From the Editor-in-Chief: When Friends, Balikbayans Come Home (Recalling My Foreign Trips)(Part II)
My most memorable ones were in the US where I studied the longest, first on a 45-day journalism study grant sponsored by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) based in Virginia, USA way back in 1988. It was a study tour of places like Boston, Massachusetts, New York Times in New York City, and upstate New York which included Niagara Falls, Canandaigua where I stayed for 30 days as staff reporter of an afternoon paper, the Daily Messenger, then to the US Capital, Washington DC, with stints at the Pentagon, the White House, the Capitol and State Department among others, giant media establishments like the Associated Press, UPI (United Press International) Washington Post and several others my two other US visits were in Long Beach and Los Angeles, California, then to nearby Las Vegas, Nevada. While in these places, I made friends with my eleven other fellow delegates, representing their respective countries like China, India, Latin America, Africa, Bhutan, Trinidad-Tobago and some other lesser known countries.
That was indeed a hectic study trip during which I became close friends to many acquaintances all of whom expressed the desire to visit me some time when we are all back to our respective countries. Sad to say that after a few letters from some of them, we lost contact due to several factors, like distance, time and lack of opportunities to travel and loss of interest or perhaps retirement from work and old age, etc.
In my own case, my latest foreign trip in the US was in Los Angeles, CA where my better half, Cecille Garaygay Toga works as a caregiver, and who is expected to retire and come home early next year. She already accomplished her main mission to enable our youngest daughter to finish her profession as a doctor of medicine when she graduated from Far Eastern University (FEU) and passed the medical board a year later. All the other children, ten of them including five others by my late first wife, (Nelly Pelayo Toga) who died in 1972, are all graduates of different college courses, mostly of them now professionals, married and most with their own children and even grandchildren.
In God's good time, we expect not only my wife to come home as balikbayan soon, after a 20-year stay in Australia and the US but also some of our children working abroad this Christmas or early next year, including my name sake, Pert Jr. now a retired ship captain based near Tokyo, Japan; our son, Joey Arnold who is considered a computer expert programmer based in Sydney, Australia with wife Larilie David; Kristofer Toga, in Agri-Business; from USLS in Bacolod City and the only doctor of our family, Christine Jane Toga, M.D. who has been on a visit to Sydney last year and is slated to come home from Metro Manila prior to another trip to Sydney, Australia to practice her medical profession in that country down under.
Last year, we hosted a family luncheon at one of the floating eateries or Viewing Deck of Brgy. Punta Taytay in Bacolod City, the balikbayan family of Patrick and Eva Erpe with their only son Patrick, Jr. who are natives of Kabankalan City but are now permanent residents of Lullaby Lane in Panorama City, California.
When I was in the US six years ago, me and my wife Cecille have been regular visitors of the Erpe couple in their cozy residence every weekend for three months that I was there, staying there overnight on Saturday and attending holy mass on Sunday. We had the rare opportunity to return the favor when they visited Bacolod with luncheon and had to rush home to Kabankalan where their parents and several relatives have been waiting for them after an absence of five to ten years in the US where Patrick is gainfully employed as security officer, while his wife Eva works as caregiver like my wife Cecille in Los Angeles, CA.
Another expected foreign visitor who is excited to come here as a tourist, is Canadian Charles King, the owner of a construction firm in Calgary who intends to stay for months as guest of NDB and the Toga family.
Some three years ago, Raffy's mother, Violeta Garaygay and husband Joe Neubauer also visited Bacolod City, Kabankalan City and Cebu City before going home to Sydney. We hosted a sumptuous dinner for them in our residence at Fiesta Homes in Sum-ag, Bacolod City.*(To be continued)