Household is right here for you it doesn’t matter what: Filipino retirement

Moving from the family home can be difficult, but it opens the door to the next chapter. Forever Homes highlights the possibilities for retiring in style.

Pag-alaga ng mga kapamilya is a phrase in the Philippines that translates as “to take care of one’s family” and is anchored in the minds of many Filipino children.

It is not uncommon for families from the age of 20 to live under one roof, or family members from newborns to 80 years of age take up an entire street.

Joey Vee encouraged her Kiwi partner to leave the old people's homes and live the Filipino way with his grandmother.

Mark Taylor / stuff

Joey Vee encouraged her Kiwi partner to leave the old people’s homes and live with his grandmother in the Filipino way.

When Sam Atutahi visited the Philippines with his Filipino partner Joey Vee, he became convinced that they should forget about old people’s homes and instead go to his parents’ house in Te Kuiti to live with his grandmother.

And Diane Atutahi, who lost her husband last year, couldn’t be happier with the idea.

Living with her grandson and Vee rekindled her passion for music, said Atutahi. She bought a keyboard and taught herself to play, even though she had no formal training.

Diane Atutahi enjoys living with her grandson and partner.

Mark Taylor / stuff

Diane Atutahi enjoys living with her grandson and partner.

Music is a big part of family life – Vee runs Sam Atutahi’s band Melodika, a group of non-Filipinos singing Original Philippines Music (known as OPM). They opened up for big names in the scene in New Zealand and even signed a contract in the Philippines just before Covid-19 hit.

Atutahi’s favorite song is Manila from the Hotdogs, which she loves to hear her grandson sing.

She also learned about Filipino culture and cuisine, with her favorite food being sinigang, a sour but hearty soup.

Atutahi says she enjoys traveling with her family.

Mark Taylor / stuff

Atutahi says she enjoys traveling with her family.

But Atutahi says her favorite part of living with her grandson and partner is simply “society”.

She has enjoyed fun family outings – such as her first trip to New Plymouth to see the Taranaki lights in early 2021.

“She had the most fun of all of us,” says Vee. “We encourage Nana to come out with us and go on family trips together.”

The scheme also has advantages for the younger generation. Growing up Vee lacked grandparents as they died when she was young, but she says she can fill that void by now living with Atutahi.

Vee said that living with her partner's grandmother filled the void of growing up without a grandparent.

Mark Taylor / stuff

Vee said that living with her partner’s grandmother filled the void of growing up without a grandparent.

74-year-old Filipina Adoracion Cavaneyro Escandor lives in West Auckland with her two sons, a daughter-in-law, three grandchildren and her grandson’s fiancé after her husband died in 2019 at the age of 46.

“I love living with my family because it gives me a feeling of love and security,” she said.

Escandor has health issues that mean she cannot live alone. She has been thinking about an old people’s home, but says that she “sees no point” as the role her family plays “cannot be fulfilled by anyone else or anywhere in the world”.

“Nothing beats living with family because I know that you will always be there for me no matter what,” she said.

Adoracion Cavaneyro Escandor lives with her son's family after her husband's death in 2019.

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Adoracion Cavaneyro Escandor lives with her son’s family after her husband’s death in 2019.

Although she lives in a household of eight, she lives peacefully and at her own pace. She spends the day watching her favorite TV shows like Tipping Point, drawing by numbers, or going for a walk.

Grandson Jon Escandor said that “living with your grandmother is worth every moment”.

“She was always there when it was tough, so it’s our turn to return that favor and give her a life of freedom without worrying about bills and money,” he says.

“As Filipinos, we have always made sure that family comes first, because at the end of the day you will only have yourself and your family.”

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