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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's for Dinner?

That's the question, folks. What do you have or did you prepare for dinner? Any dish you want to share us?

Well, I, for one, have prepared something for me and my wife (who, at the time I'm writing this blog post, is still at work, and in her tutorial and other part-time job, for she's scheduled today.) Yes, I prepared dinner for me and for my wife because we're only two at home these days. As you know, our two young adult children have been out there, in two different places/locations, realizing their dreams/aspirations. Our son, who graduated from college in 2010, has been working in The Capital while our daughter is currently a fourth year college student at the premier State university  where she's pursuing a degree in Sociology. My sister-in-law has been away on vacation. That leaves me and my wife at home. Isn't that nice, lovely and wonderful?

Now, this is what we have for dinner, folks. The dish is pasta (Tri-color Rotini and Rigatoni combo both by Mueller's America's Favorite Pasta) with sauteed onion, Forelli mushrooms (pieces and stems) and chopped bacon, thick cut from Oscar Mayer (America's favorite fully cooked (100 percent real) bacon), with Bertolli's Alfredo Sauce (with aged parmesan cheese). The other dish, which I already prepared for tomorrow, is pasta with sauteed onion, mushrooms, steamed (and spiced up with Old Bay seasoning) large-size shrimps (deveined and peeled), with Alfredo Sauce. Actually, I divided the pasta into two, once cooked, for two separate but almost identical dishes. Get it? I set aside the other pasta dish with shrimps for tomorrow, and Friday if we have leftovers.

I tell you, it didn't take much time for me to prepare the pasta dish. Once the pasta is cooked/boiled, per the product's cooking direction, I set it aside. Then, I sauteed the chopped onion and the rinsed mushrooms (in a jar) with Bertolli's Extra Light olive oil and Land O' Lakes Unsalted Sweet butter, and added the Alftredo Sauce Once the stuff was cooked, I  set aside one half of it in a bowl. For the first half, I added chopped bacon in it. Then, I added half a jar of that Alfredo Sauce, mixed the whole stuff with the pasta. I let it stay on the pan for a couple of minutes before scooping it up and placed it on a large bowl/plate. I used the same pan for the other pasta dish. For the other half that I set aside in a bowl, I added the peeled steamed and spiced shrimps into the sauteed onion and mushrooms. I added the other half a jar of Alfredo Sauce. Then, I mixed the whole stuff with the pasta. I let it stay on the pan for a couple of minutes before I turned our cooking range off. There you go, folks. But before serving it, get ready with that Kraft shredded (low-moisture part-skim) Mozzarella chesee, please! Plus, that bottle of red table wine! Now, it's time for dinner! Bon apetit!

Let me tell you, friends. I got inspired today by Fr. Leo Patalinghug's GraceBeforeMeals videos. Only I followed my own simple pasta recipe! Thanks to God for Fr. Leo. Thanks, again, YouTube, Blogger, and Google. And, thank you, folks, for your time with me. Until next time around. Ciao! Have a pleasant, good night, everyone!-chris a. quilpa, 29February2012

Notes and Fr. Leo of GraceBeforeMeals (with Videos)

Hello, everyone! Today is the last day of February. Over here in 757 it's a rainy day. How's yours in your area? Hope and pray that you're doing well this Lenten Season as I am so far.

For the past two days, as you've probably noticed, I haven't written my blog post. Not that I don't have anything to write or talk about. But, frankly speaking, I'm not at a loss for topics, issues to write about for there are always plenty of them around, everywhere. I just got lazy and tired (probably from our trip to and from C-ville that weekend.) How's that? I'm just trying to be frank and truthful to myself, you know. Anybody who cares, by the way? Let's leave it at that.

Well, as a free-spirited earthling, I do what I want to do, as long as I don't violate the laws of the land. The fact is, I've been doing a little bit of this and that: reading, watching, listening, observing, preparing something for dinner, eating, breathing, praying, a little walking around at home, laughing, and attending to my scheduled appointment. Like yesterday, I did go to my dental appointment. You know, that periodic twice a year teeth examination and cleaning. Well, I have to take advantage of this the fact that I have a yearly dental insurance coverage. Mind you, it's not cheap. The premium that I've been paying, I mean. (It's automatically taken out from my Navy retirement pay/pension.) Anyway, I had that dental cleaning yesterday. Thanks to God that I was able to have it. My next appointment? In September this year.

Last Monday, the day after the 84th Academy Awards, I had a chance to watch the trailers of the year 2011 best films, via Out of those films, the only movie my wife and I and our daughter (who happened to be with us that weekend) have watched was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (I mentioned this in my previous blog post, with our photos and the facade of the new cinema where we watched the movie.) Someday, I'd like to watch some of the films I listed/noted on my note card. Especially the Academy award-winning films this year.

That Monday night, I came across this energetic and enthusiastic and charismatic gourmet cook/chef, author,   third degree blackbelter (taekwondo), and priest (Roman Catholic), and founder of and MiniFlipping, via YouTube. Fr. Leo Patalinghug. Does that sound familiar to you, folks? Probably not. But anyway, I learned that he's also a speaker, teacher/professor, and a break-dancing priest, of Filipino ancestry. He has a background in Political Science and Journalism. He studied in Rome, Italy for the priesthood. Watch his viedos below and learn something about this multi-talented clergy.

I'm so glad and thankful for Fr. Leo's intelligence, wisdom, humor, talents and skills. Wishing that we have more like him among the flocks of the clergy. See it for yourself, folks, and check out his video/s on YouTube. Thanks YouTube, and Blogger and Google for everything you do for us all. And, thanks to God and to Fr. Leo. Kudos and more power to you, Fr. Leo. May God bless you always! Take care.

This is all for now, folks. Thanks for your time with me. Until next time around. Have a nice day, everyone!-chris a. quilpa, 29February2012.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Entertainment on First Week of Lent

As I'm writing this blog post, I've been watching the 84th Annual Academy Awards (better known as The Oscar) since 8:30 p.m. with actor-comedian Billy Crystal hosting it. I enjoyed the first five minutes intro of the Academy Awards show. Crystal, to me, is a much better excellent host than his previous counterparts. He's funny and hilarious, as always, with his antics.

So glad and thankful (to our Almighty God) that my wife and I arrived home, safely, before 8:00 o'clock p.m. from C-ville where we spent the night together last night, Saturday, with our daughter (who's been studying there for almost four years by May this year) and our son (who drove all the way from The Capital where he currently works). Minutes after we arrived home, our son called us, informing us he arrived safely, too, in DC. A week ago, our son, my wife and I agreed that we'd be "meeting" there altogether in C-ville, Saturday, to watch his sister, our daughter performing, along with her 17 fellow college students-dramatic and comedic performers, in The Vagina Monologues at UVA. Started February 24 and ending tonight February 26, this show is a) a series of dramatic and comedic performances written by Eve Ensler and performed worldwide, b) a global, non-profit movement to end violence against women that has raised over $75 million in the last fourteen years, c) a show that challenges viewers with funny, moving, poignant and heart-wrenching performances. 

In connection with the show, V-Day 2012, according to flyer or informational sheet, is a global movement of grassroots activists dedicated to generating broader attention and funds to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sex slavery. What they do? They 1) create dialogue and shatter taboos around violence against women and girls through thousands of events in over 140 countries, 2) inspire and support activists who are working to create a world where women and girls are nurtured and protected through grassroots activism, public education activities and support services for survivors, and 3) create new opportunities and resources for women and girls.

What can I say about the show The Vagina Monologues directed by Mia Haruko Logan and co-produced by Katie Ryan and Marta Hansen? You bet, it was entertaining, hilarious and informative, yet thought-provoking and moving. All the performers did great! Our daughter was the last to do her "I Was There in the Room", a dramatic monologue, or "gravitas" per our son, who has a background or minored in drama. Actually, both our kids got actively involved in drama and forensics when they were in elementary and high school. Thanks to Mrs. Sears for her creative and artistic mentorship and commitment  to our students. may her tribe increase!
By the way, today is the first Sunday of Lent. Thanks to God that our family was able to attend Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church  in C-ville. How's your observance of the 40 days of Lent going so far, my friends? Hopefully, and prayerfully, you're doing well. Well, after the Mass, we had lunch at Wood Grill Restaurant. Then, afterwards,   our son drove back to DC, while my wife and I brought our daughter back to her dorm, after doing grocery for her and, finally, we left C-ville for 757.

Well, the Academy Awards is almost finished, as I'm signing off. (Update: Christopher Plummer of The Sound of Music fame garnered the Best Supporting Actor for his role as a gay man in Beginners. Octavia Spencer won as Best Supporting Actress for her role as one of the housemaids in The Help. Best Actor Award went to Jean Dujardin in the silent, black and white film The Artist that also won Best Picture and whose director Michel Hazanavicius won the Best Director trophy. Nominated for 17 times, Meryl Streep was Oscar's Best Actress for her portrayal as then UK Prime Minister Margaret Thacher in The Iron Lady.)

Until next time around, folks. Thanks for your time. Congratulations to all the Oscar winners and all the rest of the nominees! To me, they're all winners! God bless us all! Have a goodnight, everyone!-chris a. quilpa, 26February2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Sister Act at the Oscar's this Sunday? Go, Sister, Go!

An Act of Love

An Act of Love*

forget yourself
think of others
share what you have 
and you'll get well.

to the desperate, give your heart
your enemies, never to hurt
to all be faithful and true
as He is true to you!

(c)chris a. quilpa

*appeared in, 3/2006

Friday, February 24, 2012

Who's To Believe? You Be the Judge

Curious as I am in using the computer, exploring what's out there and trying to learn and to know more about my faith, I came across this video uploaded by mhfm1. Frankly speaking, the more I learn something, and know something, the more I don't know what to believe. It's just like the saying which goes: The more you know, the more you don't know. And, that one, too: A little learning is a dangerous thing.

Truly, one's faith is such a complicated subject that it needs analysis and scrutiny. My faith is sometimes shaken each time I read, watch or hear about it being in the spotlight. But, my belief in God and Jesus is intact. I will never compromise it. That's my take. That's my stand about the issue on faith. I hope and pray that God will always strengthen my faith in Him, our Almighty Creator. God bless us all!

Until next time around, folks. Take care and keep the faith alive! Thanks YouTube and mhfm1, and RealCatholicTV, and to Blogger and Google. (No copyright infringement intended, for the video I embedded in this blog post. Credit goes to the video uploader, a. quilpa,24February2012

Morning Prayer

Happy Friday, everyone! Today is the first Friday of Lent. Just a reminder,  we Catholics, 14 years of age and older, have to observe abstinence from meat in our meal/diet today, except for those who are sick or ill or who need it. Beside fish, there are other good sources of protein that we can eat, like beans and other legumes. We can do that. Yes we can, can't we? Giving up something for Jesus in others (not only food but also comfort, pleasure, etc.), even for a day, makes a difference in our penance. Well, I'm just sharing with you something that I know. Thanks for your consideration and understanding.

Another "something" that I'd like to share with you---this Morning Prayer that I've been keeping for a while. I came across this prayer (that appeared on April 23, 2009, in a local military newspaper, The Flagship). Its author wasn't mentioned. Here's Morning Prayer:

Morning Prayer

All through today, O God, help me to be 
quick to praise and slow to criticize;
quick to forgive, and slow to condemn;
quick to share and slow to refuse to give.

Grant me all through today
complete control over my temper,
that I may be slow to anger;
complete control over my tongue,
that I may speak no hasty word.

So grant that all through today, I may help everyone 
and hurt no one, so that I may find true joy in living. 

I do hope and pray that you've been enlightened by this prayer. Until next time around. Take care. May God bless us all always! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!-chris .a.quilpa, 24February2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More on RealCatholicTV

As I've said in my previous blog post, I got hooked on RealCatholicTV for a while. The videos were quite interesting, intriguing, informative, inspiring, and enlightening, and challenging, and thought-provoking to me. Watching and listening Mr. Voris speak opened my mind to the realities of what's going on about my faith and the issues that are affecting my faith. Yes, I learned something new today about what it takes to be a (real) Catholic.

I do hope you, folks, did take time to watch and learn something from the videos embedded here in my blog post. Thanks YouTube and to Mr. Michael Voris of RealCatholicTV, and to Blogger. Thanks, everyone, for your time. Until next time around. Ciao!- chris a. quilpa, 23February2012

Hooked on RealCatholicTV?

Happy Thursday to you all! I do hope you're doing well so far as we're into Lenten mode. I, for one, am trying to observe Lent knowing more about our faith via this video uploader (website) on YouTube that I just found out yesterday. Yes, just yesterday, Ash Wednesday. I don't remember how I came across this RealCatholicTV. It's probably from one of the links that I clicked while on one of the "Catholic" blogs that I'm following.

Since yesterday, after attending the Mass on Ash Wednesday, I tell you, I got hooked on watching videos uploaded by RealCatholicTV on YouTube. I've been that anxious and curious to learn more about our faith, that's why I got so interested on this channel. Who wouldn't be when you learn the latest news about the Catholic Church and Catholics via its Catholic News Roundup edition hosted by Matthew McAuliff. Plus, this sort of Catholic TV magazine, The Vortex hosted by Michael Voris,S.T.B.(Bachelor of Sacred Theology), who, I later learned that he's a layman and founder of (I just did search on Wikipedia about Mr.Voris and I got directed to St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, Yonkers, New York, where he was an alumnus.) In his videos, he talks and discusses about so many topics, issues that pertain to the Catholic Church, her history, her hierarchy, etc. Even if I studied in a Catholic college way back in the late 70s, for four years, I believe, I still need to learn more about my belief and religion that I grew up with. I need to learn and relearn more about our faith. That's right, folks, I'm "hungry" to know more about my faith, our faith, if I may say. Yes, I'm quite excited and enthusiastic about learning more about my faith. I'm glad and thankful to God that I found this website. Indeed, we're never tired or old enough to learn something each day.

During the observance of Lent until Easter, I try to continue to be good, to give thanks to Our Almighty God, to be sorry for whatever I have done that may have offended others and isn't pleasing to God and ask forgiveness, to pray, to fast, to give alms, and to praise and worship our God and Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.

I'd like to share with you a couple of videos from RealCatholicTV and hopefully you'll learn something and be enlightened, too, like me. Thanks YouTube, RealCatholicTV, Blogger, and Wikipedia. Thanks to everyone! Until next time around. Have a nice day! chris a. quilpa, 23February2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today is Ash Wednesday, the Beginning of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of 40 days of Lenten Season. Catholic Christians and other Christians around the globe flocked to their churches today to receive the ashes from their pastors or parish priests (and designated parish leaders). As they make the sign of the cross with ashes (from last year's palms that were burned) to our forehead, they remind us by saying "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return."

Thanks to God, I received my ashes and Jesus (via the Holy Communion) when I attended the Mass today at past twelve noon in my parish. Just by myself. That't right, folks. My wife couldn't make it to church because she's at work, and from there she goes straight to her twice a week tutorial job in another school, after her regular work. Then, after that, she drives all the way to her twice a week part-time job, too, until nine tonight. (She's scheduled to work today in both her tutorial and her other part-time work, that's why.) Well, it's just up to our Gracious, Good God to understand her situation.

I've noticed that many people  came to my church today. That's good, I said to myself. Now, from our pastor's homily or sermon, one word that resonates into my senses is "Repent." (Yes, we're all sinners and we're so sorry for our sins and ,thus, we have to ask God's forgiveness and mercy.) Likewise, he discussed three important disciplines that we have to consider in observing Lent. These are prayer, almsgiving and fasting and/or abstinence. I remember, he also mentioned about sins of commission and omission.

In his booklet, Celebrating LENT(1994), Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM Conv., wrote: "Today we call the forty days during which we prepare for Easter "Lent." This name comes from an Old English word that means the "Spring," for Lent begins toward the end of Winter and leads us into the season of Spring."

From the Lenten booklet, The Little Black Book (Six Minute Meditations on the Sunday Gospels of Lent-Cycle B), 2011, based on the writings of Bishop Ken Untener of Diocese of Saginaw, MI, and edited by Catherine Haven, during the ancient times,"many people used ashes for religious, magical and medical purposes. In the Old Testament, ashes were sprinkled on the head or over the whole body as a sign of mourning and penance. Receiving ashes on the first day of Lent is a practice that dates back to the fifth century, and by the 11th century was a universal Christian practice. During the Reformation, most Protestant Churches eliminated the use of ashes. In recent years, however, many of these Churches have resumed the practice." The booklet also mentioned Pope Urban (c.1035-1099) being credited with recommending that Catholics receive ashes on Ash Wednesday.

Furthermore, the booklet explained about the regulations on Lenten fast and abstinence: FASTING: On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, those who are 18 but not yet 59 are allowed only one full meal. Two smaller meals are allowed as needed, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and juices, are allowed. ABSTINENCE FROM MEAT: Those who are 14 years of age are to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. If a person is unable to observe the said regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, other suitable forms of self-denial are encouraged.

Additionally, the Church no longer attempts to prescribe Lenten practices in detail. The above regulations simply highlight Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and other Fridays of Lent. The more fundamental obligation is to make Lent a penitential season practices that are adapted to one's own needs.

Well, folks, I do hope you had the time to visit your church and receive ashes and Jesus today. And, finally, I pray that you  have a renewed faith and rewarding Lenten season filled with hope and love.

Until next time around. Thanks for your time. May God bless you always!-chris .a.quilpa, 22February2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tomorrow, February 22nd, is Ash Wednesday---The Start of Season of Lent

Just a reminder to all of us, folks: Tomorrow, February 22nd, is Ash Wednesday. It is the start  of Lenten Season, the time to reflect on our life, in relation to our Almighty God, our Savior Jesus' life, and others', here on Earth. Here's a brief  informational  and educational video about Ash Wednesday and Lent. Thanks YouTube and the video uploader, bustedhalovideo. (No copyright infringement intended)

I wish you all the best this Lenten/Easter Season!-chris .a. quilpa, 21February2012

When I Wake Up

(Intro Note: One year ago today was last year's President's Day. How did I come to know? My 2011 binder-journal. One year ago today, I scribbled the following poem on my binder-journal. With a slight revision, the original title of my poem was "When I'm Awake." Here it is...)

When I Wake Up

Take me away, Wind
and lead me to a place
where I find Peace
and carry me to her bosom
like a baby craving for comfort
warmth and a love sincere.

Lull me to sleep, Wind
with your soft breeze
that's sweet music to my ears
watch me as the night falls
guard me from unexpected foes
and let the world know you care.

Be gentle to rock me, Wind
so when I wake up I feel much better.

(c) 2012 by chris a. quilpa

Monday, February 20, 2012

Consumed in Reading Blogs and Watching Embedded Videos

At first, I thought of not writing my blog post for today. But, in the end, I decided to just scribble some lines before the observance of President's Day is almost over.

For almost the whole day today, I've been engrossed in reading blogs. Actually, I got stuck on one particular "Catholic" blog because I was too curious to learn more about the current happenings in the Catholic Church. I got lucky to have visited two of the links on this blog I've been following for a while. That "consumed" my time because I found myself watching some of the embedded videos uploaded by, especially the ones where the 22 new Roman Catholic cardinals were having audience with the Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI in Rome this weekend. Thanks to Blogger, YouTube and romereports. Watching the video reminded me of that memorable experience when I was there in Rome over two decades ago.

Likewise, I had the opportunity to watch a couple of embedded videos about Fr. Robert "Bob" Barron commenting on different issues like the HHS Contraception Mandate, Conscience and Morality, Character and Relationships, etc. I also watched his video "lecturing" about The Evangelization of Culture to a varied audience in a church in Toronto. He's such an astute academician-evangelist, to me. Kudos and more power, Fr. Barron! Again, thanks YouTube, and  wordonfirevideo for such informative and insightful videos.

This is all for now, friends. Until next time around. Thanks for your time. Good night!-chris a. quilpa, 20February2012.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Going Chinese

Wish you all a faithful and restful Sunday, everyone! Thanks to God, my wife, our son and I were able and delighted to participate/celebrate in today's Mass with our fellow parishioners at St. Paul's. I thought our pastor, Rev. Fr. David is still out of town (because he announced to the whole congregation last Sunday that he'd be attending the annual retreat for priests) but, lo and behold, he officiated today's Mass. When I talked briefly to Fr. David before Mass, at the sacristy, asking him how did his retreat go he said it went well.

During Mass, my wife and I did our designated job well, I guess so, as Eucharistic Ministers for Holy Communion. She was assigned to do Host A, while I did distribute the Host to members of the church's Choir.

After Mass, we drove our way to the NEX/Commissary and bought groceries, especially ready-to-eat vegetable salad, fruits, bottled water, etc.

No, we didn't go Subway for lunch today, folks. Instead, we three decided to go Chinese. Anyway, it's been a while since the last time we've gone Chinese. We chose the one close to Chesapeake Square Mall. It's like the Empire Buffet Restaurant in Portsmouth. But this one is more spacious and the atmosphere is awesome and/or wholesome. Inside, it's clean, including their restrooms. Plus, they have more food choices or selections, including sushi, seafood, pizza. Man, it's inevitable, I've gained a couple of pounds again! Yes, I admit, I was full (after the feast!) and had a good time with my family, minus our daughter who didn't come home for the weekend, unlike her brother. I know, it's understandable because, unfortunately, she's got classes on Monday, which is President's Day, a federal holiday in the United States! That's why I wrote in my previous blog post that not everyone is having a day off, tomorrow, Monday. Colleges and universities have classes on President's Day! What can I say? Nada. So be it.

Eating out, especially going Chinese, once in a while is not that bad. Actually, a Chinese buffet restaurant, like any buffet restaurant, can be a special hangout for families and friends, and others who are foodies. And eating out is an excuse for not having a home-cooked luncheon/dinner. Truly, it's freedom from daily home cooking, sort of a diversion and a valid reason for being lazy to prepare or cook food at home, at times. Plus, it's an indulgence, sometimes, to eat out, once in a blue moon, they say. We don't have to deprive ourselves to eat out at a fine, decent restaurant, do we? We deserve to treat ourselves with good things in life, like good, scrumptious food. But, of course, it comes with a price, pocket-wise and/or health-wise (it's so tempting to savor everything that's offered or served at the buffet restaurant.) But, that's okay, as long as we can afford it and accept the consequence/s of our indulgence. No ill feeling of guilt, for overeating, once in a while. What else can we do if we have eaten too much, quite the regular or ordinary? We know we got carried away by lots of food we saw. As I've mentioned, it's just one of those days in one's life that we have this kind of experience. It's not that you indulge in binge eating regularly. No. I, myself, don't feel guilty at all. I've eaten more today, unintentionally, and, therefore, I should suffer whatever consequences that may come my way. My mind reminded me, "eat by small portions." I did---tasted this and that, in small portions. But it added up, you know. Yes, I got carried away. I know, we all want to be healthy. Who wouldn't be, anyway?

(FYI: I didn't have breakfast this morning. So, I just had my "brunch" and/or "brunchner"; breakfast-lunch-dinner, all in one. Yeah, just one meal for today, how's that? A sort of pre-Easter/Lenten season practice, huh? Before I forget, just to remind you, friends, what Fr. David's announcement at the conclusion of the Mass today: This Wednesday, February 22nd, is Ash Wednesday. It's the start of Lenten season that involves fasting, abstinence, almsgiving and prayer. I'll be writing a blog post about this topic.)

Well, folks, I've got to park here now. Like you, I have other things to do today. One, I've got to catch up my reading the latest news on our local/regional and community/city newspapers. Two, I've got to write my blog post. Third, I've got to read some blogs, too, you know. And, I've got to relax by either watching PBS and /or visiting Facebook briefly and videos on YouTube, etc. Anyway, thanks for your time with me, friends. Until next time around. Have a blessed Sunday, everyone! Take care now.-chris a. quilpa, 19February2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mission Accomplished

A pleasant Saturday, everyone! Hope you're all doing well/great so far. Well, for most of us, we'll try our best to enjoy the three-day weekend, since Monday is a federal holiday because it's Presidents' Day. (I just learned from our daughter in college that they have class, as usual, on Monday.) Anyway, Happy Presidents' Day to all!

My wife and I was awaken this early morning at five when our young adult son arrived home to spend the three-day weekend  here in 757 (or Hampton Roads). As always, we're so glad and thankful to see him. Thanks to God, our son's doing okay/well at the workplace he chose to be---in The Capital. After exchanging hugs and stories, we all went upstairs to our respective rooms. I know, how tiresome he must be after driving three hours plus on wee hours from his house-work. One thing that my wife and I agreed upon before going back to sleep was that  we'd bring our son's car to the Automotive Store and Service Center for check up this morning (which is today Saturday). Why? Because the latter broke the news to us, as soon as he arrived this morning that something pops up on his car's dashboard about Tire.

That's what we did. At about ten o'clock, my wife and I left the house with our son alone (who's probably in slumber) in his own room. No, we didn't go together in one car. Actually, we drove two separate cars; she drove our son's, while I on our van. (We have a reason why we did this.) Thankfully, service personnel at the Automotive Service Center gladly accommodated our son's car, though we didn't make prior appointment. (I was just there yesterday for that state's inspection on our van.) Well, you know, they've known us already or we've been familiar to/with them because we're one of their regular customers. In fact, all of our three cars were bought there. So all the regular/periodic maintenance and/or repair of our cars are done over there. And we indicated, when we checked in to the front desk, that we may be buying another new car (as graduation gift) for our daughter who'll be graduating college this May, this year. It didn't that long for their mechanics to figure out what's wrong with our son's car (our graduation gift to him when he graduated college in 2010). Tire pressure, that is. And, they did reset something in the car so the indicator light won't show again on the dashboard. Unless there's still something to be fixed.

From there, we drove to the nearest DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office to request a copy of the van's registration card. I couldn't find the original copy at home, and in the van's since I found out . I may have misplaced it (I mentioned about this in my yesterday's post). Arriving at DMV office, we saw a queue of customers there. Patience, that's what we all practiced, while standing in line like everybody else, waiting for our number to be called. After about thirty minutes, we're done. For two dollars, we got a copy of our vehicle's registration card. We accomplished our goals for today. Thanks to God.

This is all for now, folks. Thanks for being patient, too. Until next time around. Ciao!-chris a. quilpa, 18February2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Out of the House, For our Van

At about ten thirty, this mild Friday morning, after having a cup of shredded wheat cereal with milk, I left the house for Automotive Store and Service Center where we purchased all of our three cars (same popular brand name). Since it's the month to have a new state inspection decal for our van, I've thought of having it done today, if it's possible. But, of course, there's always the possibility that it may not be done. That's why I said that at the outset. Anyway, thanks to God! Yes, they took ours, even if I just walked in or didn't have a prior appointment. I just told them that I can just wait, in stead of leaving our van there.

After giving my car key, I did hang in the lounge area where 5-6 people sat quietly beside those wooden round tables, their eyes fixed on the flat TV screen a few feet away and mounted on the wall. Except for an elderly couple, each table was occupied by a customer waiting for his/her car done. As I've said, almost all were focused on the TV, on CNN, broadcasting the latest world news.

  Th is is my plan for our van today: After the state inspection (getting a new state inspection decal), I'd go to the nearest military base to obtain/procure a new DOD (Department of Defense) or military decal because the current one we have is worn out. You can barely read the DOD numbers and where the decal was issued. The current one doesn't expire 'til next month, March. So, I better take care of this now that I'm out of the house anyway.

It's already 11:25 a.m. While I've been waiting still in the service center's lounge, with a book on hand, I noticed that the TV channel was switched (automatically?) to a TV game show, The Price is Right, hosted by Drew Carey. During the station identification, I learned that the game show is broadcasted on a local CBS-affiliate TV station WTKR in Norfolk. Watching the game show on and off (because I've just started scribbling this note on a coupon bond that was inserted in my book), I was anxious to see the audience and guests sort of having fun. Lots of clapping hands, laughter, and smiles were exhibited.

Past twelve noon when our van was done. I didn't pay anything because that's included in the package deal when we bought our van three years ago---free state inspection for the life of the car.

From the Automotive Store and Service Center, I drove all the way to the nearest military installation. That means, to NMCP where I've worked for eleven years, and retired from there, seven years ago. Reaching the main gate of NMCP, I showed my military I.D. card to one of the sentries or base security police. Then, I told him my intention. He said that the security office there doesn't issue decals anymore since last month. I was baffled or aghast. Yes, I could hardly believe what he revealed to me. (I haven't been to this naval medical center for months for follow up check up.) Well, I was instructed to go to NOB (Norfolk Naval Base). "That seemed a bit far for me to drive" I said to myself. Unconvinced, once in the NMCP compound, I proceeded to the main general parking garage where the security office is located. There, I learned that it was true---DOD/base decals no longer are issued there. One of the active duty personnel asked me if I live (close) around the area. I said yes. He told me, then, to go to the Naval Shipyard, about 5 minutes drive from there. Good, I uttered, because that's close to where I shop/buy my groceries at the NEX/Commissary.

Going around the area, where I was told to go, back and forth (because I missed the turn), finally I arrived at the place. Manned by civilian employees, the security office was a bit crowded. The line was long. Naturally, all of us have to wait for our turn. Even if you're almost there next in line to be called, you get bumped when a uniformed military personnel shows up. They have that line privilege, you know. That's okay by me. I understand the rationale behind it. So they can go back to their workplace once they're done there, especially when they were only excused or permitted a couple of hours to have their business taken care of. Plus, that's one of the morale boosters for our active duty personnel, in my view.

My, my, my, when it was my turn to be served/serviced, I couldn't find one of the important requirements needed before I'd be issued new decals---the vehicle registration papers! I thought I have it together with the vehicle's papers, car repair maintenance papers, etc. I have had the one last year, 2011. Usually, we register each of our vehicles for two years at DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle). What a waste of time or how I wasted my time today. I just couldn't find that missing papers! I know, we may have misplaced it somewhere at home. (At that time I was feeling so uncomfortable (especially having stood in line for how many minutes, my lower back has been killing me with pain!) Plus, I felt hungry and was getting tired standing in front of the woman employee (probably in her late forties or mid fifties) in window 5. Before I left the office, I asked her about their office hours, and if they're open Saturday which she said they are not. On my way to the parking lot, I kept thinking where was our van's registration card. Our vehicle tag/plates says that our vehicle registration is  not renewable 'til next March 2013.

On my way home, I thought that if we couldn't find that registration card at home, in our drawer where we have stored some papers, my wife and I would just go to DMV tomorrow, Saturday, to request a copy of it. Already hungry and feeling kinda weak, I was! You know what, folks? I dropped by at Totoy's and ordered three (different menu) orders food to go. Arriving home, I had a feast! (One thing, though, with buying cooked food in a restaurant, i.e, Chinese, Filipino, Italian, etc. The food is either salty, too salty or just in between, good or well done.) Anyway, I left some, more than enough for my wife's dinner.

Well, folks, this is all for now. Thanks for your time with me. Until next time around. Have a wonderful (three-day, holiday) weekend! I didn't realize 'til this moment that Monday is a federal holiday; it's Presidents' Day in the U.S. of A! Happy Presidents' Day, everyone! Enjoy and have fun. But be safe! Ciao!-chris .a.quilpa, 17February2012 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Ilokano

(Intro Note:  With slight revision, the poem below appeared in on May 10, 2008. FYI: Go to Wikipedia and type ilokano or ilocano people to know more about this info, i.e., people, literature, etc.)

The Ilokano

reachable and searchable.

migratory and wandering
here and there, everywhere.

docile and teachable
always curious and learning.

clannish, compact and closed-knit
solidly strong and indestructible.

loyal and faithful
dependable and reliable.

but explosive and defensive
cooperative and supportive.

helpful and hospitable
compassionate and careful.

proud yet dignified
admired and appreciated.

bold, brown yet beautiful
hopeful and wonderful.

(c) 2012 by chris a. quilpa

The School Children

(Intro Note: Yesterday, as I was having my "brunch" downstairs, between our eat-in-kitchen and family room, while our back door (with a glass storm door) leading to the deck/backyard was open to let more light in to our house, I saw these school children, with a female adult  presumably their teacher, out there in school playground playing, having fun. I assumed they're having recess (time). A beautiful thought came to mind. And, I tried to capture that lovely scene under the bright sun. Here's the finish product of that very pleasant moment, a simple poem I scribbled yesterday. And I just want to share it with you all. Thank you.)

The Elementary School Children

Let them play
out there under the bright sun
the children---innocent and carefree
with varied needs and personalities.

Let them giggle and wiggle
let them scream and shout
for they are full of life and energy
exercising their freedom and liberty.

(c) 2012 by chris a. quilpa

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913): The "Moses" of Her People

(Intro Note: In celebration of Black History Month, the month of February, I wish to share with you something about this extraordinary African American who helped liberate her people to freedom. Luckily, while rummaging through my "literary" files, I did find this researched article that I prepared way back in 1999 while I got so interested in learning more about biographies of some interesting African Americans in the United States, like George Washington Carver who I featured in one of my previous blog posts.)

Harriet Tubman was one of the most famous women in Black History of the United States. She was a skilled military leader, a compassionate nurse, a committed abolitionist, and a wonderful woman who cared very much about human beings. She became well-known as the "Moses" of her people.

Born into slavery around 1820, in Dorchster County, Maryland, on the Brodas plantation, Harriet was the sixth of the eleven children of Benjamin and Harriet "Old Rit" Ross. Her parents were slaves of a plantation owner named Edward Brodas.

When she was born, Harriet was named Araminta Ross. Her parents nicknamed her "Minta." But as she grew older, when was called Harriet after her mother.

When she was very young, Harriet served as a field hand and house servant. She ran errands for Mr. Brodas and his family. Because of her young age and her inexperience at housework, she made all kinds of mistakes. And she was punished all the time. She was also hired out to work for others. She was often treated cruelly. Despite all the hardships, "Minta" grew up to be a strong worker. By eleven, she was sweating in the fields, a bright bandana tied around her head to signify that she was longer a child.

Harriet dreamed of freedom. Names of slaves who had run away were whispered around the slaves quarters. One man, Tice Davis, swam across the Ohio Rivers from Kentucky. Harriet overheard his owner say: "He must be gone on an underground railroad!" She was puzzled and kept on asking herself if there was some sort of magical railroad that brought people north to freedom?

One autumn day when Harriet was about fifteen, she witnessed an escape. A young slave slipped away from the field. The overseer---someone paid for to watching slaves so that they would work hard and not to escape---followed him in hot pursuit. Harriet ran after the two to see what would happen next. She followed them into the village store. The overseer ordered Harriet to help him catch the runaway. Instead, she blocked the doorway. As the slave ran away, the overseer, in a rage, grabbed a heavy weight from the scales on the counter and hurled it to him. The overseer missed and the weight hit Harriet on her forehead. She was knocked down unconscious, bleeding from a huge gash. For months, she lay in bed without moving. Old Rit, her mother, nursed her. The next spring Harriet recovered, but for the rest of her life suffered from horrible headaches. Sometimes she would unexpectedly fall into deep sleeps from which she could not be awakened for hours. She wore the large scar on her forehead like a badge of courage.

Harriet's father, Ben Ross, taught her many things about survival as a which plants were edible, how to use the stars as a navigational system, and about animals. This early knowledge on survival helped her a great deal especially when she later worked as a "conductor" for the Underground Railroad, and a spy for the Union troops during the Civil War.

In 1844, Harriet met John Tubman, a free black man. They lived in small cabin by themselves. In those time, slaves were not forbidden to marry free blacks. But the slaves were still owned by the masters after any marriages.

Over the years, Harriet never stopped dreaming about freedom. Over and over in her head she planned how she would escape north to freedom. John Tubman, her husband, just laughed at her and even warned that he would turn her in if she tried. Harriet was sad and hurt.

In the fall of 1849, Harriet learned that she and her brothers were to be sold to a Georgia trader. So, she prepared to escape. With a prayer in her heart, she began her journey on the Underground Railroad. For weeks she slept by day and traveled by night. She walked until her feet bled.  She hid in hystacks, barns, and attics.

Each night, Harriet looked to the North Star for direction. After traveling nearly ninety miles, she finally reached her freedom in Pennsylvania. She crossed the state line at dawn.

In Philadelphia, she found work as hotel cook, met new friends, and spent many hours with the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, a group of abolitionists---men, women, white and black who believed that slavery should be abolished. They set up meetings to help runaway slaves or fugitives. She promised then and there to help bring her family and other slaves escape to freedom and to welcome them to a new home in the North.

Harriet saved her money from working as a cook and used it to bring slaves to freedom in the South. She went back to the Brodas plantation to get her husband John Tubman. But, she was heartbroken to learn that her husband had married another woman. Hurt and angry, she gathered a handful of slaves who wanted to be free and took them north instead. This was the first of many groups of strangers she led to freedom.

When Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, Harriet realized that no ex-slave could be truly safe anywhere in the United States. So, in 1852, she led all her fugitives all the way to Canada. And, for the next six years, Harriet spent winters in the city of St. Catherines, Ontario, and summers in New Jersey. In spring and fall she headed to Maryland to lead more slaves.

In 1857, she rescued her parents from slavery to St. Catherines, in Canada, then ultimately to Auburn, New York where they lived out their lives in freedom.

In 1858, she spoke at an anti-slavery rally in Boston. She discussed in detail the difficulties and hardships of her many trips along the Underground Railroad. Since then, she had been speaking about slavery across Massachusetts.

When Civil War broke out in 1861, Harriet found her next mission at the Union Army. She worked as a cook, nurse, scout, and spy. But she could not resist taking more active participation. On June 2, 1863, Harriet Tubman led a raid on the Combahee River in which some 750 slaves were freed.

When Civil War ended, United States approved the Thirteenth Amendment officially freeing all slaves. For the first time in her life, Harriet Tubman was a woman without a mission.

But Harriet found a new one. Women were not allowed to vote at all time, and a group of suffragists had formed a movement to fight this basic human right. She became one of the movement's most respected supporters and speakers.

Harriet took care of her aging parents and helped raised money for newly-freed slaves. Sarah Hopkins volunteered to help raise money by writing Harriet Tubman's biography, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman. The book was published in 1869 and Harriet used the money from the sale of the book to pay off the mortgage on her Auburn home.

In the spring of 1869, Harriet Tubman remarried. She lived with her husband, Nelson Davis, until 1888 when he died of tuberculosis. In the meantime, both of Harriet's parents had died sometime in the 1870s. Both were in their 100s.

In 1886, Sarah Bradford published a second edition of her book about Harriet Tubman called HARRIET, THE MOSES OF HER PEOPLE. Harriet used the money from this book to set up an old-age home. In 1908, she donated her home and some land to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church for use as a home for the sick.

Harriet Tubman died peacefully on March 10, 1913 in Auburn, New York.-chris a. quilpa, 15February2012

Exercising Regularly Towards A Healthy Life

(Intro Note: It is my intention, when I write, to share with you, friends, information that may help you feel or become well or better.  Having worked in U.S. naval hospitals and/or medical centers and clinics for twenty years, I've learned (from my life-work experience) at least something about how to live a healthy life and to get well, when not feeling good, with all the training and education I pursued, and provided to me by the United States Navy of which I'm forever and sincerely grateful for. Thanks.)

At some point in our life, we encounter and experience discomfort or unpleasant feeling both in mind and body to the extent that we get sick, literally. But educating (and equipping) ourselves by knowing/learning about health and other pertinent (medical, nursing) information helps a lot in preventing, managing, overcoming a malady to creep into our (bodily) system. In short, empowering ourselves is one of the keys to help make us feel better. I'm sure you've heard of one of the most popular words ever in personality development--- reinvention. Whether we like it or not, we change in all aspects of our being. We metamorphose for as long as we are alive. Yes, we undergo phases of transformation in life, while at the same time continue to battle or wage war against "invaders" that harm us, make us uncomfortable and sick. And the only one who can achieve and experience this evolution in one's life is we ourselves, because we are the beneficiaries of change (and information explosion brought about by computer/internet technology).

Now, the title of my blog post is exercising regularly towards a healthy life. This idea may have different meanings to different persons who read this post. Exercising our will power to change us is one. Another is exercising our rights as human beings in order to attain/maintain a healthy lifestyle. Still another meaning is exercising regularly, physically-speaking, to overcome whatever health/medical problems we have. Since I'm mentioning about health, or wellness, let me stick to my intent which is physical/mental exercise to reduce our risk of catching (viral) cold. I hope we're all settled on this issue.

According to The American Council on Exercise, regular exercise can help keep our immune system in good shape. Researchers have been providing us with answers regarding this matter. Fitness enthusiasts have been quick to point out that regular exercise lessen (their) sickness than their sedentary colleagues or counterparts.
A survey conducted in 1980s showed that 61 percent of 700 recreational runners reported fewer colds since they started running, (or jogging or brisk-walking) while only 4 percent felt they had experienced more (colds).

Further research revealed that during moderate exercise, several positive changes occur in the immune system.

Various immune cells circulate through the body more quickly, and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. Once the moderate exercise bout is over, the immune system returns to normal within a few hours.

In other words, each time we go on a brisk walk, our immune system receives a boost that should increase our chances of fighting off cold viruses over the long term.

Fitness enthusiasts and enduring athletes alike are often uncertain of whether they should exercise or rest when sick. Although more research is needed, most sports medicine experts in this field recommend that if you have symptoms of common cold with no fever (i.e., symptoms are above the neck), moderate exercise such as walking is probably safe. Intensive exercise should be postponed until a few days after the symptoms have gone away. However, if there are signs or symptoms of the flu (i.e., fever, extreme fatigue or tiredness, muscle aches, swollen lymph glands/nodes), then at least two weeks should probably be allowed before you resume intensive training. Reminder: Always consult with your doctor before you resume your physical fitness regimen or training.

Now, let's bear in mind that there's always an exception to every rule, that one thing may not be applicable to another. It's not one size fits all, especially with regards to health and physical exercise and fitness training.

For athletes who are training intensely for competition, here are the following guidelines that can help reduce their odds of getting sick: 1) Eat a well-balanced diet. The immune system depends on many vitamins and minerals for optimal function. However, at this time, there is no good data to support supplementation beyond 100 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowances. 2) Avoid rapid weight loss. Low-calorie diets, long-term fasting and rapid weight loss have been shown to impair immune function. Losing weight while training heavily is not good for the immune system. 3) Obtain adequate sleep. Major sleep disruption (e.g., three hours less than normal) has been linked to immune suppression. 4) Avoid over-training and chronic fatigue. Space vigorous workouts and race events as far apart as possible. Keep "within yourself" and don't push beyond your ability to recover.

This is all for now, folks. Until next time around, so stay fit and healthy, and keep the faith alive! Have a cheerful, wonderful day!-chris a. quilpa, 15February2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"I Love You"

(Note: This is my English translation/version of my "Ilokano" poem with the same title that was originally published in in February 2006.)

" I Love You"

"I love you"
three words
(so timeless)
will never fade
relieving to hear
giving strength and courage
orderliness and tranquility
life and hope.

"I love you"
three words
(a panacea)
effective medicine
wiping out bad thoughts
removing pain and anxiety
hatred and tribulation
day and night.

"I love you"
three words
powerful weapon
the most beautiful words to utter
overcoming obstacles and fear
bitterness and jealousy
morning or afternoon.

(c) 2012 by chris a. quilpa 

On Valentine's Day

Today is the Feast of St. Valentine, patron saint of lovers and happy (and successful) marriages. It is Love's day. But as (the late Ella Fitzgerald singing her beautiful rendition of) the song "My Funny Valentine" goes, "...Each day is Valentine's Day." (Her interpretation of the song is one of my favorites. Thanks YouTube and the video uploader. Thanks, Ms. Fitzgerald for the gift of life and music you shared us.)

Notably, we know how to express our love and affection for a special someone in our life, members of our family, relatives, and/or friends, in  various ways, i.e. flowers, cards (home-made/customized or bought in stores), candies, chocolates, balloons, other gifts. We can celebrate Valentine's Day simply and/or extravagantly. It all depends on us and our status in life. To me, what matters most is the "thoughts that go with the gesture of giving and remembering." To others, what is important is that this special event or occasion leaves, at least, a lasting impression to either one or both parties concerned, the giver and the receiver.

Looking back in history, many hundred years ago, the Romans celebrated a pagan festival called "Lupercalia." A young man drew a girl's name from a box, and she became his partner for the festivities. Gifts were exchanged and sometimes these new partners became partners in marriage. This falling in love and eventual marriage of some couples were attributed to the workings of "Cupid" and "Venus." Later, Christianity modified the tradition and made it a memorial of a Roman martyr-priest, Valentinus, "highlighting the transcendent dimension of human love."

In early England, a young man drew the name of a girl from the valentine box and wore it on his sleeve.

About the time of the Civil War, Americans began the tradition of sending cards or valentines---many were hand-painted. For young and old, (or not so old), decorating a valentine is part of the joy of this celebration, especially in elementary schools. Many years ago, cards were bedecked with such lavish ornaments as ribbons, laces, satin, feathers, and different kinds of imitation pearls and diamonds. Flowers were pressed and dried and used to decorate the card for that "special" someone, i.e, girl/boy friend (or crush), a favorite person, teacher, mom or dad, a brother or sister, etc.

As years passed, we have mass-produced greeting cards that were first sold after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828-1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts.

Now, with the digital or wired world that we have, we can visit websites that offer free digital greetings of all sorts.

Again, Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! And to my caring, loving wife, I love you and thank you always!-chris .a.quilpa, 14February2012

What is Love?

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Love is...*

an intellectual experience
as well as an emotional crisis.

a spiritual heritage 
as well as a biological hunger.

a magnet that draws people
for mutual happiness.

for a moment or for life!

(c) chris a. quilpa

* written and was first published in MOD Filipina magazine, February 1978.

Thank you, YouTube and the video uploader of this music video of Nat King Cole, one of my favorite balladeers of all time. Thanks to God for those artists like Nat who left us with his classic and unforgettable love songs.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston, 48, and the 54th Grammy Awards

Intro Note: As I am writing this blog post in our eat-in kitchen table , I've been watching TV in our family room, with my wife (although she's on her laptop, too, doing her school-work.) The  TV show is about the 54th Grammy Awards, minus an icon in the music world, Whitney Houston. I learned that singer-actress Jennifer Hudson was scheduled to pay her a musical tribute. (Update about the 54th Grammy Awards: I had the premonition that Adele, the British singer-songwriter, would win with her song very popular "Rolling in the Deep" . And you betcha, I was right! She was the big winner, with six Grammy's trophies.)

Perhaps, we've all heard and learned about the unexpected (sudden) death yesterday of Whitney Houston (1963-2012), 48 year-old American artist-queen of pop music and the star of the 1992 movie The Bodyguard, co-starring Kevin Costner. All of us, I'm sure, have been familiar with her unforgettable rendition/interpretation of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," the movie's theme song that won Grammy's record of the year and made her (Houston) best female pop vocal.

Personally, I love listening to Whitney's songs, like other artist-divas of note, i.e., Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion. My wife and I have watched "The Bodyguard" long ago. I thought she performed excellently in that movie the fact that that was her debut film, to my knowledge. She was so natural as a singer-actress in that movie. She was truly the "star' in that movie, in the strictest sense of the word. That's her movie, I would safely say, although she also appeared in "Waiting to Exhale" and "The Preacher's Wife," 1995-1996.

We're glad to have, at home, "My Love is Your Love," one of Whitney's CDs that became another hit studio album she co-produced with her mentor and music producer Clive Davis in 1998. "When You Believe" (from the movie "The Prince of Egypt") is one of my favorites in this album. In this song, she sang duet with Mariah Carey. But of all the songs she has sung, my all-time favorite is "I Will Always Love You."
(Thanks YouTube and many thanks to the video uploader. No copyright infringement intended.)

Thank you, Whitney, for your gift of music you left us. Thank you for having shared us your life. May you rest in peace, Whitney! And to the bereaved family, our heartfelt condolence!-chris a. quilpa, 12February2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

This is My Take on the Issue

Happy Saturday, everyone! At the outset, please note that I'm not prolific at writing/blogging. The title of my blog tells it so. Like others, I remain a student of life, still learning every day. Thanks for your understanding.

This morning as I was in the restroom, while listening to our alarm-clock-radio on NPR, as usual, I thought about this ongoing debacle about religious freedom and the Obama administration's controversial mandate of providing female contraceptives by employers to their employees, in connection with the so-called "Obamacare" or the universal health care coverage that the president advocated and was passed by U.S. Congress a year or two ago? This contraceptive policy has caused a stir not only among the Catholic Church community but also other Christian groups as well. Then, just yesterday, there was this "contraceptive" compromise or policy revision brought out by the current administration to "accommodate" religious groups like the Catholic Church.

So what came to my mind this morning? It's this "questionable" thought: Is this issue on providing and funding of contraceptives to female employees (of religious or other employers) not supposed to be a personal matter, a personal choice because of a lifestyle that some, if not many, concerned women choose to have? Why should the government mind or interfere with this business for our female population? Why should it dictate employers/companies, especially Catholic institutions, to provide contraceptives to their female employees to the point that such government policy violates their religious beliefs/rights? It doesn't make sense for a Catholic employer, i.e., a hospital, school/university, to pay or provide contraceptives to its employees the fact that a Catholic employer stands by its teachings of preserving life and not aborting or extinguishing life. If the government interferes with this women's issue, on dealing with unwanted pregnancies, then, I would certainly assume that the government is not pro-life. It condones the culture or practice of anti-life. What do you think, folks?

(This is an update: I just learned lately from someone whom I met at a DMV office this past weekend, 18February2012, about the government funding or subsiding funds on the use of "Viagra" (or other drugs) to help adult male population/patients experiencing or having problem with ED (erectile dysfunction). If this is true, my stance on this issue is this: government should not fund this kind of program because, to me, this is a personal choice and a personal problem for concerned individuals. If such individual/patient wants to enhance his (sexual) performance, he should fund whatever medication/drugs he needs to accomplish his goal/s. It should come from his pocket, and not from the government's, the fact that this is a personal choice/matter.)

I believe that using contraceptives is a personal choice, or a lifestyle that the individual concerned should be responsible. Since this is a personal matter, the individual woman should pay for her contraceptives. If she wants to use pills so she won't get pregnant, that's her choice; that's her problem, not the government's or others' problem. If she wants or chooses to have sex and not want to get pregnant, she should pay, out of her pocket, for all methods, devices, medications that she uses. That's her business. She herself has to fund her contraceptive  use. She has to take responsibility and accountability for what she does. That's her life. She has the choice. Then she has the voice to say it's my responsibility, not the government's or others'. First and foremost, she should not rely on government or others for help, especially with regard to this personal matter. Since it's a personal choice, a lifestyle that she chooses to have, she should pay for the consequences of her actions, choices, and decisions. Please, folks, don't misconstrue me. I don't have anything against the government nor the feminist movement. I'm not against feminism or sexism. I believe in religious freedom, and freedom of speech. This is my take about the issue.-chris a. quilpa, 11February2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's Friday, What Can I Say?

Thanks to God, I didn't have to wait any longer than three to five minutes when I went to pick up my meds refill, this afternoon at two, at one of the military pharmacies in our area. I got lucky or I may say it was timely that there was no other car, except mine, in line at the pick up window. I wonder it it's always like this on Friday afternoons. Especially if it's almost time for the employees to go home when their work shift is over. I found it to be unusual today, unless they were busy this morning. I always knew they're always busy there during weekdays.

Before leaving the pharmacy building, I expressed my sincere thanks to the two cheerful American Red Cross  women volunteers who work there. You know, I can't say enough how much I appreciate what they're doing. They're probably in their 70s and yet they're still active. God bless them! I mentioned to one of the ARC women volunteers, who handed me a small brown bag of my refills, that I used to work at the hospital where they're connected. She smiled and was kinda anxious where I've worked in the hospital. Anyway, I told her I appreciate very much their volunteerism and service to the medical center/hospital and branch clinics.

I dropped by at the Commissary to buy four bags of apples (gala and fuji), four small bags of (ready to eat) vegetable salad, four (at 24 bottles each) cases of bottled water, a 20 lbs. bag of CALROSE rice, etc.

My wife was already waiting in our driveway when I arrived home. Wow, she arrived that early from her school-work, unexpectedly! That's amazing! She said TGIF! Indeed, it is! I was thankful to her for helping me bring in our groceries from the Commissary. I remembered what she said yesterday that one her female friends would be coming over with her college son for tutoring at 6:30 pm.

For dinner, my wife and I had spaghetti with meatballs (that I cooked yesterday) and vegetable salad. I also had that yesterday's leftover fried pork chop. No red wine, this time, for me. I just had a cup of tea and a slice of Cheese Danish twist cake for dessert. Yummy! Thanks to God!

 Exactly at 6:30 pm, our visitors arrived. We exchanged pleasantries. We asked them if they want something to drink/eat. But they said no. They told us they just had dinner. (It's customary for us to offer something, i.e. food or drink, to our guests/visitors.) My wife led them to our eat-in kitchen, where my wife usually does her take home schoolwork. The mom, my wife's friend, decided to hang in our family room, watching TV while on the couch (she said, afterwards, that she fell asleep getting comfy there) , while my wife was tutoring her son in Chemistry. As for me, I positioned myself in the living room watching evening news on TV (weather-wise, the meteorologist's forecast that we're going to have a slight snowfall in our region, and that it's gonna be ten degrees cooler this weekend, yay!), while at the same time reading blogs, and visiting Facebook, briefly. Then, I started writing this blog post.

After two hours, I think, my wife's tutoring was done, our guests/visitors gone. Enjoy the weekend, everyone! Until next time around. Ciao!-chris a. quilpa, 10February2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Lettermen Singing Filipino Medley Perfectly

Ah, The! It's always a delight and a pleasure listening to this famous singing group of musically-talented trio formed in late 1959. Over the years, this American male pop music vocal trio have had 16 Top 10 singles including one #1, 32 consecutive Billboard Magazine chart albums, 11 gold records, and five Grammy nominations, per Wikipedia. With two of the original vocal trio, Mike Barnett and Dick Stewart who have left the group as years passed, Tony Butala remained the  original lead singer-member. Butala has since led the group. Over the years, he has sung with vocalists such as Jim Pike and Bob Engeman, Gary and Dony Pike, Doug Curran, Ralph "Chad" Nichols, Don Campeau, Ernie Pontiere, Bobby Poynton, Darren Dowler. Butala's colleagues have, since, left him and, thus, been replaced for various reasons. Since 1984, Pennsylvania-born Butala has been singing with Donovan Tea and Mark Preston.They've been considered or dubbed "the best combination of voices and best sounding group since the original trio."

Ah, The Lettermen...just sounds cool, smooth and melodious! They're such an amazing rare talent! Timeless and enduring! Just perfectly harmonious and soothing! They're truly one of my favorites. Such a stress-buster! What a trip down memory lane for us, baby boomers! Life is good, listening to them! Can you believe it? They sang our classic Filipino love songs perfectly, having performed in various parts of the Philippines three-four years years ago! Kudos and more power to them! Thanks, YouTube. Thanks to the video uploader, junday055. And thank you, Mr. Tony Butala and The Lettermen for your passion and determination. I just love your music!-chris a. quilpa, 09February2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In Celebration of Black History Month: George Washington Carver, an Inspiration

(Intro Note: I wrote this article and was published in The Courier (An authorized monthly publication of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia) on February 8, 1999 and in Suffolk News-Herald on February 29, 2008:)

Being an American of Asian/Filipino ancestry and having lived in the United States for 25 years plus, I feel lucky, or fortunate, I would say, to have read and/or learned something about some outstanding African Americans who have helped shape U.S. history. I know, reading others' life stories (biographies) can be enlightening and inspiring, and thought-provoking at times. But, it's always an educational experience for me for it does enrich my knowledge of other people's lives and cultures and their influences.
But before I go on, on the occasion of the celebration and observance of Black History Month this month of February, I wish to give thanks and pay tribute to all African Americans who have sacrificed and died for and served our country fighting for and preserving our freedom; who have helped promote peace among humankind; who have made (and continue to make) remarkable accomplishments and significant contributions to our life and our world.
From my reading and research about African Americans, I became interested about George Washington Carver, the so-called "King of the Peanut Gallery," "The Plant Doctor," "The Prof," "the Wizard of Tuskegee," "The Peanut Scientist." I don't why, but I found his life story to be quite fascinating and inspiring. I tell you, I'm nuts for/about peanuts! Whether it's boiled or roasted or fried, I just love peanuts! Believe me when I say that whenever I see, hear about, or eat peanuts, I always think about this man as one of the greatest African Americans in U.S. history. Here's what I learned about him:  his humility and simplicity, intelligence and perseverance, and creativity, and his strong determination to succeed against all odds, and his unselfish attitude to help others in life.
George Washington Carver was the second African American honored in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. (The first was Tuskegee founder, Booker T. Washington.)
He was born around 1860 in Missouri. He was one of two sons of slave parents whom he never knew. he and his brother, James, grew up with slave owners, Susan and Moses Carver. His "Aunt" Susan taught him to read and write.
Living in the farm, young George became fascinated with plants and animals. His neighbors used to see him taking care of sick plants. Later, they called him "The Plant Doctor."
When he was about 10 years old, George left the Carvers and found his way to school. While living with one family after another, serving and working for them, he studied his way through high school. he worked hard and saved his money for college.
Carver attended Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now Iowa State University) and studied plants and farming. In 1896, he graduated with a master's degree. Following his graduation, he was offered to teach and be in charge of the greenhouses at Iowa State College. But he chose to teach, and continued his research studies and experiments with peanuts, at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama.
This all-black school was founded by Mr. Booker T. Washington, who encouraged Professor Carver to work there.
Professor Carver taught his students and the Southern farmers methods of soil improvement. He also encouraged them to plant not only cotton but different crops on rotation, such as sweet potatoes, cowpeas, soybeans, and "goobers" (an old African name for peanuts).
He wrote books showing the many ways people could grow and use peanuts for human consumption. Out of his pioneering research and experiments on the different uses of peanuts, sweet potatoes, and other farm crops, we would not have today such household items (over 300 products) such as shaving cream, soaps, breakfast cereals, ink, milk flour (all from peanuts) and over 100 products such as rubber, shoe polish, postage stamps---all from sweet potatoes.
With the products he created out of peanuts and sweet potatoes, he could have made himself rich/wealthy by patenting them in his name. But, instead, he just wanted to help improve the lives of the people in the South during his time. He was also considered an environmentalist because he cared so much our natural world.
In recognition of his many accomplishments and contributions, Professor Carver, "the Wizard of Tuskegee," was awarded the Spingarn Medal, in 1923, by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
With no wife or children of his own, George Washington Carver died on January 5, 1943 in Tuskegee, Alabama. all his money and savings went to the George Washington Carver Research Foundation in Tuskegee. The foundation allows students today to continue Carver's tradition and/or legacy of creative research to help those in need.-chris a. quilpa, 08February2012

Another Take/Look @ David DiMuzio ( American singer-songwriter "composinging" Alternative Rock songs in English and/or Filipino-English lyrics:)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

David DiMuzio Sings and Composes Filipino-English Songs

This morning, I came to know an American singer-songwriter, initially, while reading one of the public blogs that eventually led me to YouTube. David DiMuzio. Does it ring a bell to you, folks? It's only today that I learned about this once a world champion juggler turned talented musician-independent artist who has been passionate about the Philippines, per his television interview by Philippine broadcast journalist Karen Davila last year. With his guitar, he sings alternative rock songs in English and/or mixed Filipino-English lyrics. He has drawn not only Filipino or FilAm fans but also other music aficionados on YouTube and Facebook. "I've always liked the idea of cross-cultural, multicultural music," said DiMuzio.

I kinda like his eclectic style of singing his songs, especially with the blending of the Filipino lyrics with the English language. I think he's cool. I've also watched him perform in his other videos and he's good! He's well-versed in the Filipino language. I'm quite amazed at his learning the Filipino language that quick. (Well, music has no boundaries for it's universal.) Check him out in his videos on YouTube and let me know what you guys think. Thanks YouTube! And, thanks David DiMuzio for sharing us your musical talents. Kudos and more power to you!-chris a. quilpa, 07February2012

P.S. No copyright infringement intended. The video belongs to the YouTuber/uploader.

Letter from a Friend

I am writing to say how much I care for you and to say how much I want you to know me better.
When you awoke this morning I exploded a brilliant sunrise through your window hoping to get your attention, but you rushed off without even noticing.
Later, I noticed you were walking with some friends, so I bathed you in warm sunshine and perfumed the air with nature's sweet scent, and still you didn't notice me. As you passed by I shouted to you in a thunderstorm and painted a beautiful rainbow in the sky and you didn't even look.
In the evening, I spilled moonlight onto your face and sent a cool breeze to rest you. As you slept, I watched over you and shared your thoughts, but you were unaware that I was so near.
I have chosen you and hope you will talk to me soon. Until then I will remain near. I am your friend and love you very much.

Your Friend,

 (Note: While rummaging through my old stuff this morning, I found this bookmark (with Letter from a Friend printed on it) in one of the side pockets of one of my messenger bags ( that I used when I was doing substitute teaching in one of the cities in Hampton Roads in 1998-99, but at the same time I was still active duty in the Service that time). I thought of transcribing and sharing it with you via this blog post, hoping that you have time to reflect on it. No, I'm not the author of the Letter. Since it didn't mention who the author was, I supposed then that it's Author Unknown/Jesus.)-chris a. quilpa, 07February2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Blog Post That Wasn't But It Is Now

Congratulations to Eli Manning and the New York Giants! They're the World (Football) Champion in last night's Super Bowl XLVI, played between NY Giants and New England Patriots, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN, and Giants' Quarter Back  Manning the MVP (Most Valuable Player). Final score: NY Giants-21, NE Patriots-17.

I was a bit disappointed last night. Don't get me wrong, folks. No, it wasn't about the Super Bowl per se. Here's what happened: I started writing my blog post while watching the Super Bowl since dinnertime @ 6:30 pm. In between commercials, my eyes shifted to my laptop. On my first paragraph, I was noting or describing or annotating how cold, chilly, cloudy, and drizzly yesterday was while my wife and I were out to attend the Sunday Mass. I also mentioned about our parish pastor, Rev. Fr. David who officiated the Mass. Worth-mentioning, too, in my post was  our gratitude to have him with us the fact that he has gotten well from colds for the past one or two weeks that he was suffering from.

Then I continued with my post, chronicling what my wife and I did Sunday morning, after the Mass. I wrote that we went to the Commissary to buy groceries. We were supposed to eat lunch at Subway restaurant there in the NEX but the restaurant was closed. I don't know if it has something to do with the Super Bowl. So, where did we end up dining? At Captain D's Seafood Restaurant in Chesapeake. It's good that I had that coupon (from our mail). That means a dollar or two savings for us.

On my third paragraph, I was already writing about my reaction to the Super Bowl which was on it's last quarter game. I noted that it was such an exciting game because it was a close fight between the two notable football teams to the finish. At that time. On the third quarter, the New England Patriots were winning but eventually the NY Giants had a touchdown that led them to the victory. NE Patriots didn't have much time already to score even if it was their turn. I felt bad for Tom Brady, NE Patriots' QB. Well, time was ticking and moments later, the game was over! I was congratulating Eli Manning and the NY Giants, on my post. Then, on my last paragraph, I was signing off with something like this..."This is all for now, folks. Thanks for being with me...Until next time around."

I was about to publish it (my blog post) when I realized I failed to mention about Madonna performing for the Halftime Show in the Super Bowl XLVI. I scrolled down my almost finished post and did try to insert a small paragraph about the Halftime Show. I wrote about Madonna who performed well with her entourage. I mentioned how she dressed decently compared to other celebrity performers in previous Super Bowl. I noted how I liked the choices of songs she performed, her old recorded songs that are still popular yet "danceable."

What happened next? OMG, I accidentally press one of the key buttons on my laptop! I tried to retrieve the data but nothing came out. In other words, I failed to save it. I thought it automatically saved it! Sigh. Nada.
Soooo, I didn't bother writing a new post. You bet, I wasted my time. A little frustrated, I was! But, I didn't sweat! I let it go. I thought to myself, well, it's probably God's will that I don't have a Sunday blog post yesterday. Fine with me. No sweat, as I've said.

 Now, here I am, folks, with this post that you're reading today, Monday, a cool, mild Monday! How are you folks doing, by the way? Still enjoying life this winter season? Hope so. I wonder how many called in sick for those who have had Super Bowl XLVI Postgame party. My wife did go to work.

Well, this morning, I had to go to the post office to mail a bill. No, I haven't fully enrolled in this so-called electronic payment plan for our bills. I know, that would save us $ for postage stamps. Actually, for a couple of our utility bills we've been doing it. But, as far as for other bills, we're still patronizing the US Postal Service, you know. Going green, you say? I'm for it. That's one thing that my wife and I will seriously consider.

From the post office, guess where I went next? I found a coupon that prompted me to go have brunch at a "popular around the world" franchise eatery where I had buy one get one egg muffin sandwich and a dollar cup of hot coffee with cream and sugar. Let me tell you, I haven't been there for a while, though. While having my brunch, I was watching TV (which was mounted on the ceiling in one distinct corner of the eatery/restaurant) and also reading, in between commercials, a local publication for the military in our area. One of the featured news article, on the front page, caught my attention. A baby was born on the hospital compound (near the garage) or lawn of this military hospital where I used to work for eleven years before I retired from the Service. The parents of the newly-born were both in the military, but different branch of service. The mom is in the Army, the dad in the Navy. I couldn't help but be thankful to God for the safe delivery of the healthy baby, with the assistance of that female Navy OR nurse and other passersby who were ever-ready to assist at that time. I felt good for that whole evolution/process. Thanks to God that it went well for all the people concerned. Kudos and more power to our U.S. Navy for doing an excellent job! I know so well how we're ready and prepared always to serve and to assist and to protect in time of peace or war. You betcha, I'm proud to have been a part of this institution. Teamwork is one of the keys to our success. Getting the job done well, with excellent customer/quality service, is everyone's business. That's one thing that we service/uniformed men and women have in mind, always! I'm just sharing with you my opinion and my experience, to clarify my point here regarding the views I just shared with you, folks.

One thing that made my day today interesting was that I came to meet again an older fellow retiree and an older female friend of his (who works there) in this restaurant. Likewise, while at another store shopping for roasted peanuts on a shell, no salt, (I'm so nuts for peanuts or "goobers"!), I happened to stumble a retired but looking "young at heart" couple who eventually became my acquaintances. How did I come to "know" them? Well, this man's ball cap caught my attention. The cap's university logo is so familiar with me. (My two  kids have studied in this excellent-prestigious public state university.) I did the first move, of course. Then, our conversation followed. We had a good rapport. I was a little bit carried away with my telltale. I don't know why but they seemed to be nice people and I was thankful to God for having met and talked to them.
Anyway, Mrs. K wrote down my name and said that we'd be glad to be FB friends. I said that would be nice, Ma'am. I had to cut short our conversation that was getting lengthy and I told them that I didn't want to take much of their time and that how glad I was to have known them. It was such a pleasant experience, you know, to be talking to strangers, initially, who you feel at ease with one another, even for the first encounter. Thanks to God.

While driving around our first residential area, I parked temporarily along the right side of a not-so-busy street when I saw a familiar figure. It was Grace, one of two children of a friend and fellow retired military hospital staff-personnel. her family and mine were all neighbors for years before we moved to another neighboring city. Anyway, I was glad to see her and talk to her, asking info about her brother and dad, and her mom. She was so happy and gracious to talk to me and to call me "uncle."  I felt so honored, too. Before I proceeded to drive along, I told her, "say Hi to your dad and your brother, for me." She said, "I will, Uncle."

On my way home, I dropped by at a gas station to fill up our van, even though I still have half-full tank. Then, along the way on a busy street, as I was driving home, I passed by a young man smoking while he was in the middle of a bridge looking down at the cars below. I silently prayed to God for him to have an enlightened mind whether he's thinking of something or just merely watching. I told my wife about it when she  gave me a ring on my old, regular (not fancy) cellphone as I got closer to our house. I was praying really hard that everything will be all right for that young man. In my silent prayer, I asked for the intercession of Blessed John Paul and Venerable Fr. McGivney.

Well, my friends, this is all for now and I thank you for your time being with me. Take care. Until next time around! Ciao! Have a good day, everyone!-chris.a.quilpa, 06February2012