Maligayang Pasko sa lahat!
In the Philippines, the formal Christmas celebrations start on Dec. 16 when people go to the first of nine pre-dawn or early morning masses culminating on Christmas Day, Dec. 25. It is called Simbang Gabi in Filipino, also called Misas de Gallo. It’s always the day I start decorating the house for Christmas. It is also my Mom’s birthday. I missed my call to her on Dec. 16 this year. Rest in peace, Mom, I miss you. Christmas celebrations continue to January 6, the Feast of the Three Kings, making the Philippines the country that celebrate the longest Christmas season – 22 days.
Christmas customs in the Philippines are a mixture of native, Spanish, Chinese and American elements. The result is uniquely Filipino. In the olden days, when only one rice crop was sown, Christmas coincided with…
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Remember those who served and those who are still serving our country this Christmas Season!
“A Different Christmas Poem”
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
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A significant epilogue to the Battle of Leyte Gulf came on Oct. 25, the day when the Japanese assaulted the Seventh Fleet with a new weapon – Kamikaze suicide pilots made up entirely of volunteers led by Lieutenant Yukio Seki. Kamikaze which means “divine wind” was the name chosen by Captain Inoguchi for the new suicide unit.
While sea fighting had been raging all around the Philippines since the early morning of Oct. 25, a message from First Air Fleet headquarters urged the kamikaze units organized by Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi to attack without waiting, until contact with the enemy had been established: there were so many American naval groups at sea that it should be possible to discover at least one of them.
Six planes from the Yamato unit took off from Cebu at sunrise and…
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Remember the Fallen at Pearl Harbor and the Second Pearl Harbor!
In the Philippines, December 8 is the Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception where festival honoring the Virgin Mary are taking place in several towns. This is celebrated with evening processions, supplemented by cultural presentations, beauty pageants, and fireworks.
December 8 is also marked as the Second Pearl Harbor. Due to International Date Line, where Pearl Harbor is remembered in the United States on Dec. 7, in the Philippines it was actually Dec. 8 when ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, “another Pearl Harbor” of even more devastating consequence for American armed forces occurred in the Philippines, forty-five hundred miles to the west.
On December 8, 1941, 196 Japanese Navy bombers and fighters crippled the largest force of B-17 four-engine bombers outside the United States and also decimated their protective P-40 interceptors. The first Japanese bombs to fall on Philippine soil hit Camp John Hay in…
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Kurita emerged unopposed from San Bernardino Strait and was racing southward heading for Leyte Gulf. At daybreak on Oct. 25, American carriers were sighted on the horizon. Kurita thought he had caught Halsey’s fast carriers with most of their planes down. In fact, Halsey was 300 miles to the north and his planes were taking off to attack Ozawa’s Northern Force. Ozawa radioed Kurita that he was under attack but Kurita never received the message.
What Kurita had come upon was Rear Admiral Clifton A.F. Sprague’s Taffy 3, one of three groups of escort carriers from Kinkaid’s Seventh Fleet assigned to provide air cover and antisubmarine patrol for the Leyte landings, not to attack enemy warships.
When one of his pilots reported seeing enemy forces closing in…
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My mom, Fausta (Pacing) Rosales, lovingly called Lola by her grandchildren, passed away on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. She was 96 years old, a month shy of her 97th birthday on Dec. 16. She was the last among her nine siblings to pass on.
I thank you Mom for all the years you loved and took care of my three brothers and me, our spouses and your grandchildren, for your love and loyalty to Dad, for your zest for life and the courage to tackle all adversities that life brought upon you and your family.
I remember stories you told me about my struggle with meningitis when I was two years old. You and Dad and my doctor godmother pulled me through otherwise I would have died. When I was five, all my playmates were all in school but I was too young to enroll in 1st grade but you convinced the teacher to let me just sit in class without grading me. I was admitted and ended up getting 80 at the end of the school year and got promoted to 2nd grade. As I became a teenager and through my twenties, you were my ally when I had problem with Dad about boys. When I was reviewing for my CPA board exam, you were there making sure I ate right to sustain my long days and nights reviewing for my exams. When I left home, you were heartbroken but let me go to pursue my ambition. You knew I would be OK in New York. You were always supportive of what I wanted to do. You were easy to deal with than Dad who was very strict but both of you made me the person I am today because of your strict discipline. Thank you.
Here is my family when I left home for New York in 1967, taken at Manila International Airport.
(left to right) – My three brothers, Robert, Radelo, Renato, Me (Rosalinda), Mom and Dad. All four of us have the same initials – R.A.R.
Here we are again in May 1993 for Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary.
After I got married, you came to U.S. for the first time, after my first child was born. You stayed for a month to be with your first grandchild and later when I decided to go back to work, you stayed with me for four years until the boys are old enough not to have a babysitter. During those days, when my kids called her “Lola”, people asked me why my children called their grandmother by her first name. I had to explain that “Lola” is the Filipino word for Grandma.
Every time, I moved to a new home, you were around to give me a helping hand on my move. Mom was a well-seasoned traveler, traveling back and forth from the Philippines every two years. Mom enjoyed her U.S. trips to visit us all, alternating her stay between each of her four children. When she got tired of one, she went to the next one. We will always remember those happy times during our family gathering at Thanksgiving and Christmas at my home. Mom could get into an argument with one of my brothers who loved to tease her and she would use a few phrases she picked up staying with my other two brothers in New Jersey. We roared with laughter. She was feisty and hilarious. She loved meeting my American friends and always with a smile on her face. The last visit was when we first came to see our new home in Charleston in 2008. Our third bedroom is still called “Lola’s room” because she was the first one to occupy it.
My mom had a good life with few hardships during the war and in between Dad’s downturn in his business. She was the favorite among her siblings as she was growing up. She was a beautiful lady and Dad fell in love with her even before they met. Dad saw her picture in a magazine. Below was the original copy and the picture that Dad fell in love with.
Their love story was the theme of my first book, “Bahala Na, Come What May”. She was also featured in my other book, “The Iron Butterfly”, her mother’s life story. The book cover is a chopped copy of Mom’s photo.
When Dad married her after 4 years of courtship, Dad got her a maid even before I was born. We don’t consider ourselves rich but we are comfortable. Dad built Mom a nice home which has been the envy of the town. It’s made of granite, marble and steel and it has fared very well during typhoons and earthquakes.
She loved sewing and I had to have tons of sewing projects for her to do during her stay with me. Otherwise, she got bored. I still have the sewing machine she used and I was hoping for years that she would come back because I still have tons of fabric for her to do some work. She made curtains and slipcovers, did alterations for me, fixed buttons, mended things and made some of my early clothes.
One thing she was not an expert is cooking. Since she always had a maid, she very rarely cooked. But she was a big help to Dad in his business by taking care of the books. She was very organized and constantly in motion. She was a strong and confident woman. You would not dare cross her path because she would have something to say. She always stood her ground and we love her for that. Maybe that was the key to longer life.
She is now with Dad who left us in 2007. Dad must be smiling to welcome her in his arms once more.
I love you Mom and will miss you terribly. I wish I was there with you to send you off safely home to God and Dad. Rest in peace and thank you for everything