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First Thanksgiving Day in Chicago

I remember that first Thanksgiving day in the US while working in Chicago. A customer approached me and asked: Do you have turkeys in this shop? My fellow cashier, I still remember his name because the incident is fresh and vivid in my memory, told the black customer: "Yeah, we have lots of turkeys in this store! Now, I said to myself, that's a real "turkey" talking! I pulled him aside in the washroom during break time and asked what he meant by saying that and because I thought he might be alluding that turkey remark to me, I said I was offended with his statement. I was ready to give him a right hook to break his jaw even if he is six feet two inches tall. The other employees whispered to me that John, besides being the second boss, is also the shop owners son and a former marine Lt. in Vietnam! Nevertheless, I said to myself. I am just a young newly-arrived Filipino in America trying to survive in the jungles of Chicago, well-educated and a former decision-making manager of a well-known company back home and I am prepared for a fight. John said that he was only joking! It sounded like a racial slur to me. To make the story short, we became very good friends. When my landed immigrant status was approved by the Canadian Consul in Chicago, he and his German-American father who hired me in the first place because of the old mans love for Filipinos according to John because of Bataan, they were both disconsolate. They bawled like cows in the pasture when they found out I was going to Canada and leaving Chicago for Toronto-the-Good for good. I found out Johns dad was a US soldier who valiantly fought the Japanese with Filipino soldiers in Bataan during World War II. The Filipinos and Americans were a factor in knocking down the Japanese Imperial armys timetable to capture the entire Philippine archipelago in their quest to conquer the whole of South East Asia. When Bataan fell the Japanese forced the Filipino and American soldiers in a death march to Capas as punishment. Thousands were bayoneted to death and many died of hunger and disease on their way to the concentration camp. Ah, America that incident in the poultry house might be why people probably call Thanksgiving Day in the US Turkey Day too.

Ah, America that incident in the poultry house might be why people probably call Thanksgiving Day in the US Turkey Day too.

November, 2001

Stop Over in Hawaii

After my stop-over in Tokyo and before I arrived in Chicago, the plane landed in Honolulu in Hawaii. I had only a glimpse of the island from the airport. At the Honolulu airport, the first port of entry to the United States, the visitors and American returning residents were separated by a sign before passing through customs. I noticed a solitary and conspicuous Filipina beauty with her ribbon still pinned across her breast declaring her as the winner of a beauty contest pageant in the Philippines, lined up among the other visiting passengers. She was almost the last in line among the row of visitors. There was no special attention accorded to her by anyone in the crowd of people, much less by the customs officer notwithstanding the fact that she is a special passenger, being a beauty contest winner and she was attired unquestionably and recognized as a beauty queen. She looked confused, uncomfortable, and at a loss on what to do.

This first airport incident in America influence me to a certain extent my initial perspective of how Americans treat individuals from another country. I wondered about this in Honolulu and thought that I might be wrong in typecasting all of them as chauvinistic and bigots. This view was proven right later on when I discovered that the majority of my American friends and acquaintances are different from my first encounter with those in the airport. I was new in America and my outlook and stance then is very much as if I was still in Manila, and I thought that if that woman was in the Philippines, a strikingly beautiful brown beauty queen, she would have been treated like a movie star and given special attention. I imagined then that if she were in the Manila International Airport there would have been quite a disturbance because of her designation as beauty queen.

I had hoped that what I saw at the airport was not a universal show of prejudice by white Americans for colored people. I soon gained enough knowledge in America to discover that prejudice, as likely as it happens in America by Americans for Filipinos, could also happen among our own people who are already there, for their own fellow Filipinos.

September, 2003

First Christmas in America

I celebrated my first Christmas away from home in Chicago. Before this event took place, I saw my first snow in America while at work in my first job as a cashier with a poultry plant and distributor company in the city. I was so excited with this new experience of seeing snow that I have to stop my work as the cashier to run to the nearest window to see and observe my first snowfall. The owner of the poultry house as well as the other employees were amused with my great interest in looking at the snow flurry but when they learned it was my first time in my life to see snow they cheerfully gave me the thumps up and shouted approval much to the vexation of the very strict owner for leaving my post but later on was also encouraging me to put away my work and take a break when he found out the reason why his workforce was applauding as I watch the snow as it falls to the roof beams and on the city side walks below.

Chicago conjures up images of gray skyscraper canyons funneling the bitter wind blowing off Lake Michigan. One may ask what could possibly be appealing about Chicago in December. As I found out later on, winter can be hard in Chicago. But going there for the first time and seeing snow is such a big experience for someone like me who has just arrived from a tropical country and never have seen snow in my entire life.

I went around the must-see spots of the second biggest city in the United States before the onset of winter: Sears Tower, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the architecture and sculpture in and around the center of town. It was a great experience and, no doubt, Chicago has impressed me as one of the greatest city in American if not the whole world.

But despite the thrill of at last going through my first real white Christmas in a temperate country, I must have been the loneliest person on the planet. I was also my first Christmas away from home because my wife and children were still in the Philippines and I was alone in this big city.

December, 2003

Musings and Revelations of the Author with an American Family Member

One day I received an e-mail letter from Ron, my brother-in-law in reply to one I sent him. Ron and his wife, my sister, are now American citizens. He wrote me the following letter:

Dear Paul, The election of Bush is already a blessing in disguise for Canada. Had it not been for his victory, the Canadian dollar would still be hovering between 75-80 cents to a dollar. Even the Euro dollar is getting higher, although this situation has a downside to it - European companies may find it more difficult to compete with other non-European countries. Many times nature has a way of balancing itself out. The law of physics seems applicable here. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. The election of Bush also opens up the possibility for a first lady president, although political pundits are wary about Hillarys political sentiments and orientation which are similar to Gore's and Kerry's - far removed from the South's conservatism. Edwards will be probably seeking the presidential nomination as well. I might be tempted to root for Hillary for historical reasons. At the same time, I tend to believe that male leaders are more decisive in times of crisis. Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher are probably the exceptions, but in these terrible times, the exceptions do not vitiate the rule.

I think that democratic countries are the most peace-loving and liberty-loving people in the world. But when peace and liberty are threatened, it is necessary to resort to drastic measures to keep the peace and protect the freedom which are really the foundation of democracy. It is not really fear of terrorism that vaulted Bush to victory more than the belief that he is a stronger leader in time of war. I do believe that the people who voted for Kerry (and that includes Hollywood) prefer the mollification mode to confrontation - a recognition of coexistence (not necessarily cowardice) so as not to upset the comfortable lifestyle they are used to. I think that as long as the dualism of nature exists (black v. white, rich v. poor, small v. big, powerful v. weak), there is always the possibility of conflict because of inequality perception. Of course there are other reasons such as religion and culture that help to foment global conflicts the differences of which are so wide to be bridged by peaceful approaches and global collaboration. To win against terrorism is to fight against it. Terrorism cannot coexist with freedom in the same way that hell cannot reconcile with heaven. I believe I am writing an editorial rather than a response to your e-mail. Bye.

I responded to Rons e-mail and wrote him the following:

Hi Ron, I was not really that enthusiastic for Kerry. He flip-flopped and for his 20 years stint in the U.S. senate, he has nothing much to show. I did not even know him until he ran for President. I often laughed when I saw him on TV during the debates. I mentioned to Elda that he reminds me of Babalu. I'll just wait four more years for Hillary Clinton to beat the Republicans. The Lindas and Imeldas (referring to my sisters) of America will love that to happen.

Anyway, four more WARS! How many more young Americans will die in the quagmire of Iraq? . . . a war started with the wrong presumption and in complete disregard of the opinion of American allies and most of the free world? As one of our members of parliament in Ottawa said, what happened just shows that the Americans have lost their prudence and vision for world peace and harmony? They are scared of Muslim or Arab terrorism against America, the motivation and explanation of which is debatable, and they wanted a tough guy as President for protection. I can't blame them.

Ancient Rome lasted more than a thousand years as ruler of the civilized world. I give America another 10 to 20 years as the greatest power on earth in view of what is happening! Welcome the European Union if not, I won't be surprised at all, if China will emerge as the worlds most powerful nation in 20 years!

As a result of what is happening, our Canadian dollar has risen vs. the US dollar. It's now Can $ .83 cents to your US dollar after Bush won.

November, 2004

Jose Rizal

I received a letter from Ron after several exchanges of e-mails and telephone conversation on several topics. This one is his reply to my musings about our national hero Jose Rizal after reading a book about him titled: Rizal without the Overcoat. I bought this book in the Philippines during a recent visit there.

Hi Duds, I think I made a big blunder in engaging you to this type of dialogue. In case you don't know but every time I read your e-mails, even those not directed to me, I wish I could possess the clarity and depth with which you present your views and opinions. Make no mistake; I am not creating a Mutual Admiration Society (MAS) where compliments deserve another. I must admit, with some sense of envy that you have a good handle of the English language which is not uncommon to Canadians. OH, the rule of the exceptions!

Ocampo's view that Rizal is an ordinary human being may not be so accurate. For although Rizal has the same ordinary needs (food, love, etc.) and desires (beautiful women) his vision was not. It is not fair to strip him of what he really is: a genius, a patriot of the first order, fearless, lover, etc. How many Filipinos can be compared with him, or any non-Filipino for that matter?

Short in stature, he towers above all of them, including Churchill, Lincoln or Gandhi. I just wish his brain were preserved so scientist could analyze the composition or convolutions of that gray matter God so delicately designed inside his skull. I still remember what an American politician wrote: If the bullets destroyed your cranium, likewise your ideas destroyed an empire.

Beneath the "overcoat" is the immortal mortal, endowed with extraordinary capacity that we ordinary humans consider abnormal because geniuses alas are abnormal. His overcoat was just the natural element of his humanness, like Christ's needs for survival and mortal feelings of pain, joy, and anger. A human being, of course! A demigod? Why not?

But like other writers (I would like to read his book) Ocampo wants to have another view of the man-hero - by looking through his humanness beneath the god-like greatness. It would be good for writers like him to write about Rizal and extol his greatness in the world's famous libraries. Then the world would know the true measure of one Filipino who could stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, with all great world leaders. Hey, you could start the project.

I was just watching CNN and one news item appears: Some disgruntled Americans (probably Democrats who can't bear Dubya) are relocating to Canada. This is good news for Canada. The Clinton's have already started the Hillary for President Campaign. It would be interesting. What happens if the Republicans counter with Colin Powell? This will create a big headache for African-Americans, don't you think? Bye and have a restful Sunday.

My reply to Ron:

Hi Ron, Don't apologize for writing me back with a response that sounds familiarly like an editorial of the Globe and Mail. In fact, although it took me 3 times to read and grasp the significance of what you wrote about the impact of Bush winning another 4 more years to rule the democratic world, I was quite entertained. Hey, the gist of your letter has substance. Lay to rest your unassuming nature and admit the fact that unlike the rest of the horde you can really write and convey your thinking with ease and assurance.

Reading your "editorial" is like how I felt and jolted me when I read in the latest book on Rizal by Ambeth R. Ocampo that our national hero's favorite breakfast fare while he was in Europe was chocolate and "sardinas secas" (or, in plain Tagalog, "tuyo" like you do!) and that whenever our hero felt the twinge of heartache in view of the long absence of his "aficionada" in the Philippines, he had no hesitation of seeking the pleasures of "las palomas de bajo vuelo" (or in tagalog, "mga kalapating mababang lipad" unlike us, of course!).

Ambeth is trying to point out that Rizal is an ordinary human being like us. Many Filipinos regard him as a demi-god, always shown in European attire with an overcoat in Philippine plazas which is strange in a hot country like the Philippines. In fact the title of the book written by Ambeth is "Rizal without the Overcoat". When I went home last May I bought books authored by Filipino writers. These Filipinos write about topics and issues that are quite a revelation to me. One day I will lend them to you. I am sure you will enjoy reading these books like I do.

You maybe right about Hillary Clinton. I have been following her political leanings and I think she is a "protectionist" which is bad for Canada. Presently, 85% of our trade is with the United States and that is not good. Our politicians are now turning their eyes more to Asia as trading partners, specially China, and Europe. I may be wrong about Hillary. Let's give the mothers of the world a chance to rule. After all, most of us men were brought up and shaped up by them from childhood to early adulthood and I see no reason why one of them like Hillary can't capably rule a country like the United States of America.

Saturday, November 6, 2004, at 06:13 AM

More views of the author on Jose Rizal, our National hero

I received a letter from Ron:

I responded to your e-mail at school. For some unknown reason I didn't see the e-mail in the Sent mailbox. I know I pressed the word Send. Anyway, I can remember some of the thoughts that I tried to convey such as follows:

I think that you misunderstood the phrase "I made a big blunder". What I meant was because you handle the English language with so much ease and fluency and your views are well-expressed and so sharp that there's a mismatch - and so the word blunder. Of course I enjoy this healthy exercise of views exchange and whether or not a mismatch resulted does not deter me from continuing the dialogue without of course subjecting ourselves to the pressures of timely response or articulate retort. This exercise, I have to admit, helps to sharpen my mental faculties which have become rusty and dull due to inactivity or lack of opportunity.

Rizal's preoccupation with his physical deficiencies (height, big head), is a natural response from someone who dreams of the ideal. From someone whose mental faculties are extraordinary, the desire becomes greater.

Superior minds cannot accept mediocrity. His outstanding feat maybe the result of compensation and a defense mechanism that seeks to balance a deficiency or become better in other ways. Although compensation is a natural response for everyone, excellent or superior compensation can only result if the capacity to compensate is also available. The ability to compensate is dependent on the degree of competence. In other words, one cannot compensate more than what your potential allows. Rizal compensated well and more because he could. In the final analysis, we are in full agreement that Rizal is our national hero second to none.

You had me smiling with your visions of the BLUE states joining Canada. But you see they are just feeling that way because their defeat at the pools is too much to bear. They have to lick their wounds for 4 years. But then leaving USA would prevent them from getting back at Dubya and his cohorts. They have a mission to make life difficult for Dubya and living in another country would partially render them politically impotent. So perish the thought. Dem boys will have to bear the pain. Revenge is so sweet that it preempts any idea of self-sacrifice.

Last week was a good one for Linda and me. Last Friday we went to the movie and to the casino to celebrate her birthday. Looks like none of her loving brothers remembered to greet her on her most important day. She is not bothered because in a few days they will be calling her apologetically, he, he. Ciao.

My reply:

This time it is my turn to do an act of contrition and ask for your forgiveness. I read your letter below and would have let our exchange of dialogue end at least for a while being aware that you are a busy man and our jousting with words and repartee might hinder you from other more important things to do.

Anyway, you touched on Jose Rizal's greatness as a human being and this struck home to my heart because he is my favorite illustration of what a national hero should be. He accomplished in a short span of 35 years, when he was shot to death for his conviction at age 35, what most men could never achieve in their life time.

You mentioned in your letter about Rizal's short stature and that scientists should have been able to examine that gray matter inside his skull (I attached below a macabre photograph of his skull and bones with his mother Teodora Alonza and another one showing him in Paris with Juan Luna, Valentin Ventura and Luna's wife).

Now Ron, listen to this: In an interview with Asuncion Lopez Bantug, Narcisa Rizal's granddaughter, Ambeth Ocampo was told that the young Rizal was very conscious about his looks because he had a big head and a frail body and was small for his age. He was fascinated by stories of "higantes" and "great men" in history. Today, scholars put this data in the context of psychoanalysis hypothesis that Rizal's intellectual "gifts" were merely ways of making up for physical frailty. Another Rizal story that popped out during the interview deals with a time when Rizal's sisters found him in his "bahay Kubo" behind the Calamba house, molding a clay statue of Napoleon (who was small and short like him).

When teased about it, he is supposed to have said, "All right guys say what you want today because in the future, people will make 'monumentos' for me!" His sisters might have wondered and felt strange when they saw the Rizal monument rise on the Luneta, or when they officiated at the unveiling ceremonies of the other monuments to their brother that began to mushroom all over the archipelago. Jose Rizal had the last laugh.

Some disgruntled Americans want to relocate to Canada Ron? As the blue-red split continues in the Divided States of America, you will note that every blue state is contiguous to Canada or to another blue state that is contiguous to Canada, except Hawaii - that's not contiguous to anything but a lot of blue water that's contiguous to Canada.

How about a second American Revolution in which Dems will annex all blue states to Canada and thus Canada becomes the world's sole superpower? Blue-Staters will get Canadian citizenship and they don't even have to move. The Red-Staters will get exactly what they want. The Blue-Staters will get free flu shots. (Not to mention free health care.) "O, Canada", the national anthem is easier to sing than the Star Spangled Banner". The new Canadians will say to the Red-Staters: "You don't want our values Red-Staters, you've got your wish - we're outta here.

But remember, the next time you want to see a Broadway show in New York, visit our wine country, Hawaii, Disneyland in California or the birthplace of liberty, don't just bring your Visa card, bring your visa. You're in Canada now. And we're tightening our borders". Have a nice week-end Ron or rather what's left of it.

Rons e-mail, September 12, 2005 2:04 PM on the first ladys suggestion that hurricane victims are better off in Texas, Yahoo! News

Dear Duds, You must be feeling antsy by now due to my late response (like Bush?) to your lengthy diatribe (like the Democrats?). Yesterday, after reading your anti-Bush and anti-U.S. editorial, I crafted a sharp response which I thought would soften the attack.

But when I pressed "send" the whole message vanished and I could not retrieve it. Right now, I find it difficult to recapture the flow of adrenaline that helped me to write a worthy retort. But don't worry; I will do my best to still deliver a republican kick to your democratic ribs, he.he. Give me sometime to reread and digest your articulate dissertation and give you a response that satisfies your intellectual orgasm. I will continue tomorrow. Bye

My e-mail to Ron on Sep 9, 2005, at 10:39 AM:

My Dear Ron, Notwithstanding Matriarch Bush "off-the-cuff" remarks many Canadians as well as Americans now know that Katrina exposed America's Third World underbelly, along with its deep divisions of race and class, and its proclivity to gut government services (an example: the money that should have gone to protect Louisiana specially New Orleans before Katrina was cut) but not the funding to wage wars. Without funding this city was exposed to a great danger the likes of Katrina because the city is below sea level.

It is just like Bush administration's war on terror which has created more terrorism. Its occupation of Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster. Its ineptitude in Louisiana is no different than in Iraq.

It ignored predictions of impending natural disaster in Louisiana, as it had turned a deaf ear to worldwide warnings, including our own former PM Jean Chrtiens, about the man-made disaster that would be Iraq. Your present leader said: "Either you are with us or against us". We are not against America. They American people are our friends. We are against bad policies of the American government whether they are Democrats or Republicans.

Just as the people of New Orleans had no food or water and were abandoned to the mercy of looters and thugs for days, Iraqis have had little or no drinking water, electricity or medical care and have been left to fend for themselves from criminals, kidnappers and terrorists.

Racism may have played a part in the initial indifference to the plight of the poor blacks (don't you think so?) to the south and an outcry now from an embarrassed America forced Bush to act in Louisiana. In both Louisiana and Iraq, too many people died who need not have.

The ethos of scratching each others' back that governs the charmed circle of the Bush administration leaves little room for the caring and feeding of ordinary citizens specially the poor, the blacks and the minorities in America let alone any sense of justice, fair play or honesty these people should have been entitled to as citizens of the most powerful country in the world (as you have said on the phone to me), but which I have also said is not also the number one country in the world where the quality of life is the greatest. Australia is now number one followed by Canada (we are striving to be number one) and the USA is hanging on at 11th place. I am tempted to put America further down among the 3rd world countries for the quality of life its ordinary citizens now enjoy because of its inept government leadership which showed after Katrina!

Among the first to arrive at the scene when disaster struck in Louisiana were not the firefighters and ambulances and aid workers but armored riot police to secure the site! I saw this in independent Canadian TV and even CNN. Why? Because the former first lady had suggested "the people are underprivileged anyway?"

It is common practice in Canada that when a government leader opens his or her mouth and make an "off-the-cuff" remark to ridicule the poor, the disabled, the war veterans, the blacks and other minorities either on purpose, absentmindedly or as a joke, he or she is forced to resigned, if he or she will not willingly do so eventually because of embarrassment.

Condescending remarks are not tolerated not due to "tunnel vision" (your phrase) or any similar view but because it promotes divisions of class and race like what Mrs. Bush did, which you said may not have been said with malice and I believe you, that she said it without malice, (but, perhaps, the matriarch said it instinctively?).

Please excuse me for this long rebuttal of your email below. It's one way to exercise that grey matter between my ears. Now I feel refreshed and rejuvenated just like after taking a shower after running the treadmill in the exercise room. Thanks you Ron.

Rons Reply I received September 12, 2005 2:06 PM

The remarks made by the Matriarch Bush was unfortunate, so inappropriate, and insensitive especially at a time when the time when the nation is hurting from this tragedy. Whether it was made with malice is another story.

Sometimes people are guilty of off-the cuff remarks that are not meant to mean what other people think they mean. What exacerbate the remark are the misinterpretations of the tunnel minded opposition who immediately grab every unfortunate event, remark, or tragedy to lambast the person/party they love to hate. They are still hurting politically, cannot forget that they have been outsmarted twice by C student from Yale.

They are still hurting badly that they will never see any good thing that this president does. They are the high priests of negativism, injecting racism into every suffering experienced by the underprivileged, opting to criticize more than act to alleviate the suffering. Implicit in the right to criticize is the responsibility to suggest a better alternative. Ah, but that's politics. But I wish synergy and unity could give way to blame and finger pointing during natural catastrophe.

Linda and Rosalio just left so I have some time to really concentrate and share some reflections on what is happening in the wake of Katrina and other events which you mentioned that contributed to the shaming of the U.S.

This feeling of rejoicing over a misfortune that has befallen America is not unexpected or surprising since many countries do not share America's way of life and the present government's way of governance for reasons that border on envy, vengeance, annoyance, hatred, sour grapes and other negative feelings. It has been the natural tendency of underdogs to gloat over a superpower's misfortune. This human frailty, though too common as to be surprising has its biblical antecedent, and perhaps must repeat itself to justify the saying that history repeats itself.

Your article is summarized in two main points: America Exposed and the Incompetence of Bush. Let me respond with the following:

1. America has been known as a superpower, a wealthy nation, a nation of opportunity, freedom, diversity, racism, etc. It still is. The grandeur of New York, the glitter of Hollywood, the fantasies of Disneyworld, the awesome power of its military weapons is too common knowledge for all. Then came Katrina that stripped America of its supposed affluence" the flooded community, scenes of thousands of Black Americans evacuees crying for food and shelter, the resulting chaos - all these elicited a question of mocking disbelief, "This is America?" Which of these scenes is the true picture of America?

Can one bad scene represent the true picture of the U.S? As strong as you try defend Canada as a good place to live, so do millions of Americans maintain that the U.S. is still numero uno when everything is factored in. America is still the dream of the dispossessed, the land of opportunity, the land of the free. History shows that more people come to the U.S. to seek better life. But going back to the question: Which is the real America. The answer is both.

America has its own share of the bad things in life. If the "exposure" of America disappointed the ill-wishers, too bad. If it made them happy, good for them. But America will rebound. Some good things will come out of this tragedy. History has shown that the American people have the endless capacity to get up and move on. Despite its diversity and political differences, the American people will rally together because it is ingrained in their psyche and belief - "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

If Australia, Canada, and other countries can offer a better quality of life, it would be good news for the world, so that America can relinquish part of its responsibility in providing good life to the dispossessed, a responsibility it has shouldered since it was founded.

2. Is Pres. Bush incompetent? Are the Iraq war and the Katrina crisis be the defining events of his government? Is the late response to the Katrina catastrophe being blamed on him? Is the lack of state and local preparation for disasters being blamed on him? History will be the sole judge whether or not the invasion of Iraq will be a boon or bane to the free world. Is the pope to be blamed for scandals committed by priests? No WMDs? Are there more major WMD's than Saddam, his two sons and his Republican Army? Are there any worse WMD's than terrorism itself? Let it be known that it took one decisive Republican leader to confront terrorism head on, while other leaders hee-hawed and played footsy with the terrorist for fear that they will be provoked. In my opinion, the best approach to deal with terrorism is to fight it, not to live with it. Terrorism is the greatest blunder in history. As such it should become just a footnote in man's struggle for peace.

Is the late response Bush's fault? One has to understand levels of responsibility before placing blame on somebody else's shoulders. In crisis management, there is such a thing as first, second, third levels. Each level has its specific duties and plans. All levels must coordinate and communicate. In Katrina, these two were absent. Mayor Nagin, a Democrat, and Gov. Bloom, another Democrat, did not coordinate their functions so that when Katrina struck, the functions to evacuate people were uncoordinated. True, FEMA was late in responding. But there are local and state branches of FEMA. The three levels did not coordinate. But being the Chief Executive, under the doctrine of command responsibility, Democrats, the like of Jesse Jackson, John Kerry, Al Gore and black religious leaders joined the "blame game". Racism was injected as one motive in the late response. These charges are the common modus operandi of the Democratic Party. Whenever they see a chance, whether in time of war or peace, so long as it helps them politically, they pander to the interests of the minority. History will also unmask them as frauds because their support for the minority (unfortunately, more directed to the blacks) is to advance their political base. Affirmative actions and other federal programs are mainly for the blacks. What programs are for Filipinos, for the Chinese, for the Vietnamese? In terms of federal programs for the minorities, we get the crumbs. The Rainbow Coalition of Jackson is more of tool to dupe the minority into believing that the Dems care for the minority. The rainbow, alas, is prominently blacker than the other colors! I would like to believe that the Democratic Party, too, possesses the WMD's - Weapons of Minority Deception.

I promise to tone down my arguments next time. I, too, am guilty of loyalty to a philosophy of fairness to everyone espoused by the Republicans more than the Dems. I hope that someday their will be less bitterness in the U.S. and the world and a true spirit of tolerance, understanding, and peace become the pillars of philosophy upon which everyone will hold onto and support.

I sent this message to Ron in response to his views about America 9/11/05:

Ron, As you know, Canadians are ready all the time to help their American friends. You may not realize it but the US imports more oil from Canada than from any other country in the world, including Saudi Arabia or Iraq, so we turned the taps in Alberta to produce more oil in view of the tragedy in the gulf coast.

That together with the fact that some oil platforms destroyed are now repaired and producing is now lowering the cost of gasoline. . . I read this news in the internet.

I enjoyed reading your last e-mail on Katrina. You really did not hold your punches as I expected! But for personal reasons, I would like to change the topic of our future dialogues to more pleasurable matters rather than the tragedy in New Orleans. Make no mistake, I do not distrust, hate or envy my American brothers as you have implied. I have no grudge at all. Out of three Canadian families, one has American relatives in the US and that includes me. We have the same goals, desires and ambitions. I have insinuated in my exchange of thoughts after the tragedy in Louisiana that perhaps the US should examine its soul.

I am herewith stopping all my foul commentaries about Bush, specially Mrs. Bush (the elder) and the present US administration from my emails lest I am mistaken for a radical and fanatic rebel and put myself and my American kins in a bad light. I apologize to you both and sis Inday, who also read my comments and made her own statement regarding the same. I hope that what I wrote have not spoiled your warm thoughts regarding your Canadian links.

September 12, 2005 2:04 PM

Dear Cang Duds, There is no doubt in my mind that the Canadians are our beloved brothers to the North. Geographically, Canada and the U.S. are called North America. If there is such an existing enmity, it is superficial, like brothers in a family who make up after a good argument. This momentary hatred, unfortunately, started when Bush, through benign neglect, preempted his traditional paying of respect to his comrade on the north, visiting Mexico instead, in apparent sibling retaliation to the transparent support of the Canadian leaders for the Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, then Kerry.

If there is a neighbor that deserves the love and attention of the U.S., it should be Canada, and vice versa. That Canada is the U.S.'s greatest supplier of oil and gas is never questioned. America acknowledges this with generous trade relations unparalleled anywhere. Canada's lack of support in its Iraq invasion further strained the fragile political relationship. Hopefully, these neighborly tantrums will vanish and a much improved relationship will result. Canada has a great future economically. In terms of oil reserves, it is second to Saudi Arabia.

If only both governments can work together to tap the sand oil deep underneath the Canadian land, the U.S dependence on Middle East oil will cease, resulting in the U.S.'s political involvement there for obvious reasons. You are to blame for the hard blows I delivered. You advised me not to pull my punches. But those blows are meant to pick your brains and lo and behold, you came up with one of the greatest commentaries deserving of attention. I have to admit that this exercise brought out some good literary results of me. Probably we can continue this literary jousting along positive issues. Your admiring brother-in-law.

September, 2005

Tuesday Club of Port Royal

It was another early Tuesday morning, another time but the same place. It is the start of summer and we again started getting together for the usual coffee assembly in Port Royal. For some this has become a habit, an occasion one always look forward to break the humdrum existence of day-to-day living. To chat with friends while enjoying a cup of coffee is always a welcome change of setting for most if not all of those in attendance. The troubles and tribulations that normally plague us down attributed in just being alive are once again forgotten during our coffee meetings.

One bright Saturday morning members of the club climbed on a tour bus for an exhilarating day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The almost cloudless blue sky was the setting of this thrilling journey. The exciting drive on the Queen Elizabeth Way with the usual week-end traffic contributed to the fun and amity among the day-trippers.

When Winston Churchill visited this town where we went to he exclaimed: "This is the prettiest town in the World! We think it still is.

It was already evening when we arrived back home but it being summer the sun was still up. We were still exuberant albeit a little tired; nevertheless we all knew we would have missed a lot of fun and the enjoyment with friends if we did not go.

It was another early Tuesday morning, another time but the same place. It is the start of summer and we again started getting together for the usual coffee assembly in Port Royal. For some this has become a habit, an occasion one always look forward to to break the humdrum existence of day-to-day living. To chat with friends while enjoying a cup of coffee is always a welcome change of setting for most if not all of those in attendance. The troubles and tribulations that normally plague us down attributed in just being alive are once again forgotten during our coffee meetings.

August, 2007

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