Welcome to Las Vegas, Nevada- the Gambling Capital of US and the City that never sleeps! So, what has this city have to do with this site. The answer is none. I just love the photo, I took during our vacation to this city a couple of years ago. In this site, you will find articles from my autobiography, global warming, senior citizens issues, tourism, politics in PI, music appreciation and articles about our current experiences as retirees enjoying the "snow bird" lifestyle between US and the Philippines. Your comments will be highly appreciated. Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringement of your copyrights. Cheers!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Replacing My Grass Lawn with Drought Resistant Plants

My front lawn after the removable of a 30-year old dying maple tree

I am doing some research on drought resistant plants to replace the grass in my front yard. I have called for estimates from two landscaping design companies in our area. As of today, I have not seen the design that will highlight drought resistant plants.

I saw four photos of drought resistant plants in the web and from the website of American Landscape Design of Sacramento as follows:

What is your favorite design and plants? Any ideas and suggestions will be appreciated. I am leaning towards photo #2.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Month of May in the Philippines

Macrine and I dancing the Rigodon de Honor during the May Flower Ball and Dance culminating the whole Month of May Celebration of Flores de Mayo in the Philippines.

Today is May 1. It reminded me of an article I wrote 3 years ago on the month of May in the Philippines. I am reposting it case you have not read it!

Today is the start of the May Flowers Festival or the Flores de Mayo Festival in the Philippines. This Festival lasting for the whole month is in honor of Mary, the Virgin Mother. This is celebrated in all the towns in the Roman Catholic parish churches in the Philippines. However, the celebration of this Festival that I will always remember are the celebrations in my hometown in Iloilo when I was growing up and the one in Marinduque a few years ago when my mother-in-law was the Hermana. The Hermana was the over-all chairperson for the whole month of festivities which included a daily offering of flowers to the Virgin Mary along with the recitation of the Rosary. The month is culminated with a Parade and Dance participated by the whole town. During the Gala Dance, the Rigodon de Honor is danced by the prominent officials and matrons of the town.

The Santacruzan refers to the pageant on the last day of Flores de Mayo, held in honor of Reyna Elena and Constantine finding the True Cross in Jerusalem.

The following video reminds me of my childhood years in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo when My late mother was also very active with our local parish church.

The Sagala A Sagala is a religio-historical beauty pageant held in many cities, towns, and even in small communities throughout the Philippines during the month of May. One of the most colorful aspects of this festival, the pageant depicts the finding of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Many movie and television personalities participate in the events and are featured in major sagala. This festival was introduced by the Spaniards and has since become part of Filipino traditions identified with youth, love, and romance. Prior to the Santacruzan, a novena is held in honor of the Holy Cross.

The procession itself commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Reyna Elena and her son, the newly-converted emperor Constantine. After the Holy Cross was found in Jerusalem and brought back to Constantinople, there was a joyful celebration for thanksgiving.
Reyna Elena
Reyna Eléna (Queen Helena) - the last member of the procession, she represents Helena of Constantinople who found the True Cross; this is alluded to by her attribute, a small cross or crucifix that she carries in her arms. This considerably prestigious role is usually awarded to the most beautiful girl participating in the pageant. In some communities, the identity of the woman who will portray the Reyna Eléna is kept a secret until the day of the procession. Constantíno - the escort of Reyna Eléna; traditionally a young boy representing the Emperor Constantine.

The procession is accompanied by the steady beat of the rondalla, playing and singing the Hail Mary ("Dios Te Salve"). The devotees walking with the procession hold lighted candles in their hands and sing the prayer as they go along.

After the procession, there is a pabítin that serves as a culminating activity for all the children to enjoy. A Pabítin is a square trellis to which goodies (candies, fruits, small trinkets, etc.) are tied with strings. This trellis in turn is tied to a rope and is suspended on a strong branch or pole. Children then gather under the trellis as the it is slowly lowered. They then jump as high as they can to try to pick the goodies while someone jerks it up and down repeatedly until all the goodies are gone. It is customary for males attending the Santa Cruzan wear the traditional Barong Tagalog and that the females wear any Filipiniana-inspired dress. Pabitin is similar to the Mexican celebration of the Pinata.

This year celebration of the Flores de Mayo in the Philippines will probably be not as festive and peaceful because of the election on May 13. I just hope there will be no killings, murder and goons activities related to the election. But realizing the history of the elections in the Philippines dominated by family dynasties, vote buying, corrupt and greedy politicians, it will be a miracle if no killings will occur this month. I am praying and hoping for a peaceful election this year particularly in my second home-the beautiful and scenic island of Marinduque.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Selling Our Time Share at the Ridge in Lake Tahoe

This year I decided not to pay the maintenance fee of our time share at the Ridge, Lake Tahoe due last January. The resort will sell it this July and my return will be only $675. The maintenance fee is $1079. For the last months I have been receiving E-mail from the resort collection department urging me to pay. The bill is currently $1127 because of penalty. I wrote the Collector I have no intention in paying it. She told me the resort will not sell my timeshare if my dues are not current. If this is true, I will just let it default. I will sell the time share to any one interested and willing to pay the maintenance fee. Attached is an article I wrote about two years ago.

Macrine and I finally decided to sell our timeshare at the Ridge in Tahoe, Nevada. For the last three years, we have not been able to use it, so we just rent it. Renting gives me a little income but not enough to pay for the annual fees of over a $1000. This maintenance fees goes higher every year. My children are not interested in it.

My first action was to read all about reselling your timeshare. There are several scams and companies who are in this business. The following video summarizes the pitfalls of sellers of timeshare whose value has gone down to almost zero and if you are lucky you may be able to sell it for at least 1% of the original price of your purchase. Never pay an upfront fee is what I learned from my readings in the Internet

The second thing I did was to talk to the Ridge and inquire what I have to do to sell my time share. I was told I have to list it with them and wait from 12 to 15 months for a buyer. The money I will received will be only $675 net. I was expecting more value, but I have no choice. We purchased the time share 20 years ago for $15,000 which has been fully paid ten years ago. The maintenance fee started at $100 annually.

The Ridge Representative, informed me I could try selling it myself, but I must be aware of SCAMS. She told me never pay an upfront fee to anyone who promised to sell your timeshare for more than it is worth.

Our time share is a 2-bedroom with lock out. It can accommodate from 6 to 8. It is in the Plaza 2 unit of the Ridge at Tahoe, in the State of Nevada. The website of the Ridge is www.ridgetahoeresort.com (see photo above).

If you are interested, I will entertain any offers greater than $675.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Maple Tree Removal and a Visit from the Mosquito Control Office

My 30-year old maple tree in the front yard.

Two events happened in our household this week.

1. The first event was a surprise visit from the Mosquito Control Office. Yesterday morning at about 11AM, I heard a loud knock in our front door. Without opening the door, I asked what does he wants and identify himself. ( Never open your front door without investigating, because it could be an intruder).

Knocker: Open your door!! ( Voice with Authority). We have a complaint about your swimming pool.
Me: Who are you?
Knocker: I am from the County Health Office. I am an Inspector.
Me: Show me your credential. Through the peephole I saw he was not lying.
Me: Ok, if you want to inspect the pool, go by the side of the house. I will open the door to the pool.

The past three weeks, we did have problems with the pool. The filter and vacuum was not working so the water was cloudy and greenish. Luckily my son has started cleaning the pool a couple of days ago. We have ordered a new filter and vacuum for the pool(on line). The pool was still not clear blue, and last week it was inhabited by algae, so the water was turbid and greenish. My son had already shocked the pool with algaecide and chlorine, but the water was still not crystal blue, but there were no mosquitoes.

I asked the inspector if a neighbor did the complaint. He said he is not allowed to tell me who complained but said he is checking for mosquitoes because of the Nile Virus. He took a sample of the pool water and murmured that it probably need more chlorine. He walked out satisfied that our pool was not a breeding place for mosquitoes, although we have a few mosquitoes in our back yard.

I was thinking that if the neighbor did not complained how did the county know of our swimming pool problem? Did the helicopter viewed through Goggle map and observed our pool water was not crystal blue? Was our ordering of filters and vacuum cleaner on line triggered the visit? I will never know the answer to the two questions above. One thing for sure: Big Brother-the Government is always watching you.

2. The second event this week is the removal of our 30 year-old maple tree in our front yard.
Last month we heard a big crashing sound in front of the house while we were eating lunch. My son immediately went to investigate. Come here, Dad! He shouted.

One of the three main branches of the tree(see photo) broke and hit our front lamp and damaged it. The next day my son bought a chain saw, cut the fallen branch into 24 inches firewood sizes and changed our lamp. I immediately call two tree companies for estimates to remove the maple tree.

The first estimate from Stumpman ( I have hired the company before for tree trimming on my side yard) : Removal of TREE- $525, Grinding the stump-$110, Hauling of Wood-$75 and Disposal fee-$ 26 with a total of $736. He gave me a $36 senior discount quoting $700 as the total cost.

The second estimate was from Andersen Tree Company. Doing the same job above, removing, grinding and hauling, I got a quote for $750. While we were discussing the quotations, Scott Andersen, the estimator and owner( blond white guy in his 50's-must be Swedish) asked me where was I born. I said in the Philippines. His face lightened up and informed me he is married to a Filipina. He immediately showed me a picture of his wife. She is very pretty and her name is Portia Cortes originally from Mindanao. Scott said he liked Filipinos so he will give me a $100 discount. My net cost will be only $650.

I told him to allow me to consult my wife on the price. I went inside the house and told my wife of the price and if she has no objections if I invite Scott for some Pancit Canton, I just finished cooking. Scott came in and eat the Pancit with gusto. While we were eating, he informed us that he had been to the Philippines twice and has been in the tree business for over 20 years. He has been married to his Filipina wife for 4 years and they had no children.

Scott wrote the work order. I asked him when he can do the work. He said in two weeks. I pleaded that I will be very happy if he can do the job next week, since I am planning on hiring my landscaper to remove the grass and replaced it with a drought resistant ground cover next week (after the tree is removed). Scott promised he will try his best to accommodate my request.

Note: This is the first time, I have invited a complete stranger for dinner. In this case, Scott was very friendly and that he is married to a Filipina -so I did not hesitate in inviting him for dinner-Pancit Canton with Prawns and Chicken

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Simple Recipe for Kare De Pata

The other day, I purchased 2 lbs of pork feet, hocks and shank as it was on sale at our local food market. With it I purchased 3 bunch of baby boctoy( pechay),1.4 lbs green beans and 2 large size Chinese eggplant. For the peanut sauce* I purchased Peanut Powder by Jif. This is the first time I have used this product. It says it has 85% less fat than the traditional peanut butter. The above are the major ingredients for this recipe. The other ingredients are:

1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tumeric powder for coloring
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 cups water
Garlic salt and or ground black pepper to taste
Shrimp Paste ( bagoong)-optional

Cooking Instruction:

1. Pour 8 cups of water in a cooking pot along with the pork feet, hocks and shank. Add a dash garlic salt and black ground pepper. Boil at high heat for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Remove the pork from the cooking pot and set aside.

2. In another cooking pot, saute the onions and garlic. Add the pork. In a cup of water add 5 tablespoon of peanut Powder( by Jif) and mix. Add the mixture to the pot, and green beans. Cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Add the eggplant, and the tumeric spice and let it simmer another 2 minutes. Lastly add the pechay and cook at low heat for another 2 minutes.

4. Serve with steam rice and with shrimp Paste on the side. My favorite brand of Bagooong is Barrio Fiesta.

* Normally, I use roasted and ground peanuts for the sauce. My discovery of the peanut powder by Jif saves time in praparing this dish. The tumeric is my own coloring ingredient, which is optional.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Prawns and Vegetable Soup in Tamarind Sauce

Last week Macrine and I bought 1 lb of prawns for $6.99/lb at Seafood City in Elk Grove. Today is the only time I had a chance to cook it using the easy and simple recipe I have in my file. The recipe is as follows:


1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
2 Chinese eggplant, end trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 bunch of pechay or Chinese boktoy, stems cut and leaves separated
1/4 pound of green beans, end trimmed and cut into 2-inches in length
1 pound shell-on shrimp, tendrils trimmed, washed and drained well
1/4 pouch of Mama Sita Tamarind Seasoning Mix for Sinigang ( about 0.45 oz or 12.5 g)
Garlic Salt to taste. Patis or fish sauce may be used instead of the garlic salt.


1. In a pot over medium heat, bring water( 4 cups) to a boil. Add onions and tomatoes and cooked until softened. Add the eggplant and green beans. Continue cooking until the vegetables are half-cooked.

2. Add shrimps and tamarind seasoning. Season with garlic salt. Continue cooking until the shrimps changes to pink( do not overcook the shrimps) and vegetables are tender but crisp. Add the pechay pushing down into the broth with back of the spoon. Turn off heat and allow the residual steam to cook the pechay leaves. Served hot with fish sauce on the side if desired.

( Note I am an Illongo so I hate Patis, but my wife loves Patis very, very much. Bon Apetite!
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