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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Fullbright Scholar returns to DeKalb

By Barry Schrader.................................September 22, 2009

MacArthur Corsino and his wife Bernadette came through DeKalb last week and stopped to visit his old professors and friends in town. In 1972 he came to Northern as a Fullbright Hayes Scholar along with two others from the Philippines, Ging Smith and Antonio Ravelo. He completed his doctorate in 1977 and returned to the Philippines where he taught political science for several years at his alma mater Silliman University, then joined his country’s diplomatic corps.
Corsino rose through the foreign service ranks, becoming a consul and mission chief in several countries including Oman, Bangladesh and Turkey, before being named the Filipino ambassador to Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic last year by President Gloria Arroyo. He is headquartered in Havana where he and his wife live near the embassy, but will be adding more Caribbean countries to his ambassadorial duties.
Corsino recalled his days in the NIU married student housing where he and his wife had one daughter. A second was born in DeKalb. They now have three – one in South Bend, Ind., one in Alexandria, Va., and the third in the country of Dubai. While attending NIU he served as president of the International Relations Society on campus and also joined the Northern contingent to the Model United Nations conference in Pennsylvania.

Ambassador MacArthur Corsino and wife Bernadette pose in the home of their DeKalb hosts the Cichy.

Second photo shows the ambassador and his wife during a visit to the Filipino troops who are part of the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti.

He had to remain in the U.S. longer than originally planned as political unrest at home, where martial law had been declared in the 1970s, kept him out of his homeland. He explained he had been editor of a newspaper in the southern Philippines before receiving the scholarship. But when then-Filipino president Ferdinand Marcos jailed some of his colleagues who worked at the paper, he chose to stay in DeKalb until it was safe to return and teach back there.
The ambassador said he concentrates on cultural and other common interests between their two countries. Cuba has trained some Filipino boxers and in return the Filipino martial arts instructors have worked with Cuban athletes in preparing for world competitions.
“We have a lot in common since both countries were once under Spanish rule and both fought wars of independence to become free,” he explained. Corsino recently visited the Filipino contingent of 277 troops assigned to the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in Haiti where he has diplomatic responsibilities as ambassador as well.
He left Cuba for a visit back to his alma mater Silliman this summer where he was honored as outstanding alumnus. He and his wife then flew to Los Angeles and on to Chicago where they met their daughter, came to DeKalb briefly, then flew back to L.A. and via Mexico City to Cuba last week.
While in DeKalb he enjoyed dinner with two of his former NIU professors, Ladd Thomas and Clark Neher; along with Ging and her husband, Jerry Smith; and Antonio Ravelo and his hosts while in town, Steve and Evelina Cichy.
Asked about his famous first name, he was pleased to respond that his father named him after the American general who was very popular in the Philippines at the end of World War II. Then I just had to inquire whether he had any Cuban rum or leftover Cuban cigars, but he said he was sorry to report he had passed out all the cigars to friends earlier on the trip.
So I left the interview empty handed but very impressed with what this man had accomplished since his days at NIU and a lifetime of service to his country. He plans to retire at the end of his Cuban assignment and will return to the house he still owns in his home town of Dumaguete City.

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115