Productive Beyond Age

Productive Beyond Age

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

— American writer Mark Twain

CALOOCAN CITY, Metro Manila — Just a few days after 70’s British-Australian pop star Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away from breast cancer at the ripe age of 73, our very own sprint queen Lydia De Vega also bade adieu, also from the dreaded disease.

It was a sad day for Newton-John’s fans, whose portrayal of Sandy in the 1978 musical romantic comedy film ‘Grease’ made history in the entertainment industry, and likewise, millions of Filipinos lament over the passing away of De Vega—lovingly called Diay—at the youthful age of 57.

We will remember Diay for having reaped honor and recognition for our country as erstwhile ‘Asia’s fastest woman’ and we will grieve over Dame Olivia’s death as a great loss in the world of music.

For English actress Joan Collins, “age is but a number” and she goes on saying that “(age) is totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.”

And this is what socioeconomic planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan seems to be referring to when he urged the private sector to accept senior citizens who are still physically and mentally fit for employment. The secretary probably took the cue from the actress and from advanced countries as well where there is no age discrimination in employment.

At 65, I myself feel I am still very much fit to work and in fact, I have done better now that I am a senior citizen as compared to the years I was employed in various capacities, including that being a journalist for the past 32 years or so.

At my age, most of my contemporaries are already retired (or else ‘resting’). I sadly recall the passing of a dear friend, former National Press Club president and veteran newspaperman and journalism professor Fred Lobo. The late Punchline columnist was 66 (slightly older than me by a few months) when he died.

To this effect, not all senior citizens can actually continue to work as most are saddled with health concerns while others are simply tired of decades of servitude. So it’s not really a problem if the country’s chief economist suggested that senior citizens be given opportunities and training in order to adapt to potential employers, especially in the digital space and in agriculture.

We agree with the director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) that our institutions, our practices, and our regulations should evolve and respond to the changing times. Moreover, life expectancy has been increasing in many societies, including us (the Philippines). In countries like Japan or South Korea where life expectancy has increased, society has opened up opportunities for the age-old members of their population.

At the same time, the former University of the Philippines (UP) professor of economics disclosed that he also supports a proposed measure that is seeking to remove the mandatory retirement age in the Philippines. In this Balisacan has argued that we must follow suit in giving opportunities to seniors who are 65 and above as they remained “very productive” despite their mature age.

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