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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Iti Panagkatangkatang/In Aimless Wandering*

(Note: In paying tribute to my late youngest sister Rosalinda, aka Lina (who passed away recently), I'd like to share with you one of five of my Ilokano poems below (included in the anthology book REKUERDO/MEMENTO, published in 2009 by IWAH Press/GUMIL Hawaii) and was translated in English by Dr. Aurelio Solver Agcaoili of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.)

Iti Panagkatangkatang*
by Chris A. Quilpa

Ay, adda ka'd pay mamaayna
No maysa a kabsat simmina
A di man laeng nagpakada
Pimmusayen dinton makita.

Iti panagkatangkatang
Ken panagkalkallautang
Kakabsat a nagwalang
Iti telepono nga agpapatang.

Rigat piman iti gapuna
Iyaadayo iti lugar a kakaisuna.
Todo a panawan ti nakayanakan
Tapno rang-ay mabirokan.

Iliw ti tumunggal maysa
Awan balor a kapadpadna
Pinanawan a lagip iti denna
Biagen tapno agsantak rikna.

In Aimless Wandering

Ay, is there something worthy
If a sibling has passed away
She has not said her goodbye
And then all she does is die.

In our aimless wandering
In our going to places seeking
Siblings we have not seen
The telephone does the talking.

We run away from this poverty
Leave the place of our misery
To get hold of something better
We leave behind our land forever.

Our sorely missing each other
Is one feeling beyond compare
The memory og the beloved dear
We keep alive to make us feel better.

*Published in 2009, in REKUERDO/MEMENTO: Estrangement and Homing in Ilokano Poetics (Edited, Translated, and with A Critical Introduction by Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, PhD, of the University of Hawaii at Manoa) by IWAH Press/GUMIL Hawaii in collaboration with TMI Global Press and the Academy for Ilokano and Amianan Studies. Dr. Agcaoili currently coordinates the University of Hawaii Ilokano Language and Literature Program, the only Ilokano-degree granting program in the world.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Thursday, November 23, 2017

So many reasons to be thankful*

It's Thanksgiving Day again, a good time to be grateful for being alive and together with family and friends sharing faith, freedom, love, joy, peace, unity and bountiful blessings from God.

I have so much to be thankful for. To God and His only son, Jesus Christ, I give thanks.

I give thanks for my deceased parents and grandparents, and parents-in-law for their love and sacrifices.

I am grateful for my family members and friends, near and far, for their continued love, care and support. Thanks to my former teachers and co-workers and to those educators (especially to my wife Freny, son Andrew and daughter, school counselor Christine) who are inspiring our students to acquire good education and have a brighter future.

I thank Robbie, my son-in-law and loving husband of daughter Christine, for being a part of our family. I thank Charles and Libby, Robbie's parents, for their friendship and love, and for all the fond memories we have shared together with Robbie and Christine.

I thank the farmers for their bountiful harvest, along with all (multi-diverse) professionals for helping make our nation great. I appreciate the government officials and employees and private employees, as well, for all that they do to make America a better place to live.

I appreciate the Suffolk News-Herald and its staff, especially Res Spears for his insights and professional expertise. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors and pray that God will bless him and his family always. And I wish incoming editor Tracy Agnew the best in her new position. Thanks, likewise, to all of our readers.

During my first Thanksgiving in the United States more than three decades ago, I was blessed to have my sister Betty and her retired U.S. Navy veteran husband Dennis to help me find my way.

Until that Thanksgiving Day in California, 34 years ago, I had never seen such a huge turkey!

I am thankful for sister Betty and brother-in-law Dennis, to whom my family will be forever grateful for their love and care, kindness, understanding and generosity.

As an older sibling who filled in the roles of being a mom and a big sister, Betty did an amazing job of helping us, her younger siblings, get settled here. She made sure we were taken care of until we were able to stand on our own feet.

Likewise, I am grateful for my 92-year old Aunt Emiliana in California, my late father's only sister. Strong and determined, she can still manage to drive alone to visit my sisters and relatives in San Jose.

On behalf of my family and friends, I thank our police officers for making our community safe and orderly. To our city officials and employees, and all of our military veterans (active, retired, injured and fallen), thank you for your service and professionalism.

[To my social media friends, thank you. And, finally, I thank Simba, my two-year old Chorkie (Chihuahua-Yorkie mixed breed dog), for keeping me company at home. Thank you, little buddy.]

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! God bless us always, and God bless America!

-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 23, 2017. For more information, visit

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, ' 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

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

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

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