LIFE IS A BOX OF CHOCOLATES
(My Life’s Story)
By Bert Guiang
Good Evening fellow Toasties!
Forrest Gump: My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
Forest Gump played by Tom Hanks in the movie of the same title while sitting on a bench was telling his life story. In one instance, he said, “My momma always said, Life was like a box of chocolate. You never know what you are gon’na get”.
I must agree with Forest Gump’s momma. Just like a box of chocolates, our lives are full of random experiences and surprising events. They maybe mostly good experiences but perhaps some were unpleasant. No matter how unpleasant they maybe, the fact that we are still alive to experience them, still makes our life story a box of chocolate.
Since I am more than a half a century old, my chocolate box life story is an extra large box. So, in order not to go over my allotted time, I will do a shorter or abridged version. I will just go over the highlights and low lights. But I would like everyone to visualize that every highlight and lowlight meant I picked up a chocolate bar from my chocolate box.
Here’s my chocolate box life story, highlights and milestones:
I was born and raised in Botolan, Zambales. I grew up in my Grandpa’s household. I was his sidekick. I go where he goes. My Auntie Edith was my fourth grade teacher and my Uncle Mado was my teacher in High School. I remembered reading Reader’s Digest, Liwayway and Bulaklak magazines while in grade schools. This environment had a big influence in my life.
My family moved to Mandaluyong, Rizal and I transferred to Plaridel High School, Arellano University in Kalentong where I graduated from high school. During this time Grandpa stayed with us. I believed he was working on getting pensions for his guerilla compatriots from the U S government. My dad was currently working for NWSA at Arrocerros Street. He enrolled me at PNC, which is across his former alma mater the PSAT. Yes, I was going to be a teacher.
One day, while reading his daily newspaper the Manila Times, my Grandpa saw an ad in the by the U S Navy, recruiting Filipinos for enlistment. I was sitting next to him working on a sipa puzzle contest, when out of the blue he asked me if I want to join the U S navy and I promptly replied in the affirmative. That same day, he typed my application which I mailed the next day on the way to PNC.
I was 18 years young when I enlisted in the U S Navy “to see the world“.
After spending 6 months in San Diego, California, for Boot Camp and navy schools, I got my orders to a Destroyer home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. While on board the Vogelsang, I get to visit foreign ports like San Juan, Puerto Rico; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Barcelona, Spain; Naples, Italy; Hongkong; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Honolulu, Hawaii; Guam; Acapulco, Mexico; Valleta, Malta; Athens, Greece; Cochin, India; Izmir, Turkey and Nice, France. I get to cross the Panama Canal in Central America and Suez Canal in Egypt.
After my tour with the Destroyer, I volunteered to go to Vietnam and was transferred to a Patrol Gunboat.
After Vietnam, I transferred to the construction arm of the U S Navy known as the Seabees. I was sent to a three- months long intensive civil engineering school at Port Hueneme, California. My first duty station as a Seabee was at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.
I got married after 8 years in the Navy. We were blessed with four children. One boy and three girls. I have four grandchildren, all boys. I finally got my Bachelors Degree while in the Navy after 18 years of taking night classes and weekend classes. Made Engineering Aid Chief in 1985. Navy Chiefs are the backbone of the Navy. The Chiefs are considered Second to God in the Navy! Retired from the Navy after 22 years service.
Was hired right after my Navy Retirement as a Construction Inspector/Eng. Associate by a Public Water District in a nearby town. Got re- married in 2008 here in the Philippines and fixing to live here for good.
Retired from the Water and Sewer District after 24 years in 2009. So all together, forty-six (46) years of government service.
My Grandpa passed away in 1976 while I was in Iceland. I am pretty sure he visited me in my barracks. I got divorced in 1994. My Dad passed away in 1995. I was not very closed with my Dad. Thank God I got to call him from California the Christmas Day before his fatal heart attack. That was my first time to tell him I love him. My Mom passed away in 2009, less than a month before my second retirement, so I was not able to go home as my retirement date with ceremonies was all set.
My first regret: I wished I was closer to my Dad and had more quality time with him before he passed. I will make it up by getting close to my only son who is now in the Navy. Second was not joining Toastmasters while in the Navy and last was not joining Freemasonry earlier.
The box of chocolates I received was full of pleasant surprises to say the least. I never knew what kind of chocolates I was going to get. Except for a few sad ones, most of my life experiences were pleasant ones. Who would have thought, a very shy and skinny kid from a small town in Zambales be able to experience what I experienced?
Life was good to me and so was my chocolate box. If you noticed my life story revolved around my family, not so much with my relatives and friends. So my advise for everyone is to share your box of chocolates with your family and tell them over and over again that you love them. It is never too often and too much.
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