South San Francisco Mayor Pedro Gonzalez addresses “Latino culture of machismo”

In Older Americans Month, Fil-Am CEO of care provider says: Old age is license to be outrageous

By Cherie M. Querol Moreno, Executive Editor, Philippine NewsMay 4, 2013 3:30pm

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Philippine Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon Ascalon, South San Francisco Mayor Pedro Gonzalez and San Mateo County Commissioner on Aging Soledad Manaay-Hayden have more than a few things in common.

All foreign born, they have embraced the responsibility of protecting others.

Last week all three officials addressed caring for the elders as keynote speakers at a free seminar and resource fair to usher in May, Older Americans Month.  Along the way, they disclosed deeply personal stories about enlightenment and healing.

“My grandfather was so influential and authoritative he made us believe strawberry ice cream tasted bad, so none of us 60 grandchildren developed a fondness for the popular confection,” Ascalon told a rapt audience that attended the 7th annual Our Family, Our Future April 27 in Mater Dolorosa Church here.

The diplomat spoke lovingly of his elder as he did of his wife, a counselor. From them and on-the-job training by clinicians, he said he picked up tips on how to improve assistance to constituents – both the elderly and the youth.

“We have to make eye contact, be attentive,” he said, noting in many cultures including his own that looking in the eye may be considered disrespectful.  “Be relaxed, be aware of your body language, take a natural tone of voice while staying on topic to show sincere interest.”

Three-time South City Mayor Gonzalez acknowledged the Latino culture of machismo that he said considers male domination and uncontrolled emotion as “normal.”

“That’s how I was raised in Mexico,” said Gonzalez, the first Hispanic American elected to his town council in 2000. “When I came here at age 21, I realized I had to make changes in my behavior.”

Gonzalez revealed how he had to adjust to the independent-mindedness of his U.S.-born wife Eldie, mother of their three children.

“We all need a lot of education in many areas,” he said, praising event organizers ALLICE Kumares & Kumpares and sponsors Seton Medical Center, the Philippine Consulate General, Thomasians USA and MD Ladies Club.  “Officials are supposed to know and solve everything because we  guide people who come to us to get help. Events like this bring the community closer to providers whose services are vital to families.”

A gerontologist and doctoral candidate in international psychology, Manaay-Hayden aimed at the mindset of attendees.

“We should all look forward to (rather than dread) aging,” she said.  ”It is a time to look forward to because it is a period when we can be proud of our growth, our journey.”

The founder and CEO of private provider Care On Call, Inc., Manaay-Hayden has been advocating for older adults.  Her goal is to “instill in everyone that there is  future in aging, that one can age with grace as well as be healthy and happy.”

She recommended baby boomers and others riding the Silver Tsunami, as the coming wave of population 65 and older is being called today, to prepare for that age.

Saving up, being active, keeping involved and informed, she said, are just some of the ways maturing individuals can do to be ready for older adulthood.

“Being old is license to be outrageous,” she added, urging seniors to engage in leisure activities instead of being isolated or cooped at home.

The former assisted living director has seen the effects of abuse on the elderly and noted much denial among both victims and perpetrators, owing to lack of education.

“We can learn about warning signs for abuse,” she cautioned.  “From the bruises to depression and change in mood, we who interact with elders must get education and know appropriate ways of addressing situations.”

The three officials provided a backdrop for the role play on healthy and potentially abusive interaction with elders produced and performed by the Kumares & Kumpares, as members of the nonprofit team of ALLICE community educators call themselves.

“Abuse prevention is a social justice issue that is very important to us,” said Frances Lidwell, president of the MD Ladies Club.  “We are proud to be united in showing support for our older population and offer help to the whole congregation.”

Pastor Roland dela Rosa opened the program with a thoughtful invocation.

Leslie Guevara of the office of state Sen. Jerry Hill (13th District) sent “high praise” to ALLICE in a certificate of recognition for ”building stronger family relationships and inspiring the community.”  Assembly member Kevin Mullin (22nd District) recognized the team for “outstanding commitment and active involvement against domestic violence.”

Some 150 people consulted with participating 23 community-based nonprofit family resource providers and public agencies.   Donor allies Lucky Chances, Moonstar, Outback Steakhouse, Forex Cargo, PAUW and Serramonte Homeowners Association donated food and raffle prizes.

ALLICE is composed of Alice Bulos, Bettina Santos Yap, Edna Murray, Elsa Agasid, NP; Erlinda Galeon, Jeannette Trajano, RN; Dr. Jei Africa, Jennifer Jimenez, MFT; Jose Antonio, Hon. Joanne del Rosario, Karina Layugan, Kristine Zafrani Averilla, Lina Susbilla, Lorraine Canaya, NP; Malou Aclan, RN; Paulita Malay, MFT; Lt. Randy Caturay, Robert Uy, Esq., Sarah Jane Ilumin, Rev. Mark Reburiano, and Susan Roxas.

For information about ALLICE, contact 2013 president Robert Uy at uyrobert@gmail.com.

Philippine News

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