Reaching the senior age of 62 is like getting to the mountaintop with anxiety and finding that the view is not bad at all. Your body is in reasonably good shape despite the tough climb. If you are over 62 years old, you went through a lot. You were tormented for 14 years by Martial Law and endured 10 years of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (so much hope, what a letdown for the country!) You enjoyed and witnessed the Philippines’ economic resurgence under a Pnoy Presidency. No offense to the best country promoter, FVR. President Pnoy brought unheard of growth and progress to our beloved country, proof of my theory that erudition and perceived intelligence are not the primary qualifications for a good President but a good heart, for it is only through the heart that one can see rightly. Now we are in the era of new President Duterte who also has a good heart and is folksy but whose methods and language need getting used to. I love the idea of having a Senior for a President. Instead of mellowing with age, this guy is rough, tough man!
You also saw technology evolve before your eyes. You went from manual typewriters to IBM Selectric typewriters (loved those with correction features) to desktop computers and now to smartphones. From telegrams to telex and mail to fax and now the internet email, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. You google instead of going to the library. (Deng, I loved the walks to the library and the peace I get in quiet learning!) You went from yellow columnar worksheets to Excel spreadsheets. These modern technologies are so empowering. Now young people work internationally without leaving the country in the BPO industry—thanks to the efficiency of digital communications. You just have to get used to seeing young people drink beer and unwind at 6 in the morning! You have to feel blessed to witness these wonderful evolutions unfold in your lifetime.
But shopping is one area that could probably be among the most enjoyable ones for a senior these days. Why? You almost feel like royalty! First of all, you no longer have to sweat walking around under the heat of the sun or be drenched under the rain—air-conditioned malls are all over the place! Stores are all in this one place accessible by escalators, complete with rest benches and coffee shops to park when your senior legs get tired and to marvel at the beauty of the passing scene! Or you can easily sneak into the movie house, also inside the mall, at discounted tickets or for free at certain days, as you can guess. Just try not to fall asleep, grandpa!
Talking about discounts, senior citizens or those 60 years old and above in the Philippines are given several benefits and privileges which make shopping, dining, and travel all the more enjoyable. For seniors, discount in restaurants is 20% and with exemption from the 12% value added tax (VAT). I just love to wave that senior privilege card when it’s time to pay for dinner, better than those patronage cards that younger people had to buy just to get discounts. Having a card really makes you feel special. But try not to argue that the discount applies to the meal of everyone in your table! Give the restaurant a break. Twenty percent off the price takes one-third of their gross profit. A lawyer argued that a senior card issued by your town of residence is not needed to avail of this privilege. Based on Republic Act No. 9994, only proof of age is necessary.
The 20% discount also applies in fast food restaurants, movie tickets, and drugstores as well as in medical lab tests and hospital bills. Five percent discount applies to basic necessities and prime commodities brought from groceries. A bookstore once gave me a 5% discount and a 12% VAT exemption.
You enjoy a discount of 20% in airline tickets and hotels, making visits to Palawan, Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, Bacolod, and Davao, including trips for reunions with families and classmates, more affordable and allowing you to work around your monthly pension or allowance from your grown-up children working abroad.
On top of discounts, you are extended courtesy priority express lanes in the queue for airline tickets, check-ins at the airport, passport counters, and even in some banks. (One day they will get around to allowing seniors on diamond lanes in traffic!) You feel like Prince Charles walking through the red carpet! Swishing through those lanes just makes you feel privileged and appreciated and that’s even if you never paid your rightful tax in your career life!
And you have to appreciate the Filipino servers who have gotten more subtle and sensitive when asking if you are a senior with a card. At the Philippine Airlines (PAL)
ticket counter, the young lady asked if I have a discount card and then whispered to me,” Senior card, sir,” when I did not get it at first. Of course some try to make you feel good by saying “You may not be old enough but meron na ba kayong senior card
?” I always fall for it and give a nice tip. You are prone to be kulang sa pansin
(KSP) when you reach senior age!
On a vacation in Japan, we did not get a senior discount at restaurants. But they had a Senior Day holiday. It kind of makes you feel as good as a senior samurai, even if you are aware some of them invaded the Philippines! I get so used to whipping out my proud senior card in restaurants when the bill comes that I was automatically doing it while in a San Francisco vacation. A blonde server had no idea why I was showing her my senior card but said “you look great for your age.” I did not get a discount but I gave her a nice tip anyway.
I mused sometimes that someday restaurants will take this caring for seniors to the next level by marking in their menu the cholesterol booster meals like crispy pata and chicharon bulaklak with a loving “Not for Seniors” or “Bawal po sa seniors.” Or they may simply create a menu for seniors and call it “Healthy Selections for Seniors,” as my advertising friend would probably suggest.
Being a senior also comes with a responsibility to be respectful and patient of other seniors. One time, a senior lady, who was at least 10 years more senior than I am, was in front of me at the 7/11 cashier queue. She was determined to get her 20% discount for her PhP28 soft drink and took a full 5 minutes before she found her card. The line was backed up but we all in the line were patiently waiting even if I was in a hurry. I tell you though, the younger kids in the line were more understanding than I was. I did not like myself that day.
We used to joke that women shoppers would be willing to walk miles in search of a bargain. And now that online shopping
is here, they spend hours in search of special deals. You can do these when you are young. But for senior citizens like me who still like to feel and see what we are buying, the senior citizen’s card is a blessing and is most enjoyable. We don’t have to walk miles to get a discount—a subtle recognition that we can no longer walk miles? Many of us who have worked hard and managed to acquire some real estate and ride in the internet and consumer consumption boom, hold a significant purchasing power not only for our personal needs but for the needs of our grandchildren. This makes shopping even more enjoyable if you have money to spare. And that doesn’t count the amount of joy and love you get when you come home with those pasalubong
! Hearing “Thank you Grandpa,” is just precious. Senior citizens live for those moments!
It’s great that we have a senior-citizen friendly retail and service sector that makes our shopping days easier and enjoyable. The peso goes further and the ubiquitous respect and privilege warms an elderly man’s heart (or whatever is left ticking!). You’ve got to love senior shopping in the Philippines. (But you will not catch me dead shopping for those Duterte style plaid shirts and maongs under my jusi barongs!) Cheers!