Cabaero: A beginner’s life

Nini Cabaero
·3 min read

THE mobile phone notification said that my screen time was down by 76 percent from last week. That notice described my first week of retirement.

On my last working day as a full-time editor, the time I spent on my device was at 14 hours and 22 minutes. That was time spent working mostly. Compare that to my screen time of three hours and 22 minutes one week after and as a retired person.

To many retirees, the biggest adjustment was when they had to stop leaving the house daily to go to work. To me, the culture shock, so to speak, came in the form of my phone suddenly going silent. It was unnerving. It was one change I did not prepare for and I thought I had planned well for retirement.

Adding to my discomfort was that I didn’t get calls or alerts on the news as they happened or almost real-time through our chat groups with editors and reporters. When I retired effective March 1, 2021, I removed myself from our several Facebook and Messenger chat groups on the different aspects of newsroom work from editors’ assignments, reporters’ output, photo and video submissions, layout of news pages and schedules of leaves. I now get breaking news the same way most people do — through Facebook, Twitter or other phone notifications.

I was left with group chats with family, former classmates, on my interests and civic affiliations. Instead of getting fast-paced happenings in the community, I started reading jokes, religious messages and reminders, useful information and others not useful at all as these have been debunked by medical experts and scientists.

I didn’t feel trapped about not leaving home because I have been working from home even before my battle with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in July last year.

My phone going silent is a disruption but the effect is of a different kind. It is quiet. Slow. More contemplative. Like I was starting all over, my mind open and without expectations, feeling both anxious and excited.

I have time to think, read, process, absorb, breathe. I now read more long-form articles; listen to podcasts; watch TED Talks episodes, documentaries, movies based on true stories and underrated movies on Netflix that turned out to be gems; and learn new things like bringing down my screen time, beating algorithms, and living life at random. I take part in online events, join discussions in a university where I now teach in its master’s program. I take my time.

It’s a beginner’s life again.


I retired as director for content and editor-in-chief of SunStar Cebu but I continue my adventure with SunStar as columnist and consultant on digital. My thanks to SunStar Publishing Inc. president Julius Neri Jr., chairman emeritus Jesus B. Garcia Jr., presiding chairman Gina Atienza and the whole of SunStar for the privilege of having worked for almost half of my 60 years in a job I love and with people I find amazing.