Monday, July 13, 2009

True stories from my father: second of a series

I'm so sick of everything happening in Washington and Albany that for weeks I've lost nearly all inclination to blog about any economics or politics. Also, blogging is and should take a back seat to the warmer weather and longer days that my wife and I have been enjoying. So with a little indulgence, I'll be post some stories my father told me, as I started last night.

About half of my father's two decades in the Philippines was under the Marcoses' martial law. Among the takeover of utilities and mass media, there was a ban on public demonstrations and a strict curfew of 11 p.m.

One night, my parents stayed a while at whatever posh restaurant, believing they could still make it home. It was too late, as it turned out, for they were stopped by a few soldiers, not just police. Regular Filipinos would have been arrested, and my mother was still a Philippine national then. However, I suppose that in deference to my father's American citizenship, they'd have been accorded the same treatment: overnight detention until the American embassy opened and secured their release. But one never knew with these patrols, and just the sight and clicking sounds of the automatic weapons was nearly giving my poor mother a heart attack.

My father thought very quickly and said, "Wait, let me show you who I am." He pulled out his wallet and produced an official ID card with "Colonel" emblazoned in Old English font. He was in the Army during World War II, but the highest rank he attained was Warrant Officer Junior Grade. So what was this card? Well, it wasn't a fake: when he lived in Louisville for a time, one friend happened to be friends with a state legislator, and so my father received an honorary commission as a Kentucky colonel. The certificate was lost over the years, but my father kept the small card in his wallet. I still have it.

I don't know how good a poker player the old man was, but this bluff worked. The lead soldier stepped back with a crisp salute. "You're free to go, sir!"

This is a true story.


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