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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why Lent is important to Christians?*

Lenten season has already begun for Christian communities around the world. It started on Ash Wednesday, a day in which we go to church to receive ashes on the forehead to signify "we are dust and to dust we return."

The practice of receiving ashes dates back to the fifth century and became a universal Christian practice by the 11th century.

As an important religious observance in the Christian world, Lent is the season to observe and commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer.

It is an opportune time to reflect on what it means to be a follower of Christ. Likewise, it's an opportunity to repent for our misdeeds and misgivings and to increase the intensity of our prayer, fasting, almsgiving, practice of our faith and welcoming others as our brothers and sisters in our faith community.

Moreover, Lent is a time to grow in and strengthen our faith, which binds us together and makes all things possible because of our love and devotion to Jesus.

If we follow his teachings, we become responsible, law-abiding citizens and peace-loving people. We become selfless, mindful of others, who benefit from our good deeds, kindness, charity and generosity. We become more aware of and concerned about others, especially the underrepresented, underserved, marginalized, disabled, elderly, helpless and hopeless in our midst.

Practicing our faith, we are able to Christ in them. We try our best to love and care for them the way we want to be loved and cared for.

And let's not underestimate the power of prayer in our lives. Prayer is the greatest thing we've got to save us from a lot of troubles.

As our personal conversation with our God, who knows what's inside of us, prayer is a powerful tool to create a miracle, to make things right or better in our lives. In the end, prayer leads us to a life of holiness towards God.

I believe in the power of prayer, because I have witnessed its fruits. There have been instances where I saw the results of my praying for others---like when they get better after a surgery or disease or a tragedy---that no rocket science or scientist can explain.

Call it a miracle, if you will, but I believe that, when we pray together, when we pray for others who need our prayers, things and people change for the better. We become interconnected, and we get closer to God.

Followers of Christ also practice almsgiving and fasting. We give of ourselves and our time, talents and treasures. We love to share what we have, because we believe that giving is caring.

We give up something or deprive ourselves of something so that others can have it. That's a sacrifice for others, for God. We just let others have it, instead of ourselves. That's giving; that's fasting, caring and loving. That's an act of love for others and for God because we see Christ in them.

We believe in giving, because it is in giving that we receive more blessings and graces from our Almighty God. To share is to give, and to give is to love, and to let others experience our faith

Doing these things can help us grow in faith, especially this Lenten season.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-wining Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, March 23, 2017. For more information, visit

Friday, January 20, 2017

Everyone needs a friend at some point*

"Friends come and go/ like waves in the ocean.../ And as they go, they leave us/ memories and experiences to remind us/ all the bondings they've made.../ all the contributions they've done/ with all the walk, the rush, the run/, the snow, the rain, the sun.../ Leaving everything that they have done..." (excerpt from my poem Like Waves," included in the anthology Amidst the Splendor, published in The National Library of Poetry, Maryland, in 1996).

Like families, friends come in many forms and colors. They can be a support group when there's no one else to turn to.

Your mom or dad, brother or sister, your spouse, partner, your neighbor next door, classmates and Facebook friends---they all can be your friends.

Like my 20-month-old "chorkie" Simba, your pet dog or cat can also be your (loyal) friend.

If they're your friends, you're fortunate to have them in your life; they're fortunate because they have you, too.

Friends can be a source of joy and hope, love and inspiration. Your spouse can be your friend, because he or she is your nearest neighbor, next of kin and the love of your life.

Jesus can be your friend, who inspires you to live a decent, dignified life. If your friend is Jesus, you can't go/do wrong, because you do your best to follow His teachings and God's Good News.

We need friends to make us see who we are and what we're capable of; to affirm that we're good, loved and lovable; that we're beautiful, inside and out; that we're gifted and talented children of God.

We need friends to show us we are social beings capable of loving. In short, we live for one another. They need us; we need them. Much as we need a family, we need friends to complement and complete us.

"A friend in need is a friend in deed." There's that symbiotic relationship in this quote.

Being a friend is not easy. It's even harder to be a real, true, dependable and responsible friend.

If we don't have friends, we miss out the opportunity to experience human relationships, which are crucial to our social life.

We have varied definitions of what a friend is. To know its meaning, we have to know ourselves. Who are we? Are we able and capable to be called a friend?

We seem to drift away, with no one to cling to and share with our past, present and future, if we have no friends or family. If stranded somewhere, whom do we call, if or when our family is not around? If there's something bothering us, especially in matters of love, marriage, faith, economic or financial woes, that we cannot confide with our spouse or any member of our family, whom do we contact or call for advice or enlightenment?

Even in the middle of the night or wee hours and we're miles and miles away, who or what comes to mind to ring or text? Who's going to cheer us up or share a laugh when you feel alone, lonely, mad or sad?

A dear and true friend.

Our life is more awesome, enriching, enchanting, fascinating and lovely with friends. Losing them is hard to take, but we can always have and make friends.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, January 20, 2017. For more information, visit

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Welcome 2017 with hope, optimism*

Tempus fugit! How time flies!

We're bidding 2016 adieu and welcoming 2017 with hope and optimism. Let's give thanks to Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, for sending His beloved son, Jesus Christ, to live among us, inspire us, and die for our sakes, for our salvation!

Carpe diem! Seize the day, the present moment well with hope, prayer and thanksgiving.

Life is short---too short to be worrying and stressing so much. The past is past. Don't worry about it. Whatever happened in our lives, it's done and gone. It's over and out, and gone, like smoke that vanished into space.

We can't undo what is done. We don't live yesterday. And neither tomorrow. We simply live now, today, this present moment.

Time flies, and there's nothing you or I can do about that, because it's just the law of nature. That's the way it is and always will be. But our attitude about that law can determine what kind of life we have. Time well spent, or time wasted?

Yes, let's seize the day, the very moment of our existence. Enjoy Life this very moment with our family and friends near and far. Technology allows us to connect and reconnect.

Do what makes you alive, happy and well. Pray for your salvation and for others'. Sing if you feel like singing. Dance with or without music. Eat if you feel hungry. Share your ideas. Create something out of your knowledge and skills and experiences in life. Be out there in the open and breathe fresh air to clear your lungs.

Remember this: Only you can live your life to the fullest. Only you can change your life for the better. Time flies, so seize the moment!

Goodbye 2016! It's been a tough year, with all the chaos and controversies, issues and idiocies, indifference and divisiveness, a national election that seemed impossible but happened.

Donald Trump promised to make America great again. Let's wait and see if he can deliver that promise. We can only hope and pray, as they say. Meanwhile, let's give him a chance to serve and lead the United States. Let's try to accept the forthcoming change that's inevitable in our lives.

Welcome 2017! It's the year of the rooster on Chinese calendar. What's in store for us in 2017? Changes in our lives, for sure. Whether we like it or not, we have to accept change and live with it with optimism that our lives will be better.

Such change has to start with us.

Have a blessed new year! May God bless us always.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, December 31, 2016. For more information, visit

Thursday, November 24, 2016

So many reasons to be thankful*

Happy Thanksgiving! [I hope and pray you have a blessed, meaningful, and enjoyable Thanksgiving with your family and friends.]

[Here’s my Thanksgiving prayer: Almighty and loving God, I have a lot to be thankful for. First, I thank you for all the bountiful blessings and harvests you’ve showered us. Thank you for our dear families and friends, near or far, being together in these trying times. Thank you for the settlers that brought us life and freedom. Thank you for our government officials, who have worked for the greatness of America. Thank you to our new and re-elected leaders. And to our newly-elected president and vice-president, Donald Trump and Mike Pence, respectively, I thank you, and hope and pray that you’ll do your best to make America great again, and to help make the world a safer, peaceful place to live in.

Thank you, Lord, for our religious leaders for increasing and strengthening our faith.Thank you for our teachers and volunteers, our innovators and pioneers, our nurses, doctors and other caregivers, our police officers, our dedicated and hard-working farmers for all their contributions and efforts in making America a strong and great nation. Thank you for our journalists and social media professionals for informing us of what’s happening around the world. Thank you for our actors and singers, and writers and athletes for entertaining us and reminding us that, despite what’s going on in our country and around the world, we can still manage to celebrate our humanity.

Thank you, Lord, for all our Armed Forces, our servicemen and women who are here and abroad, fighting for freedom and peace, and also for their families and the sacrifice they make. I pray, Almighty God, that the homeless and the unemployed and marginalized will find shelter and comfort and employment.May your light and love shine before us all!. Amen.]

Let me tell you, I feel so blessed to be in America.I can’t thank her enough for what she’s done for my family and me.

I sure did realize my dream here, joining the U.S. Navy, becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1989, and retiring in 2005, after 20 years of honorable service to my adopted country.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, I sincerely thank you, America, for helping me realize the American Dream. I thank you for this wonderful, incredible freedom and democracy that my family and I cherish and enjoy.

As an American of Filipino ancestry, I proudly say how much I love this country where my two young adult children, Andrew and Tintin,  were born to my caring and loving wife, Freny, who has been teaching chemistry to our public high school students for almost two decades now. [Andrew’s an IT instructor for a non-profit organization and theatre actor based in DC, teaching computer skills to the underserved population there while Tintin's a school counselor working in one of the public middle schools in our state.]

Together with my younger siblings, who legally immigrated here, I had my first Thanksgiving Day in the United States 33 years ago at my sister Betty’s house in California.

Although I didn’t know much then about this traditional American celebration, I had a good time, because we had that big family Thanksgiving with lots of food and love. Man, that was the first and the biggest turkey I’ve ever seen in my entire life!

On a personal note, I’d like to express my profound gratitude to my sister Betty for being the most caring and loving Big Sister that she is. She made it possible for me and our younger siblings to legally immigrate here in 1983, and she became our second mother once we arrived.

I’ll be forever indebted and eternally grateful to her and my brother-in-law Dennis for their kindness and generosity.

May God bless our beautiful and colorful America! Again, wishing you all a blessed, happy and safe Thanksgiving!

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, November 24, 2016. For more information, visit

NOTE: This is the original article submitted to the above-mentioned publication. However, because of space limitation, portions of the article, the ones with bracket signs [...] were not included in the final publication of the article.Thanks, everyone, for reading it.Do appreciate it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Post-Election Day 2016 thoughts

(Author's Note: Below was written the day after the Election Day (Nov. 8, 2016) and submitted online to Res Spears, editor of the award-winning city newspaper, Suffolk News-Herald, for possible consideration-publication.)

Now that Election 2016 is over, let's pause for a moment to compose ourselves, breathe normally, have hope, and look forward to the future, and count our blessings. Thank God, we're alive and well...we made it through.

Congratulations, America, for having a newly-elected president and vice-president in the persons of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, respectively! May God bless US always!

Former First lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been trying to break the glass ceiling to be the first U.S. female president in history, inspiring the young female population with her intelligence and political experiences. But the soon-to-be 45th president of the United States, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, emerged victorious, defying all polls, projections, and pundits, with his kind of rhetorics and bravado during the presidential campaign.

"I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president of all Americans, and that is important to me," said Trump during his victory speech. "It's time for us to come together as one people."

Clinton, in her concession speech, mentioned about the rule of law and hoped Donald Trump would be a successful president. She was sorry for not winning and urged her allies, especially the young female Americans, "to never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it."

To those in the IT (Information Technology) industry and in the media, especially those who covered the election, and election officials and volunteers, kudos and keep up the great work of sharing your expertise and skills, helping others to become informed, involved, responsible, productive and participatory.

Personally, I congratulate all the political candidates, their families and campaign crew and staff, and volunteers who worked tirelessly during the election campaign season.

Yes, the most awkward, colorful, controversial, divisive, dramatic presidential election in the United States history is over and done.

Winners and losers, for the majority part, were already known, proclaimed, congratulated or have conceded, respectively. We have new and incumbent leaders who can be excellent and successful public servants. Some were newly-elected while others reelected, like our incumbent Suffolk mayor Linda Johnson.

We, the people, have spoken, with our voice, through our safeguarded votes. Now, it's time to move on...

Like one of the Catholic bloggers, Rev. Fr. Austin, I frequently follow or read, with his daily prayer posted on his blog, I do pray for "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."

Lord, I pray and meditate for unity for all of US, irrespective of who we are, what we look like, we believe in, we do in life (as long as we don't break the laws of the land and those of our Almighty God) for the sake of the United States and our world.

One of Fr. Austin's prayers, years ago, that caught my attention and I'd like to share it with you is this: "Lord, help us  remember that neither winning or losing excuses us from your command that we love one another with peace in our hearts and kindness in our speech...If I am in the winner's camp, Lord, keep me from being proud and haughty, snide and snarky...If I stand with the losing side today, Lord, keep me from being mean-spirited and bitter, from any self-indulgent spite...In the quiet of my prayer, Lord, humble my pride, tame any anger, strengthen my resolve and deepen my faith and trust in You...Send your Spirit of peace to reign in our hearts and help us work together, Lord, to serve the needs of all..."Amen, I say it loud and clear! May God bless us always! And God bless the United States of America.

Now, we can have all the time to rethink and ponder at what's good for our country and for the world. Let's all work together responsibly, non-partisan aside, with the winners, with God's abundant and amazing grace and blessings, to do what needs to be done in order to rebuild, recover, and make our country great again, and to work together towards a safer, peaceful world we live in.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

Thursday, November 3, 2016

31st and counting

Woke up this morning past four and used the restroom in our master's bedroom. Couldn't get back to sleep after I got back from emptying my bladder. Lying down beside my wife, listening to her breathing while in slumber, I let the time go by. But, then, some thoughts came up. I needed to get back, get back to the restroom but with a pen and a piece of paper. Ideas flowed like a running water from the sink's faucet...In haiku form, here's sharing with you what I scribbled, a poem originally in Ilokano language. (But I did the English translation while composing it one stanza after another). The poem was done at about 0539 this morning:

Ti Aniversariota                                         Our anniversary

Nadanon manen, Baket                              It's that time of year, my wife
aniversariota                                               anniversary
panaglantip pusota.                                    our two hearts became as one.

Agyamanak, Namarsua                             gratitude to our Father
dua bungata                                               blessed with two children
namnama pamiliata.                                  the hope of our family.

Tallopulo ket maysa                                  It has been thirty-one years
a tawen biagta                                           living life we have
napnuan ayat ken ragsak.                          full of love and happiness.

Biag a napnuan dangadang                       A life of battles-struggles
baliw-pannubok                                        changes-challenges
naparmek gapu't Ayat.                              overcome because of Love.

Adu pay a tawenta                                    More years for the two of us
ikararagta                                                  we pray-contemplate
rumungbo pamiliata.                                 our family grows-prospers.

(c) 2016 by Chris A. Quilpa                     (c) 2016 by Chris A. Quilpa

To my loving wife, Freny, thank you for being my wife and the mother of our two amazing and awesome children, Drew and Tintin. Thank you to our dear family members and friends near and far. May God bless us always!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A few thoughts on back-to-school*

While students in private schools have already started classes, public school students will be back in their respective schools Tuesday, a day after the federal holiday Labor Day (Sep.5).

A week or two ago, teachers reported to their schools, having meetings and working in their classrooms, making sure their classrooms are ready and conducive to teaching and learning.

Though it's still summer, I wonder if students are eager to go back to school. I imagine some of them are ready, while others wish their summer vacation were extended. Ready or not, though, Tuesday's back-to-school is the reality.

Both students and teachers have that mixture of feelings of anticipation and uncertainty. Especially for new students and teachers, there will be adjustments to a new environment.

Just as the returning students and teachers, new ones deal with many challenges and changes as they try to fit in with and get along with everybody in the school system. There are lots of things to learn from one another during the new school year.

New teachers, much like their senior counterparts, want to excel in their teaching, are eager to start the school year with energy and enthusiasm and are ready to apply what they have learned and observed during their student-teaching (or practice teaching) assignments.

But as newcomers in the educational field, they need the full support of school staff and personnel so they won't feel alone and helpless when problems arise in their classrooms.

Teacher mentoring is important and crucial to the success of new teachers. With mentoring, new teachers feel at ease and at home and have a sense of worth as an important member of the educational community. They know they can count on veteran teachers for moral guidance and support.

Moreover, teacher mentors and mentees can learn from one another, and their collaboration and cooperation can benefit students. Mentors and mentees work together to deal with classroom management issues and to solve problems that may arise in the classroom, things like truant student, students lagging behind, and students with issues concerning peers and family.

For returning students and teachers, I'd like to commend you for your desire to learn and to teach. I know you are goal-oriented and success-driven, like the new students and teachers. Focused and optimistic, you try your best to be the best role models for others in your school and the community.

Kudos to our students who are going back to school, to all of you in our community who tirelessly work for the success of our students. Thank you to Freny, my wife, who is a chemistry teacher; to daughter Christine, who just became a school counselor; and to son Andrew, an IT instructor (and theatre or stage actor).

They are dedicated to helping students succeed.

And kudos to the parents, volunteers and community leaders who are advocates of education. May you all have a rewarding school year.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion Page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Wednesday, August 31, 2016. For more information, visit