"Tio Doroy's Field" chronicles land of dreams

What: Book Signing, "Tio Doroy's Field"
Who: Author Prima Guipo Hower
Where: Hidden Passage Book Store, 594 Main Street, Placerville
When: Sunday, Dec. 12, 2 p.m.
Info: 622-4540

"Study hard and get a college diploma; a big house could burn, a thief could steal your money but no one can take away what's in

your head " Doroy and Trining Guipo's mantra to their children

In a picture called "Peace and Abundance" of Silway 7's field, near General Santos City, Philippines some 51 years ago, Doroy Guipo painted his dreams.

Some 10 years before that, Doroy huddled in a foxhole concealed by tangled bamboo. As Japanese soldiers tramped above, he was eaten alive by mosquitoes and consumed by sheer terror and discomfort.

Seizure by Japanese soldiers during their occupation of the Philippines would have meant ruthless torture and agonizing death.

Doroy's story and the Guipo family tale intertwines personal records, culture and narrative with the history of the Philippines.

While Filipinos will be especially delighted with Hower's true, reflective and well-researched account, Hower's intriguing tale of survival, hope, love and sorrow is universal.

In that swamp, harmony, love and prosperity eluded Doroy; he anguished for the fate of his family. His wife, Trining, two babies at her knee, acted innocent, bravely singing folk songs in dialect that told him not to budge patrols were still at large.

The scars of war

Both Doroy and Trining helped the guerilla movement, among countless Filipinos who kept the faith, trusting the United States, its principles and its hero, Gen. Douglas MacArthur who said "I'll be back."

An inveterate journaler, Doroy wrote "The Scars of War." Seen through the eyes of the Guipo family, World War II is more gripping, painful, scary and hopeful than portrayed by cold history. World War II and occupation devastated prosperity and security as well as shattering families, individuals and dreams in the Philippines and throughout the world

Doroy's own goal of achieving an engineering degree as a young man was splintered, but he did earn a teaching degree in 1969 (at age 55). An Industrial Arts teacher for some 31 years, his engineering skills as described by his daughter, were superb, degree or not.

Also a teacher, Trining was often an unsung hero. She worked full-time along with the concomitant extracurricular activities required in the Philippine public school system while caring for a house full of babies, eight children and relatives.

"Study hard, get a college diploma; a big house could burn, a thief could steal your money, but no one can take what is in your head away from you." Doroy and Trining told their children.

In her later years, Trining wished that she could have had more on the table when Prima and her siblings were young. "We had so little," she lamented, as her eyes and heart tried to adjust to the abundance and waste she observed all around her, especially in the United States.

In a world torn asunder by war and everyday problems, Doroy also retained a peaceful, loving heart, without losing sight of his hopes and dreams, especially for his family.

When he painted "Peace and Abundance" all those years ago, Doroy had a little helper at his side, his preschool daughter Prima. Now Prima Guipo Hower (she married Al Hower of Pennsylvania, a teacher and former Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines) has painted a word picture.

Hower blends cultural, historical and linguistic background with vivid details of the travails, joys and memories of life. As several of their grandchildren graduated from college, including Linda Hower from Wellesley College and Lee Hower from Wharton College as an engineer, the dreams of Trining and Doroy Guipo live on.

"Tio Doroy's Field" is a generous, inspired book, worthy of the painting of "Peace and Abundance" that graces its cover.

E-mail Susana Carey Wey at swey@mtdemocrat.net