Work key to long life, says Mexican who may be world’s oldest man


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CIUDAD JUÁREZ: You wouldn’t know it watching him take care of his chickens on the family farm, but according to his birth certificate and official Mexican ID, Manuel Garcia Hernandez is 121 years old.

Garcia, who may just be the world’s oldest man, was born on 24 December 1896, according to his birth certificate from the Mexican state of Veracruz and his official identity card from the National Electoral Institute.

He has never bothered calling the people at Guinness World Records to make it official.

But if his documents are correct, he is more than eight years older than Masazo Nonaka of Japan, the man who currently holds the title — born on 25 July 1905.

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—file photo

Anyway, age is only a number. Garcia says he doesn’t feel a day over 80.

He says he only has two regrets in his very long life: losing his father at a young age, and the fact he can no longer work.

Yet he is impressively spry as he tosses feed to his chickens at the home he shares with his daughter Tomasa in Ciudad Juarez, northern Mexico.

“I’m happy, but I do feel tired. I’m making an effort, because if I just lay in bed or sat in a chair all day, then I would get sick,” said Garcia, dressed in his trademark cowboy hat and Western shirt.

“I feel like I’m 80 years old — though I’m starting to stumble a bit when I walk,” he told AFP.

—file photo

—file photo

Mexican Revolution, Donald Trump

Garcia has seen a dizzying amount in his lifetime, from the arrival of electricity to the invention of television, the Mexican Revolution and the election of US President Donald Trump — his 22nd American president.

He started working in the fields at nine years old.

His father, who made and sold his own sweets, died at 35. It still saddens Garcia to have lost him so young, he said.

He himself did not get married until he was 45 — to Rosa Medino Medino, who was just 13 at the time.

They had five children, 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and were married for almost seven decades, until Rosa died eight years ago.

After that, Garcia moved north to Ciudad Juarez to live with his daughter Tomasa, who is 54.

Tomasa’s daughter and her family live next door, and another neighbor, an American, lets Garcia raise chickens in his large patio.

Garcia says caring for the chickens has helped keep him alive, and wishes he could work more.

“I’d like to be able to work the way I used to, make my living in the fields. But I can’t anymore. That makes me sad.

I was very hard-working as a young man,” he said.—AFP