Steamboat Springs While waiting in line to check in for a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco, a man with an infectious smile asked if I had just arrived on the flight from Manila. I said yes, and he asked if I was married to the young lady who he had seen me with at the Manila airport. I said no but that, if she was careless and I was quick, that it could happen. I won't reveal the connections that he had, but I found myself sitting next to him on the flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco. "How did you find the Philippines?" he asked.
I told him about my trip and how I had spent time with the very rich and with the very poor and that the common denominator was a broad smile and unbelievable optimism. He, Sam, told me that Filipinos knew that they could not change the past, but through their belief in God they could change their future. He also cautioned me that if I married a Filipino, I married her entire family and, that in his opinion, it would be the strength of the family unit that would be the salvation of the Philippines. I pointed out that having suffered through 300 plus years of Spanish oppression, three horrid years of Japanese occupation and more than a decade of Ferdinand Marcos, patience was certainly one of their virtues, if not a fault. He looked at me and asked, "Do you feel sorry for us?" I said, "Yes and no. Perhaps I am suffering from white American guilt." He laughed and told me that he had been blessed. Before the U.S. pulled out of the Philippines, his father had been allowed to join the U.S. military and he was raised and educated in the U.S. He had dual citizenship, worked in San Francisco and his wife was an officer in the U.S. Navy.
We discussed the disparity between the very rich and the very poor in the Philippines. His smile turned a little more somber and he simply said, "Get over it! You must pick your battles, those that you can win, otherwise you will only joust with windmills, and you will lose every time." His next statement really hit home. "You do not raise others by tearing your self down. Lift only what you can carry. Let others follow by your example."
"How do you see your future?" I asked. "Well," he said, "When my wife and I have finished paying for our three boys' college here in the U.S., we will return to the Philippines." "How do you plan to spend your retirement?" I asked. "Well," said Sam, "I could tell you that I want to 'give back' and like you white folk, atone for my 'sins.' In reality, I hate that expression, 'Giving back,' because it implies that my successes were at someone else's expense, and they were not. Besides, I want to do more. I want to go back to the Philippines, take what I have saved and make a ton of money. And you know what? In order for me and my wife to make a ton of money, I am going to have to employ a bunch of people and, of course, I will probably make them a ton of money, too."
Dang! Nancy Pelosi told us that if we were ever unemployed, we should go to the nearest ghetto and ask the first guy we found living in a cardboard box and pushing a shopping cart for a job.
Paul Epley is a long-time Routt County Conservative activist, holds a PhD in Biology from the University of Southern California., and is a Director of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado. Dr. Epley has been a professor at the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount and holds a Lifetime Teaching Certificate for California Junior Colleges. He has been an executive for several publicly held engineering and construction firms and was General Manager of Operations and Engineering for Utility Fuels Inc., the Fuel Subsidiary of Houston Industries. He will never win a Nobel Peace Prize.