Wednesday , April 25, 2018

Tabada: Peter panned

TODAY is a double celebration.

As set forth in Republic Act 10868 or the Centenarians Law of 2016, the first Sunday of October is observed as National Respect for Centenarians Day. Oct. 1 this year also ushers in Elderly Filipino Week.

Why do we honor the elderly? We are not just awed by their feat of longevity. Primarily, we are grateful for the guardianship of our elders.

Contradicting the view that the elderly are past their prime and dependent on the younger and more abled are present realities.

In the gaps created by the global diaspora of workers, grandparents keep the bonds of family. In many Filipino homes, they do not just stand in as surrogate parents; they are often the only parents known by the children of their children.

People die, migrate for work, separate from spouses or generally flop as self-regulating, mature adults. Who frequently takes up the slack?

Even in households where parents are not biological and sociological catastrophes, the elderly are held up as exemplars of a life well-lived and, thus, worth emulating.

Paradoxically, Oct. 1 this year focused my thoughts on a 91-year-old who turned upside down all social expectations, as well as stereotypes, of the elderly.

When Hugh M. Hefner died of natural causes on Sept. 27, 2017, the press reported that he left behind a multimedia empire and a sexual revolution that shows no sign of winding down.

It does not seem much of a legacy.

The empire was built around a magazine whose journalistic highs and lows were bracketed by breakthrough interviews and the centerfold of a nude “playmate of the month.”

The magazine later clothed the “playmates” after conceding its defeat in 2015 by a more aggressive rival, the Internet.

Mr. Hefner said he “decontaminated” sex and chose the bunny as the enterprise logo to represent how fun and liberating the Playboy ethos was on the “romantic boy-girl society.”

His worldview was farm-like: “bunnies” were the accessible women in his magazine and in his life, and the “other chicks” were militant feminists, the “natural enemy” getting in the way of all that bunny play.

Even after bedding thousands of willing bunnies, he admitted, in his 80s, that he was still searching for his “soul mate.”

The world will never have enough of this Peter Pan.

“Pan” was one of the names he considered for the magazine. In J. M. Barrie’s stories for children, Peter Pan leads a group of Lost Boys in Neverland. His friendship with the human, Wendy Darling, is frozen because, although she loves him, as the boy who never grows up, he cannot love back.

There is life beyond bunnies and chicks, Mr. Hefner reminds us.