LOOKING IN ON WHAT’S TO COME:
The elderlies in the Philippines
When people grow old, they either have the option of being cared for by family or being cared for by the homes. In making that choice, there seems to be a cultural pattern or tradition that is prevalent. In most Western countries, where the values of youth, self-reliance and individualism are held in high regard, the latter is chosen most of the time. In Asian countries however, like that of China where the concept of ‘filial piety’ means showing obedience, deference and respect to your elders are honoured, taking in the elderly is a common practice. The significant number of the elderly in the Philippines population is not ignorable. In the Philippines, 6.8% of the 92.1 million household in 2010, make up the senior citizen sector. Among these, females (55.8%) outnumber the males (44.2%). The ageing index of the country was computed to be at 20.3% in 2010. This means, that for every five children under 15 years old, there is one person aged 60 years and over. But to add to add to this, these elderlies once contributed to the government’s institutions and their contributions should not be overlooked even though they seem to be well past their primes. They say, wisdom comes with age. Perhaps then, this paper, that serves to analyse the perceptions and receptions of the elderly, will contribute, not only to what today’s youth and the next generation could give back to the elderly but how the community and the country, could age with the elderly, both in years and in wisdom.
The discussants and interviewees have varied backgrounds from Quezon City, to San Juan City and Makati City – almost all have children, most are still married and some of them still live with their children and grandchildren.
The Female Prowess
Most of the respondents preferred to live with their daughters who are not married. If the latter is not fulfilled, they still prefer to live with their daughters over their sons. The respondents did not like being taken cared of by those that are married already because of: a) the inlaws b) the children and b) the husband.
On an FGD, a male discussant said, “Ngayon nga ang hirap nung may asawa kasi kapag kapwa babae hyan, mahirap magkasundo.” On an FGD, a female discussant said, “Nawala na ang atensyon sa magulang at sa anak na lahat.” On an interview, a female interviewee said, “Mag-iiba talaga may asawa. Susundin niya ung asawa niya.”
Despite the reasons they gave however, the underlying tradition brought about by the masculine dominated post-colonial Asian Catholic values puts an expectation and/or pressure on the female children as most of the respondents, when asked, prefer to live with their daughters going with the answer,
“kasi babae eh”.
The fact that no further explanations were offered by some suggests that it is understood what being a woman entails.
Another discussant said “eh mga anak ko kasi mga babae kaya spoiled din ako sa mga pasalubong at alaga nila”, implying that girls are generous and caring. Not only is it given in this case, but expected as well, because the respondents chose their female over their male children.
Like the sex difference in the perceptions of the elderly when it comes to the living arrangements they prefer, the birth order has a relevant count in the Filipino household. The eldest is looked up to to fulfil the cumulative responsibilities of the children, although it does not take precedence in choosing the female as the caregiver of the parents. The eldest might be a man and it is expected of him to marry whenever it’s the right time. Although the eldest is usually the bearer of the responsibilities with regards to family woes, he is expected to look at the family in a macrocosm (from his own family born out of marriage, to the family of his siblings, and to the family he was born out of), thus making way for the woman in the family to...
References: Lacson, Jose, 2001. Mindsets of the Filipino: a Research Agenda for Filipino Communicative Behavior.
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