IF you ask me, the year 2015 is a personally significant one for a number of reasons. Now that we’re less than a day away from saying goodbye to 2014, I’m looking forward to the New Year with a sense of excitement as well as trepidation.
Come February, I’ll be turning half a century. That’s a grand way of saying I’ll be turning 50—not yet that old, but definitely no longer young.
Viewed in a different light, it means I’m only 10 years away from becoming a full-fledged senior citizen. Armed with a government-issued ID, I would soon be entitled to certain meager benefits and privileges my parents are now enjoying.
Boon for seniors
The senior citizen card would be a boon, for sure, since I’d be in need of all forms of discounts as my earning power begins to diminish within the next decade or so.
Based on my parents’ experience, the irony isn’t lost on me. Old age can be a bitch in this country. Your ability to earn diminishes or sometimes evaporates overnight after retirement just when you need every single centavo the most to address all sorts of costly health issues.
Retirement pensions are welcome. But at best, they’re just a tad better than nothing.
After dutifully paying taxes to the government all his life, my retired father, for instance, could barely afford to buy a week’s supply of medicine for himself and my homemaker-mother with his monthly pension.
Unless you have a considerable nest egg, surviving old age remains a daunting challenge in the Philippines.
Most reliable insurance
Your most reliable and sometimes only insurance in your twilight years are still your children. And since I’ve chosen to remain single and childless, that avenue is no longer available for me.
Besides, I find it unfair to impose on or expect your children to take care of you in your old age. Unfortunately, majority of elderly Filipinos are still forced to rely solely on their children for support.
Young, productive people fill the void left by government’s mismanagement, incompetence and lack of foresight.
My prospects are indeed scary, but far from hopeless. Still, dwelling on the near future is enough to give me sleepless nights.
And then there are health matters to deal with. If I was able to wiggle out of my 40s unscathed from any major health issues, I might not be as strong or as lucky in my 50s. Are the best years of my life over? I hope not.
Then again, like a passenger from one of those ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flights, I could suddenly drop dead and disappear tomorrow. That would have surely put an end to all my earthly woes.
Come March, I will be marking my 29th year in the company—the only one I’ve really known and loved (and sometimes have had misgivings with) since leaving college.
Unless management and union come to an agreement on extending employees’ tenure beyond 30 years, I, together with a number of colleagues, have a year or so starting January to think of other career options before reaching mandatory retirement. That’s another good reason for asking the doctor for some Valium.
Or, as the cliché goes, I could choose to see a glass that’s half full instead of one that’s half empty.
What if all the real and imagined aches and ailments I have don’t materialize and hamper my health and quality of life until I reach 70, even 80? What if advances in science allow me to live fairly comfortably up to 100?
What if the Philippine government straightens its act in the next five to 10 years? Coupled with a booming economy, a caring and responsive society with enough creativity and resources to take care of its elderly would no longer be farfetched.
The new 50
And with current advances in science, 70 could yet become the new 50. Should that happen, extending people’s longevity and quality of life well beyond 100 would become the norm rather than the exception.
As for my impending retirement, I could start viewing such a crossroad like the ancient Chinese once did—both as a challenge and as an opportunity.
Experiencing a major shake-out that would require you to leave your comfort zone is never easy. Even animals are hardwired through instinct to stick as much as possible to the tried and tested.
But sometimes, you need to occasionally go through certain personal upheavals to discover and tap into previously unknown reserves of strength from within.
Adapt or else
Adapt or perish. We may not be aware of it all the time, but that has been a choice we’ve been making every single day of our lives since Day One. Otherwise, none of us would be here anymore. Man or beast, the rule knows no exception.
There, I’m feeling better already. Whatever is in store for each of us, may we find the strength, courage and wisdom to deal with matters that need to be dealt with in 2015. With apologies to Nike and Adidas, let’s just do it because impossible is nothing.
Happy New Year!