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Relishing life as a senior citizen

I have always wanted to live in Makati, and I have been coming here before all the expansions, improvements, conveniences and beautifications were introduced. I enjoyed being part of the crowd, office workers mostly, who walked around the city, discovering new places to eat or shop, or meeting with friends on Friday evenings. I told myself that one day, I would reside in Makati. I even had the location pegged in my mind.

My dream came true, but I didn’t figure on getting old and discovering that I could no longer walk around as much as I would like. Still, a short taxi ride to the shopping malls is not so bad.

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The side of Makati that is so inviting is the Greenbelt area and its surroundings. It is within the central business district where high-rise buildings compete with one another in height, efficiency, beauty and location. It is a pleasant place to walk to and from one’s destination except for the summer heat or when the rains come and the streets are wet, but not as flooded as many other metro areas. Makati City after all is the financial hub of the Philippines, and I am really proud and happy to be a resident here. Whatever can be said of Makati, like it takes at least 15 minutes to drive from one block to the next, one can’t ignore the ambiance and conveniences such as the malls interconnected to each other.

The Intercontinental Hotel, a once-famous Makati landmark, is now just dust and rubble. We certainly miss its famous Jeepney Bar and coffee shop, a gathering place of some very famous writers, columnists and reporters. Recalling these brings me back to the time when a Diane von Furstenberg dress could be had for P1,000 at Rustan’s. That’s all changed now. Only very rich ladies and wives, or mistresses of the grafters in government, can afford to shop there.

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Present Makati is unrecognizable from the old Makati circa 1990. Kimpura, Angela Arcade and the old Glorietta shopping mall were alongside Rustan’s, facing a huge parking lot. The very first Jollibee which attracted the young crowd with limited budget was in a building that housed the Makati Post Office, which was torn down later to become a parking lot of SM. But SM expanded again and used up that space, too.

But I live on the wrong side of town across Amorsolo Street which is a blessing and a curse at the same time. We pay just a little bit lower taxes but we are within spitting distance of where the rich and famous meander, although Makati is getting some stiff competition from nearby Global City.

Amorsolo Street is actually two streets. The old Amorsolo and the one built above a canal which leads to Arnaiz Street and the ramp to the Skyway going south. Parallel to Amorsolo is Don Chino Roces Avenue which everyone still calls Pasong Tamo. In contrast to any street inside the central business district, Don Chino Roces Avenue is the exact opposite. To cross from my building to the nearest supermarket and movie theaters is life-threatening. The street is full of cars, jeepneys and buses, and carts loaded with fruits and trash. Goon-types hang about, being helpful for a few coins.

Sidewalks are filthy and uneven with cracked tiles and teeming with ambulant vendors. Parked cars fill up the frontage of buildings. Pedestrians risk life and limb, forced to walk on the street but one gets used to it, as with everything else. We take it all as part of life. Barangay Pio del Pilar will tell you that the vendors are under the jurisdiction of, and have permission from, City Hall. It probably means they pay taxes, too.

I am very happy living here even if our building is clearly on the wrong side of the tracks. When flooding occurs on Don Chino Roces Avenue, our building becomes a refuge for the stranded.

Dec. 9, 2015, was an important day for the senior citizens of “Barangay San Lo,” as it is referred to by the residents. It was our day to receive our yearend bonus from City Hall. In the past, as recently as last year, going to the barangay and then to City Hall for the canned goods were an ordeal one had to endure. But on that Wednesday it was the most organized incentive-giving day for senior citizens over the last nine years. We got our money and canned goods in all of 10 or 12 minutes. The canned goods themselves were an improvement. No dented, sick-looking cans but with added foods like a big pack of pasta and spaghetti sauce, fruit cocktail and condensed milk.

As a senior citizen, I would just like to put my feet up, watch TV or read the papers or a book all day long, but that is still somewhere in the future. Someone used to tell me: “Get up, get up, get out of bed; you can sleep when you are dead!” So, in Makati, because there is so much to do, we are encouraged to get out of bed and get going as there is still so much to experience in this city of dreams.

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Yes, that is living in energetic, vibrant, exciting and beautiful Makati City, and I just love it here.

Shirley de las Alas is a 77-year-old senior citizen who claims to live “a simple life, just taking it easy, meeting friends and sometimes, checking out the goings-on at City Hall.” She says that “the many enjoyable experiences I have is probably because I live in Makati.”

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TAGS: Makati City, Old Makati, Senior citizen, Senior Citizenship
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