Now that’s a strange question. Just what does it ask? Who is Paul? What’s a Pasuquin? Alternatively, maybe, has this Paul arrived and was it painful …? There could be many answers to that three-word question. One short answer could be, “Yes.” I am sure you would like a little longer answer. Well, here it is.
Who is Paul? – An Introduction
In keeping with the (unofficial) tradition here at LiP, this article is my “introduction” or an attempt at one. Please bear with me – future articles will get better!
My name is Paul Keating and I come from an area in northwest Ohio, USA (just south of Lake Erie) that originally was a part of the “Great Black Swamp.” Settlers drained the swamp long ago, but the mosquitoes remained. Extremely rich agricultural flatlands replaced the swamp, and they extend from Lake Erie to rolling hills to the south. I think of this area as my “birth home.”
The municipality of Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte, on the other hand, is my “adopted home” (or, just “home”). Now that I think of it, the environment of my “home” is a flat expanse of agricultural land between the South China Sea and the mountains of Apayao and Cagayan provinces. Yes, it comes complete with mosquitoes. Could there be a slight connection there?
After attending high school and spending a couple of years in college, I became a “tired-of-school-routine” student. I needed a little adventure to keep from being bored. I quit school and have been on an adventure ever since.
I joined the U.S. Navy (better prospects of travel and adventure) and it kept my life perking. During my career, I met and married my wife, Emy, in London, UK. Emy was an Ilocana OFW working at the now defunct Middlesex Hospital and I was on duty at the U.S. Naval Headquarters located near the US Embassy. For me, it was love at first sight. For her, well, let us just say that I had to help her with her vision. Now, 32-plus years later, we pretty much see eye-to-eye.
Blessed with two sons, I became a family man. As my naval career passed the 20-year mark, the boys were fast approaching their high school years. I knew I would need a “real” job very soon to pay for any further schooling. Therefore, I retired after 24 years’ service. Going back to college, I obtained my degree in accountancy, and became a CPA. This profession certainly helped put them through college. Now, they are computer engineers, working for a very large government contractor.
With the boys graduated and working, I retired from my tax accounting job at a “Big Four” international accounting firm. I needed a break from the business scene. After a few months of retired life, I joined a large local firm in California. My desire was to get a little “up close” tax experience with clients – a mix of medium to high net worth clients and small business clients. I certainly got all the experience I needed there! Unfortunately, as you can see by the pictures, practicing tax accounting does take its toll. First, the eyesight weakens, then the weight starts to fluctuate and, finally, age creeps in while “enjoying” the stress and pressures of tight tax deadlines. It was time to retire, again!
What’s a Pasuquin? – My Retirement Haven
So here I am, three times retired. “Where, exactly, is here?” you ask. “Pasuquin,” I answer, prompting your follow-on, “WHERE?”
Emy and I live in Barangay #24 (Nagsanga) of the fourth class municipality of Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte. As its name suggests, Ilocos Norte is in the northern (at the very northwestern) part of the island of Luzon. LiP columnist John Miele is practically a next-door neighbor when he and his wife Rebecca visit their home in Abulug, Cagayan. (Abulug is just off the upper right hand edge of the Ilocos Norte map).
Where is Pasuquin in relation to other well-known places, such as Davao and Cebu? The map of the Ilocos Region in Luzon provides a visual answer. Pasuquin appears to be about as far away from Davao City that one can be while remaining on the island of Luzon.
Customs, traditions, culture, dress, mannerisms, and dialects also highlight the differences between us. Points of view on any topic can easily be as distant as the physical distance between view holders. To give you a hint of a difference, I will admit that Ilocos Norte is “Marcos Country.” The people remember the late, former President as a native Ilocano who connected the Northern Provinces with Manila via a durable highway system and sturdy, modern bridges. Prior to these infrastructure projects, it was far easier to access Manila via a maritime route hugging the South China Sea coast. The old, rugged overland routes took weeks to travel. Similarly, the people remember and celebrate other improvements and enhancements to the quality of life in the Northern Provinces, afforded them by the Marcos Administration.
Painful? – Not Really
I hope to provide different but “painless” topics from “up North” in upcoming months. I am charging my digital camera’s battery and reviewing the local newspaper, The ILOCOS TIMES, for thought provoking issues and topics!
Thank you, dear readers, for following me this far – Do you care to follow me further, “Up North”?
(This article was submitted just before embarking on the plane to start our adventure in the Philippines. Internet connections will be spotty for a few weeks, but please feel free to leave your comments. I will reply to them when I’m able to make a connection.)