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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Providential Endowment: Working with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service by Cecilio N. Navarro Jr. is a moving and heartfelt memoir of a young Filipino’s attempt to build a better life for himself and his family by moving to the U.S.A. where prospects seemed brighter and opportunities greater than those in the Philippines. The author grew up in a small town in Central Luzon just north of the American Air Force Base at Clark. His father worked on the air base for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service but with the onset of World War Two, the family and most of the townspeople sought refuge from the fighting in the mountains and jungles surrounding the Central Luzon plains. Determined to make his father proud, young Cecilio studied law at university in Manila but the untimely death of his father saw him having to curtail his planned career and return home to help with the raising of his siblings. Like his late father, he found work with the Americans at Clark Air Force Base. Cecilio proved his worth to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service with his suggestions for improvements in their systems that frequently saw him awarded cash prizes. Despite his not having a college degree, his faith and his belief in a power greater than himself spurred him to strive for greater heights in all aspects of his life. When Cecilio and his family are awarded Immigrant Status in the U.S.A. they left everything behind to head off for a new adventure in a new land, where Cecilio started at the bottom of the totem pole yet again.
Providential Endowment was particularly resonant with me, as I live in the Philippines and many of the situations and cultural mores Cecilio N. Navarro Jr. was describing raised a smile, a chuckle, and a knowing nod of the head. I particularly enjoyed the author’s complete and utter belief in the power that was leading him in particular directions. When he took a transfer to Japan, even though the salary was low and he would be separated from his family for two years, he did so simply because that was the direction he was being led by his faith. That was impressive and his commitment to following the law of attraction long before it became a fad was inspiring. What impressed me as a reader was this man’s moral fiber and character. Surrounded by corruption in all aspects of Filipino life, he steadfastly refused to succumb to the temptations that an easy and wealthy life in politics could have offered him. This truly was a man of substance with a strong belief in the power of karma. The author gave some telling examples of fellow Filipinos he encountered who did not have the same character and morals as himself and succumbed to karmic debt. The knowledge that this author must now be aged about 90 and is still enjoying his retirement and writing his story to inspire others is proof positive that living a “right” life does indeed have its rewards. This is a truly inspirational read and I can recommend it.