Search This Blog

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Neighbors helping neighbors in Suffolk*

Yes, Virginia, we have volunteers and good people in our midst---ordinary people who do extraordinary deeds.
Suffolk is not in short supply of caring people who volunteer their time and selves to help. They go the extra mile to make a difference in others’ lives.
After Monday’s snowstorm (that brought about 5-7 inches of snow over Hampton Roads on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 16th), our neighbors, Margaret and Ritchie Shermer and their daughter Kate and her fiance Matt (a U.S. Coast Guard), braved the cold Tuesday morning to clear my snow-laden driveway and front yard. 
This act of love on their part reminds me of what they did (again) last year to my family and me, a disabled, retired U.S. Navy veteran.
I thank them for all their help. They showed me to always trust in God. They were God’s instruments of His goodness and love. They reminded me to continue to do good and make difference for others and to always have hope.  
One of our friends in neighboring city, Mike, who saw one of the snowstorm photos I shared to Facebook, commented, “Good things come to good people. May God bless you all.”
I do believe that if you’re good to people, something good come out of it. I keep on thanking God and praying for our good friends and neighbors that we always maintain good relations with them, no matter what the circumstances are in our lives.
Just as I trust our Almighty God, I also trust in the goodness of people. (In Proverbs 3:5-6, we read: “Trust in the Lord with all your might and lean not in thine own understanding, In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path.")
Neighbors are a lifeline when family members are far away. They are your family when no one else is around.. When they know you’re disabled, they are there to extend a helping hand. They are there to look after you. You try to help them, too, with what you have and can do.
Having worked in naval hospitals and clinics, I would say I did my very best to care for patients (and other healthcare beneficiaries to the point that I have this disability). (God knows how) I interacted with them, making sure they get the best care out of me, my knowledge and skills, and life experiences. (Putting myself in their position,) I did my best to alleviate their condition, without any reservation (at all). I treated them the way I wanted to be treated---with dignity, respect, and professionalism.  
I’m so grateful that I have good neighbors like Margaret and Ritchie and family. I’m also fortunate to have lived in a city like Suffolk, where volunteers and good people abound. It’s hard to find them nowadays (in these times and age), when there are so much anger, apathy, indifference, mistrust and suspicion, hatred and intolerance going on around the globe. 
But, I still believe in the goodness of man, that we are all precious gifts of God to one another, that we live for each other in good times and bad.
We are interdependent. No man is an island. You need me; I need you to make me grow and develop, like a child wanting attention and care, and love. Interdependence can never be underestimated.
In this Lenten season, I resolve to have trust and hope and  love for my neighbors, just as I have trust and love in our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. (I pray,) May we have more good and caring people in our midst. God bless us 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, Thursday, February 19, 2015. For more information, visit

                                         (c) 2015 Photos and text by Chris Quilpa

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A few thoughts about Love*

Variations on the theme of love are everywhere and bountiful. Take a look at the following:

Love is a many-splendored thing/ It’s the April rose that only grows in the early spring/ Love is nature’s way of giving/ A reason to be living the crown that makes a man a king…” So goes the 1955 Academy Award song originally recorded by The Four Aces, an all American male traditional pop music quartet.

Where do I begin/ To tell the story of how great a love can be/ The sweet love story that is older than the sea/ The simple truth about the love she brings to me/ Where do I start…” Excerpt from the 1970 Academy Award song Love Story, the original musical score of the award- winning movie of the same title starring  Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw. Out of the movie, based on the best-selling romantic novel by Erich Segal, came one of the top movie quotes, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Last year, my son Andrew gave me books on my birthday. One of them was 100 Best-Loved Poems. In it was this famous Sonnet XLIII by English female poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861).

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways./ I love thee to the depth and breadth and height/ My soul can reach when feeling out of sight/ For the ends of Being and ideal Grace/ I love thee to the level of everyday’s /Most quiet need, by the sun and candle-light./ I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;/ I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise./ I love thee with the passion put to use/ In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith./ I love thee with a love I seemed to lose/ With my lost saints,---I love thee with the breath,/ Smiles, tears, of all my life!---and if God choose,/ I shall love but thee better after death.” What a beautiful manifestation and declaration of Elizabeth’s love for her husband-poet Robert...that’s so sublime!  

During wedding ceremonies, in church or in court, this famous quote from the Holy Bible, 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, is a favorite: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs...It always protects, it always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Yes, Love reigns supreme.

The Beatles performed the popular song “All You Need is Love.”

Love, love, love...There’s nothing you can’t do that can be done./ Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung./ Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game./ It’s easy...All you need is love/ All you need is love/ All you need is love, love/ Love is all you need…”

Here are my love thoughts: “Love intellectual experience as well as a spiritual heritage./ an emotional crisis as well a biological hunger./ a magnet that draws people for mutual happiness./ only for a moment or for life!”

And fromAn Act of Love...forget yourself/ think of others/ share what you have/ and you’ll get well./ To the desperate, give your heart/ your enemies, never to hurt/ to them be faithful and true/ as He is true to you!”

Keep doing simple acts of love. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

-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, February 14, 2015. For more information, visit

Sunday, February 8, 2015

So much to celebrate*

     It's time again to celebrate Black History Month. I find it interesting to learn the many contributions of African Americans. I love learning about the people who made America great.
     As a naturalized U.s. citizen, of Filipino descent, I must admit I have much more to learn about the United States and its many cultures.
     My immigration into America in early 1980s and my military service of 20 years in the United States Navy gave me the opportunity to be exposed to cultural diversity.
     Back when I was in naval training in California, and then working at naval hospitals and clinics, I became aware of how diverse America has been.
     My exposure to the different cultures represented in the Navy opened my eyes to the beauty and complexity of human diversity. It helped me to be more understanding, respectful and tolerant to everyone I come in contact with. My knowledge of different cultures increased.
     Almost every month, we celebrated different cultural programs. We have had cultural shows and presentations, and guest speakers came to talk about their race or roots or historical events of significance. Those programs were informative, enlightening and entertaining to me.
     I'm also inspired reading biographies of notable people.
     I recall, when my young children were researching a presentation for Black History Month, that I came to know about George Washington Carver.
     I became interested in his life story. I consider him a role model worthy of respect and recognition. His struggle and determination to better himself were commendable. His humility and helpfulness are beyond compare. He truly exemplifies what a humanitarian is.
     In addition to the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who championed the cause of civil rights and equality, another modern African American who is worth-remembering is Rosa Louise McCauley, commonly known as Rosa Parks.
     I can't help but admire her for her conviction and resiliency in fighting for injustice and inequality.
     In 2008, I paid her a tribute via my Ilokano poem "Rosa Parks (1913-2005)" and was published in (under the Literatura section).
     Speaking of education, Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) founder Booker T. Washington comes to mind. With his encouragement, George Washington Carver taught there and helped the Southern farmers learn to improve the soil through crop rotation. (He did research on the many uses and benefits of peanuts. Thus, he was called the "wizard" of Tuskegee.)
     Another African American I found interesting was Harriet Tubman, who became the "Moses" of her people. She rescued about 70 blacks and their families from slavery via the Underground Railroad. As an abolitionist, she also fought for women's suffrage.
     As a budding poet, I have read some of the works of noted African-American writers like Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Rita Dove, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Lucille Clifton, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Shel Silverstein and others.
     Locally, I've had the opportunity to watch Suffolk native Nathan Richardson performing at an open mic poetry night at a Chesapeake library. A performance poet and published author, he's also a marketing consultant for this publication.
     To all African Americans who have made significant contributions to America, I thank you.

-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, February 8, 2015. For more information, visit