WELCOME TO MY SITE AND HAVE A GOOD DAY

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!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Thank You Lord for Having Thoughtful Relatives


Yesterday, Macrine's two younger sisters from the Bay Area ( Alameda and Palo Alto), Jean and Charro along with Merlet Perlas, visited her with a big surprise. Although Macrine's birthday was still at the end of this month(the 26th), the three young ladies brought us some Pinoy goodies ( Dungeness crab in Ginger Sauce, Chicken Adobo sa Gata, Pancit, Dinuguan and Arroz Valenciana with Halo-Halo for dessert). The goodies were yum, yum and delicious.

Aside from the Pinoy goodies, Macrine was so surprised to receive the latest model of the Apple i-Pod 16 GB. The three sisters immediately called their two other sisters in the Philippines ( Fe and Sister Guia). Macrine was so happy that after the three left, she started to embrace me and engaged me to dance.

The gift was signed as follows:

To Our Dearest Manang: Happy Birthday! Love, Charro, Jean, Fepot, Sr Guia, Lanie, Merlit and the Kids.

The above event in our daily lives here in the US, reminds me that the tempo of life here in the US is so much more hectic compared to the life in the Philippines. Every body is busy earning a buck. Therefore, I really do not expect relatives and friends to visit us in our old age in person as often as every month. However an occasional phone call, FaceBook message or e-mail is always welcome.

With regards to our four children, all of them have busy lives and three of them have families of their own. A Once or twice a year Family Get Together (Thanksgiving and Christmas) is all that we expect from them.

With my wife suffering from Parkinson Disease, her feeling of isolation and depression (side effects of her medications) has been overwhelming sometimes. I wished our children and other relatives will give me a call to give me strength to do my duty as the primary caregiver. This occasional outburst of isolation and not being remembered by friends and relatives is a source unhappiness in our household. If you are reading this, a call to Macrine or an e-mail once in a while will certainly help her in coping up with Parkinson's Disease and other problems of aging.

We do appreciate, the weekly calls from our oldest daughter who lives about a 2hr drive from us. We appreciate her just saying Hello to her Mom every Sunday, even for just a few minutes in spite of her busy schedule supporting herself as a divorcee and sending two offspring to college.

Our youngest daughter who lives about 30 minutes visits or at least call us at least once a month in spite of her busy schedule also as a State Executive and raising alone an 11 year old precocious and talented daughter.

Our oldest son who has a family of his own and also busy with his profession as a Prosecuting Attorney, has always attended family reunions at least once a year even though we do not get telephone calls from him. Once in a while his wife will send pictures of activities of our grand children in school and other extracurricular activities.

Finally, our million thanks to our unmarried youngest son who lives with us. He helps me in taking care of her mother and drives us to our social activities especially at night since my eyes are no longer perfect driving at night. During the day, I do all the driving doing errands ( groceries, bank, church, beauty shoppe etc.. ) and to the Casinos. Once in a while my son helps me in cooking our dinner. Of course he is in charge with of all the yard work and maintenance of the swimming pool and odds and ends jobs in maintaining a big and old house. We have two cleaning ladies come to the house twice a month, compliments of our children. Again, thank you 4D's for this gift.

Again, Macrine and I extend our thanks to all our thoughtful relatives and especially to the surprise 79th Birthday gift above. It is one gift Macrine will never forget and will always treasure.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Simple Recipe for Oven Roasted Suckling Pig

The other day during our weekly outing of dining and slot machine playing, my wife and I decided to eat in the Buffet Restaurant of TVC, Lincoln, CA-our favorite Indian Casino. Of the hundreds of dishes ( Chinese, Mexican, Italian, traditional American), the highlight of the buffet that day was an oven roasted suckling pig. It was delicious and the skin was crispy and meat juicy. The problem was we can not find any liver sauce. This reminded me of our Pinoy, Lechon sa Kawali ( Roast Pig in a Pan). I searched for recipes in the Internet. There were several but the following published in the Food Lab I found very simple and easy to follow. Try it and let me know.


Whole Roasted Suckling Pig

Yield: Serves 12 to 16
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 5 to 6 hours
This recipe appears in: The Food Lab Redux: 7 Pork Dishes for the Holidays The Food Lab: How to Roast a Whole Suckling Pig
Ingredients

1 whole suckling pig, about 20 pounds (see note)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
20 whole cloves garlic
1 six-inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into 1/2-inch slivers

Procedures

1 Preheat oven to 300°F. Season pig inside and out with plenty of salt and pepper. Fill cavity with garlic and ginger. If pig fits on a single rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan, place him on the baking sheet back-up and transfer to the oven. If pig is too large, remove a rack from the oven and place on your range. Overlap two rimmed backin sheets so that they fit on the oven rack and line the whole thing with foil. Transfer the pig to the overlapped baking sheets then lift the whole oven rack and return to the oven so that the pig is in the center.

2 Roast until an instand read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the shoulder blade registers at least 160°F, about 4 hours. If ears or tail begin to burn, cover with foil and continue roasting.

3 Increase oven temperature to 500°F and cook until skin is crisp all over, about 30 minutes longer. Remove pig from oven, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Serve by tearing skin into serving-sized pieces and removing flesh with your fingers and piling it onto a serving platter.

Note: You can order suckling pigs from your local butcher, or from online resources such as McReynolds Farms. Plan on a pound and a half of weight per person. You can feel free to substitute the garlic and ginger with any aromatics of your choice such as herbs, other vegetables, or fruit. Your pig can be removed from the oven and left at room temperature tented with foil for up to two hours after step two and before proceeding with step three if you need to do so for timing purposes.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Love Letter to the Filipinos


I received the following article from a friend today. This is must read if you have roots in the Philippines

I am writing to thank Filipinos for the way you have treated me here, and to pass on a lesson I learned from observing the differences between your culture and mine over the years.

I am an expatriate worker. I refer to myself as an OAW, an overseas American worker, as a bad joke. The work I do involves a lot of traveling and changing locations, and I do it alone, without family. I have been in 21 countries now, not including my own. It was fun at first. Now, many years later, I am getting tired. The Philippines remains my favorite country of all, though, and I’d like to tell you why before I have to go away again.

I have lived for short periods here, traveled here, and have family and friends here. My own family of origin in the United States is like that of many Americans—not much of a family. Americans do not stay very close to their families, geographically or emotionally, and that is a major mistake. I have long been looking for a home and a family, and the Philippines is the only place I have lived where people honestly seem to understand how important their families are.

I am American and hard-headed. I am a teacher, but it takes me a long time to learn some things. But I’ve been trying, and your culture has been patient in trying to teach me.
In the countries where I’ve lived and worked, all over the Middle East and Asia, it is Filipinos who do all the work and make everything happen. When I am working in a new company abroad, I seek out the Filipino staff when I need help getting something done, and done right.

Your international reputation as employees is that you work hard, don’t complain, and are very capable. If all the Filipinos were to go home from the Middle East, the world would stop. Oil is the lifeblood of the world, but without Filipinos, the oil will not come from the ground, it will not be loaded onto the ships, and the ships will not sail. The offices that make the deals and collect the payments will not even open in the morning. The schools will not have teachers, and, of course, the hospitals will have no staff.

What I have seen, that many of you have not seen, is how your family members, the ones who are overseas Filipino workers, do not tell you much about how hard their lives actually are. OFWs are very often mistreated in other countries, at work and in their personal lives. You probably have not heard much about how they do all the work but are severely underpaid, because they know that the money they are earning must be sent home to you, who depend on them.

The OFWs are very strong people, perhaps the strongest I have ever seen. They have their pictures taken in front of nice shops and locations to post on Facebook so that you won’t worry about them. But every Pinoy I have ever met abroad misses his/her family very, very much.

I often pity those of you who go to America. You see pictures of their houses and cars, but not what it took to get those things. We have nice things, too many things, in America, but we take on an incredible debt to get them, and the debt is lifelong. America’s economy is based on debt. Very rarely is a house, car, nice piece of clothing, electronic appliance, and often even food, paid for. We get them with credit, and this debt will take all of our lifetime to pay. That burden is true for anyone in America—the OFWs, those who are married to Americans, and the Americans themselves.

Most of us allow the American Dream to become the American Trap. Some of you who go there make it back home, but you give up most of your lives before you do. Some of you who go there learn the very bad American habits of wanting too many things in your hands, and the result is that you live only to work, instead of working only to live. The things we own actually own us. That is the great mistake we Americans make in our lives. We live only to work, and we work only to buy more things that we don’t need. We lose our lives in the process.

I have sometimes tried to explain it like this: In America, our hands are full, but our hearts are empty. You have many problems here, I understand that. Americans worry about having new cars, Filipinos worry about having enough food to eat. That’s an enormous difference. But do not envy us, because we should learn something from you. What I see is that even when your hands are empty, your hearts remain full.

I have many privileges in the countries where I work, because I am an expat. I do not deserve these things, but I have them. However, in every country I visit, I see that you are there also, taking care of your families, friends, bosses, and coworkers first, and yourselves last. And you have always taken care of me, in this country and in every other place where I have been.

These are places where I have been very alone, very tired, very hungry, and very worried, but there have always been Filipinos in my offices, in the shops, in the restaurants, in the hospitals, everywhere, who smile at and take good care of me. I always try to let you know that I have lived and traveled in the Philippines and how much I like your country. I know that behind those smiles of yours, here and abroad, are many worries and problems.

Please know that at least one of us expats has seen what you do for others and understands that you have a story behind your smiles. Know that at least one of us admires you, respects you, and thanks you for your sacrifices. Salamat po. Ingat lagi. Mahal ko kayong lahat. By David H. Hartwell

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+

David H. Harwell, PhD, is a former professor and assistant dean in the United States who now travels and works abroad designing language training programs. He is a published author and a son of a retired news editor.

Monday, February 23, 2015

An Incident of Mistaken Identity and Stereotyping


While I was browsing in the Web today, I saw an article that the Rancho Bernardo Tennis and Swim Club in San Diego has closed. I thought this was the same place as the Rancho Bernardo Inn Resort also in San Diego that my wife and I attended (Tennis Vacation package) in 1982. I guess I made a mistake.

Anyway today, the above article reminded me of an incident that happened to us in 1982 when Macrine and I attended a 3-DAY of Tennis Class and Vacation Package at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, which at that time was a five star resort. The following article (excerpt in Chapter 10 from my autobiography, written in 2009) is an example of an ethnic stereotyping based on my skin and appearance as an Asian man and a Filipino. The article is as follows:

"Life in Pinole, California would not be complete, If I do not write about our tennis activities as related to our 25th Wedding Anniversary in 1982. As part of our community activities, Macrine and I played tennis almost everyday after work. On weekends. I also played double with the men's team at Contra Costa College. So, as one of my silver wedding anniversary gift to Macrine, we decided to attend a 3-day tennis academy package at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego. The five star resort is home of one of the best tennis academy in California at that time. For the three days, we played tennis 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. In between tennis we had gourmet meals and entertainment at night. The cost of the tennis package was very expensive, comparable to the cost of playing golf and staying at Bellarocca Resort here in Marinduque today.

The cost of the trip was not my concern, since it was my Silver Wedding Anniversary gift to both Macrine and myself. An incident at the resort is why I am mentioning this trip. As soon as we check in, Macrine stayed at the front office to smoke, while I carried our luggage to our room. On my way to our room, an elderly white couple approached me and requested that I also helped them with their luggage as soon as I finished what I was doing. I gave them a surprise stare and blurted out, "I am just checking in myself,and I do not worked here". They apologized profusely.

Later on, I realized why I had been mistaken for a porter. About 90% of the resort porters, janitors and maintenance workers were either Filipinos or Mexicans. This incident is an example of how people judged you with the color of your skin and not what you had accomplished or what is in your head".

The above tennis vacation package, a post 25th wedding anniversary gift to my wife and myself, we will never forget, because it reminds us of our younger days. Moreover, the above incident also reminds us that most people first impression of you is your external appearance and not what is inside your heart and head.

If you are a Filipino-American, have you experience a similar incident in your life?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Guimaras Island-Home of Philippine Mangoes


Have you heard of Guimaras Island in the Philippines? When I was growing up in the Philippines, Guimaras island was still a part of the province of Iloilo -my province of birth. It became an independent province only in 1992.

My fathers roots ( K(C)atague surname) are from Guimaras. Today I have still relatives in the island. The video below from Living Channel Asia is a must view if you want to know more about this small province in the West Visayas Region of the Philippines

Guimaras is a fourth class island province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Among the smallest provinces, its capital is Jordan. The island is located in the Panay Gulf, between the islands of Panay and Negros. To the northwest is the province of Iloilo and to the southeast is Negros Occidental.

The province consists primarily of Guimaras Island, and also includes Inampulugan, Guiwanon (or Guiuanon), Panobolon, Natunga, Nadulao, and many minor surrounding islands. Geologists have concluded that the island once formed one landmass with Panay.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Philippines Schindler's List

The movie Schindler's List that I posted in my blog the other day reminded me of the following article I wrote about four years ago, about the Philippines participation in saving more than a thousand European Jews from the Holocaust.


A friend from the Philippines forwarded this article via e-mail today. I was 5 years old when this was the news. I barely remember it from my parents conversation about World War II. Anyway, if you are a Filipino or Filipino-American, you should read this and be proud of the Philippines.

Monument in Israel honors Filipinos, For saving 1,200 Jews from Holocaustt, By Volt Contreras, Philippine Inquirer dated August 24, 2010.

"MANILA, Philippines—Before Schindler’s List, there was another document—the Philippine visa—that saved hundreds of Jews from the gas chambers and mass graves of the Holocaust.

In 1939, two years before World War II reached the Pacific, the Commonwealth government under President Manuel L. Quezon allotted 10,000 visas and safe haven to Jews fleeing Nazi Europe. Some 1,200 Jews made it to Manila before the city itself fell to Japanese invaders.

Before sunset on June 21, 70 years later, the first ever monument honoring Quezon and the Filipino nation for this "open door policy" was inaugurated on Israeli soil.

The monument—a geometric, seven-meter-high sculpture titled "Open Doors"—was designed by Filipino artist Junyee (Luis Lee Jr.).

At the program held at the 65-hectare Holocaust Memorial Park in Rishon LeZion, Israel’s fourth largest city south of Tel Aviv, the mere mention of "Taft Avenue" by one of the speakers brought Ralph Preiss to the verge of tears.

Preiss, a father of four now in his 70s, later explained that Taft Avenue was where a synagogue-run soup kitchen provided the first hot meals he had as a refugee. He was eight when he arrived from Rosenberg, Germany, with his parents at the port of Manila on March 23, 1939.

"If I stayed in Germany I would have been killed," Preiss, a retired engineer living in Connecticut in the United States, told the Inquirer in an interview.
"My cousin who lived in Berlin and whose father was a lawyer went to Paris [instead]. The Paris police handed them over to the Nazis, and they were sent to Auschwitz and got killed," he recalled, adding:

"I’m very grateful to the Philippines for opening the doors and letting us in."

‘Salamat sa inyo!’

THANK YOU, RP In gratitude for the Philippines’ ‘open door’ policy for Jews escaping persecution in Nazi Europe, a steel monument of three doors was unveiled last week in Israel. VOLT CONTRERAS
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