Rail Tripping on AMTRAK #2

Rail Tripping on AMTRAK: Looking For America, #2
On the Empire Builder
Chicago, WI, MN, ND, MT, ID, WA, OR

Last night, after a big dinner of grilled hangar steak and butter-fried crab cake, and lingering as long as I could over dessert of caramel parfait and coffee until the gravel-voiced hostess booted me out citing that they needed to prepare the dining car for breakfast, I prepared for bed reluctantly and as I switched off my light and looked out into the darkness, there was the near full moon, and with that, this 46-hour rail journey from Chicago to Seattle, was instantly transformed into a thrilling quest for adventure. To set the mood I put on my earbuds and listened over and over to the many interpretations of Dvorak’s Song to the Moon, from Rusalka. I awoke at 5:30 am, with the North Dakota plains still in darkness, was first at the communal shower and first seated at breakfast at 6:30 am. At 7:10 I had a nice seat in the observation car to watch the sunrise unfold in a spectacular burst of oranges and its mutations with reds and yellows in an expanding ripple across the heavens until we were enclosed in a fiery dome. And then the sun blazed in the horizon and washed out all the fire in the sky. The landscape bathed in this low angled illumination, was silent, and sparse, a vast gently undulating golden grassland with herds of black angus cows grazing in the open space and broken by random stands of trees wearing their early fall colors and where there were small ponds grew white-barked birch with their yellow foliage brilliantly rustling in the breeze. The train passed big farms planted with corn, heavy with drying ears ready for the animal feed market. And everywhere shaved open fields dotted with barrel-shaped rolled hay and alfalfa. Every so often, when the tracks were laid close to stands of low shrubs, a flock of birds would fly out all at once from their obscure perch. From dawn to dusk, the Empire Builder crossed this vast North Dakota plains where once bisons and Indians roamed in harmony.

Blending in with Montana, the scenery was unchanged, but in Havre, we had a long stop over where border police boarded the train and asked the man I was seated next to whether he was a US citizen. He was the only one asked in this group of more than a dozen Caucasian passengers. I was not questioned, but politely acknowledged with a smile and the two ICE uniformed young men moved on to the next car. The man questioned looked typically Mexican and in fact was originally from Mexico, and I presumed I was assessed to be with him, and therefore escaped questioning. He said this was the second time this year that he was asked to which he answered, yes. He now routinely carry his passport, just in case. He commutes every week between Williston ND where he worked in the oil fields and his home in Ephrata WA where his wife resides. He mentioned he has five roommates from the Philippines working with him in the oil field. He has 3 children ages 32, 25, and his youngest 21, all emancipated and tax-paying citizens. He was going home to join his wife for their annual month-long vacation in Mexico, in a small town near Guadalajara. I am wondering why there are random border checks between two states but I couldn’t google anything because there is no WiFi on the train and cellular signal is intermittent, and brief if you happen to catch it.

The observation car with its all around glass enclosure offers a panoramic view of the passing scene and a glimpse into the people who ride it. There was raucous laughter and loud conversation from one corner where a young man with shaved and tattooed head and tomahawk hair held court and kept his audience enthralled with accounts of his travels. I had a quiet conversation with Stephen who was a book publisher, a poet who had readings and exhibited his abstract art in San Francisco and New York and Chicago and who just completed a boxed set of haptic drawings paired with quotes about the first 100 days of Obama. He happens to know a lot about the Philippines as his uncle who was a pilot in WWII and who became a pilot for PAL married a Filipina from an elite Philippine family and who moved around in power circles with names like the Aranetas, Ayalas, Zobels, etc. He was acquainted with Filipino artists and he was the publisher of Hagedorn’s the Dogeaters. I was impressed but he no longer publishes and now he is visiting his friend in San Francisco who is a philosopher in his 80’s, and himself is 75 years old and they discuss what is a good death by living well. Then he inquired about the book I was reading about decline and rage in rural America and our conversation went to the Kavanaugh and Ford testimonies. Meanwhile our mohawk performer was getting louder and was drowning all other conversations, at which point lunch was announced, which gave us a good excuse to flee.

At lunch I was seated with Calvin and his wife who is a registered member of the Chippewa Indian Nation, but they lived outside the reservations. He was originally from North Dakota, with Scottish ancestors who moved from Canada, but now he lives in South Dakota to insure better economic opportunity for his family. They were traveling to Seattle to babysit their grandson which they love to do. He served in the military and was in Germany during the Korean War. That was his only trip abroad, but they have been taking rail trips in the US since his retirement. He was a former representative from South Dakota and served in the House Appropriations Committee. He didn’t have any college education, but he learned a great deal about finance and how the government works during his term in the House. He doesn’t like what’s going on now in the government, even if he voted Republican.

In the afternoon I was educated about the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railways and how AMTRAK has to defer right of way to its freight cars which cause us schedule delays. Rich is a farmer from Wisconsin, who is married to a Hawaiian who bemoans Trump’s tariff war with China which he fears will hurt him in the end, and sees the fate of farms like him like the demise of Hawaiian farms growing pistachios, macadamias, pineapple, and sugar. On the other hand he agrees with fracking and doesn’t see how it could damage the earth when the holes drilled are to such depths that he ‘s convinced about its harmlessness from sheer belief. It appears this train carries locals across regularly, and these farmers have varied stories to tell. Carol from Michigan has 240 acres just outside Lansing, which had been family owned since his great grandfather acquired the land, which was planted with subsistence crops until her father was forced to plant cash crop when his wife birthed three daughters and no sons. He was able to keep the land with cash help from his daughters’ employment in the city. Now three generations are living in the old homestead, after two sisters divorced and Carol returned to care for her father. Her husband farms the land with modern equipment and methods but market fluctuations in the price of corn, and alfalfa keeps the anxiety level about keeping the farm high. At dinner I was seated with Henry who was reticent and at first appeared to be unconcerned about being engaged in polite conversation. I figured I’d ask to be seated elsewhere if he didn’t help in the dialogue at all, and would give him feedback about being rude as a parting comment. He appeared elderly and frail and used a cane to help his balance, but he was traveling solo. This intrigued me as I rarely met elderly men traveling solo as compared to senior women. Further he was dressed carefully in checked flannel shirt, and well fitted corduroy pants and he wore those funky, expensive sports sandals favored by outdoorsy types which gave him a stylish and elegant air that I decided to be charming and draw him out. I found out he was a retired Professor of Mathematics from the University of Kentucky, a Stephen Hawking type it seemed. He was on his way to see his friend outside of Seattle, and he travels the Empire Builder at least six times a year from Chicago to see him. I thought this must be an important relationship to warrant this frequent visit and he must be gay. I was careful to not pry, unless he volunteered, but he didn’t and we had to end our conversation when the hostess announced the closing of the dining room. Well, it was affirming for me to find out I could still turn on the charm and draw men to be charming and gallant too towards me. You know, the confucian philosophy, do unto others, what you would have done to you, worked well here.

Another night on the train was uneventful except without WiFi there should have been the option of watching movies in the lounge/observation car, but time passed unobserved while reading and plugged to music in my iPhone. Early morning brought the colorful fall landscape as the Empire Builder hurled towards Glacier National Park. My new publisher friend Stephen, got off here. He will rent a car and explore the park and sketch the scenery using his colored permanent ink pens. Next time I travel I will pack pastel colors and canvass and draw too.

After breakfast I wanted to sit in the observation lounge but I found out it was no longer with us. We were uncoupled sometime ago and as the train headed to Seattle the snow-capped Cascades and the Olympic range came into view, and skirting Puget Sound we arrived at King Street Station.

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Looking for America

Looking for America: METTY’s Grand Tour On the Rails with AMTRAK,
September-October, 2018

Trains have fascinated me since I was a child in the Philippines, growing up in the barrio of Pasacao, in Bicol, south of Manila. The thrill of that first trip when I was six years old, I will never forget. Mama was taking us to see the circus, and that was surely another thrill, but paled in comparison to the excitement of getting on the train for the first time. We were restlessly waiting for it to arrive at the station in Sipocot, craning our necks to be the first to view it as it emerged from the tunnel of distant trees and became visible from the platform. Suddenly, it appeared and we shrieked, “Mama, it’s here, it’s here!” and in awe, stood motionless and speechless and watched with mouths agape, the behemoth iron caterpillar approach belching smoke and roaring thunder and shaking the earth where we stood. We were jolted to action as it hissed steam and insistently clanged its big brass bells and squealing heavily on the iron rails, came to a stop and its doors opened to admit us into its belly. We ran and elbowed our way to get to the few vacant seats remaining in third class coach. We were among sacks of palay (unhusked rice) and crates of produce and chickens on their way to tiangge (market). It was a long trip, overnight or entire day, and many passengers brought their baon (brown bag) to save on food. But Mama wanted to treat us to the ultimate experience, buying food from vendors at the train stops. We precariously balanced our bodies out the window to signal purchase of the special delicacies, sweets which were rarely allowed us like suman, sapin sapin, maruya, turon, and pili marzipan. At its final station at Tutuban we got off wide eyed and unbelieving, pinched ourselves to be sure we were in Manila and on to another awesome adventure, the circus!

Since then, I had associated trains with unforgettable adventures and travel. I had been on trains all over the world from crowded third world hit or miss turn-of-the-century remnants of colonial infrastructure in Egypt, India, Myanmar and Mexico to the sleek modern in the Middle East and China and the extensive rail system connecting Europe and the Eurostar to London to the sleek, fast-as-a-speeding bullet Shinkansen, and the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing. Inspired by the latter’s cross-continental route I thought going cross-country in the USA on AMTRAK would be just as thrilling.

Before Johnny passed we had made plans to go on the road across the USA on a Winnebago, but since that was not meant to be, this would be a doable trip for me traveling solo. I had planned this for my 75th birthday and to coincide with my Class ‘67 Golden Jubilee last year, but scheduling it then was not possible. But I had to go and now is time. In preparation, I stumbled on John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley and Michael Crichton’s Travels, which inspired me to give my wanderings focus.

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Cape Charles Happening

Cape Charles Happening; Searching for Metty

CHARACTERS
Metty- the desaparecida
Sharon- a friend
Minda- sister
Loretta- sister-in-law
Ginger-mahjong player
Debra-Yoga Instructor
Howard- Loretta’s builder contractor
Various Cape Charles Coffee House Staff
P- AirBnB Guest

July 25, 2018 in the historic town of Cape Charles on the Virginia Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake

After a gentle rain in the night, Metty awoke to what she thought would be an inauspicious day and greeted a bright, cloudless morning. She was unhurried as she went about her schedule, early morning yoga on Strawberry Street which Debra led with a challenging practice after the relaxed session of the previous day. Metty could only do a very approximate version of the final pose of the day, Astavakrasana? but that was OK, after all yoga is very personal, and not a competitive or an ego boosting activity. And so refreshed, and with a positive attitude she drove the short distance to Tazewell Ave, to her home she christened Ybalon, the ancient precolonial name of Bicol, her home province in the Philippines, which she built with her sister Minda as their retirement and long-term care home. It has universal access features, an elevator, and a fully furnished 2-BR apartment on the third floor which has a separate stair access from their personal space on the first and second level. Intended for visiting family and friends, and later for the accommodation of their caregivers, the sisters decided to offer it through AirBnB to tourists when not reserved for their guests. Metty then went about her day, lunch at noon at Cape Charles Coffee House with the Wednesday Ladies Mahjong then upstairs of the historic former Department Store to play for the rest of the afternoon.
Unbeknownst to Metty, P___e, an AirBnB guest, had been trying to get hold of her since 1:20 pm to check in. She was already very frustrated and finally reached Minda who was at work in Washington DC. Minda was able to get the guest into the apartment by the elevator but was worried if something happened to Metty. Then the feverish search for Metty commenced between Loretta and Minda trying to get hold of someone who could contact Metty who uncharacteristically was not answering phone calls, texts, or emails. They thought Metty’s friend Sharon might know, however they had no contact information for her, but they knew she worked at Lemon Tree, and Googling the Art Gallery’s number the people there released her phone number, as they knew both women and given the immediacy of the situation. Sharon thought Metty would be at mahjong but she didn’t know right away who could be playing but finally she found a number for Ginger and rang her. Imagine Metty’s surprise when Ginger answered then, “Metty, it’s Sharon for you.” Metty was all flustered of course because she completely forgot and this was the second time this happened, forgetting guest check-ins. Last week didn’t cause any problem because the guests were creative. Not finding anyone home when they arrived they just left a message saying they proceeded directly to the beach and will check in later. You see, Metty was very new to this hosting business and while weekend arrivals went without a hitch, this midweek bookings was out of Metty’s routine and Wednesday was Mahjong day and Metty’s phone was silenced during the game. It was 2:49 pm when Sharon’s call came through. As Metty hurriedly went downstairs to leave via the restaurant, the owner and waitresses frantically told her Sharon was trying to.get hold of her. On the way home Metty called Minda who was having a heart attack thinking the worst had happened to her sister. Finding the guests were already in the apartment Metty apologized. They were understandably aloof and formal but accepted her apology. At 3:05 pm there was an insistent ringing of the back doorbell and pounding on the door. It was Metty’s Yoga instructor who was worried about her well-being, who said she had just read the text from Loretta which was sent an hour ago. As soon as she left, another insistent ringing of the doorbell and it was Howard, Loretta’s contractor who built their house at Marina Village. The back and forth texts between Minda and Loretta searching for Metty, was a record of the gripping drama as it evolved. Metty could not believe the response, how everyone dropped what they were doing without hesitation, and it warmed her heart to be surrounded by people who cared, Cape Charles truly is a village in the old tradition of community.
Before the sun sank into the Chesapeake Metty sent a vase of sunflowers to her guests upstairs, to hold the brightness of the day further into the night. P___e responded this time with warmth and a beautiful smile. Cape Charles rocks! But know this too, no one can hide in Cape Charles.

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The “Been Heres” and the “Come Heres”

Who Are The Bumiputras Of The Eastern Shore? The “Been Heres” and the “Come Heres”
by Metty Pellicer

Having just returned from visiting Malaysia, Indonesia, and Borneo, where the inhabitants are classified according to nativity, culture, language and religion, I immediately saw a parallel, in the way I was asked by new friends who were attending the Palace Theater’s engaging production of Arsenic and Old Lace, “Where are you from? Why did you choose to come here?”

In the course of this getting-to-know-you conversation, I learned about the Been Heres and the Come Heres , an intriguing classification that calls for understanding.

And so just like any curious arm-chair scholar, I went to Google for further information. I found very little on the subject involving Cape Charles. An article in the Cape Charles Wave by George Southern titled Shore Thing, described the distrust and arms length treatment of outsiders by those whose families had been in the Shore since Jamestown. An article by Mary Strock, referred mostly to the unbridled welcoming of corporate big money development Come Heres by County leaders vs. the non-recognition of the contributions of individual Come Heres, who buy property, pay taxes, support local business, and inject vitality to town life by introducing a new life style. But the illuminating information came from the heated discussion of the article in the comments section, by readers who touched on similar themes as the Bumiputras.

A Bumiputra, (son of the earth) in Malaysia, Indonesia and Borneo, are inhabitants who are born in these countries, whose parents were Indigenous, or who were Malays. To be a Malay, a legal definition, one must have ancestors who are ethnic Malays, descendants of Astronesians who predominantly inhabited these countries in ancient times, who traces genetic origins with Taiwan indigenous people and Negritos, who must speak the Malay language, adopt the Malay culture, and must be Muslim. The Bumiputras enjoy a privileged legal treatment under the Constitution. Everyone else, such as the Chinese, and Asian Indians, who had ancestors in the country brought in by the colonial rulers to labor in the tin mines and rubber plantations, are not accorded this legal privilege and must fight politically to be classified Bumiputra. The Been Heres are the Bumiputras of the US, based on nativity, race, language, culture, and religion. The Indigenous American Indians, are not Bumiputras, in the way they would be in Southeast Asia, and the Blacks and Chinese, whose ancestors were brought in by the Been Heres to work the plantations, and lay down the country’s infrastructure, also have to fight politically to gain legal privilege. And although legally equal they continue to be discriminated by the Been Heres in overt and subtle ways.

The erudite analysis I found, in the literature of city and town planners on gentrification, and in the research papers on identities and ideologies along the rural and urban interface. Distilling these sources became an exciting journey for me in understanding not only the Been Heres and Come Heres of Northampton County but also the current political and racial climate of the United States and the phenomenon of President Donald Trump.

Chuck Brodsky, an American singer-songwriter, captured the difference and conflict in a most relatable way in his song The Come Heres and the Been Heres. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_XpA8z1XPk

Well, the Come Heres and the Been Heres
They don’t get along
I’ve been here fifteen minutes
I knew something was wrong
The waitress was not friendly
Neither was the cook
To ask how far it was
To the town of Stonybrook

The Come Heres live in cabins, the Been Heres live in Shacks
They say hello in passing
And talk behind each other’s backs
White collars vs red necks
Horses vs mules
City kids they come here and make the teachers look like fools

Come Heres come with Laptops, Nintendo, VCR’s
Some have their telephones, beside their foreign cars
They wanna make no smoking zones in all the public spaces
They want to pass ordinances outlawing turkey races

Well, the ancestors of Been Heres
They came here early on
When there were just the Indians, and once they’re gone
They claim themselves the New World
There’s lots to go around
Claimed bunch of properties
And built this little town

Now the Come Heres nearly have the votes to make their own mayor
In the last election they won half the council chairs
They took over the school board
They outlawed morning prayers, teach evolution, sex education, there

Been Heres do their drinking in their own saloons
In the Come Heres’ Microbrewery there’s a separate dining room
Been Heres shop Kmart and at Walmart, where they mix
They think of one another as Cavaliers? and Hicks

The Come Heres have the pussy cats and their little white French poodles
Been Heres have their hound dogs with names like Yankee Doodle
Comes Heres like to watch the ducks and some like to feed them
Been Heres like to shoot them and take them home and eat them

The Come Heres keep on coming
New ones everyday
They come for second chances
The new world as they say
They buy and sell these properties
For unheard of amounts
Come Heres keep on coming they’ll map this little town
The Come Heres and the Been Heres
To towns that overlap
You would not even see it
By just looking at the map
And alls there
At Christmas time when the tree is just the tree
And you could not tell whose kids were whose
Sitting there on Santa’s knee

The Come Heres and the Been Heres
There’s talk about a fence
The whole town is divided half for and half against

The song is clever and entertaining, but it emphasizes the stereotype of the group, which maintains prejudice. But the Been Heres and the Come Heres I’ve met, are nothing but the friendliest, welcoming, and helpful people you could know, who are involved in their communities and are active in preserving this piece of paradise for the future generations to enjoy.

Doing away with prejudice by getting to know each other as individuals and fellow human beings is our hope for getting along in harmony. In Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo, the city is divided, the North has a Bumiputra Mayor, and the South, a Chinese. In building the Border Wall, we go in the same way of division, a giant step backwards.

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Malaysia, Indonesia , Brunei

The Philippines and Its Muslim Neighbors
December 24, 2017-January 9,2018
Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Kuching, Penang, Brunei, Langkawi, Yogyakarta, Borobudur, Bali, Ubud, Sanur

When I did a grand tour of Mainland Southeast Asia in 2012, visiting Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, predominantly Buddhist countries, I purposely left out these Island Muslim countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, for another time. In December the opportunity presented itself. My UPCM Class 1967 would be celebrating its Golden Jubilee, and I would be in Manila for a grand Alumni Homecoming, and reunion with my classmates.

I almost did not make this trip. Having missed the class reunion at Malarayat already due to my nephew’s wedding on the same date and later, the dedication ceremony and the Manila bay cruise, due to the international date line adding a day to travel, I was anxious to at least make the parade, but alas, I overslept from travel fatigue. I had rerouted my flight from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport to Birmingham, AL, due to closure of Atlanta after a total power failure lasting eleven hours and cancellation of over 2000 flights. I was en-route to the airport when the news broke out, and I quickly decided to rebook my flight to the nearest airport, which is Birmingham, 2 hours west of Atlanta. However in order to arrive on the 19th, my itinerary had to be rerouted to Chicago, Beijing, Manila, which is total 18 hours airtime, and with departure the next day at 7:26 am, which means I will have to leave Atlanta no later than 3 am. I had moved to Virginia, and had sold my Atlanta condo, so either I proceed to Birmingham that evening, book an airport hotel or stay with a friend and leave at 3 am. Either way I had to get me to Birmingham. One way car rental was out of the question, off airport car rentals were closed, and airport rentals were shut down. Construction crew accidentally hit a major power station line, and it created a fire which prevented rescue access, which resulted in overheating the second power station, and other redundant power back ups. It was pandemonium at the airport. Elevators and doors were inoperable, the whole place was completely dark. People were using their cell phones to find their way. Police were all over, rerouting incoming cars and those already in were trapped. My decision was propitious, because if I had proceeded to the airport I would not have been able to book my flight before everyone else, because wifi and cellular signals were also down at Hartsfield. So how to get to Birmingham. Everyone would be working, no way I could ask someone to forfeit a day to drive me. So I scheduled a pick up with Uber. Had a brief panic when the bitch who took the scheduled ride refused when she realized the ride would take her 4-hours round trip. But the strong pull of making it to the reunion brought me the next driver, who was articulate, well-informed, and with humor, had me engaged in the most fascinating conversation I’ve had in a long time. I made it to Birmingham with time to spare, but this prelude and the long flight took its toll, and so I overslept and missed the parade because nobody read my email about waking me up. Lynn did later and sent Rhoti with the van to pick me up, but no one woke me up. Why did I not ask the hotel concierge or set my alarm? At 3 am when I checked into Manila Hotel, I was tired and hungry, and all I could do was to drop dead in bed.

Anyway, I made the gala, and had a great time with my classmates, even if briefly, because, I had to leave for my trip to Muslandia on Christmas eve.

These Muslim Island countries , Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, are the Philippines’ neighbors, and frankly I knew very little about them. I became interested in exploring these places in depth after viewing the Ayala Museum’s fabulous collection of precolonial gold artifacts and pottery and studying its sixty handcrafted dioramas that chronicle Philippine history.

I had been aware of similarities, between us, such as our physical appearance, and language. Indeed we shared genetic material with Taiwan aborigines and absorbed the culture of the Austronesian speaking people from maritime southeast Asia, Oceania, Easter Island, Sri Lanka, and all the way to Madagascar and East Africa. Our ancestors have sailed between these oceans and knew how to navigate the seas, by the stars, long before Europeans learned about and coveted the spices that grew from these Islands. By way of the Silk Road, traders from the Middle East, India, and China, exerted their influence. It was exciting for me to discover on this trip all the interlocking events in ancient history that help understand our differences and similarities.

KUALA LUMPUR
I arrived in the evening with brief downpour on the drive from the airport to the hotel. I had a slight headache and was coming down with a cold, not the best way to start my tour, however Kuala Lumpur is impressive. The airport is huge, ultra-modern and efficient. There’s an express rail to the city , but a driver from the travel agency met me for the forty-five minute drive. The eight-lane highway is lined with palms and high rise residential towers, and four toll booths later we slowed down to exit to the city center traffic and the twin Petronas towers shimmered in the night, and nearby, a still taller skyscraper was rising to house Four Seasons Hotel, offices, residences and yet another mall. Ordered room service and slept and felt better the next morning, though not 100%. And I had to remember that the driving is on the wrong side here, after the British

The British colonial regime is visible in the splendid buildings at Merdeka Square, and the multicultural influence in the British-built Masjid Jamek Sultan Abdul Jamad Mosque, at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers where Kuala Lumpur (muddy confluence) derived its name. The Royal Palace at Jin Duta is impressive, with gold dome and gates and guards like in London’s Buckingham Palace, and visited by Muslim tourists in whose hijab attire, I could tell from which countries they came from. The Middle East Muslim women wore black loose robes, and a shayla or khimar, scarves that leave the face uncovered, and those from Saudi Arabia or Iran, fully covered in niqab, or the intimidating burka with just slits or mesh for eyes. Indonesians wore flowered long sleeved tunic over pants or long dresses with colored matching hijabs. The Hindus wore jewel-colored saris with bare midriffs. Western tourists went around in jeans or shorts and sundresses, and donned a chador (cloak) when visiting the Mosques. Buddhists are unidentifiable based of what they wore.

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Christmas day. In hotels and shopping malls, there is commercial celebration with holiday sales to promote gifting, and decorated with Christmas tree and lights, Santa Claus, artificial snow and Christmas music, without Jesus. At St. John Cathedral in Bukit Nanas, which is kept alive by Filipino overseas workers, I was told, I stopped by for mass. A long line of refugees from Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka was forming for dinner. In the evening, I had a drink at the Skybar, at the Trader’s Hotel, where there is a pool, funky music, a dance floor, a full view of the twin Petronas Towers, and a 360 degree panorama of the Kuala Lumpur Skyline, a modern megapolis of 7.25 M and 1.76 M in its city center.

My driver picked me up early the next day for the two-hour drive to Malacca.

MALACCA
I had an image of Malacca in my mind based on its pre-colonial history of Sultans and traders and pirates, so where was the sea? I had visited the UNESCO heritage city center, the Portuguese enclave all festooned with holiday lights and plastic fir swags with illuminated plastic Santas driving reindeers on the low rooftops of bungalows, and a not yet fully installed not as big replica image of Rio’s Cristo Redentor with its outstretched arms filling the square, still littered with the remains of yesterday’s Christmas festivities. I had admired the restored Malacca Square encased by its Big Ben replica, Queen Victoria’s fountain, the Christ Church, and the Love sculpture where there was a long line for picture-taking, where nearby I strolled to the river bank and watched boats cruise by carrying tourists shooting with phone cameras at us bystanders. I walked the crowded shopping streets of Jonkers and Harmony Street where a Buddhist Monastery, a Hindu Shrine and a Mosque stood side by side and whose devotees could worship freely. I admired colorful saris displayed in Little India and browsed trinkets and amulets in Chinatown. I slowly drifted from the city center and stumbled on the Dutch Graveyard and by this time I had lost my bearings but carried on exploring anyway. I found St Francis Statue and the church and the Sacred Heart Canossian Convent and its school. It was midday and hot and the heat was beginning to get to me. I wanted to return to the meeting point with my driver at Malacca Square, but after three the-helpful locals gave me directions but did not get me to where I wanted, I found myself at the remains of the old fort, A Famosa where the Portuguese immediately built a fortress to secure their victory at Malacca after defeating the Sultan. The English destroyed the fort when they took over after the Dutch who threw out the Portuguese, because the fort was so formidable that if it fell to another power it would be difficult for the English to retake it. The only part that survived was the gate, porta do Santiago. There were so many interesting things to see and learn around this including going up the hill where more historical markers were noted but I decided to forego the climb as it was hot and I was much too late for my rendezvous with my driver and our meeting place was some distance from where I was. I didn’t feel like walking anymore and I could hire one of those colorful pedal pushers but I didn’t have any money on me. I only had my smart phone for the camera in it. I hired the kid anyway hoping that my driver would be at the meeting point waiting still after several hours past our agreed time. Of course he wasn’t there, but thankfully I was able to reach him and my pedal taxi got paid and happy with a tip.
But where was the sea?

I was looking for a waterfront with restaurants and shops and ships docked at port. So showered and rested I ventured out again with plans to watch the Sunset and have dinner by the water. First I had the idea that the multicolored row houses I glimpsed briefly while driving back to the hotel was in this direction. Twenty minutes later when I estimated I should be coming up to it, it did not appear, but I saw a sign to Harbor City, so I abandoned following the crayola houses and headed for the harbor. The way was very new and the bridge spanning a body of water was operational but not completed yet. There were few cars and occasional pedestrians along the way. It was dark by this time and so I missed my sunset cocktail already, but there was dinner to look forward to. Over the roof of high rises and behind them I glimpsed lighted cranes that looked like those in ports that load container ships so I followed that direction. I still was looking for the harbor and the sea, but what I arrived at was construction area with deafening machine noise of the building cranes on high rise construction above and nobody was around. I was curious so I explored anyway and saw a lighted storefront at the end of one street with some people milling about. I approached planning to call for a taxi and to ask how and to know where I was. After asking a couple of the men one finally was brave enough to try to speak English, who told me that no taxis came there. I decided to call my driver, who fortunately was staying overnight to take me very early to the airport the next day. I let him talk to the guy for directions, and he came to get me. So forget my dinner by the water, but where was the harbor? He drove me to a tiny dark dock where the traditional boat ferries took passengers to the islands. Malacca’s glory is past, it’s port have been exchanged for Penang and Klang and Singapore is inching to dominate. So the huge development I stumbled upon will take on upstart Singapore and will be huge and cost billions with China partnership and controversial. The Melaka Gateway will be built on three artificial islands and on one natural Island, Pulau and will have a deep sea port, cruise ship terminal, a shopping complex with aquarium walkways, entertainment, restaurants, hotels, residences, theme park, iconic architecture, boardwalk, bridges, the works, the project will take years to complete with first phase to open in 2019. Coordinating projects will be high speed rail to Singapore, and airport improvements, etc. The doubters believe China has military designs in deepening the ports and in the transportation linkages. So I was exhilarated by uncovering this information by my misadventure. Me, got lost? Nah!

We ate at one of the restaurants near the hotel and we had crab in black pepper sauce, pandan chicken and kangkong in garlic and shrimp paste.

My driver picked me up very early again, to drive to KLIA, for my flight to Kuching, in Sarawak, Borneo’

KUCHING, SARAWAK, BORNEO
Borneo, my neighbor to the South of the Philippines, is so close we could get to it from the Sulu archipelago in a banca. I knew very little about it, except that in precolonial days, Southern Philippines, which is predominantly Muslim, was then part of the Sultanate of Brunei. and had resisted Christianization, Americanization, and Filipinization, and today, is still trying to secede from the Philippines. If the Portuguese who were in Malacca in 1511, and who must have known about the Philippines, took an interest, our history would have taken a very different course. Magellan, who was Portuguese and denied funding by Portugal, sought patronage from the Spanish crown to fund an expedition to the Spice Islands. He failed to reach the Spice Islands but stumbled on the Southern Philippine Islands of Samar and Homonhon, Leyte, then Cebu in 1521 and claimed the archipelago for Spain. He was killed by Lapu-Lapu in Mactan and failed to establish settlements. Phillip II, for whom the Philippines was named, subsequently sent colonizing expeditions, through the viceroyalty of New Spain,Mexico. Legaspi was the most successful in establishing settlements and also discovered the return route to Mexico via the Pacific which brought forth the Acapulco-Manila Gallon trade from 1565-1815. Spanish soldiers and adventurers from Mexico, Peru, the Spanish Caribbean, settled in the archipelago, subsequently subjugating Manila, a puppet state of Brunei. The Philippines was ruled from Mexico until its independence in 1821, after which rule came directly from Spain, until the Spanish-American War in 1898, where after the Treaty of Paris, the Philippines, together with Puerto Rico, Cuba, Samoa, Guam, Marianas, St. John and St Thomas in the Caribbean, was ceded by Spain to America for $20 M The colonial rulers of these Southeast Asian Island countries, and religion, shaped the culture and identity of the people. The Philippines at the time of Spanish colonization, was a part of Borneo, and ruled by disparate warring tribes and sultanates.Its religion was indigenous. It was not a nation, unlike its neighbors, who had been a nation under Muslim rule since the 14th century. Because of Spanish colonization from 1521-1898, the Philippines is Catholic, and because of American occupation from 1898-1946, it is westernized, which makes the Philippines an alien in Southeast Asia, among its Buddhist and Muslim neighbors and an alien in America and Europe, because of its Malay culture and physical features.

Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, in Malaysian Borneo, is fascinating. Borneo is three countries, The Kingdom State of Brunei, in the middle of Malaysian Borneo, and Indonesian Borneo, which is 73% of the Island, with its capital in Kalimantan. Malaysia as a whole has a history that is complex, and has racial relations that is multilayered. Singapore and Brunei separated from the Federation of Malaysia, to become sovereign states, after independence from the British. In Kuching with a significant Chinese population, who are Christians or Buddhists, and who are successful business men, there is political tension with the Muslim sector, who are Malays. To manage this there are two city mayors, North Kuching has a Muslim Mayor and South Kuching, Chinese. Malays are the native population who are also Muslims. There is a discriminatory affirmative action program to benefit Malays that is a very sore point with the Chinese, who had been imported by the British together with the Indians, to provide labor in the tin mines and rubber plantations, during their two centuries of occupation. As I write this , I am also listening to the State of the Union address by Trump and the rebuttal by Joe Kennedy, Jr. There is a great deal of similarity in the policies adopted by Trump, with the colonial policy of the British in India and in Southeast Asia; exploitation of the natural resources for maximum yield, with little regard for the environment, resulting in short term profits concentrated in the powerful few, who engage in protectionist policies to maintain control, and drive the business, and limiting access to social benefits to the privileged group. It is a good policy if one is in the ruling class, but eventually, it is not sustainable and leads to poverty in the lower classes.

Anyway, I digress, so back to Borneo. Did you know that Sarawak, was ruled by a British White Rajah, who established the Brooke Family Dynasty from 1841-1946? An extraordinary story that is waiting for Hollywood to discover.

Kuching, the Cat City, lying on the banks of Sarawak River, and with a waterfront promenade lined with food stalls, gardens and art, it charms for a stroll and to watch the sky burst into oranges and reds at sunset. Home to the orangutan, I was lucky to see one emerge from the wilds, responding to a feeding call from the ranger. It swung and preened, then took the banana, and nonchalantly peed on a tourist who failed to heed the caution not to be caught beneath it.

PENANG
In Penang, I had a very chatty Chinese guide who gave me an education about Baba Nyonyas, clans, jettys, peranakans, Malays and Bumiputras. Penang, was one of the British Straits Settlements and together with Molucca, and Singapore. controlled shipping and trade in the region for two centuries. It is a melting pot of cultures and religion and completely tolerant. Myanmar and Thailand Buddhist coexist with Taoists and Hindu temples, and with Mosques and Churches. Georgetown, the colonial center, is very cosmopolitan, and is a Unesco Heritage site, and the infrastructure with the port and bridge connections to the mainland, is impressive. Bridge #2 rivals the CBBT (Chesapeke Bay Bridge Tunnel) at 15 miles long. Its high end coastline at Batu Feringgi is dotted with luxury resorts and spas.

BRUNEI
I’ve heard first about Brunei while visiting California, at a Filipino party. They were discussing the scandal about a prince who would invite beauty pageant candidates, regale them with luxurious surroundings and gifts but kept them confined in the palace like prisoners and were expected to participate in sexual acts. Since then, I’ve learned too that the Sultan was an absolute ruler and that he was very petroleum oil rich. Many Filipinos worked there, in the early years of development, so I had to fly from Penang to Brunei to see for myself what this kingdom looked like. Well, the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, has opulent monuments to showcase the wealth of the kingdom, very glitzy, very much like Abu Dhabi and Dubai. But the King is benevolent, if one qualifies, i.e., must be a native and Muslim. The country is very conservative , and the King presides in the observance of Muslim tenets, and the people are happy. They cannot criticize the King but are well taken care of, with jobs, free education up to the university level, and free health care. I was there on New Year’s Eve, and had dinner at the plush Empire Hotel and Country Club, but I could not order wine to go with the superb continental cuisine. The rest of the evening was quiet, no fireworks or partying to count the year down, no champagne or Auld Lang Syne. I missed Johnny terribly.

LANGKAWI
I only needed a day to explore, Brunei, so on Air Asia again to Langkawi, a resort Island off mainland Malaysia, in the north near the Thai border, one of many Islands in the Andaman Sea.
I checked into one of these resorts with individual chalets on stilts over water. I listened to the gentle waves underneath as I fell asleep, and woke to the sun rising slowly behind the mountains and illuminating the sea in silvery glow, before revealing the tranquil scene of water, around uninhabited islands, and the crescent beach. I’ve been crisscrossing on Air Asia for a week now, with lengthy layovers at KLIA, so this is the perfect respite for me to take it easy. Enjoyed a transporting oriental massage at a spa up the hill with a panoramic ocean view, had lunch at the opulent St Regis Resort, hired a taxi for four hours to drive me around the Island and check on the beaches, and at night, dinner at Phan Thai restaurant, with wine, Yes!

YOGYAKARTA/BOROBUDUR
Now off to the Island of Java, Indonesia. Indonesia is huge and its territory far flung. It is the largest archipelago with 18,000 Islands, and the 4th most populous in the world with 265 M people, and is the largest Muslim country. Its main populated islands are Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, New Guinea Timor, Maluku, Kalimantan (Borneo). It is the home of the Orangutan, the giant stinking flower, Rafflesia, and the Komodo dragon.

I chose to visit the ancient city of Yogyakarta, not too far from the bustle and traffic and chaos of Jakarta, which I am skipping. Here is where I got to taste the Indonesia of regular folks, visiting a farm village on a dokar (horse-drawn buggy), and meeting small farmers raising subsistence crops. I stopped by a group of women resting for lunch, at a peanut harvest. They were so welcoming and chatty, they couldn’t believe I was traveling solo, and had so many things to talk about it was difficult to tear myself away. My guide, a young woman who laments that she’s in her 30’s and has no prospect for marriage yet, is hoping that being a tour guide would give her other options. Tourism revenue helps the farmers of the village raise some cash. The country side reminds me of the Philippines.

I checked into a boutique hotel near the Unesco World Heritage site of Borobudur, as the itinerary calls for a sunrise visit to this 9th Century Buddhist temple, the largest in the world. Arriving at my hotel in a light drizzle, I entered a magical place illuminated with the soft glow of candle light, where the reception lobby is an open lanai, with flowers floating on shallow bowls, Buddha icons, and incense. There was a strange fruit to accompany my welcome pandan refreshment; acorn-shaped, sized like kiwi, with woody bronze snake-like skin that you peel, to get the not-too-sweet, chewy to cucumber crispy pulp delicacy, that has a lychee hint to its taste. The pulp covers a big seed, and there may be a couple in a fruit. It is called Salak, or snake fruit, so apropos. My village guide showed me the plant, a prickly palm, and the fruit grows in clusters at the base. My room is a casita with an enclosed patio and courtyard garden, and reached by a meandering stone path across a garden of statues, water fountains, and flowers blooming on vines or niches or lining the path. The drizzle continued, but the air was warm, and the dinner prepared by the in-house chef was divine and presented just as artfully as the garden. The chef does the daily fresh floating flower bowl arrangement.

My guide apologized for the rain ruining the sunrise viewing of Borobudur, but the drizzle against the cloud-filtered light silhouetted the stupas in a mesmerizing haze, and the muffled chants of Imams from distant mosques brought real spirituality to the scene. Borobudur is a Buddhist pilgrimage site. Two other temples in the Borobudur complex at Pawon and Mendut, and the Hindu temple complex at Prambanan, filled me with awe all day.
I have seen with my own eyes these wonders of the ancients, at Angkor Wat, Bagan, and Borobudur, and nothing modern compares in majesty and ingenuity.

BALI/UBUD/SANUR
Arriving at Ngura Rai International Airport at Denpasar, Bali, I read the sign, Welcome, to Bali, The last paradise on earth. Hmm, I muse.The sign is flanked by two grotesque toothless figures draped in black and white checkered cloth. I am told by my guide that this is called sapot poleng, and is symbolic of the quest for harmony or balance of opposing forces, good and evil, happy and sad, light and dark, hot and cold, love and hate, etc, the yin and yang. Bali is predominantly Hindu, compared to the rest of Muslim Indonesia. Daily life is permeated by rituals, the daily offering to the gods is visible everywhere. Putting together the offerings is a chore assigned to a family member, and is taken seriously. Prepared offerings is a cottage industry, together with the growing of marigold flowers that is a mainstay in the packet. These offerings arranged in pretty baskets or plates can be found anywhere, in front of statues, at doorsteps, store window, lining paths, in cars, in restaurants, spas, on the road, by the water faucet, etc. I am reminded of my trip to India, where these offerings are also ubiquitous. As well, monkeys are everywhere, draped over stone fences, crossing the road, climbing on trees, they are adorable and playful, but can quickly turn to nasty, or thieves.The cow is sacred, but they eat pork and lamb, and there is no prohibition of alcohol. At breakfast, I had bacon and ham, and wine with dinner. I’m in heaven again. Is this paradise yet?
Bali is so commercialized in the capital, at Denpasar, and the famous Kuta beach is noisy with the vroom of scooters and car traffic and crowded with young people intent on partying. Shopping malls abound. I stayed away from here and booked a resort in the hills, at Ubud. Resorts are garden like, with spectacular views of the rice paddies, and farmland, and distant mountains. My guide Suwin was so accommodating with my wishes. I learned that Barack and Michelle visited recently to Pura Mengening, the 11th century sacred water temple at Tampaksiring. I visited just after the rains, and the river was swollen and cascading down in big waterfalls, the ruins of the temple embedded in the tropical jungle, and the Hindu gods, and other icons carved impressively on rocks that serve as water spouts for the baths. And then he took me to Ketut Liyer’s compound, the medicine man, and palm reader, who was Gilbert’s (Eat, Pray, Love) Balinese spiritual mentor. The healer has died at age 100 years in 2016, and his son has taken over, and it looks like he has transformed the enterprise profitably. A guest house is rising next door, and the compound is strewn with photos of Julia Roberts, and Gilbert’s book is displayed in the one-room cottage where the author stayed. Julia stayed at the Four Season’s while filming, so I followed her trail there, and had a very expensive dinner on my last night in Ubud. I also asked to be taken to a Luwak coffee plantation (the $150/kilo civet coffee, which became a sought after item here after the film, Bucket List), then to a Batik atelier, where I gifted myself with a luxurious silk scarf/sarong. I also bought two acrylics by an upcoming painter, then finished my shopping with a silver cuff bracelet encrusted with a huge rose quartz.
Then feeling triumphant with my purchases I had lunch at a fabulous location where one could see in the distance the volcano that recently erupted near Bali.
Before coming down the mountain to the beach in Sanur the next day, I had a leisurely morning, immersing myself in the village, where I visited a family and learned how to weave coconut fronds to make baskets for the daily offerings, then walked under the hot sun in the paddy fields, and watched a farmer knee-deep in the mud behind a plow and cow, then helped harvest flowers for the offering market, and observed how the village processed rice, from preparing the field to husking the grain, familiar scenario from the Philippines. I was taken to the family garden where vegetables are grown for family use, and had a boy climb a coconut tree to fetch young coconut for a refreshing drink. I had a home-cooked lunch with music played from a bamboo xylophone. On the way to Sanur we viewed the 2000-years-old Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, a Unesco World Heritage Site, which did not impress me much since the Batad Ifugao Rice Terraces, a similar Unesco Heritage site in the Mountain Province of the Philippines, has panoramic grandeur and majesty. But it impressed me that our rice culture is so similar, and village life, and the hospitality of the people are the same.

SANUR
I woke up at dawn to walk the beach and wishing to be the first to greet sunrise, in solitude.The resort is walled off from the nearby fishing village, but I could get access from the water, and it was low tide.
So how do I sum up this trip?
An eye opener, and a learning experience.

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Malacca

Malacca
12/26/2017

I wasn’t going to mention how I got lost again on this trip while wandering about without a destination but strictly speaking I didn’t get lost. How could I be lost without a reference to an intended place? Like I’ve always said, I do not get lost, rather I have an adventure, so this one goes like this.

I have an image of Malacca in my mind based on its pre-colonial history of Sultans and traders and pirates, so where is the sea? I have visited the UNESCO heritage city center, the Portuguese enclave all festooned with holiday lights and plastic fir swags with illuminated plastic Santas driving reindeers on the low rooftops of bungalows, and a not yet fully installed not as big replica image of Rio’s Cristo Redentor with its outstretched arms filling the square still littered with the remains of yesterday’s Christmas festivities. I have admired the restored Malacca Square encased by its Big Ben replica, Queen Victoria’s fountain, the Christ Church, and the Love sculpture where there was a long line for picture-taking, where nearby I strolled to the river bank and watched boats cruise by carrying tourists shooting with phone cameras at us bystanders. I walked the crowded shopping streets of Jonkers and Harmony Street where a Buddhist Monastery, a Hindu Shrine and a Mosque stand side by side and whose devotees could worship freely. I admired colorful saris displayed in Little India and browsed trinkets and amulets in Chinatown. I slowly drifted from the city center and stumbled on the Dutch Graveyard and by this time I have lost my bearings but carried on exploring anyway. I found St Francis Statue and the church and the Sacred Heart Canossian Convent and its school. It was midday and hot and the heat was beginning to get to me. I wanted to return to the meeting point with my driver at Malacca Square, but after three the-helpful locals gave me directions but did not get me to where I wanted, I found myself at the remains of the old fort, A Famosa where The Portuguese immediately built a fortress to secure their victory at Malacca after defeating the Sultan. The English destroyed the fort when they took over after the Dutch who threw out the Portuguese, because the fort was so formidable that if it fell to another power it would be difficult for the English to retake it. The only part that survived is the gate, porta do Santiago. There are so many interesting things to see and learn around this including going up the hill where more historical markers are noted but I decided to forego the climb as it was hot and I was much too late for my rendezvous with my driver and our meeting place was some distance from where I was. I didn’t feel like walking anymore and I could hire one of those colorful pedal pushers but I didn’t have any money on me, I only have my phone for the camera in it. I hired the kid anyway hoping that my driver would be at the meeting point waiting still after several hours past our agreed time. Of course he wasn’t there. thankfully I was able to reach him and my pedal taxi got paid and happy with a tip.
But where is the sea?
I was looking for a waterfront with restaurants and shops and ships docked at port. So showered and rested I ventured out again with plans to watch the Sunset and have dinner by the water. First I had idea that the multicolored row houses I glimpsed briefly while driving back to the hotel was in this direction. Twenty minutes later when I estimated I should be coming up to it, it did not appear, but I saw a sign to Harbor City, so I abandoned following the crayola houses and headed for the harbor. The way was very new and the bridge spanning a body of water was operational but not completed yet. There were few cars and occasional pedestrians along the way. It was dark by this time and so I missed my sunset cocktail already, but there’s dinner to look forward to. Over the roof of high rises and behind them I glimpsed lighted cranes that looked like those in ports that load container ships so I followed that direction. I still am looking for the harbor and the sea, but what I arrived at was construction area with deafening machine noise of the building cranes on high rise construction above and nobody was around. I was curious so I explored anyway and saw a lighted storefront at the end of one street with some people milling about. I approached planning to call for a taxi and to ask how and to know where I was. After approaching a couple of the men one finally was brave enough to try to speak English, who told me that no taxis come there. I decided to call my driver, who fortunately was staying overnight to take me very early to the airport the next day. I let him talk to the guy and he came to get me. So forget my dinner by the water, but where is the harbor? He drove me to a tiny dark dock where the traditional boat ferries take passengers to the islands. Malacca’s glory is past, it’s port had been exchanged for Penang and Klang and Singapore is inching to dominate. So the huge development I stumbled upon will take on upstart Singapore and will be huge and cost billions with China partnership and controversial. The Melaka Gateway will be built on three artificial islands and on one natural Island, Pulau and will have a deep sea port, cruise ship terminal, a shopping complex with aquarium walkways, entertainment, restaurants, hotels, residences, theme park, iconic architecture, boardwalk, bridges, the works, the project will take years to complete with first phase to open in 2019. Coordinating projects will be high speed rail to Singapore, and airport improvements, etc. The doubters believe China has military designs in deepening the ports and in the transportation linkages. So I was exhilarated by uncovering this information by my misadventure. Me, got lost? Nah!

We ate at one of the restaurants near the hotel and we had crab in black pepper sauce, pandan chicken and kangkong in garlic and shrimp paste.

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Coming to America

COMING TO AMERICA by Metty Pellicer
(On the Occasion of the 119th Celebration of Philippine Independence: June 12, 2017)

​Good evening. Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat. I am delighted to talk about an experience that we all share, and is very much debated today. A hot topic discussed in the halls of government and on the stage of public opinion, American Immigration.

​After graduation, 90% of my medical class of 125, were immediately leaving for the US. Bewitched by the American Dream, and lured by higher pay and better working conditions, we had enough of forty-eight hour days spent in toil without rewards. We had examined too many emaciated babies, and heard the rattle of countless deaths at the ICU. At the PGH, there were just too many patients, and not enough beds, not enough medicines, not enough laboratory and diagnostic tools, not enough funds for disease prevention, not enough of everything. We saw the end stages of failed government policies and corruption. We felt helpless. We were torn. But although many were leaving, everyone planned to return to save the health of the country. We wanted to serve humanity. I did not have the imagination to plan anything else, so the default plan was to stay. I had already secured a residency position in Psychiatry, at the Philippine General Hospital.

​I did not plan to be a doctor. It was my mother’s ambition for me to become one. And she wanted me to enroll at the University of the Philippines! Imagine!

​In high school I was an interna at the Colegio de Santa Isabel. It was heretic for a colegiala, especially an interna, to study at the University of the Philippines. I thought, had my mother gone crazy? Unlike my mother, I did not have the audacity to see myself as a doctor, especially one graduating from the UP. Her idea took my breath away! UP was considered too liberal, and dangerous to the reputation of young women. But it was also the premier national university. It had an international reputation for academic excellence. Only valedictorians needed apply. And since Mama thought that I could, I was daredevil enough to believe, that indeed I could.

​I found out that the study was too long and seeking admission was nerve-wracking. Out of over 800 applicants, only about 100 were admitted. In the last year of pre-Med, I had a crisis of confidence. I tried to persuade Mama to let me switch. I said I had enough credits to continue with BS Chemistry, and I could graduate in a year. But Mama would have none of it. She put her foot down, and there would be no argument. That was how I became a doctor.

​However, shortly after graduation, I had an epic quarrel with Mama, and impulsively, I decided to leave home. I came to America. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

​My grand rebellion was made possible by a shift in US immigration policy.

​The civil rights movement of the 60’s influenced the passage of The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (Celler-Hart Bill). It abolished the national origins quota and replaced it with the family reunification and skills preference system. Doctors, nurses, teachers and engineers were among the skills preferred for entry.

​Under the Exchange Visitor Program, I obtained a J-1 visa in two weeks. There were recruiters aplenty who were aggressive in pursuing professional candidates for a fee. I was not about to ask Mama for money, I was still too hurt and angry after our quarrel. I turned to my best friend’s wealthy father for financing. I borrowed my application fee, airfare, and spare change and promised to pay him in monthly installments for a year.

​After the flurry of activity of getting all the documents in order, I finally had a moment to reflect on the enormity of what I was about to do. I had never been on a plane before, I had never been out of the country and I had never traveled anywhere in the Philippines by myself, and here I was uprooting myself from all that was familiar. I was leaving my family, to go across the ocean to another land on the opposite end of the earth. I was afraid.

​And then it hit me, a profound sadness and sense of loss, and anxiety.

​Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago was the first to offer me an internship position. I had no idea where Chicago was. The only thing I knew about it was the news of mass murder of nurses in a Chicago hospital. A Filipina nurse survived the massacre, because she hid under a bed, I still remember her name, Corazon Amurao. I was scared and my resolve wavered. But
as John Wayne said, “Courage is when you are afraid, but you saddle anyway!”

​Fortunately I didn’t have to test my courage. Unbeknownst to me, my sisters, who worried for me, told Mama. At the airport my mother arrived to see me off and gave me her blessing, plus extra $200 for pocket money.

​Having received my mother’s forgiveness and blessing, I regained my confidence and spirit of adventure. And I saddled away with all my material possessions in one suitcase and $250 in my pocket. I embarked on the grandest adventure of my life.

​Let me remind you classic stories about what it was like in the beginning; Carrying that infamous big brown envelope with our chest X-ray, like it was a matter of life and death. And that announced to everyone that we were FOB’s (fresh off the boat). Each time I reenter the US from one of my travels, I smile at someone with this brown envelope. Cradled in the chest, as if protecting it from all perils, I remember what it was like, to go through US Customs for the first time.

​As new immigrants, our initial experiences were excruciating and humiliating, but we managed to find humor in it.

​Eating was not a simple act. What did we do with cereals for breakfast? We picked the dry morsels and ate it like peanuts. And then, we drank the milk. We thought we were cool to order to go. We couldn’t understand why we were asked over and over what we wanted to go. We ordered ham-boor-jeer, and we got a befuddled look. It was intimidating having to choose from so many unfamiliar condiments, when ordering a sandwich, or salad. Embarrassed and confused, we ended up with a tasteless meal. But in no time at all, hotdogs, and apple pie, and Thanksgiving turkey became staples on our table together with Lechon, relyenong bangus, and adobo.

And who could forget the wonder of our first snowfall?

​We have endless stories about the language and our accents. I was infamous on the tennis court for a word I’d shout after hitting a bad shot. But I said it like bedsheets, and everyone laughed. And listen to this, Vendi was asked to bring a basket from YONDER, and she couldn’t find where Yonder was. I couldn’t get a Black child to answer my question about his frequency of urination, until someone suggested I use the word “pee”. Many of my male classmates thought that they were Americanized, after learning the words, “fart”, “piss ”, where’s the “john”, “be there or be square” and the unprintable ones, which I will not mention, but we all know them. And yet many Americans were surprised that we could already speak English shortly after arrival, and asked how we learned it. Johnny, my late husband had a smart answer to this. He’d say, “I hung out with all the pretty flight stewardesses and talked with them all the way over.”

​It was hard to be different. We thought we knew, from consuming popular American movies, magazines, and music. But we had confusing encounters in every turn.

​In filling out application forms, I had to choose a race category. I was asked to check among White or Black, Asian, or Pacific Islander. The experience was profoundly existential. What am I? It threw me into an identity crisis. I did not feel I belonged to any of these categories. Filipinos look Asian, like Malaysian, Indonesian, Burmese, or Cambodians but we have nothing more in common with them. They are Buddhists or Muslims, and their culture and lifestyle is influenced by these eastern religions. We are Catholics, and similarly religion influenced, but we identify with the lifestyle and culture of the US and Western Europe, but we don’t look like them. And although our surnames are Spanish, we don’t speak Spanish, instead we speak 99 dialects and languages. We could not understand each other across the Filipino language spectrum. But we could in English. Though we share culture and religion and colonial experience with Mexico, South America, Cuba and the Spanish Caribbean, we do not share their common language. Neither did Pacific Islander fit. We look like them but they are Polynesians, and Hawaiians. We don’t dance the hula, but the tinikling. We’re not White, but not Black either and certainly not American Indian or Eskimo.

​When America got involved in the Cuban Revolution against Spain, it got involved in the Philippines who was also waging a similar war of independence. Fighting a common enemy, the Philippine Revolution joined forces with America. It facilitated the surrender of Manila and the rest of the Philippines to end the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo then proclaimed Philippine Independence from Spain on June 12, 1898, which we are celebrating its 119th year today. MABUHAY! But as we all know, the Philippine Revolution was betrayed. Our representative was shut out from the negotiations at the Treaty of Paris. For $20M, America’s spoils from the war were the Philippines, together with Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, Islands in the Caribbean-St. Thomas, St. John and in Oceania-the Marianas, Samoa, etc. The US granted Cuba its independence after a brief military occupation, but decided to retain the Philippines. Essentially one colonizer took over for another. Aguinaldo refused to recognize it, and the Philippines continued a guerrilla war with a new enemy. We were of course woefully overpowered and the Philippine-American War was concluded with Aguinaldo’s capture on March 23, 1901. President McKinley justified annexation as a fulfillment of America’s Manifest Destiny, “to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died,” never mind that we were already Catholics for 300 years!

​American colonization and shifting US immigration policies created havoc in our Nationality classification.

​We had been on this continent since the days of the Galleon trade between Acapulco and Manila from 1572-1815. Sailors on the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza had jumped ship on the California coast at Morro Bay and had been known to settle there since 1587. A continuous settlement had been in existence in Louisiana since 1764, the Manila men at St. Malo. Filipinos were nationals of Spain and governed through Mexico, New Spain, and in Louisiana we were under French governance.

​These changed after the American Revolution and we did not become American citizens automatically, we were stateless.

​After 1898, under US occupation, we were US Nationals with unrestricted immigration. This first wave of immigration brought the members of the Philippine elites as scholars of the government, the Pensionados, and the disadvantaged members of the class spectrum, as agricultural workers in Hawaii and California, and laborers in the salmon canneries of Alaska, the Manong generation.

​During the Commonwealth, from 1935-1945, we were Aliens, and restricted from immigration. However, at the outbreak of WWII, citizenship was granted to enlisted men in the Navy but their role was limited to stewards and service workers. Because of the base agreement, recruitment continued in the US Navy after Philippine Independence from the US was granted on July 4, 1945, until 1992.

​Post World War II, the War Brides Act brought the spouses of US servicemen.

​The Immigration Act of 1952 provided for family reunification, and an exchange visitor program for nurses. Mommy Pellicer participated in this program and trained in the US for two years.

​And this brings us to the Immigration Act of 1965.

​The Reagan era saw the passage of Immigration and Reform Act of 1986, which granted amnesty to undocumented aliens.

​American colonization and education did not make us Americans, even as we have wholeheartedly embraced American popular culture, in music, TV, the movies, fast food, and fashion
​As immigrants, adjusting to this country involved a rude awakening to racial prejudice. In the 60’s, a friend driving through NC was denied purchase of milk at a convenience store. Mixed marriage was not legal in GA. A friend who bought a house in a white suburb of Clayton County, had eggs thrown at his front door and a cross burnt at his front yard. I had patients who asked to switch to a white male doctor directly. I had experienced discrimination on two fronts, as a woman and as a colored individual.

​Filipinos of my generation is still influenced powerfully by colonial mentality. This is reflected in measuring our self worth and what is desirable in the paradigm of our powerful colonizers. In physical appearance we value European/ American features. Don’t we all check a newborn, and beam with bigger pride when its nose is high or its skin, fair? We like to show off our westernized lifestyle in our choice of entertainment, sports, in our homes, our clothes, in the kitchen, in the vacation holidays we took.

​In pursuit of the American Dream, we quickly assimilated the doctrine of consumerism, and credit. It was incredible and truly a culture shock, to realize that it was advantageous to have debt, in order to establish our financial stability and worth. In the Philippines, it was shameful to have debts, and only the very rich could afford to pay cash on a car. But, suffused with more cash than we ever had and with new found value in credit, we went on a buying spree. We strutted in our new Mustangs or GTO’s. I couldn’t drive yet, but I bought a silver Camaro, for $50 down payment, and the rest of $2000 cost on credit. The women stocked up on Louis Vuittons, and Chanels, and perfumes, Jean Patou’s Joy and 1000. It was heady and exhilarating. We got married and had children. We felt the enormous responsibility to provide security and the best opportunity for them. By this time we had acquired a mortgage, credit cards, and debt. Our resolve to go back to save the health of the Philippines wavered. The news from home under martial law, and the repression of the Marcos regime made a decision to return foolhardy.

​I completed my residency, I had a mortgage, a husband and a daughter and life was good. Then one day, my world ended. I got a deportation order! My J-1 visa had expired after completion of my residency training. Panic! Fortunately Johnny knew the ways and means. He had a friend who worked in the office of Clarence Long, the Congressman of our district in Baltimore. He sponsored a bill in Congress petitioning a permanent resident visa for me, the precious green card. That provided a pathway to citizenship, and in 1980, I was sworn in as a naturalized citizen of the USA.

​My sister’s pathway to citizenship was by marriage, which provided a faster route. Because of the family reunification provision of the Immigration Act of 1965, she petitioned our parents for a green card who in turn petitioned all our siblings. So we are all here as a family.

​Today most Filipino immigrants obtain LPR (Legal Permanent Resident) status, the Green Card. Compared to other immigrant groups, we are more likely to be naturalized US citizens, to have strong English language skill, college educated, with higher incomes, and have lower poverty and uninsured rates. In 2013 we are the 4th largest immigrant group with 1.85M (4.5%} of the 41.3M immigrant population.

​Filipino population in Atlanta in the 60’s was 250, in the 2010 census, 897. In 2010 the Filipino population in Georgia was 28,528.

​In 2006 I co-chaired the GA Celebration of the Centennial of Filipino American Immigration. The celebration brought together for the first time, fifteen Filipino organizations from the entire state. It was a very proud moment for Filipinos in GA. Everyone set aside Regional consciousness and rivalry. On that occasion we did not see ourselves as Tagalog, Bisaya, Bicolano, or Ilocano. We came out as a Filipino to celebrate our culture. We hosted a public festival of food, dance, song, martial arts, and handicrafts at the recently opened Atlantic Station. We needed to introduce ourselves to our community, for unlike the Chinese, Greeks, the Irish, or recently, the Vietnamese, we were invisible as a distinct group to the public. If they knew the Philippines at all it was about Imelda’s shoes, or Pacquiao, and most recently, the Miss Philippines who was not called the winner by Steve Harvey..

​Our history had been written by our colonial rulers as a land discovered, as if we were lost and then found, and only after being found did we start living. But our forefathers had settled in these islands since the 7th century and had forged trade and security relationships with our Asian neighbors. Filipino seamen had sailed to as far as Madagascar in their balangay boats, and only guided in their navigation by the stars. We have artifacts that were traced back to India, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Japan, Taiwan, Africa, the Middle East, the Polynesian Islands and South America. We have our own written language and alphabet, the Baybayin. We have a religion and a system of government.

​But we were separate tribes ruled by datu chieftains who were constantly at war,

​Spanish colonization unified us into a nation, gave us our name Las Islas Filipinas, the Philippines. It made us the only Catholic nation among Buddhist and Muslims in Southeast Asia. In common with other colonized countries in the Americas and Caribbean, it gave us deep, sometimes fanatical faith, colorful fiestas, dance and music, and social class hierarchy.

​American colonization propelled us into the modern world in a matter of a generation, it connected the archipelago with bridges, and roads, and a rail system, it gave us a democratic form of government it gave us a common language, and educated us with an American-oriented curriculum.

SUMMARY

​It is this proud heritage that we celebrate today, a merging of three cultures. I believe that owning the reality of our past and seeing the events as they were will inform our view of ourselves and our view of our world. It was not all rosy but neither was it all evil. What it did was shape us today, gave us resilience, gave us a rich palette where we can paint any picture. We are the Pearl of the Orient Seas. We are the Latinos of Asia. We are America’s brown brothers. We are the original fusion concept, before fusion was a byword. With Filipino overseas workers in every corner of the world, we could claim that we are the first citizens of the world. Our. numbers in the US now have reached a significance that our voices can be heard and help shape this country that we now call home. Let us not forget that we are immigrants and we have come to where we are now because of the will of the American people for its government to be humane and inclusive. We are the people now. By voting intelligently, it is up to us to uphold the sublime principles of governing on which this nation was founded; a government of the people, by the people, for ALL the people

​America, we have arrived!

​Salamat America!! Mabuhay Pilipinas!

​THANK YOU.

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Walking for Parkinson’s

http://www3.parkinson.org/site/TR/Events/General?px=1564567&pg=personal&fr_id=2600

Parkinson’s Foundation, Moving Day, Atlanta, October 21, 2017
By Metty Pellicer

I first noticed very subtle, fine resting tremors, in my left hand, the year after I walked the Camino Santiago de Compostela. You may have heard of this medieval pilgrimage route, in Northern Spain. It starts in France and ends at Santiago, in Galicia, 800 km later. There is a movie about it, My Way, starring Emilio Estevez. It gives a fair depiction of the experience, but you can also read my personal account of it, in my book, Hello, From Somewhere: Stories of the Roads I Traveled. I walked the Camino for 33 days, in August 2012, to mark my 70th birthday. After Johnny, my husband of 35 years, died in 2004, of a heart attack, and my retirement in 2008, from 41 years of medical practice, I was kind of feeling unmoored. I tried to achieve spirituality in my life, I thought that was what was lacking. I was a non-observing Catholic, and I did not care much about participating, in any organized religion again. So I went to a Buddhist retreat, in the Zen Monastery at Tassajara, in the Los Padres Mountains, Carmel Valley, CA. It was intense and very stimulating intellectually, but I could not embrace it fully. I heard about the Camino, in one of my travels, so I thought that was what I needed. A moment alone to contemplate, about my life and hopefully, to achieve some spirituality. I wasn’t sure if I acquired spirituality, but I emerged from the Camino, with a clear head, and renewed vigor, about embracing everything, that life offered.

And that included Parkinson’s. Like I said, it started with barely perceptible resting tremors, on my left hand, which I observed usually, after some sustained physical activity, like after 18-holes of golf, or 3 sets of tennis, after a 3-mile walk or a late party. Then it became more persistent, even without physical activity. I mentioned it at my next physical check-up, and my internist thought, it was likely essential familial tremor, and suggested a wait and see approach. I went on a skiing trip to Aspen with friends, and I fell four times. Not wanting any injuries at my age, I engaged an instructor for a day, to recover my form. I finished the holiday skiing the green runs, and groomed blues, but I noticed subtle difficulty, with balance and turns. At the New Year’s Eve Ball, of the Fil-Am Association, that same year, I noticed difficulty with full turns, and alternating rhythms of the salsa, cha-cha, and I lost some ease, in following the fast shifts in boogie. Then, the following year, my friends kept asking me, if something was wrong, was I depressed? They noticed I was not as expressive and talkative, and less lively in my movements. I began to have stiffness in my back and neck, and during my walks, I had muscle aches and cramped easily. During karaoke sessions, I couldn’t belt out long passages, and was unable to hit the high notes of Memories, from Cats and Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. I had to sing Moon River at a lower key. I dropped things and stumbled easily. I was in Oaxaca during the Guelaguetza, and I almost rearranged my face, trying to jump over a barricade to avoid the long lines, but thankfully, I was supported by a friend, before I hit the ground. I hesitated at nothing physical before. I jumped over large puddles, climbed trees, took stairs two steps at a time and ran downhill, did bungee jumping, parasailing, and danced drunk, on tabletops. And then last year, everything came together; the postural rigidity, resting hand tremors, bradykinesia, incoordination, the hallmarks of clinical diagnosis of Parkinson’s. I became more forgetful, multitasking was no longer a skill, and my voice had become a hoarse whisper. I noticed some subtle freezing in movement; when I was about to address my golf swing, on sustained walking, and when making a quick, tight turn. My advantage was that I was an observer and I knew my body well. I could identify subtle changes. And my medical knowledge, gave me the information necessary, to manage these changes. I overcame freezing by instructing my body to move, transferring the action to the brain’s executive area. I monitored my posture, gait, and speed, and consciously corrected them, when found wanting. I strove to transform my unconscious, spontaneous movements, into deliberate actions. I’d think of a song or mark a rhythm to my steps, so I could swing my arms and move more fluidly.

After I have diagnosed myself, I delayed seeking professional diagnosis, and did not start medications for several months. I convinced myself that the changes were not significant enough, to adversely affect my quality of life. And internally, I felt just the way I always had. I rationalized that as the medications do not cure, or alter the course of the disease, and known to have many side effects, I was hesitant to drug myself. But I did not minimize the illness, or deny it. I read up on it, and joined a Parkinson’s Meet-Up group. I attended local and national meetings, and checked out Michael Fox’s Foundation. I checked out the Parkinson’s Foundation and sent out for educational materials. I enrolled in a research study at Emory on Tango and Parkinson’s. From the researchers and participants I felt a lot of support and the feedback from others about their response to medications, convinced me to start my formal treatment. I made an appointment with a neurologist specialist in movement disorders and took advantage of all supportive and educational programs offered by the Emory Parkinson’s Clinic. I am now on Sinemet and happy to have its benefits without the side effects. I have a full exercise program of activities that I enjoy, Yoga, Tai Chi, Body Works, Zumba, Karaoke, and I monitor my program by logging at least 30,000 steps in my Fitbit weekly. About once a month I join my Camino Group or Mushroom Club for exhilarating walks in parks across the Atlanta metro area. I keep my brain stimulated with classes at the senior center, discussing current events and studying world religions, learning new skills like mosaic, charcoal drawing and watercolor painting, and Spanish, reading and discussion of award- winning books in a book club, and travel, and getting together with friends for the opera, the theater, community events, cooking, and dining out. I am celebrating my 75th birthday all year, starting with my participation in the biggest 10K road race, the Peachtree Road Race on July 4. It is auspicious, that after trying to get into this race for 17 years, I finally won a runner number in the lottery for 50,000 runners from over 70,000 applicants. In late August-September, I will embark on a 45- day solo Rail Tour across America with the AMTRAK rail pass. I have friends and classmates in almost every State who I intend to visit and interview for a book that I will write about our grand tour in life as immigrants in the USA. After this I will walk for Parkinson’s in October in Atlanta. In December I will join my medical school classmates for our Golden Jubilee celebration in Manila.
I am living well with Parkinson’s.

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Scarlett

Ode to Scarlett, My Cockatiel (1986-2017)
By Metty Pellicer

I couldn’t wait for her to die, I often said
Whenever encumbered to find caretakers
Every time I left to roam the world

And upon my return, she was there
To greet me with excitement and fanfare

For thirty-one years she lived , but on this one afternoon
I found her silent, unmoving, keeled on her back
She was dead.

Oh no! No! no! It couldn’t be
I whistled but she did not respond.
Scarlett was dead, and now what was I supposed to do?

She was a presence, I realized.
A living being that I had gotten accustomed to
She would perch on my finger and climb on my shoulders
And tickled my ears as she nibbled on a fiber of my hair

She learned to whistle like a bad dude, at every pretty face
And when children visited, she’d put on a show
She studied footfalls, and heralded passersby with recognition
Condo dwellers hurrying past my hallway, would pause to listen
And smiling, would keep it on to light up their day
But she’d also hiss and bite if provoked
But prompted with the right approach and in the right mood
She’d talk non-stop and on and on, like,

When she went into apoplexy with her choice words
At Johnny’s wake, in the midst of prayers
Her clear words floated shrilly, above the drone of hail Mary’s

She was a tiny whiff of a bird, a mere 5 ounces, if all
With pale yellow plumes and a smudge of scarlet, painted on her cheeks
She stood, proudly on her perch, her head feathers upright in a crown
She was a beauty, admired by all and unforgettable when she whistled
And then she’d ask, as clear as a bell, the immortal question,
Did you fart? Did you fart? Did you, did you fart?

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The Avon 3-Day, October 4-6, 2002

A Mad Hatter’s Triumph

XYZ

After the stirring and emotional Closing Ceremonies of the Avon 3-day at Piedmont Park, Rahrah, (my 2 ½ year old granddaughter) rushed into my arms and right away noticed the smiley stickers on my walker ID tag and cheerily informed me that she got those stickers too for going to the potty like a big girl. I said I got those for the same reasons, for stopping at every pit stop and using the porta-potties! I drank gallons of Gatorade and water as we were told over and over to hydrate and I swear I’ve never emptied my bladder as much as these three days!

The porta-johns lining the route on every pit stop every two miles or so were memorable in this event as much as the sea of blue tents, 3000 plus, lined up in alphabetical grids every night in our movable campsite. My tent address was H-81 and that was my gear and duffel number too and we brought these to the gear truck marked H every morning when we dismantled our camp and the crew transported them to the next site. Every campsite was a veritable city. Again there were hundreds of porta-johns everywhere. There was a huge dining tent where spicy chicken gumbo was served up the first night and pasta marinara the next. After dinner the mess tent was transformed into an entertainment center where local bands and acts were brought in for us to relax and groove. There was a concierge tent where every night a selection of complimentary Avon products were offered. There were the podiatry, chiropractic, medical, and massage tents. There were hot shower trucks and you can sign up for towel service for $4 so you didn’t have to pack wet towels the next day. It rained the first night at camp and some tents were in two inches of water so some had to move their tents in the night or slept in the dining tent. My tent was spared the flooding and I only had to put up with a slight surface dampness.

I was profoundly exhausted the first night. We walked the longest the first day, 21.9 miles. I did not think to plan my pace and pit stops so I got into camp late and couldn’t get into the massage list anymore. So I took 800 mg Ibuprofen and a long hot shower and zipped into my sleeping bag and I didn’t even know that the camp was flooding until morning. The next day I was wiser. I was one of the first 300 to arrive at the campsite and I went to the massage tent right away and got the full treatment within the hour. Aahh! Sheer bliss! I had a blister, a pea-sized no account beginner but I took it to the podiatry tent anyway and they drained it with a syringe, put a band-aid and it was gone the next day. That night the temperature dipped to 40 degrees and when you have to go because you filtered gallons of Gatorade that was when you wished you were a man so you could urinate in a bottle right there in the warmth of your sleeping bag.

The final day was a glorious day and excitement had built up. There was this Harley riding volunteer crew of flamboyant characters in their sleeveless vests with names like WASSUP, showing off biceps and wearing ponytails, or the belly types, showing off bald heads, but shod in cowboy snakeskin boots nevertheless. They came roaring; vroom, vroom, in their cycles, first thing in the day. They opened the route and we couldn’t start walking until they checked the road ahead and said go! They parked at intersections and held the cars, their radios blasting motivational songs like Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” or YMCA. Everybody loved them and of course they relished their role as support and protector. I heard they have been volunteering for the past three years and this group had a monopoly going, no one else could sign up unless one of them quits.

I did it! I walked sixty miles, for three days in October and raised $8413 for breast cancer, from all of you dear friends, who supported my effort. The Atlanta Avon 3-day, 2300 walkers all and at least another thousand crew and volunteers brought in $4.4 M to the Breast Cancer Fund. Sixty-three cents for every dollar was returned to the fund, and supported medical research, education, and programs for early detection and treatment among medically underserved women. Last year The Winship Breast Cancer Institute of Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital received $15.3M from the fund. THANKS to all of you DANKE, GRAZIE, MERCI, GRACIAS, ARIGATO, MAHALO, MARAMING SALAMAT PO!

It was great fun for me all the way. From dreaming up the Mad Hatter’s
auction-fundraiser, to writing those corny (but effective!) poems and sending out my ABC, to camping out for 3 days and now I’ve come to XYZ. The whole effort was a super adventure and a grand party for me. But all good things must come to an end. So I’ll start another one. On July 4th next year I’ll run the 10K Peachtree Road Race. There will not be any fund-raising for this so no need to take out your checkbook, it’s just the biggest road race in the world and I’ve got to do it!

Posted by Miman,
Avon 3-Day October 4-6, 2002

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