A senior citizen's blessings and woes

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By Fe San Juan Hidalgo

Citizen Fe

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


A NEWS item which I read in our paper caught my attention. It was about the senior citizens who were complaining about their privileges, particularly, the 20-percent discount on the cost of the medicines they need. They had an impossible clamor. They want a 100 percent discount because they are very poor and have no money. This is economically not feasible for any drug store.

All Senior citizens must know these rules. Upon reaching their 60th birthday they can apply with the Office Of Senior Citizens Association (OSCA) in their home city or municipality. They are issued their official senior citizen ID card. They are informed about the privileges, which they will enjoy as a registered member.

There are many in the list. Very pertinent to them are medical attention, hospital, doctor, and medicines fees. They must present their ID to get the discounts. I do not agree with those who insist that any ID showing their age will do. Some even insist that by just looking at them they would know their age.

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I remember my experience with this. In one convention that I attended, we were asked to present our ID's. I was 65 and had tinted black hair. They had to see my ID. My friend was 55 and had white hair and she was allowed to enter without asking for her ID. You see. Looks can deceive. In all my yearly conventions I enjoyed privileges on transportation, land, sea, or air. Entrances to all heritage sites like the Underground River in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, museums, Landmarks, Recreation facilities are free. Restaurants have discounts also.

In Davao, my friend, who tendered a grand birthday party for us, 12 senior citizen card holders got discounts based on our ages -- 83 got 83 percent discount, 89 got 89 percent, etc. A meal cost 800 pesos per person, so thousands were the bill of our friend but after all the discounts based on ID cards submitted were computed, our friend paid some 4,000 only. Unbelievable but true.

Senior citizens are composed of the very poor who have no work, the numerous middle class group with employments, and the rich who do not need discount cards.

The big problems are with the very poor. They may live with the poor relatives, some beg in the streets. Some go to the Homes for the Aged. A nice aspect is this, Filipinos are known for the tradition of taking good care of old parents in their homes. They support them with love and care. Senior citizens, the middle class and the rich, have wisely planned for their old age by saving, buying insurance or life plans, trust funds. They are not burdens to society. These persons work hard and manage their finances well.

I remember writing a pamphlet on this topic- The Time to Prepare for One's Retirement is while He is still Young. In my case, I retired in 1990 when I turned 60. I was teaching in a prestigious MM school earning 38,000 pesos a month. I thought that when I retire I will have a big Pension from SSS. It turned out to be a measly, 3,500 a month. I went to the SSS office to inquire. The officer told me that SSS means social service share for the poor. So I have to share, this was a noble idea. But I learned that the low salaried group got also a low pension. That's government policy. What disappointed me was this. The issue about the officials SSS getting a bonus of 1,000,000 each .

One great opportunity for me was when I had the chance to have an unplanned second career.

The head of the school where I was a teacher in sciences requested to write science textbooks, four of them for Philippine high school students. These were published in 1959. When I started teaching as a professor in college, I was requested again to write seven college textbooks in the sciences. One written in 1999 was cited for an International Outstanding Science and Environmental book by Google Books for Year2000. This is entitled, Sustainable Development, Every Filipino's Concern. Let's Help Save the Earth. This was reprinted verbatim in the internet cover to cover. It had an Ebook edition. Amazon Books cited me also for an award. It was such an unexpected honor .My books earned royalties lasting till now with my latest books. Of course now, I am a columnist of this paper, the latest of the product of my writing career.

Back to my pension saga. From 3,500 in 1990 to this date my pension has reached 6,000. Compute this based on its 24 years longevity. My maintenance medicines after my heart attack cost from 1,300 to 1.400 a week. My senior citizen discount helped a lot together with doctor, hospitalization, laboratory tests, x- ray, ultrasound add up to big expenses.

My loving son and his family with whom I live taking care of me and loving me unconditionally are the best blessings I have as a senior citizen.

For my fellow citizens I can cite this adage-- What you sow; you reap. Work hard to assure you of a good future. Save. Spend wisely. Buy only what you need; not just what you want which are usually expensive and just a whim. I pray for senior citizens who are beset with woes.

For comments text cp no.09202112534.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 02, 2014.

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