A Many-Splendored Thing

MANY a career or choice of college course is launched by pragmatic aspirations and/or professional ambition.

Mine arrived by fantasy via a movie, “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.” When one develops a lump in the throat while many other moviegoers are suppressing their tears, watch out for your shaping destiny.

Life in the Crown Colony in the mid-50s fired my teenage haunts with its romantic ambience, quaint culture, and racial bias. I am especially awed with majestic Victoria Harbour, the global gateway to the Orient.

An American correspondent William Holden and a widowed Chinese doctor (Jennifer Jones) fell in love at the end of the civil war in China in the late ‘50s. Her family and the Chinese elite in Hong Kong objected to the affair. She was dismissed from the hospital where she was a resident doctor. The couple separated and the woman took to live with relatives in the Mainland. He was assigned to cover the Korean War. Hardly a day passed without writing love notes to each other.

At the Estrella theatre in San Fernando, moviegoers shed a tear or two when the newsman was killed in a bombing raid in Korea while doing his news report. I had a tiny lump in my throat. I thought what a tragic way to die for one’s calling. It was also a lonely exit from an impossible love.That inspired me to ask one’s purpose in life. Why not take a journalism course with its wonderful possibilities.

The late journalist Max Soliven was enamoured of the film’s theme song. He was often seen in bar lounges in glitz hotels in Kowloon requesting singers to do it one more time.

In our wanderlust “Love is nature’s way of giving, a reason to be living...” We shall never miss the metaphorical April rose in our youth that only grows in the early spring.

In 1965, I was turned down at the Vietnam Embassy for a correspondent’s visa that would have taken me to Saigon City. The Philippines Herald assigned me to cover Central Luzon and based me in Angeles. The late Boots Maglague was stationed in Camp Olivas to give readers both sides of the story and an accurate body count.

Playing a fantasy role in my work I had a girlfriend of Chinese descent. She reminded me of the tragic heroine in a romance drama a long time ago. Still, nostalgic travel groups from our land insisted on being toured near famous beach scene of the lovers in Repulse Bay.

I fancied Dr. Han Suyin while in the intimacy of a nubile girl during trips to Taipei and Macau. The American correspondent who gave up his life for a celestial beauty did not die in vain.

If he had seen the movie and experienced a trip across the Harbour, I am certain the romanticist in writer-lawyer Atlee Viray will pine for the halcyon days of old Hong Kong or Macau. It was a wonderful world.
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