dismiss these irritations as part of the aging process. Worrying does not solve anything.

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Lastly, let me share with readers a personal learning experience. I have come to realize that we can never ever recover from any physical sickness unless we are able to heal the emotional, psychological and spiritual illnesses that weaken our immune system. The breakdown of our healing defense mechanism is caused by the toxins of bitterness, hatred, envy, selfishness, pride, greed, evil thoughts, etc. that ravage the body and soul. Let’s get rid of these toxins within us for a healthy and longer life. Now na!

Antonio A. Moran, 84, retired from the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports as a general education supervisor in the school division of the province of Albay after 40 years of public service.

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TAGS: aging, Aging Gracefully, Albay, Camalig, Fountain of Youth, Old Age, Simple Living
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