Cariño: Old Friends, New Friends

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By Linda Grace Cariño

Baguio Stories

Friday, June 20, 2014


A LOVELY arrangement of flowers, an accommodating Jhuvie Bauzon, and a gift check greet me at the Hill Station restaurant one afternoon this past week. Then my friends and I opt to spend the check at the restaurant’s bistro extension in John Hay, and off we go. Once there, Susan Caasi Mitchell, her daughter Diwa, and I study the menu. Susan and I settle on penne ala vodka with three cheese sauce. Diwa goes for a breakfast dish, served all day there, happily.

Vangie and I work in the Philippine Refugee Processing Center that is in Morong, Bataan from sometime in the late 70s to the early 90s. I'm there for the last five years of the 80s, Vangie gets there earlier than I do and leaves later, too. She and I are part of the International Catholic Migration Commission machine that trains Indochinese refugees in skills they must have to successfully live in the USA. This afternoon at the bistro, we catch up, Diwa and I get to meet each other, and we three ladies have a fun time.

Between delicious bites of pasta and Diwa’s breakfast, we talk of many things, including of old Bataan friends, where they are now, who has visited, who we've visited and where. I tell Vangie and Diwa of another old friend named Kevin Engle, whom I am in grade school with in the late 60s in the old Maryknoll Convent School and how our afternoon repast is actually courtesy of him. I am able to name everyone in our class picture and Kevin's "prize" turns from "balut and ube ice cream" to dinner at Hill Station, owned by Mitos Benitez, whom we are in that same Maryknoll class with, too.

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Vangie and I also talk of "third culture kids" -- her Diwa is one of them, children who grow up outside of either of their parents’ cultures -- and how raising such children can be such a "CO" (Cultural Orientation, which our refugee students had to undergo) thing. As the evening comes on, we go for lemon margaritas that make a perfect cap to the afternoon, with a special toast to Kevin Engle.

Here's to old friends and new friends.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 21, 2014.

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