Friday, June 06, 2008

USS Normandy holds Asia-American heritage month luau

To Elizabeth: Here's another whole pig on a ship story (well, sort-of) ...

By USS Normandy Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) (6/3/2008) -- Cultural presentations combined with leis, hula skirts and a roasted pig highlighted a fun-filled Asian-Heritage Month Luau aboard USS Normandy (CG 60) May 29.

The featured speakers educated the crew on the history of Guam and the role Filipinos have played in the U.S. Navy; there was also a poem from a Sailor of Asian-American heritage that tried to capture the unique spirit of Asian-Americans.

After the presentations, the crew dined on specially made Asia-American food that brought out the spices and flavors of the region in a number of dishes.

"Something like this allows the crew to interact with different cultures in a fun way," said Chief Personnel Specialist (SW) Brijin C. Gaines, multi-cultural committee chair. "It also brings out diversity. It was obvious the crew enjoyed themselves while also learning something."

A native of Guam, from Chamorro lineage, recounted the history of the island when Japanese took over during World War II. John B. Cruz, the guest speaker, relayed accounts from his mother, who wrote a book on the subject. The purpose of his focus on this period in Guam was to show how global circumstances affect people in different parts of the world.

"The hardships that my mother endured were unique to the culture but at the same time shared by other countries that were held under Japanese rule," said Cruz, who retired from the U.S. Air Force as a staff sergeant and currently works for the service as a Department of Defense civilian. "I think it just puts in perspective the uniqueness and oneness of our cultural identities. I think it is important to celebrate that uniqueness, as the ship is doing today, while also being appreciative of the similarities we share."

Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Fernando F. Fetalvero spoke about the role Filipinos have played in the Navy. He talked about how the Filipinos, when they first were let into the service, were only allowed to be stewards, people that served and cleaned for the officers. But with time, Filipinos were allowed to go into technical ratings – and have really excelled in the wide variety of naval career fields.

"It was a privilege to be able to share with the crew," said Fetalvero, who joined in Subic Bay in 1990. "I am very proud of my heritage and just as proud to be serving in the U.S. Navy. I now hope the crew learned more about Filipinos like me. "

On a perfectly sunny day, with music playing, the crew ate on the flight deck and made the most of the event. "It was a lot of fun and a good chance for us to show appreciation for the diversity in the Navy," said Operations Specialist Seaman Kendrick D. Killins.

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