Growing old


FAIR COMMENT | Alito Malinao

The first time someone called me “Manong” I panicked. It was as if I was jolted by a live wire. But my world really collapsed when I was standing in a commuter bus a young lady stood up and offered her seat to me saying “Lolo maupo ho kayo.”

That was more than 40 years ago when I was about 35 years old. I was then the news editor of the Manila Standard. I could not believe, much less accept, the reality that I was getting old. It seems that it was only yesterday that I was full of zest. When you are young, you don’t actually walk, you swagger. You seem to be always in a hurry.

As a journalist, I had irregular working hours. After working for five hours in the Desk, you have to replenish the zapped energy and drink. With fellow newsmen we met at the old bar of the National Press Club and drank beer up to the wee hours of the morning. At that time my quota of the golden brew was six bottles but after gulfing six bottles, I lost count.

Indeed, working in the media was a dizzying world. But all these are now in the past.

Last October 21, I turned 79. By all standards, I am an old man. And unlike before now I don’t mind people calling me “Lolo” or “Tatay.”

I wish to think that I have lived a full life. I am fully retired now after working as a journalist for four decades and as a journalism professor for more than 20 years. Because of my experience as a journalist and educator, I have written four books on journalism including the textbook, “Journalism for Filipinos.”

Now I have all the time to do nothing. Before the pandemic, I used to go to my favorite mall three times a week where I took my coffee leisurely at Starbucks while watching beautiful ladies pass by. That has been cut short because the government does not want senior citizens like me to die of Covid-19.

In old age, I get a little consolation from the poem “Youth” by the great American poet Samuel Ullman. Ullman says: “Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of imagination, a vigor of the emotions.”

“You are only as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair,” Ullman continues.

Of course, what Ullman is saying is simply “Consuelo de bobo” because is it state of mind if you have a failing vision and fading memory and you feel pain in your legs because of arthritis?

When I take my maintenance medicines for my asthma and hypertension, I feel okay. I can still drive and jog in my front yard for 15 minutes every morning. For me now, what is more important is I continue to have faith in the Lord Almighty and pray that He will shower me with His graces and bless me with a few more years in this world.

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