ON Tuesday, BusinessMirror ran a report that Angeles City Mayor Francisco Nepomuceno is eyeing the establishment of retirement villages in his hometown to boost development in the area. Wise move, we say.
Projects like these are among the most feasible for local governments, as these require less capital while easily generating tangible economic benefits down at the grassroots. It’s a good thing that the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) has recently included Angeles City in its list of “destination havens.”
Establishing retirement villages is like hitting several targets with one stone. The construction sector and its affiliated industries would surely perk up. Retirees usually favor places that are essentially less urbanized; hence, the jobs to be created by retirement villages would benefit local rural residents in terms of increased requirements for labor—not just skilled caregivers and health and wellness workers, but also construction workers, plumbers, food caterers, restaurant workers, masseuses, janitors and golf caddies, among others.
Currently, many of our medical professionals (nurses, physical therapists, doctors, medical technologists) leaving for jobs abroad cite the limited economic opportunities in the country. Retirement villages would necessarily need more medical professionals (especially doctors and nurses), hence, there would be incentives for them to stay.
Why do we have to send them abroad if we could just bring in the retirees from the United States, Japan and Europe for our nurses to care for? It’s probably one of the best ways to boost tourism as the retirees here would likely attract visits from their relatives from their countries of origin.
What’s good about retirement villages is that they are environmentally benign. Retirees would necessarily desire a very good environment, thus there is an incentive for the host communities to maintain clean and safe surroundings. There would be more economic motivations for communities to preserve and conserve watersheds, clean rivers and plant more trees.
But it bears stressing here that developing retirement villages is not as simple as it seems. Retirement villages should be planned carefully, taking into consideration the special needs of retirees. These places, while many of them should probably be close to the sea and sun, should have easy access to health facilities, good urban and cultural centers, sports facilities and other amenities. They should also be communications-ready, meaning foreign retirees used to computers and e-mailing or cyber-chatting would be looking for telco services.
Retirees should also have good opportunities to mingle with the local community while ensuring their safety. Many retirees, being well-educated and having retired from challenging jobs, would be interested to interact with other people and, possibly, even do pet projects with them.
All these factors suggest that the local governments and the private sector should delineate their roles well. The LGUs should assume enabling roles while allowing the private sector to plan, construct and develop these retirement villages, based on certain global standards. An enabling role for the LGUs and the government, in general, means that local legislators would have to pass supporting policies (especially on proper land use, waste management, conservation, improved town management, traffic, etc.) to ensure the success of these villages. (Note: drafted as editorial for BusinessMirror, 14 Nov 2007)