Live the best way you can, be grateful and caring
TORONTO – PAZ Lim was one of the seniors who participated in the recent study conducted by University of Toronto and Filipino Centre Toronto researchers focused on Filipino elderly wellbeing.
Attending the launch of the report with her close friends and dozens of other seniors who participated in the survey, she stood out as some kind of a celebrity, for she was the the oldest participant — 100 years old, according to everyone at the launch – seniors, researchers, included.
When I approached her for a brief interview, she willingly obliged, even posing solo or with guests for The Philippine Reporter, proudly displaying three of her treasured congratulatory birthday greeting certificates from government officials and politicians.
An articulate woman, she answered all questions briskly with crisp sentences.
So what is your secret for a long life?
“Nothing,” she replied.
How about your diet? “I eat everything, except, except milk cheese and oranges, which are laxative for me. I eat salted fish bagoong which I buy in a Filipino store; “humba” a pork stomach delicacy I buy in a Chinese restaurant; and when I take coffee, I add eight packs of sugar, white or brown.”
She confessed: “The only thing I don’t know is cooking. I only cook rice, boil eggs, steam vegetables and add soy sauce, that’s all.”
Do you exercise? “No,” she said. “I just walk around the house to do chores like cleaning the floor with my hands with vinegar and water, doing laundry and ironing my own clothes, and when I have to go out, I take the bus and the subway.”
How about your social life? “I go to church Wednesday and Sunday, then socialize with friends. I also attend conferences, seminars and workshops on any subject matter.”
Asked for a sample seminar, she replied: “Raymond Aaron’s seminars on wealth building.” Raymond Aaron is a well-known speaker on this topic, from real estate, to book-writing.
“In fact Raymond Aaron asked me to write a book titled “Never Too Late.” I started but I stopped, because I am going home to the Philippine for four months, then come back,” she said.
What are you going to do there?
“My family is celebrating my 100th birthday in Tagbilaran, Bohol, where I come from. Relatives from, New York, California, Las Vegas, Buffalo and all over the United States, and Canada, especially Vancouver, are coming home to attend,” she said with excitement.
But why four months?
“I have to work on documents about my properties in the Philippine because I am handing them down to my nephews and nieces. I have handed down one half of my properties already, but I have to leave a little bit for myself, because according to Philippine laws, you cannot hand all of them to others because you have to leave for yourself some while you are still alive,” she explained with the confidence of a legal sage.
Then, she confided to this writer that there is one important thing that needs to be clarified: “I was actually born on September 15, 1915, but according to Chinese tradition, when a child is born, he or she is considered one-year old. Now, this year, I am 99 but 99 is not a good number so I have to jump to 100 to celebrate my Chinese birthdate,” the grand old lady clarified with a firm voice.
Paz Lim was born to a huge family of 14 children in Tagbilaran, Bohol.
Her father was a buy-and-sell businessman who was from Amoy, China. Lim Cua, “the richest man in the province of Bohol,” she proudly said. Her mother was the second wife, who gave birth to eight children – two boys and six girls – with Paz as the eldest. With his first wife, a Chinese woman who died before he met Paz’s mother, he had six children.
“We all grew up together, all fourteen of us, she said, and we were close and did not fight with each other,” she said with pride.
Now, there are only three of them left, a brother and a sister.
Lim remembers the day she arrived Canada as a visitor on July 22, 1972, she right away wanted to be an immigrant. So I went to Canada Immigration the next day of my arrival to apply to become an immigrant.
A college graduate in the Philippines, major in accounting and minor in office procedures, her first job was that of an accountant. She has remained happily single, and now lives independently in a seniors apartment.
She appreciates being a survey participant in the research which she considers a “very important” project by FCT and University of Toronto.
“I wanted to say something during the launching of the report, but was not able to. I wanted to suggest that Filipinos should form a foundation to financially help Filipino seniors,” she said. “These seniors,” she continued, “used to be king and queen of their home in the Philippines, but when they come here, they end up as cooks, baby sitters and housekeepers to help their children, who are also mostly not well off,” she said. Not that they don’t want to play these roles to help their loved ones, she adds, but many are old and frail, and when they themselves need money so they have sufficient food and medical provisions, they don’t let their children know, she continued.
If there is anything that Filipino seniors need, it is enough money to see them through and live with dignity in their final years, if you take the opinion of this Filipino-Canadian centenarian who goes to libraries to read books of various kinds, newspapers including The Philippine Reporter, which she always gets from the store, gives away her properties to her less fortunate relatives, goes to church regu;arly and socializes with her fellow seniors, and defies all modern advice to healthy living by eating salty and fatty foods, drinking coffee with “lots of sugar,” and not exercising except for doing daily chores and walking to do some errands.
However, there is one trait that she shares with other centenarians and long-living elderlies studied in the book about the secrets of living longer, titled, “Blue Zones” by author Dan Buettner, and that is: having a positive attitude and a purpose for living.
For Paz Lim, who claims she likes friends, has no enemies, shares what she has with others, and believes in perpetual learning through books and seminars, her purpose in life is simply “living the best way I can,” “being thankful with what I have” and caring for others.