NOT REACHING THE AGE OF 60
My mother passed away at the age of 59. My only sister crossed over at 57. My best friend left me at 58. And to think that science is already announcing that man in this generation has the capability to live up to the full age of 100. It is a pity that none of my loved ones came closer to said news. Crime (in the case of my mother) and sickness claimed the lives of my loved ones even before reaching the age of 60. That age could have breached midlife onwards to a potential centenary mark. Except for my father who passed at 86.
There were celebrities who likewise never reached the age of 60. James Dean died in a vehicular accident at the age of 24, and so was Eddie Peregrina at the peak of his career as singer at the age of 33. Marlyn Monroe, 36. Bruce Lee, 32. Michael Jackson, 50. Elvis Presley, 44. John Lennon, 45. Heath Ledger, 46. Whitney Houston, 48. Julie Vega, 12. Rico Yan, 21. Jim Morrison, 27. Benigno Aquino, 51. Steve Jobs, 56.
Luckier was a loyal friend who died in an accident at the age of 69. I missed him because of his loyalty, for staying with me, virtually leaving behind his family, just to serve and listen to my doctrines. My father moved on at 86. This was at a time when I could have repaid his the attention he gave me when I was a baby, accosting me while I was struggling to walk. I could have done it to him as he moved onwards to a period of physical disability. A corporate idol left at 95. This was at a time when we have bonded and almost sworn to have shared each other’s philosophy on a fruitful long life.
There were also celebrities who made it. Socrates lived up to 85 until he was sentenced to death. Nick Joaquin (aka Quijano de Manila), 87. Albert Einstein, 76. Emilio Aguinaldo, 95. Dolphy, 84. Leopoldo Salcedo, 86. Pancho Magallona, 77. Nestor de Villa, 76. Nida Blanca, 65.
I remembered an instance a few years back when I escorted my 77 year old superior (Prison Director Eriberto Misa). I was asked if I knew his friends in the organization to which I instantly volunteered that I know each one of them. My superior glowed hearing my response. I was almost given a bear hug and was pleaded to bring him to their respective places for a surprise reunion. I did. I accompanied my supervisor gladly to the nearest cemetery!
Life expectancy is a positive note in this country which is known as one place where stress is reduced to laughter, where desperation is almost ignored and dissatisfaction a component for rebellion, an extreme expression seldom assumed. Filipinos are never rebellious by orientation. They could even find something amusing in a calamity. As a race, they are mostly neutral, unaffected and uncommitted. They would rather cling to faith and fate than breach and hate. Their world view does not extend to global proportion except for the fact that for them stability resides in the family and wherever they are, be it in a remote barrio, far away country abroad or under the bridge, it is considered home. We are a country with few heroes, precisely because those who rebelled are a quality foremost and literally outside of the common persuasion.
Filipinos, generally speaking, are the most adjusted denizens in terms of cultural conditioning. They can be Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, even atheists. They can believe on anything as long as they would be in good graces of people. They can be better friends, collaborators even. They are good followers and natural leaders. They can stay in the sidelines, backstage or at the frontline, even on stage. Their character is always predicated on good timing. There are good singers. Look at the world stage where there are musicals, there is always Filipino in the midst hugging the limelight on singing.
Suicide is also lowest in this part of the region. They would rather be observers than actors along this line. Few would even die for a cause let alone ignorance from disease. And while poverty literally reduces chances of prolonging life, they are never prone of being succumbed by it. Death is always a curse, something alien to them. There is always a sign of life whenever there is death. Butterflies signify the presence of a departed loved one. Lucky breaks, most of the time, are attributed to intercessions from a beloved someone who passed away. Life in this shore is perceived culturally as perpetual.
For the ordinary Filipino, not reaching the age of 60 is immaterial and never an issue. They do not believe in death in the first place.