March 18, 2007
THE ILOCOS TIMES - OPINION

THE CANADIAN CONNECTION
Ernie T. Lumaoang, Ph. D.

Retirement: Boon or curse?

Here’s something that may make would-be retirees rethink their plans of finally throwing in the towel.

A health news dispatch from Montreal, Canada has retirees – which include my wife and myself – somewhat unnerved with this stupefying revelation: retirement is bad for the health!

“If you’re near retirement, you may feel envious when you hear about someone who was able to retire early. But perhaps, you should think again,” the dispatch admonishes.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) which conducted the study that compared thousands of people who had retired with others in the same age group who had not retired, said that retirement may be dangerous for your health and happiness.

The study which looked at a healthy group of 4,000 people found that those who retired completely from the workforce saw their health deteriorate more than those who kept working.

It further noted that those who stayed physically and socially active, some of them by working part-time, pretty much escaped the retirement curse.

The lesson to be learned from the study? That even after you leave the stress of the workplace, you must still take care of yourself!

-o0o-

While we are on the subject of retirement, I am reminded of the perspective offered to me by DZJC owner/manager and friend extraordinaire, Medy Lorenzo, on my retirement two years ago, after 37 years in both public and private service in the Philippines and in Canada. I quote him thus: There are two kinds of retirees—the retiree who is both tired and retired and the retiree who, by virtue of having attained retirement age, is now tired but can not retire due to pressing circumstances, mostly financial. The latter, he went on to explain, is just essentially “re-tiring” so he can keep on going and going and going, just like the battery commercial on TV.

-o0o-

Two years into my retirement and I am finally recognizing the fact that indeed, I am retired! Consider the following proofs, or can we call them gauges?

I no longer rely on the alarm clock to herald the start of a new and grueling day at work. For some 22 years, this piece of invention was my slave-driver, the sound of which I came to both dread and loath. ‘Twas a relief, indeed, to get rid of it as fast as I can the instant I was retired. (Actually, my haste and my joy to get it out of my sight and my mind was more of a sweet revenge than anything else!)

I discovered that bedtime can be as late as 3:00 am, after continuously flipping from one TV channel to the other. Likewise, that breakfast can be had at 11:00 am, lunch at 3:00 pm and dinner at 9:00 pm.

To my excitement, I found out that there are programs on television and radio worth watching and listening to other than the 6:00 o’clock news.

The videoke machine at home is not meant to be used only once a year (at Christmas time, particularly, when family and friends gather together to celebrate) but as often as the urge to exercise the vocal chords surfaces.

I am finding there’s truth to the saying “Familiarity breeds boredom and sometimes contempt.” Silly clashes between myself and my wife are a reality. As both of us are now retired, we see each other 24/7!

I now find the time to pursue other pastimes, hobbies and interests which have been put on the back burner for so long (one of which is writing).

When invited to social occasions, I am usually one of the “select few” who can’t use the alibi “I’m sorry I need to go now ‘cause I am working early tomorrow.”

There’s no more traffic in the bathroom/shower early in the morning. No longer do I hear the familiar refrain “Hurry up, will you? What’s taking you so long in there?”

My neckties (I have since lost count of their number) are now wailing and gathering dust in a closet that has never seen the light of day in the last two years. If they could speak at all, they would be yelling, “Give us back our usefulness, please!”

The length of my sojourn in the Philippines is now longer than the usual maximum seven weeks. As I write this article, my wife and myself are into our sixteenth week of stay in the country.

For the first time in twenty-five years, we were finally able to spend Christmas in the Philippines last December.

The most obvious evidence I am indeed retired is that my dough comes only once a month now as opposed to the usual twice-a- month windfall, and that it’s no longer called “salary” but “pension” with a small “p”!

I don’t know about fellow retirees but the way things are going for me and my wife, the boons of retirement far outweigh the curses. And if not wearing anymore my fashionable neckties is a particular downside of my retirement, I’ll take that anytime!

(Editor’s Note: Dr. Ernie T. Lumaoang is a retired educator in Canada. Being once involved in the broadcast and print media in the Philippines, he has committed, in his retirement, to “rekindle once more his ties with The Ilocos Times” through occasional contributions which appear under the column, “The Canadian Connection”. )

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