LAS VEGAS, NEVADA–This Ilokano couple has their own narratives that the novelist husband could write as odyssey, sans the Greek conflicts, but simply as an adventure with ups and downs, from poverty-stricken Ilocos to America where they have taken roots.
They both came from poor families in Northwestern Philippines. Norberto Bumanglag, Jr., 66, stopped schooling after graduating from high school in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte and had to work in many jobs: as maker of parts of wheel carts, well-digger and as a farm hand.
His wife Erlinda Reyes, 63, of Vintar town in the same province was of humble origins. This was exacerbated when she and her siblings were bereft of hardy parents when they were young and had to fend for themselves.
But to be stuck in the same place and the same dire circumstances is a choice. Life is always a forward movement and the Bumanglag couple opted to flow with that living current.
That life-changing situation came when Jun, as friends call him, was petitioned by his mother and came to the so-called land of milk and honey. He became a factory worker in Hawaii.
One thing led to another until he was inducted as member of the United States Air Force. He then also petitioned his girl friend Erlinda when he was sworn in as an American citizen.
Earlier, in the Philippines, Jun, after completing a degree in Economics and Business Administration, major in Marketing, from the
Lyceum of the Philippines (now a university) worked as a drama scriptwriter of radio stations in Laoag City. He was also a mannurat
in Bannawag, the Ilokano weekly magazine.
There was no other job he could find in the province that would fit the college education he obtained. If there was a job available in the public service, you must have connections and you have to deal with unscrupulous politicians.
Jun stayed on in the USAF until he retired in 1996. As a USAF member, he had been to many places in the world: Germany and other European countries, New Mexico and several states in the US.
He may not have been in actual combat, but he was close to the war zones in countries where America actively participated in the fight for democracy and had experienced the conditions of war and handled weapons of war.
After his retirement, Jun and his wife put up a commercial cleaning business (closely equivalent to janitorial services enterprise) in
1999.Their clients include banks, collection agencies, insurance companies, government buildings, school, church, child care centers, clothing stores.
“There is stiff competition, but we are standing tall,” Jun told this writer when we visited him in a tony neighborhood in this gambling city. At one time, they had 26 employees and had acquired a fleet of cars, some of which are parked along the street in front of their Manor homes.(Exclude Jun’s luxury cars, one of which with plate GUMIL,
and a Humvee.)
These days, it is in Ilokano writing that has engaged most of the attention of this former scriptwriter who had to write five original
radio drama novellas to earn starvation wages.
He has already published full length novels in Bannawag: Operation Medalla Cartel; Mission: Black Ops; and Operation: Drop Venus, which will be completed this year.
Mission: Black Ops, in book form like his Operation: Medalla Cartel , will be launched this March in the Philippines during the annual convention of Gunglo dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano iti Filipinas, the association of Ilokano writers.
Jun has become a star novelist in the magazine and has already earned the title: The Most Prolific Ilokano Mannurat. It maybe a modest achievement in the genre, but he is undoubtedly leaving a legacy to the Ilokano writing community.
The Bumanglag couple–Jun met Erlinda in Manila when she was still in high school and he was in college–has three siblings, two girls and a boy, who are all professionals, and have their own homes in Las Vegas.
It has been a good life, a far cry from that in the home country when Jun had to till the soil in Guimba, Nueva Ecija to earn his living, and for wife Erlinda to work at a young age to make both ends meet for her orphaned family. GUERRERO COLOMA / northboundasia.com