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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Welcome 2017 with hope, optimism*

Tempus fugit! How time flies!

We're bidding 2016 adieu and welcoming 2017 with hope and optimism. Let's give thanks to Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, for sending His beloved son, Jesus Christ, to live among us, inspire us, and die for our sakes, for our salvation!

Carpe diem! Seize the day, the present moment well with hope, prayer and thanksgiving.

Life is short---too short to be worrying and stressing so much. The past is past. Don't worry about it. Whatever happened in our lives, it's done and gone. It's over and out, and gone, like smoke that vanished into space.

We can't undo what is done. We don't live yesterday. And neither tomorrow. We simply live now, today, this present moment.

Time flies, and there's nothing you or I can do about that, because it's just the law of nature. That's the way it is and always will be. But our attitude about that law can determine what kind of life we have. Time well spent, or time wasted?

Yes, let's seize the day, the very moment of our existence. Enjoy Life this very moment with our family and friends near and far. Technology allows us to connect and reconnect.

Do what makes you alive, happy and well. Pray for your salvation and for others'. Sing if you feel like singing. Dance with or without music. Eat if you feel hungry. Share your ideas. Create something out of your knowledge and skills and experiences in life. Be out there in the open and breathe fresh air to clear your lungs.

Remember this: Only you can live your life to the fullest. Only you can change your life for the better. Time flies, so seize the moment!

Goodbye 2016! It's been a tough year, with all the chaos and controversies, issues and idiocies, indifference and divisiveness, a national election that seemed impossible but happened.

Donald Trump promised to make America great again. Let's wait and see if he can deliver that promise. We can only hope and pray, as they say. Meanwhile, let's give him a chance to serve and lead the United States. Let's try to accept the forthcoming change that's inevitable in our lives.

Welcome 2017! It's the year of the rooster on Chinese calendar. What's in store for us in 2017? Changes in our lives, for sure. Whether we like it or not, we have to accept change and live with it with optimism that our lives will be better.

Such change has to start with us.

Have a blessed new year! May 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, Saturday, December 31, 2016. For more information, visit

Thursday, November 24, 2016

So many reasons to be thankful*

Happy Thanksgiving! [I hope and pray you have a blessed, meaningful, and enjoyable Thanksgiving with your family and friends.]

[Here’s my Thanksgiving prayer: Almighty and loving God, I have a lot to be thankful for. First, I thank you for all the bountiful blessings and harvests you’ve showered us. Thank you for our dear families and friends, near or far, being together in these trying times. Thank you for the settlers that brought us life and freedom. Thank you for our government officials, who have worked for the greatness of America. Thank you to our new and re-elected leaders. And to our newly-elected president and vice-president, Donald Trump and Mike Pence, respectively, I thank you, and hope and pray that you’ll do your best to make America great again, and to help make the world a safer, peaceful place to live in.

Thank you, Lord, for our religious leaders for increasing and strengthening our faith.Thank you for our teachers and volunteers, our innovators and pioneers, our nurses, doctors and other caregivers, our police officers, our dedicated and hard-working farmers for all their contributions and efforts in making America a strong and great nation. Thank you for our journalists and social media professionals for informing us of what’s happening around the world. Thank you for our actors and singers, and writers and athletes for entertaining us and reminding us that, despite what’s going on in our country and around the world, we can still manage to celebrate our humanity.

Thank you, Lord, for all our Armed Forces, our servicemen and women who are here and abroad, fighting for freedom and peace, and also for their families and the sacrifice they make. I pray, Almighty God, that the homeless and the unemployed and marginalized will find shelter and comfort and employment.May your light and love shine before us all!. Amen.]

Let me tell you, I feel so blessed to be in America.I can’t thank her enough for what she’s done for my family and me.

I sure did realize my dream here, joining the U.S. Navy, becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1989, and retiring in 2005, after 20 years of honorable service to my adopted country.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, I sincerely thank you, America, for helping me realize the American Dream. I thank you for this wonderful, incredible freedom and democracy that my family and I cherish and enjoy.

As an American of Filipino ancestry, I proudly say how much I love this country where my two young adult children, Andrew and Tintin,  were born to my caring and loving wife, Freny, who has been teaching chemistry to our public high school students for almost two decades now. [Andrew’s an IT instructor for a non-profit organization and theatre actor based in DC, teaching computer skills to the underserved population there while Tintin's a school counselor working in one of the public middle schools in our state.]

Together with my younger siblings, who legally immigrated here, I had my first Thanksgiving Day in the United States 33 years ago at my sister Betty’s house in California.

Although I didn’t know much then about this traditional American celebration, I had a good time, because we had that big family Thanksgiving with lots of food and love. Man, that was the first and the biggest turkey I’ve ever seen in my entire life!

On a personal note, I’d like to express my profound gratitude to my sister Betty for being the most caring and loving Big Sister that she is. She made it possible for me and our younger siblings to legally immigrate here in 1983, and she became our second mother once we arrived.

I’ll be forever indebted and eternally grateful to her and my brother-in-law Dennis for their kindness and generosity.

May God bless our beautiful and colorful America! Again, wishing you all a blessed, happy and safe Thanksgiving!

-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 24, 2016. For more information, visit

NOTE: This is the original article submitted to the above-mentioned publication. However, because of space limitation, portions of the article, the ones with bracket signs [...] were not included in the final publication of the article.Thanks, everyone, for reading it.Do appreciate it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Post-Election Day 2016 thoughts

(Author's Note: Below was written the day after the Election Day (Nov. 8, 2016) and submitted online to Res Spears, editor of the award-winning city newspaper, Suffolk News-Herald, for possible consideration-publication.)

Now that Election 2016 is over, let's pause for a moment to compose ourselves, breathe normally, have hope, and look forward to the future, and count our blessings. Thank God, we're alive and well...we made it through.

Congratulations, America, for having a newly-elected president and vice-president in the persons of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, respectively! May God bless US always!

Former First lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been trying to break the glass ceiling to be the first U.S. female president in history, inspiring the young female population with her intelligence and political experiences. But the soon-to-be 45th president of the United States, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, emerged victorious, defying all polls, projections, and pundits, with his kind of rhetorics and bravado during the presidential campaign.

"I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president of all Americans, and that is important to me," said Trump during his victory speech. "It's time for us to come together as one people."

Clinton, in her concession speech, mentioned about the rule of law and hoped Donald Trump would be a successful president. She was sorry for not winning and urged her allies, especially the young female Americans, "to never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it."

To those in the IT (Information Technology) industry and in the media, especially those who covered the election, and election officials and volunteers, kudos and keep up the great work of sharing your expertise and skills, helping others to become informed, involved, responsible, productive and participatory.

Personally, I congratulate all the political candidates, their families and campaign crew and staff, and volunteers who worked tirelessly during the election campaign season.

Yes, the most awkward, colorful, controversial, divisive, dramatic presidential election in the United States history is over and done.

Winners and losers, for the majority part, were already known, proclaimed, congratulated or have conceded, respectively. We have new and incumbent leaders who can be excellent and successful public servants. Some were newly-elected while others reelected, like our incumbent Suffolk mayor Linda Johnson.

We, the people, have spoken, with our voice, through our safeguarded votes. Now, it's time to move on...

Like one of the Catholic bloggers, Rev. Fr. Austin, I frequently follow or read, with his daily prayer posted on his blog, I do pray for "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."

Lord, I pray and meditate for unity for all of US, irrespective of who we are, what we look like, we believe in, we do in life (as long as we don't break the laws of the land and those of our Almighty God) for the sake of the United States and our world.

One of Fr. Austin's prayers, years ago, that caught my attention and I'd like to share it with you is this: "Lord, help us  remember that neither winning or losing excuses us from your command that we love one another with peace in our hearts and kindness in our speech...If I am in the winner's camp, Lord, keep me from being proud and haughty, snide and snarky...If I stand with the losing side today, Lord, keep me from being mean-spirited and bitter, from any self-indulgent spite...In the quiet of my prayer, Lord, humble my pride, tame any anger, strengthen my resolve and deepen my faith and trust in You...Send your Spirit of peace to reign in our hearts and help us work together, Lord, to serve the needs of all..."Amen, I say it loud and clear! May God bless us always! And God bless the United States of America.

Now, we can have all the time to rethink and ponder at what's good for our country and for the world. Let's all work together responsibly, non-partisan aside, with the winners, with God's abundant and amazing grace and blessings, to do what needs to be done in order to rebuild, recover, and make our country great again, and to work together towards a safer, peaceful world we live in.

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

Thursday, November 3, 2016

31st and counting

Woke up this morning past four and used the restroom in our master's bedroom. Couldn't get back to sleep after I got back from emptying my bladder. Lying down beside my wife, listening to her breathing while in slumber, I let the time go by. But, then, some thoughts came up. I needed to get back, get back to the restroom but with a pen and a piece of paper. Ideas flowed like a running water from the sink's faucet...In haiku form, here's sharing with you what I scribbled, a poem originally in Ilokano language. (But I did the English translation while composing it one stanza after another). The poem was done at about 0539 this morning:

Ti Aniversariota                                         Our anniversary

Nadanon manen, Baket                              It's that time of year, my wife
aniversariota                                               anniversary
panaglantip pusota.                                    our two hearts became as one.

Agyamanak, Namarsua                             gratitude to our Father
dua bungata                                               blessed with two children
namnama pamiliata.                                  the hope of our family.

Tallopulo ket maysa                                  It has been thirty-one years
a tawen biagta                                           living life we have
napnuan ayat ken ragsak.                          full of love and happiness.

Biag a napnuan dangadang                       A life of battles-struggles
baliw-pannubok                                        changes-challenges
naparmek gapu't Ayat.                              overcome because of Love.

Adu pay a tawenta                                    More years for the two of us
ikararagta                                                  we pray-contemplate
rumungbo pamiliata.                                 our family grows-prospers.

(c) 2016 by Chris A. Quilpa                     (c) 2016 by Chris A. Quilpa

To my loving wife, Freny, thank you for being my wife and the mother of our two amazing and awesome children, Drew and Tintin. Thank you to our dear family members and friends near and far. May God bless us always!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A few thoughts on back-to-school*

While students in private schools have already started classes, public school students will be back in their respective schools Tuesday, a day after the federal holiday Labor Day (Sep.5).

A week or two ago, teachers reported to their schools, having meetings and working in their classrooms, making sure their classrooms are ready and conducive to teaching and learning.

Though it's still summer, I wonder if students are eager to go back to school. I imagine some of them are ready, while others wish their summer vacation were extended. Ready or not, though, Tuesday's back-to-school is the reality.

Both students and teachers have that mixture of feelings of anticipation and uncertainty. Especially for new students and teachers, there will be adjustments to a new environment.

Just as the returning students and teachers, new ones deal with many challenges and changes as they try to fit in with and get along with everybody in the school system. There are lots of things to learn from one another during the new school year.

New teachers, much like their senior counterparts, want to excel in their teaching, are eager to start the school year with energy and enthusiasm and are ready to apply what they have learned and observed during their student-teaching (or practice teaching) assignments.

But as newcomers in the educational field, they need the full support of school staff and personnel so they won't feel alone and helpless when problems arise in their classrooms.

Teacher mentoring is important and crucial to the success of new teachers. With mentoring, new teachers feel at ease and at home and have a sense of worth as an important member of the educational community. They know they can count on veteran teachers for moral guidance and support.

Moreover, teacher mentors and mentees can learn from one another, and their collaboration and cooperation can benefit students. Mentors and mentees work together to deal with classroom management issues and to solve problems that may arise in the classroom, things like truant student, students lagging behind, and students with issues concerning peers and family.

For returning students and teachers, I'd like to commend you for your desire to learn and to teach. I know you are goal-oriented and success-driven, like the new students and teachers. Focused and optimistic, you try your best to be the best role models for others in your school and the community.

Kudos to our students who are going back to school, to all of you in our community who tirelessly work for the success of our students. Thank you to Freny, my wife, who is a chemistry teacher; to daughter Christine, who just became a school counselor; and to son Andrew, an IT instructor (and theatre or stage actor).

They are dedicated to helping students succeed.

And kudos to the parents, volunteers and community leaders who are advocates of education. May you all have a rewarding school year.

-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, August 31, 2016. For more information, visit

Friday, June 17, 2016

God bless our fathers*

(Author's Note: Father's Day, this year, is observed/celebrated on Sunday, June 19, 2016. Father's Day dates back to June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. When Sonora Dodd was born, her mother died leaving her dad, Mr. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, to take care of his six children. Honoring her father's sacrifices, love, and dedication to raising his family alone, Dodd spearheaded the campaign to create the first Father's Day. Because of its popularity, Father's Day is officially celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June, with President Lyndon B. Johnson's proclamation in 1966. However, in 1977, President Nixon made the celebration a permanent part of our country's annual festivities to show the fathers and grandfathers how much they're appreciated for all they have done for their family.)

Happy Father's Day! I humbly dedicate this poem of mine to all fathers and grandfathers everywhere.

Today is a special day
To honor and pay tribute to you
Father---our role model,
Who sets a good example
For us to follow and emulate.

When we're down and troubled,
You're there to lend a hand.
You cheer us up and brighten our day,
You comfort us and give us company,
And inspire us with your life story.

You guide us and strengthen us,
Protect us from worries and anxieties,
Teach us life's wonders and mysteries,
Life's uncertainties, changes and challenges.

Father, we thank you
For the life and love, joy and patience
You share with us each and every day
And the support you provide us
Into our home, our family...

From Psalm 103:13, we read, "A father has compassion on his children..."

From church bulletin, I remember these lines: "A father loves his children, just as they are. He cares enough to give the very best---himself. When they're in trouble, he's there to help. When they need wisdom, he offers counsel. When they have successes, he rejoices with them. When they make mistakes, he forgives. He recognizes his strength comes not from human sources, but from Heaven's grace."

A father is God's representative. "God bless father," we pray. Why? Because if we want something, "Ask Father!" He is the source, the supplier, the giver (or refuser) of everything we ask of or expect from a father: to smooth our path, to raise for us a mountain from which to hurl our dreams, to build us a shelter against the harms of life.

We need encouragement and enrichment that only a father can give or provide. He is the channel of both the necessities and the fun things in life, like sports and games, travel, road trips and other activities that are a source of fun and enjoyment.

These enrichments and encouragements we seek from Dad or Papa with love. God bless our fathers and grandfathers!

-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, June 17, 2016. For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A tribute to the red, white and blue*

Today is Flag Day (in the United States of America). I wonder how many of us remembered it. I wonder how many of us pay attention to our flag each time we see it. How many of us are aware of the importance of this symbol?

Yet there seems to be a mix of feelings about its significance. I have seen news reports and videos on You Tube showing our flag being taken for granted or disrespected, both here and abroad.

Of course, we have freedom of speech, but shouldn't we safeguard our flag if it represents our country?

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag of the United States of America  replacing the British Grand Union flag. Eventually, this date became Flag Day on modern American calendars.

According to legend, Elizabeth "Betsy" Griscom Ross of Philadelphia designed and made the first U.S. flag in 1776 at the request of our first U.S. president, George Washington.

The official national flag consists of the 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white, and in the upper corner near the staff, a blue field containing 50 five-pointed white stars.

The stripes symbolize the 13 states that originally composed of the United States of America---New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The stars represent the 50 current states of the Union.

White signifies purity and innocence; red, hardiness and valor; and blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice.

On Flag Day, I would like to pay tribute to this beautiful emblem that represents the virtues of liberty, independence, democracy, pride, power, strength, unity and ideals. Here's my humble, simple poem:

The Stars and Stripes

You're everywhere---
At home, in schools,
City halls and embassies,
On foreign shores;
In the White House,
In the U.S. Capitol,
Federal buildings and hospitals
Tall structures and historical landmarks,
National parks and museums,
At the United States headquarters...

In churches and cemeteries,
In counties, cities, and states;
Up in the air,
All over the seas,
On the Moon up above
You're everywhere.

Here and there,
Flying so free,
Feeling so proud,
Standing so firm,
The insignia of our country,
The emblem of democracy;
Stars and Stripes
In red, blue and white
A symbol of our pride,
A symbol of our freedom,
A symbol of our unity,
Power and beauty.

Because of you,
Thousands of lives were lost,
Hundreds of battles fought.
But, in the end
Our dream came true---
Our independence and liberty
Regained and enjoyed by all.

Today, we salute you,
We come together
To honor you,
To renew our pledge of allegiance
To only you,
The Stars and Stripes.

-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, June 14, 2016. For more information, visit

Friday, June 3, 2016

The end and the beginning*

Congratulations, Class of 2016! Best wishes to all of you, especially to my daughter, Christine, who just graduated (May 22) from The University of Virginia's Curry School of Education degree in counseling education. We're so proud of you.

For the Class of 2016, the time has finally come to don that cap and grown and receive their diplomas and congratulatory handshakes from school officials, while the solemn, classical "Pomp and Circumstance" is being played.

You finally made it, graduates. It's worth all the efforts, struggles and the sacrifices. You deserve recognition, because you have overcome the rigors of school life. You've succeeded in overcoming challenges and pressures and stresses in academics, athletics and other extracurricular activities.

Dear graduates, you have reason to relax now, take it easy and celebrate your achievements with your family, friends, teachers, and those who inspired and helped you through the years while in school.

Seize the moment for it will become a nostalgic, happy memory to cherish. Take souvenir pictures. Capture those moments spent with your classmates, dear teachers, guests and visitors. Cherish their hugs and kisses and their simple presence.

Enjoy your day. You deserve to celebrate your achievement.

I appreciate and thank the parents and educators of the Class of 2016 for being there with our students---loving and caring for them, teaching and guiding them. Likewise, my sincere thanks to our school administrators, staff-personnel, and volunteers who shared their time and talents.

After having successfully completed the requirements for their degrees, graduates are now ready to embark on another chapter in their life. It is a time to rejoice with and be grateful for all the factors involved in their success.

Likewise, Graduation Day is the beginning  of a more complex, challenging life, whether the student is graduating from elementary, secondary, collegiate or post-graduate education.

What now? What's next? Gainful employment? Military service? The next rung on the ladder of higher education? A sabbatical from schoolwork? A paid apprenticeship or internship in a private or public establishment?

Whatever goals or plans you have, continue to work for them. Keep it up and let the momentum help you realize your dreams. No one can stop you from pursuing your dreams.

Your confidence and determination can help you beat the odds. Be optimistic. Look at the brighter side of life. And smile! You can always make your life and others' better. Your future is in your hands, graduates, because life is what you make it.

Once again, congratulations and best wishes, Class of 2016! Have a safe and wonderful summer, too.

-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, June 3, 2016. For more information, visit

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mothers: the source of greatness*

To all mothers and grandmothers, Happy Mother's Day!

To my loving wife, Freny, thank you for being the mother of our two amazing young adult children, Andrew and Christine. Thank you for all that you do and have done for our family. Thank you for being a "mother" to your students in school.

May your undying love and sacrifice to your children and to us all be rewarded with contentment and satisfaction in life. May God bless you and protect you always as you continue to love and care for us unconditionally.

There's no doubt, you are our true friend, confidant, solace, cheerleader, morale booster, comforter, pacifier, entertainer and our very first teacher in life.

You mothers are everything to us, your children. Without you, we're not here, alive and well; we're not who and what we are in this wonderful world.

Thus, today and always, you deserve the best in life. You are, indeed, a godsend. We love you for whatever and whoever you are.

You risked your lives to bring us forth into this competitive, unpredictable world. You shielded us from harm and danger. You instilled in us good family values, which we carry on in life. And you helped us shape our attitudes toward life because of the moral guidance you provided us.

Your influence on us is truly remarkable. Hence, you are considered the "light" of our home. There's no greater love than yours, mothers.

It has been said that the greatness of our heroes could be traced back to their homes and the care and nurturing of loving mothers. That's why motherhood is much more than a career or profession. It involves love and life, duty and devotion, sacrifice and suffering.

Allow me to share with you this simple poem of mine, dedicated to all mothers who are married or single, separated or widowed, and those who are not here with us. Thank you so much to them all.


Mother dear, I love you so
Only you can love me true
Teach me life in all you do
Help me to live and to grow
Ever faithful, ever true
Rose of my life, that is you!

Dearest mother, I love you
Eternal God loves you, too
Always there when I need you
Rose of my life, that is 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, May 8, 2016. For more information, visit

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Contemplating bridges and walls*

A hot topic recently has been the building of walls and bridges. Many Americans, including some Republican presidential candidates, want to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border as one of the solutions to illegal immigration.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, believes America's current immigration system is broken and requires comprehensive reform. He says border security is important to the country, but doesn't believe a fence is the way to achieve that security. Former Secretary of State (and another Democratic presidential contender) Hillary Clinton say she supports a secure border and a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants currently residing in the country.

Walls and bridges are everywhere, and they will be around for as long as we live. They exist to help us maintain our economic, religious and socio-political standards.

We build walls to protect our privacy, to discourage trespassing, to set ourselves apart from others, to establish a space for ourselves where we'll be left alone.

We build walls to exclude others from our lives. We build walls to contain something that threatens or endangers our well being. We build walls to counteract our inadequacies, vulnerabilities and insecurities.

On the other hand, we build bridges to facilitate or maintain a steady flow of life. We have bridges, because we want to connect or interconnect with the outside world. We have bridges to maintain the steady flow of goods and services others can depend on.

We have bridges to communicate with others, to help us explore and learn more about others. We have bridges to reach out to others.

I view walls or borders as impediments to growth and development of the totality of men and women. They contribute nothing but isolation, indifference, ignorance and selfishness.

They deter progress and learning. They contribute to fear and doubt, suspicion and mistrust. Secrecy is prevalent with walls and borders.

There's freedom in building bridges. There's openness and communication, cooperation and coordination. With walls, there's apathy and indifference.

Building bridges can make a big difference. Bridges are a means to help build one big community better. We need each other for our survival, because we're one human family. Despite our differences of viewpoints and backgrounds, we all belong to the human race.

Pope Francis, on his way back to Rome from his recent trip to Mexico, said a person who thinks only about building walls and not building bridges is not Christian.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump reacted to the pontiff's remarks and said, "For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. No leader, especially a religious leader, has the right to question another man's faith or religion."

Evangelist Franklin Graham agrees that as Christians we should try to build bridges with others whenever we can, but that doesn't mean we should compromise our national security. He suggests to the pope "to reach out and build a bridge to Donald Trump. Who knows where he may be this time next year?"

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

*Appears in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, February 25, 2016. For mnore information, visit

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What it means to observe Lent*

Lent has begun for Christians around the world. It started on Ash Wednesday, when many of us went to church to receive ashes on the forehead to signify "we are dust and to dust we return."

The practice of receiving ashes dates back to the fifth century and became a widespread Christian practice by the 11th century.

Lent is the season to observe and commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who, we believe, is the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer.

It is the time to reflect on what it means to be a follower of Christ, an opportune time to repent for our misdeeds and misgivings and to increase awareness and intensity of our prayer, fasting and alms-giving.

It is the time to grow in and strengthen the faith that binds us together and makes all things possible because of our love and devotion to our Lord.

What does it mean to be a Christian? As sinners, we have the ability and capability to be holy. That is, if we allow Christ into our lives.

If we obey His teachings, we become responsible, law-abiding citizens and peace-loving people. We become selfless, mindful of others, our neighbors who benefit from our good deeds, kindness, charity and generosity. We become more aware of and concerned about others, especially the underrepresented, underserved, marginalized, disables, elderly, helpless and hopeless in our midst.

Practicing our faith, we are able to see Christ in them. We try our best to love and care for them the way we want to be loved and cared for.

On the other hand, let's not underestimate the power of prayer in our lives. One thing we can do to counteract negativity, fear and hopelessness in our lives is to pray for ourselves and for others. Prayer can save us from a lot of troubles. Also, prayer leads us to a life of holiness towards God.

When we pray together---when we pray for others who need our prayer---things and people change for the better. We become interconnected and we get closer to God.

As followers of Christ, we also practice alms-giving and fasting. We give of our time, talents and treasures. We share what we have, because we believe that giving is caring.

We give up something or deprive ourselves of something at Lent so that others can have it. That's a sacrifice for others, for God. We just let others have it, instead of ourselves. That is giving. That's an act of love for others and for God because we see Christ in them.

We believe in giving because it is in giving that we receive more blessings and graces from our Almighty God. To share is to give, and to give is to love, and to let others experience our faith.

Praying, fasting, alms-giving, observing the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments can help us grow in faith, especially during this Lenten season.

-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 14, 2016. For more information, visit

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A tale of two cities in Suffolk*

As a transplant from "Silicon Valley" in California for 22 years, I have observed a tremendous transformation of our city, particularly in northern Suffolk. Growth and development are so evident that the landscape has changed.

Because the city is so spread out, there is a notion that there are two Suffolks: one in historic downtown, where the seat of city government resides, and the other in the northern end, where business is booming.

Depending on traffic and other factors, it takes almost 30 minutes to reach downtown by car. At least, that's what I've experienced for over two decades that I've been a resident here.

It's good that, in northern Suffolk, we have hospitals and medical centers, offices and banks, the city treasurer, dental offices, libraries, post offices, schools and a police station that our growing community can depend on.

Now we have infrastructure projects, like widened roads and bridges that have linked to interstate and major highways, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, industrial companies, military establishments, car dealerships and gas stations that a growing community depends on. New communities emerge as new houses and other dwellings continue to be built.

Years ago, we didn't have some of these establishments. The area was covered with trees and farms.

From an agricultural to a suburban city, Suffolk's population has increased to more than 90,000.

With the sprawling population and business boom, city taxes and revenues went up. Thus, the city's economy has improved dramatically because of growth and development.

Managed growth and development are beneficial. But when there is too much growth, it jeopardizes the environment, which is not good.

We've been hearing the news about global warming and other major issues affecting humanity, like war, terrorism, poverty, inequality, drug and human trafficking, refugees, illegal immigration, viruses and more.

This is where innovative and visionary leaders, city/urban planners and managers come to mind. They play a vital role in shaping our city's and country's future. But, of course, an educated and well-informed and involved and engaged citizenry can make a difference in what our future will be.

Managed growth and development should gear toward building bridges and community cohesiveness, along with equal economic opportunities for all residents. It should be eco-friendly. It should not be detrimental to health and public safety. It should also protect the city's historical sites and legacy.

On the other hand, there seems to be a disparity between the city's different areas.

Are we creating two Suffolks, one progressive and the other lagging behind? Or, are there revitalization projects in the works for downtown?

Is this a tale of two cities? Can the story be changed?

Managed growth and development should be a boon, not a bane, something that benefits all, that we can all be a part of and, hence, be proud of.

Suffolk's growth and development is inevitable. as its population becomes more diverse, so should its economy.

-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, February 9, 2016. For more information, visit

Friday, January 29, 2016

Faith makes all things possible*

Faith is personal, yet universal in nature and application.

Synonymous with belief and trust, faith is inherent in each one of us. In our thoughts and actions, we have faith, not just in matters of religion, but also in the way we live our life.

Faith is linked to trust, as manifested in the statements, "i believe in you," and "Believe in yourself."

"I trust you," signifies faith, and so does this: "In God, we trust."

From a song, "Walk with faith in your heart...and you'll never walk alone," or in church song, "We walk by faith and not by sight," or Cher's "If you believe in love," there's this thing called faith in our life.

What are we without faith? No hope to rise up, better ourselves and become victorious? No hope of overcoming adversity because we're "walking dead?"

Faith can lead us to new adventure in life. Take education, for example. Education is a component of faith. How? If we have faith, we have the ability to empower ourselves to do great things, not only for ourselves but also for others. With education, we can learn something new each day. We have faith to influence others and make a difference in the world, no matter how great or small.

Learning never stops, because we have faith. If we don't have faith, we lose the ability to learn to make a difference in the world.

With faith, education is always possible, and so is success. But, of course, it depends on one's definition of success. Overall, faith is the defining factor in learning, acquiring or obtaining education and information, and eventually in attaining one's success.

Faith is the driving force that keeps us alive, dreaming and making a difference for others. We still believe in the goodness of humanity, amidst a cloud of doubt in the back of our mind.

With faith, all things can be possible, because we have programmed ourselves to believe that our positivity or optimism supersedes our negative thoughts.

With faith, we can't be left alone, in desolation, in state of nothingness, because we believe in goodness over evil, love over hate, unity over divisiveness.

Faith binds us together, as evidenced in churches. Faith enables us to keep moving forward, to continue living for our dreams. It is the most important thing we have to survive and to succeed. It is the only thing we have to counter hopelessness and fear, to overcome obstacles, changes and challenges.

We can learn from and educate others because we have faith in ourselves and others. We believe we can change and accept change for the better. Because of faith, we can move mountains; we can treat or cure disease; we can eradicate or minimize poverty, people's pain and suffering.

Faith keeps us safe and at peace with ourselves and others. Trusting our government, our leaders and fellow citizens is a manifestation that faith plays a big part in our life.

Faith in God, our Almighty Father, is a guiding force that can save us from a lot of temptations, bad activities and thoughts that (prevaricate or) lie about what is good and what is truth.

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

*Appeared in the Opiniion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, January 29, 2016. For more information, visit

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Feeling much better

That's right, folks. We're feeling much better, after weeks of being under the weather! Thank God! I can't complain. I'm grateful to be alive and well...

Now, we're into real wintry mode in our area. Bitter cold weather has finally arrived! With that snow-rain mix that fell to the ground yesterday, and further drop in temperature to below freezing, there was this snow-white "shaved" ice that covered the ground this morning. That's what we witnessed in our backyard, particularly in our partially snow-covered wooden deck. It was cold! But, not that freezing cold.

Anyway, we bundled up, especially when we went out for brunch at International House of Pancakes (IHOP) in the neighboring city. By the way, the day's sunny but cold. Likewise, it's a national holiday because it's the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Day in the U.S. of A! With the exceptions of private firms and businesses, public offices and institutions are closed for business. No schools, too.

There's a lot of diners at IHOP, this morning, we observed. Was it because it's a federal holiday and majority of people are off from work? Or, people just love pancakes, and wanted to enjoy the day with their family or friends, I suppose so. Well, whatever the reason may be, I would say, we had a great time, enjoyed the food with my family members. In addition, we had left-over food for dinner.

From IHOP, we went to NEX and bought some stuff, winter clothes, and a bag of dog food for our 8-month old puppy chorkie. That completed our day today.That's how we observed MLK, Jr. Day today. Personally, we're cognizant of the contributions the civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had to America and to the world. He fought for equality for all, with peaceful agenda in mind. His "I Have  A Dream" speech is, to me, a lofty goal and everyone's dream. It continues to impact freedom-loving and peace-loving people of goodwill, I believe.

Well, on the other hand, feeling much better has been my goal since I got sick on Christmas Eve last year. With positive attitude, I've been praying for my speedy recovery, after two visits to the nearest clinic and two bottles of colds-cough medicine and plenty of fluid and rest and citrus-based food.

Thank God, we're alive and getting much better as we continue to live life the best we can. We're optimistic and hopeful for good health and good life. That's all.

Here's wishing you all a great day! And, "May God bless US always!"

-Chris A. Quilpa

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

When holiday is over...

Now that the holiday season is over and done, we're back to our normal life. What do you mean, you ask? Well, after all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we're back to work for those of us having employment and business, school for those who are students, and doing something that we have not done in previous years.

For those of you who made new year's resolution, I believe, you've begun to actualize what you have planned to do for this new year. Whatever it is that you've wanted to change or reinvent in order to advance your career or profession, you are, I'm sure, working on it. I know, it may take some time to accomplish it but you're on the right track to achieving it someday.

Did I make a new year's resolution? Not really. Why is that so? Well, I'd rather not make a resolution that, I regret  later, would be doomed to fail. But one thing I put my mind into is to just live (in) the present moment well, thanking my Almighty and Heavenly Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer, and enjoy life each day, as if it's my last day on Earth, without reservation, without regret. That's all.

Looking back at the past Christmas, I caught the bug, characterized by entire body and head ache with intermittent productive coughing. In short, I had the signs and symptoms of colds or flu or URI (Upper Respiratory Infection). Yes, folks, I got sick and had visited an outpatient doctor twice. With bed rest, enough citrus fruits, lots of liquid and juice, and prescribed medications for colds/flu, I feel better now, but with intermittent coughing, up to this day as this article is being written. As my doctor said, it takes time to get back to normal health.

But, of course, I celebrated Christmas and New Year with family and friends. That is, without much fun fare, but with restraint and caution, because I don't want to infect others with the virus. I don't want my family members or friends to get sick. I would rather be the one to be ill than they, you know. I am willing to sacrifice and suffer for them.I remember there was one national holiday, July 4th, that I was home alone, while the rest of my family were having a great time with our friends. Yes, I got sick with the same condition I've been having this time. You and I know, it's no laughing matter when you get sick, folks. But what can you do if you get sick? It happens when it happens and it's beyond control. We just have to deal with it and have hope that, one day, after those moments of unpleasant feelings of pain and discomfort, we get well and back to normal health again.

Life has its ups and downs, we know that. It's not always constant. Same condition with our body which is not always functioning smoothly or not in sync with our mind and other parts all the time, like a machinery or a gadget or a car's engine that it's not always functioning or working well all the time. Sometimes, it breaks down for whatever reason or reasons. Same thing with our body. It experiences breakdown, at times. That means that we have to find out what's going on with our body, find out what went wrong and and try our best to fix the problem or problems. If we ignore it, we're into more troubles or problems.  Once fixed or repaired, everything is back to normal life again.

One thing that's certain, though, with our life. We age, get older. That means we have to maintain or continue to to keep watch our health, just as we have to have periodic check up or maintenance of our car or  equipment for a longer life shelf.

It's hard to believe when holiday is over but bodily pain and discomfort linger on as in my case. It makes you wonder what's going on? Why does it take longer to get well or better? I wish I have the easy answer, folks and friends. But, as time goes on, I just let things go and have to wait, be patient and hopeful and that my life will get back to normal. How's that?

Having a positive attitude in life can go a long way as we try our best to get better or recover our health from lingering illness. Prayer, too, can make a difference in how we live and enjoy life. With prayer, we feel at peace with ourselves and our God, the Almighty.

Good cheers and good vibes for a better, peaceful and safer life-world on 2016 and beyond!

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