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    Moving narrative of growing up under occupation

    When my Father first announced that he was going to write this book at long last, my first thought was, “Wow. That’s going to take forever!” In fact, it took years, and as he was not a professional writer, it took a lot of learning on his part, too. The stories of my parent’s formative years growing up in the Philippines during WWII have been shared and re-shared with my family as we grew up ourselves in Southern Oregon. These stories are familiar to us, and just like his terrible puns, they are dear to us. And yet, when he and Mom put their memories down in writing, there was far more to be told as this narrative tells the complete story of how, at 11 years old, their entire world changed with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This is the story of their youth, of a country invaded by enemy forces and how they survived and learned to carry in in the face of devastation, deprivation and unbelievable loss. The country they were born in is a different country today, and the reality is that I will probably never have the opportunity to visit the places they called home in their youth. But in reading their story I can picture Casa Grande, full of the laughter and rambunctious good humor of the young Strong children; I can see the coral sands of Calabasa on Basilan island; the wisdom and foresight of Jim and Tom; the ingenuity of Aunt Liz (“Bingot” as she was known); the grounds of Silliman University and the bench by the Acacia tree where the two of them met to study – “That was the plan, and sometimes we did study. Just being together is what mattered.” There are other stories in here, stories that are riveting even after nearly 75 years, but in the telling, I could hear the voices of a young Alex and Norma. “Bad things happen in war”, my Father said, and through the bad and the good during the war and in the years afterwards, my parents have shown us all how to learn, adapt and move forward in life, with good humor, wisdom and acceptance of the things they could not change, but as my Mother said, “Never let what you cannot do, stop you from doing what you can.” They both teach us this to this very day. BNL.
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