Search This Blog

Thursday, December 31, 2015

What's in store for you in 2016?*

Goodbye 2015, and welcome 2016! Have a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year, everyone.

Let's welcome 2016 with open arms and a genuine smile.

What does 2016 have in store for us, folks? Surely there will be change, because change is inevitable. Our attitude to change can make or break us.

Just as the seasons change, our outlook on life changes, too, as we get older. Our priorities and perspectives change as we age.

There will be opportunities and possibilities awaiting us as we continue to live our lives the best we can. Along the way, there will be obstacles to overcome. But, as the adage says, where there's a will, there's a way.

Baby boomers like me have more time to do what's best for us: traveling, gardening, volunteering in church or school, writing, reading, watching movies we missed, doing more exercise and physical activity, cooking and learning to cook new recipes, helping take care of grandkids, and whatever new hobbies we adopt.

For Millenials, like my two young adult children, possibilities and opportunities are out there for the taking. It's just a matter of positive attitude and right approaches to what matters in life.

Since success is subjective, it's not easy to quantify. To some, it means having a lot of money, having a house and two or more cars and a well-educated family. To others, it might mean having a stable job, a good business, winning awards and so on. To some, success is simply having a good, decent healthy and debt-free life.

What matters as 2015 ends is to look forward to what the future holds for us. With an open mind and a positive attitude, keep learning something new and making a difference in others' lives. That way, we can become better than what we were.

It's up to us what we make of our future. With optimism and determination, we work our way up to improve our lot. Every situation is an opportunity for us to become better.

We want to be civic-minded citizens by observing the laws of the land, paying our taxes on time, and voting on Election Day. We want to make a difference in the world. We want to contribute to the greatness of our country.

How? By serving in the government, if we're into politics. Or by joining the armed forces, if we're passionate about defending our country and what it stands for. Or by working in schools as a teacher helping students to graduate. Or, if we own businesses, by employing and hiring legal employees and paying them just wages.

What does 2016 have in store for you? What chances will you have to make your world a better place?

Welcome 2016!

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, December 3, 2015. For more information, visit

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My favorite Christmas greetings*

Happy holidays! Merry Christmas!

It's that time of year again to celebrate and commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer! Happy birthday, Jesus! Thank you for coming into our lives.

It's time again to enjoy listening to Yuletide carols and looking at buildings (and houses) adorned with Christmas decorations, colorful electric lights, wreaths, Christmas trees and lanterns.

It's time again to send and receive Christmas cards with thoughtful greetings and best wishes. It's time to be festive and merry, generous and charitable, hopeful and grateful.

Today, I'm sharing a selection of greetings I've compiled through the years:

* May the wonder of Christ's coming and His blessings never cease to make this Christmas Day for you a time of joy and peace.
* May you know the love and wonder that the joyful Wise Men knew and rejoice in the gift of Christmas---Christ's peace and hope---for you.
* God's love is the Christmas spirit; God's grace is the Christmas cheer; God's peace is the Christmas blessing that lasts in the bright New Year. May your Christmas be peaceful!
* May the love and light of Christmas illuminate all your days, and throughout the New Year. May God's peace be in your heart always.
* On the night He was born, Mary held her baby in a tender embrace. On this Christmas, we keep the baby Jesus close to us, now and forevermore.
* Wishing you the precious gifts of joy, peace, and love this Christmas and always.
* Unto us is born a Savior who is Christ the Lord. May this angel's message---this Good News---fill your mind and your heart with that peace that only Christ can give.
* May the true meaning of the holiday season fill your heart and home with many blessings.
* The birth of a Savior! Such a wonder and glory has given the world a remarkable story. Merry Christmas.
* Let the sacred spirit of Christmas wrap your heart in warmth this holiday season.
* May the joy of Jesus' birth fill your hearts. May you live God's way of love, One for another, this Christmas and throughout the New Year.
* "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." Luke 2:10.
* May all the beauty and serenity of a special holiday season be yours.
* Thanking God for you. This Christmas, may your hearts be filled with love, your home be filled with peace, and your lives be filled with God's richest blessings.
* To a waiting world in silence, Christ came in deepest night, shattering clouds of darkness with love's pure radiant light.
* This Christmas and always, may your heart rejoice as you celebrate the miracle of our Savior's birth.
* Praising the Lord with you this Christmas and wishing you a new year full of blessings.
* May the simple joys of the season be yours now and throughout the New Year.
* Wishing that your heart and home be touched by the many joys that the holidays bring.
* Wishing you all the sparkle, all the magic, all the fun of the holiday season!
* May your Christmas and New Year be filled with special moments.
* During this wonderful time of year, may you be surrounded by family and friends.
* Wishing you and your family a beautiful holiday season and a new year of peace and happiness.
* May the miracle of Christmas fill your heart with joy and love.
* May all the wonders of nature brighten your holiday season and new year.
* Wishing all of you the warmth of sharing the beauty of caring, the joy of family---and wishing it with love.
* Warm thoughts, special moments, happy memories---wishing everything that brings you joy this Christmas.
* Warmest wishes for a happy holiday season! May your Christmas be bright and cheerful and your new year filled with joy, peace and prosperity.
* Keep Christ in Christmas, and share his message of peace, love and joy!

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Wednesday, December 23, 2015. For more information, visit

Friday, December 11, 2015

Family keeps it all together*

Family, the basic unit of society, is something we ought to cherish. Families build communities, which are simply groups of families with something in common, like language or culture.

Through the years, the term "family" has been expanded in scope and meaning. It has evolved and transformed to be more inclusive, as the modern world has changed.

No matter what's going on around the world, family matters. Having a family makes a difference in how we live and conduct business with one another. Without family, what would we be? How did we become who or what we are without a family to nurture and raise us?

With family, we feel confident, important, loved and cared for, even successful. Having the support of your family---whether they are "kin" by blood or even some professional relationship---makes you "someone to watch or inspire" or who can make a difference.

Parents have always been responsible for taking care of their children. That's just the norm. But, nowadays, many adult children also play the role of caretakers for their elder parents.

Things have changed in our world, whether we like it or not. The same is true with families. But, we still stick to family because they're all we've got; they're the ones we turn to in good times and bad, in sickness or health.

"A family that prays together, stays together." So goes the adage. I think there are corollaries to this adage. For instance, "A family that loves together, sticks together." Or, " A family that loves won't tolerate hate, bigotry or violence of any kind."

Without a family, we feel alone, because we have no one with whom to share with our feelings, our dreams, our victories, our defeats, our problems and our lives.

Families make the world beautiful and wonderful. They make the world turn and generate a force that unites everyone together.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. What comprises that village is a group of families sharing the same traditions and values.

Recently, my wife Freny and I came across a painted artwork at a store where we were buying a Christmas gift for St. Paul's Catholic Giving Tree Outreach Project. The script on the artwork reads as follows: "Our family is like the branches of a tree. We may grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one."

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, December 11, 2015. For more information, visit

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A New York trip on the bus*

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, being reunited with family members, as we were. And we had turkey leftovers, too---good for sandwiches and turkey soup later.

Speaking of reunions, my wife Freny just had one, the weekend after Thanksgiving, in New York, with high school friends from four decades ago, when they attended then Rosary College, now known as St. Paul College of Ilocos Sur, Philippines.

Of course, Freny wouldn't feel comfortable enjoying herself with her girlfriends like Sylvia, Wilma and Charito, without me and my daughter Tintin (who's home for Thanksgiving break, despite her hectic schedule as a graduate school student-intern in school counseling at UVA) going along. (By the way, my son Andrew, who works in DC, came home for Thanksgiving holidays but decided not to join with us, though, because he has already made plans to hang out with his Hampton Roads friends and former high school classmates before he goes back to DC that Sunday afternoon.)

How many of you have gone out of state on a long trip with a public transportation, like Amtrak or Greyhound? Did you like it? Or would you prefer to drive your own vehicle? Tintin had an experience riding a Greyhound bus when she went to Massachusetts years ago, and said she liked it.

Well, here's a revelation: In my 32 years in the United States, this was Freny's and my first time riding a bus to New York! (We usually drive our van each time we visited Freny's Aunt Emily in Queens, NY, before the latter and her husband Ted moved to Texas.) What a wonderful learning experience we had!

Friday after Thanksgiving, we drove to Hampton, left our car at the Greyhound terminal and boarded a coach for Norfolk, where we transferred to another bound for New York.

It was a little tedious but still a smooth, safe, and relaxing ride! With a number of stops along the way, the trip to New York and back to Hampton roads was well worth the money. It reminded me of my adolescent years in the Philippines, where we rode on a big bus to go to Manila from the province. Travel takes six to eight hours, depending on weather, traffic and road conditions.

About the "meetup" of former high school friends in the Big Apple, it was made possible because of Facebook and smartphones. Wilma, a New York-based pharmacist, did an outstanding job organizing the "mini-reunion."

Credit goes to her for booking our hotels for two nights at Westin in Manhattan and getting tickets for the Jersey Boys musical show.

Sylvia, the anesthesiologist from the Philippines, visiting her sister in New Jersey, was the reunion's guest of honor. She's here for a three-week vacation. And Charito, who lives in Connecticut with her family, came with her husband Boy, a fellow retired U.S. serviceman.

Wilma and her husband Artie, also a pharmacist, became our tour guides. We had a great time at Times Square, in Chelsea, in Manhattan, in the historic High Line, dining at fancy restaurants, and shopping and strolling at Bryant Park, and then seeing Jersey Boys at August Wilson Theatre.

That's pretty much Freny's mini-reunion with her former classmates (and fellow SPCIS alumni). Thankfully, we had an opportunity to attend Sunday morning Mass at Holy Cross Church, a few blocks from Westin Hotel. After church and brunch, we checked out.

Carrying our baggage, we walked to the Port Authority Bus Terminal Station at 42nd Street, where we boarded a Greyhound bus for Norfolk. We arrived in Norfolk (before midnight) 15 minutes late because of traffic. As you know, travelers were on the road again after Thanksgiving holidays.

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, December 3, 2015. For more information, visit

Thursday, November 26, 2015

So much to be thankful for*

Thirty-two years ago, I immigrated to the United States of America. My permanent resident visa eventually changed, after five years, to a Certificate of Naturalization---that is, after I passed the U.S. citizenship test and began to pledge allegiance to The Stars and Stripes and the republic for which it stands.

I was already in the U.S. Navy before I became a naturalized U.S. citizen in January 1989. The naturalization ceremony took place in Agana, Guam, Marianas Island, where I was stationed then at U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam, a U.S. territory.

Becoming a U.S. citizen is an American dream that I believe every immigrant U.S. resident aspires for. Having a U.S. passport made me feel at home.

I have had that sense of belonging, but at the same time a responsibility that I have to uphold. Truly, I feel blessed with all the opportunities America offers me. I thank God, everyday, for my being a part of America.

My first taste of Thanksgiving Day in America was in 1983, at the home of my sister Betty and her family in San Jose, California.

New to any national holiday in the U.S., with the exception of Fourth of July, I thought that it was just another celebration with food, family, and friends. That turkey was the biggest one I've ever seen! And that was my first time to eat turkey, too, because we mostly ate chicken, pork or beef in the Philippines.

Along with my three younger siblings who came her, I had a great time with sister Betty and her family as well as the other guests who were present. There were plenty of food on the table, and we feasted while having fun watching football.

Years later, I realized the significance of Thanksgiving Day in America. It is a special day for family and friends to give thanks to Almighty God for all the blessings we have in life: food, faith, freedom, family, friends and peace. Despite all odds, we overcome and we celebrate holidays with others.

On Thanksgiving Day, I pray: "Almighty God, I thank you that we're alive and well. Thank you for all the blessings you've showered upon us: my sister Betty and her family; Aunt Emilia, our families united together in these trying times, our neighbors and friends near or far.

"Thank you for the settlers that inspired us to be brave, strong and hopeful. Thank you for our government leaders, who have worked hard to make America great. Thank you for our religious leaders for inculcating and increasing our faith.

"Thank you for our teachers, volunteers, innovators, scientists, doctors, nurses and caregivers, police officers, and our dedicated and hardworking farmers for all their efforts in making America a great and powerful nation.

"Thank you for our journalists for informing us of what's happening around the world. Thank you for our actors, singers, writers and athletes for entertaining us and reminding us that despite the issues confronting our country and the world, we can still manage to celebrate our humanity.

"Thank you, Lord, for our veterans, our service men and women who have gone or are here and abroad fighting for freedom and peace, and their families for the sacrifices they made.

"I pray, Lord, that our homeless, especially our veterans, will find shelter and comfort
 this cold holiday season and beyond. May your light and love shine before us all, Lord.

"God bless America. Amen."

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, November 26, 2015. For more information, visit

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Colonoscopy can save your life*

Health is wealth. There's no question about that. Even if you're the richest person on Earth, materially speaking, what good your wealth is if you can't enjoy life and have fun with others?

No one is responsible for your health but you. Doctors, nurses and hospital or clinic staff can only do so much. Unless you're completely invalid or incapacitated, the sole responsibility of taking care of your health rests in you.

You have to keep track of and maintain your health by having regular check-ups, especially if you feel something is not right or bothering. A pain that's been lingering on for a long time should not be ignored. If you do, you may end up with more troubles in the long run.

As a retired U.S. Navy veteran who has worked in naval hospitals and clinics for 20 years, I am aware of the importance of taking care of myself and maintaining a good health.

After 10 years, I recently has another colonoscopy. Thanks to Dr. Wilkerson and his team for a job well done.

A colonoscopy is a procedure for the examination of your colon with a colonoscope, a thin, flexible lighted tube that allows your doctor to see inside of your colon for a possible colorectal cancer, colon polyps, tumors, ulcers and other abnormalities there.

Colon polyps are abnormal growth of tissue on the lining of the colon that can be cancerous. The procedure may take half an hour to an hour or more. If your gastroenterologist finds polyps, he removes them with biopsy forceps or cold snare, a specialized tool inside the colonoscope.

The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should have a screening colonoscopy at age 50 and every 10 years thereafter. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

A week before the procedure, I strictly followed a low-residue diet, with plenty of water or clear liquids so as not to be dehydrated. The success of the exam depends on a clean, empty colon and large intestine.

A day before the exam, I started taking the bowel prep. another prep solution is consumed three hours before the day of the exam. After that I was advised to stop drinking all liquids 3 hours prior to the procedure. The salty prep solution caused frequent trips to the restroom, of course, leaving me feeling drained, bloated, hungry, tired, a little weak.

Otherwise, the procedure was without discomfort. Ready for the exam, I was sedated via an IV (intravenous) that put me to a relaxed consciousness while the gastroenterologist examined my colon.

After the procedure, I felt light-headed, a little groggy but awake. I was glad to have my wife Freny with me, because I couldn't be driving while still having the effect of that sedation. A designated driver is required after colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy is a procedure that can save your life by detecting abnormalities inside the lining of your large intestine. so, if you're due for this exam, go see your doctor and set up an appointment to have it.

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

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

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Service improves at Hampton VA hospital*

As a retired U.S. Navy veteran with service-connected disability, I used to go to Hampton VA Medical Center. But for the past three years, I stopped going there.

Since retirement in 2005, I've been going to Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth because it's closer to my house, and I'm more familiar with NMCP, where I've worked for 11 of my 20 years in the naval service.

Unperturbed about previous issues at VA hospitals, I've visited Hampton VA numerous times. First, as a curious outpatient veteran, I wanted to experience receiving care there. Like other outpatient veterans, I had to do the required protocol: obtaining a VA ID card, scheduling medical appointments and keeping my appointments.

Despite the VA funding problems, I found a clean and pleasant atmosphere inside the hospital; I didn't see any major problems regarding care and treatment for veterans there.

Recently, after three years of hiatus and learning about VA hospital issues that, I believe, have been addressed by proper authorities, I was keen to go back again for care and treatment at Hampton VA Medical Center.

With a valid identification card, I decided to go to eye clinic in Hampton to have a follow-up eye exam and, possibly, receive new prescription glasses. The ones I'm currently wearing are kind of weak, and I believed I needed upgraded bifocals. I have difficulty reading those fine print in newspapers now.

With my doting wife and consummate driver Freny, I went to Hampton VA Medical Center in August. Freny and I breezed through the hospital and went straight up to the second floor where eye clinic is. Like others, I had to fall in line and wait for the receptionist to call, "Next veteran!"

When it was my turn, I walked to the window and showed my ID card to a receptionist, who asked me if I had an appointment, while glancing at his computer monitor, i said, "No, sir" and asked if I could be seen that day, since I'd already been there before.

Since it had been three years since I'd been there, he said, I would have to start all over as if I were a new patient. I was told go downstairs to Prime 1 and make an appointment to see a primary care doctor. Once seen by a provider there, I could ask for referral to be seen in eye clinic. That's what I did.

After a couple of weeks, I was seen in Primary Care, had some lab tests done, and then visited the eye clinic in September. A resident doctor from Eastern Virginia Medical School's department of ophthalmology examined my eyes after they were dilated.

Before leaving the eye clinic for the optical shop, I thanked Dr. Beste for taking time with me. With a new prescription for glasses and a follow-up appointment with him, which I'm looking forward to after Veterans Day, I was satisfied with my visit. Grateful I am to have new bifocal eyeglasses now.

Thank God for a significant improvement at Hampton VA Medical Center. I'm positive my fellow veterans also appreciate the smooth delivery of health care services there.

Kudos to those behind the positive change at VA. And to my fellow veterans, thank you for your service and sacrifices.

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, November 7, 2015. For more information, visit

Saturday, October 31, 2015

30 years of making marriage work*

Nov. 3 is special for me. For 30 years, I have been married to Freny, my wife and the mother of my two young adult children, Andrew and Christine. To Freny and my family, happy anniversary!

Thank God, we have come this far, amidst the challenges in our marriage. We have weathered storms, fought and won battles and overcome difficulties and problems that only strengthened our relationship.

Our marriage is not perfect but solid and strong because we have vowed to stay and pray together, love each  and committed to live their lives other forever, 'til death do us part. That's our commitment, and promise to our children, relatives and friends, near or far.

I believe in the sanctity of marriage. Since the day I married Freny, I have tried to live it, in sickness or in health, and I will continue to uphold it for the rest of my life.

I'm aware the above statement has been said and written by many around the world. But it has also been laughed at or brushed aside too many times.

Sanctity is the condition of holiness or sacredness, the state of being holy, sacred or saintly. Sanctity is synonymous with holiness.

Nowadays, the sanctity of marriage has been threatened by those who question its relevance and importance in our wired world. It is a contentious issue because of alarming divorce statistics.

Marriage involves a serious commitment of two people loving and caring for each other and committed to live their lives together forever.

As the foundation of a family and the society, marriage can be defined as the legally or formally recognized union of a man and a woman (or in some jurisdictions, two people of the same sex) as partners in a relationship. It is a recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, first and foremost.

As a Catholic Christian, I have observed and been taught at an early age that marriage is between a man and a woman. Having been married to the same woman to whom I committed myself for life, I would safely say that I still believe in the sanctity of marriage.

In Genesis 2:24, we read: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." That thought comes up again in Matthew 19;6..."So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."

Dennis Rainey, author and host of FamilyLife Today, once wrote that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man, one woman and their God for a lifetime. "It is a public vow of how you will relate to your spouse as you form a new family unit," he wrote.

Rainey suggested four commitments to help you fulfill your marriage vows for a lifetime:

1) Do not get married unless you plan to keep your vows.

2) Fulfill your vows by staying married.

3) Fulfill your vows by maintaining emotional and moral fidelity.

4) Fulfill your vows by praying faithfully with your spouse.

There's no such thing as perfect marriage. Marriage works when spouses work together to make it work.

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

*Appeared  in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, October 31, 2015. For more information, visit

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Remembering my homeland in poetry*

On October 9, the spoken word was powerful and amazingly inspiring. That occasion gave me a rare opportunity to spend a Friday night in the company of friends, family and acquaintances, while enjoying prose, poetry and free pizza.

Poetry lovers like me gathered together that night at Russell memorial Library in Chesapeake for the quarterly "Open Mic Night: Prose, Poetry & Pizza" hosted by Suffolk native, poet and author Nathan Richardson. He is the one of the marketing consultants of the Suffolk News-Herald.

Though I have had poems published in my native country, the Philippines, and in the United States, I still consider myself a budding poet. I have much more to learn and experience before I can humbly say I'm a published poet. Perhaps, I will forever be a budding poet, which I don't mind at all. I kind of like the word "budding" as in "emerging, growing and developing."

During the event, I read three of five of my Ilokano poems included in the poetry anthology, "Rekuerdo/Memento: Estrangement and Homing in Ilokano Poetics," published in Hawaii in 2009. It was edited and translated into English, with critical introduction by Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, PhD.

The book presents the works of Ilokano poets writing from exile and diaspora. It articulates the sense of home and homelessness that marks the life of many people of the Philippines who have chosen---or have been chosen by life's circumstances---to leave the homeland and eke out a life in new places.

Agcaoili is the coordinator and associate professor at University of Hawaii's Ilokano Language and Literature Program, the only Ilokano-degree granting program in the world. As creative writer, he has also authored English-Ilokano/Ilokano-English dictionaries for schools and academia.

I was compelled to share my thoughts via my poems dealing with the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and other migrants and refugees fleeing their country because of poverty, violence or civil war to find freedom, peace and prosperity for their families. Refugee crises in Europe and elsewhere were also on my mind.

Prior to reading my poems, I spoke briefly about my mother tongue, Ilokano, and the proper pronunciation of the vowels, like those of Japanese and Spanish.

Here's one of my Ilokano poems, "Rekuerdo iti Ipapanaw":

"Adda amak
idi pumanawak
nupay napingetak
iti panagkunak.

Adda duaduak
no agballigiak:
napigsa't pammatik
a makalung-awak.


Itan, makaisemak
pimmudno parparmatak
agpayso a nagbalbaliwak
biagko itan nawayaak.

Iti panagkalkallautangko
nabirokak gasatko
ngem daytoy iliwko
iti lugarko napalalo.

Ilik, dikanto malipatan
uray kaano man
sikat' laglagipen
aginggana't tanem."

Here is the English translation to one of my poems, "Memento of Leaving."

"I know I could do it
but there was this
fear that gnawed at me
as I was leaving.

I had those doubts
whether I could make it
but I believed in one thing:
I surely would succeed.

I went away
I went wherever life led me
I went through all the hardships
I took them all in patiently...

I prayed hard
I gave my thanks
I saved up
scrimped a lot.

Now, I smile in gladness
What I dreamed of came true
Verily I changed for the better
Now I am free.

In my going away
I found my good fate
but this missing my homeland
has gripped me so bad.

My birth-land, I will never forget:
I remember you each time
In my mind you are here
And on my grave forever."

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, October 24, 2015. For more information, visit

Post Script: My Ilokano poem, Rekuerdo iti Ipapanaw, didn't make it to the final editing in the above-mentioned newspaper. Also, when I submitted my original essay to the editor, Mr. Spears, I didn't include two stanzas (#4 and #5) of the original Ilokano poem because of word count. I should limit up to 500-word essay, but I exceeded it to a total of 700 words (as I always used to do), including my brief bio.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Learn what's going on around you*

I can't think of any reason why folks are not aware of what's happening in our world, specifically in our community. Except if they don't care.

Most of us have television at home, along with smartphones and Internet access, and we have at least one subscription to a newspaper or magazine. We also get access to this award-winning newspaper, the one we're reading right now, that has been in existence since 1873.

Most of us are involved in educating our children or grandchildren, one way or another, and we have visited or volunteered in their school. Likewise, most know where our city library is, or a neighboring city's library, and have visited it occasionally, if not regularly.

My point? Clearly and emphatically: We need to stay informed to stay active, engaged and involved.

Bestselling author and lawyer Scott Turow wrote, "Widespread public access to knowledge, like public education, is one of the pillars of our democracy, a guarantee that we can maintain a well-informed citizenry."

"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government," wrote Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins."

With the information superhighway, our world is wired and connected to help enhance education for all of us, regardless of our income level.

The Internet has revolutionized our way of thinking and living. As long as we have access to information, we are informed of what's going on in our volatile world.

This technology has kept us well-informed---even overwhelmed by a bombardment of information that we can only control through self-discipline.

The overflow of information sometimes confused us and can cause questions as to what or whom to believe. Hence, we should observe tact, vigilance, and safety---Internet safety, that is.

It takes only a few minutes to learn what's going on around us. With a browse of your local newspaper, a click of your mouse, a press of your TV remote control, a tap or a touch of your fingertip, you're getting and staying informed.

So, stay informed to stay active and alive, engaged and involved. Visit a library near you or turn on that TV or portable radio, especially when it's news time, or read your newspaper. You'll become a well-informed citizen.

Than, take whatever information you learned and use it to better yourself and others. Share what you learned. Doing so will benefit others.

Sharing truthful information to help others have a better life is a noble endeavor. To me, that's caring.

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, October 17, 2015. For more information, visit

Friday, October 9, 2015

Change your attitude, change the world*

Do you want to make a positive difference in the world? Have a positive attitude.

An attitude is the state of mind with which you approach a situation. Here are a couple of examples: Maybe you tell yourself, "I'm going to get things done today." (That's positive attitude.) Or does this sound more like you? "Today will be lousy, like yesterday." (That's negative attitude.)

The day might be out of control, but the only you can control your attitude.

Attitude is so important because it affects how you look, what you say, and what you do; it affects how you feel both physically and mentally; and it affects how successful you are in achieving your goals.

Do you take positive attitude toward yourself? Do you try to learn to recognize that no one has all the  answers? Do you try to do a better job and suggest better ways of doing your work? Do you demonstrate enthusiasm in whatever you say or do?

Are you willing to grow to prepare yourself for a better job? Are you willing to welcome change---to experiment, try new ideas and stay loose? Do you cultivate a sense of humor---not taking yourself seriously---getting some fun out of your work?

Likewise, do you have a positive attitude toward others? Are you sincerely interested in them and their purposes and problems? Do you try to understand others' point of view---how they feel and why they feel, think, look and act as they do?

Are you a good listener who tries to learn something from others? Are you able to work with them to achieve common goals, and not to criticize them?

Developing positive attitudes takes time and effort. Here are a few simple attitudes that will make your life fulfilling and your family happier:

      *Keep each other informed. Good communication is the key to a good relationship.
      *Try to be punctual. It's the Golden Rule of time for everybody.
      *Try to be cheerful, even if you don't feel like it. Nobody likes a sourpuss.
      *Use polite words like "Please," "Thank you," "May I?" and "Do you mind?"
      *Try to be helpful. You'll build friends fast.
      *And try to be patient. Some things just necessarily take time time to do right.
        Patience is a virtue.        

While negative attitudes make life difficult for everyone, positive attitudes help everyone get the most out of life. Negative attitudes get you nowhere, whereas positive attitudes make every day better.

With positive attitudes, your life is more meaningful, problems easier to handle, goals more attainable, mistakes less disastrous and the future more exciting.

Talent is important, and knowledge is essential. But, I believe the most important key element to success is your state of mind.Whatever your situation or disposition in life is, success is your attitude.

A positive attitude at work can make your daily routine more rewarding and enjoyable. You can say, "I'll do my job well as I can so that others can depend on me."

Why not begin practicing positive thinking to create a positive attitude right now?

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, October 9, 2015.
For more information, visit

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Change the world: Stop littering*

It's fall---time to enjoy mild weather, autumn colors and harvest, especially the abundant apples and pumpkins.

As the sun rises many mornings, we see fog blanketing the farms and grassy, misty playgrounds. Light sweaters are now in vogue. Flipflops and shorts are being put away. Windows are open to let fresh, mild air into our houses.

Some leaves are starting to change their colors, and others have fallen to the ground.

To bicyclists, joggers, stroller and walkers, like me and my 5-month old puppy Simba, fall is an opportunity to get physically fir, reaping yhe benefits of doing so outside, as long as it's not raining.

But some folks---the litterbugs---seem to take things for granted. They don't have any concern for others who suffer at the hands of their carelessness and irresponsibility.

I've encountered smokers tossing out cigarette butts while driving, dog owners intentionally leaving their dog's poop on the ground, bikers and joggers spitting or blowing their noses and leaving unsanitary stains on the ground, and folks leaving their sandwich or candy wrappers and pop soda cans or bottles all over the place.

Lit cigarette butts present a danger to the environment. We're all aware of the wildfires in California lately that have destroyed and burned hundreds of homes and properties. If we tolerate this kind of behavior, one day we will regret it, and it will be too late when there's a conflagration threatening residential areas due to carelessly tossed cigarette butts.

Dog poop left on the ground poses a threat to one's health, including that of other dogs. Yet some folks are completely unprepared or unwilling to clean up after their dogs. This problem can endanger other people and even dogs because it can spread germs and disease. And who wants to unknowingly step into that poop?

The same thing is true of phlegm or mucus. They're nasty to look at on the ground and even nastier to step on. What if you have symptoms of tuberculosis or some other diseases related to lung? You could infect others.

It's an eyesore to see litter everywhere, especially aluminum cans, plastic or bottles or broken glass pieces left lying on the ground. Why can't people take advantage of the trash cans available along sidewalks and in parks?

Be proactive. Be responsible residents of Suffolk. Stop littering and observe cleanliness. Be an agent of change and reform.

A rubber bracelet I received during the recent Fun 'N' Food Fest at Church of St. Therese, in Chesapeake, our former parish, had this inspirational quote on it: "Change the World. Matthew 25:35."

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, October 1, 2015. For more information, visit

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Teamwork works for military and civilians*

My first travel abroad was to Rome, Italy, in 1980, where I attended the Genfest of the Focolare Movement, an international religious organization, founded by the late Chiara Lubich, that promotes the ideal of unity and universal brotherhood.

Genfest is a meeting place for young people from around the world who want to show that universal brotherhood, a united world, is an ideal worth living for.

There was teamwork in that Genfest that drew about 40,000 young people from different parts of the world.

I often look back and ponder what my life would have been like had I not realized my dream of joining and then retiring from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of honorable service.

I was proud to have worn the uniform with dignity and professionalism. I was courageous to give up my life defending my adopted country, America. In my 20 years of naval service, I have been a team player.

Without reservation, I did my best to help accomplish our mission: providing logistical support and manpower and medical support to all branches of our armed forces, working with my fellow Sailors to provide quality healthcare and treating armed forces personnel and their family members with utmost professionalism and care.

Seeing our patients recover when they came for follow-up visits was such a joy. That was the product of team efforts by all departments involved in the overall healthcare system.

From one duty station to another (naval hospitals in San Diego and Guam, the naval medical clinic in Seattle and the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth), I did my best to be a team player. My focus was our patients, expediting them and reducing their waiting time for service.

Aside from providing X-ray exams and procedures, I did other work beyond the call of duty. I've written and published articles about what was happening in our clinic and at NMCP radiology department. I profiled outstanding Sailors deserving of awards. And I participated in various command functions and volunteered in various activities or partnerships our command was involved in, like Excellence in Education.

I learned that teamwork is and will always be the key for a successful mission accomplishment, whether we're at peace or war, in the battlefield or within the confines of a ship, a clinic, a hospital or a military base.

While serving at Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, the first, finest and oldest naval hospital in our country, my fellow Sailors and I worked as a team in healthcare delivery, providing quality customer service to all who visited our medical facility.

Teamwork works, because it takes many hands working together to accomplish a goal: the treatment or recovery of our patients.

Teamwork is also observed in the civilian sector. Even in sports, teamwork is evident for the success and victory of the team. The concept "Treat Everyone As Me" (TEAM) is likened to the Golden Rule,which is a basic principle that we should all follow to ensure success in any particular activity. From Matthew 7:12 comes the biblical rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

TEAM works because of its universal appeal. If it's applicable here in our country, it is also employable everywhere. Delivery of quality care is enhanced because of this strategy to boost morale among military members, civilian employees and beneficiaries.

Patients, whether outpatient or inpatient, are treated the way we healthcare providers want to be treated. Individuals are not mere numbers or statistics but human beings. Yes, we treat everyone, who comes to see us, the way we want to be treated. That's quality care, excellent service.

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, September 26, 2015. For more information, visit

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope Francis iti America (An Ilokano poem)

Author's Note: The poem below is originally written in Ilokano, my mother tongue. It is a humble tribute to Pope Francis on his visit to the United States. (He arrived yesterday afternoon, 22Sep2015, from his recent trip to Cuba.) I penned the poem this morning at 0815, while I was using our rest room (in our master's bedroom upstairs) and at the same time listening to TV, broadcasting Pope Francis to visit the White House this Wednesday morning. Btw, the White House arrival ceremony occurred about 9 a.m. Now, here's the poem...which I finished scribbling at 0845 a.m. today. Thanks, everyone, for reading/visiting my blog. do appreciate it:

Papa Francisco iti America

Manipud iti TV ditoy balaymi a nanumo
Naimatangak ti isasangpetyo
Kaunaan nga ibibisitayo
Iti America a namaris ken narungbo
Malem ti Martes, alas cuatro
Setiembre duapulo ket dua
Aldaw ken tiempo a naranga
Diay Andrews Air Force Base nagdappat ti Allitalia
Nangitayab kadakayo manipud Cuba
A nabisitayo iti mano nga aldaw
Ket dagiti Cubano inda nagririaw
A nakakita kadakayo a pangulo
Ti duduogan  a Simbaan Catolico
Iti entero a lubong a napintas ngem nagulo
Ta adun dagiti mapaspasamak a di justo.

Maysa a naisangsangayan a gandatyo
Panangbisitayo ditoy America
Isu daytoy naisangsangayan a padaya
Panangcanonizadoyo ti maysa a maibilangen a santo
Ni Blessed Junipero Serra a nag-evanghelio
Kadagiti nagkauna iti America a tattao
Dagiti American Indian a makunkuna
Tapno maadalan ken mapasingked pammatida
Ken Apo Dios a Namarsua iti Langit ken Daga
Isu a pagrukbaban, pagdaydayawanda.

Papa Francisco a naggapu't Latin America
Nakaiyanakan ken dimmakkelanyo diay Argentina
Kaunaan a Lider ti Catolico a saan a taga Roma, Italia
Kaunaan pay a padi a Papa manipud congregasion a Jesuita.

Jeorge Bergoglio ti pudno a naganyo
Ngem idi mapilikayo a pangulo ti entero a Simbaan a Catolico
Imbutaktakyo a Francis ti iyawagda kadakayo
Kas simbolo ti panagraemyo ken Santo Francisco
Iti Assissi a naasi kadagiti marigrigat, ken napakumbaba
Nabaknang idi ngem binay-anna tapno makipagrikrna kadakuada.

Papa Francisco, ikarkararagmi nga agballigikayo
Iti panagtakemyo a pangulo ti Simbaan Catolico
Iti panangiburayyo kapanunotanyo ken pammatiyo
Kadagiti amin a mamati ken Apo JesuKristo
Nga Anak ti Dios Apo a pagdaydayawantayo
Ken nangsubbot babak ken basbasoltayo.

Papa Francisco, Dios unay ti agngina iti ibibisitayo
Iti America ken dadduma pay a disso
Ket itultuloymi nga ilulualo
a sapay koma ta nasalun-atkayo
Tapno addakayo a mangsilaw pampanunotmi
Ken agtultuloy nga inspirasionmi.

-Chris A. Quilpa
23Sep2015/Suffolk, VA

Friday, September 18, 2015

Retiring with a good book*

Freedom is synonymous with liberty and independence. I can mean the state of being free or at liberty, rather in confinement. It can be the power to determine action without restraint. It can also be defined as political or national independence, the absence or release from ties and obligations.

I say that retirement is freedom. In my case, it's an unexpected early retirement from work, due to service-connected physical disability, after serving in the United States Navy honorably and proudly for 20 years.

Do I regret retiring early, you ask? Are you kidding me? I did, because I don't think I'm old enough to retire. Why me? At first, it was difficult to accept that I was retired from gainful employment. Eventually, I accepted my fate.

Please don't envy me. I don't envy anyone gainfully employed and making more money. I believe things happen for a reason. I now feel at ease, at peace with myself and my God. I've come to realize I don't have to prove to anyone that I still matter, because I do. and I still believe I can make a difference in our world. Thank God, i'm alive , living in the present moment and trying to enjoy life.

Speaking of freedom and retirement, I can say I like what I do: doing nothing (loafing) or something to keep me sane and sensible. Thankfully, we have this 4-month old puppy Simba (a mixed breed of Chihuahua and Yorkshire terrier) that keeps me occupied. Man, he can be a challenge, but he gives me an opportunity to learn something every day.

By the way, I visited two libraries lately---one in neighboring Chesapeake and one in our home of Suffolk---and bought CDs and books (old and new) from the Friends of the Library book sale. I got good bargains from these events.

I consider books good company. I regard them as my friends, too. Imagine, they're just there on the shelves waiting to be cuddled, read and enjoyed. Ask students, and they will tell you they'd rather have books than have someone who's dishonest and untrustworthy, or giving you a hard time.

Despite the fact that almost everything is digitized, Googled, and Kindled, I would prefer carrying and keeping a book, especially the hard-bound kind.

Last month, I bought a number of English and Ilokano books and dictionaries from author-lexicographer, Dr. Aurelio Solver Agcaoili of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, just to brush up on my Ilokano. Ilokano is my mother tongue, with Filipino and English as my second and third languages, respectively.

From the libraries' book sale, I got lucky to find "Teacher Man" by Frank McCourt, an Irish-American teacher and writer and the Pulitzer Prize winning-author of "Angela's Ashes" and "'Tis." The memoir, published in 2005, captured, in vivid detail, his 30-year English-teaching experience in New York, his birthplace.

Born to Irish immigrant parents, McCourt spent his younger years in Limerick, Ireland, before returning to the Big apple. He also served in the U.S. Army.

Any teacher, new or veteran, tenured or temporary, can relate to what McCourt, the 1976 Teacher of the Year, experienced in the classroom with students of different backgrounds, characteristics and personalities. Full of anecdotes, characters and lessons, "Teacher Man" is perfect for teachers.

McCourt once said, "Find what you love and do it." As a retiree, I love sharing my thoughts.

I like this quote from Gene Perret, a TV comedy writer and producer, "When you retire, you switch bosses---from the one who hired you to the one you married."

Happy retirement!

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday September 18, 2015. For more information, visit

Friday, September 11, 2015

Still remembering, 14 years later*

As our country solemnly observes the Day of Remembrance commemorating the attacks of 9/11/2001, let's pause for a moment to reflect on the significance of those attacks in U.S. and world history.

What happened and why? Did it have to happen? Could it have been prevented?

Let's pray for our beloved dead, innocent and unassuming in their passing. Let's pray their families and friends have finally found closure and moved on with their lives.

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

How did you find out about it? What was your first reaction when you heard or learned about it? Were you sad and mad? Upset and terrified?

The power of remembering is overwhelming. It is attributable to having a healthy brain and a sound mind. Remembering is a cognitive function of the mind. The power of remembering involves mental health.

We don't forget. We vividly remember what we witnessed or saw on TV that day. That day was truly unforgettable. Our minds recorded and stored details of events, people and things connected to it.

Remembering enables us to reconnect with others as we recollect past events, especially those associated with calamities, both natural and man-made.

The magnitude of those terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 and injured more than 6,000, left an indelible mark on the psyche of people around the world. It's impact was social, spiritual, economic and political, and the world responded with support in each of those areas.

Like the memories of others, my own memory of 9/11 is filtered through the lens of my personal situation at that time: I was working in the radiology department at Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth. As a hospital corpsman and X-ray tech in the U.S. Navy, I was working on our training records in the employee lounge, where we had a television mounted in the corner. I was alone, and the TV was off. A co-worker came in and shared the news, turning the television on and tuning it to NBC's "Today Show."

Civilian and military employees soon filled the room. Work stopped completely in the department. In utter disbelief of what we saw, all we could say was, "Oh my God, oh my God...Noooo!" We were all in shock. After about 20-30 minutes, everyone left quietly, one by one. There was a sadness on our faces that we couldn't hide.

Remembering 9/11 brings back one of the unforgettable memories of my 11 years at NMCP. A recollection of it makes me quiver and sad.

May the souls of our faithful departed brothers and sisters, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. And may God bless US always.

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, September 11, 2015. For more information, visit

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back to school with blessings*

Welcome back to school, students and teachers! It's a new school year; a new opportunity to do better and excel in life.

For students, you want to know more, increase you knowledge and skills and pass your exams so you can advance to the next grade level or graduate.

For teachers, you exhibit professionalism, make sure to follow school curriculum, make your lessons interesting and lively, help your students pass their tests and your class, teach effectively and creatively, and challenge your students to be the best they can be.

Some of you probably wish your summer vacation had been extended. Or maybe you just wanted to stay home. Or be somewhere else, anywhere but school.

Well, you have to go back. Learning and teaching, exploring, researching and discovering new things, thinking, brainstorming and finding solutions to society's problems, making friends and building bridges---that's what you're expected to do.

It's time to go back to the business of education and training---lifelong activities that help us realized our dreams for the future.

For students who took advantage of summer school programs, i'm sure you're ready to tackle what's up this new school year. The same is true, I believe, for dedicated teachers and educators who availed themselves of professional development opportunities this summer.

Teachers already have been back to work weeks ahead of their students, so they could attend meetings, get training, learn new policies, meet old and new friends and colleagues, get to know staff and faculty members, and take care of their classrooms, making sure they're welcoming, inspiring and conducive to learning.

My wife Freny and her co-teachers had their first day back at work Aug. 26. Students won't report to school until Sept. 8.

Back to school for parents will bring mixed feelings. They struggle with the reality of letting go of their children, with hope they'll learn to be well-informed and responsible citizens.

Freny and I used to accompany our two college-bound children for their respective move-in days. Freny wouldn't come up to sleep at night until she had called them and talked to them, making sure they're doing well, while I was already in bed, snoring! You know how mothers are. That's their nature.

Back to school is fun, challenging, rewarding and inspiring. As a former communication arts English instructor, back in the Philippines, I know full well what a challenge the time can be for teachers.

For students and teachers, alike, a bit of advice and a prayer: Stay alert and active. And may God bless you and your family always.

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Wednesday, September 2, 2015. For more information, visit

Friday, August 28, 2015

Already sitting on a bus*

What have I gotten into?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, August 28, 2015. For more information, visit

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Time to study Ilokano lessons*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Tuesday, August 18, 2015. For more information, visit

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Patgek ken Nasudi nga Ilokano

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2015 by Chris A. Quilpa

Friday, August 7, 2015

Take advantage of workplace training*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, August 7, 2015. For more information, visit

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Random thoughts on the Fourth of July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Fourth of July!

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A new puppy in the house*

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

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

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

I finally decided to see her last puppy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Some fun in the summer sun*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a fun-filled, safe and stimulating summer!

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. For more information, visit

Friday, June 5, 2015

Congratulations and best wishes*

Nelson Mandela once said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

I would like to share his message with Suffolk's Class of 2015. A good education is your passport to a better, successful life. A better you is a byproduct of a good education.

You probably have mixed feelings about leaving the school where you've spent four years learning, (day)dreaming, acquiring skills and experiences, building bridges and relationships, meeting challenges and adjusting to the changes in your life.

Now, you're ready to on that cap and gown and listen to the strains of "pomp and Circumstance" as you march across the stage to receive your diploma. You are ready to move on with your life. you are ready to go out and, (as Mark Twain said) explore, dream and discover.

On your graduation day, the focus is on you, graduates. Nothing can stop you now. Cherish the moment. Enjoy and celebrate this joyful, memorable day with your friends, family and even teachers who have encouraged and inspired you to never give up.

Take as many snapshots as you can to document the culmination of your high school life. Thank your parents and your teachers for a job well done, and, if you're religious or have a deep faith in the Almighty, thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed on you---good health, mind and body, loving and caring family, good friends and excellent teachers.

You deserve all the recognition, because you finally made it. It's worth all the effort, and you've overcome all the obstacles, challenges and stresses of high school. Now, be happy and enjoy the moment. Then, party safely and responsibly.

It has been said that "knowledge is power." With the knowledge, skills and experiences you have acquired so far, you're ready to move on.

Get out of your comfort zone and realize that long-cherished dream. Don't be afraid to fail. Take the risk. Never give up. Keep on learning.

Use your knowledge and skills to further your education and economic condition. Use them to build bridges that connect, not walls that divide. Use them to promote family stability and solidarity, world peace and unity among humankind.

Remember, the future belongs to you, because you are the future.

You are our future leaders. You have the power and responsibility to share that knowledge and skills and training to others. You have the drive, the stamina and the vision to change the world, to solve societal problems that are affecting the vast majority of global population.

Once again, to the Class of 2015, congratulations and best wishes!

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran and former high school and college instructor, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, June 5, 2015. For more information, visit

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Honoring the ultimate sacrifice*

Once again, it's Memorial Day in the United States, a special holiday to remember and pay tribute to those who have served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice---losing their lives---in order for us to live peacefully and free.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is an annual national holiday observed on the last Monday of May to honor the memory of our service men and women who died for our sake. It has been a tradition to decorate the gravestones of our dead soldiers with U.S. flags, flowers or wreaths.

Some of our valiant veterans came home alive while with memories of of doubts and fears on the battlefields. They shared with us their war stories, their sentiments and ailments, dreams and nightmares.

Others shared their lives lost, their unblemished and unquestionable service and sacrifices, their innocence and courage, bravery and humility. But they didn't die in vain. They will never be forgotten.

Although they are no longer in our midst, our dead service men and women remain alive in our memories, our hearts and minds because of the unwavering devotion, service and sacrifices they've made. Their bravery, in defense of our freedom and country, can never be underestimated. And their legacy of service and sacrifices live on as an inspiration to all of us.

Their good and noble deeds have made America the leader of the free world. Through their sacrifices, we are all beneficiaries of democracy, freedom and liberty.

Therefore, on this special day of observance and commemoration, we thank, honor and remember our brave soldiers and veterans, our dedicated men and women of the U.S. armed forces, who have proudly served and sacrificed, fighting to achieve and preserve the peace and the freedom we cherish and enjoy.

As we try to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, while we gather together in churches and cemeteries to offer solemn prayers and lay flowers or wreaths for our dead veterans, let's pause for a few moment and reflect on the many contributions our veterans have made to our great nation. To our unsung heroes of war and peace, Thank You!

Below is my poem, "In Loving Memory," which I humbly dedicate to all of our dead service men and women:

In Loving Memory

With hope and valor
You fought for freedom
Without fear or reservation
You shed tears and blood
To the end...

Committed to defend your country
You fought decisively,
Struggled hard to win victory
With so much pain,
Sacrifice and suffering...

In the service to humanity
You left us a legacy
To cherish and to uphold
That love for one's country 
Is worth dying for!

Gone but not forgotten
Yet honored today, yesterday, forever
You, the unsung heroes, 
The freedom-lovers and -fighters,
The peacemakers and peacekeepers...

You will always be our ideal, our inspiration
For a better life, a world
Where there is love and unity,
Peace and brotherhood
Among humankind!

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, May 22, 2015. For more information, visit

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In praise for great teachers*

Have you ever wondered what would we be without teachers? There would be no professionals, career men and women, presidents, members of Congress, judges, clergy, chefs, salespersons, scientists, military personnel, police officers, writers, editors, counselors, managers, politicians or pundits.

This is National Teacher Appreciation Week. Thus, it's appropriate to express our sincere appreciation to all teachers for their dedication, love of learning, professionalism and public service.

Thank you for being there for our students. As you continue to mold and shape young minds, may your devotion and passion inspire them to excel and succeed in the future. May God bless you and your families.

Teachers focus on ensuring their students' success, one lesson plan at a time. What they do is tremendously valuable and important to nation-building and community development. With their knowledge and expertise, they train our future leaders to operate in a changing society, a volatile world.

Budget cuts in education are always an issue in government funding, but most teachers remain true to their calling. They do what they can with whatever remuneration they receive. Though they don't receive regular pay raises, most rarely complain about it. They are too busy in the classroom, making sure that the school curriculum is followed and implemented and that their students pass the required Virginia Standard of Learning tests and other high-stakes tests and benchmarks.

Teachers deserve more than a pay raise. They deserve our respect.

Teachers are in the classroom, first and foremost, to instruct, not to police, counsel, judge or condemn. They have objectives to accomplish each day. But if they're always dealing with students with behavioral problems, they will be far behind in the implementation (and execution) of their lesson plans, and their students who are eager to learn will be deprived of learning. Parents of rowdy students should recognize the harm this does to classrooms.

Teachers can only do so much to help our students. It's our responsibility, as parents, to instill discipline on our children. We are their first teachers. They learn what they encounter at home and in the community, and what they learn they bring to school.

Teachers can bring out the best in students. With their knowledge, skills, expertise and professionalism, they challenge students to be the best that they can be.

We entrust them with our children, because we know they will guide, enlighten, instruct and influence them to be productive and law-abiding members of society.

Again, thank you, teachers---especially to my wife, who is a veteran chemistry teacher---for all the good you do.

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Tuesday, May 5, 2015. For more information, visit

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Responsible parents beget responsible children*

Decades ago, my education professor used to say, "Education starts from womb to tomb."

When I became a parent, in 1988, I realized how important early child education is and the impact it has on early child's development and future success.

Child development involves early education, with parents playing the leading role in this reponsibility. Even if the baby is still in the mother's womb, learning takes place.

I remember those early days when I used to talk to my first baby when he was still in his mom's womb. He responded when I said, "Kick, baby, kick." I read Mother Goose rhymes to him and sang baby songs for him. I recited letters of the alphabet and also counted one to 10 for him. He responded when I spoke to him. I did the same thing to my second child.

Both my children were my "case studies." I studied them, while providing them opportunities to learn. My wife and I took time to teach them the basics---their ABCs, numbers, colors,letter and number recognition, reading and writing---at a very early age.

Books and other reading materials were scattered everywhere in the house. I "tested" them to find out if they were curious enough to open a book. and they did, especially the picture books.

We taught them simple prayers, took them to church and cultural shows, and encouraged them to be creative. They raised questions, and we tried to answer them the best we could. We also visited libraries. Eventually, they developed the habit of reading and loving books early.

By the time they entered school, they were ready to learn more. And more they did from their teachers, fellow students and other people around them. Consequently, their preschool teachers didn't have problems with our children. We continued guiding and helping them with their homework and school projects.

Young children learn what they see and experience at home and in the community. Their brains are like sponges that absorb everything they're exposed to. Therefore, as their first teachers, we should provide them with an atmosphere of learning environment and a variety of learning materials and equipment.

In her letter to the editor, Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, April 18, Mary Grace Garner-Atkins wrote that too many children are not ready for school. She observed that they're "ill-prepared" and have not been taught responsibility for their actions.

Why? Who's to blame for this early educational problem? Their parents, of course. Responsibility resides in the parents who conceived these children.

Parents, take heed of Garner-Atkins' plea: " Make it your aim to teach your children how to be responsible, to get along with other children, to be honest and to thank you and their teachers for helping them to grow up to be good, reliable adults." Amen to that.

Educational responsibility starts at home. Home is where children learn to love to learn and be responsible.

As parents, we are supposed to be role models for our children. If they see us as responsible, they will also be responsible someday. And if they ever have families of their own, they will carry on that responsibility and apply those family values and virtues learned at home.

If we are not responsible for their early education, who will be? The government? Teachers? The government can only do so much, and so can the teachers. They are our partners in educating our children.

Responsible parents beget responsible children.

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

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, April 26, 2015. For more information, visit