Friday, September 26, 2014

Nariza Sarmiento Saito

On The Road To:
with Dr. Lilia Francisco Antonio

Sept - Oct 2015

Kung maglaho ang isipan
Ano pa ang matitira
Wala, wala ni ala-ala
kaya nga ba nakakatakot
Ang tinatawag na pagtanda
Baka di na maangkin
Maging ang mga pangarap
Na malayang maaapuhap
Tula ni Lilia F. Antonio,
From the book Sanaysay at Tula)

As Japan observed "Respect for the Aged Day" on Sept. 15, I started to think about how I can cope with the issue of "Aging." Inspite of including ampalaya, tomatoes and avocado in my regular diet and patronizing anything with green tea, it seems like I am on the road to the gray zone !!

I am visibly affected when I see old people struggling to get off trains or buses, while impatient salaried workers look at them with disdain, whenever conversations of my younger co-workers seem incomprehensible, or when I see seniors wandering in a daze as they face a flood of people at promenades!

Thank goodness, a card from DR. LILIA F. ANTONIO who gave me a different view of aging! She retired after 43 years of teaching at the University of the Philippines in Diliman last July 27. She wrote:
  " ...parang manhid pa ang utak at damdamin ko sa bagong yugto ng
aking buhay ngayon parang IBA na ang kahulugan ng pagiging

In shark contrast to how Japan's senior citizens view retirement, majority of Filipinos feel more energized with the newly acquired freedom especially for those who led socially active lifestyles! Most Japanese retirees face the dilemma of living alone without family nor friends or hobbies to pursue. And perhaps the most tragic of all as Dr. Antonio mentions in her poem is:

"Kung maglaho na ang isipan, ano pa ang matitira… Wala na… Wala na pati alaala!

Families with members suffering from senile dementia and Alzheimers will understand the terms "sundown" and  "twilighting" when the elderly's memory flutters into different periods of their life, or when they can't even figure out which is left or right, entrance or exit, or why they keep on wrapping and folding things, imagining people coming in and out of the house or even forgetting if they had a meal or not and, worst of all, toilet woes!

So before it happens, as soon as one reaches the age of 40, one has to plan activities to be productive and most important is to save for expenses to be incurred after retirement.
Poet, writer and, most of all, professor of Filipino,  Lilia Francisco Antonio, knew early in life that good health is priority, being the daughter of a doctor. Next, she knows that keeping herself active and productive in writing will be good for her mental health.
One of her early translation works is Antoine St. Exupery's " The Little Prince" in 1969, a copy of which will be exhibited at the National Museum of Ethnology in Suita City in Osaka alongside other translation in various languages. It was received warmly by the museum staff, Prof. Yoshioka and Ms. Matsugami last July 24 (see picture). She also translated plays of William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, Pirandello and Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero.
While teaching in Japan, first at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and then at the Osaka University of Foreign Studies in the 1990's, she produced translations in Filipino of great Japanese Literature like " Botchan" by Natsume Soseki, Amae no Kozo by Takeo Doi, and " Sikolohiya ng mga Hapones" by Hiroshi Minami. Upon her return to her teaching job at UP, she finished her translation of "The Tales of Genji" by Murasaki Shikibu.
In 2001, she was awarded poet of the year. Although, already in her fifties at that time, Lilia began writing poetry. Jimmuel C. Naval described her as "may Edad na nang magdalaga" and also went on to describe her as a teacher "sistematiko ang lapit, pulido ang hapit at kontrolado ang peace and order sa loob ng klase!”

Last Aug. 27, she launched another book to mark her retirement and start of a new chapter in her life and inspire senior citizens to do what they can to be useful in society.
Japan is under pressure to keep a population of 100 million to maintain its economy and with a slow birth rate, the country might need to employ people over 65 years old. With one if the highest longevity in the world, Japan's senior citizens are still capable.
Our friend Ninomiya San 's mother lives alone in their hometown and has just celebrated her 100th birthday. Another 86 year old lady still operates a shop selling her homemade meringue, while in Britain's Got Talent’s "Paddy and Nico" were finalists. Paddy is 84 but she danced like a 30 year old lady!

ATTRAVERSIAMO... Let's all cross over to the gray zone with grace and dignity !

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