Retired Fil-Am Army General urges youth to focus on care for aging parents

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

August 19, 2014

SAN DIEGO – As a U.S. Army Major General, Antonio Taguba probed the U.S. military and its torture of Iraqi prisoners.

Now retired, Taguba is now pressing the youth to look at their parents’ futures, traveling the country to talk about care for the elderly as part of the American Association of Retired Persons.

This was an issue his family had problems with when his parents got sick.

“We never had a plan, which caused a lot of turbulence in our family,” Taguba said. That caused a lot of rifts because the only people that lived with my parents in Hawaii were my two baby sisters. The rest of us lived in the States, and traveling back and forth on a schedule for them cost a lot of money. We could have had a good plan for my mom and my dad, but we made it into a crisis. Sadly it’s a lot of lessons learned.”

Taguba said that cultural issues such as pride and independence has at times made it difficult for Filipinos to warm up to the idea of being cared for, but all it takes communication to bring up the subject.

“It’s not hard but it’s also a commitment. And if you don’t do it in such a matter where you have a team, a family team, able to say ‘I want to do this for mom and dad’, it’s going to create a lot of discussion, maybe a lot of discontent. Because there’s a notion, ‘I’m giving my time to care for my parents.’ Well it’s a moral obligation for us. It has nothing to do in our culture, the Filipino. It has something to do with children wanting to do this for their parents. Giving back so to speak,” he said.

Taguba recently made several stops in San Diego in the past month and gave a presentation on caregiving and the resources that AARP’s website includes – such as programs, tips and hotlines that can help families plan for the elderly.

His presence has inspired many of the youth to look at their plans more closely.

“It’s about caring for the family,” said Leezel Ramos of the National Federation of Fil-Am Associations. “As our parents age, and myself as a youth becoming a young professional, I have to be conscious of how I’m going to take care of my parents and support my parents in the long run. It’s Filipino value ‘kapwa’, seeing ourselves in each other, and also ‘utang ng loob’.”

Based on his family’s experience, Taguba said finances, careers, health, and distance are just a few of the factors that need to be considered when determining how to care for one’s parents.

Taguba said there is no exact time and place to discuss care for one’s parents. But as people live longer and health remains a concern, he emphasizes that the sooner that plans can be made, the less bumpy the road will be in the future.

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