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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Still honoring the sanctity of marriage*

Former president George W. Bush once said, "No matter what else I do, asking Laura to marry me was the best decision of my life." He and former First Lady have been married since 1977.

Family sociologist Linda J. Waite and journalist Maggie Gallagher, in their book, The Case for Marriage, have researched and found out that married people "live longer, have better health, earn more money, accumulate more wealth, feel more fulfillment in their lives, enjoy more satisfying sexual relationships, and have happier and more successful children than those who remain single, cohabit, or get divorced."

A stable marriage may be your most important asset when it comes to building wealth or avoiding poverty, they wrote.

"When people marry, they are immediately better off, because they now have a claim on not only their own, but their spouse's future income. Over time the advantages of marriage increase as couples benefit from higher earnings created by specialization, lifestyle that encourages savings, the help of a partner in restraining impulse spending and the reduced costs sharing a life permits."

Marriage preserves life and the human race, as a whole. It also protects health. Research has shown that married people are healthier mentally, and happier emotionally than single and divorced.

Yes, marriage matters. It still matters to all married couples, like me and my wife Freny, who celebrated our 32nd anniversary on Friday, Nov. 3.

With two young adult children, Andrew (an IT instructor based in Washington, DC) and Christine (a school counselor married to my son-in-law Robbie, an IT network coordinator/administrator), we're doing well, trying to enjoy life every day.

Thank God, we have come this far, amidst the challenges in our marriage. Yes, we have weathered storms, fought and won battles and overcome difficulties and problems that only strengthened our relationship.

Our marriage is not perfect , but it is strong, because we have vowed to stay and pray together, and love each other.

I believe in the sanctity of marriage. since the day I married Freny, I have tried to live it, in sickness or in health, and I will continue to uphold it for the rest of my life.

I'm aware the above statement has been said or written by many around the world. But it has also been laughed at or brushed aside too many times.

Sanctity is the condition of holiness or sacredness; the state of being holy, sacred or saintly. Sanctity is synonymous with holiness.

The sanctity of marriage has been threatened by those who question its relevance today.

Marriage involves a serious commitment of two people loving and caring for each other and committed to live their lives together forever.

In Genesis 2:24, we read, "therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. The thought comes up again in Matthew 19:6, '...so they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.'

Dennis Rainey, author and host of FamilyLife Today, once wrote that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man, one woman and their God for a lifetime. "It is a public vow of how you will relate to your spouse as you form a new family unit."

Rainey suggested four commitments to help you fulfill your marriage vows for a lifetime:

1) Do not get married unless your plan to keep your vows.
2) Fulfill your vows by staying married.
3) Fulfill your vows by maintaining emotional and moral fidelity.
4) Fulfill your vows by praying faithfully with your spouse.

There's no such thing as perfect marriage. Marriage works when spouses work together to make it work.

To my loving wife Freny and me, Happy 32nd anniversary! May God bless us and our family always.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, November 5, 2017. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Remembering Halloween in the Philippines*

Happy Halloween, everyone! Trick or treaters, are your Halloween costumes ready? Be safe out there and have fun, when you go house to house with your parents or guardians.

Front porches, yards and houses are decorated with seasonal flags, carved pumpkins, jack-o-lanters and creative Halloween decorations.

I imagine there will be kids in their Power Ranger, Batman, Wonder Woman, police, firefighter or princess attire. Some will be dressed up in their casual clothes with a mask, and with their plastic or canvas bags on hand, hopeful for assorted goodies. Some will be dressed as ugly, scary beasts, vampire-like creatures or witches.

Kids will be going door to door around the neighborhood, escorted by parents or guardians, greeting homeowners with a shout of "Tick or treat!"

By the way, Halloween tradition came to North america from Ireland more than a century ago. Today, it has become a big industry, from Hollywood movies to the aisles of the nearest discount or grocery chain stores. 

Kids of all ages, even young teens and adults, still get a kick out of the cheap thrill of a good ghost story or a horror movie this time of year. This is just an indication that fear is a part of life.

It's normal, I believe, to be afraid or fearful sometimes, and it's OK to have fun with that fear sometimes. Yes, we do celebrate and capitalize on the "ugly" and "scary" part in us.

Meanwhile, in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, where I was born, Filipinos don't have this Halloween event for children. Instead, they go to the public cemeteries and clean the tombs or graves of their beloved dead the last week of October. They prepare the cemeteries to be visited, and tombs are freshly painted.

For all Catholics, Nov. 1 is All Saints' Day ( a holy day of obligation), and Nov. 2 is All Souls' Day (the commemoration of all the faithful departed), which are declared non-working holidays in the Philippines. Public and private schools and colleges are closed. College students in big cities, like Manila and Baguio City, go home to their provinces to pay respect to their dead.

Besides paying homage to their deceased loved ones, Filipino Catholics also honor the Catholic Church's saints. They believe saints like St. Anthony, St. Anne and St. Mother Teresa inspire and guide them in their daily lives. Whenever they pray, they ask for their favorite saint's intercession, so their prayers become meaningful, and they hope their prayers and hopeful wishes will be granted.

In the Philippines, people go to cemeteries in late afternoon or early evening and light candles at the tombs, while offering flowers or wreaths and prayers. in other parts of the country, townsfolk even offer food to and for their dead.

Mass for the dead is said and celebrated by a town priest or pastor, who then blessed and sprinkles holy water on the graves.

The two-day events also offer a great opportunity for townsfolk to interact with their friends and families who may have been away from the community for a time. Thus, public cemeteries serve as a venue for annual faith, family and community gatherings and fellowship.

To all Catholic worldwide, my wishes for a Happy All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. And to all kids in all of us, have a safe and fun Halloween!

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, October 29, 2017. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Get informed about the election*

I hope that by now, you eligible voters have already registered---or updated your registration address---for the Nov. 7 election. If you haven't done so, the deadline is Monday, Oct. 16.

Do you know for whom you will vote? The positions of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates members, along with Suffolk's Commonwealth's attorney, sheriff, commissioner of revenue and treasurer, will be on the ballot.

How well do you know the candidates and their qualifications, and what are their positions or views in matters related to education, abortion, immigration, gun laws, poverty, economy, death penalty, religious freedom, health care, peace and order, public safety, equality and justice, tax reform, marriage, environmental responsibility and other issues affecting your well being and your community?

In his Suffolk News-Herald columns on Aug. 15 and Sep. 26, Joseph Bass stated that being informed is an American responsibility.

"Having educated, informed voters is a key element for a democracy to be effective," he wrote. "The people's votes can result in government going the right way or the wrong way."

He urged voters to pay attention to and investigate the qualifications of candidates, and "vote for the most qualified."

Well, after candidates have debated, campaigning is now in full swing. Placards, with their names in bold letters, are displayed in yards and along the streets.

Campaign workers are busier than ever, making phone calls and distributing campaign materials about their candidates. They're out there visiting house to house, convincing voters to vote for their candidates.

Political ads, notably from candidates for governor and attorney general, have been seen everywhere in social media, in print, on television and on the Internet.

These political ads are getting nasty and negative and, at times, misleading and confusing. Sometimes it seems that the more ads we're exposed to, the harder it is to tell what is factual and truthful.

Of course, candidates have their own agenda. They do what it takes to win, even to the point of resorting to mudslinging in order to disparage their opponents.

They bombard us with negative ads that are questionable and insulting to our intelligence.

Sometimes I just don't want to turn the television on, because I don't want to see any more of these paid political ads. i'm disappointed, disgusted and dismayed by what the candidates will do to destroy or discredit the other, just to win votes. Look what politics has become.

Voters, do your homework and research about the candidates. Find out what they have done for the common good. Get educated about them, and then decide whom you think will best lead the commonwealth and look after your well being and your community.

Focus on their track records as effective and efficient public servants who are committed to improve the economic condition, the dignity and worth of all people in the community.

Stick to the candidates who can get things done, the ones who consistently promote unity and inclusivity, peace and equality, without compromising their principles.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, October 15, 2017. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A letter to God regarding Las Vegas*

Dear God,

"At the outset, I thank you, dear Almighty God, that I'm alive and doing well. Thank you for my faith, family and friends near and far. I pray, "God bless all of us, and may you always keep us safe from harm. Make us a channel of your peace to everyone we come in contact with. And let us love you more as we try our best to love our family, friends and neighbors. Let peace reign in our heads and our hearts. All of this I ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen."

When I woke up Monday morning to National Public Radio's Morning Edition, I was saddened to hear of the tragic mass shooting incident in Las Vegas.

Singer Jason Aldean was performing Sunday night when the shooting occurred. Country star Jake Owen was also there on stage and witnessed the shooting.

Such a traumatic scenario. There was chaos and confusion, panic and fear.

As of this writing, dear God, nearly 60 people were killed and more than 500 were injured. Police have identified the shooter as Stephen Paddock, 64, a local resident, who took his own life as police closed in on his position.

Dear God, why? Why did this massacre happen? Why would a gunman disrupt a concert and inflict violence against people who were simply having a good time? Why did he do it, dear God? What was his motive? What made him do it? Was he mentally deranged? Was this an act of revenge or just merely an act to prove that we was powerful and fearless because of his weapons?

Was he under the influence of drugs and alcohol? Where, when and how did he get all his weapons? Why did he choose to attack that group of people? Who or what may have influenced him to perpetrate this shooting spree?

We search for answers, dear God. Please enlighten us who are shocked and saddened and devastated about this attack.

Lots of tragic incidents gun violence, dear God, have taken place in our country---Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and more. Why?

There are debates upon debates regarding gun laws, and yet people continue to be killed. These innocent victims had their lives cut short and their dreams unrealized because of bullets. They did not live their life to their full potentials because of bullets fired from guns.

Families are left helpless and hapless, torn and devastated. They mourn their loss without ceasing. Why, dear God? Why?

Dear God, please make us peace-loving and law-abiding people. Please make us vigilant and considerate, respectful, understanding and tolerant of others. Make us instruments of your goodness, peace and love.

May those victims and their families find peace, comfort and love. Thank you, dear and loving God.

Chris

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.s. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, October 5, 2017. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Work together and keep hope alive*

Amidst the crises and insecurities in our lives, sometimes we find a surprising ability to rise up and stand tall. After a fall, after disaster, sometimes we bounce back and find normalcy.

Yes, it's true that wars, natural disasters, fires, diseases, poverty and injustice can knock us down, but we can recover and become well again.

Resilience is one of our best characteristics as human beings. It is a constructive and positive attitude toward that which makes life difficult and unpleasant. With faith, hope and resilience, we can overcome crises and other challenges that come our way.

Out of our eventful, imperfect life, we have the ability and the capacity to rebound and recover. We must never give up.

Indeed, we are a resilient people, equipped with optimism that we can overcome today's challenges and make our world better than before.

With patience and perseverance, we continue working towards the realization of our dreams.

As part of the human race, we should care about our fellow men and women, and we should be determined to make a difference for others, not just for ourselves.

Despite the hard things happening around us, we can adapt and contribute to the overall improvement and development of the human race.

With our hope, with a deep and abiding faith in God, and with resilience, we can continue to work together, to move forward to restore our damaged lives and aspire toward a common objective: a peaceful, safer world for all.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, September 24, 2017. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Remember what's important in the storms*

Life is full of events and encounters, surprises and scenarios, changes and challenges, phases and processes.

Hard things happen, and they can be unexpected and overwhelming, disastrous and devastating.

These events can divide us and make us indifferent or intolerant of others, or they can unite us in love and respect.

August was an eventful month, historic and unforgettable. Did we expect those happenings to occur? Probably not, with the exception of that great American eclipse on August 21 bringing us awe and excitement, and possibly an interest in science or astronomy in particular.

A rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12 turned violent and deadly. A car plowed into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring about 19 others, and a police helicopter crash took the lives of two state troopers who were monitoring the event.

Who would have thought that a quaint, charming city like Charlottesville would become the news of the day worldwide? It seemed unthinkable. Peaceful and progressive Charlottesville was in the spotlight for a white-supremacist protest that was ostensibly a response to a proposal to remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park.

For six years, my wife and I visited Charlottesville while our two children were at The University of Virginia from 2006 to 2012.

Charlottesville has become a special place for us because of those worthwhile weekend getaways, educational and informative experiences we've had, people we've come to know, wine-tasting events at different vineyards and wineries, and the tourist areas like Monticello that we've visited and revisited.

I never imagined such a violent attack would happen in Charlottesville, where The University of Virginia was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president and principal author of the Declaration of Independence.

Then on Aug. 28, Hurricane Harvey flooded portions of Texas and Louisiana, reminding us of Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago.

Harvey's flood was overwhelming.Many lives were lost, including a police officer who was on his way to work and drowned in the deluge. Houses are underwater and property damage is in the billions. Many, many thousands have been displaced. Recovery will go on for months or even years.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all victims and their families and those involved in the recovery process.

Events such as those of this historic august are costly and life-changing. Precious lives lost are irreplaceable, while material possessions can be replaced.

Charitable people, organizations, and communities pour out their support and come together to help those victims of calamities.

But disastrous events like these can bring out the best in us, and they can help us change our perspective on life, what is dear and what is truly important to us.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, September 7, 2017. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Spend some time reading this summer*

Now that summer is in full swing, what are you doing, boys and girls? Are you spending your summer break wisely and enjoyably? Are you, right now, enrolled or engaged in worthwhile, educational activities that are enriching your mind and body?

Education doesn't end when the school year ends. There's always something new to know and to learn, no matter how young or old we are, as long as we're able and capable of reading, writing and thinking.

Education should be a lifelong commitment.

Engaging in physical and mental exercises---doing simple hand-leg stretching, walking, yoga or chores, and reading or doing puzzles is always beneficial to our health and well being.

Our bodies are as important as our minds. If we have sound, healthy bodies and minds, we are well off, whatever summer adventure we participate in.

We feel blessed and fortunate to be able to perform our daily tasks or routine efficiently and effectively. We feel we are on top of every game or goal we play or set. In the end, we become productive and, thus, successful, because we are in great shape.

We are up for the challenge when our body and mind are healthy and strong. We're ever ready to face our battles every day, because we take health and fitness seriously.

Just as we nourish our body daily, so should we our minds. Joseph Addison (1672-1719), an English essayist, poet, playwright and politician, said, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."

Simply put, we need to feed our mind with useful information that increases our knowledge and skills needed in a competitive world, the same way that we need physical exercise to flex our muscles and bones so they become strong and healthy.

I'd like to mention and applaud the efforts of Suffolk native, Lloyd Askew, a veteran teacher and reading specialist who has been teaching summer reading classes for our city's school children since 2013, via his Drop Everything and Read program. A story in the July 4th edition of the Suffolk News-Herald profiled Askew's literacy advocacy for the community.

I commend and thank you, Mr. Askew, for your devotion and dedication to education. For more information about this summer reading program, call 919-332-5828.

Reading stimulates our imagination and expands our understanding of the world. It helps us develop our language and listening skills and prepares us to understand the written word.

Even when children can read by themselves, it is important for us to read aloud with them until they are ready to tackle advanced reading materials.

Reading gives us a foundation for success. Without good reading and comprehension skills, we are limited in what we can accomplish in life.

Young children and old, have you been to the library lately? No? Why not? Busy spending your summer with your family or friends? Well, if you haven't, tell your Mom and Dad you want to go to the library, because you want to check out a book or two.

Keep up the great work, kids. Read always, for as long as you can. You won't regret that you did.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, July 8, 2017. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.