I turned fifty years old last February 9. Fifty! Split a century in half and that’s how long I’ve been in existence. I find it mindboggling, how time flew, and how much mileage my body has. It’s funny, too, because now I wake up more grateful than yesterday, constantly eavesdropping on imaginary heart murmurs.

My wish is to grow old as gracefully and beautifully as my mom. She’s my namesake and at 80-ish years, her posture is straight, her gaze is steady, and her language is crisp. Her sense of hearing may not be as sharp but given the political noise all around, maybe that’s not such a great loss. Next to her, I have always been a Gloria Romero fan. I wish they’d make more movies and telenovelas with her as a matriarch or even as a merry widow!

When I see young women in full bloom strutting in skinny jeans and fitted blouses, I’d say to myself, “I had that before.” Or on television, I’d watch women playing volleyball or tennis, and think aloud, “I did that before.” In quiet, intimate conversations with my beautiful daughter, Estelle, she’d share some of her concerns and a tiny voice within me would whisper,” Hmm, I think I also said that before.” Age is the defining line between before and after.

The good thing about turning fifty is that there is so much to look back on, wistfully, gleefully, and sometimes regretfully. That every year before 2012 led me to “50” is a blessing and never a curse. From the Beatles to the Bieber, I’ve known music that comprises the soundtracks of my life. From sleeping in rollers to hours of hair rebonding, my hair has gone through several evolutions of style, technology plus chemistry. And there’s motherhood! Ah the joys of it, and the endless worries, that goes with it! My daughter is 26 years old and I still worry about her, and I can tell that she worries about me a lot too.

So what sage advice can I give my younger readers now that I’m fifty? Bear with me as I list some of them down.

1. True friends are like socks. They keep you warm and protect you from blisters and splinters – mundane things that stop you in your tracks. The best friends are the socks that you keep in the top drawer; easier to get to when needed. To use another metaphor, your true and best friends are the ones you immediately think of texting once something unusual comes up.
2. Don’t take yourself seriously, because you’re never as good as you think you are anyway! Seriously! Even when you are on top of your game or a specialist in your field, there will always be off days. Your imperfections make you authentic and even likeable as a person. My take on the world is that there really are no specialists, only “specialists-in-the-making.”

3. It’s all about family. When my father died, my siblings and I lost an anchor, and my mother had to shepherd us all over again, just like when we were growing up and my dad was so busy with government work. Today, I can honestly say that my family is my anchor, and they know me better than my closest friends. As we grow older in life, we tend to do away with the distractions of being socially needy or trendy. The nights are shorter, our waking hours are longer, and the need to save more overpowers the desire to spend on needless things. My father lived a frugal life. I see now that it was more about necessity than choice. When one strikes fifty, the second chapter begins and no one but the Lord above knows how long or short that chapter would be. What remains is a family holding on to your book of memories, recalling lines, photos, and chapters from it particularly on birthdays and the 1st of November.

Everyday, from Monday to Friday, I host a radio show with Buddy Oberas over at DZXL (www.rmnnews.com/tv) from 10 am to 12 noon. I enjoy myself tremendously because though a public service program, my co-anchor Buddy, knows how to mix music and laughter well. We have fantasy questions every day where two winners are chosen for a modest prize of Php 50 worth of load. Our show, “Bantay OFW”, is a good tonic for me, to laugh and learn; which leads me to this last but not least morsel of advice: appreciate the gift of laughter. When I laugh, I really let go because the grace of funny moments unleash zaps of energy that keeps us young. Be thrifty but not when it comes to laughing. Don’t be stingy with smiles, either!

So now I’m a week older than fifty, and the road ahead looks a bit more blurry to me but nonetheless just as exciting. I wish all my kind readers more good days ahead as you write your own chapters in life. God bless! (Send comments to toots.ople@yahoo.com. Join me on Twitter via www.twitter.com/susanople.)

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

Share This Post On
  • Prans

    29 February 2012

    Even though my greetings to you on your natal day is late (very late na ba?), I say Happy birthday, hehehehe…..

    50 years is nothing compared to what you have done. You’re still young at 50, knowing that by heart, there are still things that needs to be done. As you said, Ka Blas and your family is your anchor, your advocacy in fighting for the rights of our migrant workers is a gift, and those migrant workers, unknowingly, you are their anchor.

    Finally, at 50 years old, I think you are at the threshold of living a life full of surprises and happiness.


  • Hi Prans! I just read your comment on my blog. Sorry for the delayed response. Ang dami kasing spam na comments kaya I don’t usually check the inbox. But your comment was really heartwarming. Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog. Take care always and I hope that your life blooms with constant happiness. God bless!