Exploring Age and Aging in a Local Philippine Setting


Ma. Cecilia R. San Luis

PhD defended at: 

University of the Philippines



The research explores the aging process as part of the institutionalized life course in the Philippines. The aging experience of seventeen (17) individual participants from Santa Maria, Bulacan (11 women and 6 men), 50 years old and above are documented and presented as life stories. Narrative gerontology is the methodology employed to document the aging experience of the individual participants. Structured interview using certain portions of the PSOA (Philippine Study of Aging) Questionnaire and semi-structured interview were used as data-gathering techniques. The transitions from one life stage to another (childhood to old age), as actually experienced by individuals, are presented as life stories. The institutionalized life course or the socially prescribed and culturally sanctioned, organized way of growing older through the years from birth to old age, is constructed from both the individual participants and from FGD participants. Two FGDs (participated in by 12 women and 9 men, separately) are done to validate the chapters of a life identified by the individual participants. The study found out that it is the family, not work as observed in western societies, which organizes the life of a Filipino. The domains of the institutionalized life course are: pagpasok o pagdating sa pamilya (being born into and socialized in the family); paghahanda sa pagpa-pamilya (preparing for family formation), and pagpa-pamilya (establishing a family). The ideal type of aging or the notion of what one needs to age well, culled from the individuals’ reactions to the vignettes presented to them, is associated with having a family (of procreation) and the economic resources in view of functional decline in old age. Notions and markers of age and aging are also included in the study. Age is chronologically reckoned first and 70 years old is the age commonly considered as old. The biological (bodily manifestations such as wrinkles and gray hair) and social (terms used to refer to older persons like may edad versus matanda and kinship terms used to address them like lolo/lola, nanay/tatay and ate/kuya) are significant aspects of age and aging that emerged in the study.