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Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! Happy All Saints' & Souls' Day, too!

Strange false faces, costumes, too / Let’s go out and all say Boo! / I’m so scary so are you! / Boo! There you go! Treat or trick?”

Happy Halloween, everyone! Are we ready with our candies to give out or share? How about our children? Are they ready with their Halloween costumes or outfits? Have we decorated our front doors or yards with seasonal flags, carved pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns and other Halloween decorations?

In my walking around my neighborhood the past days, I have noticed some houses with artsy, colorful, kind of ugly and scary decorations displayed on their front yards. I saw a big spider web that covered almost entirely one of the windows in one house. There were decorations of creepy creature-like zombies in another house’s front lawn. But, of course, we have seen big pumpkins on the front doors of other house.

I  imagine there will be young and older children in their Batman, Superman, Captain America and/or little princess attire. Some will be dressed up in just casual outfit with their plastic or canvas bags on hand, hopeful for an assortment of sweets or goodies.Likewise, there will be those older kids dressed as ugly, scary beasts, vampire-like creatures or witches.

Children will be going door-to-door around the neighborhood, escorted by their parents, greeting the homeowners with a shout of “Trick or Treat!” while the latter have prepared some chocolates, candies, goodies and all sorts of sweets to give away.

The tradition came to North America from Ireland more than a century ago. Today, it has become a big business industry, from Hollywood to the aisle of the nearest discount store. But kids of all ages get a kick out of the cheap thrill of a good ghost story, and they abound this time of year. It’s just an indication that fear is part of life. Hence, we’re good at laughing out our fears on!

I do believe that it’s normal to be afraid sometimes, and it’s okay to have fun with that fear sometimes. Yes, we do celebrate, and capitalize on, the “ugly” and “scary” part in us! Isn’t that awesomely strange or weird? Yeah, we’re humans with fears and insecurities. But, we have a way to deal with our fears and that is, to laugh at our fears on! Thus, this celebration of Halloween is a manifestation that we know how to deal with and capitalize the business of fear.

On the other hand, back in the days when I was younger, in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, I don’t remember having this Halloween event for children. Instead, we go clean public cemeteries the last week of October. Then, we paint or repaint the gravesites or tombs of our dead loved ones in anticipation of All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2. In addition to remembering our deceased loved ones, we also give honor to the Church’s saints. We believe these saints inspire and guide us in our daily lives. We ask (for) their intercession so that our prayers become meaningful, and we hope our prayers and hopeful wishes will be granted.

In the Philippines, we go to the cemeteries in late afternoon, lit candles at the tombs and offer prayers, flowers for our dead. (In other parts of the country, people have this practice of offering food for their dead. They place food items on the tomb.) At times, Mass for the dead is said in the public cemetery by a town priest or pastor, who then blesses and sprinkles “holy” water on the gravesites.

The two-day Church observance is a great opportunity to connect or reconnect with friends and family members who may have been away from the community. Public and private schools and universities are closed. It’s like Memorial Day in the Philippines. But, they observe it not only for one day but two consecutive days.

To all the kids in all of us, have a safe, fun Halloween! And to all Catholic Christians and other Christians around the world, Happy All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day!

-CHRIS A. QUILPA, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, resides in Suffolk. Email him at

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Are You Ready to Serve?*

We have some important decisions to make by Election Day (November 4), and they should involve thoughtful consideration of the definition of "public servant."

A public servant, according to, is a person holding a government office or job by election or appointment.

Examples include police officers, paid or volunteered firefighters, health officers, the public works director, city clerk, code enforcement personnel and personnel authorized to enforce city ordinances, statutes and codes.

(For the purposes of the Electoral Act, "public servant" is defined more broadly, notably including a person in the Education Service as defined in the State Sector Act.)

Here's my personal perspective on what it takes to be a public servant. If you're a public servant, you're prone to scrutiny by the public and the media. That's the price you have to pay. Your actions and decisions are being analyzed and, at times, criticized.

Your critics and detractors are on constant watch and may be critical of the actions you take.

As a public servant, you are accountable for your actions. You are responsible to your constituents who supported you, financially or otherwise, and to the whole populace,who look up to you for your leadership, honesty and integrity.

Leadership and transparency are two qualities I'm looking for in a public servant. He or she should lead by example. What he or she preaches, he or she should practice.

I want a public servant who is trustworthy, one who genuinely serves the public and not the other way around. If he (or she) has a conflict of interest in serving his people, he (or she) should have no business governing or leading the people. He should put his or her own welfare aside for the public's welfare.

You cannot serve two masters at the same time. Where lies your interest? Your own personal interest or the people's business? If your interest is not in the welfare of the people who elected you, then you have no business working in the government. Make way for a true and sincere servant of the people.

Politicians take heed. You volunteered to serve the public. Therefore, you are obligated to serve in the best interest of the people whom you represent. You are not in the office to make yourself rich, at the expense of your constituents.

Don't let your people down. If you do and become corrupt or ineffective and unresponsive to their needs, you lost their trust and respect. They will find a way to remove you from your office. Don't ever think that, because you're powerful, you can't be replaced. The electorate is not dumb.

Are you ready to serve and promote a safe, peaceful, progressive community, to govern us in a manner that exemplifies true public service?

Are you ready to go out personally to listen to or feel the pulse of the community? Are you ready to sacrifice your time, talent, and treasure where needed?

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at (Visit and subscribe to his YouTube channel, Chris Quilpa, for more short, random videos.)

*Published in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, October 18, 2014. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald. com.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Get Educated About Elections*

With midterm elections a month away, campaigns are now in full swing.

Are you ready to cast your vote Nov. 4, this year? Have you decided whom to vote for? How well do you know the candidates? What do they stand for? What's their platform on issues pertinent to unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, obesity, school dropouts, crime and so on? Will you vote your conscience or party affiliation?

Suffolk voters will choose candidates in Senate and House of Representatives races, as well as members of the City Council and School Board.

It's that time of year when candidates are busy reaching out to the electorate with their best rhetoric and promises.

We are bombarded with political ads everywhere. Some of the campaign ads are getting nasty, confusing and downright misleading. Political pundits are commenting on the various candidates and journalists are interviewing and profiling candidates.

Of course, money plays a major role in politics. The more money politicians raise, the more political ads they can buy. Here in Suffolk, VA, the Suffolk News-Herald reported on Sept. 21 that, in the City Council race, three challengers had outpaced incumbents in campaign fundraising and spending.

But more money raised does not necessarily translate to more votes.

We need to be informed about the candidates and their take on issues pertinent to community challenges. We need to know the facts and the truth before we decide who gets our votes. There is still (ample) time to do your research.

If we want our government to be responsive to our needs, we have to elect the candidates who will put public interest first, rather than personal welfare.

As responsible voters, we must do our part to become informed and educated. Do your homework to learn the facts and don't rely on hearsay. Read everything you can about the candidates running in your area. Don't just vote for a candidate because he or she looks appealing; learn about his or her stands on the issues, and get to know a little about their background and accomplishments.

And don't forget, your vote counts.

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

*Published in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, October 4, 2014. Visit, for more information.