Sam I Am Blog

My Newspaper of News, Lifestyle,Culture

Posts Tagged ‘Host

Christmas In The P.I. 2012 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

with 4 comments

After Action Report Christmas Eve 2012

 

Christmas

In

The

P.I.

Everyone sits down to the Noche Buena 2012 feast  at One Warren Way_resized

Noche Buena Feast 2012

The Warren and Saldana families sit down to the December 24, 2012 “Noche Buena” feast at One Warren Way, Barangay Baras, Leyte, Republic of the Philippines. Nikon D 70 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I had a childhood full of Christmas Days, where I got up with goose bumps. I would dash to the old worthless stone fireplace.

 

I would stand with my back to the dancing flames on the wood. The cold draft of air down the chimney always seem to make the flames seem more like a child’s coloring book page than actual warmth.

 

I would spend a few minutes in front of the fireplace trying to warm up. Then, I would dash to the Christmas Tree . My cold fingers would rip at the Christmas wrapping paper to free the toys.

 

I learned to associate cold with Christmas.

 

CHRISTMAS IN THE PI PHOTO ONE THUMBNAIL PHOTO BY SAMUEL E WARREN JRYou would bundle up like “Nannook Of The North.” Swaddled in yards of flannel,cotton and wool, you would waver, walk and waddle to the front door.

 

Push the door open. A deep blanket of fresh snow always seems to rise a foot or two, pushed away from the door. A beautiful vanilla quilt that blankets the ground in all directions to the horizon.

 

Sunlight would always charge certain snowflakes to twinkle before your eyes. The twinkling diamond illusions would, for a moment, allow you to forget the bone-chilling air rushing toward you like an invisible tidal wave.

 

The next step always seemed to be that of a disoriented lunar astronaut. Your foot drops down into the snow and you are off balance for a moment. You stand in knee-high snow and look out to the driveway at the snow-covered pickup.

 

The heat of the running engine against the cold air creates wispy columns of smoke around the pickup’s hood. You lean forward to resume your “Moon Walk.” Through the deep snow, you finally reach and open the passenger’s side pickup door. You climb up into the truck and sit on the seat.

 

Momma backs the grumbling pickup out of the driveway and on to the ice-covered slick highway. You lean your head back against the seat and realize, “ We are headed to grandma’s house for Christmas Dinner ! ”

 

For the briefest of moments, you wonder why your mother didn’t just hook up the Alaskan Husky dog team to the sled. Then, you, remember this is the Missouri Ozarks and not the Yukon Territory of Alaska.

 

As you shiver from the cold, you wonder, “Is there really a difference in Missouri and Alaska in the winter other than temperature and wind chill factor?”

 

By adulthood, I have had so many cold, snowy Christmas Days genetically hardwired into my memory that by October 1, I would pick up a local newspaper to glance at the flag to check out the date and my location on planet earth.

 

Shop For The Egg Nog

 

A cold location means I stock up on the Hiland egg nog. I would snatch up my “Nannook Of The North” Official United States Air Force issue parka, grab my wallet and head to the Commissary to shop for “egg nog.”

 

The parka was always an ugly battleship gray with wide silver sewed on strips of a metallic duct tape material over the zipper front flap and around the cuffs. The synthetic white fake fur lining around the hood made you look like an old French fur trapper. You always looked like an inebriated alien wandering lost in the snow. Nonetheless, it was warm.

 

At the BX I would check for a good snow shovel to be ready to shovel open my front door.

 

A warm location means I lean back in the chair and smile:

Hallelujah ! No Snow for Christmas !”

 

There is a theory, that there are people in the world: “Who Like Snow”

 

I have no use for Snow.”

 

Christmas 2012 is not the first Christmas, I celebrated in the Republic of the Philippines. Christmas 1988 was my first Christmas in the Philippine Islands, which is a “Single G.I. Christmas Story,” I have yet to publish.

 

One major difference between the Philippine Islands and The Ozarks on Christmas is the dinner celebration. Filipinos target Christmas Eve. Ozarkers and Americans usually set their sites on Christmas Day.

 

In the Philippine Islands – “The P.I.” – “Noche Buena”, known as “The Good Night”, is the Christmas Eve Dinner.

 

In the 1980s on the island of Luzon, the cultural tradition of the feast is Filipinos attend Mass and then have dinner, which means you eat around 7 pm or 8 pm. Some families would attend Midnight Mass first, which means you sit down to supper around midnight or 1 or 2 am in the morning.

 

In the Philippine Islands – “The P.I.” – the “Noche Buena” Christmas Eve Dinner on the island of Leyte at One Warren Way, meant, “We eat when the cooks are finished preparing the dinner.”

 

The week before Christmas, every morning the kids would get up at “O – Dark- Thirty” and go to church before school. The sun would be rising and the rooster crowing, when they returned to get ready for school.

 

December 22, 2012 – Christy Warren and Leneil Saldana began preparing the “Noche Buena” feast. Christy got out her yellow legal pad and ink pen and sit down to come up with the holiday menu.

 

Christy, Leneil and Ramon went to the public market for fresh vegetables. Ramon and Mano Bito had the task of providing the meat for Christmas dinner.

 

In the United States, Christy had a kitchen full of appliances,a gas stove and oven, two refrigerators and an upright freezer to prepare birthday meals, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner.

 

In the Philippines, the kitchen is still a work in progress. There is the double butane hot plate, which is the stove. She has no oven. There is one refrigerator. Cooking tends to be more of a “Never-Ending Camping Trip” than food preparation in a kitchen.

 

In my childhood, I had the rustic Ozarks environment and Grandma DeLong’s kitchen was the basics for the Ozarks. Now, in the Philippines, I find, we have basically a tropical version of a rural 1960s Ozarks kitchen.

 

My eyes and my mind do not appreciate the “Twilight Zone Reality Of The Kitchen,” so, I simply stay out of the kitchen, while the food is being cooked.

 

Meanwhile, the kids got to be kids, which meant they played and looked forward to Christmas. Me, I kept working to gather the data, words and photos to keep publishing articles in my world-famous, “Sam I Am Blog.”

 

Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012, Christy sat the table and Leneil began bringing in steaming platters of white rice. Family members began arriving and watching. Esmeralda, Christy’s sister, placed the platter of banana pancakes on the table.

 

Potato Pancakes

 

 

In the Ozarks, in the morning on the wood burning hot cook stove, you would hear the sizzle and Grandma DeLong would move the metal spatula to move the “Potato Pancake” around to brown in the cast iron skillet.

 

The Potato Pancakes were delicious, but they were slightly larger than an American silver dollar.

Banana Pancakes and a platter of steaming white rice for Noche Buena

 

Banana Pancakes and a platter of rice.

The steaming Banana Pancakes piled high on the plate reminded me of the trucker’s breakfast style pancakes of “The Hob Nob Cafe” in DeQueen, Arkansas.

 

The Hob Nob Cafe

DeQueen, Arkansas

 

Momma and I always considered “DeQueen” the halfway point between Houston, Texas and Galena, Missouri. The acres of statuesque Christmas Trees growing and rising into the morning mist meant the surrounding “Arkansawers” were “loggers.”

 

The plethora of semi tractor trailer trucks on the highway sporting huge logs and the empty flatbeds rushing along behind the groaning and moaning Kenworth, Peterbilts and Macks meant “forestry” is serious business in this section of the Ozarks.

 

The 18-wheelers would groan into a parking spot and the truckers in their straw cowboy hats and tractor baseball caps, in western shirts, or coveralls, and wearing cowboy boots or steel-toed work boots, would climb down out of the cab and bring their Texas-sized appetites through the door.

 

Breakfast at “The Hob Nob Cafe” was like Christmas Dinner in The Ozarks. The aroma of fresh scrambled eggs and omelets would tease your childish nose.

 

The mound of strips of fried “taters” with flour gravy, sausage, ham and bacon overwhelmed the senses. Then, a “short stack” or a mound of “flapjacks” would arrive and I would reach for the small pitcher of maple syrup for my pancakes.

 

Lechon

 

My Ozarks’ appetite ignored the white bowls of “blood pork” being placed on the table, but, I waited anxiously for the macaroni salad and the potato salad.

 

Anyone who has ever watched a Henry the VIII movie can appreciate “the pig on the platter” with the apple in it’s mouth. In the Philippines, “Lechon” is the whole pig prepared for special events like baptismals, wedding receptions and of course, Christmas. Mano Bito took charge of the pork preparation.

 

Instead of “the whole hog” ending up on the table, the pieces of cooked pork was also added to white bowls to place on the table.

 

Christy Warren places the silverware on the Noche Buena table_Photo 2

Christy Warren places the silverware to set the Noche Buena table.

Mrs. Warren – Christy had nieces, Junea and Vanissa put on the tablecloth.

Mrs. Warren placed the silverware around the plates before anyone got near the table.

 

In the rural areas of the Philippines, it is not uncommon to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with your fingers. In the States, of course, Americans have their “finger foods” like hamburgers and hot dogs for sporting events, backyard barbeques and the Fourth Of July outdoor picnics.

 

Mrs. Warren told the guests before they sat down at the table,

Merry Christmas ! Everyone this is Christmas. You will use the silverware.”

 

Christy has been in enough social situations, in her lifetime, to know it is the hostess’ responsibility to brief the “guests” on any questions of “etiquette” before the event begins.

 

Leneil Saldana removes pieces of the young coconut to be used as filling for the Coconut and Cheese Salad and the Mississippi Mud chocolate candy for the Noche Buena feast_Photo OneChristy and Leneil kept the hot platters of rice coming to the table. Esmeralda and Virgie Saldana kept an eye on the kids and made sure that they got food on their plates.

Leneil Saldana scrapes out pieces of young coconuts for Coconut and Cheese Salad and for the Mississippi Mud chocolate candy.

 

At dinner, I realized that Christmas Day would not be what I had hoped for this year. I could blame only myself for that part of the holiday, but, I decided I needed to put more emphasis on Christmas Day 2013 because I had not paid attention to the focus of the holiday for the kids.

 

After dinner, the kids spent time playing with their cousins until overwhelmed by The Sandman. They crashed out on palettes.

 

Tuba Time

 

Virgie Saldana Esmeralda Tanahale Leneil Saldana and Christy Warren have red wine and Tuba to relax after the Noche Buena feast of 2012

Virgie Saldana, Esmeralda Tanahale, Leneil Saldana and Christy Warren relax with a bottle of red wine after the Noche Buena feast.

Once the ladies cleared away the table, then, Mrs. Warren opened a bottle of red wine. Leneil Saldana, Esmeralda Tanahale and Virgie Saldana had some red wine and some of the ladies drank some Tuba.

Left to Right Jun Jun Tanahale Ramon Q Saldana Jr Rafel Saldana Virgillio Natividad Romel Barbosa talk and drink tuba_resized

Left to Right  –  Jun Jun Tanahale, Ramon Q. Saldana Jr.,Rafael Saldana (back to camera) Virgillio Natividad, Leneil Saldana’s father, and Romel Barbosa talk and drink tuba.

 

The men: Virgillio Natividad, Leneil’s dad, Ramon Q. Saldana Jr.,Rafael Saldana Romel Barbosa and Jun Jun Tanahale retired to The Christmas Tree area to talk and enjoy “Tuba,” the Philippines’ coconut wine.

 

I pass on “Tuba” because, even though it is drank with Pepsi as a “chaser”, to my picky palette the flavor has “too much of a vinegar whang. I always feel like I need a large chef salad in front of me to drink Tuba. Then, I am never sure if I should drink the Tuba or pour it over the salad as a dressing.”

 

I finished my coffee and put aside the cup for the night. I got to enjoy “My Christmas Present” – Tanduay Ice. Unfortunately, for “Romel”, when I sat down my frosty bottle of bright white rum, he snickered and added,”Ladies’ Drink.”

 

I told him, “Pirates weren’t wimps. They sunk ships and stole cargo and sailed the high seas for centuries. Sometimes the pirates were fired up on rum, so don’t snicker off my drink as a watered down ladies’ drink.”

 

I had not intended to defend the rum industry, but, I’m a Texas and Missouri country boy, so holiday civility and protocol aside, there are just sometimes when, “You need to set the record straight.”

 

My line of Warrens of Texas and DeLongs of Missouri are social, hard-working people, who welcome strangers under their roof as family to celebrate the holidays and social events.

 

Common Sense Social Etiquette

 

In the Hollywood movies, you will see a guest bring a bottle of wine as a “Housewarming Present” or as a “Gift” to the host or hostess for a dinner invitation. In “The Real World”, in civilian life, I have not witnessed this act very often.

 

In “The Military”, guests were always thoughtful enough to bring a bottle of wine for the dinner.

 

One idea of “Common Sense Courtesy,” is for a man or woman to talk to the host before the dinner and ask if they can bring a dish of some sort of food.

 

Some host or hostesses will suggest a dish you can bring, usually these are the “Pot Luck Suppers.”

 

Pot Luck Suppers

 

In The Far East in the 1980s, Asians would always smile, “You can tell if an American is hosting a formal dinner because they always want you to bring a dish for a pot luck.” I was told this comment time and again.

 

Pot luck style dinners are not popular in Asian cultures because if you are hosting a dinner then it is expected that you already have the food to host the dinner or you would not be hosting it and inviting people.

 

West And East Cultural Dinner Differences

 

In the West, around the 1970s, weight issues became frequent stereotypes for people. In the United States, for instance, if a person has a heavy weight they were considered as being “Lazy” and “not willing to work.” The stereotype, never took into consideration “medical” or “health issues” or even, “genetics.”

 

In the Far East, when I was stationed in the Pacific, in the late 1980s, the irony was a “heavy-set person” was respected for their wealth. The belief was that if someone had a lot of weight, then, they ate plenty and they ate often. Thus, heavy-set, chubby and obese people were seen as smart, industrious and wealthy.

 

The idea of the heavy-set person in the Orient explains why in Asian cultures the host or hostess is expected to provide all the food. If you can’t afford to provide the food; why are you having a party ?

 

Single Person Protocol

 

In the case of a single man or a single woman, who gets invited to dinner at someone’s home, it is not expected that a single person bring a bottle of wine, a gift for the host or hostess or even a dish.

 

The reason is usually in the case of a young person, who went away to work, went away to college or went away to serve in the military: the host or the hostess realizes this is a time in life, when a young person needs their money to pay bills and buy groceries,

 

Therefore, the host or hostess knows the single man or single woman would appreciate a “home-cooked meal” and usually all the single man or single woman is expected to bring is “your appetite.”

 

Life can be difficult for anyone at anytime. If something happens – an accident, a natural disaster — and a middle-aged or senior-aged person, experiences an event, that puts them “down on their luck”, then, when they are invited to a dinner or supper, they are just expected to bring “the appetite.”

 

The dinner or supper invitation to someone “down on their luck” is an act of human kindness that recognizes at “family times of the year” like Thanksgiving and Christmas, “no one should ever be or feel alone.”

 

Warrens Of Texas, DeLongs Of Missouri

 

The basic rule of the Warrens of east Texas and the DeLongs of southwest Missouri is: “ Guests are always welcome to make themselves at home. Common sense and civility is expected. And, guests should always realize,”My house; my rules.” If you don’t wish to observe my rules, “The highway, in front of the house, runs in two directions. Pick one.”

 

In Tagalog, Merry Christmas is “Maligayang Pasko”, which is pronounced as, “MAL– Lee – Guy -Young, Pass – koh.”

 

Maligayang Pasko !

 

Merry Christmas !

 

Sam

CHRISTMAS IN THE PI PHOTO THREE THUMBNAIL PHOTO BY SAMUEL E WARREN JR

 

Noche Buena Links

 

Hiland Dairy Foods Egg Nog

http://www.hilanddairy.com/products/egg-nog

 

History of Egg Nog

http://howtomakeeggnog.com/history.php

 

How To Make Egg Nog

Holiday Recipe

http://howtomakeeggnog.com/holiday.php

 

The Traditional Noche Buena

in the Philippines

Yahoo

http://voices.yahoo.com/the-traditional-noche-buena-philippines-4683911.html?cat=22

 

Noche Buena

Filipino Recipes

http://pinoyfoodblog.com/category/celebrations/noche-buena/

 

Nochebuena Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nochebuena

 

Pirates Piracy Wikipedia

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirates

 

Captain Morgan Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Morgan

 

Captain Morgan Rum Website

http://www.captainmorgan.com/

 

Tanduay

http://www.tanduay.com/

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 30, 2012 at 12:20 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Current Events, Family, Holidays, Leyte, Nature, Observances, Philippines, Photography, Photos, Tourism, Tropics

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Birthday Party

with 6 comments

Plan, Host, Entertain, Celebrate, Reminisce, Enjoy

 

The Birthday Party

1_Happy 57th Birthday Samuel E Warren Jr Nikon D 100 Photo by Sanuel E Warren Jr 002

In preparation for the party, Christy Warren already has all the furniture moved to an arranged location on the porch. A tablecloth adds prestige to the rustic, rural coconut lumber dining table. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr

The day of your birth is obviously the most important day of your life because that is the day your life begins. .

 

The average citizen calculates their year based on the current calendar from January 1 to December 31 each year.

 

Back in the 1980s,the United States Government determined their fiscal year would be from October 1 of one year until September 30 of the following year.

 

I have determined my calendar time-keeping system runs from October 30 of one year until October 30 of the following year. Therefore, my birthday is my yearly calendar.

 

The Most Important Day Of Your Life Each Year

 

My annual birthday anniversary each year is the most important day of my life each year. No one celebrates your birthday before you were born and it is unlikely anyone will celebrate your birthday, once you leave this life.

 

To celebrate your birthday, you need a party. Fortunately, in my life, I had a mother and I have a wife who understands the dynamics of planning and hosting a birthday party. I am a cake and ice cream person, which is all this 57-year-old man expected.

2_Happy 57th Birthday Samuel E Warren Jr Nikon D 100 Photo by Sanuel E Warren Jr 005

   

The table settings combine the traditional American arrangement of the place settings of dishes with the daily arrangement of a Filipino table setting. The traditional large soup spoon and the fork, common daily silverware in a Filipino home, rests in the shallow soup bowl dishes.

 

The Pancit Canton in the plastic container is the Filipino food that symbolizes “Long Life” in the Filipino culture. Therefore, the noodles in the container are not cut during cooking. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Event Planning

 

Important, prestigious, social events demand professional planning and execution that is equal to, but, fortunately, not as crucial, as military operations. The success of any event begins months, weeks and days before “Zero Hour.”

 

Where the formal event – a party– is taking place in a boardroom on Wall Street or a diplomatic gathering at a building in a foreign nation’s capitol: the event has to be “right.” because it will be remembered and discussed for years to come.

 

Most people will not consider their birthday – a “Black Tie Affair At The White House.” I ain’t like most people. Daddy was a Texan. Momma had a sense of protocol that “There is a right way to do everything.”

 

4_Happy 57th Birthday Samuel E Warren Jr Nikon D 100 Photo by Sanuel E Warren Jr 016

The dish, in the foreground, is barbeque pork sticks. The pork pieces are marinated for, at least, 24 hours and then placed on bamboo skewers to be roasted over an open grill fire.

 

The next dish is pork fried rice, Tiny pieces of pork, bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables are mixed into the white rice that is then fried.

 

The main dish is Pancit Canton. In the Philippines, there are two major type of pancit: Canton and Bihon. Bihon is the large, fat noodles. Pancit Canton is the extremely slender noodles that is cooked with a variety of vegetables.

 

The last dish is another plate of barbeque pork sticks. The pink plastic pitcher contains Pepsi Cola. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Southern Hospitality

Factor in my Texas aunts and uncles into my life and while I never refreshed with the mint julep, wearing my white suit and Panama Jack hat on the front porch of the plantation mansion – I still got the importance of Southern respect, hospitality, tradition and protocol.

 

Military Customs And Courtesies

 

Then, of course, Uncle Sam put me in numerous situation to work with and alongside protocol officers and sergeants and the diplomatic formal significance of events finally modified my DNA. “An event is always intended to be an Event. It is a moment of time that is intended to be remembered for years and, one would hope generations.”

 

Diplomatic Protocol

 

You do not have to be “The Ambassador Of The United States Of America” to a foreign country to host a memorable event. A birthday party should always be a memorable event because all of us only get so many. . .actually, so few, birthdays in our lifetime. Each birthday should be memorable.

 

If you really want to get formal with an event, then, you come up with a guest list and make sure the invitations go out in plenty of time for people to put the event on their personal business or social calendar. Naturally, you would either rely on your “Official” protocol people or hire a professional party planner.

 

In difficult economic times, you learn to do your homework and develop a to do list of tasks to be accomplished. Fortunately, for me, I married my “professional party planner”, who got exposed to military and diplomatic functions in the United States and overseas. Then, of course, my mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren took great pride in briefing Christy on Warren and DeLong Family Traditions.

 

Know Your Surroundings

 

Christy understand the salad fork, lobster fork, soup spoon place settings and napkin ring holders for table settings. While she didn’t have an elegant American dining room to set the party up in, she knew the surroundings for the party location and knew hat had to be done.

 

Flexibility is a military reality and a common sense civilian virtue that always seems to get overlooked in planning.

 

In the United States, Christy had a gas stove, oven and air conditioning to be able to prepare a variety of dishes. She had the silver chaffing dishes with the sterno cans underneath to keep the food warm and she set the table to allow for buffet style birthday parties.

 

In the Republic of the Philippines, she had a two burner hot plate hooked to an RV sized hot plate, a wooden table serves as the kitchen island. She has some large pots and pans to cook in. A curved rebar rod on two small concrete blocks set beside the house will provide the makeshift camping stove that Leneil Saldana usually uses with coconut shell briquets to provide an extra cooking stove for an additional dish like pork sticks.

LENEIL SALDANA_0140_resized

Leneil Saldana

Coconut Shell Briquets

 

In the United States, portable barbeque grills using charcoal briquets and lighter fluid provide the fire for outdoor cooking. In the Philippines, the plentiful coconut shell gets busted up and set on fire. Like charcoal briquets, the coconut shells seem to burn evenly and slowly for a consistent fire and heat for cooking.

 

Temperature is a persistent and, sometimes uncomfortable, reality in the Philippines. The kitchen area is currently “too” open to allow an air conditioner to work in the kitchen area. October’s frequent monsoon rains provides a change in the humidity that makes it easier to cook that in August when the sun reigns supreme over the landscape.

 

Christy Warren always exceeds expectations, regardless of the conditions; which is the mark of a true “party planner.”

 

Fate’s Flexibility Factors

 

Fate loves to dabble in event plans, which is why, it is always crucial to remember – Keep The Plans Flexible. Fate is that mysterious entity always luring in the shadows waiting for the right moment to throw a wrench into your plans.

 

The Battle Of Leyte Gulf Anniversary Week and Tropical Storm Ofel were events that made the event a touch and go operation going down to the wire.

 

I had spent the week researching and writing articles on the 68th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Leyte Gulf because the dates of battles for “Freedom” rank right up there with birthdays in my world view.

 

Then, Tropical Storm Ofel decided to complicate matters by using high winds to knock out the power for six days. When the lights did come back on briefly for about 20 minutes on October 28; a transformer blew and darkness returned. When the power did finally come back on on October 29, I dashed to the laptop and began editing photos and polishing the copy for an article for my blog.

 

The sun rose on October 30, 2012 and once I saw that my Sam I Am Blog article was published. I could finally get a good night’s sleep. At around 8 a.m., I decided to get some sleep. “Happy Birthday to me.”

CHRISTY IN WHITE 017_resized

Christy Warren – Party Planner

Christy The Birthday Party Planner

 

Meanwhile, Christy already had her own plans underway, My wife is a Leo, a Fixed Sign. Fixed Sign Zodiac people have their own way of doing things.

 

Leo is the one sign of the Zodiac that is “Born To The Spotlight.” More actors, kings, queens,princes, and princesses are born under the sign of Leo than any other Zodiac sign. In my experience, if a Leo is your party planner, you may as well take a “nap” because they have the situation handled from the git go.

 

While I slept, Christy went to the local market and bought the fresh vegetables for the dishes to be cooked. She directed the kids on where to move furniture and prepared the meal. When I awoke in the afternoon, after my Rip Van Winkle nap, the only task that remained for the party planner and our nephews was to set the table.

 

Ranilo and Rayniel Saldana, my nephews, took their own initiative, and allowances, to select the chocolate cake, icing and the decorations to go on the birthday cake.

 

I heard Christy tell the kids the birthday party was “semi-formal”, which meant T-shirts, walking shorts and sandals were the attire for the Philippines’ afternoon heat and the dining area on the porch.

 

The tablecloth hid the rustic dining table’s humble rural coconut lumber origin. The plastic light green chairs replaced the usual wooden bench seating that goes with the table. The plates and the silverware setting were what you would expect for a traditional birthday party table.

 

Birthday Party Cuisine

 

The menu consisted of barbeque pork sticks, pork fried rice and, of course, pancit canton. In the Philippines, pancit canton is long, skinny noodles cooked with slices of carrots and other vegetables.

 

Pancit Canton is the food served to symbolize “long life,” so the noodles aren’t cut and you have a food that has those lengthy spaghetti style noodles that you either wrap around a fork or lift high up to get in your plate.

 

A couple of plastic pitchers filled with Pepsi Cola for the kids and, of course, coffee for Sam. While everyone ate and talked, I looked around the table at the faces and smiled because I thought of family and friends back in the United States.

Family And Friends Faraway_resized

Family And Friends Faraway On a family outing to the beach, earlier this year, I shot the photo of these local fishing boats on the shore. The number of fishing boats on the beach are symbolic of a family. The Pacific Ocean in the photograph is a reminder of family and friends faraway.

Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Family and Friends Faraway

 

I thought of Cousin Donna and wondered if she would be going to play the slot machines in the casinos anytime soon and wished that we could check out the casino that I spotted on Clark Air Base.

 

I wondered if Ken Sexton is still working with the local Vietnam Veterans’ group and performing color guard functions for military funerals and at public events.

 

I imagined Wade Martin is still driving a Galena school bus and would be amazed to see that farming in the Philippines is a lot like farming in the United States. I was surprised earlier in the week, to stroll along and notice a Jersey heifer munching on the tall grass in a nearby barangay.

 

Nancy Campbell, a close friend of mine and my wife, Christy, had left Missouri and moved back to a small town in Texas. Every time I see a motorcycle in the Philippines, I am reminded of Nancy – there are a lot of motorcycles in the Philippines.

 

Nancy is one of those people you meet in life and would never imagine her “headin’ out on the highway . . . on a Harley.” But, Nancy said that in her 20s, she enjoyed the wind through her hair and the feel of the open road stretching out across the horizon.

 

It is nice to image, Nancy,in her Harley leathers riding along the open highway flashing past those square black signs with the proud white Lone Star State crest brandishing the highway numbers.

 

I wondered if T. Michael Ottens still lived in Elkins, West Virginia. We were classmates back at School Of The Ozarks, back in the days before computers, the Internet, facebook, twitter and cell phones. We didn’t have to use stone hammers and chisels to do our homework, but, typewriters, like their children the computer – weren’t always cooperative.

 

United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Jake Slusher, my “runnin’ buddy” back at Kadena Air Base Okinawa probably is a grandfather by now living somewhere in the United States. . .or possibly, in the Philippines.

 

United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Bobby Thomas, a “runnin’ buddy” and fellow Air Force newspaperman was putting down roots somewhere in Japan, years ago, when I caught the “Freedom Bird” out of Okinawa.

 

J.R. Baker, was my roommate, back in my Bossier City, Louisiana, days. I saw J.R.. years ago. and he had went into the United States Army and went up in rank. I would be surprised if J.R., did not retire as a United States Army command sergeant major because he always understood, “The System.”

 

Greg Pyron, my friend and classmate at School Of The Ozarks, I learned had become a grandfather. Greg always had the award-winning smile and his code of personal appearance each day, looked as though he litterally stepped out of the pages of “GQ” magazine. He became the living embodiment of “The Classic American FM Voice.”

 

Greg had the soft, distinct voice that merged with the air in a room full of girls and women. Greg would speak and you would see a change come over the women in the room. A twinkle would appear in their eyes and the emerging smile on their lips confirmed a flight of fantasy had begun in their minds along the lines of Harlequin Romance novels.

 

In college, at radio station KSOZ-FM, Greg helped me overcome my fear of “The Open Mike” and taught me ways to relax behind the microphone.

 

Michael Roy Truly Rogers, my contemporary hero and classmate at School Of The Ozarks, had a dream to work at radio station WLS-AM Chicago. I heard that Mike’s dream came true. Mike, a handsome man, took the 1970’s James Dean Rebel Approach to life.

James Dean, the young Hollywood actor, became “The Immortal American Teenage Rebel Symbol Of The 1950s. Mike Rogers’ approach to life took the basic “rebel” idea and slipped on the contemporary 1970s wardrobe. He usually wore T-shirts and denim jeans cut-offs. He had a distinct deep voice that had almost a James Earl Jones quality, with the Wolfman Jack energy.

 

In a room full of girls and women, Mike would smile,speak and the women be “mesmerized” into a Count Dracula state of hypnosis.

 

Little girls would bounce up and down like they were on pogo sticks, teenage girls would swoon, middle age women would have a motel smirk curl the smile of their lips and senior citizen “granny” women would smile.

 

The transition of “granny” age women happened in the eyes. You could watch them blink away the years, and the innuendo smile on their faces would suggest their minds were “rewriting” a fantasy that had Mike as one of their beaus, center stage, in their past.

 

The Ladies Men” – Mike and Greg

 

I always admired Mike and Greg because their “Radio Disc Jockey Voices” seem to give them an almost uncanny power “over” women or the audio quality to get through to women at any level, virtually any time they seemed to wish it. They had made “Star Trek’s Mr. Spock Mind Meld Technique”as easy and natural as breathing and it seemed “every woman on planet Earth was powerless against the suave, debonair voices of Mike and Greg each with their distinct traits.”

 

Mike always seemed more aloof and not as easy to become friends with as Greg. Mike was only about a year older than me, but, I looked up to him like he was a respected, revered, wise, sage elder. And, Mike also helped me to become relaxed behind the microphone and proficient, even skilled, at operating the controls of a radio station in the control room. At KSOZ-FM, we classified Mike as the living, breathing, embodiment of “The Classic AM American Rock Disc Jockey Voice.”

 

I like to imagine that Mike is still working as “an AM Rock Jock” and teaching legions of future broadcaster how to pull off a contemporary Wolfman Jack voice with such class and style that listeners tune in every morning to get the Walter Cronkite credibility and the adrenaline voltage to take them from their morning coffee and newspaper straight to the boardroom to close million dollar deals without batting an eye or breaking a sweat.

 

The Birthday Party Guests

 

My family and friends in the United States, weren’t seated around the table for the “birthday party”, but, the fact that they were in my mind ,reminded me, that I was grateful of the roles each of these people had played in my life and to me – it meant they were at the birthday party.

 

I looked around the table at Edwin Mora, Christy’s cousin and a local hog farmer, who smiled at his wife Babysel, who leans back in the chair to accommodate her prominent pregnant stomach. “The Babysel Watch” began October 26 and the “bouncing bundle of joy” is apparently taking his or her time to get their itinerary in order.

5_Happy 57th Birthday Samuel E Warren Jr Nikon D 100 Photo by Sanuel E Warren Jr 021

 

Rachel Mora, smiles at me and drops down out of the chair to check on her little brother, Randolf Mora, Leneil Saldana passes her husband, Ramon, Christy’s brother, the platter of pork sticks. Ranilo Saldana concentrates on the pork fried rice on the plate, in front of him.

6_Happy 57th Birthday Samuel E Warren Jr Nikon D 100 Photo by Sanuel E Warren Jr 027

Rafael Saldana,Christy’s brother and a coconut farmer, adds some more pancit canton to his plate. Nieces Vanissa Saldana and Junea Tanahale had errands to run with Virgie and Esmeralda, their mothers, so they were not at the party.

7_Happy 57th Birthday Samuel E Warren Jr Nikon D 100 Photo by Sanuel E Warren Jr 029

 

Christy waves to her Aunt Pising walking by and she turns around and walks into the birthday party. Mano Bito, a local rice farmer, strolls into the party. Everyone is talking in Tagalog and Waray and I am truly enjoying Christy’s pork fried rice and “finger lickin’ good barbeque pork sticks”. Young Rayniel Saldana looks at the birthday cake and at me – I get the message.

 

Five-Star Birthday Party

 

Rayniel’s big eyes looking at me brought me out of my mind and back into The Real World.

 

English ?

 

Tagalog ?

 

Waray ?

 

Language is not necessary, when the cake remains to be cut and the containers of cold ice cream are placed on the table.

 

One nice thing about being a cigarette smoker, your lighter to light the candles is always in your pocket and ready to use. I lit the candle and made my wish. I blew out the candles on the first try. The cake and ice cream went around the table to the smiling hungry faces of the children.

 

Once again, Christy had planned, prepared,and hosted a five-star birthday party that became a successful reality. She created delicious dishes and provided the relaxed atmosphere for conversation and reflection that is needed for any event or party to be memorable.

Philippines’ Ponder Points

 

It has been less than a year,since we returned to the Philippines. Life has proven that you are never too old to learn. Your expectations overall don’t always work out the way you think they will – that is a “life lesson” that I seem to get reminded of each year.

 

My After Action Report for 2012

 

One of Uncle Sam’s requirements I have held on to. After important events, the United States Government always takes the time to reflect and collect data on an event to see if it achieved the goals.

 

If the event is an annual event, then, what needs to be done next year to make sure the event Is a success. Watch your Hollywood movies and the actors playing government officials, diplomats, generals and admirals are always talking about their “Sitreps” – situation reports – and their “After Action Report.”

 

I sat at the table, lit a cigarette, sipped my coffee and thought about “My After Action Report” for the current year.

 

Overall, though, when I stop to remember the day we arrived at the airport in Manila and looked at where we stood on October 30, 2012, like they say, in the old commercials, “You’ve Come Along Way, Baby.”

CHRISTY AND VANISSA_6205_resized

  Christy Warren, and our niece, Vanissa Saldana stroll, in front of< Robinson’s Place in Tacloban City to go “shopping.” Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

  NIKON D 100 Photo 0010_by Samuel E Warren Jr  Junea Tanahale, our niece, makes a flower arrangement. “Aunt” Christy Warren, one summer morning, instructed Junea and Vanissa Saldana on the way to do the formal place settings on a table and instructed them on making flower arrangements. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Christy and I have learned a lot in less than a year. There are obvious similarities between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States and there are some significant differences between both countries, even if you lived in a rural area of the USA.

 

I could look around the table at the faces and remember moments from earlier in the year when we bought the refrigerator, but it was only delivered to the side of the road because the yard was too soft for the truck to take it all the way, so family members carried it to the house.

 

Life’s On The Job Training

 

Ramon, my brother-in-law has always been more like a son to me. When I was a young G.I., Ramon lived with Christy and I,in Angeles City, near Clark Air Base, and went to school.

 

Now, Ramon is a man with a family of his own. A mechanic, Ramon has become a self-taught carpenter. He built a wall-mounted shrine for the living room. Then, he used bamboo and concrete and built an impressive hog house..

HOG HOUSE_resized

HOG HOUSE

in this photograph the second pen of the house house is still under construction. The first pen already had two hogs rooting around the pen. Ramon Q. Saldana Jr., built this hog house. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

SARI SARI STORE BUILT BY RAMON

SARI SARI STORE built by Ramon Q. Saldana Jr.

Ramon is a self-taught carpenter. He built a hog house and, then, built a Sari-Sari Store in Barangay Baras. In this photo, Ramon and a visitor sit in front of the small store. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

We had been fortunate to go to the beach and go swimming a couple of times this year. We had all survived. My Canon EOS 40 D camera didn’t. An accidental dip of about 30 seconds in a big wave must have been too much for the onboard sensors. Fortunately, I had a Nikon on standby.

 

Division Downsizing

 

A US Army-sized division of distant relatives had greeted us at the airport in Manila and a battalion of distant relatives had escorted us to Leyte. As the fiscal budget year wore on , Christy and I didn’t always sign off on proposals like the Manila based 10-wheeler cargo trucking line to Leyte.

 

The companies of disgruntled, distant relative began their own “downsizing” and “redeployment” back to the island of Luzon and the municipalities of Angeles City and Manila.

 

Warren-building

 

While the United States Government, Iraq and Afghanistan continue their “Nation-building” of governments, infrastructure nad cultures, Christy and I have been involved in Warren-building on the island of Leyte. I have concentrated on my photography and writing articles for my blog. Christy has concentrated on the renovations to turn One Warren Way from an unused rice mill building into a home.

 

Christy got her dream of the CSW Cafe in Tacloban City. Eight kids began the school year at One Warren Way, Four kids went “Republican” and exercised an “Exit strategy” to “retired” to somewhere else on the island of Leyte.

 

All in all, it has been an exciting year of challenges, successes and a couple of disappointments. Christmas is beyond Halloween, so that future operation is under Christy’s chain of command.

 

My significant shortfall, this year, is that I didn’t plan far enough ahead for the kids to have a “Halloween Party.” I had hoped they and their friends would be able to have the Halloween costume party at the house. The Halloween custom seems to be catching on in Manila, but, has, yet, to make it to rural Leyte.

 

My Holiday Is Halloween

 

Halloween is “my holiday” and is the other day of the year I look forward to each year. I have my mother to “Thank” for the Halloween Party memories.

 

As a small boy in rural southwest Missouri in the 1960s, “birthday parties” were an uncommon idea. There were no McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, or any other fast food restaurants to offer birthday party plans in nearby Branson, Missouri in 1960. Silver Dollar City had just recently opened their gates and the old white clapboard Abesville grade school stood across the gravel road from the brick school house.

 

The old Abesville Grade Schoolhouse was the classic small white schoolhouse with the steeple and red roof that you see in the Hollywood movies; it had retired as a schoolhouse and had become the meeting place for the Abesville 4-H Club.

 

Halloween And Birthday Party Tradition

 

Beginning in the first grade, my mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren set a precedent: my birthday party.

 

Kids in rural southwest Missouri really didn’t have birthday parties in the fall and winter months. Your classmates didn’t live blocks away; they usually lived miles away.

 

School District Logistics

 

The Galena RII School District would have kids who lived a few steps from the Reeds Spriing school district get on the yellow bus to made the arduous commute to Abesville Grade School or Galena High School each morning.

 

Meanwhile, kids in Wheelerville, Cross Roads, and Jenkins would watch the yellow school buses of the Crane School district pass by their farms, while they waited patiently for their Galena school bus.

 

Thus, Galena school students from, near Reeds Springs, and from near Wheelerville, Cross Roads and Jenkins, were like American G.I.s because each morning they had to “deploy” for the long bus ride to and from Abesville or Galena

 

The students might spend about two hours on the bus each morning before they ever arrived at school and then two hours each night before they ever reached home. The School District Logistics Of Travel each morning and evening worked against the childhood opportunities to attend a birthday party.

 

Weird Weather

 

The fall weather, in October, was always as uncertain as the promises of a politician; the weather changes quickly in southwest Missouri in autumn.

 

The weather for Halloween in southwest Missouri is usually like a Wes Craven or John Carpenter horror movie where the London fog meets the Seattle rain. Some years, the skeletal bone-chilling cold would sink through your coat and speed your steps The tips of your nose would tingle in the cold. You could feel the sting of the biting cold bite into your ears, The weird weather of Halloween seemed to exercise demonic persecution of children, who just wanted to get a few pieces of candy.

 

It seldom snowed on Halloween, in my childhood, but, the dismal, eerie, cold. Damp, depressing feel of the weather always kept children close to home. If you were lucky, your parents might drive you to Galena, so you could go “Trick Or Treat” at a few homes.

 

By the 1980s, officials at the Stone County Courthouse had arranged a Halloween Party to allow the kids to “Trick Or Treat” in a more fun and less “survival expert” way to celebrate Halloween.

 

Momma’s Miracle – My Birthday Party

 

In the 1960s, in southwest Missouri, the idea of autumn and winter birthday parties and Halloween Parties were as vague as the dream of the Internet.

 

My mother talked to Mrs. Russell, my first grade teacher, My birthday party and the class Halloween celebration became an annual event that continued each year for seven years; right up until my classmates and I entered the eighth grade at Galena High School.

 

Momma would bring the big vanilla sheet cake that always had my “Happy Birthday” greeting and “Happy Halloween” lettered in icing on the cake. The Kool-Aid with the cake gave me the reason to look forward to my birthday and the other kids commented that when they saw the cake they knew it was time for Halloween.

 

At 57, I can look back on a successful birthday party, remember the fun parties of childhood, and make a note to plan for the nephews a Halloween Party for next year. Then, again, I think I know a party planner up to the challenge of hosting a Halloween party: “Christy, honey, what do you say, for next year, we plan,for the kids, a Halloween Party?”

 

Christy ?”

THE CAKE_Happy 57th Birthday Samuel E Warren Jr Nikon D 100 Photo by Sanuel E Warren Jr 029 - Copy

The Birthday Cake

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

November 4, 2012 at 5:41 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Current Events, Editorial, Family, Holidays, Leyte, Observances, Opinion, Philippines, Photos, Stone County History

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: