Sunday, January 30, 2011

Good-bye, Tatay Harvey

Today, I say goodbye to my namesake and my late parents' dear friend, Ret. Lt. Cmdr. Harvey E. Jewell, who bade us all a final farewell on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 in Kingsport, Tennessee. He crossed over to his glorious next life while surrounded by his family – children, son-in-law, and grandchildren. He was 87.

I will miss him terribly, but would like to thank God for letting me find him on the Internet in December 2007, which led to my getting to personally meet him and his family in July 2008 in Kingsport, and again in October 2010, when we honored him at a gathering of family, relatives and friends in West Orange, New Jersey.

Dear Tatay Harvey, now that I've met your family, and my family has met yours, we hope to continue the friendship that you and my parents began in 1946. 

Goodbye, Tatay Harvey. I love you. As you journey into the next life, please give my love to my parents, whom I also miss very much. 

"Bless them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them (Harvey E. Jewell, Ruperto S. Valentino, Dolores Lombos Valentino). May they rest in peace. Amen. "

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Little Boy Who Likes Zip Lines

Ever since newspapers picked up the story about John teaching Ian, a young man with autism, how to express himself through photography, parents of similarly situated children have been bringing their little boys and girls to him. Some of these children are probably too young to learn photography, so John ends up inviting them to come to Manila Zoo to meet Maali, the elephant that John has been taking care of for the past ten years. Within the main zoo, there is also a wonderful place called Kinder Zoo, where they can touch and be photographed with animals. Recently, it has set up a rock wall, and a zip line for children.

I remember John's story about one such little boy with autism. His name was Carlo. He did not like Maali, so John looked around for something to interest him. He was not keen about snakes and baby crocodiles at the Kinder Zoo, or its tortoises and monkeys. But he got attracted to the zip line, and pointed it to John. That’s what he found interesting, and that’s what he wanted to do.

John has learned that children with autism have no sense of danger, so John did not know if he would hold on to the rope until he was safely at the end of the zip line. He was very young, maybe 6 or 7 years old, and the mother could not reassure John either, as this was this boy’s first time for this kind of adventure.

John decided that to be sure this boy was safe on the zip line, John had to be holding on to him.  The zip line was low because it was designed for little children, and John could be on the ground, running the full length of the zip line. That would have been the best arrangement.  The line is about 50 meters long- a half of a hundred meter dash, and John thought that was doable. John was game, and so was Carlo. There was no need for anyone to push them from the platform. John simply had to run along with this little boy perched on a round seat that was hanging with a rope from the zip line. Off they went, and John zipped along on the zip line.  Just as they came to the end of the line and John, huffing and puffing, was feeling grateful that he/they made it, this boy gleefully said “Again!”. Without hesitation or asking for a break, John said, “Of course,” and ran again. He huffed and puffed again, but he felt good to have satisfied this little boy’s whim to try the zip line. Twice.

He came home tired but happy to tell me the story of the little boy who likes zip lines. :)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Adventures and Misadventures

There was a time when John wanted to learn how to fly hang gliders. There was no way to stop him. I knew that the more I tried to stop him, the more he would insist on doing it. So I kept quiet, and prayed. Then one morning, he came back early - meaning he did not go hang gliding even though he left for that purpose.

He told me that he was too early for hang gliding and when he arrived at his instructor's place, the guy was still cleaning his kite. The guy was in shorts, and all his scars were visible. He told John about the different scars on his legs and body and what caused them - all from hang gliding accidents. John decided that he did not want to learn hang gliding anymore. :)

Another time, John wanted to go sky jumping. (What’s with this man?) He took all of us, our three daughters and myself, to Tanauan, Batangas, where his friend’s son was teaching it. He already knew I would not do it, but he was able to convince at least two daughters to try it with him.

I’m timid when it comes to adventures, but I made great effort, especially when my children were very young, not to show or transfer my fears, or my lack of courage, to them. I did not want them to be fainthearted like me. I wanted them to have as much fun as their dad was. Although scared, I said yes to the scariest rollercoaster rides, was John’s first passenger on an ultralight, went up to the sky in a glider (not hang, but a real one), was first to hop on cable cars, went scuba diving, spelunking, approached and touched all sorts of strange animals – whatever adventures we faced. I just kept quiet and prayed for our safety, and said my silent “thank you’s” when my feet touched the ground again.

That morning, my children were older and I felt I did not have to show any more false bravado. John greets his pilot-friend, Mannie Baradas, who in turn introduces us to his son who teaches sky jumping. But this young man was in a wheelchair! “My God,” I was screaming silently in my head. He must have seen my reaction to the sight of him, and so he reassured me that he was not teaching today. He had a “little” accident while skydiving, he said, so his other instructor, would take over giving lessons that day. “Oh, thank God,” I said again in my head, “maybe there’s somebody else who has better judgment, or better timing, or whatever it is that you need to avoid breaking your bones while sky-jumping.”

Mannie’s son called the other instructor to come out, and he was in crutches!!! At that point, even John did not think it was a good idea to try sky jumping. I did not have to make excuses for not signing up for lessons, John and the girls took care of that. I think that day we decided to go sailing in nearby Talisay, but when we think of adventures and misadventures, we still talk about our close encounter with sky jumping that day.