Grow old, with caution

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When I found out that Wellington Soong, 76, only had a tuna salad and a glass of wine for lunch, I wanted to cover my face in shame. I am 51 and I had a full lunch of ginataang alimasag, pinakbet, white rice and a glass of Coke. Yes, I am definitely not going to make it to 76! Mwahahaha.

It was ironic, he observes, that while Jobs virtually had all the money in the world, it was not able to save him.

I met Mr. Soong a couple of years back for a story on his golfing exploits, and he struck me as a warm person, who’s never afraid to make his opinions known in very colorful language.
I’ve always been an admirer of how balls out he lives his life. Apart from running a string of companies, most visible of which is Autostrada Motore, the exclusive distributor of Ferrari and Maserati in the country, Soong still manages to play a few rounds of golf whenever he can and keep tabs on his army of friends besides.

BUSINESSMAN Wellington Soong of Autostrada Motore vows to never stop being active at 76.

At 76, the businessman still clocks in some 12 to 14 hours every day in the office, Monday to Friday, and he doesn’t see himself slowing down anytime soon.

“While you are still physically and mentally able, you should never stop from being active. Of course, being active is different from work. The preference is to be kept active in the pursuit of things that mean a lot to you. That is a very rare commodity that very few people have the privilege to enjoy,” the father of four says.

Here, Soong harks back to the life of Steve Jobs. While Jobs ran one of the most successful enterprises in the world, he eventually succumbed to cancer at 56.

It was ironic, he observes, that while Jobs virtually had all the money in the world, it was not able to save him. “To be active physically, mentally and emotionally is a blessing that has no price,” this avid car lover says.

What we should all be after, he says, is quality of life. Achieving that, however, is not going to be easy.

In business, Soong can swing it, wing it and take risks. When it comes to his family and his health, however, he is much more conservative.

The septuagenarian, who has taken to wearing colorful golf shirts from Loudmouth, is actually very cautious. He watches his weight, takes in supplements, and is careful about what he eats. He works like a dog from Monday to Friday, but on weekends, he takes off.

From Saturday morning to midnight of Sunday, he makes sure to spend time with family and friends, maybe play a couple of rounds of golf, or visit a new place. Such a mental break from work is equally important in the pursuit of quality of life.

“Getting here required a great degree of discipline in what you indulge in,” he says. “It’s about discipline. It’s being conservative in taking risks when it comes your physical health. Never throw caution to the wind.”

It could be as simple as not having another bar of chocolate or as complicated as not going for stratospheric speeds in your brand-new motorcycle, even when the temptation to show off is oh so great!

Soong vows never to slow down.

“I don’t see myself stopping or slowing down as long as I can maintain this pace, but the activity will be devoted to more personal things,” he ends.

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