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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