During the last full week of February (20-24), Palau held a national health summit attended by guests from throughout the region and beyond. Jimmy Arriola from Saipan and I were among those asked to speak at the summit. Jimmy talked about various behavioral issues, while I spoke on suicide and social change. It’s an old theme, but still relevant to Palau these days as its suicide rate continues to climb. But that was not the only problem troubling Palau, as I learned from the old friends I ran into. Many pointed to the population decline in recent years: more locals leaving for the US and Filipino workers having a difficult time re-entering after the Covid years. Then, too, the number of deaths now surpasses the number of births each year, we were told.Read More
We are supposed to write and speak of what we know, right? Well, I am becoming something of an expert on what it means to be old. So, let me share with you some of what I have learned about aging, as the OG—as my basketball buddies kindly put it.Read More
“Heroes” is what the press in many places would often call them. In the Big Apple they often went by the name of “New York’s finest.” They are the men and women in uniform who serve our city, our island, our nation, in the eyes of Americans. These uniformed heroes included police officers along with firemen and members of the US military. In past months COVID-19 nurses and doctors have joined their ranks as well. All of them deserve the highest honor their fellow citizens can bestow on them, since they put their lives on the line to provide the security and comfort that we enjoy.Read More
The face mask that we wear in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic is still every bit as strange to me as it was two months ago when we began wearing it.
Part of the reason is what a mask signified when I was growing up. The masked men in the old Westerns I watched were bandits–the bad guys riding into town to take what they could and run. They were the bank robbers, disguising their voices along with their faces, as they demanded all the money in the safe. Of course, there was also that other masked man, The Lone Ranger, who had other reasons for wanting to hide his identity. But most of those in disguise were up to no good, and we kids watching the old black-and-white movies knew it.Read More
I’m free, as of today. Free, that is, of the two weeks of self-quarantine imposed after I reportedly had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. Free from the daily calls from Public Health to inquire whether I’ve been observing restrictions, and whether I am showing any symptoms.
Now I’m free to drive to the supermarket (providing I’m wearing my mask, of course). But that’s about it! Where else can a person go these days!Read More
Bishop Mike Byrnes looked hollow-eyed and weary on our clergy Zoom teleconference last Friday. He looked the way all of us felt, I remember thinking to myself.
The lock-down prompted by the Coronavirus seems to be getting more stringent each week. The basketball court in our village has now been padlocked, so another outlet is denied. No more shooting baskets by myself on a dreary afternoon. At the supermarket lines are marked on the floor for checkout so that customers keep six feet from one another.Read More
Lent, I would tell our parishioners, was supposed to be a slow, deliberate walk through the desert for forty days. We Catholics were expected to tone down our lifestyle: giving up gourmet meals, cutting down on meat, possibly doing without dessert, and making other little sacrifices in the spirit of the season. For me it was trying to do without the gin and tonic that I enjoyed in the evening. All for a good reason, of course, but that still didn’t make the days go by any faster. Lent was always an endurance test as we plodded along through the barren landscape.
Well, my friends, the season of Lent pales in comparison with the quarantine imposed on us now that the first cases of COVID-19 have been reported on Guam. Even as the virus was capturing the attention of the world, the tourist havens on the island were becoming unusually quiet. We could walk into what had once been a crowded restaurant and have the place pretty much to ourselves.Read More
I don?t know much about the political issues surrounding Obamacare. But when I read that an additional 13 million Americans have medical insurance as a result, I feel thrilled inside. That?s not coverage for everyone, but at least it?s a good start.
Last Sunday we had just finished the Pohnpeian mass at our neighboring parish, when Deacon Saulus Olpet, the leader of the Pohnpeian Catholic community on Guam and an old friend, told me that his wife had just been released from the hospital. She had been in the new hospital recently opened in our section of the island. She was brought in with signs of a flu and remained in the hospital for 36 hours before her release. The man standing next to him, another Pohnpeian, looked at me and asked ?You know how much the deacon was charged?? When I told him I had no idea, he answered, wide-eyed with amazement: ?Nine thousand dollars.?