Thursday, March 8, 2012
by Sally Cristobal-Takashima
Seasons, Sunrises and Sunsets
My walk along memory lane starts the day I left Manila for New York City. Four year university graduates who majored in Foods and Nutrition mostly head for the United States for a year's Dietetic Internship with a stipend or find an on-the-job training with a salary. I opted for the second one. Being the oldest of a brood of four children, I felt a responsibility to help my parents the best way I can to lighten the expenses incurred in giving my younger siblings a good education. I will also be on the road in search of my own destiny. The first steps I took as I boarded a PAL flight was the beginning of a life's journey. I was literally on my own and there was no going back.
My send off was kind of a big event. My grandfather Iciong was even wearing a barong tagalog and Lola Maria was dressed up like she was going to a baptismal party. There were gifts, hugs and kisses. Mom and Dad had mixed feelings. Before long, my plane was airborne. It was a seemingly endless flight to New York City with brief stop-overs in Los Angeles and Chicago. Ang layo pala ng Estados Unidos, I murmured to myself. Light conversations with some Filipino nurses and doctors helped passed the time away.
My job as an Assistant Nutritionist at the Kent School, a private co-ed boarding high school whose deserving graduates enter American Ivy League universities like Harvard, Yale, Princeton Universities. The Headmaster was Sir Sidney Towle when I worked there. The students were from upper class families all over the U.S. Foreign students from various countries were enrolled as well. Nutritionists ensured that the students eat nutritionally balanced meals. Food service management followed strict rules. Menu planning was well supervised. Checking food deliveries, inventories were part of the job. Coordinating with the Cook and Baker was done on a daily basis.
It was in Kent, Connecticut in New England that I saw my first Snow as well as the most beautiful spring day and the awesome autumn foliage that graced the surroundings. Kent School even now, is in same league as Hotchkiss and Choates Schools. The Cantebury and the The Gunnery Schools are both nearby. Being young and single, I increasingly found the Kent a lonely place to live. I turned down a contract renewal and headed for New York City where I found work as a Dietitian at a city hospital. At long last, I found some of my schoolmates. We had endless topics to talk about and inspite of our busy work skeds we found time making side weekend trips to Boston, Washington DC and other nearby states. Better pay and better working conditions are common concerns of most Filipinas working in New York City.
It was a dream come true when I was hired by New York University Medical Center. It is a medical center with a great reputation. It is located not far from the United Nations Headquarters along First Avenue. My subsequent decision to start accumulating credits for a graduate degree in Nurition Education made me enroll for courses at Columbia University. It is said that one finds a good man either in a church, library or in a university and only sick people in a hospital. It was during this time that major decisions had to be made if I was to keep my time frame to settle down before I turned thirty.
It was also the summer I spent in Europe and a chance meeting with a young Japanese man visiting New York City. Upon his return to Japan, he wrote me a letter offering me to teach English in Osaka. They also offered to buy the air ticket. Exactly the break that I needed. What followed were daily trips to the New York City Public Library to prepare me for the teaching job that awaits me in Osaka. What I thought would be a year's teaching stint in Japan turned out to be something unexpected and the rest is history.
Mother was against the idea of a marriage due to lingering memories of the war. We finally received my parent's blessing. My husband graduated from Waseda University and was a Television Producer for KTV (Kansai Telecasting) Channel 8 when I married him. We are blessed with 4 children (Lisa, Mari, Rie and Ken) and 2 grandchildren (Sara and Rinaru).