A FEW years back, the SM Foundation bought an old five-story building at 56 Jupiter Street in Makati City. It used to house small offices, including a photocopy service, a dental clinic and an ancillary permit-issuing section of the Department of Trade and Industry whose international unit is located across the street.
Last year Teresita Sy-Coson, daughter of the founder of the SM Group of Companies, gave the building a once-over and came up with the idea of making the site the Senior Hub, a place where ambulant seniors can spend their leisure time socializing with peers and keeping physically and mentally fit at the same time.
This adult day-care and recreational center, the first of its kind in the country, had its soft opening on October 1.
The SM Foundation sees the hub as “an excellent venue for socialization and peer support. The ‘seniors’ will have therapeutic, educational and recreational activities, like arts and crafts, fitness and wellness, games and leisure, that will improve their social, mental and physical health.”
The building features modern amenities, said Juris Umali Soliman, the hub’s executive director who conducts the tours for guests. The furniture is modular, making them easy to move. The interior brings in light and fresh air, and each floor is surrounded by plants.
Located on the first floor is Earth 56, the first branch of Earth Kitchen, a new restaurant based in White Plains, Quezon City, recently chosen by the Philippine Tatler as among the country’s best. The restaurant serves organic food, freely using the rosemary, tarragon, basil, thyme and other herbs grown in the hub’s organic garden.
Earth Kitchen also makes its own ice cream, serving goat cheese, tableya, green tea and pastillas, a favorite of Felicidad T. Sy, the family matriarch who visits the hub three times a week.
On the second floor is Club 65, which manages the arts, dance and crafts sessions, and fun center for the exclusive use of the hub’s senior-citizen members. The floor features a home theater complete with La-Z-Boys for watching movies or lounging, a game area with tables for bridge and poker games and electronically operated mahjong tables, and a quiet area for reading and writing.
The third floor is called the Arts and Fitness floor, with a gym operated by Life Fitness. There are fitness and dance classes—including ballet, Soliman said—conducted by Arts in Makati, and art classes by Fidel Sarmiento, the president of the Art Association of the Philippines.
Interested parties can arrange for group or individual lessons, one-time deals, short-term engagements or continuous sessions, Soliman said.
Lessons can range from box making to pottery, tai-chi and ikebana.
There is also an information-technology area, where “oldies can be techies” with their tutor seminarians, who are whizzes with electronic gadgets.
The fourth floor is the Wellness floor, where David’s Salon operates a barbershop, a beauty salon and a massage area. The alternative non-invasive therapy section provides acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology and similar services and treatment. The section is headed by Dr. Alfonso Lagaya, who was once director general of the Department of Health’s Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care. Appointments can be made; the section also welcomes walk-ins.
Dr. Isagani Rodo, a geriatrician, supervises the facility’s nurses and caregivers.
The roof-deck on the fifth floor is the Music Center, featuring a parlor grand piano, a karaoke area and a social hall that can accommodate 75 persons. Also on this floor is the Our Lady of Lourdes chapel that offers a place for prayer and contemplation.
Hub chaplain is Fr. Bong Lo, chaplain of SM Megamall’s chapel.
Soliman said the hub’s first Mass will be held on October 25, with plans to conduct Masses once a month.
She said the hub welcomes non-seniors and other adults, who are charged P100 per visit. Discounts are only given to seniors.
The hub is a membership club, whose monthly fee of P3,000 entitles members use of the facilities and a P1,000 cash card for consumables for services and food in the hub.
At present, Club 65 has “a dozen very enthusiastic members,” Soliman said. The SM Foundation hopes to maintain a 100-member club.
Soliman said the elevator transporting members, staff and guests from floor to floor is big enough for a group of 12 or during emergencies, for a stretcher and two wheelchairs.
Soliman would not say how much the design and construction of the hub cost, only that “it is money the foundation does not hope to recover.”
When asked about expansion plans, she said, “We want to perfect the operation of this hub first before we can even think of expanding.”
“For now, our main goal is to make the hub a home away from home for our members,” she said.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes