Chick Parsons

How I got to the Philippines

Peter Parsons

Simple: I was born there. On March 2, 1937, in Baguio. As were my threee brothers, Mike (1933), Patrick (1941), and Jose (1957).

And as was my mom, Katsy Jurika, who was born in Zamboanga. My dad is the foreigner of the lot, born in Shelbyville, Tennessee in 1900, but brought to the Philippines in 1906 with his mom’s brother, Oscar Searcy, who was entering the civil service there. They set up house on Calle Real in Intramuros and sent young Chick Parsons to the Santa Potenciana School where he took classes for three years in Spanish, before finishing up school back in Chattanooga.

I begin to remember things from the prewar days when I must have been about three years old. Mike’s neighborhood friends had me standing on a limb of one our great barintonia trees, about to hang me, (movie fashion) a most willing victim, when Katsy rescues me, screaming and chasing the kids away. Denying me my few minutes of fame and glory.

My grandmother, Blanche Walker Jurika, teaching me reading on our porch looking out onto Manila Bay. Eating toast with CocoHoney. Or playing cards with her, Old Maid, up at her little farm house in Tagaytay. Laughing at her because she couldn’t find her glasses as they were perched on her head.

Our yaya, a Greek wrestler named Jerry the Greek, who taught me and Mike good stuff never dreamed of by the Chinese amah who had taken charge of new arrival, Patrick.

The Polo club, horseback riding on Baclaran beach, learning the names of the places we could barely see—Cavite, Mariveles.

Sandbags in the back yard, searchlights over Bataan and Corregidor; bombs falling at night; the Japanese take away Chick, smack my grandmother. American prisoners (from Corregidor) parade by our house and I give them bottles of water. “Thanks, buddy.”

The way I got to the Philippines the second time was AFTER the war, since we were given diplomatic repatriation and lived for three years in Biltmore Forest, N.C. After my dad won the war single-handedly, we went back to the house on Dewey and I was terribly jealous of all my friends who had stayed there during the occupation or who had been interned. Still am, envious, that is.

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