Secret to Long Life

Tips for a Long Life,
from a 105 Year Old Grandmother

Her name was “Milagros”, translated as miracle, in Spanish.


Secret #1 Keep Moving.

Keep moving was her motto.

“Keep Moving” was her motto. She did 105 years of it. She enjoyed a fun social life, always surrounded by people, going to the senior center to socialize and dance with friends; she gardened and tended to her beautiful orchid greenhouse and other plants.  She attended and volunteered at  the Whittier Senior Center regularly and could outlast everyone on the dance floor, even in her 90’s.  To keep her mind sharp, she frequently played mahjong and dominoes.  She practiced multiplication tables even at 104 years old without even having to think hard about the answer.  

Secret #2 Worship & Thank God.

She was strong in her faith.

She loved to pray and prayed the Rosary daily, not only for herself, but unselfishly for everyone. She was strong in her faith, attended church often and each Sunday. She was part of the Catholic Women’s League, and a member of the St. Bruno prayer community. Thank you God for her almost 105 years of a beautiful and amazing life.

Secret #3 Be Lovable.

Being lovable goes a long way.

Not only did people admire and want to be like her, it also helped her being loved back. That’s important when you are 104. You will need people to take care of you, something all of her caretakers did well. Love is an important ingredient that helped get her to that age.  

Secret #4 Garden Any Kind of Plant

Flowering or not.

As a mother of 5 and grandmother of 17, not only did she know how to raise children, raising plants was also her specialty. Nurturing a plant helps to give appreciation for life. Her secret to thriving plants and orchids was to talk and sing to them, an important part of her secret recipe for bringing plants back to life. Her singing went a long way. There was a time when our family had pet doves and lovebirds, and only she had the ability to make them dance with her singing.  

Secret #5 Dance with Gusto.

Mommy loved to dance.

Dancing is all a part of “Keep Moving”. She loved to dance, and was known for outlasting everyone on the dance floor. At her last birthday, at 104 years old, she continued to share her inspiration with those in attendance. She loved to dance the kuratsa, a traditional Filipino dance which people would often throw money on a handkerchief placed in the middle, always collecting a nice wad of cash and sometimes a credit card at the end. Dancing was her forte, making her feel alive and invigorated. 

Secret #6 Keep your Appearance.

Look young, feel young.

It was important for her to always have a well kept appearance. If you look young, you feel young. She always had the best outfits with matching accessories. Her daughter, Nora, even at 104 years old, made her regularly go to the hair salon to have her hair dyed and have her nails painted. At 90 years old, she still wore high heels and could still outlast people on the dance floor.  

Secret #7 Be Social.

She was a social butterfly.

Being social also keeps you moving. She was a social butterfly. In her early years, she was active in her social life being the wife of a cabinet member in the Philippines and having siblings who were all professionals. When she immigrated to the USA, she volunteered at the Whittier Senior Center and became popular with her group as she was quite sociable and was a good dancer. In her later years, she often attended church activities and events with her daughter and son-in-law.  

Secret #8 Smile and Laugh Often.

Smiling makes you look young.

Smiling and laughing was part of her recipe to looking young. It made her 10x more lovable, and look 10 years younger. As they say, laughter is the best medicine. You don’t stop smiling and laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop smiling and laughing. As they say, laughter is the best medicine. Her mind was very sharp, even up to very old age. “Pakwan” translated in the Filipino language is a watermelon seed. (Grandson: I had told a joke: “How do you get a watermelon pregnant?” You “Pakwan” – she laughed hysterically with everyone, and I asked her, “mommy what’s so funny about that joke, why are you laughing”, she responded “Pak, that is what you have to understand”.) 

Secret #9 Eat Well

Fruits, crabs, and ice cream.

Diet and moderation is always important to good health. She loved combining bananas with her meals, or follow a meal with fruits like mangoes, papaya or persimmon. Whenever she saw that we bought crab legs or ice cream her eyes always lit up. Even in her last minutes alive, when asked “mommy do you want me to buy you some crab and purée it for you, she used her remaining energy to say “yes” by raising her eyebrows. When it came to ice cream, she, without hesitation, would be the first to grab the ice cream sundae from our server, whether it was hers or not. Her favorite flavor was strawberry or chocolate.

Secret #10 Travel Anywhere & Everywhere.

Mommy loved to travel.

Travelling will always keep you moving. She was alongside her family during every family vacation and road trip, and loved to travel with her best friends, visiting the holy land, many parts of Europe including Italy, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Japan, Hong Kong and many parts of the Philippines.  

Secret #11 Watch Movies & TV.

She loved going to the movies.

Watching comedy and action movies were a big reflection of her “Keep Moving” attitude. Her favorite actors were Jackie Chan and Eddie Murphy. She loved watching shows, from “I Love Lucy” to soap operas like “The Young and the Restless” and “Days of Our Lives”, to going out and watching plays or going to the movies, even if watching a movie date meant going to sleep during her later years. It was the fact that we were going out that made her happy.

Secret #12 Take Pictures

They live on forever.

When we are all long gone, pictures remain. One of her favorite activities was posing for pictures and in modern times, selfies. She took every available opportunity to be in pictures, when a camera appeared. When selfies and snapchat was invented, she was easily amused seeing herself on the screen and anxiously awaited to see how her picture turned out.