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Sunshine place is their gym, their studio, their music & dance hall, their succor |

Health And Family

Sunshine place is their gym, their studio, their music & dance hall, their succor

CONSUMERLINE - Ching M. Alano - The Philippine Star
Sunshine place is their gym, their studio, their music & dance hall, their succor

SM matriarch Felicidad Tan Sy with former Senator Santanina Rasul, Salma Rasul, and SM’s Rose Siaco

Today’s weather forecast: Cloudy with a chance of rain showers. But the foreboding nimbus clouds outside suddenly make way for a ray of sunshine as soon as we step into Sunshine Place, an oasis in the middle of Makati’s concrete jungle.

Neny Regino, our hostess with the mostest, welcomes us with a warm smile and leads us to our table at Happy Garden Cafe that’s abloom with sumptuous healthy offerings. It isn’t lunchtime yet but already, the place is fast filling up. And our stomachs, which seem to have a life of their own, are declaring it’s chowtime and so, we join the queue to the buffet table where sit food warmers carrying different dishes that are certified bestsellers of the house. On the menu, personally picked by Neny, are: a harvest salad of fresh greens with crunchy toasted pecans and crisp apples and tart dried cranberries with a dreamy, creamy pumpkin goddess dressing, fried truffle shiitake rolls with agave chile sauce, chicken satay with peanut sauce, pad thai, Korean beef stew, and Thai halo-halo (what’s that crunchy thing when you bite into the tapioca pearl?) for dessert. Meanwhile, waiting for us at our table are bowls of popcorn drizzled with unsalted butter and Italian herb.

They say that the sweetest memories are those shared around the dining table. And so, over good food, members of Sunshine Place (you have to be at least 50 years old to be a member of this place for seniors) reminisce the good old days.

•  Tess Castañeda, 67, former marketing executive:I was looking for a gym, as recommended by my cardiologist, to undertake physical activities due to my heart problem. I am a member of the Contemplative Outreach Philippines (COP) and a fellow COP member asked me to visit, and I felt the Holy Spirit led me to Sunshine Place to see the gym facilities. I was impressed with the gym and the gym instructor who was assigned to me.

“At the gym, I started to meet new friends and I enrolled in a dancing class not to learn the dance steps but to sweat it out.  Now, I come to the gym three times a week and coming to Sunshine Place has been my priority. 

“BTW, my last cardiogram was very impressive and my doctor is pleased with the ECG results!”

• Lucian Arulpragasam, 90, former high- ranking official of UN FAO based in Rome for 30 years and has retired in the Philippines since 10 years ago:  “Because of my UN work, I would visit the Philippines every so often.  I was so impressed with the welcoming spirit of the Filipinos coupled with the musicality of the people.  When my wife died, I came to the Philippines to be with my daughter who is based in Manila. I was brought to Sunshine Place by my daughter and coincidentally, that afternoon, there was a concert by Atty. Antonio Pastor and his brother Rafael who delighted the audience of seniors and non-seniors with classical songs.  I loved the place right away!

“I enrolled in a painting class and come to Sunshine as often as I can.  I go out of the house only if I’m going to Sunshine Place for my painting lessons and to socialize with members and attend musicals, which are offered twice a month.

“I go out of Manila to Sri Lanka to visit my relatives every year, but I come ‘home’ to Manila and to Sunshine Place.”

• Pearl Po, retired nurse, former member of the Professional Regulatory Commission  (PRC), US citizen by virtue of a physician daughter based in the US: “Sunshine Place is memorable for me because I attend yoga classes religiously, an exercise for my body and spirit, and my attitude!  I always feel welcome and consider Sunshine Place my second home.  I go to Sunshine to tambay, being with pleasant people my age, some younger, some older, and many young ones, too!”

• Dorothy Tay, entrepreneur engaged in a cottage industry: “I’m a cancer survivor and I want to show to my new friends at Sunshine Place, which has been my succor in my battle, that you can fight cancer without being sad.  Don’t be depressed because you have cancer.

“For the past two years, my new friends at Sunshine Place have been cheerfully lifting up my spirits.  Perhaps I was lonely (a widow who lives with my daughter who is so busy working), didn’t even know how to smile. I needed attention.  I needed love.  My business and my family did not give me satisfaction.



“My daughter learned about Sunshine Place through the papers and brought me here. The first persons I met were Harvey Chua, who was afflicted with Parkinsons but had such a positive aura, and Tweetums Gonzalez who gave me the sweetest smile and engaged me in a light banter, making me feel I was her friend of long ago.  I was hooked right away! I enrolled in exercise classes that gave relief to my imbalance, to the way I walked.  Then I began to eat with the other members and began to eat well, aside from socializing.  Now, I look forward to spending three to four days at Sunshine Place not only to exercise but also to watch movies, play mahjong and bingo. I also get to dress up for socials like our sing-a-long with Tweetums as host and concerts and even cooking lessons!”

You may ask, “Where is all this sunshine coming from?”

Neny is quick to reply, “Sunshine Place is a project of the Felicidad Tan Sy Foundation, an affiliate of SM Foundation.  The FTS Foundation takes care of the religious advocacies of the foundation and this advocacy of caring for the elderly is part of the spiritual care we give retirees who spent a major part of their lives serving the younger members of society.”

Ever the devoted and caring daughter, Tessie Sy-Coson dreamt of a place where her mother, Felicidad Sy, could relax, have her me time or have fun with her fellow seniors. Mrs. Sy comes to Sunshine Place often, to smell the coffee and even binge at Happy Garden Cafe. She’s not a picky eater at all, and loves tofu with cauliflower rice.

Surely, there’s plenty to enjoy at Sunshine Place, not just the food at Happy Garden Cafe. There’s “food” for the mind and soul, too! Here are some of the activities scheduled all year round, rain or shine, at Sunshine Place: Tweetums Gonzalez’s “From the Heart” creative writing class, Oct. 28, Nov. 4, 11, 18, 25, 2-4 p.m.; Ikebana-inspired flower arrangement with Marc Tomas, Oct. 21, 28, Nov. 4 and 11, 10 a.m.-12 noon; porcelain painting with Mee Lee Casey, Oct. 21, 28, Nov. 4, 11 (batch 7) and Nov. 6, 8, 13, 14 (batch 8); “Sing with Us” with Tweetums Gonzalez, Oct. 25, 6-10 p.m.; Tanjore painting with Rishu Kapoor, Nov. 6, 9, 13, 16 (batch 1) and Nov. 20, 23, 27, 30 (batch 2), 10 a.m.-12 noon; portraiture in charcoal and oil mediums workshop conducted by Art Association of the Philippines president Fidel Sarmiento with his assistant Charmaine Cristobal, Oct. 27, Nov. 3, 10, 17 and 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

For enrollment details, call 856-4144, 856-4162, 09175155656; email

Celebrating Sunshine Place’s third anniversary recently with the theme “Stars of Sunshine,” members dazzled with their songs and dances. Instructors of the dance classes performed iconic Broadway musicals. Le Bran (social ballroom) instructors highlighted Phantom of the Opera as a pasotango dance while Zoom-to-the-Beat mentors gave Chorus Line a zumba touch. Not to be outperformed were the social ballroom and yeba (an all-Filipino program that promotes a healthy workout) class members who staged their New York! New York!, Xanadu, and Cabaret medley with instructor Nikki Camasura. Class members teamed up with their instructors in a fiery Disco Inferno number with instructor Ida Ramos.

For here at Sunshine Place, there’s plenty of sunshine to go around for those in the sunset of their lives.

* * *

Sunshine Place is at the second floor, 56 Jupiter St., Bel-Air Makati.

For inquiries on SM Foundation, email; visit

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