No Comments 20 January 2014

By Niki Yarte

BABALIK ka rin, Gary Valenciano’s anthem for Filipinos abroad, speaks volumes to a special segment of the diaspora: Retirees who have spent significant number of years away from the motherland. With more time and resources on their hands, they may now choose to heed the call of family and the familiar and retrace their steps back to the Philippines.

Re-establishing their life in the country also comes with the practical benefit of stretching the buying power of their monthly pension. Aside from cheaper cost of living, the Expanded Senior Citizens Act also gives eligible retirees discounts to a variety of services – from healthcare, transportation, and lodging to tourism and entertainment.

With these in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ten things retirees can do to maximize their time in the Philippines and even make up for lost time.

 Go Rural

A quiet retreat in the countryside

A quiet retreat in the countryside

Retirees longing for the quiet retreat may not find it in cities as busy as Metro Manila. Hence, many choose to retire in places like Tagaytay, which was developed enough to provide access to quality healthcare and leisurely activities while maintaining its serene atmosphere. Retirement communities are also being developed in Laguna and Cavite that would give retirees access to healthcare and leisure within the villages themselves. Beachfront properties in Batangas, Zambales, Ilocos, and Cebu are also popular with retirees.

Open a Small Business 

Bibingkinitan’s main product is the Filipino snack “Bibingka”.

Bibingkinitan’s main product is the Filipino snack “Bibingka”.

Retirees can open small business like bake shops, laundry shops, and even Internet cafes right in their own homes to serve their communities. Franchising opportunities like food carts are also abundant. The popular Smokey’s Hotdog start at about P275,000 initial capital with the bulk of the expense going to the cart itself, which is payable in 24-month installments. With franchises starting at about P600,000, generic drugstores like the Generics Pharmacy and Generika Drugstore have also become popular. Groups like the Philippine Franchise Association can help retirees sift through viable options.

Take Up Farming

Ponderosa Leisure Farms in Tagaytay

Ponderosa Leisure Farms in Silang, Cavite

While any yard with enough soil and access to sunlight will do, retirees with a little more financial resources to spare may want to consider investing in properties like those offered by the Ponderosa Leisure Farms in Silang, Cavite – a gated community and resort catering to green thumbs. Avid enthusiasts may also wish to contact interest groups like The Philippine Orchid Society, the Philippine Bonsai Society Inc., and the Philippine Horticulture Society, many members of which are retirees themselves, and join their activities like trade fairs and workshops.

Be a Hobbyist Or Collector 

The Sinulog Festival in Cebu is a photographer's dream.

The Sinulog Festival in Cebu is a photographer’s dream.

Whether starting anew or revisiting an old hobby or collection, the Philippines has tons to offer enthusiasts of varying interests. From spectacular landscapes to colorful festivals, photographers and painters will always have fantastic subjects to capture. Depending on where they choose to stay, retirees may also engage in local crafts like pottery-making in Ilocos and embroidery in Taal. Retirees can pursue their life-long obsessions like what retired businesswoman Gina Lacuna did with her Puzzle Mansion. The popular Tagaytay tourist spot features a collection of more than 1000 puzzles assembled in a span of 30 years.

Immerse in the Arts

Christian Bautista as Prince Charming and Karylle as Cinderella at Resorts World Manila

Christian Bautista as Prince Charming and Karylle as Cinderella at Resorts World Manila

Retirees who have a penchant for ballet, theater, opera, and the like are in for a treat because local promoters are aggressive in bringing globally renowned productions like the The Phantom of the Opera to the country. These shows normally run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which also hosts a bevy of local productions. In the art and history front, the Ayala Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila continue to preserve and exhibit the country’s rich heritage. Taguig’s Mind Museum also hosts internationally touring exhibits, most recently the Da Vinci exhibit.

Get Involved With Causes 

Gawad Kalinga vounteers

Gawad Kalinga volunteers and beneficiaries

Using their skills to serve their communities, health professionals remain productive even after retirement. Dr. Remedios Cipriano-Gammad and medical technologist Mrs. Clarita Cipriano-Fernandez best exemplify this. Formerly based in the US, the retired sisters have been giving free medical consultations to residents of Barangay Pook in Aklan every weekend for four years running. And there is no shortage of causes in the Philippines that retirees can volunteer for or contribute to – from environment to education and livelihood.

Adopt a Pet

Retirees with extra time and space on their hands may want to foster four-legged companions, especially rescued ones from groups like the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) or Compassion And Responsibility for Animals (CARA) Welfare Philippines. Both groups are continuously looking for homes for the neglected cats and dogs that they have been sheltering. They also provide veterinary services like vaccination and spaying/neutering prior to adoption.

Explore the Country

The well-preserved city of Vigan is a cultural treasure.

The well-preserved city of Vigan is a cultural treasure.

Nature adventures like diving and hiking are big in the Philippines but retirees can still experience terrific but less physically demanding tourist spots. For one thing, the entire coast line from Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte to Camiguin and beyond is full of beaches. Relaxing guided tours are also offered in historical landmarks like Vigan, Intramuros, and Corregidor. Animal lovers would also be pleased to discover some exotic wildlife in their vicinity like the whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu (a popular haven among retired expats). Elsewhere, there’s the Philippine Eagle in Davao and the tarsiers in Bohol.

Catch Up On TV and Movies

While TFC and PinoyTV made sure that overseas Filipinos never missed on local TV, retirees in the Philippines who dreamed of spending their days being couch potatoes now have another channel to check out: TV5, which is currently airing shows starring Sharon Cuneta and Nora Aunor. Basketball buffs can also catch the PBA games on IBC-13. Local cinema is also teeming with offerings from major studios like Star Cinema and Viva Films.

Get Healthy

Retirees who choose to stay in the province also have the added bonus of exposure to generally fresher air. Combined with having less stress and more time to rest, eating fresh organically farmed fruits and vegetables, and doing simple exercises like biking, running, or jogging, retirees can finally achieve that healthier lifestyle they have been striving for. Those with access to the beach or pools can even make swimming a part of their daily routine.





No Comments 12 January 2014

By Niki Yarte

Pauleen Luna was around six years old when she joined Eat Bulaga’s popular kiddie pageant, “Little Miss Philippines”.

Vic Sotto was the host.

IN PHOTO: Vic and Pauleen

She is now 25 years old with a solid career in entertainment, culminating in her current stint as co-host of the noontime show. She joins the ranks of Coney Reyes, Christine Jacob, and Pia Guanio with whom she shares more than a significant career highlight.

At 59 years old, he remains an unstoppable force in the industry, a daily fixture on television, and a constant presence at the Metro Manila Film Festival.

It was while doing the promotional rounds for My Little Bossings, his entry to the latest iteration of the film festival, that he finally cracked the lid on what had been an open secret among gossip-mongers in both the media and the public: That the two of them had been dating for at least a couple of years now.

During his segment in the news program Bandila, talk show host Boy Abunda asked Vic, “Kung bubuksan ko ang iyong puso ngayon, anong pangalan ng babae ang nakasulat?”

The TV host-comedian responded, rather hesitantly, “Sagutin ko na rin. Pauleen”.

While this admission did not come as a shock to many, it was only during the telecast that either parties had openly acknowledged the relationship since entertainment columnist Ricky Lo broke the story in late 2011. Quoting his source, Lo wrote that Vic “showered Pauleen with gifts. He courted not just Pauleen but also her parents. He even talked to Pauleen’s father and assured him of his ‘pure intentions’”.

Still, no official word ever came from either of them. Maybe because there were quite enough eyebrows raised then but the pair had somehow avoided becoming hot topic in gossip columns and showbiz talk shows.

Vic and Pia

Vic and Pia

In addition to what was obviously a May-December affair, Vic had just gotten off his much-publicized relationship with Pia barely a year earlier. With all three sharing hosting duties on the same daily show, many expected to witness a real-life drama that would have put soap operas to shame. That Pia got married barely a couple of months before Vic’s relationship with Pauleen became general knowledge should have also fanned the flames of intrigue. Yet much to the disappointment of the rumor mill, neither observers nor insiders were able to discern any hint of awkwardness onscreen or backstage.

One can only assume that at his age Vic must have already mastered how to maintain that delicate balance between his personal life and his career. Wading through the public eye day after day without attracting any controversy does sound like an arduous chore but he makes it look effortless. To his credit, the women that he had chosen to pursue are of the less chatty and catty variety.

Dina Bonnevie

Dina Bonnevie

Many may recall that Vic’s affair with Coney was rumored to have caused the breakdown of his marriage to actress Dina Bonnevie, with whom he had two children. At the time, Coney was also Vic’s co-host on Eat Bulaga. Her marriage to basketball player Larry Mumar, who she likewise had two children with, had just been annulled. When Vic and Coney’s tryst went public sometime in the early 1990s, Vic and Dina had long separated.

Rumors ran rampant that it was Dina herself who caught them in her own home. Speculations about Vic’s plans to propose marriage to Coney were also rife but were ultimately dismissed sometime in 1992 when his marriage to Dina was finally annulled. Sadly, he and Coney have already called it quits, though they did sire a son together.

Both women managed to keep themselves quiet – something that the tabloid press at the time must have been frustrated about. Even Dina, known for her feisty demeanor, managed to control herself. These days, Dina and Coney can be seen attending the same Christian fellowship. Supposedly, it was Coney herself who sponsored Dina’s membership. How amicable – much like Pia and Pauleen’s continued working relationship.

Between the Dina/Coney and Pia/Pauleen era, Vic was involved in a series of romantic entanglements that seemed to have sizzled and fizzled without much fanfare. There was commercial model Angela Luz with whom he had a daughter, beauty queen Kristine Florendo, and flight attendant Pia Cabreira. Perhaps his only high-profile relationship during this period was with Christine Jacob, who was by then an accomplished athlete but a budding TV personality.

Indeed, there must be something about working with neophytes that stirs something up in Vic’s senses. Even in the earliest day of Eat Bulaga, way before his marriage to Dina, his short involvement with Chiqui Hollman, the show’s first female host, was well-known.

As for Pauleen herself, she may have kept mum about what attracted her to the veteran entertainer, but Vic’s former filmfest leading lady Cristine Reyes, who is about Pauleen’s age, may have hit the nail on the head. She was once asked what it was about Vic that makes him so attractive and she replied: “Unang-una yung looks niya at very neat siya. Para sa akin, yung pinaka-number one trait niya yung charm niya kasi napaka-down-to-earth niya, tsaka may pasundot-sundot siya na humor”.

Ever curt, Pauleen could only share that “Kinilig ako, yun lang” when prodded about her reaction to Vic’s televised admission. She did admit to being on good terms with his children, most of whom are about her age.

Vic would later admit on the weekly talk show The Buzz ng Bayan that he still believes in marriage. “Kaya naman tayo nakikipag-ibigan dahil ang gusto mong dulong puntahan ay yung ‘to settle down’. At the end of the day, pagdating ng gabi, uuwi ka ng pagod, iba rin siguro yung may kasama ka”, he said during the live interview.

So are wedding bells in the works for the couple?

Word from the grapevine is that Vic had already proposed to Pauleen but she turned it down. Like everything in Vic’s storied love life, only time will sift the truth from the hearsay.


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