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, October 27, 2008

Social Life in Kansas City, 1965-1969

The Lechon (Roast Suckling Pig) at Ditas Baptism Party

In addition to our involvement with the church and the Christian Family Movement (CFM), our life in Kansas City also involved our participation with the Filipino-American Association Of Greater Kansas City social activities.

One of our Christmas parties was featured in the Kansas City Dispatch dated January, 1969 and titled "The Nipa Hut- Right Here The in Northland". We purchased our first house in Platte Woods, Missouri and named it "The Nipa Hut" in 1967.

An excerpt from Mary Jane Peironnet(reporter for the Dispatch) article is as follows:

"Its many thousand of miles from Manila P.I. to Platte Woods, U.S.A., but at 5701 N. W Linden Road, on the edge of the southern Platte community, there's home which the Filipino owners have called a nipa hut-after the thatched palm leaf huts typical of their native land".

" In this self-styled "hut", now surrounded by snow and wintry weather 70 or 80 degrees colder than that of the tropical Philippines, Dr. and Mrs. David Katague are carrying on many of their native customs while bringing up their four children in the American ways of their neighbors and classmates at Chin School."

" The gold-lettered "nipa hut" sign in the Katagues' front door causes much comments from guests, Mrs. Macrine Katague says, because the family filipino friends know the meaning of the term and understand the reason for calling the 4-bedroom 3-bathroom rambling ranch house in an acre of land, a hut."

" Especially during the holiday season do the transplanted Filipinos, carry on with the tradition of their birthplace. Family and church observances began nine days before Christmas and they will continue through Jan 6, known in this country as Epiphany, but celebrated in the Philippines as the Feast of the Three Kings for the three wise men who visited infant Christ 12 days after his birth".

" Tuesday night, Dr and Mrs Katague climaxed their holiday entertaining with a New Year's Eve party for nearly 30 of their countrymen, members of the Filipino Association Greater Kansas City. The year's end festivity was a colorful affair, where the women in their bright "ternos", native gowns characterized by butterfly sleeves, and the men in "Barongs" embroidered silk shirts worn with dark slacks, assembled to wish each other " Maligayang Pasko at Bagong Taon", the tagalog version of Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

"As the clocked ticked off the last minutes of '68, the Katagues and their guests toasted the new year with San Miquel beer sent from the Philippines by some of their families. Soon after midnight, a traditional repast was enjoyed by the party-goers. Rice cakes( known as puto), pancit ( noodles), cheese balls ( keso de bola), leche flan ( egg custard), dinuguan ( bloody pudding), ginger tea and chocolate were among the food and drinks served during the party."

The rest of the article described why we immigrated to US and how the family are adjusting to the typical American life in the suburbs of a midwestern city. Pictures of Macrine in her terno and me in my barong, as well as of Ditas highlighted the article. Ditas looked exactly like Carenna, when Carenna was also four years old.

Another party at our residence was also published in the local paper, a baptismal party for Ditas. The article was published in the the Kansas City Star, dated June, 1965. Here is the full article in the society page titled

"On the Kansas City Scene."

"When a child is baptized in the Philippines, it is an occasion for celebrating. Like so many other religious holidays and festivals,it calls for an all-out project in the kitchen.

Last Sunday in Gladstone the fourth child of Dr. and Mrs. David B Katague was baptized at the St. Charles Catholic Church. Late that afternoon, a full blown luau took place in the baby girl's honor although in typical American fashion, 2-month-old Ditas Macrine Katague quickly became the charge of her baby sitter.

The young Philippine family moved here last year after Dr. Katague had completed his graduate study at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Among the American and Filipino friends on hand to share the family occasion were the baby's godmother,
Mrs Jose Liwag who came from Chicago with her husband, and Senora Maria Elena Cobian de Rojas, whose home is Mexico City. There were about 30 in all.

The unanimous choice for starring role in the food department was a roast suckling pig that stole the whole show. It cooked slowly, deliciously all afternoon while a watchful host tended the spit. When it was crisp on the outside and succulent inside, it was then ready to be brought with pomp to the table.

Chopping the food is the hardest and slowest task of all, Mrs Katague commented on the many courses she prepared to accompany the pork. Mixing the ingredients, takes only about a half hour, she said. "But unlike party dishes that can be prepared well ahead of time, these must be put together just as the guest are arriving."

Sweet and sour peppers were one of the native appetizers she served with Hawaiian punch, spiked with rum. Some more typical American hors d'oeuvres found their way to the table, as well. One other dish served was an elaborate noodle, chicken and shrimp dish flavored with spices. Another delicacy was pea pods with shrimps. For dessert, a special rice cake was served with coffee.

Later in the evening several guests took a turn at the piano, some playing classical, others concentrating on popular music and jazz. "It was nostalgic when we sang some of our native tunes", the filipino mother reminisced.

All the while the guest of honor slept blissfully through it all!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Life in Chicago and Kansas City in the 1960's

Christian Family Movement Logo
The book (bestseller in 1960) that inspired me to write, Christmas Story. Here's a short video of the movie made of the book in 1963 starring Marlon Brando. Enjoy the trailer of the movie.

In 1959-1960 I went to the US to accept a teaching assistantship and tuition scholarship at the University of Illinois in Chicago, after teaching chemistry at the University of the Philippines for four years. I went ahead and left my wife and oldest son in the Philippines. That first year was the loneliest time of my life. Not only did I had to adjust to the cold winters of Chicago, but also did missed my family especially on Holidays and during the Christmas season. Fortunately, I had some "ugly Americans" classmates. Ten of them, gave me the best Christmas present in my life at that time. My ten classmates contributed enough money to pay for a long distance international call from Chicago to the Philippines. They pre-arranged the call so that it would coincide during our Christmas party. One of my classmates, Dr. Lee Gardella of Chicago was the mastermind of this surprise. He requested his mother who at that time was working for the local telephone company, to arrange this call without me knowing it. They wanted to surprise me. Boy, was I surprise when at the middle of the party, they called me, I had a telephone call. Tears flowed in my eyes and my heart pumped with joy as I heard my wife's voice from the Philippines. As a graduate student I was very poor. I did not have enough money to call my wife. Although my tuition is free, my stipend of $190 a month was barely enough to support me. I was paying already $89 for my apartment and the rest for food and incidentals. I wrote an essay about this surprise gift while I was working for Stauffer Chemicals in Richmond, California . The essay won a $75 award as one of the top ten Christmas story from its employees. I titled the essay A Christmas Story- The Ugly Americans".

In 1964, I graduated with a Ph.D. degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. My first job was with Chemagro Corporation located in Kansas City, Missouri. My wife and I at that time had already three children, two of them courtesy of U. Illinois hospital. My oldest son, was born in the Philippines. Our youngest daughter was born in 1965 in North Kansas City Hospital,a year later.

I had another true story on the birth of our son- third child in 1962. In order to save money, I moved the family from the University apartments to a student housing subsidized by the state. The housing was about five miles from the university.

One night while Macrine was preparing thanksgiving dinner, she started labor pains. I was so excited,I did not realized I was driving about 70 miles in a 40 miles speed zone. So there goes the police car with the blinking lights and loudspeaker. I stopped by the side of the road, blurted to the police " I am going to have a baby". The policeman looked at me and answered back," No you are not! your wife is ! Come follow me to the hospital". So we have a police car with his blinking lights and siren escorting us to the emergency room of the University Of Illinois Hospital.

Our community involvement were with the Catholic Church, the local country club and with the CFM ( Christian Family Movement) in the Kansas City Diocese.
Here's a short video about the Christian Family Movement for your information.

We have our first discrimination experience, the first time we joined a country club near us. Macrine and the kids would swim at the country club twice a week. The first day, they were there, she overheard the conversation from two middle-aged ladies. She heard, a comment of the first lady to her friend, "look we are getting invaded by blacks already". Macrine look around, there were no black families around; she and the kids were the only colored ( brown) relaxing and swimming in the pool area. Needless to say, the second year, after we become more active and known to the community, I was elected by the members of the club as treasurer for two years. I was handling the payroll of three employees and collecting the membership fees of the 300 members. The cure for discrimination is education and ignorance is the mother of discrimination.

Macrine and I organized the first ecumenical CFM group in the Kansas City Diocese. CFM was founded by Pat and Patty Crowley of Wheaton, Illinois. While we were in Chicago, we were very fortunate to be invited to their home along with other foreign students studying in the Chicago area. These social events were welcome by us, because we meet other students from other parts of the world; we have a lot things in common to talk about. Thus, after graduation, we made it a point to get involve with the local CFM group. We wrote the Crowley's of our impressions of America as students. It was published in the ACT MAGAZINE dated May, 1968 as follows:

" Not long ago we received an interesting letter from Dave and Macrine Katague. In the early part of this decade they spent four years as graduate students at the University of Illinois in Chicago. As native of the Philippines, they were in a strange city and a strange land. They would not have learned very much about it, had it not been for the hospitality extended by CFM groups as well as Executive Secretary Couple Pat and Patty Crowley. Reflecting upon their past experiences, Dave and Macrine Katague wonder about the attitudes of those who spent times in the States, but did not learn to know the people of our country." They write:

Our Impression of America

" During our first year in Chicago, we never received an invitation to participate in the hospitality program. Our name was probably buried in the list of foreign students or perhaps our foreign student adviser was sleeping in her job. During these first year of adjustments to the American way of life, we formed a very wrong impression of Americans. Asides from our daily contacts with fellow students in the school rooms or dormitories, our only other social contacts were people in the streets, subways, buses, department stores, supermarkets and other public places. These were all artificial contacts, giving us an impression that Americans are unfriendly, artificial, insincere, apathetic,intolerant and above all ignorant.The latter adjective was quite true, since the ordinary or typical American does not have the vaguest idea where the Philippines, Japan or even Puerto Rico is located in the map.

" However, in our second year, we began receiving invitation to spend a weekend in suburban homes as well as dinner nvitations in city homes. At first, we were reluctant to accept the invitation, however with our adventurous spirit, we said yes.
From then on, "we have the whole world in our hands". We are thankful to CFM, the YWCA and the Hospitality Center of Chicago for making our stay filled with pleasant memories.

"On the other hand what impressions could we have brought back to the Philippines, if our stay was limited to one or two years ( true for exchange visitors). How many visitors and exchange scholars brought home with them the wrong impressions and attitude towards the American people in general? I knew there were a few foreign students in the dormitories who were disillusioned about the United States. One of them was a former dorm mate from Chile. He received an invitation, but never did conquer his apprehension of accepting one.

" At present as couple leader of the first interfaith group in our diocese, we will do our very best to reciprocate, promote, and encourage hospitality programs to foreign students and scholars in our area. We believe that opening our homes and our hearts on weekends and holidays, is one of the best ways of promoting world peace and understanding. Let us then make it possible for foreign students and scholars get the true picture of America and its people. Let us give them the opportunity to share with us our way of life. Let us get busy as a group or perhaps join other groups in order that we can show to the future leaders of the world, how sincere, friendly and aware we are of other human beings in other parts of the world. This is one of the many ways we could be more Christlike, we believe".

This letter was published by CFM in their monthly magazine, ACT, for all their members worldwide. We will appreciate comments on this blog!
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