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Friday, August 28, 2015

Already sitting on a bus*

What have I gotten into?

With 4-month old Simba in the household now, I realize this is the first time I've had a puppy in my 32 years in the United States.

This is definitely new to me. although we have had a family dog when I was young, in the Philippines, I feel like I have never experienced living with a personal, pet dog. That means I have a lot to learn.

Pet training is Greek to me. Simba, like other pets and their owners like me, needs training. He and I, and sometimes my wife Freny, go to the nearest PetSmart for a weekly class, under Sarah, the pet store's professional dog trainer.

There are about four or five couples in regular attendance, and our dogs are as diverse as we are. But we're there together for a common goal: to get trained.

It's always a challenge for both Simba and me, and other members of the household, to learn new things. Of course we want him to become a well-behaved family member and good citizen---the ideal goal of everyone. But he's still stubborn and playful. (That's understandable because he's still a baby dog!) Nevertheless, he's learning, slowly but surely.

His behaviors and skills are not yet up to par with the rest of his friends in class. He's not consistent yet with regard to potty training. Accidents still happen at home and at PetSmart, at times, even if we have him eliminate before going to his class.

In the pre-obedience lessons or training, reward and reinforcement are necessary to achieve positive results, just like when we deal with our children. But when our pets misbehave or don't listen to us, we impose punishment. By punishment, I don't mean anything that might constitute or be construed as abuse or cruelty. It may be withholding a privilege, but not treats or toys or food.

As with people, there are slow and fast learners. There are individual differences. That creates challenges and opportunities for (meaningful) learning experiences.

In due time, I hope, Simba and we will be "trained."

As many are getting ready for back-to-school, we feel like we're already on the bus. Except we're bringing along a puppy named Simba.

-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, August 28, 2015. For more information, visit

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Time to study Ilokano lessons*

As summer is winding down and school is just around the corner, let's keep on learning and empowering ourselves.

Young and old, it's never too late to learn. amidst rapid changes in technology and perspectives, there's always that desire to catch up, learn new ideas and gain knowledge and skills.

If you're like me---always curious of anything under the sun---I have something to tell you.

I was born and raised in the Ilocos Region of the Philippines, on the island of Luzon, so I consider myself an Ilokano, a native of the northern Philippines. Ilokano is my first language.

My second language is Tagalog or Filipino; my third is English; fourth is Spanish. All these languages I learned in school, except Ilokano. Oddly, I never was taught the formal or proper way of using Ilokano, the lingua franca of the northern Philippines.

Filipino and English, both widely used in schools, academia, business, media and politics, are the two official languages in the country.

Like others, who came to the United States from other countries and eventually became naturalized U.S. citizens, I was never taught my mother tongue formally, and I never knew what's the correct or proper way to use it. I just figured it out, back then, learning from reading Ilokano magazines, like Bannawag.

Unlike Tagalog or Filipino, English and Spanish, which were taught in schools, Ilokano was never a part of the school curriculum.

Though widely spoken by millions in the Philippines, Hawaii, California and other parts of the world, the Ilokano language was left behind. It was only a couple of years ago that Ilokano and other mother languages in the Philippines found their place in elementary schools because of Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) initiative in the Philippines.

For decades, the University of Hawai'i at Manoa has been teaching Ilokano to undergraduate students. In fact, it's the first and only university in the world to offer Bachelor of Arts in Ilokano.

This change comes thanks to Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, a prolific writer and lexicographer and currently associate professor and coordinator of UH at Manoa's Ilokano Language and Literature Program. Likewise, due to the efforts of Dr. Agcaoili and his colleagues at Nakem Conferences (a cultural advocacy group of academics, creative writers, philologists, linguists, and advocates of emancipatory education), Ilokano is now taught in first through third grade in the northern Philippines.

One summer day, when my young adult daughter (Tintin), now studying to be a school counselor, asked me something about Ilokano grammar, I felt so ashamed and ignorant. I couldn't answer her question. I thought I was fluent at Ilokano. Man, I was wrong!

I now want to learn---or relearn---my native language. Why? Because I want to be able to say I'm fluent in Ilokano someday.

Language defines who we are as a people. We can't deny our identity and language is part of our identity.

Octavio Paz (Lozano), a Mexican poet-diplomat and 1990 Nobel Prize winner in literature, once said that language is what makes us human, and "for every language that becomes extinct, an image of man disappears."

I think I'll do my part in keeping Ilokano alive by going back now to my new Ilokano grammar book (Gramatika ti Kontemporaneo nga Ilokano by Dr. Agcaoili).

-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, Tuesday, August 18, 2015. For more information, visit

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Patgek ken Nasudi nga Ilokano

Intro: This is an Ilokano poem, a short one, which I have just written today, Saturday afternoon, 15Aug2015, while reading Dr. Aurelio Solver Agcaoili's book, "Gramatika ti Kontemporaneo nga Ilokano."

Ilokano is the major language, or lingua franca, of millions of people in the northern Philippines and other parts of the world where Ilokanos (the people of northern Philippines and elsewhere) abound. It is the 3rd most spoken language in the Philippines, besides Tagalog or Filipino and English.

The University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA, in its Ilokano Language and Literature Program, is the first and only university in the world that has offered Bachelor of Arts in Ilokano for decades. Dr. Agcaoili is currently the coordinator of Ilokano Language and Literature Program there.

Until a few years ago, Philippines' Department of Education has implemented this Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) initiative in which schools in the northern Philippines are now teaching Ilokano to grades 1-6, due to the leadership of prolific author-lexicographer Dr. Agcaoili and his team at Nakem Conferences.

Patgek ken Nasudi nga Ilokano
(Daton ken Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, PhD)

Addaak iti minuyonganmi
iti likod ti balaymi
a mangbasbasa kenka
patgek nga Ilokano
                                ta adu pay ti adalek
                                takuatak ken ammuek
                                maipapan kenka
                                nasudi nga Ilokano
                                                               puli a naindaklan
                                                               pangnamnamaan ti pagilian
                                                               dinto pulos a malipatan
                                                               Timek-Utek iti Kailokuan.

Copyright 2015 by Chris A. Quilpa

Friday, August 7, 2015

Take advantage of workplace training*

How do professionals, career men and women, government and civilian employees, military personnel, hotel-restaurant-retail store workers keep up with their profession and careers? How do they keep abreast with the latest information and technology pertinent to their job?

One of the important ways they do so is through in-service training.

When I was active duty in the U.S, Navy, we had frequent in-service training programs, especially if we had a new equipment for our clinic or hospital, or a new directive or policy from the chain of command for immediate implementation to and by all hands. We had different sessions to attend, and both Sailors and civilian personnel had the opportunity to participate.

Mandatory in-service training is the norm in the military. That's because there are rules and regulations requiring strict adherence to military standards, protocols, practices and traditions.

Competence and confidence in what we do and what we are assigned to do is of utmost importance. This is achieved by constant in-service training in our workplace.

In the Navy, in-service training helps Sailors and civilians work efficiently and effectively; deal with the public; and understand issues that can affect (and improve) performance, morale and teamwork, which are essential for a successful mission accomplishment.

Imagine a newcomer in a workplace that provides customer service to the public. How can he or she function well if he or she has a limited knowledge about the organization? How can he or she handle the responsibilities assigned to him or her? That's where the orientation and in-service trainings come in.

If you have participated in in-service training, you have probably left feeling more comfortable, confident and competitive at work because of the knowledge and skills you acquired.

You can't wait to put that knowledge or skills to use. You might even leave the training (hall) ready to face any task assigned to you with confidence. You now have that "can do" and spirit in the workplace.

Furthermore, participants can interact with facilitators, presenters and fellow participants, taking advantage of opportunity to share ideas, thoughts and feedback about topics discussed. They can have role-playing, too, creating scenarios that mimic realism in the workplace.

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, and many in-service training sessions give participants the opportunity to practice and demonstrate what they have learned. They can actualize what they've learned from the training session.

In-service training is not a waste of time, as some claim. On the contrary, it is a benefit to those who value learning new skills. It's beneficial to those who desire to excel, to be productive and proactive to society.

Therefore, let's avail ourselves of in-service training opportunities provided by our employers. We learn something new each time we participate in them.

-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, August 7, 2015. For more information, visit

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Random thoughts on the Fourth of July

First off, I’d like to thank Almighty God for my adopted country, America the beautiful and powerful.

I thank America for having given me the opportunity to serve her in defense of her freedom and democracy, independence and liberty. As always, I pray, “God bless the United States of America.” May she continue to be the symbol of freedom, liberty, independence, democracy, justice, and equality for all.  

The Fourth of July is more than a celebration of sale events for businesses in all of the 50 states that contribute to the income and revenue of both individuals and corporations, and the economy of the United States of America, in general.

It is not only a day off from work or school but also a day spent with family and friends barbecuing, cooking out, picnicking in the park, enjoying concerts, fireworks, jubilation, sharing together their freedom, dreams, frustrations, and politics.

It is a celebration of unity and thanksgiving to the founding fathers of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and all veterans, dead or alive, retired or active or reserve.

It is an important event that have made and continues to make the United States of America  great. Why? Because America is independent and free, liberated and yet united! She has the freedom that is so unique from the rest of the world since July 4, 1776. As the leader of the Free World, she represents the world because of her diversity of people. She is truly a nation of immigrants who desire to get better and be free from poverty, lack of will power, all the indignities that reduce the worth and value of being a part of the human race.

It’s a fact that freedom is all that every human being wishes to have. But not everyone has it. It is this freedom America has that makes her unique and great, and powerful. It is this freedom that many Americans have fought, died and cherished  for generations to come. It is this freedom that leads America to help free other nations from oppression and abuse of power from autocrats and dictators. Yes, it is this freedom that sets others free and independent. It is this freedom that perpetuates liberty, justice, peace, and the rule of law and order, and equality for all.

The Fourth of July is an annual, national holiday celebration of freedom and liberty, an Independence Day for all Americans both here and abroad, It is also celebrated by non-American citizens and immigrants and their relations who are freedom-lovers and keepers and have lived here in the United States and her territories for years. They do what they can do to help preserve that freedom they so cherish and enjoy. Others have served in the armed forces of the United States, and others have died in defense of freedom. These veterans of different wars and conflicts engaged by the United States have never wavered their conviction of protecting our country’s freedom and independence. They and other public servants have volunteered to serve to defend our freedom and the United States wholeheartedly without reservation.

This freedom, liberty and independence, and the pursuit of happiness and equality by all are what embodies the United States of America! These are the embodiment of democracy that makes America a beacon of hope, a paragon of all that is great and ideal and beautiful.

It’s been a common knowledge that Independence Day or the Fourth of July is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain.

What better way to commemorate and celebrate the Fourth of July than to recall an immortal speech from an American lawyer, planter, and politician turned famous orator from Virginia, Patrick Henry, who said, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forgive it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.”

Happy Fourth of July!

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A new puppy in the house*

In my 32 years of living in the United States, I have , for the first time, a new puppy, and I'm so very happy to have him in my family.

Frankly, I never really thought much about having a dog. But that changed when a friend of my sister-in-law Rose dropped by my house one recent afternoon. Tee, Rose's friend, mentioned having a number of puppies and older dogs in her townhouse.

She was very persuasive. She even called me, "Uncle," when she learned that I'd retired from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of honorable service.

I finally decided to see her last puppy.

At her townhouse, Tee, handed me a wiggly, brown, cute puppy a mixed breed of Chihuahua (mother) and a Yorkie (dad). He's less than two months old, she said. We had a connection right off the bat! He was that cuddly and sweet. He was that cuddly. So adorable.

After the deal was done and some information about him provided, we headed to Petsmart, where we bought Puppy's crate and bed, food, collar, leash and some toys. We were the last customers around because we had so many questions about keeping a dog in the house.

Thanks to the employees, especially to Dan and Sarah, also pet trainers at PetSmart in North Suffolk, for their help and useful information they shared us.

Now, the bonding and responsibility have begun. So far, so good. Puppy and I are getting along, and we're both learning from each other, while adjusting to this new adventure.

He's such a blessing. We have had several walks and around the yard, front and back, and quality playtime on our wooden deck. It's fascinating how a small puppy can make a difference in one's life. I consider him a pain reliever, truly a godsend.

He's such a baby, helpless and hapless, needing care and attention, and I imagine I'll pamper him.

Puppy is now the apple of our eyes at home. He gives me company and keeps me busy attending to him. As a young dog, he needs all the help he can get as he continues to adjust to his new home and owner. I am thankful we have wireless Internet so I can do some research about how to care for him as he grows up.

Dogs are man's best friend , they say. They're also intelligent. With proper training, they follow commands, do amazing tricks and help solve crimes.

This summer will undoubtedly be a memorable and enjoyable one for me, because of the arrival of Puppy in my family.

Time to go outside with Puppy. See you guys later.

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

*Appeared in the award-winning Suffolk-News Herald, Tuesday, June 30, 2015.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Some fun in the summer sun*

It's summertime! It's the season of hot and humid weather in Virginia.

Summer---the time to indulge in special treats, frozen delights, ice cream, coolers, watermelons and vegetables, especially local produce. It's the time to wear sandals, flip flops, shirts and shorts, and shades.

Yes, summer is here, like it or not. Iced-cold drinks are in demand to quench one's thirst or to combat summer heat. Whew, sizzling summer is now in full swing! Heat and humidity are becoming unbearable. So, watch out for the elderly and pets. They're vulnerable to heat-related injuries.

Weeks before the official arrival of summer, air conditioning units in homes and businesses already had been turned on for everyone's comfort.

Lots of activities (outdoor, especially) await, especially for children who need a break from school and clamor for vacation somewhere. They are ready to experience and learn new things.

Many parents already have planned something for their children, whether summer camps, road trips, cruises or vacation Bible school programs.

How and where do you plan to spend your summer vacation? At home? Out of town? Out of the country? Whatever you do, be safe while having a good time out there.

Safety is everyone's responsibility. Whether you're traveling, cruising, camping, gardening or working, observe safety at all times.

Heat exposure is a concern this summer. There are preventive measures you can take to avoid heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat stroke or hyperthermia and other conditions associated with hot weather.

While you are away from home, your house should be properly locked, pets taken care of and cars and other valuable property kept safely. If you have a neighbor or friend you can trust, let him or her know, ahead of time before your getaway, to keep an eye on your house and property.

Keeping the community safe is everyone's responsibility. We are the eyes and ears of law enforcement officers. Therefore, report to the police anything or anyone that's suspicious in your neighborhood. Don't be a victim of crime. And don't take justice into your hands.

Prevention is the key to an enjoyable summer vacation, whether it's prevention of crime, prevention of heat-related illness or prevention of drowning? Practice prevention and common sense.

Summer reading is one activity that young and old should not overlook while enjoying summer somewhere. Learning is ageless and timeless, and it continues for all seasons.

Parents, bring your kids to the library and engage them in worthwhile activities that challenge them to think, to question and be curious, to wonder (and wander). Give them a book appropriate to their age level. If you need help, ask the librarian. Check out if the library has a summer reading program for different age groups.

Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. That's the quote from Joseph Addison (1672-1719), an English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician. Your body is stimulated and your muscles become strong when you exercise. You stimulate your brain and become smarter when you read.

Have a fun-filled, safe and stimulating summer!

-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, June 24, 2015. For more information, visit