I was born on May 13, 1939 and grew up in Lumban, Laguna, Philippines. The Philippines is an archipelago of 7107 islands lying in the tropical western Pacific about 100 kilometers southeast of mainland Asia. The people in the country speak more than 60 dialects totally different from each other region. The town of Lumban is a little town with a population of 7000 when I was still living there. The chief products are coconuts, sugar, rice, vegetables, corn, beans, lumber and fish. I am the youngest of eight children; three brothers and four sisters.
I have sad and unpleasant memories of the Second World War when I was growing up. I have seen the ruins and destruction of many lives and properties. I hope and pray that such events do not happen again in the future. I attended and completed my elementary education in Lumban, Laguna. We did not have school buses in the Philippines. I walked back and forth to school. When I was in the second grade I started taking trumpet lessons. I remember a number of times after it had rained; my Dad carried me on his back to my trumpet lessons, because the streets were muddy. Dad said that I should not miss my lessons. Since grade school and until I left the Philippines in 1964, music had always been a big part of my life. The first harmonica I saw was when I was in grade school. I asked the owner if I could hold the harmonica for a few minutes and he said “Yes.” Looking at it on my hand I told myself that someday I would have my very own harmonica and learn to play different songs. Today it is a dream come true. In continuing my education, I attended Pedro Guevarra High School in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, during the freshman through junior years and then transferred to and graduated from Manuel Roxas High School in Manila in 1956. While in high school I was a member of the High School Band.
I attended Far Eastern University in Manila. I pursued courses in Science and Biology. I earned an Associate Degree in Allied Medical Science and was accepted at the Far Eastern University Medical School. During my second year in Medical School I was accepted at the
School of Medical Technology at Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri in 1963. During my studies at Far Eastern University I was a member of the University Band and again played the trumpet. When I came to the United States, music was put on hold. I concentrated my time and attention on my career in Medical Technology and finished a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration at Lindenwood University. I went on to specialize at the School of Blood Banking at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois in 1967. I am a certified Medical Technologist and a certified Blood Banker.
After completing my Blood Bank training I went back to Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis as Head of Blood Bank until 1976. I started a Laboratory Supply company named RUPCO Scientific which I operated until 1984. I realized that as a small company I was not able to compete with the large corporations. I closed that business and started the Microscope and Binocular Repair Service covering a 150 mile radius of St. Louis. I worked at St. Luke’s Hospital as Evening Clinical Laboratory Supervisor until I retired in August, 2001. I did my repair service in the mornings and worked at St. Luke’s Hospital in the evenings. I still have my Microscope and Binocular Repair Service.
I married Mary Drebentedt, who has been my hardworking and devoted wife for 39 years and mother of our five grown children. We have nine grandchildren. Mary and I have been BLESSED in so many ways by our GOOD LORD. We are proud and happy to live in this wonderful country. Mary is also a certified Medical Technologist working at St. Luke’s Urgent Care Center (4 locations). She just stepped down as Manager of Clinical Laboratories and plans to retire in December, 2004. On October 23, 2004 I was chosen by Fil-Am Society of Greater St. Louis as President for the year 2005. Fil-Am is an organization of Pilipino families in St. Louis and the surrounding vicinities. (***Pilipino is correct spelling in this instance.)
I have been in the U.S. since 1964. The first 31 years were spent trying to establish my career, starting two businesses, and raising five children. In 1996 I decided to get back to my musical interests. I bought my first diatonic harmonica but had no idea how to play the instrument. I went to Fazio’s Frets and Friends and asked them if they knew anyone who could teach me and they referred me to the Gateway Harmonica Club. I called Joe Fey and he told me when and where the club met every Tuesday. I enrolled in the diatonic class and later bought my first chromatic harmonica. I am grateful to the club and particularly would like to thank Frank Davis, Joe Fey, Dan Perez and others who were very helpful and encouraging in my instructions. Being on the last chapter of my life, I want to give
something back to the community by giving a Harmonica Charity Concert benefiting a few charitable organizations my wife and I would like to support. I am planning to give my first harmonica charity concert in May, 2005. God bless America! This nation is the most generous and compassionate country in the world.