In the Philippines, people postpone their personal plans for their lives because they need to care for not just aging parents, but younger siblings. In the Philippines, if you’re the first one who graduates with a college degree and you have other younger siblings, it was a given that if your parents cannot send them to school, you postpone marriage plans to help them go to school. My brother-in-law did that. I did not need to do that because my parents could send all of us to school and graduate school. But in the Philippines where a majority of the people are in the poverty level, that is just a given. It’s like you were the first one who graduated and you have earning capacity, so you do that. It is a privilege in a way.
Your life is so enriched by their presence, you just give it back.
You’re so bound up with everybody in the family and you grow old with your parents, and you did with your grandparents. Your life is so enriched by their presence, you just give it back. In that culture, you have to say the name of the older person when you’re talking to them. For example: “What is that, Uncle?” You have to address him as uncle. It’s like ma’am or sir, in almost every sentence that you say, because that is the important respect word. So if you talk to a person even slightly older than you, you have to say that, or you’re very disrespectful. It shows in our language, it shows in the way that you try never to raise your voice at an older person. It’s maybe changing now with more westernized culture in the Philippines. But still I cannot remember any time when I really raised my voice at my parents, even if I disagreed with them, not even when they lived with us. - Kayalaan Concepcion
There is not the respect for old people here [in the U.S.] like it is in some countries. We spent a year in Japan and there they have the greatest respect for aged persons, which is lacking in some of our American culture. - Paul Guengerich
These comments were taken from original interviews for the Embracing Aging documentary and have been paraphrased slightly for readability.
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