Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Goodbye, Vientiane and the Filipino-Lao connection

If you haven't gotten a chance to yet, and you're interested in the history of Laos during the 20th century, take a look at the book Goodbye, Vientiane, by Dr. Penelope Flores, who has gathered together oral histories and letters from the members of Operation Brotherhood who served in Laos.

I do confess a certain bias on the subject, given that I was born in the Operation Brotherhood hospital they established in Vientiane. But I find it's a lively book and broadens our understanding of the era as more than just an American-Laotian-Vietnamese experience. We often forget there were so many different cultures and nations in the region, from Russians and Australians, French, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Cambodians and others. 

The Filipino program Operation Brotherhood was a humanitarian mission very similar to the Peace Corps.

They've also written a book, Filipinos in Laos that's worth getting a copy of. Many went on to form Mekong Circle International, continuing their humanitarian and educational work. 

Goodbye, Vientiane is a book I'd definitely recommend for people interested in the role of humanitarian and medical missions in Laos along with the books of Dr. Thomas A. Dooley, Charles Weldon, and Ed Buell to gain some perspective on the subject. 

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