February 28, 2024

“How time flies” is a worn-out phrase. It is used especially by elderlies and retirees who have all the time in this world to spend in their golden years and soon realize the meaning of another frequently used phrase “Life is short” as they feel there is still much to be living for.
I went into early retirement from the judiciary eight years ago, with much eagerness to stretch our years of public service by returning to politics, but I was denied such opportunity. It was then that I reflected on my more than four decades of public life – serving pro bono as a new lawyer; as one of the youngest barangay captains without pay or allowance; as sangguniang bayan member; as member of the city council; and as a regional trial court judge appointed by President Fidel V. Ramos who offered me a post in the Court of Appeals but I demurred because Manila life is not for me.
Additionally, I had been active in several civic clubs and associations which gave me the opportunity to travel to several countries and for which the city gave me an outstanding citizen award. I believe that I had a fulfilling life as we were faithful to a tenet in our Jaycee creed that “service to humanity is the best work of life.”
I wanted to do more, as I can, but fate has it that my attention was redirected to the first tenet of the Jaycee creed, “That faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life” and realized that family is what life is all about.
I may have realized it late in the day, but I have all the time in the world during my retirement to devote everything to family that, although not neglected, played second fiddle to public service.
Now, my daughters have their own respective families and reside out of the country. Carla lives with husband Derrick Hamada, and their two sons, Sebastian, and Sean, in Lincoln City, California, United States; while our daughter Chantal lives with husband Rich Parker and son, Andoni, in Geneva, Switzerland.
My wife, Nena, thus suggested that we reside in Barcelona, Spain, where her only brother, Iggy, had been residing and we could visit our daughter, Chantal, and family in Geneva, which is conveniently just an hour and a half flight, from Barcelona. Chantal and Rich have work assignments in other parts of Europe or Asia and we are on-call to take charge of the household in their absence. We also make it a point to visit and stay with Carla and family, as often as we can and, again when Carla needs a helping hand. Soon, Derrick’s “work from home” arrangement may be terminated and that may need us to check on them more often.
In other words, our “apostolic” mission would take most of our retirement years and we are not complaining. Instead, we welcome it. In fact, being lovers of pets, we have the bonus of walking their dogs, discovering new picturesque paths (for me), and feeding their cats.
I know of some elderly employees who are most worried that they will have nothing to do or would simply get bored upon retirement. Thus, instead of retiring, they extend their terms of employment or work as “consultants” because they fear the unknown future. Their work environment gives them more sense of security and belonging than the outside world of uncertainty.
As for us, when boredom sets in, we find places to explore and visit. There are several museums and different churches to explore, concerts to watch that makes us recall certain lessons in humanities, Western civilization, and such other liberal arts subjects we were required to pass in college.
Just walking around the neighborhood, one’s curiosity is drawn by the games the elderlies play in the parks, or resting on a bench observing the fashion changes of men and women in keeping with the season – from the almost nakedness in summer to the fully wrapped mummy in winter.
This was never my expectation about retirement. It only came to pass because I chose to leave public service and devote my time to family and elderliness. We are lucky to have a comfortable retirement package and thank God with the legacy of integrity left by our parents, I was shielded from graft and corruption during my time in public service.
Last year, we had a family reunion here in Barcelona to coincide with the baptism of our only granddaughter, Amaia. The Hamada clan of manang Emy Hamada were present as they spent their yearly family reunion in Barcelona this year. Funny but, in all the years that I was working, I did not observe the growth of our family tree, how branches grew from the trunk and twigs now forming on the branch. I now yearn to live my life to see how far our family tree would grow. But as surely as we continue to breathe, we shall nurture it to a healthy growth where birds could also seek shelter, even make their nests, and sing in the spring.