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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