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Home Columns A Cup O' Kapeng Barako A Conversation with a Cyberspace Friend, named "Doc Lee"
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Columns - A Cup O' Kapeng Barako
Saturday, 18 August 2012 11:43

 


By Jesse Jose

A Cup O' Kapeng Barako

 

I have a few chosen cyberspace friends that I keep. They all have one common trait: all are prolific writers, irreverent, and barako-like in their way of thinking.  They all have an open mind on things.  At hindi mga pikon.  They all know how to jab ... and to jive.  We all have utmost respect for each other, because of that.

 

One of these friends is "Doc Lee."  Like most of my cyberspace pals, I have yet to meet Lee.  But there seems to be a common feeling that we already know know each other.  Lee and I also like to tell sea stories to each other.  We were both seafarers in our younger days, you see. 

 

Lee also taught English Lit at the University of the Philippines in Manila.

 

The other day, I got this e-mail from Lee, that I wanna share with my Kapeng Barako readers.  I really think it needs to be shared.  It's a composite series of comments on my recent stories.  Comments that, I must say, profoundly-written and profoundly-thought of, orig at hindi kopya.  Here it is, Dear Readers, en toto.  Enjoy:    

 

Hi Jesse,

 

I'll comment on your last email to me that I answered - man, I didn't realize that that was almost two months ago!  I'm not usually this late but you know why but I still apologize. Anyway when I was teaching, one of my tests for my students was to give them essays to read and have them answer in about 50 or words or less. Terse but meaningful, I used to add!  Also, easier for the professor to correct - smart, huh? Let me try doing that on the pieces that you sent me.

 

Little Brown American:  I've never been called one but I've been told to go back where I came from.  Yes, I am little (short), brown (nice tan) and American (by choice). I  earned the RIGHT to call myself an AMERICAN but I don't like the connotation of the three words "little brown American" put together as a slight on my loyalty to the mother country and my second class status in America.

 

The Jerry Sandusky Story:  Jerry Sandusky did not only abuse young men but he also abused his right to be a teacher. There are lines that should never be crossed - the doctor/patient, teacher/student, priest/parishioner and other relationships where there is a burden of trust, written or unwritten, that should not be broken.

 

On Dolphy's Death:  I left the Philippines before Dolphy really got well known.  When I came back home in 1984, he was already on top of his game with tv series like John En Marsha and two or three movies a year. I enjoyed his comedy but I was distraught that the moral fabric of Philippine society was in tatters, as exemplified by an unmarried tv and movie idol fathering scores of children.

 

On Pee-noy's Sonata:  I have nothing against Pinoy although I was disappointed with his mother's performance as president. Ayway, I have a bone to pick with your spelling of the word "tignan".  It should be spelled "tingnan", from the root word "tingin" (to look). The command form of the word should be "tinginan", shortened to the easier pronounced "tingnan".

 

On Alex Haley:  You had some great teachers when you were learning to write!   I was very interested in Black American writers - Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Alex Haley, etal - writers with a lot of anger in their hearts. I taught Black American Lit at UP to graduate students. I made them read Toni Morrison's Beloved and Richard Wright's Native Son.

 

The Mayor Cy Sun Story:   I am resigned to the idea that my acceptance by white Americans (in their hearts and in their actions) as a full-pledged member of this society will not happen in my lifetime. That is really hard for me to say and accept but it is the truth!  I can only hope that my children, though brown but born here, will enjoy all the benefits of this free community of men.

 

London's Olympic Games:    I live in Orange County, Southern California with a population of just a little over 3 million in the 2010 census. Olympic athletes from Orange County won 8 golds, 5 silvers and 1 bronze.  The Philippines, with a population of over 80 million people, did not win a single medal. Boo-hoo Angat Pinoy!  A Filipino-American girl won bronze in taekwondo. Hurrah!

 

Jesse, thank you for your patience with me.  My wife Raquel is doing better!  She is walking now although she is cautioned not to put too much weight on the left foot.  I am ok.  I found out that I am a good caregiver( the Filipino blood in me?).  No... it is more -- once a Hospital Corpsman, always a Hospital Corpsman. I haven't forgotten that my first job as a Hospital Corpsman was to empty bed pans.

 

I am going to add my story about medals and ribbons, in conjunction with your Mayor Cy Sun story.  When I was a Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman aboard the USS Prairie (AD 15), I was put on report by a  white Warrant Officer.  When I went to Captain's Mast I wore my dress blues with all my ribbons (not medals). I had four rows of ribbons with 1 Navy Commendation, 2 Navy Achievement medals (one with Combat V), Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medals (5 awards) and all the Vietnam ribbons.

 

The Warrant officer had one row of ribbons (Good Conduct, American National defense and a Vietnam ribbon).  Waiting for the mast to start, I made sure that the Warrant Officer saw my four rows of ribbons as compared to his measly three ribbons.

 

It seemed obvious to me that here was a Warrant Officer who probably was commissioned by licking his superior's boots and here was a Hospital Corpsman Senior Chief who was very likely a better Navyman but Asian and thus not an officer. It is a long story and you can read about it when you come in December.

 

I mentioned this story because I am very proud of the medals and ribbons I truly earned.  Nowadays, we have people falsely wearing medals and ribbons they never earned. I don't agree with the Supreme Court's decision that it is not a crime to wear medals you never earned. I think it lessens the value and worth of those medals, especially the ones earned in combat.  I think they have the right to check on the authenticity of the medals worn by Mayor Cy Sun.

 

Jesse, thanks again for being patient with me.  Say hello to the missus!

 

(Signed) Lee

 

MY REPLY TO LEEThanks for your awesome comments.  Indeed, they were "terse and meaningful."  I think I'll vacate my Kapeng Barako column this week and incorporate your comments, verbatim.  It must be shared with my readers.

 

Got a question though: What happened at your Captain's Mast?  Did you get a reprimand, or did your CO dismiss the whole thing?  You must have shamed Warrant Officer Dickhead for outshining him with your "four rows" of war ribbons to his single row of ribbons that merely reflected his ass-kissing endeavors to superior officers.

 

I remember going to Captain's Mast, too, when I was a TN (Table Navigator) in the Navy aboard my first ship, the aircraft carrier, USS Intrepid.  And that was for punching another white dickhead, for calling me a "Flip."  I was walking down on one the ship hallways, when I heard this dickhead call me: "Hey Flip!"  (Calling a Filipino a "Flip" is like calling a Black Man, a "Nigger").

 

I stopped in my tracks and asked him: "What ya call me?"

 

He said, sneering arrogantly at me: "You heard me, Flip!  Bring me my glass of water ... now!"  I brought him a glass of water, AFTER I've punched him on the nose and bloodied him.

 

I got put on report.  At Captain's Mast, our captain asked me, "Why did you punch this man?"

 

"I didn't punch him, sir.  The Flip punched him," I answered.

 

The captain smiled, then said, "Okay, Steward Jose, I am giving you three days in the brig for that.  Do you have anything to say?"

 

My reply?  "Sir, yes sir!  Thank you, sir!"  As I made my about face, two marines from the Marine Detachment on board, grabbed my arms and escorted me down to the ship's brig.

 

And that's no BS, Doc Lee.  JJ



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