This letter starts with New Year's countdown and best wishes, then describes an excellent dinner with an upper-middle or upper-class
Filipino family on Leyte. Conversation was mainly in Spanish, which was commonly spoken in the Philippines at that time, especially among
older people and the upper classes. Richard spoke fluent
Spanish, and for that reason was later transferred to a civil affairs unit (He also spoke Italian and some Navajo. Spanish fluency
was then less common in the army than now, owing to the proportionately much smaller Hispanic population of the U.S. at that time.)
Some conversation also occurred in English, Tagalog and Visayan. Richard says he could "barely follow" Tagalog, and that it was
"based on Spanish" which is incorrect (it is an Austronesian language), but given the large number of Spanish loan words, he could easily have gotten
that impression. The patriarch was wearing the Barong Tagalog, a type of shirt worn on formal occasions, considered still the national dress of the Philippines.
The house, furnishings, education and musical skills of the family are praised. The eldest daughter was studying to be a doctor (physician),
unusual at that time.
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