ON GETTING OLDER EVERYDAY
Like Michael Jordan, I never also expected to reach the mid life period. I never dreamt of engaging age related diseases in a battle for supremacy. I have made a mark and some milestones and I do not wish that it be washed away after a period of age inspired relaxation. (I was the youngest Division Chief in then Bureau of Prisons —Corrections; the youngest in government as a matter of fact— at the age of 26. I was also the youngest Prison Superintendent —PS IV at 33, with the rank of a brigadier general in terms of salary grade. I have written several books on Prisons and Criminology—7 in all and still writing. Organized a religious shrine, drafted a prayer and had it imprimatured by a Church prince. Engaged and pushed politicians to back off from claiming penal farm lands. Co founded the college degree programs for prisoners; facilitated the establishment of the correctional institute for women in Mindanao; co-authored the prison rules and regulations. Those are feats considered unequal to this day and that in a way is already historical if not considered a niche and a significant footnote in the prison service. I was so young then that I was required to produce a waiver when I was entering the National Defense College of the Philippines. Had a prison director knew what correctional advancement was, I would have been conferred as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men for government service. It never came though, tough luck.)
Dying at an early age
Had I perished in my mid 30s, like what happened to Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and those similarly situated here and abroad, my name would have been warmly recalled and remembered. Most likely, a small interior alley may have been named after me. Or some friends may take fancy at my name, especially my nom de guerre “Venjo” and christened their sons accordingly. Probably, their shaggy friends would have fitted my alias too. Sometime ago, when I was assigned at Iwahig, Palawan, where most of exotic flora, fauna and wild animals can be found, I collected a number of weird looking plants and bugs (which in my estimation looked way out of this world) and tried to check it out if it has been discovered and catalogued already. It could be named after me for all the efforts. A Chinese sage once said, for a man to be considered worthy to be immortalized, he should do one of three things: sire a son, plant a tree or write a book. I have done all three and would offer another, pick an insect (pluck a plant) and send it to a university so that it could be named according to its founder/discoverer.
Contemplating on Life
Well, enough for such ego tripping considerations. Life goes on and sometimes accidents never happen. Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the country’s first President, living literally on the edge, for all his adventures, threats and accidents never fell down and subsequently lived up to a full age a year short of 100. He probably was never aware that he died in his sleep, unaware of what the world was. Had he died during his revolutionary struggles, he would have been the national hero.
Travails of getting old
While man gets older by the day, the world retains its usual youthful look, climate change or not. A lot of my friends, well my parents and sister for one, have crossed over passing on the torch to the next generation and here I am left to fend and understand what the world wanted to telegraph to its remaining population. Sometimes I felt so alone trying to understand what more do I intend to accomplish after much has been squeezed during my youthful years. I was already ripe to ride on the crest of having a good name to pass on but here I am still haggling and too careful not to disturb the gods of luck, otherwise, whatever it is that I have done would go down the drain as if I have never existed at all!
There are times when I would look into the mirror and would exclaim that I never looked that old yet. My barber would even patronize and whisper to me that I look twenty years younger. I have never reached the age 60 but my favorite quote was from a Hollywood star, Liam Neeson who said that 60 is the new 40! My children however would be more direct and honest in telling me that I look more of a dinosaur than a wild beast. I would oftentimes see my contemporaries and from there look myself in relation to theirs and I would admit that the universe is not remiss in its duty to impose wrinkles on its ageing followers. While man has to live on a daily basis, for the older generation, it is more on how gout would re-appear on time during the day.
In other words
The point is actually a toss whether one would embrace his age according to his wish to be young forever or ignore everything and act like a zombie which has been a craze already among the youth.