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Sing with us!

In two days it will be my 73rd birthday. Time for a massive change. The first will be in this column’s title. “Second Wind” was the title I gave my column when I survived my stroke sometime around 2004, I think. That’s 13 years ago. Thirteen reminds me of puberty. I hate those years, when I was going through them and when my children were going through them. So let’s forget them and start all over again. I want to talk or write to you from my heart to yours from now on. Hence the new title.

The heart is the most important organ of our body. It gives us life.  When it stops, we are dead. There is a new school of thought, based on a lot of research in the US, that it is our heart that controls our brains. There is no decision made without feeling. For the longest time in my life I believed the old teaching that our brains controlled everything, though that thought made me uncomfortable because I knew I never made a decision without my feelings.

When you hit 70, no matter what you want to think, no matter what other people say about how young you look, you know you are old.  You feel how wise you have become. You look at a problem and immediately you know its width, length, depth, breadth and you can solve it drawing on everything you’ve learned in the tremendous number of years you’ve been alive.

I began work at a summer job as a promo girl sampling pork and beans when I was 18 and ended up as president of an advertising agency.  On the verge of being named vice president of a multinational advertising agency I went to the US and became a secretary at The Hertz Corporation because I had no American experience. There is no experience I did not touch and that gives me a depth of wisdom that I hide beneath a thick coating of laughter and giggles.

I have learned that getting old can be fun. Last year I remembered that once I wanted to grow up and become a torch singer like Carmen Soriano. I took voice lessons, am still taking them now. Today I can more or less sing. Also I have the notion that we need a place where seniors can go and laugh and sing together without necessarily being in tune, so I tried to set one up in Punta Bar. That venture exploded in my face so I thought it was a total failure. But it’s not over until the fat lady sings, and I have trimmed down quite a bit. So on Aug. 16, 6 p.m. I will try to start one again, this time at the Happy Garden Café at 56 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati.

I really did not want to do this alone. I remembered once meeting a man with a beautiful speaking voice, Dr. Ed Tolentino, a retired psychiatrist. I called him and found out to my delight that he also enjoys singing. We have been practicing together and now we invite you to come join us and enjoy yourselves with us. We are not yet the world’s best singers, but who cares? I read somewhere that to age well you must laugh wholeheartedly like you’re laughing alone, sing like nobody is listening, and dance like nobody’s watching. In other words, stop caring about what other people will say. Just let your hair down and genuinely enjoy yourself.  Just have a lot of fun. So if you went and watched me at Punta Bar, come on over and watch us at the Happy Garden Café. We will help you age wonderfully well with a lot of outrageous humor for one night. I promise you we will be better this time.

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Last but certainly not least, the photograph in this column is new and it is my latest photograph taken by Patrick Uy, who was one of our photographers when I was working in Coca-Cola. We used to cover fiestas together. One fine day a few weeks ago he sent me a text saying he thought I should have my portrait taken again. How nice of him, I thought.  So I immediately agreed.

This is the result. I love it!  I look young. Actually, they set up the lights and put a big white piece of styrofoam slightly under my face. The light on the white styro sent a glare to my face and erased my wrinkles magically, no Photoshop, no facelift. Who doesn’t want to look young and sexy at 73? This is my favorite photograph so far. I will save it for display during my wake even if that happens when I’m fully wrinkled at 90.

So all of you out there please don’t bother to greet me happy birthday. I am already very happy to be a young and sexy 73!

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