By JULLIE Y. DAZA
There are between seven and 7.5 million senior citizens in this country. How many would qualify as superior seniors? I know that 50 percent of them are definitely, by economics professor and retired banker Maurice Lim’s reckoning, “senior-itas.”
When I visited Tessie Sy Coson’s gift to her mother, Felicidad— after all it was Mrs. Sy’s idea—a fun and activity center called Sunshine Place for seniors, I did not meet many of them at 11:30 in the morning, but those I watched were top-of-the-line candidates for superior seniors. They were doing tai chi exercises, taking dance lessons, trying their hand at painting, or sitting for a trim and relaxing in Vivian Yuchengco’s beauty salon. It was too early in the day to find anyone serenely delighting in a massage in the spa.
But downstairs at the Happy Garden Café, non-seniors outnumbered the seniors. Bo Sanchez the evangelist and his friends occupied a guys-only table. Two long tables were reserved by Chito Macapagal, member of the board of trustees of SM Foundation and Henry Sy Sr. Foundation, and Neni Regino of SM Foundation, for a Manila Bulletin party of 15. The most senior of the MB group was their editor in chief and publisher, Jun Icban, who’s somewhere in his 80s.
The lunch was on invitation of TSC, who wanted to show off Sunshine Place, known during its infancy as “the seniors’ hub” on Jupiter St. in Makati, to her Manila-based guests. I was surprised that TSC could even take a break from her super-busy working day to eat lunch with us, most of whom are strangers to her except Emil C. Yap III, president and vice chairman of the board. I was even more surprised to: 1) see TSC greeting Emil so warmly and so cordially, the two of them resembling ambassadors exchanging pleasantries like long-lost friends; 2) catch a glimpse of TSC enjoying a laugh with Bo and his friends; 3) be touched by TSC being so solicitous with Emil, leading him to the buffet table and encouraging him to try this and that dish; and 4) love every moment of how everyone in our group wanted photos of and with TSC, a star at high noon!
Conchitina Sevilla Bernardo learned how to paint at Sunshine Place. A few weeks ago, her exhibit of 50 paintings was sold out in an hour. Veronica V.Y. Wuson, a golfer and former journalist, also took her painting lessons here. When Tony Pastor, a super and superior senior at age 90, sang with his brother Pitoy and played the piano at a cocktail event, his performance was capped with shouts of “Encore!”
His tribute to Sunshine Place: “I am so at home there. Such pleasant people!”
For night owls after sunset, Sunshine is open until midnight, but only the spa.