Deciding which Illustrations to Include in “Only by the Grace of God”

One of the most difficult decisions I had to make in producing this book was which pictures and documents to include and which to leave out. Since every illustration increased the cost of the project, I needed to keep the number of illustrations down. Some family pictures came from my cousin, Bill Mattas, and some were found among my grandmother’s effects. Bill’s mother, Hazel, was my father’s favorite sibling and they corresponded regularly. My grandmother and Auntie Mabel wrote to my mother regularly. In fact, Grandmother visited us in the Philippines during one summer vacation. (She was a high school mathematics teacher in Wisconsin.) They, too, had kept old photographs. We, of course, lost everything we owned and came home with only the clothes on our backs.

I felt that the letters written before, during and after the war between my parents and their siblings were important historical documents. They filled in information we children did not have. In fact, in one letter my mother wrote, she said she hated our house in Montalongon. I had never known how difficult it was for her being alone most of the time.

Since the Archway was not sure how well the scanned documents would translate to book form, I retyped many of them while retaining the original documents as JPGs.

I could not get permission to reproduce my parents’ engagement notice since I could not find the name of the newspaper in which it was published so I had no idea if the newspaper still existed. I could not find the name of the publisher of the pre-war tourist brochure that included a picture of the junior college in Cebu, one of our prisons, and the clubhouse at Liloan where we went to the beach on Sundays. The war destroyed so much historical documentation. Archway refused to let me include anything for which I had no permission. I wonder how historians manage this issue.

There are a number of photographs up on the internet of the Santo Tomas and Los Banos internment camps, but again, permission to reproduce was an issue. This page is a mixture of photographs of both Los Banos and Santo Tomas camps. Some show our rescue from Los Banos and the Amtracks that took us across the lake. Some show our barracks at Los Banos. Others are of the shanties at Santo Tomas and the main building where Mother and I were housed.

Another difficulty was the quality of the old photographs. Some simply were not worth using as they were much too faint even after using the enhance feature after scanning.

In the end, the photos I used represent our life before and after the war. My major regret is that we have no photographs of my father after the war before he died.



Why I wrote “Only by the Grace of God”

My brother Bob died in December, 2013. Three months later my brother Bill died. As I was the executor of Bill’s estate, I had the job of going through all his papers. I found some typed and handwritten pages about our experiences as prisoners of war in the Philippines during World War II. I have no idea why he wrote those pages or what he might have done with them. A little while later, I received an email from my nephew, Bob II, with his father’s memoir covering the same period in our lives. I too had written my memoirs of the same experiences. For some reason, we never told each other what we had done.

About this time there were a number of news reports of mass shootings for no apparent reason. One newspaper report said that the gunman had published three books before he died. Hmmm, said I to myself. “If he can do it, why can’t I?”

I looked up publishers that might be interested in World War II memoirs. None were interested. So then, I started browsing around the internet, reading about self-publishing. Since I have no idea when I will die, like my brothers, I decided to try this route in order to get the book out. The problem was, I had never read a memoir by three people. I had no idea how to go about publishing a book. I had written text books, but the publisher took care of all the details of publishing and marketing. Now I was on my own.

The first thing I did was to share the manuscript with a friend who had just published her husband’s autobiography. What did she think of a memoir written separately by three people? She returned the manuscript to me partially edited. She eventually ended up editing the entire manuscript. Dorci Leara is acknowledged as the support and encouragement I needed to finish the book.

After reading about what many independent publishers offered for author support, I decided to go with Archway Publishing, an off-shoot of Simon and Schuster, simply because of the complexity of the book. I wanted to include pictures, historical documents, and personal correspondence. So, I signed on with Archway.

I think the book is a contribution to the little known history of civilian prisoners of war in the Philippines during World War II.

On Becoming a Successful Dieter: Suggestions on how to Lose Weight Successfully

Becoming a successful dieter does not happen overnight. It takes time, persistence, dedication, consistency, a plan of action and a firm commitment. Not everyone can be a successful dieter. Some people are successful for only the short term while others can “take it off and keep it off.” Successful dieters know there is no “quick fix” that can take off twenty pounds in two weeks; there is no miracle diet pill that substitutes for cutting out certain foods or cutting down on calories; and there is no way success can be achieved by dieting for a few hours at a time. To become a successful dieter takes effort.


Becoming a successful dieter takes self-discipline

Successful dieters know that losing weight cannot happen overnight. Even when drastic measures are taken such as gastric bypass surgery or liposuction, dietary restrictions are required. Losing weight is a daily drudgery. The successful dieter does not follow a diet plan all day long then binge for an hour. The successful dieter knows that dieting is much like an athlete training for a competition, practicing every day of the week, with an eye toward self-improvement. Self-discipline in controlling food intake and following an exercise program, every single day, is mandatory.

Becoming a successful dieter means cutting certain foods from your diet

Successful dieters know that they can’t eat everything they want to eat and still lose weight. They know that the first thing they need to do is change what they have been eating that caused the weight gain. For some, this means cutting all sugars from the diet, for others all breads or foods made with flour. Some cut back on fats. Still others cut back on everything they eat and only monitor their calories. Each person must choose the foods they need to avoid.

Becoming a successful dieter demands self-honesty

Successful dieters are always aware of the foods they are eating all the time. They do not sit in front of the TV and eat snack foods then wonder why they do not lose weight. They are able to admit to themselves when they have gotten off track, when they have binged and when they need to take themselves in hand. They do not make excuses. They make changes.

Becoming a successful dieter requires self-monitoring

Successful dieters monitor themselves by keeping a food diary to track what they eat, how much they eat, and when they eat. They will either write it down on pieces of paper or have their “diet diary” handy in the form of a daily log where they can write down whatever they have just eaten. Others find computer programs particularly helpful to keep a record of what exactly has been eaten. This way, when the inevitable plateau occurs, an examination of those records might provide insight into what is going on.

Part of self-monitoring includes getting on the scales regularly. For some a daily weigh-in helps to keep them on track whereas others choose one day and time a week to weigh themselves. Others simply pay attention to how their clothes fit. The key is regularity and consistency and an honest awareness of weight fluctuations.

Becoming a successful dieter means watching your calories

Successful dieters know that they cannot eat unlimited amounts of any food and lose weight. They have learned which foods make them want more and which foods satisfy their hunger. They have discovered the amount of food they can eat in a day without gaining weight. Keeping track of calories in a food diary is a helpful tool for monitoring progress. Just how many calories a day is needed to maintain weight, gain weight and lose weight? Each person’s caloric requirements are so different, influenced by gender, age and physical activity. An overweight, sedentary, older woman will not need as many daily calories as a much younger, physically active man. One size diet does not fit all dieters.

Becoming a successful dieter is a process.

Successful dieting takes time, it takes commitment, self-awareness and honesty. No one can lose your weight for you unless you are being tube fed. Successful dieting means achieving dieting goals. Whether you need to lose twenty pounds or two hundred pounds, the process is the same: patience and diligence. Nothing that is worthwhile achieving will happen overnight. Successful dieters have “been there, done that.”

Causal Relationships between Diabetes and Heart Disease

The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, affecting one in four people (both men and women). Finding the cause, or following the causal links, may lead to strategies for prevention. One of the causal links appears to be Type II diabetes.

Before they show signs of Type II diabetes, however, many people develop what is called Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X. There is evidence that Metabolic Syndrome predisposes people to both Type II diabetes and heart disease. The problem with diagnosing Metabolic Syndrome is that it consists of more than one symptom or marker. One marker is obesity, especially if body fat accumulates at the waistline which signals that the body is having trouble with fat metabolism. Other symptoms are: high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose (blood sugar). Other symptoms include chronically high levels of inflammation and Vascular Dysfunction (abnormal blood vessel function), which are also early indicators of heart disease. (Reaven. Do high carbohydrate diets prevent the development or attenuate the manifestation (or both) of Syndrome X? A viewpoint strongly against, Curr Opin Lipidol. 1997. 8(15). P. 23-7.)

Type II diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose levels after a 12 hour fast. Too much fasting blood glucose results from two processes: the chronic over- consumption of carbohydrates than the body needs and can use quickly and the chronic over-production of insulin to counteract the excess blood glucose. If not immediately used by the body, insulin stores it in fat cells. With continued high carbohydrate consumption causing excess blood glucose and a constant high level of insulin to counteract that level of blood glucose, cell membranes, including those lining the walls of the arteries, become more and more resistant to the action of insulin. A process called Insulin Resistance.  (Buyken et al. Carbohydrate nutrition and inflammatory disease mortality in older adults. American. Journal of Clinical. Nutrition. 2010. 92(3): p. 634-43) . Over time, insulin becomes less and less able to counteract the effects of elevated blood glucose

Insulin Resistance is a clear indicator of intolerance to excess carbohydrates in the diet. In effect, the body is reacting to carbohydrates as an allergen. The body sets up mechanisms to protect itself from allergens. If not removed, the body starts to show signs of inflammation.

Inflammation, especially a chronic low grade inflammation, is now being considered as a direct link to other chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and cancer.  A single high carbohydrate meal, in susceptible individuals, can trigger inflammation. Chronic consumption of a high carbohydrate diet can lead to a chronic state of inflammation. (Hu et al. Inflammatory markers and risk of developing Type II diabetes in women. Diabetes. 2004. 53(3)): p.693-700.

Eighteen million Americans are estimated to have Type II diabetes with another eight million totally unaware than they have it. Although there is a genetic component to the development of Type II diabetes, there is an even more compelling link between diet and the development of diabetes.

What the research has demonstrated is the physiological process after ingesting a high carbohydrate meal. The carbohydrate portion of the meal is absorbed into the blood stream as glucose. The pancreas must send out enough insulin to counteract this infusion of blood glucose and restore it to its normal level. The more carbohydrate eaten, the more insulin needed to counteract it. Over time, usually years, the pancreas can wear out and stop producing enough insulin to counteract glucose. Additionally, the cells which had been open to receiving the blood glucose and store it as fat (insulin is the fat storage hormone) start to balk at the constant bombardment and begin refusing to open up (Insulin Resistance).  If dietary carbohydrate remains uncontrolled, type II diabetes usually results.

While excess insulin is floating around the blood stream, trying to control the blood glucose, it is scraping against artery walls as well as the walls of the heart. As this is going on, an inflammatory process begins to appear. Over time, plaques begin to form to protect these sensitive membranes, and over time they begin to solidify and harden.  A high carbohydrate diet, therefore, lends itself to chronic inflammation and Vascular Dysfunction which then leads to heart disease.

A provocative study published in the Journal of the Medical Association (JAMA) in 2007, compared a group of overweight women who were over forty years of age. The women were separated into four groups: a low carbohydrate (Atkins type) diet, a low fat (Dean Ornish diet), Kelly Brownell’s LEARN program diet (basically the FDA’s Food Pyramid diet); and, the Zone diet by Barry Sears (which is also called the 40-30-30 diet as the three major food groups must be eaten at the correct percentage, carbohydrate having 40 percent of the daily intake and fat and protein each having 30 percent of the  calorie intake per meal). The women were monitored constantly for 12 months in relation to their diet, calories consumed, weight and blood work. The startling findings were that the women in the Atkins (low carbohydrate) group performed better than the other 3 groups ( low fat/high carbohydrate) on all parameters!  In other words, overweight women who were on a low carbohydrate diet for over twelve months reversed all the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome whereas the women on low fat diets did not. This study has been essentially ignored by the medical community. (Gardner et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A to Z weight loss study. JAMA. 2007. 297(9) p. 969-77)

More recent studies have confirmed the findings of the Gardner study. A low carbohydrate diet out-performs a low-fat diet every time in relation to glucose control and blood lipid measures. (Dashti et al Ketogenic diet modifies the risk factors of heart disease in obese patients. Nutrition. 2003. 19(10). P. 901-3;) Scientists agree it is the small dense fat molecules (lipoproteins) that lead to heart disease while the large fluffy molecules appear to be relatively harmless. (Lamarche et al. The small dense LDL phenotype and the risk of coronary heart disease: epidemiology, pathophysiology and therapeutic aspects. Diabetes.Metabolism. 1999. 23(3). P. 199-211.) Subjects eating a low fat diet have far greater amounts of small dense lipoproteins while those on the low carbohydrate diet have very low amounts of these lipoproteins and far more large fluffy lipoproteins. (Forsythe et al. Comparison of low fat and low carbohydrate diets on circulating fatty acid composition and markers of inflammation. Lipids. 2008. 43 (1): p. 65-77)

The link between diabetes and heart disease can be traced physiologically starting with the chronic, excess consumption of carbohydrates. The process begins in the mouth and ends in the heart. The tragedy for victims of heart disease is that much of it could have been prevented by eating fewer carbohydrates. The science is clear. The pathways are documented.  (Howard et al. Low fat dietary pattern and risk of cardiovascular disease: the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled dietary modification trial. JAMA. 2006. 295(6). P. 655-66.)

The myths surrounding diet and disease have created such a smoke screen, that the medical community has been slow to see the connection between high carbohydrate diets, onset of Type II Diabetes and eventual heart disease.  The polemic as to what causes heart disease, a high fat diet or a high carbohydrate diet, is as heated as any argument on politics or religion. Trying to get past the emotional attachment to any one hypothesis is difficult. This paper has attempted to do so by providing some of the science underlying the link between diabetes and heart disease.

A Catholic Christian View of Abortion

The Catholic Christian definition of abortion is the deliberate killing of a Child of God. The secular definition is the removal of an unwanted pregnancy. Both definitions agree that the fetus in a woman’s womb is a human fetus and not that of a cat or dog. Both definitions agree that removal of human fetus before it can survive on its own means depriving the fetus of life, no matter what stage of pregnancy. The Catholic and secular definitions disagree about whether a fetus has all the rights and protections of other human beings. Catholicism states that all the rights and protections accorded human beings begins at conception. For the secular world, abortion is the killing of an “it” and not a person.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997) Article 2270 states: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which are the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”

For the Catholic Christian, any interference with human life, from the moment of conception until natural death, is a violation of the fifth commandment “thou shall not kill.”

The Catholic Church’s teaching on human sexuality has not changed. Human sexuality is a sacred gift from God which allows humans to participate in God’s creative powers through the procreation of children. Using sex for any other purpose degrades the gift. This attitude toward sex is the reason for the Church’s teachings on chastity, celibacy and contraception. Following this teaching is not a problem for the God-centered person. It is, however, a major problem for the self-centered person.

The general American attitude toward sex has changed from procreation to recreation. Casual sex leads to casual pregnancies which lead to casual abortions. To prevent this sequence of events, many Christians use contraceptives which are seen as responsible behavior.

Catholic Christian women are as influenced by cultural values just as much as are other women. The current question is not to have premarital sex but whether to have sex on the first date.

Society tells a woman that having an abortion will solve all her problems and no one need ever know. She will not be burdened with supporting an unintended life which may have been brought to existence through rape or other abuse.

Since a woman is generally considered to be responsible for her own pregnancy, no matter how she became pregnant, she may feel that abortion is a more viable option than the responsibilities of a life with an unwanted child. If a pregnant Catholic girl constantly hears that abortion is an OK solution to an unwanted pregnancy, and if the Church tells her that she will be excommunicated if she has an abortion, what are her options as a Catholic?

American population statistics say that single mother households constitute the largest group of the poor. Raising a child takes time and attention. Although some women can take their children to Day Care from an early age, the costs of Day Care often exceeds the woman’s income. How many Catholic parishes routinely offer Day Care for single mothers who need to have a job to support their baby? Even when her child/children are old enough to go to school leaving her free to find a job, the job may not correspond to school hours.  What happens to the child after school?

At one time there were many Catholic orphanages and hospitals in the United States that had a “baby gate” where a woman could place her unwanted baby. Due to conflicts between Catholic principles and government regulations, few Catholic orphanages exist in the United States today. Due to conflict between Catholic principles and government regulations, Catholic social services, which provide adoption services, are also being curtailed. The current government regulation that all employers, religious or secular, must offer a health insurance that covers the costs of abortion will inevitably reduce the number of Catholic services which are currently open to people of all faiths.

For the Catholic Christian, abortion is a simple issue. It is not done. Abortion, however, is not an isolated issue; it is part of a process that begins with attitudes and beliefs about the purpose of human sexuality and the rights and dignity of the human being. When sex is used by rapists as a power play, by consenting adults as recreation, or by adults abusing children, it is being used for self-serving purposes for the physical pleasure it provides. When sexuality is used for purposes other than procreation, it sets up an entire string of consequences, which may lead to abortion.

When sex is used as God intended it to be used, it becomes part of God’s divine plan for humanity. In the Catholic view, there is no such thing as an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion, as the solution for an unwanted pregnancy, is a violation of God’s law.