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Fiscal Christmas of 2011 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Personal Business Editorial

Fiscal

Christmas

of

2011

CHRISTMAS BUILDING_DSC_6193_PALO LIBRARY 2011_resized

Santa’s Southern Workshop

If Santa Claus has to make a pit stop on Leyte to feed his reindeer or resupply his big, bright red Christmas Presents sack, then, it looks like the Palo Library is his stop over location based on this holiday photo of 2011. The snapshot was taken through the windshield of a moving vehicle, which accounts for the heavy coloration at the top of the snapshot and the circles reflected on the building and is a reminder that sometimes in life what we see is not always what we think we see. Snapshot by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

As a little boy in the United States, I have several memories of “Christmas In The Ozarks.”

 

As a young man in college, I have several memories of “Christmas On The Job.”

 

CHRISTMAS STAR LOGO PHOTO THUMBNAIL TWOAs a man in the military, I have several memories of “Christmas Around The World” or, more correctly, “Christmas In The Pacific.”

 

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.”

 

My wife, Christy Warren and I returned to the Republic of the Philippines in December 2011, which resulted in a “Fast Christmas.”

 

Extended Family Concept

 

The Philippines is one of those nations that practices the “Extended Family” concept. Americans tend to think of “Immediate Family,” which is Mom, Dad, the kids, and sometimes grandpa, grandma, and the aunts and uncles.

 

The Philippines’ “Extended Family” concept is exceptional because it takes into account other relatives, which can be distant aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

 

Taken to the extreme, the concept is like taking a Manila telephone book and expecting everyone listed under A to Z to show up on Christmas Day.

 

Unleash The Relatives !

 

As Christmas 2011 approaches, it becomes apparent that Christy Saldana Warren is related to most of the past, present and future delegates of The United Nations.

 

By Christmas Eve 2011, apparently the only person in The Republic Of The Philippines that Christy was not related to is The President Of The Philippines.

 

It seemed that everyone who could walk, stagger, hire a pedicab, tricycle, jeepney or hitch a ride had passed through the doors for the “Home For The Holidays” celebration. A few people took the time to identify themselves as “friends”, while many just smiled, nodded and socialized with other family members.

 

Christmas Eve 2011 and Christmas Day 2011 proved to be a wonderful celebration. People, food, kids, joy, excitement, storytelling, socializing. No script writer in Hollywood or Manila could come up with a script for a more joyous family holiday celebration.

 

Christmas Glitch

 

Every nation has those situations and conditions that allow some people to profit at the expense of others. In the Philippines, the cultural “Extended Family Concept” is an ideal situation to be taken to the extreme to take advantage of people and the overall compassionate message of humanity at Christmas.

 

Jet Lag, Time Drag

 

The Fast Christmas” celebration took advantage of the fact that we stepped off the airplane in the middle of December. It would take a couple of days for us to travel from the island of Luzon to the island of Leyte. While we would spend a couple of days in Manila before a quick Christmas trip to Angeles City, our bodies were still suffering from “jet lag”.

 

Our minds were adjusting to the “International Date Line time difference of 14 hours between the Philippines and Missouri because The Show Me State was on “Daylight Savings Time”, which added an hour to the normal 13-hour time difference.

 

I had looked forward to the trip to Angeles City as “My Military Mecca Pilgrimage”, I could return to my beloved Clark Air Base and see the changes since the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Unfortunately, this was one of those “side trips” that you make to say, “Hi” and “Bye.”

 

Sad Story Singers

 

Christmas The Season is the time of year when “Everyone On Planet Earth Has A Sad Story To Tell.” One of the other 364 days of the year, people might ignore your story, but, the Christmas Season gets into a person’s psychological makeup and the whole “Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Men” scenario kicks in and a person listens to “the sad story.”

 

If you are born to a rich family, then, you probably have to really dig into the family history to find a sad story to sing. The rest of us, just think back a couple of months and find a sad story. Some people truly do have a sad story in life that begins around Day One.

 

Many people are just disappointed not to have been born to a mom or dad listed in the Fortune 500 with a fat bank account and a portfolio that list numbers with several series of zeroes after the numbers.

 

Sometimes a Sad Story maybe true. Sometimes a Sad Story is a ploy with a fiscal ending aimed at your wallet or purse. One example is the man, who told me, “My son could use a computer for his education.” No doubt.

 

Of course, smiling at someone, during Christmas Season and replying, “Get A Job”, would probably be considered politically incorrect and downright callous. Nonetheless, I am too skinny to ever be mistaken for Santa Claus anywhere in the world.

 

I came from hard-working parents and the “work ethics” of the Ozarks and Texas is hardwired into my DNA, so “I will try to help people, who help themselves”, but , I remember the old Ozarks’ saying, “ Charity starts at home.”

 

Find The Family

 

I retired from the military in 1997. Christy and I had left Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines to go to another assignment only a few months before Mount Pinatubo solved the whole “US Bases In The Philippines” debate in clouds of volcanic ash.

 

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo cut off all communications between Christy and her family in the Philippines for the next 18 years, both of us tried everything we could think of to locate her family in the Philippine Islands.

 

In 2008, we got lucky and communications were reestablished and she began talking to the family on a regular basis. We considered moving to the Philippines.

 

Parents, Plan, Priority

 

Before we left the US, Christy and I discussed that a “rice mill” might be a good idea in a country setting in the Philippines. At the time, all the family members in the Philippines seemed to agree.

 

Everyone knew the family story that essentially Christy s mom had made Christy swear an oath to do everything possible to “Keep The Family Together.” Everyone knew that my mother had taught me, “Family Is Everything.” The pledges to our parents were the type of ploys that could be used to try and make a person feel guilty.

 

Christy had made it known to the family that her priority was that the family work together to succeed, so that everyone would benefit in the long run through the years ahead. The concept of “Teamwork” seemed to be an idea that everyone was willing to work for.

 

Business Banter

 

Christy had come up with a business plan that would allow every member of the family to have a role in the family business. Before we left the States, it seemed everyone was anxious to hit the beach at Leyte and do the family business of running a rice mill.

 

Before we left the States, a rice mill had been built in Barangay Baras. Christy and I discussed other ideas for a family business. Family members, offered up their own ideas.

 

In the United States, the idea of involving relatives in a family business began to disappear around the time of the American Civil War.

 

By the 1900s, Americans were known around the world as the people who tell you “Never Ever Involve Family In A Business You Own.” I had heard that admonition my entire life. From what I had witnessed in life, it seemed like sound advice.

 

However, my wife, Christy is a Filipina and we were returning to the Philippines. I had, no doubt, if everyone was willing to work with Christy everyone would succeed.

 

The Boss

 

I had been the military man. I remain the reporter and photographer. My wife, Christy, like my mother, was obviously the business woman. I had the luxury of “Being Married To The Boss.”

 

The drawback to any business is “Everyone wants to be the chief and no one wants to be just one of the braves.” The braves forget, in a business sense, “the person with the wampum makes the rules.”

 

As the year wore on, it became obvious that some family members had not been all that excited about the original idea of the rural rice mill. Christy being a woman in a traditionally “macho” culture did not help in her trying to win over family members.

 

In the Latin-based cultures, like the Philippines, the eldest male child is expected to “take charge” and call the overall shots for the family. Then, of course, you factor in the Asian cultural concept of “Save Face” and women usually stand in the shadows in a “be seen, but not heard role.”

 

Men don’t always appreciate working for a woman. In the US, men not being able to work with a woman is an idea that has really disappeared since the 1970s.

 

But, there are places in the world, where men really have problems when “The Boss” is a woman. It seemed some of the men really didn’t want to think of Christy as “The Boss.”

 

Blame The Americans – Everyone Else Does

UNCLE SAM

 

Thank God for The United States Of America !

 

Without the US to blame, for everything from bad weather to the price of tea in China, many citizens of the world would have to find something or someone else to blame if good old Uncle Sam wasn’t around. Thus, the US got some of the blame when Christy and I didn’t jump at a business idea. Someone would grumble, “Christy spent too long in the US.”

 

Christy The Filipina

 

Christy Saldana is an independent woman, who had her own ideas about life before I ever married her and she stepped off the airplane on to US soil. People who tried to “blame the US” knew nothing about Christy or the United States.

 

Christy is one of those people, who has worked for and earned everything she has in life. She had earned her own way in life. When I met her, I was impressed by her confidence and ambition.

 

Side Trip Shaft

 

After the Angeles City holiday pilgrimage, we were back on the road headed to a ferry for the island of Leyte. Our bodies still dealt with the prolonged “jet lag” and our minds were still adjusting to the “time drag”

 

My first major disappointment since returning to the Philippines came with the “side trip” to Angeles City. Too much time had been wasted on trying to get everyone together.

 

We ended up going to Clark Air Base “too late” for me to be able to enjoy looking around the base. We didn’t have time that night to see the base. We didn’t have time to spend a day or so in the area, so that we could visit the base. This is one of those decisions that did not sit well with me.

 

I had looked forward to the visit to Clark. Anger is the emotion that I felt at being denied the opportunity to take my time and look around the base. Resentment is the other emotion that stuck in my craw. And, the word, Mad, is an accurate description of how I felt when we left Angeles City.

 

Back On The Road

 

Naturally, we were trying to get to Leyte to be able to rest after the long plane flight and to celebrate Christmas.

 

The ride to the ferry off the island of Leyte was a long ride because I was mad. Nonetheless, I was ready to finally kick my shoes off and unpack my suitcases. Fast Christmas had kept us off balance and on the road.

 

If you want to do business on Christmas Day, then, tell the people you want to do business with. If you want to promote a business idea, then, you have to be willing to put some of your own money on the line.

In the ideas that were being suggested to us, everyone wanted to be “the idea man” and leave all of the investment of money to Christy and Sam.  If you try to wrap up and slide a fiscal agenda into the holiday all you will get for the year is a bundle of switches and lumps of coal in your fiscal plans.

 

The Jet Lag, Time Drag, Slide Trip Shaft, and the On The Road, factors are the lumps of coal that pushed Christy and I into Christmas Day 2011. I considered Christmas Day 2011 a Fast Christmas. The result is the day became the Fiscal Christmas of 2011.

 

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 29, 2012 at 6:51 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Current Events, Editorial, Family, Holidays, Money, Observances, Opinion, Philippines

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The Birthday Party

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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.

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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.”

 

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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