Thursday, July 05, 2007

Our History? What For?

An interesting essay in Phillipine News: ‘Philippine history? What for?’ by Allen Gaborro articulates a classic and essential question with parallel implications for the Hmong, Lao and Southeast Asian American community I strongly suspect we'll face in the near future, if we aren't already facing it.

There's much in this essay that resonates with me.
It's not particularly new in some ways. We've discussed it for years.

But that the urgency of this matter continues to remain says a great deal to me.

It is something we will revisit in the near future here.

In a side note: Every so often, there are those moments of serendipity and synchronicity that makes a person marvel at the intricacies of the universe.

During my recent trip to the 2nd International Conference on Lao Studies in Arizona in May, I stopped in on the workshop being run by Penélope V. Flores and Pete Fuentecilla, the author of the new book, Filipinos In Laos.

As I mention in recent interviews, much of my life is written in pencil, and this is one of those times.

For years, my research had led me to conclude I was born at Mahosot Hospital, but upon finding my mother, she said I was born at the OB Hospital.

At the time, there were no notes or mention of the OB Hospital in any of the usual reference materials I was using to construct my picture of Laos in 1973. But then came the conference in Arizona.

It turned out OB stands for Operation Brotherhood, an international volunteer project working in Laos from 1956-75.

The group consisted mostly of college-aged Filipino men and women who established a hospital and provided health services to the local community.

Today, many continue to participate in Mekong Circle International, a non-profit organization providing support on health and education issues in the Phillipines and Laos.

So, another aspect of my past has been sorted out, and I express my thanks to all the volunteers of Operation Brotherhood for the time they spent in Laos. (And without whom, who knows, I might not even be here today!)

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