I once read that Danes are the happiest people in the world - the article also said the reason for our happiness, if because we have a high standard of social security. Which made me wonder, what makes people happy in places where there aren't high standards of social security, I talked to my fellow traveler Christina about this and we decided to find out, what people in the Philippines would describe as happiness. So during our stay here in the Philippines we will interview some of the people we meet to hear their stories and thoughts on hapiness.
The last couple of days we have been volunteering at "Kanlungan" home for elders. The place is run by the very warm and facinating father Dare. They home has 21 nanay's and tatay's - all people who have a very special place in our hearts. We had the plesure of during an interview with Nanay Remy, Nanay Puti, Nanay Lina and Tatay Ruben.
Nanay Cruz, 83 years
Where were you born? I was born in Manilla, and I have lived there my entire life.
Do you have any family? No, unfortunately when I was 7 years, my entire family died of disease (namonia), and I was all by myself.
Who took care of you then? In 1937 I went to the convent where the nuns took care of me.
Do you have any education? I went to elementary school, and I finished grade 5. After this I became a cook, and I worked at a "snackery".
How did you became a resident at Kanlungan? My friends from church didn't wanted me to live alone, so they told me to contact Father Dare and move to Antipolo.
How long have you been a resident here? I have been a resident here since 2007.
Do you like being a resident here? I like it because here I don't have to worry about food or medicine.
What makes you feel happy? I'm not a shy person, I have always been happy. But when I hear music, I feel happy, and when I sing. I love to sing - my favorite song is
written by Julio Englesias, and called "Besame mucho" (starts singing). I also know some Japanese songs.
How did you learn Japanese? I was 11 years old when the war broke out. The Japanese took over our country, and they started teaching us Japanese is the school. So I learned Japanese from the teachers.
When do you feel happiness? When I'm singing and when I'm eating. I'm also happy when my grandchildren visit me, but it is 4 years ago now.
Do you feel happy now? I'm happy and lonely.
What is your advice on happiness? If there is music, then learn to dance to the music that is being played. Meaning, learn the habbit of life so you will fit in.
Nanay Remy has the most beautiful voice we have ever heard. When she is singing "besame mucho", it sounds like you have just put on an old gramophone with the nice crunchy sound.
I would describe her voice as a nice sound of Edith Piaf meets Nina Simone.
Nanay Puti, 89 years
Where were you born? I was born in San Miguel, Manila.
Have you lived in San Miguel your entire life? No, I lived in San Miguel until I meet my husband. When we got married we moved to Cabite because of my husband's work, and stayed there for 3 years.
Where is your husband now? My husband died in 1969 because he was drinking a lot.
Do you have any children? My husband and I were not able to have any children so we adopted my husband's nephew.
What did you do after your husband died? My son and I moved to Tondo, where I worked as a seller on the streets.
How did you became a resident at Kanlungan? I was living alone, and I contacted DSW (Department of social work), and they advised me to live here.
You said you were living alone, where was your son? My son abandoned me 5 years ago. He and his wife and my grandchildren left me alone in the apartment. My son doesn't want any contact with me, and he will not let me see my grandchildren. Even though I paid for my son's education so that he could get a job, I even paid for my daughter in law's wedding dress, and they just left me. Touched by the memories of her son, Nanay Puti starts crying, but after a short while she continues; you know… Sometimes I think it's better if we had never adopted, then I wouldn't be sitting here with a heartbreak. I'm afraid of dying alone - without my son.
Who took care of you after your son left you? My Friends.
How long have you been a resident here? I came here 3 days ago.
Do you like being a resident here? I hope to spend my time here relaxed and among friends. I hope my friends will come and visit me here to my birthday in March.
What makes you feel happy? To see a movie, to joke with friends, and when I dance.
What is your happiest memory? When my husband and I got married. We had a big party. I was 19 years and he was 29 years. We were introduced and got intimate, so we had to get married fast.
What is your advice on happiness? Live a simple life, be social and enjoyable.
Do you think the elder generation were happier at our age, than our generation? Yes, I think the elder generation were happier at your age. Because we were very social, and went out as a group. Now I see so many young people who are individual and independent, and they look so lonely.
Where were you born? I was born in Bacolod city
Did you lived in Bacolod city your entire life? No before I moved to Kanulugan. I lived in Manila for 16 years.
Do you have an education? I finished elementary school after grade 1, after this I worked as a helper for an American doctor, and as a seller of cookies and clothes.
Are you married? Yes but my husband died in a car accident when my son was only 4 months old.
Where is your son now? He is living at the house of his sister in law. Unfortunately can't afford to come and visit me, but the social worker who comes here to visit me, tells me that he is doing god.
How did you became a resident at Kanlungan? I used to live together with my son in his and his wife's apartment. But 5 years ago (2009) the typhoon "ketsana" / "Ondoy", destroyed the entire apartment, nothing was left. My son and his wife had to move to his sister in law, and I was too embarrassed to ask if I could stay with them. They are short of money. Instead I asked the captain of the city if I could join this program.
How long have you been a resident here? I have been a resident here for 2 years, I came here on May 16th 2011.
Do you like being a resident here? Yes I like being here because there is mass every day so that my faith can get feed.
What makes you feel happy? Every morning when we have mass, and when I listen to music, I get really happy. When other people are happy, I feel happy. I feel happy when I can share my life with others - "I share because I care"
What is your favorite song? My favorite song is "you'll never walk alone" (Nanay Lina starts singing)
What is your happiest memory? When I was young, we went to mass at the church every Sunday, after the mass we would walk down to the river, to wash our clothes and cook food, because we didn't have water in the house. We used to play by the river, and swim in the water.
What is your advice on happiness? Have faith and live a clean life. Do only good. Have faith in your heart and you will never walk alone.
Where were you born? I was born in Bohoy, Bisaijas
Did you lived in Bohoy your entire life? No I went to Manila when I was 13 years old to get a job. I only made to grade 1 of elementary school.
What about your mother and father did they stay in Bohoy? My mother and father died when I was very young.
Who took care of you then? I have 11 sisters and brothers, and my elder siblings took care of me.
When you came to Manila, did you find any job? Yes my first work was at a school as a genitor. But I have also worked as a waiter, yaya (housekeeper), babysitter and baker.
Where did you live in Manila? I lived in the office of the school.
Do you have any family? No I never been married, I'm actually still a virgin.
How did you became a resident at Kanlungan? My boss sent me here.
How long have you been a resident here? I have been a resident here for less than a year.
What makes you feel happy? When I play basketball and when I play. I love the morning exercise we do here, and I like to go walking.
How do you define happiness? When I do what I love - and to live a long life.
What is your advice on happiness? Happiness is to have a job, so I can get food, so I can have faith to live a long life - so I can give to others.
NB: Words or sentences might have been lost in translation!
Written by: Christina Ricther & Samantha Sabado