LAST March 08, 2018, SM City Pampanga was the venue of a senior citizens event under the auspices of the United Pampanga Senior Citizens Organization (UPSCO) in partnership with United Bayanihan Foundation, UNILAB, Inc. and SM Foundation.

Dubbed as: Active Aging, Health and Wellness Summit, the resource speakers, courtesy of UNILAB, dwelt on the dietary, physical, mental and spiritual needs of human existence that with proper combination will make the clicking of the clock friendly. Thus, ensure the art of ageing productive and wholesome till the last heartbeat.

Well, aside from those health tips that that quintessential broadcaster Mike Enriquez bandied about in the airwaves, the UNILAB tipsters restated the general rule: proper nutrition; avoidance of fatty and sweet-laden foods; moderation in physical exercises, e.g., walking, jogging, and light sports activities. Mental relaxation includes reading, writing, seeing movies and engaging in neighborhood-based bingo games once in a while. The spiritual dimension finds fulfillment in one’s religious orientation.

As an Octogenarian couple once prayed: O LORD IT’S US! We are lucky to live in a world we did not make. We beseech you O LORD to end social and economic inequity so that the bounty of the world is enjoyed by all from day one to sunset. Surely this prayer is shared by all, and its realization will make the process of aging fulfilling and dignified, especially to the less fortunate elderlies.

Meanwhile, there is looming certainty that UNILAB’s longevity advisories will receive much-needed boost through increased government support, as intimated by Congresswoman Milagros Aquino Magsaysay, the event’s guest of honor. Congresswoman “Mila” informed about her own legislative initiatives in tandem with her fellow senior citizens party list Representative Congressman Francisco G. Datal, Jr., including other proposed bills she is actively supporting, designed to mandate additional benefits to the elderlies. This well-deserved increment in entitlements addresses the issues of health, opportunities, protection and empowerment which are summed up in the acronym H.O.P.E.

To begin with, the HEALTH component seeks to establish Geriatric Ward in every public hospital. Being an exclusive ward for senior citizens, the dispensation of requisite medical treatment will be much faster and more focused.

With regards to OPPORTUNITIES, one intent is to liberalize hiring policies of business firms to accommodate still physically fit senior citizens for employment who otherwise are disqualified because merely of age status. Technical and financial assistance in the establishment of community-based small and medium- scale enterprises is also envisioned. This will enhance productivity and employment opportunities in the countryside.

PROTECTION aims to eliminate personal and psychological abuse arising from bureaucratic red-tape and indifference. Reduction of risk of physical injuries caused by vehicular accident, fire and other form of violence is also being seriously considered. The putting up of a senior citizens desk in every police precinct will go a long way in this score.

And the issue of EMPOWERMENT, aside from those discussed by congressman “Mila”, is the need for legislation to empower senior citizens, through their duly chosen representatives, to directly participate in the deliberations of local legislatures. When this happens, local law-making bodies will be privy to the wisdom, experience and patriotism inherent in golden age. Thus, transforming these August Halls as genuine partners in nation-building through the enactment of relevant legislation to spur social and economic growth in their respective jurisdictions.

And, hopefully, with the soon to be organized National Senior Citizens Commission, the integration of all statutory-conferred benefits/ privileges will result in the streamlined, efficient and faster delivery of mandatory benefits to intended recipients. Above all, the Commission will do away with the current indifference and exploitation by some local politicians that relegate our elderly sector as second-class citizens.

Finally, let us HOPE for a healthy aging. American billionaire Howard Hughes, lying-in in his hospital bed, asked his aide to look for anyone who can prolong his life. He said: “I don’t care if he is a janitor, as long as he can restore my health, I will give him half of my wealth.”