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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.