Every Friday, from noon to 3 p.m., businesswoman Nancy L. Ty makes time to socialize with friends.
Ty, who is turning 75, still enjoys running her family-owned holdings company in Makati—headaches, heartaches and stress notwithstanding. But it was not until over a year ago that she rediscovered the little girl in her.
Her friend, Dr. Rosita Leung, asked her to check out Sunshine Place, Senior Recreation Center on Jupiter Street, Makati. Since then, Ty’s life has never been the same.
“I realized I needed more time for myself,” she said, after years of looking after everyone—her children, her husband, the kasambahay, even the business. Everything she did was for others.
She discovered, too, that she could still make new friends the way she used to in school. She found it refreshing to meet people outside of work.
Her friends—all in their 70s except for one, who is 89—meet on Fridays to hear Mass, eat a healthy lunch and attendsocial dance class.
Mind, body and spirit
Sunshine Place, said head of publicity Millie Dizon, is a senior recreation club that brings people together for social interaction and wellness, and to stimulate their mind, body and spirit using holistic approaches.
Subsidized by SM Foundation through the Felicidad Tan Sy Foundation, the classes and activities are suited to seniors.
“In our society, the youth culture is strong. We look after the concerns of younger people; the older generation is not given much attention. After reaching their 60s, many have stopped working and do not have activities to fill their days,” said Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chair, SM Investments.
On the ground floor are the flower shop and the Happy Garden Café, a whole-food restaurant that serves healthy meals.
Owned and operated by Bizu, Happy Garden serves cauliflower rice, kale-based green juice and beet-based red juice. The chocolate cake is gluten-free.
“It’s really like a one-stop shop but with a very homey and warm atmosphere,” Ty said. “I’m a member of many clubs, but this place is more intimate and personal.”
On the second floor is the members-only Senior Hub where art classes are held and cliques like the Mahjong Club meet.
On the third floor is the Footzone, a foot reflexology center from Greenhills, opening in March.
The fourth floor has a dance studio, fitness gym and Vivify, a beauty lounge owned by Vivian Yuchengco.
The dance studio, said marketing manager Cris Moreno-Cruz, can be rented for events. The fitness gym is managed by Sunshine Place’s partner, Life-Care Fitness Management Inc.
Vivify offers salon services and treatments for seniors, such as hair-thickening, hair coloring, paraffin wax, hair shine and even fresh aloe vera treatment using leaves plucked from the plant in the salon’s garden terrace.
While beauty experts work on their clients, tea and cookies are served.
On the fifth floor is the roof deck for alfresco functions and events, and further down is the chapel, where many come to attend the Friday Mass.
There’s also a home theater lounge, a game area and videoke facilities. Members have access to the restaurant and all activities. The monthly membership fee of P3,000 is 100-percent consumable.
“[It was built] as part of the Felicidad Tan Sy Foundation, which focuses on philanthropy for wellness. At present, my mother and I are subsidizing the operation. But it makes us happy to see members socializing, happy and more active, who otherwise may just be staying home most of the time,” Coson said.
The instructors are carefully selected. Center head Gilda T. Reyes said that aside from being at the top of their fields, the instructors must have the patience, tolerance and heart for the seniors.
Reyes recalled that Fidel Sarmiento, president of the Arts Association of the Philippines who teaches the art class every Wednesday, once remarked how he not only teaches art but also counsels the seniors along the way.
Dances are among the popular activities, Cruz said. Flamenco, taught by Fundacion Centro Flamenco founder Cecile de Joya, has a student who comes in a walker. Her goal, Cruz said, is to develop graceful hand movements.
Popular classes include Yeba, the low-impact Pinoy version of Zumba in which participants dance to music from VST & Co. and Hotdog; tai chi; social dancing featuring Latin music; and Zumba Gold.
Exercise and memory
Dr. James Styner, an American suffering from mild dementia, visits the fitness gym regularly for his one-hour personal training. At first he had two male caregivers assisting him. He also couldn’t remember what he had for breakfast.
Today, Cruz said Styner comes in without a walker. Even more remarkable, she added, is how Styner can now remember what he ate for breakfast.
The connection between regular exercise and memory has been discussed at length on the Harvard Health blog. It reported a study, conducted at the University of British Columbia, which revealed that regular cardio exercise appeared to expand the size of the hippocampus, an area in the brain responsible for verbal and mental learning.
“Apart from physical exercises, there’s painting that helps develop the brain. We also want to look into the skills of the senior adults, such as hand dexterity and motor skills,” Cruz said.
Everyday activities like holding a pen are taken for granted by the young, but can be daunting tasks for the elderly. Activities like beading or painting can help improvehand dexterity.
It was here where former banker Meliza Gonzales, 55, discovered her talent for painting. With no background in the arts, Gonzales, upon the encouragement of her husband, joined the club and enrolled in painting class.
At the exhibit, she sold two artworks for P14,000 andP12,000.
Sunshine Place also offers nutrition counseling and fitness assessment. Ty, who developed Type 2 diabetes just before she turned 70, has already lost an inch off her waist. Not that this petite businesswoman needed it, but the thought of having trimmed down her waistline is enough to make her giggle like a schoolgirl.
At the club’s Christmas party last year, she and her friends performed the Charleston, dressed in roaring ’20s fashion straight out of “The Great Gatsby.”
“The point to all this is we have fun. It has been a long time since I got so excited about something. Even looking for our costumes was fun. I love it here,” Ty said.
Sunshine Place isat 56 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati City; tel. 8564144, 8564162 or 0917-5155656. Visit its Facebook page here for more info, or e-mail [email protected].