Decaf and Sugar-free: Social Change through Mommy?s eyes

Mommy is Dr. Marina B. Ruivivar, vice president for academic affairs of Rizal Memorial Colleges, and the club historian of the Rotary Club of Downtown Davao. She is an active volunteer of the Save the Davao River Foundation.

Years ago, it seemed to me that she was always in a hurry. She worked in a furious phase.  Though we have shared gazillion lunches she was contrite with this one when she knew this was for a school requirement. While sorting vegetables on her plate she quipped: I am now past my sixties and not as healthy as before. My being a workaholic during my younger days has taken a great toll on my health, but I have not stopped growing professionally, emotionally, and spiritually. Life for me is a continuing process of education. One must not stop learning new knowledge and keep seeking for the truth.

And as she sliced chicken, Mommy ruefully thinks that times have really changed. I would say it’s the fast-pacing movements, as if you are always trying to catch up with time. I am old and I know that there are yet much to be done and am running out of Time.

Like the rest of the aging republic she acknowledges that science has slowed down time, and she expresses her dismay. This generation is far from our generation in the past. Social behaviors have been greatly influenced by the Western culture, and the freedom that goes with democracy has been abused. Positive human values are fast deteriorating, and everything seems to be measured quantitatively and not qualitatively. Why must everything be equated with monetary price?

In between bites she recalls being a scholar and a working student during her college days. Early on, I was already exposed to hard work in the corporate world. I was exposed to a world outside home and independent of my parents. But parental authority still prevailed. This exposure and experience have contributed to my gaining self-confidence, professional growth, and the desire to fulfill my dreams and ambition, believing then that nothing is impossible if one wills it and work hard for it.

It seems to me that Mommy deemed her generation thought more deeply of the future, and labels the generation today as whimsical and disposable. Though she loves to reminisce the past she is also constantly wary of the future. I am afraid that we will leave behind to our children and our children’s children a troubled society and a barren earth, deprived of the natural resources we have enjoyed in the past. This and many more have caused much anxiety for people my age, but FAITH and HOPE have kept us going, and I believe we will survive. And this she emphasizes with a wave of her fork.

It hit me then that though Mommy is welcoming of the technological improvements of the times, she is also very cautious of its effect on the behavior and values of the people. She does not claim Utopia as she sees the processes of social change varying in each stage, and in each generation of society depending on the culture, circumstances, and external factors. In my lifetime, the process of social change is likened to a roller coaster with the speed of a river boat in stormy water.

Spoken like a true blue environmentalist, thus ended our lunch date one sunny Monday.

I invited her for coffee three days later. This time it was after office and I decided to be more thorough in probing. I asked again how life was back in her youth. She said life then was easy and simple. Families were very close to each other maybe because communication and information technology were not as advanced and as complicated as they are now. Today, family members, particularly the children, tend to give more time with their new gadgets than with each other. Way back then, communications are more on a person to person basis and information is through readings and the radio. Since life then was simple and easy, the cost of living was also less expensive.

Though change is inevitable, she added, it comes with cost, albeit, more unforeseen than seen costs. And Mommy has realized that the human need to improve the quality of life has not been without great deprivations and changes in the structures to fill in the need.

Forever optimistic, Mommy then tells me that she has grown in experience and has much to share with others especially with the young people. She waxed lyrical as she concluded: Life has changed along with the economics, social and political changes; but spirituality remains and is made stronger because of the growing concerns and problems.

The growing changes in society have influenced the attitude and behavior of people. Priorities likewise have changed especially in terms of values. Work is more difficult and time-consuming and energy-draining as the cost of living rises by leaps and bounds. Relaxation seems to be a thing in the past as one tries coping with the rat race in society.

I appreciated more the meaning of service and sharing, and have discovered that one has to give without counting the cost, and the return is a hundredfold blessing in life, earning precious friendships and genuine love from others.

And Wisdom has spoken and reasons along with Age…..with a cup of coffee — decaf and sugar-free. (Wilfredo Villocino, better known as Pidot, wrote this piece for his GM 201 Social Change class at the University of Southeastern Philippines where he is completing his Masters of Science in Development Administration)