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Archive for November, 2011

A Hero With A Blood Of Bicolano

I’ve written this story in 2006, the time I was working in Libya.

There is no happier moments for a soldier than coming homing alive from a war. This was probably the feelings of my cousin Domenic and other fellow soldiers who returned home last month. His family members met him at Fort Doum, Watertown New York. Other family members from far places extended their greetings thru emails and phone calls. Everybody is happy and proud for the safe return of their family member.
Domenic was deployed in Afghanistan in February 2006 with the Task Force Spartan of the 10’th Mountain Division in Jalahad, Afghanistan after being stationed in Fort Doum, New York for a year. It is still part of “Operation Enduring Freedom”. A war against terrorism. But sad to say, out of forty eight Spartans in his team, only thirteen of them returned home alive. In one encounter with the Talibans, he lost a friend. And luckily, he only sustained a wound in his leg.
He stayed there for fifteen months mostly patrolling the mountains. He experienced the extreme heat during summer and the freezing cold during winter. Climatic conditions in Afghanistan exhibit great daily and seasonal variations, largely because of the extremes in elevation that characterize the country. I never thought that those color brown mountains are being covered with ice during winter. Unfortunately, they don’t have beach there as we do have here in Libya. Here in Libya, we experienced also the extreme heat, in fact Libya is the record holder for the highest temperature in the world (136 F (57.8 C)) . But in Afghanistan, it’s chilling at dawn even during summer due to high altitude. The first enemy they have to dealt with was the nature. Being in a high altitude, your respiratory system could suffer due to lack of oxygen, and at the same time crawling under the heat of the sun could toast your brain.
Before they went home, they were visited by Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, a three-star General chosen by US President George W. Bush to serve as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. He picked up Lute to be his point man for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, after some retired generals turned down the offer. And before returning home, Domenic received a Purple Heart and other medals awarded by the US army and the NATO. He was also promoted to join the Special Operations Division.
Upon knowing his homecoming, I wished that somebody from “Kapuso” or “Kapamilya” network in the Philippines should have interviewed him. Not only for his courage but for being a 100% Pinoy. Imagine, one Filipino fought in Afghanistan and returned home alive.
His Dad was once a sailor before migrating in the USA. There he meet his mother who happened to be his dad’s neighbor when they were kids in Sorsogon, Philippines. They’ve got two kids- Domenic the eldest and his younger sister Monique Elizabeth.
The last time I saw him was on his sister’s 18’th birthday in 2003 which was held in our hometown. His dad said that if it was not for his sister’s birthday he wouldn’t coming home with them. They are very closed siblings. When the main party was over, there was a dance party for youngsters. All of them was having fun while me.
His Dad was once a sailor before migrating in the USA. There he meet his mother who happened to be his dad’s neighbor when they were kids in Bitan-o Sorsogon, Philippines. They’ve got two kids- Domenic the eldest and his younger sister Monique Elizabeth.
The last time I saw him was on his sister’s 18’th birthday in 2003 which was held in our hometown. His dad said that if it was not for his sister’s birthday he wouldn’t coming home with them. They are very closed siblings. When the main party was over, there was a dance party for youngsters. All of them was having fun while me, I feel bored and isolated ’cause i was the only married guy in that hall. Not to mention, I was the only Kuya or Tito left there. I was still there waiting for them ’cause I was the one to drive them home. Not with my SUV but with my “3-wheel drive” (lol)
I saw Domenic smoking in a chair while watching his cousins on the dance floor. I grabbed a chair and sit beside him. I asked from him a stick and while I was lighting it he told me that he never know that I smoke. I said I really don’t. But I was smoking and drinking during high school days. And the only thing I didn’t tried was drugs. So if I were you, stay away from it. I told him. “I never use any drug.” He replied. He is a cool guy. (And a silent type like me too.) g300

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Rompeolas Memories

I didn’t know that the correct name of our town’s port is Rompeolas until the cyber era came. We used to call it “Rimpyolas” before. Anyways, Rompeolas nowadays is very appealing. It is now a constant destination to locals aside from the Capitol Park. A good choice for the joggers and brisk walkers. In the previous administration, the local leader beautify it by adding an area for gazebos and a bay walk. Later, the new official added a break water. This break water was not yet finished when I took my vacation in the summer of 2010. With this break water, I think it will be a good place for boating or kayaking inside the ‘mini-marina’. In fact I saw a bamboo raft (balsa) when I went there.

Rompeolas at night, taken from the break water.

The two major  commodities being docked on that port  are beer and cement.

Rompeolas before sunrise, taken from the break water.

In the 80’s, it was used as the dump site of Sorsogon (municipal at that time). There were also lot of squatters near the dump site. There were no lights along the stretch of the pier. But because of that, it was a good dating place for lovers including me. Me and my barkada together with our partners caught dating there by our kuyas during simbang gabi. Instead of attending the mass at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, we were there at Rompeolas having our “simbang tabi”. (My wife doesn’t know this story so please don’t tell her. Or else there will be an interroagation . hehehe)

We also used to fish there with “tapon-tapon” style. Instead of using a rod, it was just a nylon rolled to the can of sardines or to a piece of bamboo. But the catch was not inspiring. Kadalasan parangan lang ang nahuhuli. There was also a time that me together with the boy from the neighborhood (a name of Nimrod Plantado) went there to fish. We climbed into one of the out rigger boat (baroto) which  was tied at the pier. When the owner of the boat came, he was mad at us for intruding in his boat. He untied the boat from the pier and let the boat float in the middle of the water.
But I know that it will not take us far ‘coz it was still anchored. But the boy with me was panicking already. Since I already know how to swim, I took him back at the pier when the owner left again.

But there was a night that my father took me there and we fished together. There was not big catch but it was one of the best bonding moments with him.

Rompeolas @ sunrise

Rompeolas viewed from the bell tower of Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral