Saturday, April 03, 2010
Filipino soul food
Dr. Connie Mariano is a notable Filipino woman. "Keeper of the presidential pulse," she served as the White House physician from 1992 to 2001, directing the White House Medical Unit and achieving the prestigious rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy. In her absorbing memoir, Mariano writes about her humble beginnings growing up as the daughter of a Navy steward and her profound desire to "pay back" through service. She chronicles both the expected and unexpected on-the-job challenges including: performing search-and-rescue exercises; adapting to the new face of the White House ("This would become a delicate dance in which both partners struggled to avoid stepping on each other's toes"); preparing for the worst-case scenario ("The specter of assassination hung over all of us"); caring for visiting dignitaries; surveying cities to identify environmental health risks; and accompanying the president on his travels across America and around the globe. In recounting the Clinton years, Mariano not only gives insight into the private side of the American presidency, but shares her own personal triumphs and tragedies ("My greatest achievements as a physician and career naval officer would be my most painful failure as a wife and mother").