“Tambay” is tagalized lingo, which originated from the English idiomatic term “stand by.” It means to while away time, to spend a period doing nothing, to just stand and well bid for time. This is usually an undertaking by those without any task at hand, unemployed, evading responsibility and yes, retired.
There is nothing sacred and sanctimonious about the act. As a matter of fact, there is nothing to it except killing precious time that should have been devoted into something productive. Unless of course, it is one’s duty to wait, to stay on post, to act as if one is literally a bird watcher. Nonetheless, it is no longer making “tambay” but something resembles a part of working, which of course is beneficial. To make “tambay” does not constitute any useful activity whatsoever. It is actually wasting time.
For the younger set, for those physically endowed, making “tambay” is almost like committing a crime. There is so much to be done, so much to complete, so much to undertake. It does not require employment to do something productive. One can clean the house, help people, facilitate something that needs an extra hand. One can be anywhere else and still be responsible in completing a task, whether it is worth in terms of being paid, or just being tapped for extending a helping arm.
For those who retired from, say, government service, to make “tambay” is almost synonymous to a rewarding period. It means leading a stress free lifestyle. It means being unstructured and fulfilling. It means a time for relaxation. It is a given situation when one is no longer grilled, suspected, blamed or censured. It is equivalent to ascending a step closer to paradise. It is a grace period when one has accomplished so much and that he was given a time to appreciate how he fared before. It is a reckoning consideration.
I am almost there. Well, except that my superiors do not feel like giving me the green lights yet. But I already could feel its ambiance. I could smell freedom a few latches away. I am already veering away from greater responsibilities in the organization. I wanted to be treated as a faded senior officer with only a few summers before I bow out eventually. Like a minimum security prisoner, I am just awaiting a few documents before freedom would beckon. The wait is as thrilling as watching the ending of a good movie.
But wait. I have a lot of friends who retired but never appreciated the grant. For them, they can still work. They detested doing nothing and there is nothing more rewarding than to continue working or seek employment. They dread that instance when their absence in the field would attract oblivion. They still wanted to stay in the groove, to be counted, not to be forgotten nor snubbed. They can still earn their upkeep and never have the inclination to be dependent. Hence, a lot of them would rather maintain a work load, come up with an enterprise if not reinvent themselves to be employees once again.
I remember my father. After he was handed over the compulsory retirement papers from government service at the age of 65, he still continued with his work in the academe. He even increased his load in the college so that what has been diminished in government, can still be filled up. When he reached 70, the retirement age of Justices, of Churchmen, he was disheartened. He wanted to extend his work as faculty. But it was the formal end in the organization. He must stop working. He must reorient himself to a life of a “tambay.” But he persisted. He does not want to stay away from any activity. And so, he established a tutorial clinic for language until my sister stepped in. No more work for the old man, she said. Depressed, my father withdrew into his study and from there he weakened and his health deteriorated. He passed away at the full age of 86 and still dreaming of travelling as a form of work.
The older generation had this exceptional work ethic, which the present generation could not fathom. Work for the older set was fulfilling. For the youth today, work is exploitative and almost demeaning. The older generation had philosophy to make their day. In this generation, there is nothing except an empty unmelodious space between their ears. It is a pity. The present generation had everything made for them at the click of a mouse. The older set, given the same advantage would have craved for more time in this world.
For me, whether I belong to the old or new generation, I still prefer to be a “tambay.”