The Homecoming
The Preparation

The next morning, friends and relatives continued to call or pay a visit.   Radio, TV and news media wanted interviews.    We made the front pages of almost every newspaper.   The Voice of America (VOA) Manager called to give me the good news and to offer support.  VOA personnel have been so wonderful all through thefive years and often called to see how I was doing.

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Picture of Eliseo Roco, John Casey, Pop and Art before their capture.  The next picture is a photo of Pop and I at the airport on his last visit before captivity.

 

 

I wanted to go clothes shopping with my children to prepare for Pop’s homecoming but every time we were ready to leave a visitor would arrive or the phone would ring.   It was a mad house.      I managed to go to church that morning to thank  God for all that He bestowed upon my familyAll through Pop's captivity my children and I prayed every night with our hands stretched out like the cross until we finished the rosary. The children complained, but I told them it was a little sacrifice to offer in favor of faith and courage for their father to endure prison camp.

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My daughter Tess and son Junn were both in Manila attending college at the time they received news. They both came home to rejoin the family and prepare for Pop’s homecoming. We built an arch at the gate that read "Welcome Home Papa". My children made a mobile in the shape of hearts, each with their name on it and hung it from the ceiling in the living room.   My daughters also initiated cutting all the articles on newspapers they could find on Pop's release and started a book they named "A Life Lived Twice".

We had no idea when Pop would be released, so we listened to the news everyday and read every newspaper. The POWs were to be released in Clark Air Base in Angeles City, near Manila. It was a 6-hour drive from Baguio.     The first group of POW’s was released on February 12, 1973.   As we watched them get off the plane, tears rolled down my cheeks.   I knew how the families of these men felt – just as happy, excited and nervous as I was.  I can't wait until it was my turn to meet Pop!

Around the middle of February, the Philippine Red Cross offered to house us in Manila to wait for Pop’s homecoming. We stayed at a YWCA building while Tess and Junn stayed in their respective dormitories as they continued to attend college.

Daily, we were interviewed by news media.   Asuncion Balagot, Arturo’s wife and her younger children stayed with her older children who were all in Manila attending college. She would often visit us at the "Y" before or after an interview and we would talk and support one another. We both kept in touch during our husband's captivity and cried on each other's shoulders. Now we only have big smiles.   We were ecstatic.


Page 4 - He's Finally Home
Page 5 - Home Sweet Home in Baguio

Page 6 - Clark Air Base Visit

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This page was last updated 02/20/00

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