Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots

We all know how fortunate some of us are because of our financial standing.  That is something we can be thankful for; however, some are not so fortunate.  This year, we would like to do our part in helping needy children in this times of giving.

Koryo Family Taekwondo is collecting for Toys for Tots.  So if you are feeling generous or you have gifts you can spare, drop them off at the school no later than 18 Dec 2015 (Friday), and we will bring them to a Toys for Tots collection center.

Thank you,

From all of us at Koryo FTC.


One of the most powerful tools in life is goal setting.  Goal setting gives you direction and purpose.  Without goals, it is very likely your daily activities will have no relation to what you desire and possibly achieve in life.  By challenging yourself with a goal, you can take little steps daily to get you closer to that goal.  Goal setting is one of the key tools towards achieving success in life.

This new year, as with every new year, brings about the urge from everyone to resolve to do something.  This year, why not set one to three goals you can realistically complete before the end of the year.  Remember, when you set a goal, you need to keep these things in mind:

  1. I your goal realistic?
  2. Can your progress towards your goal be measured?
  3. Does your goal contribute to your or others’ betterment?

Is Your Goal Realistic?

The very first thing you need to look at is how realistic is your goal.  Is whatever you are aspiring to do even physically or temporally possible?

For example, let’s say you are a runner and wish to improve your time for running a 10Km race.  You set a goal to be able to run a 10K in 10 minutes.  Of course this is pretty absurd.  The fastest runner on record to do a 10K is Leonard Patrick Komon of Kenya.  He did it in 26 minutes and 44 seconds (26:44).  Here’s another example of an unrealistic goal for 2015.  Supposing that you are only a 7th grader struggling with your class in introduction to Algebra.  You set your goal to get a degree in Math so you can teach Math in school by the end of 2015.  Again, this is another example of an absurd goal which isn’t possible considering your age and that it takes about 4 years to complete a degree in college.

Here’s an example of a realistic goal.  Say you can run the 10Km (6.2 miles) race in 1 hour.  This year you want to set a goal to run a half marathon (13.1 miles).  This is definitely feasible.  If you are able to sustain the same speed as your 10Km run, you may even complete a half marathon in about 2 hours and 7 minutes.  And with consistent training, you can easily improve your chances of beating expectations.

Another example of a realistic goal is to read 12 books by the end of 2015.  This is definitely possible especially if you pick books that interests you greatly.  Some people are known to complete a book reading of a typical paper back book in one day!  So yes, reading 12 books in a year is extremely possible.

Can You Measure Your Goal Progress?

You can’t really tell if you’ve achieved a goal if there is no way to measure your progress towards it.  Here’s an example of a measurable goal.

You are a freshman in high school, and you set your eyes on getting straight As (or 4s) for all you classes for both the school year ending in June and the first semester ending in December 2015.  During the semester, you get feedback from the teacher regarding how you are progressing through your scores on pop quizzes, homework, mid term testing, and final testing.

This is definitely feasible if you study daily to ensure you understand the class topics, and ask for help on subject matter you don’t understand.  It may not be easy, but it is doable.  As you take your tests during the semester, the scores you get is measurement of your progress.  If you aren’t getting the scores you need to achieve the desired goal, you need to make adjustments to how you study or ask for help; perhaps you need to join a study group to help you understand the subject matter better.  Regardless of what you do, the point is that you can adjust your actions as a result of the means to measure your progress towards your goal.

Does Your Goal Benefit You and/or Others?

It doesn’t make any sense to set goals that do not help you or others in a positive way.  For example, setting a goal to reach 1 million points in a video game is most likely not a worthwhile goal for you or anyone.

On the other hand, setting a goal to run a half marathon can be beneficial to your health.  It may also help benefit others who you inspire to exercise, aside from helping fund the charity the event organizer is supporting.


Set one to three goals for the year 2015.  Remember to keep these in mind when setting goals:

  • Is the goal realistic?
  • Can you measure your progress towards the goal?
  • Does the end-result of the goal benefit your or others in a positive way?

If you’ve already set a goal this year, why not share it by posting a comment below.

Positive Mental Attitude

PMA is positive mental attitude

In class, we talk a lot about the sixth tenet of Taekwondo–Victory.  The most important essence of victory is having a positive mental attitude or PMA.  Sometimes this is easier said than done.  With that in mind, this article is intended to help the reader build PMA by following four basic things:

  1. Avoid negative thoughts
  2. Think positive thoughts; it will help block negative thoughts.
  3. Be thankful for what you have
  4. Look for humor so you can laugh

Why not give these steps a try now?


Respect in Taekwondo

(Written by Kenneth Yi in 2011)

On a popular social networking Internet site called Facebook, as I write this essay, there are currently 12,904 members that have joined “I’m a Black Belt in Taekwondo.”  My guess is that many of those black belts were asked the same above question as one of their requirements before obtaining their black belt in Taekwondo.  Furthermore, when you google the exact above question (Webster dictionary finally made “google” an official verb), you will be able to read all the different responses for many days as the search will give you 1,740,000 results.  If you google “what black belt means to me,” you will get 4,160,000 results.  In reading a few of the posted answers I realized that each person went through different  experiences in reaching their black belt.  Therefore, at the end, it appears that everyone has a different opinion about the meaning of being a black belt. When you compare some of the answers posted, only a few writers really try to answer the question “what it means to be a black belt.”  Instead, one can not help but notice that most writers are telling their stories about their journey in finally obtaining the black belt in Taekwondo.  Possibly, one of the reasons is that most writers obtained their black belts at a young age.  At younger age, it is more difficult to understand  what being a black belt  truly represents. My grandfather was a life long practitioner of Kumdo reaching 9th  degree and served in Korean athletic development  in many capacities.  Now he is mostly remembered as a founding coach of a Kumdo team at a major university in Korea (  He wrote an article which said that martial artists not knowing the meaning of “Do” are just simple hoodlums that learned how to wield a stick.  He stressed  that the meaning of “Do” should be realized by all of us and practiced  not just inside the dojang but more importantly outside in our daily lives.  Furthermore, he emphasized that we are never perfect but constantly striving to reach that perfection.  He said, possessing those characteristics and attitude constitutes a true martial artist. Similarly, Casimir Loeber wrote,

“In my opinion, there is a huge difference between being a black belt and having a black belt.  A black belt is after all a black piece of cloth that is tied around ones waist.  On the other hand, being a black belt is something profound that represents who you are to the core.  With enough effort almost anyone off the street can work out enough to accomplish the physical feats associated with having a black belt, but if takes someone truly special to embody what being a black belt represents.  A black belt represents the never ending quest to perfect your mind, body and soul; to treat others and the world with respect and to hold you to the highest standards possible.”

Although written many decades apart and at two extreme ends of the earth, Mr. Loeber’s and my grandfather’s article tell the same inherent message.  Mastering the physical techniques is required in order for one to advance in ranks to reach the black belt.  Many hours of dedicated training will transform a student to perform physically at the level that is expected of a black belt.  But one must at the same time learn and understand “The Way of Taekwondo,” the “Do” portion.  Striving to apply the tenants and commandments of Taekwondo in our daily lives is very important.  Understanding what the true meaning of being a black belt is just as important as knowing how to execute the poomse to perfection.  Therefore, I believe that being a black belt means that one sets an ultimate goal of trying to reach that perfection of the mind, body, and the soul. Most professional athletes retire before reaching 40 years old.  The physical demands of a sport will take a toll on an athlete’s body.  Soon, one will realize that they can’t compete at the level that they are accustomed to or wanting to.  When an athlete realizes this fact, they will usually hold a news conference and tearfully announce to the world that they will quit.  Achieving  the goal of a black belt in Taekwondo has taken me 6 years.  I will be turning 48 this year.  I can remember many days that I was so sore from training that I could barely walk.  Adam Aronson wrote,

“I have always believed that difference between a black belt and a white belt is the black belt just did not quit.  This is to me the most important meaning black belt and the reason why I am still pursuing it.” (

Not quitting and reaching the black belt has made me feel younger and my body stronger.  Becoming more flexible has alleviated many aches from simple daily tasks.  The confidence that I have gained allows me to feel more youthful in spirit.  The realization that you are coordinated enough and that you can control you body to perform Taekwondo techniques gives you an increased sense of empowerment.  Being able to train in Taekwondo with younger classmates has been a blessing.  The grimacing faces of the fellow students next to you as you stretch and cheering each other as we spar will always be cherished.  Because I will continue to tie the black belt in dojang means that camaraderie we share with each other will continue.  Finally, the sense of improvement I gain from day to day as I train further is satisfying.  So, being a black belt means that you are maintaining your strength in your body and nurturing your youthful heart. Here is a part of the essay written by Thomas Lynch, 3rd Degree Black Belt.  He concluded his essay by writing,

“I’d like to thank my mom for enrolling me in Tae Kwon Do at the age of four, and taking Tae Kwon Do with me.  I’d also like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Lightfoot for putting up with me when I was a crazy little kid back in the day.  Without their faith in me, I would not be standing here today.  Thanks for a great 10 years, and here’s to many more.” (

Taekwondo has been a great activity for my family.  Just riding to and from the classes together with my kids has been fun.  Sharing about Taekwondo has brought us much closer than any other activities that we have done.  There are only two kinds of people in this world.  Either you are a black belt or you are not.  Once you are a black belt you are forever recognized as a black belt.  Quitting at blue belt in Taekwondo is never mentioned as a person’s list of accomplishments.  The legacy was left from my grandfather to us.  Being a black belt means that I can continue that legacy down to my kids.  Becoming a black belt along with my kids will always remain as the biggest accomplishments in my life.  One of the most important reasons of becoming a black belt for me is that I will be able to continue this common bond with my kids forever.  To me that is priceless. I have observed that most students stop training once they reach their black belt as if they are graduating.  I like to tell them that black belt means that we have just learned the basics and it’s a new beginning.  Becoming a black belt means reaching a fork in the road that will start a new journey.  The kicks have to improve; the forms have to be done with more precise stances and more life lessons to be learned inside dojang.  I was told by a professor that when he was conferred his PhD degree, his mentor told him that it’s only a license to do further research and continue to learn on his own without supervision.  He emphasized that the degree wasn’t to show that now he knew everything.  I know there are so much more to be learned.  That’s why black belts are given as 1st dan and not as 9th dan in Taekwondo.  Even as a black belt, one must maintain the commitment to learn as if you were a lower colored belt. Written by Dan titled: Does your black belt define you, or do you define it?  He concludes by writing,

“It’s the opinion of other martial artists which are most influenced by the ‘dilution effect.’  Telling other martial artists that you have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do means little if anything (I believe this effect has most damaged Tae Kwon Do).  This, of course, is not limited to Tae Kwon Do, but applies, to some degree, to all styles and schools.  The people that truly know what your black belt is worth, is your fellow students, and your instructor.  Finally, you are the only person in the entire world that understands what your black belt means.”  (


“Respect has a great importance in everyday life.  As children we are taught (one hopes) to respect our parents, teachers, and elders, school rules and traffic laws, family and cultural traditions, other people’s differing opinions.  And we come to value respect for such things; when we’re older, we may shake our heads (or fists) at people who seem not to have learned to respect them.  We develop great respect for people we consider exemplary and lose respect for those we discover to be clay-footed, and so we may try to respect only those who are truly worthy of respect.  We may also come to believe that, at some level, all people are worthy of respect.  We may learn that jobs and relationships become unbearable if we receive no respect in them; in certain social milieus we may learn the price of disrespect if we violate the street law:  “Diss me, and you die.”  Calls to respect this or that are increasingly part of public life:  environmentalists exhort us to respect nature, foes of abortion and capital punish insist on respect for human life, members of racial and ethnic minorities and those discriminated against because of their gender, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs, or economic status demand respect both as social and moral equals and for their cultural differences. And it is widely acknowledged that public debates about such demands should take place under terms of mutual respect.  We may learn both that our lives together go better when we respect the things that deserve to be respected and that we should respect some things independently of considerations of how our lives would go.” (

Black belt means to me ‘respect.”  I believe that because I have the respect for what Taekwondo is and all that encompasses, I was able to reach to black belt.  Without that respect that I have gained along the way, I probably would have given up and stopped training.  Training in Taekwondo has a mystic quality.  It feels like I did not become a black belt but that Taekwondo slowly transformed me into a black belt.  It is hard to explain with words.  Taekwondo deserves the utmost respect.  The advancements in ranks were exciting and challenging.  But, there had to been more than obtaining that next belt.  The whole training process has been a humbling experience for me.  And, I realize that it was the respect for Taekwondo and what Taekwondo represents that helped me persevere through the training  to reach the black belt.    At the end, it will be the respect for my black belt that will further me along in ranks.  The understanding what respect is and more precisely what “mutual respect” represents, is what I believe to be the true meaning of being a black belt in Taekwondo.  The black belt in Taekwondo signifies “mutual respect.”  A mutual respect is the only way that will lead to positive results in everything we do.  At the end of each class, all students recite the 10 commandments of Taekwondo.  The black belts should add as 11th commandment “respect your black belt.”

Victory:  6th Tenet of Taekwondo

Victory: 6th Tenet of Taekwondo

Victory didn’t use to be part of the tenets of Taekwondo.  At some point in time they added it as a tenet, giving us six Taekwondo tenets to guide our lives by.

What is Victory?  It is a tenet that tells us to have a positive outlook on things.  Regardless of how bad things seem to be, there is always a silver lining in those dark looming clouds.  In simple terms, it is a way of having a positive mental state, and always having a “can do” attitude.

You could also say victory can  be directly tied to our attitude towards things.  If you are pessimistic, then you definitely aren’t exercising victory.  If you are optimistic, then there is a good chance you are applying the tenet of victory.

Here are examples that show a case where victory is lacking, and where victory is applied, respectively:

John is getting ready to test for his black belt.  He is feeling a bit edgy because the final test day is coming and he is thinking that the test will be extremely difficult.  He is particularly afraid of failing to break the dreaded one inch brick.  He continues to get anxious and nervous as the day of testing draws near, and in the process fails to prepare for it.  As a result, he failed to pass on his first attempt at black belt testing.

Jane on the other hand is excited that she is finally getting tested for black belt.  After all, she’ll been training many years to get to where she is now.  With the testing only weeks away, Jane prepares for the test by constantly practicing her forms, self-defense techniques, and many other things that she knows will be on the black belt test.  She thinks that no matter what happens, as long as she does her best in preparing for the test, there is really nothing to be worried about.  And if for some reason she fails, she’ll find out what to fix for the next test.

Can you tell the difference between John and Jane?  How do their attitudes differ, and which attitude is conducive towards their upcoming black belt testing?

You are correct if you noticed that Jane has a definite advantage over John, just in their outlook on things and what they are doing about their situation.  If I were to bet on who passes the test, I see Jane as having a significant advantage over John.  John has already imposed roadblocks on himself through his negative attitude, while Jane just prepares for the test.

The above is just a simple example of how victory can help in your day to day lives.  It doesn’t have to just apply to Taekwondo.  You can use it at school, at home, and anywhere else you happen to be, and under any situation.

I’m glad they, whomever they are, added victory as a tenet of Taekwondo, because with it we have hope.

Kenneth S. Yi--a true black belt

Kenneth S. Yi–a true black belt

It is hard to believe and difficult to accept the passing of a fellow Koryo Family Taekwondo Center black belt and friend–Kenneth S. Yi.

Who is Kenneth S. Yi?

To the instructors of Koryo Family Taekwondo Center he is a caring family dentist, a sincere family friend, and the embodiment of a true black belt and martial artist.

As one of Dr. Yi’s patients, I know he takes time to meet you at his clinic’s waiting area, and once on a dental chair he’ll take time to check how things are with you and your family–showing genuine concern for everyone’s well-being.

Kenneth S. Yi is a very giving family friend.  Two years ago, after learning of my grandson’s first Christmas play, which was scheduled during the Taekwondo classes, he offered to cover the classes for me.  This allowed me to enjoy a one time only event which I would have otherwise missed.  Ken is a successful dentist and business owner.  Whenever he got a chance, he dropped words of wisdom to my kids, who are young adults, one of which has dreams of becoming a dentist as well.  Ken also openly shared with us some of his common sense business growth knowledge to help our own business.  In September 2013, when my father passed away, Ken was again there, willing to offer help to cover classes on days he was free; we never took him on that offer, but instead closed the school for the duration.  Nevertheless, this shows how much of a true friend Ken can be.

Ken embodies the characteristics of a true black belt and martial artist as he clearly abides by the six tenets of Tae Kwon Do–courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit, and victory.  Although he is already a successful dentist and business owner, he treats everyone with respect and is very humble.  His word is his bond; when he says something, he does it.  He once said that if we ever needed help in covering a class to let him know; he’ll do what he can to help.  He has already proved that he keeps his word.  As a father of two kids, I’ve seen Ken take full responsibility of his children’s welfare as he and his father take time to bring the kids to classes periodically.  I would say that Ken isn’t a natural athlete, but his strong perseverance and determination carried him through the challenges he faced as he worked his way to black belt.  In my time being Ken’s instructor, I’ve never seen him lose his cool.  He is able to keep it together regardless of underlying pressure.  Our curriculum is comprehensive; it is both physically and mentally challenging; regardless, Ken set his goal for achieving the rank of 1st dan black belt, and did it.  When he trains in class, he gives it his best to the point that his uniform is soaking wet from sweat.  Because of his indomitable spirit, he is able to keep up and outpace some of the younger students.  Ken’s attitude about training radiates positive mental attitude; this helped him deal with the challenges as he journeyed his way up to black belt.  Ken is a first rate black belt; I see him on equal standing with any martial artists out there, regardless of their rank.

Kenneth S. Yi will be missed by the Koryo Family Taekwondo Center family, as well as the Forlanda family.  His passing is a great loss for everyone, but we will never forget him as his spirit lives on within all of us.


self-controlIn our classes, both young and old, we make it a point to recite the tenets of Taekwondo at the beginning of every class.  The purpose of this, of course, is to remind everyone the general guidelines we, as martial artists, use to live by.  In addition, every week, we discuss one tenet in very good detail–asking each student to find examples they see or actually exercise in their daily lives.

Recently we covered “self-control.”

On the student’s card, this tenet encourages the student to calm themselves down in the face of anger or frustration, by breathing in a relaxed manner while counting up to ten.  This process actually has some logic to it because our emotions generally take over when we get angry; by counting to 10, we engage the side of our brain that deals with reason and logic.  The combination of relaxed breathing and counting help control the anger that is brewing inside us.  The result is that we are less likely to be angry, and thus less likely to say or do something we will regret in the future.

Because we teach everyone targeted defensive blocks, strikes, punches, and kick, it is very crucial that we temper these skills with self-control (in concert with the other tenets).  Without self-control, a person learning these skills can easily become a bully, or worse, a danger to society.

Be advised that students who use their skills for other than self-defense, can quickly find themselves suspended from Taekwondo classes.

Self-control is not just about anger control.  It is all about controlling ones self from temptations.  There are many pressures in our environment, as well as within our feelings, that cause us to do something.  Sometimes what we do is good, but more often than not, it is something that isn’t good.

At school for example, kids are under constant peer pressure to be with the “in crowd.”  Say for example, the “in crowd” are all smokers.  This creates peer pressure for a kid to smoke since that act is associated with that group.  A strong sense of self-control, can help a child justify to themselves why that group is not such an “in crowd” after all.  Instead, they will learn to feel sorry for those that fall and succumb to peer pressure.

There are many other things kids (as well as adults), can be tempted to do.  With self-control, they can temper such urges.

Now you know the importance of self-control, and what can happen, should a student fail to exercise it.

Have you exercised self-control lately, or have you seen someone put it to use?  Please share by commenting below.

In our curriculum, indomitable spirit simply represents the particular tenet of Taekwondo that helps us set high goals and go for them.

To give you a sense of what high goals are we take you back to 480 BC, to the Battle of  Thermopylae.  It was there that King Leonidas of Sparta led 300 of his troops to help block the advance of some 100,000 to 150,000 Persians troops.

Battle of Thermopylae

Battle of Thermopylae (source:

Although the Spartans were eventually defeated after two days of battle, you could say that King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans had indomitable spirit.  Basically, their goal was very high–to hold off the advancing Persian army with only 300 troops.  He held them off for 2 days–giving the Greeks time to escape before their cities were overrun.

In modern times, setting high goals means having some ambition to become successful in life.  It could mean studying to become a doctor, an engineer, or even starting your own business.  Whatever it is, it is a worthwhile goal which involves risks, but when the goal is reached, a great sense of accomplishment is felt.

When you want to exercise indomitable spirit, reaching your high goal may take some time.  Take smaller steps to reach your goal by completing objectives that put you closer to your goal.

Operation Christmas Child Box

Operation Christmas Child Box

Koryo Family Taekwondo Center always works to make a difference in the world.

This can range anywhere from helping a student become a better person through Taekwondo training to donating Christmas gifts to local organizations.  This year the center is reaching out across the globe to help needy children by supporting Operation Christmas Child.

About Operation Christmas Child

To support this activity we are looking for gift box donations that include such things as:

  • School Supplies:  pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
  • Toys:  small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, small Etch A Sketch®, toys that light up or make noise (with extra batteries), Slinky®, etc.
  • Hygiene Items:  toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc.
  • Other:  T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries)
  • A Personal Note:  You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family.  If you include your name and address, the child may write back.

PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE:  used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns; knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

Operation Schedule

The center is working to get all shoe box gift items by Friday, 25 Oct 2013.

What To Do

If you wish to participate, please follow the steps below:

  1. Shoe Box:  Use empty shoe box(es) (standard size) or a small plastic container.
  2. Boy or Girl:  Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl and the child’s age category:  2-4, 5-9, 10-14.  Use appropriate Boy/Girl label that comes with the Operation Christmas Child brochure (download and print them).  Mark the correct age category on the label and tape the label to the top of the box.
  3. Fill with Gifts:  Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child.
  4. Submit Gift(s) to Koryo Family Taekwondo Center by
    Friday, 25 Oct 2013, between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm

    and the center will take these gift boxes to a local drop-off point for pickup.

This less than five minute video sums up what this operation is all about.

My Dad Leaving for Vietnam

My Dad Leaving for Vietnam

Most fathers have the luxury of spending a lot of time with their wife and kids.  Some fathers don’t always have that luxury, but wish they had.  I think my father was more of the latter.

Does this mean that he wasn’t a good father?  On the contrary.  He is probably the best father in my view.  Of course I have a biased view, but let me elaborate.

My father grew up in a farm area in the Sorsogon Province in Luzon, the main island of the Philippines.  His teen years came to him during the latter part of World War II, just as the Imperial Army of Japan was being beaten back by the US Military.

At the age of 15, my father lived off the land as his father tasked him to plant corn and other crops over a period of several months, with his father coming in periodically to check on him.  During this period, he lived under a hut with no walls, just a roof of straws.  For sustenance, he caught small game and ate fruits and vegetables he gathered from the land.

When he graduated from high school, a friend of his mother suggested taking him to Manila.  His mother was excited and even gave the friend some chickens to make sure my father was able to go.  Turns out the friend was all talk, and left for Manila without my father.  With everyone expecting him to go to Manila, my father set off to go to Manila on his own.

Upon arriving in Manila, he lived with his cousins.  For two months he had he could not find a job, and eventually decided to find his mother’s friend.  He found him, but unfortunately, he was a mere driver and had no power to get him a  job.  His tough luck eventually turned around when he began doing building renovation jobs which led him to a other manual labor jobs.

He got married in 1955.  When his first child was born, he realized that the work he was doing wasn’t going to cut it as his children (current child and future kids) would have no future.  That is when he focused his efforts towards a bachelors of science degree in Radio Engineering through FEATI University.

When he got his degree, his boss promoted him to Assistant Telephone Outside Plant Engineering in Charge.  His responsibilities expanded and even involved contracts with extended tours in Vietnam.  I think he was there for about a year.  Imagine having to be separated from your family for many months!  I for one really missed him.

In 1969, my father had the foresight to know that our lives would be better in the United States of America.  That is when he went to the US Embassy in Manila to apply for immigration.  In 1972, martial law as proclaimed by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.  My own child experience there told me that brutality by police and military men were rampant then.  Fortunately, in 1973, his exit visa was approved, and he was able to leave the Philippines with just $300 in his pocket.  He wanted to take more, but strict martial law rules kept him from withdrawing more.

When he went to California, USA, the only contact he had was a letter he sent to a friend to ask him to pick him up a the airport.  He was going there blind.   Fortunately his friend got the message and picked him up at the airport.  Finding a job was his next challenge.  Fortunately, he had great help from his friends and other Filipinos in the US.  For a man who had a BS degree in Radio Engineering, he was willing to work odd jobs to help him sustain him while finding the right job.

Eventually he was able to find a position as a janitor in a company called Fairchild through a friend who helped him petition the rest of his family to the US.  All this time, he never forgot to send money to the Philippines to help his family.  He successfully petitioned all of us in 1974.  His friend who was also a janitor allowed us to rent a room in his house.

He later became a draftsman at Fairchild but was later laid off.  He eventually got an interview and a job at Bechtel Corporation as a cable engineer.  Soon he found himself being sent to Atlanta, GA, to support construction there  related to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Agency (MARTA).

He is again separated from his family, living in a one room apartment in Atlanta, Georgia.  He was ready to go back to California and told his boss.  His boss didn’t want him to leave and was able to finance our move to Atlanta.  By this time, my brother has joined the US Air Force to help lessen the burden.  We all lived in a small apartment–living, eating, and watching in one small room.

Living in one room, we all realized how strong of a smoker my Dad was.  All of us convinced him to stop smoking because we all knew it was bad for him.  He stopped “cold turkey” and began chewing gum instead.  We also let him know how much we hate Atlanta and how much we wanted to go back to California.

As soon as he found an opportunity, he applied and was able to get us back to California.  In 1977, Bechtel tried to send him to Washington DC.  Having just bought a house for the family, with his wife holding a steady job at AMD, and the kids all studying, he refused.  This same year, he found another job as an Outside Plant Engineer at International Services Communications under contract with Pacific Bell.

For several more years, he worked with various companies as an Outside Plant Engineer, and even tried to see if North Carolina would help our situation.  He worked there for only two months.  Fortunately we convinced him at that time to stay in California.  He finally retired in 1991.

Because he wanted his kids to have a future, he made many sacrifices including getting separated from his family for very extended lengths of time.  That separation is painful yet he did it to ensure his kids had a future.

Here’s the funny thing.  Not once did I think during my childhood that we were having financial issues.  We always had food to eat, clothes to wear, and were able to do things we never thought we would do when we were in the Philippines.

Today, with the exception of his eldest who passed away from a medical accident, all his kids are successful in their own right.  His children now have their own kids, and even a grandchild.  Because of the ground work he has laid for us, not once did his kids experience the struggles he faced growing up.

My Dad passed away on 19 Sep 2013, at 4:31 am.  Before and at the time of his passing, he was constantly surrounded by the very family he loved and supported, as well as the extended family resulting from the fruits of the future he wished for his children.

Rest in peace Pops!