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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 chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.

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

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 chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.

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 chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.

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

Friday, June 17, 2016

God bless our fathers*

(Author's Note: Father's Day, this year, is observed/celebrated on Sunday, June 19, 2016. Father's Day dates back to June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. When Sonora Dodd was born, her mother died leaving her dad, Mr. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, to take care of his six children. Honoring her father's sacrifices, love, and dedication to raising his family alone, Dodd spearheaded the campaign to create the first Father's Day. Because of its popularity, Father's Day is officially celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June, with President Lyndon B. Johnson's proclamation in 1966. However, in 1977, President Nixon made the celebration a permanent part of our country's annual festivities to show the fathers and grandfathers how much they're appreciated for all they have done for their family.)

Happy Father's Day! I humbly dedicate this poem of mine to all fathers and grandfathers everywhere.

Today is a special day
To honor and pay tribute to you
Father---our role model,
Who sets a good example
For us to follow and emulate.

When we're down and troubled,
You're there to lend a hand.
You cheer us up and brighten our day,
You comfort us and give us company,
And inspire us with your life story.

You guide us and strengthen us,
Protect us from worries and anxieties,
Teach us life's wonders and mysteries,
Life's uncertainties, changes and challenges.

Father, we thank you
For the life and love, joy and patience
You share with us each and every day
And the support you provide us
Into our home, our family...

From Psalm 103:13, we read, "A father has compassion on his children..."

From church bulletin, I remember these lines: "A father loves his children, just as they are. He cares enough to give the very best---himself. When they're in trouble, he's there to help. When they need wisdom, he offers counsel. When they have successes, he rejoices with them. When they make mistakes, he forgives. He recognizes his strength comes not from human sources, but from Heaven's grace."

A father is God's representative. "God bless father," we pray. Why? Because if we want something, "Ask Father!" He is the source, the supplier, the giver (or refuser) of everything we ask of or expect from a father: to smooth our path, to raise for us a mountain from which to hurl our dreams, to build us a shelter against the harms of life.

We need encouragement and enrichment that only a father can give or provide. He is the channel of both the necessities and the fun things in life, like sports and games, travel, road trips and other activities that are a source of fun and enjoyment.

These enrichments and encouragements we seek from Dad or Papa with love. God bless our fathers and grandfathers!

-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, Friday, June 17, 2016. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A tribute to the red, white and blue*

Today is Flag Day (in the United States of America). I wonder how many of us remembered it. I wonder how many of us pay attention to our flag each time we see it. How many of us are aware of the importance of this symbol?

Yet there seems to be a mix of feelings about its significance. I have seen news reports and videos on You Tube showing our flag being taken for granted or disrespected, both here and abroad.

Of course, we have freedom of speech, but shouldn't we safeguard our flag if it represents our country?

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag of the United States of America  replacing the British Grand Union flag. Eventually, this date became Flag Day on modern American calendars.

According to legend, Elizabeth "Betsy" Griscom Ross of Philadelphia designed and made the first U.S. flag in 1776 at the request of our first U.S. president, George Washington.

The official national flag consists of the 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white, and in the upper corner near the staff, a blue field containing 50 five-pointed white stars.

The stripes symbolize the 13 states that originally composed of the United States of America---New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The stars represent the 50 current states of the Union.

White signifies purity and innocence; red, hardiness and valor; and blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice.

On Flag Day, I would like to pay tribute to this beautiful emblem that represents the virtues of liberty, independence, democracy, pride, power, strength, unity and ideals. Here's my humble, simple poem:

The Stars and Stripes

You're everywhere---
At home, in schools,
City halls and embassies,
On foreign shores;
In the White House,
In the U.S. Capitol,
Federal buildings and hospitals
Tall structures and historical landmarks,
National parks and museums,
At the United States headquarters...

In churches and cemeteries,
In counties, cities, and states;
Up in the air,
All over the seas,
On the Moon up above
You're everywhere.

Here and there,
Flying so free,
Feeling so proud,
Standing so firm,
The insignia of our country,
The emblem of democracy;
Stars and Stripes
In red, blue and white
A symbol of our pride,
A symbol of our freedom,
A symbol of our unity,
Power and beauty.

Because of you,
Thousands of lives were lost,
Hundreds of battles fought.
But, in the end
Our dream came true---
Our independence and liberty
Regained and enjoyed by all.

Today, we salute you,
We come together
To honor you,
To renew our pledge of allegiance
To only you,
The Stars and Stripes.

-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, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com

Friday, June 3, 2016

The end and the beginning*

Congratulations, Class of 2016! Best wishes to all of you, especially to my daughter, Christine, who just graduated (May 22) from The University of Virginia's Curry School of Education degree in counseling education. We're so proud of you.

For the Class of 2016, the time has finally come to don that cap and grown and receive their diplomas and congratulatory handshakes from school officials, while the solemn, classical "Pomp and Circumstance" is being played.

You finally made it, graduates. It's worth all the efforts, struggles and the sacrifices. You deserve recognition, because you have overcome the rigors of school life. You've succeeded in overcoming challenges and pressures and stresses in academics, athletics and other extracurricular activities.

Dear graduates, you have reason to relax now, take it easy and celebrate your achievements with your family, friends, teachers, and those who inspired and helped you through the years while in school.

Seize the moment for it will become a nostalgic, happy memory to cherish. Take souvenir pictures. Capture those moments spent with your classmates, dear teachers, guests and visitors. Cherish their hugs and kisses and their simple presence.

Enjoy your day. You deserve to celebrate your achievement.

I appreciate and thank the parents and educators of the Class of 2016 for being there with our students---loving and caring for them, teaching and guiding them. Likewise, my sincere thanks to our school administrators, staff-personnel, and volunteers who shared their time and talents.

After having successfully completed the requirements for their degrees, graduates are now ready to embark on another chapter in their life. It is a time to rejoice with and be grateful for all the factors involved in their success.

Likewise, Graduation Day is the beginning  of a more complex, challenging life, whether the student is graduating from elementary, secondary, collegiate or post-graduate education.

What now? What's next? Gainful employment? Military service? The next rung on the ladder of higher education? A sabbatical from schoolwork? A paid apprenticeship or internship in a private or public establishment?

Whatever goals or plans you have, continue to work for them. Keep it up and let the momentum help you realize your dreams. No one can stop you from pursuing your dreams.

Your confidence and determination can help you beat the odds. Be optimistic. Look at the brighter side of life. And smile! You can always make your life and others' better. Your future is in your hands, graduates, because life is what you make it.

Once again, congratulations and best wishes, Class of 2016! Have a safe and wonderful summer, too.

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, June 3, 2016. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherad.com.