I had a visitor from Manila, a colleague, same age as mine but still in government service.  I retired earlier and played host to friends like him whenever they landed on my territory down South.  The fellow has grown older, probably because he was hospitalized previously and went under knife for gall bladder stones.  Even our topics of conversation have shifted.  While before we oftentimes would tell stories of adventures and misadventures, now I could only hear from my friend tales of ailment and body pains.

He was virtually a story book of illnesses.  But those were days gone by.  He came in like a conditioned athlete.  He no longer experiences aches and physical twinges.  He was youthful once again.

What was funny was that he got treated by a faith healer.  And this guy is no mean fellow when it comes to science.  Yet he subscribed to a shaman for cure.  I did not contest his belief for it might ruin our gathering.  He was already setting his sights on a distant future, a place only the juvenile would venture to conquer.

To make our meeting lighter on top of futuristic plans I introduced in our conversation the fruits of Davao and promised him that I will produce a couple of boxes for his pasalubong.

Thereupon, I immediately headed for the marketplace for the fruits.  It was my first time to check on the area, fabled for its cheap and fresh farm products.  And what impressed me are not the fruits dangling on several rows of stalls but those manning the store.  Most of them are more than their senior age based on their looks but they move with juvenile agility.

After haggling for my friend’s pasalubong, I went to check if I could note down and provide an explanation on something bizarre from my standpoint.  I want to know the secret of longevity by interviewing, yes investigating at the same time, those elderly store keepers.

I asked from one youthful errand who among the store dwellers was the oldest.  The young fellow pointed at a graying old woman.  She must have transcended the 80s based on her skin tone but when I tried to ask for assistance on how to determine a good fruit, she immediately gave me a practical outline on agronomy!

I whispered “Mother, how old are you?”  She responded and hushed, “I am 98 years old young man.”

“Mommy, what is your secret for staying that long?”

“I play dumb most of the time.”  Then she laughed. “That way nobody will mind you and give you stress.”

“How about food Mommy?”

“Nope.  No diet.  I eat anything I want meat, vegetables, I even smoke and sometime drink alcoholic beverages in moderation.”

“You must be a stickler of time like getting enough sleep and rest.”

“If you are in charge of a store, you must be alert at all times.  Fruits easily ripened and you must dispose it quickly.  That means planning, that means having to wake up whenever an idea crops up.  I do not remember an instance of having an undisturbed sleep in decades.”

I bided the grand matriarch goodbye and gave her my calling card as if it mattered to introduce myself and slowly zig-zagged away from the stocks of fruits.

I went to check other elderlies in the area and asked them to describe the oldest among them.  They were one in describing the old lady as the most boisterous, rowdy and always animated.  For them, the old lady always acted like a fool.

It was a day of revelation for me.  I have read treatises on how to live long, the discipline, the enumeration of dos and don’ts but here is one idea which I added on my notes coming from a practitioner.

That is right.  The secret of longevity is to play around grandly and pretend always to be dumb.  Not even a faith healer can dictate that to his patient with efficiency.