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Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

It was a dreary afternoon -the warmish, dampish, winter sort of afternoon that makes fog dense and blots out the sun completely. My dear husband took me to an antique store, where I could console my sun-hungry eyes with other senses, the whiff of mothballs on old lace, the smell of old books and leather, the lemony balm of wood polish. We spent the afternoon wandering the halls of an old mill building with rooms and rooms of old things and I stumbled into a magazine store.

I was sorting through a stack of old copies of Life Magazine, and this jumped out at me. Five dollars later, it was on its way home with me, to be scanned and shared. Click the link and it will take you over to Scribd and my Bright Wings Media account.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/120352373/Christmas-On-Corregidor

Christmas on Corregidor by President Manuel L. Quezon published by Liberty Magazine, December 25, 1943.

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sirloloMy grandfather, Francisco G. Joaquin, was a knight of St. Sylvester. When I was a very little girl, I took it for granted that he was a special man. He had a sword in his bedroom, and a hat with gold braid on it, and a uniform. These things were tucked away, but I knew where they were. I also knew where his medal was – the one with the ribbon and the cross. It was in the drawer of his Art Deco dresser, with the full length mirror and all the little drawers. He had a library, a room full of books adjacent to his bedroom. The sleeping chamber was separated by a heavy curtain from the reading room.

He was my lolo, my grandfather and he moved with a kind of quality that I would later know as gravitas. In that reading room he could look across to Mount Santo Tomas. The dining room was down a step from the bedroom, and he would sit there, sometimes- lost in thought, in the time after my grandmother’s death. Even though he seemed sad in those last years -I always felt secure around him, I always felt that he had the answers.

I didn’t find his kind of Catholicism difficult to adhere to. I thought all of it was a great mystery, and that I was blessed to have been under his care.

We, all of us, were blessed to have been under his care.

My father was the one who told me that Lolo was a knight. We were living at Clark Air Base when he told me. My father was from the South and he was chivalrous. He told me about brave deeds and I understood what knights were. I have always loved fairy tales.

Lolo was chivalrous, a true gentleman. He was refined in that he loved to read, to discuss theology, and to play the violin. He would accompany my grandmother, Lola Mercy, as she would sings the old love songs, an art form called harana.

Then the war came, and the beloved violin was smashed. Toward the end of the war, he built bomb shelters. That sounds like a safe thing to recount. In reality, if the Japanese knew that he was building bomb shelters, he would have been shot on the spot, because that would have been a recognition that the US Armed Forces were returning to reclaim the islands. So he managed his crew of seminarians, and they built the shelters on the grounds of the religious orders who had their mother houses and retreat houses in Baguio. He built the shelter that saved my family’s life, and the life of the Bishop of Baguio.

When the bombs finally came, the bombs that destroyed Baguio, his shelters held. Because of his efforts so many people, civilians and religious were saved.

The news of his heroic work made it all the way to the Vatican, and he was made a knight. I often ponder the image of my grandfather kneeling before the altar at the Baguio Cathedral, while the words were intoned to create him a knight.

I always knew he was special, but because I have his letters and his books, I KNOW who he was. He was an exemplary man, pure in thought, word and deed. He adored my grandmother. He was brave and sober.

They died too young.

I think that he watches out for me. He looks down at me and knows that I was too young to appreciate him when I was under his care. I appreciate him now.

When I was of an impressionable age, I saw him pray, I saw my grandmother pray. I knew they tapped into a great power. Their faith was unwavering. When my sister Lizzie was in her last months, she reminded me that Lolo and Lola prayed for everything. They prayed for the good business outcome, the safety of their children, the safety of their trip. “We should do the same thing,” Lizzie said.

Ah, there’s another one who went too early. Another one who was fine and noble and true.

Because of my grandfather’s decision to send us back to the Philippines when I was ten, I was able to live in the environment he created, and benefit from his influence.

One thing I did in those early days of being back, was to go to mass with him early in the morning. I loved it. He didn’t say much, he was sad after my grandmother had died. There was a comfort in sitting next to him.

Kids understand when the grown ups are telling the truth. All his life, he carried a father wound, because his father was not like him. All his life, he tried to be a good Catholic. I thank him for this. He is someone whose example was never false.

We will never know all that we lost, or all that we were spared from until we are behind the veil. So much of life is pushing forward through the fog.

I pray, I hope, I trust. My grandfather’s example, imprinted in my memory, is my map. Thank you, Lolo, for this.

*reposted in honor of his work during this anniversary of the carpet bombing of Baguio City in 1945.

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The Good Knight

sirloloMy grandfather, Francisco G. Joaquin, was a knight of St. Sylvester. When I was a very little girl, I took it for granted that he was a special man. He had a sword in his bedroom, and a hat with gold braid on it, and a uniform. These things were tucked away, but I knew where they were. I also knew where his medal was – the one with the ribbon and the cross. It was in the drawer of his Art Deco dresser, with the full length mirror and all the little drawers. He had a library, a room full of books adjacent to his bedroom. The sleeping chamber was separated by a heavy curtain from the reading room.

He was my lolo, my grandfather and he moved with a kind of quality that I would later know as gravitas. In that reading room he could look across to Mount Santo Tomas. The dining room was down a step from the bedroom, and he would sit there, sometimes- lost in thought, in the time after my grandmother’s death. Even though he seemed sad in those last years -I always felt secure around him, I always felt that he had the answers.

I didn’t find his kind of Catholicism difficult to adhere to. I thought all of it was a great mystery, and that I was blessed to have been under his care.

We, all of us, were blessed to have been under his care.

My father was the one who told me that Lolo was a knight. We were living at Clark Air Base when he told me. My father was from the South and he was chivalrous. He told me about brave deeds and I understood what knights were. I have always loved fairy tales.

Lolo was chivalrous, a true gentleman. He was refined in that he loved to read, to discuss theology, and to play the violin. He would accompany my grandmother, Lola Mercy, as she would sings the old love songs, an art form called harana.

Then the war came, and the beloved violin was smashed. Toward the end of the war, he built bomb shelters. That sounds like a safe thing to recount. In reality, if the Japanese knew that he was building bomb shelters, he would have been shot on the spot, because that would have been a recognition that the US Armed Forces were returning to reclaim the islands. So he managed his crew of seminarians, and they built the shelters on the grounds of the religious orders who had their mother houses and retreat houses in Baguio. He built the shelter that saved my family’s life, and the life of the Bishop of Baguio.

When the bombs finally came, the bombs that destroyed Baguio, his shelters held. Because of his efforts so many people, civilians and religious were saved.

The news of his heroic work made it all the way to the Vatican, and he was made a knight. I often ponder the image of my grandfather kneeling before the altar at the Baguio Cathedral, while the words were intoned to create him a knight.

I always knew he was special, but because I have his letters and his books, I KNOW who he was. He was an exemplary man, pure in thought, word and deed. He adored my grandmother. He was brave and sober.

They died too young.

I think that he watches out for me. He looks down at me and knows that I was too young to appreciate him when I was under his care. I appreciate him now.

When I was of an impressionable age, I saw him pray, I saw my grandmother pray. I knew they tapped into a great power. Their faith was unwavering. When my sister Lizzie was in her last months, she reminded me that Lolo and Lola prayed for everything. They prayed for the good business outcome, the safety of their children, the safety of their trip. “We should do the same thing,” Lizzie said.

Ah, there’s another one who went too early. Another one who was fine and noble and true.

Because of my grandfather’s decision to send us back to the Philippines when I was ten, I was able to live in the environment he created, and benefit from his influence.

One thing I did in those early days of being back, was to go to mass with him early in the morning. I loved it. He didn’t say much, he was sad after my grandmother had died. There was a comfort in sitting next to him.

Kids understand when the grown ups are telling the truth. All his life, he carried a father wound, because his father was not like him. All his life, he tried to be a good Catholic. I thank him for this. He is someone whose example was never false.

We will never know all that we lost, or all that we were spared from until we are behind the veil. So much of life is pushing forward through the fog.

I pray, I hope, I trust. My grandfather’s example, imprinted in my memory, is my map. Thank you, Lolo, for this.

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