MANILA -- At 60 years old, educator Zenaida Sandiego Singson remains unstoppable. The grandmother of two has no plans to retire -- not in the next four to five years, at least.
With over three decades of teaching experience, Singson has been assigned by the Department of Education (DepEd) to two positions: as district supervisor of DepEd's Navotas City Division; and as appointed principal of a public school.
Despite her enormous responsibilities, Singson never seems to get tired. She even has time to run their household, bond with her grandchildren, and support her children's endeavors.
What's her secret? It's holistic wellness, she said.
"Minsan kapag magpapakita ako ng discount card, hindi pinaniniwalaan because I'm young-looking daw. Sabi ko naman, ayaw lang nilang magbigay ng discount," she said in jest.
SWEATING OUT THE STRESS
Cardio workouts are one of the favorite activities of Singson, who invested in a gym membership and some personal workout equipment at home.
"I always see to it na nag-e-exercise ako before going to work. Kahit five minutes, two minutes, okay na sa akin 'yon," she said.
When she's able to leave work early, she sees to it that she hits the gym to lift some weights and sweat out the stress. This helps her stay physically strong and mentally sound, she said.
"Sabi nga ng mga teachers, 'Ma'am, mas mabilis ka pa ngang lumakad kaysa sa amin.' I can walk two kilometers ng diretso e," she said.
Her main goal? "I always see to it na healthy ang aking lifestyle, baka hindi ko na makita 'yong apo ko sa bunso ko."
FROM LIFESTYLE TO ADVOCACY
Beyond ensuring high quality education in Navotas City, Singson also sees to it that the students and the teachers are healthy, fit, and well.
She advocates regular exercise, which they usually hold during Mondays, and ensures that there are healthy food options in the canteen.
"Binabalik ko 'yong dating pagkain namin noong araw. Tulad ng kamote, root crops, mga gulay," she said.
She also spearheads a feeding program that promotes malunggay as the key ingredient in soups and stews.
"May mga nanay na hindi na nakakapagluto dahil they're working. Kaya naman sa school, we make sure na na-su-supplement ang nutrition ng mga bata," she said.
TIPS TO YOUNGER EDUCATORS
While molding young minds can be a very challenging task, Singson said the biggest challenge for educators nowadays is actually reinventing themselves and keeping up with a new generation of learners.
"Kailangan nilang i-balance 'yong work at saka 'yong family, at saka 'yong health. They must always see to it na may rest, and recreation. 'Yong dalawang 'R' na 'yon," she said.
Singson also emphasized that students are gradually evolving. They seek fast information and innovative instructional methods.
"Iba na ngayon ang mga estudyante, mga 21st century learners, ay talagang iba. Ayaw nila ng mabagal, gusto nila fast-paced ang mga teachers. Kaya dapat ang mga teachers, marunong din mag-adapt doon sa mga gusto ng learners nila," she said.
That's why she encourages her fellow educators to keep reinventing themselves. This way, they can cope with the demands of the profession. "Dapat fast movers and thinkers din sila [teachers]. Kaya importanate ang wellness," she said.
A COMMUNITY FUELED BY WELLNESS
Singson was one of the participants of the Global Wellness Day celebration held at Edsa Shangri-La, Manila last Saturday. She actively took part in the various activities and workouts presented by the organizers.
Dubbed "LIVE: Body & Spirit Festival," the whole-day event comprised of workshops, boot camps, training sessions, and cooking classes that focused on promoting holistic wellness.
"A lot of people, from a young age, are not really taught to prioritize wellness. So, this is our own small effort to stir the community in a positive way," said Cristina del Carmen, Edsa Shangri-La, Manila's director of communications.
According to Del Carmen, the hotel is designed to offer "holistic wellness" to their guests with facilities, such as a well-equipped gym and an outdoor lawn tennis court, as well as restaurants that serve healthy food.
The hotel also has its very own "temple of wellness" -- Chi, The Spa, which offers an array of services including exotic healing treatments such as Ayurveda.
Rest assured, said del Carmen, they will hold "LIVE: Body & Spirit Festival" once again next year.
"We believe that to impact change, there has to be a movement done on a cultural level. The more we repeat our message of living life well from within, that message sticks and people take it more seriously. It's gonna be the norm. And that's our own little contribution," she said.