March 12, 2011

LCDR Rosendo T. "Ross" Santonil, USN (1931- 2011)


My Father's last words to me, as I was moving away with my wife and child to another land, are still preserved on video.  Even though I remember what he said, nothing he said ever had a more powerful and lasting impact than when he talked to me about two things.  Those were: his childhood . . . and his escape from economic bondage.

I think now there is a reason why these topics are so prominent whenever I recall having so many conversations with him.  I feel like he always emphasized those topics in order to give his sons a way to express what he could not in his 80 years on this planet.

Every American here today is witness to his legacy.  Those of you who knew him well know that he was a man of action, instead of words.

His years of Naval training always made you feel a sense of urgency when you were in his presence.  There was always a project to compete.  There was always a goal to be met.  There is always a mission to accomplish, and thanks to Our Savior's death and resurrection, there is always someplace to rest.

In many ways, my Dad's restlessness was a constant reminder to me about a youth spent shining shoes in the streets of Manila, only to come home late at night, finding nothing to eat, except a small bowl of rice that his sister Lydia had saved for him.  Now, hopefully, he will be able to see her again, and thank her for her gentle kindness.

We are gathered here today not because he died.  We are gathered here today because he lived his life with robust energy and a disciplined drive.

Outsiders only knew him as "Commander," but those of us who have reaped benefits from his courage and compassion need to remember a young naive Filipino sailor in 1952, who could not afford an education.

We are here today because a young boy in the Philippines dreamed of giving his children the gift of Liberty to use their God-given talents to build their own lives, to feed their own families, and to live without the psychological shackles of poverty, free from the petty obligation and self-serving oligarchies that are the remnants of his childhood.

I do not need to list for you his long career resume, or recite his academic curriculum, or mention his business acumen.  There is no need to boast about the success he achieved in his favorite arena, his life AFTER the Navy, on the golf course, although I'm sure he would have wanted me to tell you that twice he made a hole-in-one.

I am speaking to you today to help fill the final orders from Lieutenant Commander Ross T. Santonil, a United States Naval Officer, whose life, in my view, gave meaning to the term "Service."  His identity as a man was not circumscribed by national origin, or his military rank, or by religious preference, or even barrio affiliation;  far from it.  I know because I grew up in his house, and I saw how time after time, people came to him, and so many lives were affected in a positive way because he would not refuse them.  I saw how he worked so hard to serve his family and adopted country.  Now that I have a family of my own, he has become more to me than just a Dad.  He is my hero.

The last command from Commander Santonil came to me in one of our man Father-Son chats. He told me, Son, when I die, I want everyone to have a fiesta.  Celebrate; and feed everyone.

Those were his final orders.
Before I'm done, I want to share a few words about the nuclear family he is leaving behind.  To my Ma I think you already know this, but you were the true object of Pa's desire.  You were the apple of his eye, and the source of all his passion and energy.  Whatever brought you and Pa together, it is the sustaining power of your Love for each other that inspires me in my own marriage.  To my sweet sister, Penelia, the good soldier, what can I say that we have not already shared, and that we never would tell our parents!  To our little brother, Ross, who could not be here today, thanks for showing us that some things in life are private, and for proving that it was you who learned the most from Pa about how to live free of the past.  And to his granddaughter, Tori Tam, my little mochi, you will always carry Lolo's spirit with you, anytime you look towards heaven.

To all the Santonils and Barins here today, and all our dear friends and close associates, we are humbled by your presence, and we are hopeful that my Dad was someone you could think kindly upon, and remember in your hearts that his life's aim, purpose, and pleasure, was Service . . . to his family, this country, and God.

I know I speak for all of us today when I say we deeply appreciate your kind gestures and prayers as we let go of a man . . . a brother . . . a cousin . . . a husband . . . an in-law . . . a friend . . . a father . . . a grandfather . . . and whatever may come, he will live in our hearts, finally, as our Fallen Hero.

December 26, 2010

"The End of the Trail" James Earle Fraser (1915)

Witness the quest for power in spite of others' private property rights.

The FCC, through Barry Soetoro's crony schoolmate, have taken the bait.

Say no more. This is my FINAL POST for Wittgenstein

* * *

Perhaps . . . I'll start another blog with less zeal, but this 2-year journalistic experiment is over, my agenda illustrated, hopefully with a legacy of humor being left behind. And though Exile may be a precondition for Redemption, I can't sit and wait behind my computer screen. There's too much real life going on to spend venting my frustrations about "the Law," as a wanna-be William Blake, scrivening in artful obscurity. Not to worry. Good men must do something in the face of evil, but I pray someday we also gain the wisdom to know when to do nothing. So long, and thanks for all the fish . . . I'm outta here.

I'll see you on the golf course. Par is doomed.

© 2010 Roy Barin Santonil

I have carried a heavy load on my back ever since I was a boy. I realized then that we could not hold our own with the white men. We were like deer. They were like grizzly bears. We had small country. Their country was large. We were contented to let things remain as the Great Spirit Chief made them. They were not, and would change the rivers and mountains if they did not suit them.

I am tired of fighting.... from where the sun now stands, I will fight no more.

Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce (1840 - 1904)

There is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9

December 19, 2010

DREAM Dies, Nightmare Lives, Winning Ain't Old

The end is near; for Year 2010, that is. (Can we get a measurement?)

Sorry friends, I can't resist spouting off. Blame my high school soccer coach. He was a Navy Captain, and a judge in the JAG Corps. He always reminded us that "we are playing for fun (long pause) . . . and winning is fun."

Seeing the Senate vote the DREAM Act into its deserved oblivion, helped push my psychic balancing act a smidgen towards what can maybe be called hopefulness about the next session of Congress. It's only a single-issue result, but the issue rests at the core of our national discourse, and portends how and whether we continue in the political sphere, to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

* * *

Professor Victor Davis Hansen has become a regular contributor at National Review and American Thinker, preaching to the conservative choir, and maybe occasionally winning over a convert or two. Last year, I unwittingly scooped (by five weeks!) an idea of his for an essay title. It was about ObamaCare. Now, the professor offers some observations about life in rural Fresno, CA. In "The Two Californias", he paints a picture of how living conditions have changed in the San Joaquin Valley.

While it may be seen as alarmist, and while America has not yet fallen to the squalid corruption, institutionalized ignorance, physical insecurity, and oligarchic oppression of other countries, the Senate's rejection of the illusory DREAM Act at least temporarily puts the brakes on those encroachments. I am grateful, as a naturalized American, that I can say, as the Third World encroaches: "been there - done that - never going back."
I note this because hundreds of students here illegally are now terrified of being deported to Mexico. I can understand that, given the chaos in Mexico and their own long residency in the United States. But here is what still confuses me: If one were to consider the classes that deal with Mexico at the university, or the visible displays of national chauvinism, then one might conclude that Mexico is a far more attractive and moral place than the United States.
Substitute "the Philippines" or any other Third World country for "Mexico," and you will finally get my point. The DREAM Act sponsors, especially the activists, are either confused or lying when they advocate in favor of laws which effectively trash America. To wit,
[T]here is a surreal nature to these protests: something like, “Please do not send me back to the culture I nostalgically praise; please let me stay in the culture that I ignore or deprecate.” I think the DREAM Act protestors (sic) might have been far more successful in winning public opinion had they stopped blaming the U.S. for suggesting that they might have to leave at some point, and instead explained why, in fact, they want to stay. What it is about America that makes a youth of 21 go on a hunger strike or demonstrate to be allowed to remain in this country rather than return to the place of his birth?
What indeed?
I think I know the answer to this paradox. Missing entirely in the above description is the attitude of the host, which by any historical standard can only be termed “indifferent.” California does not care whether one broke the law to arrive here or continues to break it by staying. It asks nothing of the illegal immigrant — no proficiency in English, no acquaintance with American history and values, no proof of income, no record of education or skills. It does provide all the public assistance that it can afford (and more that it borrows for), and apparently waives enforcement of most of California’s burdensome regulations and civic statutes that increasingly have plagued productive citizens to the point of driving them out. How odd that we overregulate those who are citizens and have capital to the point of banishing them from the state, but do not regulate those who are aliens and without capital to the point of encouraging millions more to follow in their footsteps. How odd — to paraphrase what Critias once said of ancient Sparta — that California is at once both the nation’s most unfree and most free state, the most repressed and the wildest.
Hundreds of thousands sense all that and vote accordingly with their feet, both into and out of California — and the result is a sort of social, cultural, economic, and political time-bomb, whose ticks are getting louder. [bold added]

Here is the link.

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In the sports world, my San Diego State Aztecs are reaching heights heretofore unscaled, thanks to a full complement of returning starters, a first-time Top 10 NCAA Division I ranking, and sellout crowds at the campus arena.  These basketball games are such a hot ticket, even the surfers are paying attention.  Trust me, if you went to school on The Mesa and are familiar with Monty's Den, it should warm the cockles of your heart knowing that our massive alumni base is rising to national prominence, not merely for the laid-back surfing, party-school image, but for old-fashioned, disciplined teamwork, humility, talent, skill and determination. Evidently, warm cockles have been underrated.  Now I should go look up the definition of "cockles."

Our student body voted overwhelmingly to keep the team name "Aztecs," in spite of the PC crowd's insistence that we were insensitive racists. And being happy about the DREAM Act's demise will probably invite more of the same baseless name-calling.

I don't care what they say.

Knowing California the way I did, and seeing current events the way they are, I harbor a glimmer of hope that love of country will go beyond something that's merely trendy, and even my self-loathing loyalty will win its own reward.

© 2010 Roy Barin Santonil

[Ed.note: tense and syntax changes; deleted Steve Fisher video 9/24/15]