They are our angels on earth. While we are away from home to attend to work, they keep the house clean, take care of our children, prepare them for and fetch them from school, and cook hot meals that warm our stomachs at the end of a stressful work day. They are the lolo’s and lola’s—senior parents, or aunts and uncles—who even at their age—refuse to slow down.
It should be noted that some of our seniors had a difficult time adjusting to their new home here in Aussie. Used to the old ways back home and sometimes lacking the language skill to communicate with locals, our seniors had to cope in various ways to get adjusted to their new life here. And who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks? This new land of promise, along with their natural social skills, had them getting out in no time, and organising events and congregating with fellow seniors who do activities in common areas of interests.
We Filipinos are lucky to have seniors in our households. Apart from the chores they help us with, our seniors have a more crucial role for us, who now live in a multicultural society. They bridge the cultural gap for us, bringing in the culture of the Philippines and emphasising it in our homes. For us with children who have already been born here, this is premium as our young ones can appreciate who we are as a people. Their stories of their youth, while told and retold a thousand times, are the source book of knowledge which teach us how Filipinos like them thrived in several eras—pre-war to Marcos dictatorship to a renaissance of democracy after the People Power. There is much to mine in these stories, most important of which are the values we cherish and we want to perpetuate as Filipinos.
Because of these values, we are kept grounded and rooted to our Filipino heritage. While we have gained Australian citizenship, we should still guard our identity as distinctly Filipinos.
There is no better time to appreciate our own Filipino seniors than now. Not later, but now. This is the time to sit at the heels of our seniors, and be educated about life. Never mind if they are occasionally cranky, or sound like broken records regaling us with stories of how they evaded the Japanese during the war and had to feed your parents milk on a Tanduay rhum bottle, or how they had to say nice words about Marcos in front of the Philippine Constabulary or PC to evade being a target of arrest. Their stories form the link so we and our children have a glimpse of our past, and realise that each line symbolises a nugget of our culture. We can read many books, search the Internet, watch the many documentaries, but nothing will compare to seeing the glint in the eyes of the seniors as they recount their personal stories, a parcel of the Filipino story.
If you have seniors in the house, give them a hug as a way of appreciating everything that they give—from their stories, to their immeasurable love, and the values that you will carry and one day pass on to future generations. Tell them every day that you love them. Especially that they have feebler bodies and sometimes failing memory, it pays a lot to show them that we care and are thankful for their presence. Life is short, and even shorter for them. Lest they forget, a daily dose of hugs and I love you’s will be a good gentle reminder.