‘Every Ounce of Courage’ is a daughter’s story of her mother’s heroism in WW II

Lourdes Besa carried out dangerous missions during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

One night Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino received a phone call from a stranger that changed her life.  “You don’t know me, but your mother saved my life,” the caller said.

That late-night conversation with an American World War II veteran and POW revealed to Elizabeth Ann Besa Quirino the untold stories of her mother’s remarkable wartime heroism in the Philippines and sparked a 20-year journey of discovery about her mother’s lifelong acts of bravery and compassion.

The result is “Every Ounce of Courage,”Elizabeth Ann’s tribute to her mother’s amazing life.

Elizabeth Ann delved into a trove of old letters, photographs and recipes in search of the source of her mother’s courageous spirit.  The result is a story of courage and family and life in the Philippines through the prism of generational family recipes.

Lourdes “Lulu” Reyes Besa channeled the heartbreak of a childhood tragedy into a profound sense of compassion and service. She helped raise three brothers while still a child herself in the early years of the 20th century. Then, as a young socialite in 1930s Manila, she focused on meaningful philanthropy and charity work.

‘Every Ounce of Courage’
354 pages
Publisher: Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino

During the merciless Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Lulu embarked unflinchingly on dangerous missions to bring aid and comfort that meant the difference between life and death to countless Filipino and American prisoners of war, at great peril to her own life.  In 1947, President Harry Truman awarded Lulu two Medals of Freedom, becoming the first Filipino woman and civilian to be so honored for her valiant efforts.

Food played a large part in Elizabeth’s family.  She weaves her family’s story along with descriptions of Filipino food family recipes. Some of the recipes Elizabeth features at the end of the book include:

–          Ensaymadas

–          Pancit Molo Soup

–          Chicken and Pork Adobo

–          Beef Morcon

–          Mom’s Shrimp Toast

–          Arroz a la Valenciana

–          Tibok-Tibok

–          Ginataang Bilo-Bilo

In her mother’s story, Elizabeth discovered a complex life full of joy, sorrow, selflessness, and survival, and learned precious lessons about how the timeless bonds of family, the steadfast strength of faith and the power of an indomitable will can provide solace and sense in a world of uncertainty.

“Every Ounce of Courage”is a daughter’s story of her mother’s courage, brave struggles, and humanity in the bleakest of circumstances.

“This book is as warm and comforting as a home-cooked meal at a family table.  I savored every intimate morsel of these well-told and beautiful stories. – Ben Montgomery, author of New York Times best-selling “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk.”

Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino is an author and award-winning journalist, born and raised in the Philippines, and based in New Jersey, USA. She has written three cookbooks on classic Filipino food from her mother’s recipes. She is a contributor and recipe developer for SimplyRecipes.com, a digital food magazine; a correspondent for Positively Filipino magazine, and has written features on Philippine cuisine, culture, history. Read more of her stories and recipes on TheQuirinoKitchen.com.

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