If you ask me how does it feel to be 60, well, I would probably start with the admission that I initially had mixed feelings about reaching senior citizenship.
You see, there's the implication that being 60 means saying goodbye to middle age. If you get what I mean, yes, like canned goods, I'm about to reach my expiry date.
There, too, is the genuine fear that I may no longer be smart and durable enough to do the things I loved to do when I was, say, half my age now. Like climbing coconuts, tamarinds, guavas, mangoes, or even low sarisays. Like hiking for hours on mountain trails and river banks with a 10-kilogram backpack that seems to become heavier the longer you go. Like strumming the guitar and singing and drinking all night with only the moon or the starry skies for roof and blanket. Like gorging on lechon, kilawin, crispy tenga, pinapaitan, bulalo, chicharon bulaklak, alimango, and adobo along with ice-cold San Miguel beer, GSM or Coke, with nary a thought on their links to arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart attack.
But, on the other side, I feel grateful that I reached 60. Last time I visited the Dupax cemetery, I noted a lot of names -- among them my classmates way back in the elementary grades -- among the pantheons. Add to these my childhood playmates in I-iyo (e.g. Milit Lacandazo, Tony Agcaoile, Rilo Layugan) or in Domang (e.g. Ente^ Salirungan, Mandy Gutierrez, Oret Calacala). There are also my contemporaries in the forestry profession (e.g. Sammy Nisperos, Panoy Tolentino, Doming Ramirez) whose stars have brought them ahead to the great forests up there even before becoming 60.
Yes, to me life begins at 60. It is a life when, as my Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) ID indicates, I have benefits and privileges under Republic Act No. 9994. Right up front, I now have the "honor" of using the Senior Citizens' counter or line when I go to the grocery and drugstore. I can now claim priority seat on the front row of buses.
Well, to be sure, my ID lists the following discounts:
- 20% discount in purchase of unbranded generic medicines
- 20% discount in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants, recreation centers, etc.
- 20% discount in theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, etc.
- 20% discount in fare and domestic air, sea travel and public land transportation
- 20% discount on funeral parlors and similar establishments
- 20% discount on medical and dental services, diagnostic & laboratory fees in private facilities
- 20% discount on professional fees for medical and dental services in private hospitals facilities
- 20% discount in pay ward of government health facilities and free medical and dental, diagnostic & laboratory services and professional fees in service ward
- 5% discount on basic necessities and prime commodities from retail stores and supermarkets, but not more than P1,300/week.
A BIRTHDAY CAKE
To be 60 also means having a special cake (which I guess would not be repeated until you reach the next decade -- that is, 70). In my case, my fellow born-in-August daughter Leia gifted me with a cake that befitted my being a forester. Here's the evidence:
To be 60 also means having a lot of well-wishers. In the Senior Foresters Google Group, I got the following greetings:
In Facebook, account holders are alerted when a friend or friends are having their birthdays. I wish I could show the photos of the following greeters:
I also got calls thru my cellphone:
Finally, as part of the texting generation, I got the following:
(To be continued)