Sunday, August 31, 2008

Romney and Roach

Subject: How women are viewed as voters by the pols and pollsters.

Well, he's not on the ticket. But I must say that he is even better looking in person.

Excuse me for being so shallow. But, I am a woman. Pollsters have us pegged as not being able to think for ourselves so maybe it is not true that "we have come a long way, baby."

During the Kennedy era we were told women were voting for Kennedy because he was good looking and youthful. Women liked the movie star elements of his persona (and I am not referring to Marilyn here). But the main idea was that women didn't think past the sex symbol! Heck, I thought that was what MEN were all about!

So, here we are 45 years later and the pols (or was it polls) have told McCain he needed a woman to attract that female voter. What?

Personally, I am taking offense here. My gender is not so shallow as to vote for someone based on gender, just as I would hope neither gender would be so shallow as to vote by race.

Now we are being told that women will be more attracted to McCain's ticket because he chose a woman running mate. Women liked handsome guys so they voted for them. Now, after years of feminism, women will vote for a woman because they are more interested in exhibiting sexism themselves, than in policy. Isn't that what they are saying?

Personally, I vote for a philosophy. A candidate is the personification of a set of ideas and ideals. I couldn't care less if the candidate is male or female. If this country could produce the leadership of a Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, or Indira Gandhi then there would be no uniqueness at all about gender in the presidency.

I think those guy pollsters are wrong. I think women who wanted Hilary will not vote for Palin because she is a woman. If they vote for her it will be because they were scorned. (They would have voted against those who jilted Hilary regardless of the gender in the Republican camp.)

And, come on here. Let's face the male pollsters (I have never heard of one that is female). If Palin brings more votes to McCain (based on gender)the larger reason will be the shallow males who want something better to look at in HD than Obama/Biden/McCain.

Romney had the experience along with the right ideals. So what if he was also good looking!

(I am wondering how long the McCain camp has been eyeing Sarah Palin. I was in Anchorage a few weeks ago and noticed a biography of Palin prominently displayed in the airport bookstore. They all have a book. Watch... the books have been flown in over the weekend and they will be all over the lower forty-eight in time for Labor Day. I say she was the choice long ago!)

Let's Take A Break

"Captain John Roach called today. Three times a day the bugle blows on base. Everyone stops what they are doing (in this case emptying the trash) to stand at attention and salute as the national anthem is played."

It's the weekend and so I would like to take a break.

It is really easy for me to want to stay home on the weekend. We are out in the country near Flaming Geyser State Park...on the side of the hill...with a view down the valley. Down below, our five acres of sandy loam (no rocks)supports a lush pasture.

But, up on top I was outside pulling up spent nasturtiums from a flower garden I designed this year. I was talking politics into the speakerphone with one hand and pulling vines with the other. This proves that a person can enjoy two hobbies at once (eating and watching TV doesn't count!)

Jim picked two quarts of wild blackberries down by the orchard and made jam. He pumps out several jars every other day.

I pulled out four giant tomatoes from the lug and made fantastic salsa. Add lime, garlic, onions, cilantro, salt, was gone by the end of the day.

I talked with Dr. Reyes in Honduras today. She has agreed to staff a clinic that I am establishing near my other projects. She has found the land we need! More on that to come.

Mom called, she'll be here next weekend... Captain John (my penultimate)called...the air show is my book...battled a few tough crosswords...and went through my pictures for you later on.

"Look! Come look!" Jim had the front door open. They had finally all shown up together.

Daddy, mama, and three not so "baby" raccoons ambled 10 feet out the front door and past the driveway. Even they feel the onset of fall. When you amble, like we all did today, it means summer is coming to an end.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DSHS Lives Up to Low Expectations

I received a call a few days ago from a wonderful young man: former Marine, dual languages, UW grad this summer, and my '08 session intern. I have always been so proud of him and excited for his future. He was going into military intelligence to live the CIA, "I'll take the risk for my country," type of life.

After clearing the significant security checks and while getting ready to pack, he and his wife got the word that there was a reversal. He had been declined. The reason? He married a Russian woman (now a US citizen) and a background check of her relatives still in Russia found someone in a high governmental position.

I used this story today when I was trying to make a point to high ranking DSHS officials and two attorneys from the attorney general's office. There needs to be a "fail safe" point where they admit that they have made a mistake. In this case they have a foster adopt woman who was not vetted, not disqualified, and is now being shielded by state bureaucrats each making more than $100,000 a year for their "work."

"The government must have standards," I said, "especially when lives are concerned."

And, there needs to be "deal breaker" triggers when we place a child in a bad foster adopt home.


Foster Adopt Single (Divorced) 44 year old Woman...

NO JOB....The law states that you can NOT be a foster parent if you do not have a job. DSHS has refused to even answer the question. Why? Why won't they say she has a job? Because....they know she does not have a job.

Keeps the 3 year old in back-to-back daycare (Childhaven is not open long enough so the little girl is bussed to yet another facility.) The child is picked up by a bus in the morning and 12 hours later is deposited back to the house to eat and sleep.

Tiny girl goes to daycare with "significant black eye" which goes unreported by the foster adopt woman...(she is "mandated by law" to report)

Tells DSHS there is no man in the home...but there is...and...when a process server went to her door a man answered and told the server that she didn't live there (lies?)

Has a current restraining order ('08) out for a former lover with a gun...a man she had while still married

Failure to "parent"...child is educationally impaired...does not know the alphabet nor can she count to 20

Already has an adopted infant from DSHS (Attention are paying for all this daycare while she eats Bon Bons)


DSHS has no standards for where they place children. They have no conscience when leaving a child in harms way (black eyes and guns). They are completely out of touch with the thinking of "normal" people and they really are not accountable to anyone so make no one accountable to them. The ones at the top do not discipline poor performance of DSHS employees or contracted agencies and pass off decision making to those lower on the totem pole.

Our meeting took place in the downstairs conference room in my senate office building. The #2 people in both DSHS and the attorney general's offices were there. A representative of the governor was there. A couple high level AG and DSHS staffers were there. A couple of senate staffers, a private investigator and I were there.

DSHS refuses to release the study on the black eye. They have had it for a month and say they are still redacting names. Now... Think Mike Meyers and Dr. Evil...."REALLY!?"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Washington State Stealing Children From Families you think my headline is "yellow journalism." But I can only call them as I see them.

Last February I received a call from grandparents in my district. As it turns out, what I will relate is happening all over the state. And, Child Protective Services is unrepentant.

The gig is simple:

1. A troubled young woman in a normal family has a baby. She really does have some problems and the parents are concerned for their grandchild.

2. CPS is called. The grandparents may even be the ones who report the potential hazard because they are concerned.

3. The state takes the child.

4. The state does not allow the grandparents (or ANY relatives)to see the the child. Time goes by.

5. The state argues in front of a judge for termination of parental rights. Grandparents have no rights in the court and can only cry as they watch.

6. The parental rights of the parent are terminated.

7. The state claims there is no relationship between the grandchild and the grandparents or other family members(a situation DSHS created).

8. The judge is told that the child has bonded with the foster-adopt person and that it would be in the best interest of the child to never see the biological family again. The faster-adopt parent then adopts the child.

The grandparents in my district are wonderful people. The state even said so in their own early emails. Then the state began to work against the little girl's family.

Here is what we have today (after I hired a personal investigator, personally testified in court on behalf of the child, and spent enumerable hours talking to multiple sets of the deaf ears in DSHS).

Little three year old Lisa (named changed) is in the home of a single foster-adopt woman. The woman is currently unemployed. (She couldn't hold a job with a transit agency more than two months.)The woman has already been given an infant by the department. The woman has a restraining order out on a former lover who pulled a gun on her. Little Lisa is bussed to two daycare facilities each day!!!! Childhaven does not stay open long enough, I guess. So, little Lisa gets on the bus again at the end of the day and then goes to Kindercare. (This situation is outrageous!) Two weeks ago Liza showed up at daycare with a "significant black eye," according to the attendant at Childhaven.

NO ONE REPORTED THE BLACKEYE. The teenage mother saw it when she was visiting her daughter. She reported it to me, a state senator. The law REQUIRES that this blackeye be reported. The mother later received an email from the head of Childhaven describing how Lisa showed up at the minibus with the blackeye.

ALL RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE BROKE THE LAW. AND, NOTHING IS DONE ABOUT THAT. THE CHILD IS NOT LOOKED AFTER AND NO ONE IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR FAILING TO REPORT. The daycare centers were...UNDER THE LAW...suppose to report this. The court appointed child advocate knew about this and did not report it. Even when DSHS was informed...they did not report it to the police and the Department of Licensing. Thankfully, the teen mother did make sure it was reported but all responsible adults in this case ignored the blackeye and ignored the law.

Tomorrow I will be meeting with DSHS, the Attorney General's staff, and the private investigator I brought into the case. Your tax dollars at work....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

F-22 "Raptor" God Bless America

There are few things that beat the patriotism of watching USA Olympians compete in China. But, viewing the F-22 is one of those occasions.

Earlier this month I visited Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. The F-22 "Raptor" is stealth. It is our newest fighter and western states legislators got an up close and personal look. We were asked not to touch it.

Next month I will visit Captain John Roach and family at Mt. Home AFB, Idaho, where there will be an air show. If we are lucky, the F-22 will be there!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Last Stop....The US Olympic Committee Retail Store

You know that really cool white and red jacket that the US women medalists wear when they take to the podium, the anthem is playing, and they dip their head forward to be awarded a metal? Well... I now have that jacket!

Not everyone gets into the store. It is generally posted at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. But, the store moves with the US Team so it is here near the Bank of American center. Each athlete is granted admission for four people (4 x 600 = lots of competition). The place was crowded, in a basement, the lights were low, makeshift without dressing rooms, and there were lots of arms it seemed.

I originally passed up the award jacket. "Wayne's World" ... "I'm not worthy!" kept coming into mind. Then entered the NBC anchorwoman. She looked great in the jacket.

"Hey, that looks great on you!"


"I thought about getting one but decided I hadn't earned it. I mean, I didn't medal." (I was trying to hint that she hadn't either.)

"Well, I earned the money. So, I guess I have earned the jacket," she said.

Good point! I put one over my arm with all the other stuff and bought it.

This may be the only time that I have been influenced by the press. But, I really did want that jacket with the big, navy "U S A" on the back.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Olympic Village

The greatest sport at the Olympic Village is "people watching!"

We made it through the tight security which included meeting a bus at an obscure location (and known only to athletes) and then being driven in to the village.

Here you are in a town with thousands of perfect human bodies. No one was overweight! All heights, all races, a utopia of in-their-prime people! Many had just come in from their events. Some you recognized from the television. Here at the village you see them up close.

I loved reading their jackets...Ethiopia, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, etc.

And, the cafeteria where we ate was larger than a football field. You could literally have anything you wanted! The ethnic food was authentic, for sure.

Ethan chose the ethnic food of the United States. Yes, there was a McDonald's in this field house cafeteria. I think Ethan was starving. Either he wasn't too good with chop sticks or didn't like the Chinese food we have been eating. But, at this meal he had a hamburger, french fries, McNuggets and a pop. He ate ALL of this! He is my all American grandson!

China's Forgotten Children and Children's Hope International

After our visit to the Great Wall Melanie, Dan, Ethan and I went with our guide to visit the China headquarters of Children's Hope International and talk with Melody, the director.

There are 573,000 orphans in China and probably more in reality. Only 69,000 are cared for by the state. The state system is not able to take more so there are young children living on the streets. Some are lucky and go to orphanages like the one CHI sponsors.

We visited the orphans. All of them at the Beijing site have disabilities which is the reason their parents abandoned them. Infants are left on a door-step or on the street. Parents are either unable to provide medical treatment or they do not want their one child to have a disability and therefore be a liability. (Children in China are the "social security" for elderly parents and are abandoned if they will not be able to work.)

All of the kids we saw were infants except a six year old dwarf who took a big liking to Dan. One child had hydrocephalus, "water on the brain," and was unable to hold her head up. One very cute little guy was born with "flipper feet" and no knees. His appendages will one day be amputated and replaced with prostheses.

There were several that Children's Hope had sent to America and to Shriner's Hospital. The Shriner's give operations free of charge to children from all over the world. Here we saw the results of their charity. Orphans were treated to open heart surgeries and clef pallets were repaired.

The severest of disabilities was an infant girl who was blind and deaf at birth. Her future will depend on many hours of help. I can't imagine braille in Chinese. I suggested she be taught to learn in English. Bilingual, Melody agreed that would be easier.

I was so proud of Ethan who at only seven was playing with he kids and helping them smile. What a great experience this was for him. Melanie, too, held the babies and asked Dan about adopting a special needs child. They already parent my grandson, Drew, who is autistic.


Adoption is not an option for most of these kids. I know there are many of us who criticise bureaucracy here in WA. But, it is much, much worse in China. Because these kids are abandon they have no paper work and therefore the government has nothing to process for the adoption!

And besides the huge numbers of orphans, there is no children's protective serve in China. It is very unlikely that any action would be taken against an abuser. There is no child abuse hot-line or any reporting network.

Children's Hope works in China under state sponsorship and the name of China Association of Social Work. They serve medical needs, work for adoptions, and give vocational training for older children.

There is much more to do in China and around the world for children. If you are a retiring baby-boomer this might be an area of service in which you have interest. Please call me if you do.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NBC News Cameras Follow Melanie and Family to the Great Wall

This was my fifth trip up the Great Wall of China but it was definitely unique.

NBC Sports had a car trailing our mini bus to the Great Wall. So we all arrived together. There was a sports anchorwoman, a camera guy, an audio guy with a big boom, a producer, and a "go to" Chinese speaking assistant.

The poor cameraman had to haul up a huge TV camera plus a big shoulder bag of "stuff." Several in our group offered to help him but he refused. He was sweating in this sweltering environ even before we left the parking lot!

Thank goodness there had been a downpour of rain a few hours earlier. It cooled things down to around 82 but the humidity was still a factor. We walked the steep incline to the point of a cable car jump point. Souvenir hawkers begged our RMB (Yuan). I bought a banana but saved buying the "I Climbed the Great Wall" T-shirt until the walk back to the bus. Why haul gifts around when there was serious climbing to do?

We took the cable car up the steep hillside. Be aware that not all the GW sites have a cable car. The government had closed Badaling which is a more popular site.

We went up the cable car and traversed the wall up and down for about a mile. It is steep going both up and down and it had rained making the "down" part seem dangerous in places. The media interviewed Mel and family all along the walk. It should be fun to see the edited program.

There was a little breeze that swept slightly through the turrets of the wall. If you stood right up to one you could get cool. Otherwise, remember, you are on a walled walk-way. There is no breeze!

It was a great trip. I will edit in more later and write about the trip we took later in the day to the orphanage.

For now...gotta go. I will continue from Heathrow in the morning. The morning of the day I leave to come home:o)

Melanie Beats Her Own U.S. Record

Melanie topped her own U.S. record set almost ten years ago. That was a goal she set going into the competition. We are all very proud of her. She looked great and was the only lifter to make all six lifts. She placed 6th.

During the whole two hour event Dan was joined in the stands by NBC Sports and KIRO Radio stopped by after the event. The New York Times was on hand also. Melanie thanks all those on Team Roach for their support.

And, we thank you Melanie. You are a great example to to all of us.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Melanie Lifts Today

Sunday, August 10th

Today Melanie competes at 3 PM Beijing time. We are all ready to attend the event. We are wearing our Team Roach T-shirts, have our American flags to wave and cheers all ready to yell. Three years of renewed training and it all happens in seconds.

Melanie feels great and is hoping to break her personal record. There are 10 women lifting in her weight class.

After the meet we will all gather for a Peking duck dinner. Joining us is Federal Way chiropractor, Greg Summers, and his family. Greg is a volunteer for several of our area athletes and travels the world to help Olympians as he can. He is a great guy!

We are now down to just a little more than two hours until the event. I will check in tomorrow when we will resume activities with Children's Hope International and climb THE WALL!

While We Wait

At home in the U.S. I know that NBC provided great coverage of the Opening Ceremonies and is giving fantastic coverage to the events.

Here we see things but hear them in Chinese. There is no way around that except the Internet which is not practical. Most Americans viewed the Opening Ceremonies from China TV. (It was mostly visual so OK.)

There were some who went to the opening. The cost was anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 USD. We did not go and would not have at that price even if we could have gotten tickets. To go you were rich or were given tickets as part of a courtesy for coaches, major sponsors, etc.

It is 95 to 98 degrees even at night and the humidity makes it "feel like" more. And, the crowds surround the venues. But, once you get inside it is well worth it.


On Saturday night we went to a huge new air conditioned gymnasium that was the site for the volleyball events. We watched China put away Venezuela rather quickly. Then came the the United States of America vs. Japan. It was really cool to have the announcer say "United States of America" and not U.S. or just United States. It ups the pride level a bit to hear it like that in front of this truly international crowd.

All the seats were good but ours were up high. Next to us was the Japanese assistant coach to the U. S. Women's Volleyball Team. So, I figured the seats weren't that bad.

So, Ken, spoke English with a heavy Japanese accent. On his lap was a clip board full of court play sheets. He was a spy!!!! He was in the stands studying the strategy of the Chinese who had played in the previous games. During time-out we had a chance to talk with him and learn things about our players. It was cool.

So, Ken hopes to be an American citizen someday. Right now he has a green card. And right now, he is part of a large number of foreign nationals that coach teams outside of their home countries.

As for Saturday night....Ken was a Japanese citizen rooting for the Women's U. S. Team in the games against Japan! We won it in five very close and exciting games. We loved it! Fight the heat and the crowds and go in for a great time. That is the way you do it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

8-8-08 Reporting Movements to the Police

If you are not staying at a hotel (where your passport and therefore whereabouts are recorded) you must report to the local police station within 24 hours of your arrival in China. That includes every time you move from one location to another.

So, the first thing this morning we walked to the station.

You fill out a form and they take your picture. But, they will not let you take theirs. I tried :o) I really wanted a picture of us checking in with the local police. I mean, it is a great reminder of the fact that you are in a police state. This brand of socialism has a tinge of capitalism. But, human rights comes under a different category than "the economy" or "sports."

After checking in with the local police we are now at the Bank of American hospitality venue. The bank has sponsored this venue for athletes and four guests apiece for over twenty years. Thank you BOA. This is a place to meet and then move. After a cold soda, some Internet time, and a little eats you are on your way.
Oh, there are about a thousand pepople that come through here each day!

The Only English Language Television Channel In China Will Not Broadcast the Olympics

Late Thursday night we entered the apartment complex. An elevator guy manned the lift to the seventh floor. Iron grating surrounds all the windows and doors. I guess there is at least one other reason there is not much crime in China!

Novella has an upper end apartment. It is in a part of town where everyone is Chinese. She is the only Caucasian in her building and she is excited about us having the real Chinese experience.

The dwelling is about 800 square feet. The refrigerator is about 3 feet tall as is the sink. Short is "in." There is a barred open air balcony. The bathroom has all that is needed. You shower over the floor where you stand to brush your teeth. It all drains out somewhere.

There are two bedrooms and we do have Internet. The priority there goes to Dan as he is helping with Melanie's media requests.

Novella has a TV. There is one English language TV station in China and it will NOT be showing the Olympics! That's right. Our host country wants all visitors out spending money is all I can figure. Seven million people have descended on Beijing. The only common language is English. But, in the case of Olympic coverage here and in the Philippines and probably all over Asia, if you do not speak Chinese you are out of luck.

Melanie Lifts On Sunday, 9 AM NBC

We have a cell phone and have talked with Melanie several times. But, there is no way we can see her before her event. The security is believably tight. You have to be an athlete, coach or staff to get near the village.

Women's Olympic Weightlifting will be televised on NBC at 9 AM Sunday morning PST.

Melanie is feeling healthy and thankful for the great support she has been getting.

Children's Hope International and Visit to the Quake Spot


This morning we left Chengdu and traveled two and a half hours by taxi to Mianyang. This is the area that the May 12th earthquake hit hardest.

A native Washingtonian (name withheld for the blog) is our guide. She is a volunteer with Children's Hope International. She is a Cornell grad, is fluent in Chinese, and has lived in China for the last year. It was through her that our invitation to visit Chengdu was made possible.

As we entered ground zero we saw acres of unoccupied, newly constructed, completed walled housing. Cement pavement covered every inch and there was no mud to be seen throughout the rows and rows of these yet vacant units. Why was this still unoccupied?

We continued our travel alongside, bicycles, peddle carts and shuffling pedestrians further into the quake area viewing damaged buildings all along the way. Then we entered the tent city we had come to visit. Again, I speak in terms of acres. There were acres of blue plastic tents. The recent rain produced mud between each unit. The adults are without jobs and sleep much of the day while the kids make do around the mud. There are no toys.

The shelter does boast a communal toilet and showers. And, the showers are hot thanks to banks and banks of solar cells lined up along the road front.

We made our way through the rows to a section where a CHI sponsored tent was located. Ethan made instant friends with the kids who had lost their mothers and fathers. He ducked into the tent and laid on the mattresses that covered the floor.

The CHI staff warmly greeted us. It had recently rained but it was sweltering. From some corner water appeared and we held our conversation in the sun.

CHI is a Chinese non-profit that works through the Chinese government agency that controls child placement. Each child here is looking for a sponsor and, hopefully, adoption.

We will visit the CHI headquarters in Beijing next week. But today, we saw children like 9 year old Ping Ping. She was the little girl with the big smile and kind eyes. With organizations like Children's Hope International kids like Ping Ping will have a chance.

We were surrounded by tent camp residents as we walked back to the taxi. These people will be in the camps for months to come. But, I hope the vacant housing will be made available...available to Ping Ping. Now, I have a name.

We went right to the airport and arrived in Beijing around midnight.

Was That Gary Locke?

Yep! Gary Locke was in Chengdu to carry the Olympic torch the day before I arrived.

Pandas, Pandas, Pandas

During the dinner meeting with the folks from foreign affairs, Novella (our hostess while in China)took Ethan to see "Kung Foo Panda." This was on the day that we visited the panda preserve so we thought that was pretty cool. Novella checked on-line to see that it was in English. When they got there it was not in English and there were no subtitles! So, Novella whispered into Ethan's ear the whole translation!

"Yeah, well when I was seven a Fulbright Scholar whispered the English translation of "Kung Foo Panda" to me while viewing the movie in Chengdu, China!"

Great story, Ethan. And, It is just one of many for you, I am sure. Your grandma loves you!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Delivering A Special Message From The Governor to Chengdu Leaders

August 6, 2008
City of Chengdu, Sichuan Province

Chengdu is the largest city in the May 12th earthquake area. While it was not largely affected, many of the small towns surrounding it were leveled.

Tomorrow we will visit the earthquake area, but tonight I was an emissary for Governor Gregoire in delivering a message to the leaders of Sichuan Province our sister state.

Before I left home I met with Commissioner Ron Chow of the State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and Dennis Su, a leader in the Seattle Asian community. I knew I would be delivering a special message from the governor and wanted to know as much as I could before leaving home.

Like many Americans with foreign heritage, they want to help in the land of their heritage. They are grateful for the blessings of America and have great compassion for the poor. Thank goodness for generous Americans who outside of the U.S. Government structure, collectively give tens of millions in time and donations each year.


In this case, our Chinese American community will be raising funds to build a new junior high school in the earthquake area. On behalf of the governor it was my honor to take that message to the leaders in our sister city.

Dan and I met with several foreign affairs officers over dinner. (Ethan and Novella went to see "Kung Foo Panda.")There are over 200 new schools that need to be built. While the money is being raised in Washington, the leaders here will be making the plans. Where will the new housing be located? Where will the schools be built? It is a planners clean slate. As soon as the rubble is cleared the building will begin.

I met with the same foreign affairs leaders that hosted me last October when I represented the governor in the celebration of the Washington-Sichuan sister city anniversary.

It was fun to see everyone again.


If you come to Chengdu you just have to see the panda preserve! Dan, Ethan and I drove out there this morning with our hostess, Novella Elam, of Children's Hope International.

There are only 1,000 pandas on earth and they are an endangered species. The preserve is also a breeding center and we were able to see the two new pandas born this week just hours apart and by different mothers!

Grandson, Ethan, perfected his photography skills in a kid's paradise.(How do you get a bad panda picture?) We all enjoyed hiking the paths and also discovering the red panda. They have got to be related to the ubiquitous northwest raccoon. They look alike. But, there are only 5,000 of them. There is also an incredible butterfly museum on site.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Chengdu Arrival

It was a long trip. Yesterday I met son, Dan, and grandson Ethan Roach (7) in Beijing and then we flew to Chengdu for activities with Children's Hope International and governemnt officials.

I will write more tonight.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Meeting With the Governor of Albay Province, Philippines

Well, this was a day to remember! Thank goodness I am leaving town!

My hosts arranged for a meeting with the governor of the province, Governor Joey Salceda. Mainly, we wanted to acquaint him with the hospital. But, we did want to bring up the fact that a container full of donated medical supplies and medicines sat on the dock in Manila for a year and a half before it was released.

Instead, the governor announced his most important issue was global warming and preceded to talk non-stop about that. And then about how everyone had access to health care (NOT), and how everyone had a free education through college (NOT), and how he was a delegate to WTO and had been to Seattle. He rambled on about being arrogant (Not, Not!) and then told us how busy he was. Pretty busy, I guessed, as I noticed he apparently had no time to put on his socks.

Well, basically, I said nothing but answer his question, "What party do you belong to?" I answered, "Republican." To which he responded, "That's OK. We're good hosts."
Joey is a leftist. I didn't know that going into the meeting. Actually, he was pretty scary. I noticed that with first eye contact. He is leaving in the middle of his term to go to the Harvard School of Government. (Nice that we educate guys like this.) And after we help him get his PhD. look for him to return to the Philippines to run for president. It was universal on the street that the people on the outside don't like him. We did not know that until after the visit.

We left the room and I was surrounded by Philippine Press!!! They were waiting for me and I don't even know how they knew I was in there! They wanted to know what I thought about their economy, what I thought about climate change. I just wanted to say please let us give you containers!This guy seemed pretty powerful as well as scary so the fact we would soon be catching a plane and returning to Manila seemed welome.

Our group consisted of Jessie and Dr. Expedita Castro (my hosts who reside in Lakewood, WA), their son, Dr. Rico Castro who directs the hospital here, Dr. Chris Bernado, a volunteer from Manila, grand-daughter Sofia Woolery, and grandson, Mike Castro.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

They Called Me Brave

What you don't know could hurt you. Or at least I have been told.

When our driver sped down that asphalt road I was surprised to see a road sign that military maneuvers were in progress. The military was walking down the street. I didn't think too much of it but had read in the paper about the New People's Army. They are kind of like FARC in Columbia. That means they kill people.

Then, my host kept talking about how brave I was to come here. In fact Dr. Rico Castro mentioned it several times in our morning meeting with local officials.

There is danger here. I was given a bodyguard who walks in front of me where ever I go. He is taking his job quite seriously. To put all the community leaders in one room there was publicity about my visit and because of that they are worried for me.

And, I will have to add. This is the first time I have been issued a mosquito net with my bath towel. This is what I call roughing it!

Lakewood Couple Help in Philippine Homeland

The Philippines is gorgeous green and humid hot. And, I am finding local people here in Pilar incredibly friendly. This morning we left the Manila home of the Castro family at 3 AM to beat the traffic on the way to the airport. After a 45 minute SSE flight we arrived at Lagaspi, and traveled by car over an hour to reach the hospital established by a Lakewood couple that I have come to visit.

The road was narrow, two-lane, and asphalt paved. It curved up a mountain and past rice fields. The houses of the poor line the road and people walked too near the cars while going about their business. The driver sped by after a blast of his horn. Poverty is everywhere.

Retired Lakewood physician, Expedita Castro, grew up here. As a girl she was hidden by her mother in the rafters of their house when the Japanese came through the village. They feared what might happen if she and her brother were found.

Today, after a very successful career she leads a family effort to "give back" to the community that she left for a life in the United States. Her husband, Jesie, a Filipino born American is by her side all day. Their son, Dr. Rico Castro, has supervised the building of the hospital and its management. Rico is passionate about the need to help. As we arrived, over one hundred people were lined out the door.

Inside, three doctors were at work. There was a naturopath making fungle salve from indigenous leaves. Several nurses came for the day and tended to the more simple aliments and they gave out glasses donated by the local Rotary. There were two mind therapists who promoted stress relief through relaxation.

It was the dentists who had the longest lines. There are 70,000 people in this area. And there is only one dentist. Basically, you go to the dentist when the pain is so bad you need to have a tooth pulled. With no dental hygiene programs and no preventative care, today's three visiting dentists pulled a lot of teeth. I cringed as a 14 year old boy got up from the chair after three of his teeth had been pulled! This would never be the case in the states. But here in this rural part of the Philippines the people are thankful for the relief.
The Castros are like many Americans who are seeing the world's poverty and jumping in to help. They have started a non-profit organization and have started fundraising. I met today with community leaders who came in their support. The local Members of Congress, the mayor, Rotarians, three volunteer doctors, several local board members, the Castros and I all crowded around a table in a small room. They want me to help get the word out. They need your help.

In two months the National Association of Filipino Chambers of Commerce will have its annual meeting in Seattle. I told them that we need to be there to ask for help. The Filipino community in American has blended into our society and doesn't ask for much. They have no lobby. But, there is an effort among immigrant and American born Filipinos to find each other and help in the Philippines.
This evening local school kids performed traditional dances and played music that favored the Spanish influences in their country. I spoke briefly to them, thanking them for their performance and for guarding their country's heritage. They were all in costume and all were so friendly, smiling.

I like the Philippines. The people belong to incredibly large extended families and village to village there are many, many cousins that still know each other three times removed. For Americans there is no language barrier. Everyone knows English. There is beautiful scenery and tomorrow we will go to the sea and mountains to see more.