AN ALASKA MOMENT

In the 1970s, I began working in a salmon cannery of Alaska as a teenaged boy to finance my college education. I was the youngest in a Filipino crew numbering over thirty. They were all male…in their 60s…and they all came to America in the 1920s. They are referred to as Manongs…specifically, Alaskeroes.

Food was never a problem because all the cooks and waiters were Filipino. The problem was where the food was served and consumed. The dining hall was segregated. The Manongs ate on one side of the room eating Filipino food. While Whites sat on the other side eating food that I preferred since I was American-born. For example, in my first meal, I sat where steaks and fries were being served. This was the White side. The Filipinos ate fishead soup and rice. When the waiter told me I was sitting on the wrong side of the room, I took my steak and fries and sat among the Manongs. As I sat, I noticed a word neatly carved into the wall. The word was “Pinoy”. I asked the Manong beside me what that meant. He proudly answered, “…that’s who we are…Pinoy”.

Throughout my Alaska summers, I would sit on the Pinoy side of the room. However, I would indulge in American food with rice…i.e, roast beef with rice, steak with rice, fried chicken with rice…anything with rice. The Pinoys would eat mostly soupy meals….pork sinigang, chicken sinigang, tinola, nilaga, etc. I believe they preferred to eat softer, soupy meals because their dentition dictated what they could eat. Many had missing teeth and/or no teeth. Therefore, their diet was limited to soft foods because their dentition was compromised.

After all the summers working in Alaska, I would always bring back two items that were 100% Pinoy: bagoong and pendang.

Bagoong was made from fresh guts of freshly caught King Salmon. While manually butchering each fish, the Manongs would mix the guts with sea-brined salt and place into 15 gallon wooden barrels. For two months, these barrels would sit quietly in the corner of my bunkhouse. When we left for home, I would pick up my barrel along with the rest of my luggage and bring it home. I would always open the barrel during Thanksgiving. The mixture of salmon bagoong with chopped tomatoes and onions is by far the ultimate condiment to go with turkey. No cranberry sauce for me. Turkey and bagoong. A true Pinoy Thanksgiving meal.

Pendang is dried fish. However, true Pinoy pendang is only made in Alaska. It is comprised of salmon bellies from freshly caught red salmon. There are five species of salmon: king, red, chum, coho and pink. The belly of red salmon is the best by far because it is oily yet very firm and looks fresh because it is red. This is the ultimate, prime cut of salmon to be dried. I would cut out dozens of salmon bellies while butchering….marinate in vinegar, salt, pepper and fresh garlic for a day…hang each one to dry. As soon as I got home, I would stir fry a couple of pendang…dip it in a Pinoy mixture of vinegar and garlic…eat them with a bowl of hot steamed rice and wash it down with a cold beer. A perfect Pinoy meal good anytime when paying tribute to my Alaskero uncles.

OLD AGE

” Old age, I’ve decided is a gift. I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be……I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life or my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.. I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I’m still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been or worrying about what will be.” All I can add is….As I’ve become older, I’ve become more focused on being with God and feeling God’s presence. I’ve come to believe that the whole of the Gospel can be summed up in Paul’s word to the Ephesians(4:32): “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” I have learned also that suffering and tragedy serve a purpose but are best weathered with a strong faith, good friends and family.

45 LIVE LESSONS

45 Life Lessons

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer newspaper,
Cleveland, Ohio.

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once again:



1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone…

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
parents will. Stay in touch

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheque.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their
journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God
never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath.. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one
is up to you and no one else..

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no
for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.
Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years,
will this matter?’

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you
did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s,
we’d grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

It’s estimated 93% won’t forward this. �If you are one of the 7% who
will, forward this with the title ‘7%’.

I’m in the 7%.

Remember that I will always share my spoon with you!

Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves!