Sam I Am Blog

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Archive for February 2012

The Flagpole Quest

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by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

For 48 of my 56 years I had hoped someday to have a tall flagpole in my front yard. My wife, Christy and I moved half-way around the world to the Republic of the Philippines and in less than 48 days I had my flagpole.

Now, each morning I can have a cup of coffee and look out the window to see the flag flying in the breeze from the tall flagpole.


An orange PVC pipe is set inside a rebar framework within a plywood form for the concrete before the 20-foot pole is lowered into the PVC pipe.

Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Since I was eight years old, I always wanted a tall flagpole in the front yard. In my mind. I could see the large flag flapping in the breeze.

My dad, Samuel E. Warren, had served in the United States Army, during World War II. To me the American flag waving in the breeze from a flagpole has always symbolized, pride, patriotism, honor and devotion to duty.

Once I went on active duty in the United States Air Force, I really wanted that tall flagpole in the front yard.

But, the Real Wold intervened and the daily concerns of earning a living and putting food on the table pushed my flagpole idea into a storage room of my mind.

Home on leave and after I retired, I would get those six-foot flagpole kits and try various locations to try and give the flagpole a center stage presence, during patriotic holidays like the Fourth of July, Flag Day and Veterans’ Day. It always seemed I ended up with a flag kit that had a flag that had to be displayed at an angle.

I always kept my eye open for the tall flagpole.


I attended Veteran’s Day observances in Branson, Missouri and found tall flagpoles for sale that seemed to match up with my dream of the “Ideal Flagpole.”

The salesman even assured me that the different heights had survived recent hurricanes at different locations in the United States. But, the price tag for the flagpole was in the neighborhood of $300.

Since my wife, Christy, and I had decided to move to the Philippines, I decided it wouldn’t be wise to spend the money on a flagpole that I might not even get to use before we left the country..

We arrived in the Philippines before Christmas Day 2011. Christy’s family and friends came to visit us. As December passed into January and the New Year began, of course, we began those little home improvement touch ups to make the house feel like a home.

Our new yard had coconut trees and banana palms, instead of, rose bushes and sycamore trees. As I looked around I thought, “I think a flagpole would look good in the yard.” I mentioned the idea to Ramon about January 15, 2012. A few days later, Ramon and I went to the Leyte Sports Emporium and bought three flags.

Ramon mentioned that the local flagpoles like they were constructed of 20 foot pipe, two inches thick.

I knew from having shot photographs of flags that there had to be a way to raise and lower the flag, but I couldn’t remember how that part of the flagpole was constructed. I sketched out a rough idea on paper that involved a pulley device up near the top, but I couldn’t be sure.

In our quest to learn about flagpoles, we sought out the type of rope to use. In the States, I thought the line was a white type of rope. In Leyte, we visited different hardware stores, but could only find colored nylon lines in orange, green and blue. I had noticed that some of the local government flagpoles had the blue nylon line.

Since neither Ramon or I had ever built a flagpole we had questions, but not many answers. One evening when Peter, Ramon, Marife, Christy and I were passing through Tanauan, I saw the sign : PULIS.

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Across the bridge from the Tanauan Public Market, the PULIS sign is visible to motorists and pedestrians.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

As a child, in the United States, my father and mother had friends in the Houston Police Department in Texas, so I grew up respecting and trusting police officers. I saw the flagpole in front of the police station, so I suggested to Ramon we visit the police station.  A1 TANAUAN POLICE STATION_8035_resized

A glance at the police station, during a late Sunday afternoon drive shows the flagpole in front of the station..  But to see the specifics, you need to be closer to look at the flagpole.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

We explained to the police officers that we were trying to build a flagpole but were not certain of how to arrange things to be able to raise and lower the flag. They smiled and were very helpful at explaining how their flagpole was set up.

Ramon rented an arc welder and a welding helmet and set to work welding the pulley to one end of the flagpole,  PULLEY WELDED AT THE TOP OF THE FLAGPOLE_7963_resizedThen, Professionals who build flagpoles for a living probably have the designs that work best for them.  In our flagpole, the pulley is welded to a rebar rod that is welded to the side of the 20-foot pole at the top.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.


The blue nylon line passed through the pulley allows you to easily raise and lower the flag.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.


The curved rebar rod welded to the flagpole is in a shape that reminds you of an angel’s harp or a pork chop.  But, welded near the bottom of this flagpole the design provides plenty of room to use the rope to tie down the lines.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Ramon finished the flagpole by welding a piece of rebar near the bottom to tie the flag lines to. By January 31, the flagpole had already been set in concrete.

My childhood dream had come true.

I had a flagpole in the front yard. When we first began talking about the idea, my nephews and nieces gave me a puzzled look. While there are numerous flagpoles in the yards of families in the United States; the idea really hasn’t taken off, yet, in the Philippines.

We got the flags and the nylon lines, then, the nephews and nieces seemed more excited about the idea. Thanks to all those protocol sergeants and officers I worked with over the years, I explained to the nieces and nephews that there were proper ways to display a flag and suggested they should go online to research flag protocol.

Once the flagpole was set up among the banana palms, guava and coconut trees even the kids smiled. Of course, there was only one thing left to do: “Raise The Flag.”

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“Ten-hut !”  I got my tall flagpole in the front yard.  And my nieces and nephews got a flagpole to proudly display their nation’s colors.  Because the lessons of patriotism that I learned from my father and the military is a citizen should always be proud of who he or she is and be grateful to the nation that he or she grows up in.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Written by samwarren55

February 28, 2012 at 11:30 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

My Momma Is A Welder

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My Momma Is A Welder – Opal M. DeLong Warren served as one of the welders in the Todd Houston Shipyard, in Houston, Texas, during World War II. Momma encouraged me to refine my welding skills when I took vocational agriculture in high school.  And, now, Ramon, in Leyte, is using his welding skills on the farm.   Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

My mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren was a welder in the Todd Houston Shipyard, in Houston, Texas, during World War II.

Today, February 28, 2012, is momma’s birthday. She was born on this day in 1920, the year the Show Me State gave women the right to vote.

Born in Peach Tree Holler, near Reeds Springs, Missouri. She rode a horse called, “Shorty,” to the Bear Den school.

She grew up on the farm in southwest Missouri. During World War II, momma and a friend got on a Greyhound bus and decided to see where it would take them. They did it on a whim. The girl got off the bus in Dallas. Momma didn’t like the looks of Dallas so she got back on the bus. When the bus stopped in Houston, she decided she liked the looks of Houston and got off the bus.

She knew no one in Houston.

She would often tell me the money she had in her pocket only allowed her to eat bread and drank water until she got a job about a week later. She saw an ad in the newspaper for welders.

She didn’t even know what a welding machine looked like.

First Day Of Welding School Story

Todd Houston officials sent her to welding school. “The first day of welding school all I had to wear was a white satin blouse. The sparks from the welding rod burned several holes in my blouse. I had to ride the bus back across town home. I was so embarrassed,” said Opal Warren.

Momma loved to tell her “First Day Of Welding School” story, especially years later when I took welding in vow-ag in high school.

She said she was proud of the U.S. Navy ships that she welded on, but admitted that it was sad when they launched because with the war on she knew “some of the boys that served on the ships probably wouldn’t be coming home.”

Momma would have been 92 today.

“Momma’s Boy”

But, she left this life Friday, June 11, 2004 in Springfield, Missouri. Being a “Momma’s Boy,” her spirit lives on. Today in Leyte, Philippines, my wife, Christy and I talked about momma to her brothers, sister, nieces and nephews. Now, The Legend Of Opal Warren will live on – on two continents – the United States and the Philippines.

In the United States, I had adopted the Filipino Death Anniversary custom to observe my mother’s passing each year. But, since her passing, Christy and I usually just talk about Momma and light a candle at 6 p.m., to honor her memory.


The Death Anniversary Custom involves placing a favorite drink, a plate of food or a favorite food, by a candle.  If the person smoked a pipe or cigarette then the custom suggest that tobacco also be placed by the food.  This year, the candle burns, in front of a small Santa Nino and a larger Santa Nino.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

In her lifetime, momma always commented, “I’m too old to celebrate birthdays, so, I just quit having them.” Still,if it looked like we had forgotten momma’s birthday, then, she would get solemn. Of course, when the guests started showing up, a smile would come to her face. Regardless of what she said, momma did enjoy celebrating her birthday and she truly enjoyed friends and neighbors stopping by to share her day.

Beyond Birthdays

My mother was always important to me. She still is. And the lessons she tried to teach me, I now pass on in the form of Stateside wisdom to my nieces and nephews.

We went to the open air Tacloban City Public Market, the Palo Public Market and shopped in Tanauan today.


A  Lantsa boat is tied up in the waters of Pedro Bay in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines.  The Tacloban City Public Market is in the background.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.


The Tacloban City Public Market Fish Section is located beside the bay.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.


Stroll along the corridors of the Palo Public Market to shop for fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, rice and other merchandise.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

When we returned home, Christy, her sister, Marife, cousin, Pina and Ann Ann prepared supper : Pork sticks, pancit bihon,pancit canton, rice, sweet and sour fish, cake and ice cream. At dinner, Christy and I talked about Momma.


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Pina Gempis


Marife Saldana Roa serves the chocolate cake.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I’m convinced Momma’s spiritual presence showed up early this morning. Yesterday, we bought a welding helmet and Ramon rented an arc welder. Today, was the day he placed together pieces of pipe to weld a gate for his hog pen. In my childhood, momma raised 25 head of hogs on 10 acres and each one of the old sows usually had a litter of 8 to 17 pigs. Momma had Yorkshire, Hampshire and Duroc hogs.

Here in Leyte, Ramon has a Yorkshire sow that has six pigs, (or piglets as they are called in the Philippines). I can imagine that when Ramon was welding the gate today there was probably a presence looking over his shoulder and whispering, “Not so fast. Take your time. Make small circles with the molten metal. Concentrate and you can run a nice bead.”

After all, My Momma Is A Welder.

Happy Birthday, Momma.

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Into The Garden Of Eden

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Into The Garden Of Eden     Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.     You may have an idea of what The Garden of Eden, Paradise, or Shangri-la is suppose to look like.  Fortunately, for me, February 2, 2012, I was strolling through the jungle with my Canon EOS 40 D camera, when I came upon this earthly road into a heavenly paradise on earth.

The beauty of this photography is I didn’t have to try and find an angle to shoot it.  I simply raised the camera like a tourist and looked through the viewfinder and clicked the shutter.  When I got back to the house and begin looking at the photos, this one caught my eye because of the colors and vegetation and the trail seems to simply disappear into the horizon of the jungle.

This trail into the jungle is in Barangay Baras, Tanauan, Leyte Philippines.  The tropical climate offers a wide variety of coconut trees, banana palms, jackfruit, guava, ferns and other vegetation.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.


Flickr Tags: Garden of Eden, Heaven, Heaven On Earth, Shangri-la, Paradise, Paradise On Earth, Barangay Baras, Tanauan, Leyte, Philippines, coconut trees, jack fruit, guava trees, ferns, tropical, tropical vegetation, trail, nature, Mother Earth, tropics, photo, Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Rafael’s Caribou

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Rafael’s Caribou


Rafael Saldana

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

My brother-in-law, Rafael Saldana, is a rice farmer in Barangay Baras, Tanauan, Leyte, Philippines.

In rural Leyte, the beast of burden is the caribou. A caribou is an bovine animal in Asia that combines the best features of farm pickups and tractors.

While farmers in the United States may own a Case, New Holland, Ford, White, Allis Chambers, Kubota or John Deere tractor, rural Filipino farmers can rely on the plentiful and much less expensive caribou to get the job done.

The land in front of the house is covered with the traditional thick tropical vegetation. Unfortunately, during the monsoon season, it becomes obvious that the soil under the plants is . . .mud. And, that mud is effective in pulling the rubber boots and shoes right off your feet and leaving you standing almost knee deep in mud.


The caribou stands ready to move more scrap coconut tree lumber into place.

Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

The quick fix landscape solution became some way to cover over the mud. Commercial landscapers in the United States would have a variety of heavy duty power equipment like the Bobcat and Ditch Witch bulldozers ready to tackle the problem. In rural Leyte, my wife, Christy and I have. . . Rafael’s Caribou.


Neptali “Endoy” Abano  readies the caribou to get another load of coconut tree scrap lumber.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Thus, Neptali “Endoy” Abano hooked up Rafael’s Caribou to the yoke and the bamboo drag to bring more scrap coconut lumber into the yard to place over the growing mud swamp. While the trail could probably stand a few more pieces of scrap lumber, for now, you can walk into the yard, rather, than wade into the yard – Thanks to Rafael’s Caribou.

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Rafael’s Caribou Up Close

Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Written by samwarren55

February 22, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Caribou Power

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Caribou Power – In the United States, automobile companies brag about the horsepower  of the engines of their vehicles.  In Asia, automobile manufacturers should consider calculating the strength of their automobile engines in “Caribou Power.”  The Caribou is a common sight in Asian countries.  This well-known beast of burden – plows like a tractor and can be ridden like a horse.  In Ormoc City, Leyte, Republic of the Philippines, Case, New Holland, Kubota and John Deere tractors are common sights on the roads and in the fields of some farms, but in the rice farms of my neighborhood, in rural Baas, near Tacloban City, Republic of the Philippines – it is the caribou that “puts the pedal to the medal” and plows the rice fields.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.   

Story Behind The Photo —  I took the “Caribou Power” Canon EOS 40 D photograph January 17, 2012  on the way to Tanauan and Tacloban City.  If you look at the edge of the photo you will notice the reflection in the side panel of the Starex van.  I leaned out the passenger side and shot this photo as we passed the farmers.  Photographer Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Written by samwarren55

February 9, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Home Sweet Home

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HOME SWEET HOME_6581_resized1


by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

During the Holidays of 2011, my wife, Christy and I moved to the Republic of the Philippines.  In the front yard is tall coconut trees and banana plants.

The move from the United States to the Philippines means that, in addition. to having a different place to live there are different expectations in different countries.  I will try to show some of these differences in pictures in future blogs.  But, that is for future blogs.  For now, I have some photos to look at for the next edition.


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Written by samwarren55

February 2, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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