Every Day Is a Holiday

New York

Manhattan College is hosting a free screening of “Every Day Is a Holiday,” the painful but life-affirming story of Paul Loong’s unlikely journey from Chinese teenager in Malaysia and a Japanese Prisoner of War during WWII to merchant seaman, Veterans Affairs doctor and naturalized citizen of the country that liberated him: the United States. Screening will start at 6:00pm. The film will be followed by a discussion with Dr. Loong and the film’s director, Theresa Loong. Please join us!

Time: Monday, November 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm
Manhattan College’s Hayden Hall, Room 100
Riverdale, NY 10471

Subway: Take the 1 train to Van Cortlandt Park-242 Street (last stop).
Walk up the hill on W. 242nd Street to main gate on right.

For more information, call 718-496-4964.

Dad got naturalized as a citizen in 1956. (He never got his green card — thanks to the private bill, in a little over two years, Dad went from the brink of deportation to citizenship. It’s the same benefit he would have gotten for his Korean War service if he’d qualified for HR 4233, which he missed by 12 days.)

Dad’s post-citizenship life is an entire other lifetime, so I won’t try to cover it all right now. Instead, I’ll focus on three objects that appear in Every Day Is a Holiday: A hat, a Mustang, and a lamp.

The Hat


Dad, with hat. Taken Father's Day, 2009

As stated in the movie, after college (as a 30-something freshman), Dad went to medical school in Bologna, Italy. There’s a festival for matriculating students, where everyone wears hats that they decorate with personal items and embroidered patches that they can buy from vendors.


Back of the hat.

On the back of Dad’s hat is a patch that reads, “Gli errori del medico sono ricoperti dalla terra”, or “The errors of the doctor are covered by dirt.”

Above it is a personalized souvenir badge from the Chicago Board of Trade Observatory, June 28, 1947, from his days at electrical school.


More patches

Here’s a skeleton with the legend, “Era mio cliente,” or “This was my patient.”


Side view of the hat

On the side, you can see the insignia of the 25th Infantry Division (“Tropic Lightning”), a bandage, a kangaroo, medicinal bottles, and a patch with an bearded old man that reads, “Saro laureato,” essentially saying, “This is me when I graduate.”

The Mustang

Dad and Mom and Dad's 1969 Mustang

We learned about my Dad’s black VW Beetle in the movie, but we only caught a glimpse of his second car: a black 1969 Mustang, which he bought when he was living and working in New York after medical school. He says he was basically convinced to buy it by a friend (he’s never really been a car guy), and bought it outright.

My sister and I only knew of this as my Mom’s car, which she would cart us around in, which meant baking, sticking agony in the summer thanks to its black vinyl interior. It was also a sight to see this tiny woman behind the wheel of a V-8 sports car. It would have been more impressive if it weren’t for the lengths of gray duct tape that ran down the entire right side of the car, from when my Dad sideswiped a NYC garbage truck and never got it fixed.

In fact, he basically stopped taking good care of the car after it kept getting broken into in the 1970s Bronx. (Someone had popped the trunk lock, so instead of a key, we used a screwdriver poked through the hole where the lock used to be to open the latch.)

The Mustang was eventually sold — for a song — to a boyfriend of our neighbor’s daughter.

The Lamp

The lamp made from a leg.

The lamp was a retirement gift from co-workers at the Veterans Administration hospital where he spent most of his career. Dad worked in rehabilitation medicine, helping veterans recovering from amputations, injuries, and disabilities. It was one of the ways he felt he could pay back the Americans who’d helped to liberate him from the POW camp.

For diabetics and other patients with reduced sensation in their feet, amputation was an all-too-frequent result of not taking proper care of feet. (Small abrasions can lead to large ulcers, infection, and gangrene which leads to amputation — and it can mostly be prevented by keeping an eye on the feet. Dad was always big on preventative medicine.)

Next post: I wrap up this little series by wishing my father a Happy Father’s Day.

All photos in this post are screencaps from the film, Every Day Is a Holiday, and come from my father’s scrapbook. We’re working on digitizing and archiving all of them, including the captions he meticulously wrote in the margins.

In the meantime, learn how to buy a copy of Every Day Is a Holiday on DVD, where you can also sign up to be notified when the film becomes available on premium streaming services and other events.

Growing up in suburban New Jersey, I knew little about my father’s past. Then, one day, I discovered his secret diary, written during WWII…

Every Day Is a Holiday tells the inspirational story of how my dad, Paul Loong, survived a POW camp in Japan and set out on an unlikely journey to become a citizen of the country that liberated him:  the United States.  

Every Day Is a Holiday is heading to the Montclair Film Festival!

Please join me and my dad and come see the film on the big screen:
Montclair Film Festival
Clairidge Cinema 1
Saturday, 5/4 11:15am
486 Bloomfield Ave
‪Montclair, NJ 07042‬
To order tickets online, visit http://bit.ly/everydayfilm

For more information about the film, including how to purchase a DVD for educational or home viewing, please sign up for our mailing list

Heading to Houston and Austin March 15-17! I will be screening Every Day Is a Holiday and speaking in Houston to this great group: USS HOUSTON (CA-30) Survivors Association and the Next Generations.

On April 17 at 6pm, I will be screening Every Day Is a Holiday at the Flushing Public Library in Queens, NY, as part of Immigrant Heritage Week.

For more information about the film, including how to purchase a DVD for educational or home viewing, please sign up for our mailing list

For current showtimes in your area, please type in your zip code.

Every Day Is a Holiday streamed online as part of a Social Screening series, on Sunday, June 17 at 3pm EST. Read the chat transcript with Dr. Loong and special guests, including ex-POW Eddie Fung and Professor Judy Yung.

Many thanks to Steve Goldbloom at ITVS, Eddie Fung, Judy Yung, Craig Cornwell and Karin Pekarchik at KET.

The film also played:
– in FLORIDA (WGCU Create & Encore) on May 4th at 7pm,
– in INDIANA (WTIU) on May 6th at 3pm,
– in S. & Central CALIFORNIA (hello LA!) (KCET) on May 6th at 11pm
– in MILWAUKEE, WI (MPTV) on May 7th at 8am
-Rhode Island PBS, Monday, May 7 @ 10pm
-KVIE/Sacramento, Monday, May 7 @ 11pm
-Nashville/WNPT, Monday, May 7 @ 11pm
-KLRU/Austin, Thursday, May 10 @ 9pm
-KQED/San Francisco, Saturday, May 12 @ 6pm
-KUAT Tucson/PBS HD Monday, May 14 @ 11pm
-WXEL/West Palm Beach, Wednesday, May 16 @ 1pm
-DPTV HD/Detroit, Thursday, May 17 @ 11pm
-Rocky Mountain PBS, Sunday, May 20 @ 4pm
-WHRO/Norfolk, Thursday, May 24 @ 9pm
-WNET/New York City, Sunday, May 27 @ 2:30pm
-WQED/Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 27 @ 4pm
-KET Kentucky, Sunday, May 27 @ 5pm
-WLIW21, Sunday, May 27 @ 5:30pm
-KCTS/Seattle, Sunday, May 27 @ 11pm
-KET Kentucky, Monday, May 28 @ 9pm
-KLRN/San Antonio, Thursday, May 31 @ 9pm
-PBS Hawaii, Thursday, May 31 @ 10pm
-WLIW21, Friday, June 1 @ 4:00am (yes, that’s AM; it’s being rebroadcast!)
-UNC-MX/Raleigh-Durham, Tuesday, June 12 @ 9pm
-KRCB 22.1 San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland, Thursday, June 14 @ 9pm
-KCSM/San Francisco, Sunday, June 17 @ 9pm
-KUHT/Houston on Monday, June 25 @ 9am (yes, that’s AM)
-WQED/Pittsburgh, Sunday, 7/01 @ 5pm
-WHUT/Washington, DC, Tuesday 7/17 @ 8pm
-WHUT/Washington, DC, Wednesday 7/18 @ midnight
-Oregon Public Broadcasting/Bend, Tuesday, July 24 @ 8pm
-Oregon Public Broadcasting/Portland, Eugene, Bend, Wednesday, July 25 @ 5am
-Alaska One HD, Tuesday, 9/4/12, 9:00pm AKDT (That’s Alaska Daylight Time)
-KUAC HD, Tuesday, 9/4/12, 10:00pm
-Alaska One HD, Wednesday, 9/5/12, 3:00am AKDT
-WHUT, Washington DC, Thursday, 1/31/13, 10pm

-World Compass channels – Over 60 stations, Friday, May 11 at 5am, 11am, and 6pm.

You can CHECK OUT the list of broadcast premiere dates here:

NOTE: Check local listings for additional dates & times as multiple broadcasts will take place on each local channel throughout the month…

If you don’t see a listing, or missed a broadcast, please contact your local public television station and request a screening.