Random Thoughts on Work and Retirement

A very nice Auntie approached me while I was finishing my iced lemon tea at the Chinatown Food Centre. She thinks I’m still young to travel by myself. I asked her how old she was and she replied, “I am a senior citizen. Still working lah.”

Exactly. I thought she was too old to be clearing tables.

Apparently, Auntie has a daughter who is still living with her and working somewhere in Singapore. She emphasized that her working is not caused by her daughter’s refusal to take care of her. She reiterated that the cost of living is quite expensive and that is why even at her age, she still prefers to earn her keep. Also, she is never quite used to doing nothing. That, to me, is admirable.

In the Philippines, the current population is approximately 102,000,000 and ages 65-over would be 5% of that. The compulsory retirement age is sixty-five (65) and it is seldom for the elderly to be employed during their senior years. Even the SSS retirement program isn’t a reliable source of funding. Although, currently, there is a P2,000-hike in SSS pension request being processed at the House of the Representatives, that would still not be enough to cover the basic needs. Once that has become a law, the lowest monthly pension of P1,200 will be P3,200. Other than that, it is common for the elderly to not have retirement benefits or savings as the country still has a long way to go in promoting financial security. Therefore, it is a norm for employed children to take care of their ageing parents’ basic needs instead.

Like many, my parents have not saved for their retirement. I understand that there are pros if my old folks would be working. They can spend their money however they want. They would keep on learning and they would probably be more social. However, imagining them exhausted and weary is disturbing. It would also break my heart if they go home complaining about rude clients or customers.

I admire the elderly in Singapore as they can fend for themselves and like that there are many programs catering to their needs. Regardless, I personally would not want my parents to be working at their age. Life for them has been challenging enough and I would rather they ride comfortably while I drive the carriage. I could only hope that my country would work progressively in improving the lives of the aged and would be a better place for when I reach my retirement.

So for now, I would rather let my tatay and nanay watch the news and be political analysts while having merienda.