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!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Are Filipino-Americans URMs?

This is the latest e-mail(hopefully not the last),that I have received on the subject of Filipino-Americans as under represented minority (URM). Again, I erased the name of the author for privacy sake. If you have additional comments, please jump into the discussion.

I was disappointed that this discussion died down so easily, I thought I saw some flames but I guess these were just sparks- but before the embers turn to ash I would like to add some of my thoughts to what Scientist # 4 has said.

First of all, Fil-Ams are classified as Asians and not Pacific Islanders. Secondly, there is nothing wrong with living the same way your ancestors did a long time ago- it keeps their cultural identity as well as self worth intact- but then again as indicated- this is a stereotype and I hope we as Fil-Ams don't indulge in.

Now for some reality 101. WE ARE MINORITIES- by virtue of our skin color and number, whether we like it or not we will always be considered this way, unless our population has grown so much that we become one of the "colored majority"- As a minority group we will always be underrepresented in the sciences and engineering. I too believe that "special programs" should not even be in place, and I too would like to see my grandchildren not to be treated as "special" but the reality is- without these what are our chances to make it out there. We were not born with the same privileges as the white majority- in case you want to know more about "white privilege" a book written by Tim Wise ("White Like Me") is a good start. Being classified with the other Asians who definitely are not URMs in the sciences does not help either.

Let's see- I can think of many of us who did not have to go through affirmative action or special programs to get to where we are- but the next generation will have to compete with other minorities who have federal support; while they (Fil-AMs) won't-simply because this Fil-Am generation is not considered URM. I'm sure that despite this, there will be some (hopefully more than a handful) will get to a position where they can have influence or leadership capabilities.- How long do you think will it take for us to reach parity with the white majority? Let us not even think of trying to do that, how about reaching parity with the Japanese, Chinese, and Indians? Maybe 4-10 generations without any "special programs" or maybe more? Not even the small number of talented few will do that job of getting the next generation to parity with these other Asian groups--Do we want to be always at the lowest rung of the ladder?However, if we have some help (like a ladder going up)- like the minority programs are supposed to do, maybe we can get there faster and be recognized for what we truly can accomplish. Here's how the African Americans and Hispanics are using these to their advantage. These are means to an end and as their numbers grow, they get stronger and more influential.

Note that even these so-called "special programs" require that you have the credentials to compete, you just don't get funded just because you are a minority- these are competitive and prestigious (unless you are thinking of "pork" money), so for those who are stigmatized by the minority label, they should really start considering how the next generation will be without sufficient push.

What can be done at this point? We can start small and hopefully this catches fire. For some of you in the academe, you may try to influence your Diversity Office to include Fil-Ams in their programs, there is a good pool of Fil-Am students out there. TAKE NOTE THE IN WORD IS DIVERSITY. For NIH and NSF grants, many of the projects require a plan to broaden the participation of URMs, increase the diversity of the student and faculty and therefore this is very timely for us to think of how we can influence those institutions to consider Fil-Ams as URMs in their own institutional programs and if so, they can then apply for programs that include Fil-Ams as URMs in federal grants (same as the University of Hawaii, NYU, etc.). If interested, I can give you more ideas.Here's a video asking if Filipinos are really Asian or are Pacific Islanders.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More on Filipino-Americans as Minorities

This is my comment and my call for action to the first posting.

The first thing we can do as a start is to swamp the wide world of the internet with our concern especially in the US. Second, we can write our congressmen/lawmakers and Third, if PAASE have some extra FUNDS, hired a professional LOBBYIST.So as a start I have compiled several of the e-mails, without mentioning names in one article in my blog

I know I do not have much traffic yet as a new blogger, but if all of you tell your friends about the article then we can start the ball rolling. This should be followed by individual letters to our congressmen and senators and even sent a comment on OBAMA new website, as soon as the COMMENT section is enable. OBAMA has a lot of young volunteers manning his website, perhaps we could get his attention, in spite of his other top priorities ( world economic crises). But we have to start action now( after all these talks) Thank you for your attention! David

Comments from Scientist # 1:
It is indeed not that often that we receive an email message from you and now you realize that even just a single one can catch fire. It is amazing how somany PAASE members responded to your suggestions and mainly in a very positive way. I hope that we get more from you in the future. I was just going to keep quiet but decided not to especially after I saw the message from David Katague.I very much agree with the premise of helping young Filipino- Americans to get interested in science and that they need role models.

You are certainly the ideal role model but I think that there are many others,
including PAASE members, who could help provide the need. I think that with
the WEB, these talented young students will eventually find out. I also agree
that we should help young Filipino-American students to obtain support so they
can pursue scientific careers. But we should also bear in mind that not all
young Filipinos want to pursue science and those whose main interest is to be
DJs should not be forced to go into science. I understand that the special
Filipino-minority program at the University of California failed because most
of these special students were not motivated to study hard and eventually were
expelled (Ben, correct me if I am wrong).

My main concern is with the classification. I have always thought that being associated with the Asian community is preferable because of the good
connotations attached to it. I don?t have anything negative associated with
the ?Pacific Islanders? but I don?t like the stereotype. ?Pacific islanders?
are normally referred to as the ethnic groups who have continued to live the
same way their ancestors did a long time ago. They probably now have TVs and
cell phones but I still don?t think that we should be identified with them
since we have so much more in common with those from other Asian countries.
Geographically, we are Asians since we are along the same archipelago that
includes Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia. The Japanese, Chinese, Koreans and
Indians have indeed made their mark and have shown to the world that they excel
in many ways and can compete with the world?s best. Being associated with this
group is to me a great asset in that it provides a feeling of pride and
prestige. I think we should keep having this ?feeling? even if we are regarded
as the "sick man" in Asia.

Also, philosophically, I don?t believe that special minority programs should
last forever. Unlike many others, I did not have any resentment when the
affirmative action was eventually discontinued because I thought that
generally, it was demeaning to those who participated. I would like my kids
and grand-kids to compete squarely with other Americans and not have others say
that they got accepted to a program because they belong to a URM or
Pacific-Islander group. I have interacted with many young Filipino-American
students, some at the University of Maryland, and I think that they are mainly
above average and I don?t think that they need to be classified as
Pacific-Islander to make it in science. But I hope that PAASE will work hard
to help the talented few who do not have the resources and would not make it
otherwise. The challenge would be to identify those and get them to our

This a comment of Scientist # 2

I was reading all the exchange about obtaining minority status for Fil-Ams. I just want you to know that my feelings on this matter is closer to what Scientist #1
as written on his e-mail.I will highlight the following in terms of my experience:

I have been mentoring minority students black and Hispanic (undergraduates, graduate level) for the last 10 years. I have done this by partnering with organizations like American Chemical Society (ACS) Project SEED,NSF funded AGEP program, and Louis Stokes Alliance Program. To date,I havementored 34 students to work in my lab at various capacities supported by these programs and the University of Houston as well. It has been my mission to bring these underrepresented groups to the sciences. Last year, I was nominated *but did not get* the Stanley Israel Award of the ACS for contirbutions to minority mentoring in the chemical sciences by our local ACS section. I did this as a matter of contributing to society and doing what I can to the underrepresented....to help the next generation. I am sure a number of you havedone much ... and are much more passionate.

In getting this status for Fil-Ams, the advantage is to avail of funding from the federal government for scholarships, fellowshps, special education programs,etc. and even quotas. Universities like this as well for the minority status,affirmative action, and in statisfying quota. The same goes with having more minority in the faculty. I can see also some political advantages for Filipinos on this matter. I think the bottom line is really in getting more of the Federal pie that goes to minorities.

Having said these things, here are the reasons I do not personally feel good in us being classified in this category: There is pride in work, competency,accomplishment in a level playing field. Fil-Ams and Filipinos have been successful coming to the US because of this ethic, knowing that hard work will be rewarded. An under-represented minority status, while it may give us some funding or special status is not a matter of pride....knowing that we will get what we want simply because we have been placed in a special status...because of race and not of accomplishments. I know that the Federal government has done this to level the opportunities for all. But I personally believe it is time that US society should transcend through this categorization of its citizens. Of course it is possible to argue that....more has to be done. The US has already elected a minority for a President. I am curious to see what the definition of minority will be in the next 10-20 years. Note that the projection of a 50:50 white and non-white population is projected by 2050.

I think Filipinos and Fil-Ams will be more inspired to see successful Filipino-Ams
holding key positions, accomplishments in the sciences and egineering,on their own merit competing among the best in their chosen professions and making it.Our efforts may be best directed in bringing more Filipinos and Fil-Ams mentored and directed towards successful career paths in the sciences and engineering regardless of minority status. We can do this by simply using our individual and collective efforts and encouraging them to apply for scholarships, positions,programs in the sciences in every manner and any time. As we are already doing at PAASE and should do more.....

I currently have 3 Filipino and 1 Fil-Am PhD. student in my lab..am recruiting and talking to more Fil-Am undergraduates at UH. I have done this through visits at colleges and universities in the Philippines and in the US and a lot of personal contacts. Perhaps specific steps we can have at PAASE is to have a network or establish chapters of Fil-Am students in sciences and engineering at the graduate undergraduate level in different universities,or having special conferences at our PAASE meetings. It is also possible to form groups and partner with other professional and scientific organizations both in the US and the Philippines. I know that this will require funding and resources.Perhaps the argument can go back as to why we need this minority status.

Comments will be appreciated.

Filipino Americans be Considered Minorities as Pacific Islanders or as Hispanics?

I just received E-mails from several members (I am not mentioning names for anonymity)of PAASE(Philippine American Academy of Science & Engineering) on the subject of URM's( underrepresented minorities). It is an interesting topic not only for scientists "who needs FEDERAL funds for research" but also for the public, as a case for equal rights. Do you think Filipino -Americans be legally considered as minorities? If you agree, do you have any specific idea what to do first? Your ideas are welcome. But first let me start with the background on this subject.

Scientist # 1 wrote:

"We should do what we can to nurture scientific careers of young Filipino Americans as well. In this regard, one of the recent exchanges about Filipinos being part of the Asian—Pacific Islander group for NIH purposes reminded me that if possible, PAASE should try to get the Filipino -Americans designated as Pacific Islanders, and not have us grouped with Asians. The reason is that Filipino-American college kids would have access to programs that help to support underrepresented minorities pursue scientific careers. Young Filipino -Americans are underrepresented in training for science research careers. There may be a perception that there are many Filipinos in biomedical professions (because of the large migration of MDs and nurses to the United States). Having spoken at several undergraduate institutions with large Filipino-American student bodies, I find that the young Filipino kids are surprised to meet a Filipino researcher that has been invited to give a research seminar at their institution. Basically, they have no role models for Filipinos in research. In one of the institutions I spoke at, the aspiration of almost all of the young male Filipino-American students was to become a DJ. I think PAASE could help address this issue, because if the students were considered Pacific Islanders and not Asians (who are clearly overrepresented in science-related majors), they would then be recruited by research universities (that are asked to make an effort to bring underrepresented groups to their campuses for recruitment into science careers). It would be desirable to increase the proportion of college-bound Filipino-American students in science-oriented majors. A comment from another member:

I completely agree with Scientist # 1 on this. The problem is not that we aren't Asians (we are), but that the government classification of underrepresented minorities when it comes to Asians is too broad. While Asians as a continental
group indeed is not underrepresented, many sub-groups are - for example, Filipino -Americans, maybe even Arab-Americans (remember these are Asians as well). What we need to lobby is that Filipino-Americans are a distinct group, which we can easily show in terms of our immigrant experience in the US.

Actually, here at NYU, Filipino-Americans are considered distinctly as an under represented minority and thus eligible for certain scholarships/fellowships. I think other institutions do this as well. What we need is to make this standard at the federal level, both at NIH and NSF.


( under represented minorities) AGAIN I AM NOT MENTIONING NAMES.

I agree we are not considered URMs (underrepresented minorities) in terms of federal funding, still we are in reality minorities in this country not only in science and engineering but in many aspects of life here in the USA. What can we do about it?A lot I guess, but this will actually require lobbying- and congressional intervention. My boss once asked me if I consider Fil-Ams URMs in the sciences- without a doubt- I said, we do not have the numbers, but sadly we also do not have the voice to fight for it.

Historically- the groups considered to be URMs in the sciences (engineering included) are African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans (which include American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians), and Pacific Islanders (anybody of Guam, American Samoan, Fijian, Tongan, Marianas, Saipan, Palau, and Micronesian decent- did I forget anybody). Certain institutions and states (i.e.Hawaii and California- until recently, where this was reversed) consider Fil-Amas URMs. However, there is an "out clause" for institutions that they can designate certain groups (e.g. Fil-Ams) as URMs as long as these institutions have programs that support Fil-Ams, they can use federal support too (such as the case of NYU). Also, there must be sufficient number of Fil-Ams in such institutions so they can be considered URMs in a majority school.

The sad thing about this classification is that even new immigrants from Jamaica, Africa and the Caribbeans can have a URM status as soon as they become permanent residents or US citizens, despite the fact that historically they did not share the experience of the African slaves-this is one reason that some African Americans prefer to be called black to differentiate themselves from those who just came from Africa and recently became Americans and also call themselves African Americans-- but this group has a strong lobby.

Another sad part is that the Hispanic group is also a mix of those who historically have the right to be here (Chicanos for that matter) and those who recently migrated from various Latin American countries- but they too are considered Hispanics despite the fact that they came here on their own free will. The Chicanos of course were original inhabitants of California, Texas, Arizona (and what else- forgot my US history)- and during the American-Mexican war, they were driven out of their country- remember the Alamo? Again- they have a very strong lobby (especially because Puerto Rico, which is a US territory is inhabited by mostly Hispanics) such that they get a lot of congressional allocations for Hispanic serving institutions (HSIs) much like the HBCUs or Historically Black Colleges and Universities)- organizations that Fil -Ams do not have.

American Indians are also a mix bag and includes not only the North American Indians but also the South American Indians- technically they are from Latin America and because they also speak Spanish and originated from Latin America they can be classified either as American Indians or Hispanics. How different are they from Native Americans?- Native Americans are the American Indians who were the original inhabitants of North America (therefore includes Canadian Indians)- but again this classification is loosely used and interchanged with American Indians- which again include those from Latin America and not native to this country. They do not have as strong a lobby as the African Americans and Hispanics, but there is a lot of guilt about what the white colonialists did to their ancestors and they are paying amends to what happened in the past- so historically they have clout.

Native Hawaiians were also conquered, defeated, decimated, whatever an imperialist would do to their conquered inhabitants- they did to Hawaiians, that is why their number has dwindled so much. So historically, they have as much claim as the African Americans descended from slaves, Chicanos (who by the way do not want to be dumped together with Hispanics), and Native American Indians. And yet, they do not have a strong voice as the other groups and in most cases are grouped together with Asians (Asians/Pacific Islanders)- unless they are classified as native Americans, then they too have been mostly ignored by federal funds since the numbers show that there is a high number of scientists and engineers among Asian/Pacific Islanders. Thus, Hawaiians prefer to be classified as Native Americans, together with Native Alaska and indeed they are included in federal funding that covers Tribal groups (Tribal Colleges,organizations and other institutions).

What is the claim of Alaska Natives as URMs (which by the way is not the same as Alaskan Native)-when Alaska was purchased from the Russians? The Philippines was bought from the Spaniards too- and the Filipino natives were treated badly too the same way as the Alaska Natives-except that in the end the Filipinos got their country back (or did they?)- What is our historical claim for consideration as URM? Yes, we helped build this country, our ancestors were alsopioneers in this country, but we have been forgotten (or many of us forgot about this too) and grouped together with other Asians (i.e., Chinese, Japanese,Koreans, Indians) who are not considered to be URMs in the sciences and engineering.

Here is another comment from Scientist #2

How about being grouped with Hispanics? After all, we do have a hispanic
culture, with our spanish names, our being the only catholic country in
Asia-pacific because of spanish christianization, our food (paella, leche flan,
pan de sal, our adobo like mexican adobo also etc.), our fiestas, processions,
our calesas and caballos, the spanish words in our language (cuchara, cuccillo,
mesa, bentana, vaca, etc), tabacalera, cerveza, even our manana habit! Besides,
the americans bought our country from Spain! Even the Queen of Spain recently
donated and inaugurated an Eye Hospital at UP-PGH in recognition of our spanish
heritage and to honor Dr. Jose Rizal, an Ophthalmologist!

Many science major fil-am students I have known are in pre med, majoring in
Biology, biomedical engineering, public health etc- Many of them are handicapped
when applying to medical or graduate school because the hispanics, blacks and
pacific islanders are given breaks in admissions and scholarships, and they are
not. Many are not be able to go to grad school and end up searching for non science

Either way (pacific islanders or hispanics) would be ok.

If you have any comments, feel free to jump into the discussions!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

PAASE Scientists Argue Coral Reefs

The blog is not a scientific discussion on coral reefs and global warming. I have already commented on the subject on my entry dated September 12, 2008 in this site
This is my personal interpretation( reading between the lines) of amor propio and personal jealousy among our members. My purpose in commenting is let all Philippine American Academy of Science and Engineering(PAASE) members realized that this kind of discussion is not good for the organization. It leaves a bad taste in our mouth.However, this only show that scientists are indeed human beings. So readers who are not members of PAASE enjoy this very interesting interchange of ideas.

The lively discussion started when scientist # 1 wrote the following:

I just want to point out that one of the authors of the attached review article on coral reefs in the Dec 14 2007 issue of Science is Dr. E. Gomez of the Marine Science Institute at UP Diliman. The conclusion is sobering and has important implications for the Philippines which has one of the most diverse coral reefs in the world. Perhaps we should have some comments from coral reef ecologists in PAASE and how our members can help.

This e-mail received a response from Scientist 2 as follows:

For those who are not aware, Dr. Edgardo D. Gomez of UP Marine Science Institute is THE World Expert on Philippine coral reefs and one of the world experts on coral reefs and coral reef management. He is highly competent and well-respected internationally in his field, and thus deserves to be included as a co-author in this Science review article. I know Dr. Gomez personally especially since I started my science careeras a research assistant at UP MSI back in 1986-87, when he was still the Institute's Director.

I know that ( scientist #1) means well, but I got some feedback from a couple of members who think that it would be an "utter insult" to give Dr. Gomez unsolicited advice.

Scientist # 1 responded:

All I wanted to do is to point out with pride that Dr. Ed Gomez is one of the authors of this important article in a premier journal, on a topic which I believe is of crucial importance to the Philippines. If it sounded like I am giving "unsolicited advice", my sincere apology because that was never intended.

Scientist # 3 comments:

I don't want to add more tension to this issue but I think we should put a stop to these types of sensitivities especially at PAASE, since personally I think this is one of the problems of Philippine culture which has been hampering the science culture in the Philippines.
I don't know scientist #1 personally and just met Prof Gomez once but I have high respects to both of them with their professional achievements. Objectively, I did not see anything wrong or insulting with #1 comments and actually I thought it was a good idea on how we can bring minds together. As scientists, we should be open to any issues or challenges raised and if there is any misunderstanding or apparent contradiction try to bring it up in a mature and professional manner, rather than taking it as something personal. At least that is the science culture I think most of us have been trained. Creative tension and active engagement are always good. “batu bato sa langit, matamaan po huwag magagalit.”

Scientist #4 letter to #1

I thought I understood your first email well. We all take pride when a Filipino scientist is recognized for achievement. From my perspective, no apologies are necessary. Dr. Gomez, congratulations on the article!

Comments from Scientist #5

With all due respects to my colleagues, I cannot believe this discussion is going on. In all areas of science, final words are not yet or will never be given - there is always room for better understanding brought about by better methodologies, either theoretical or experimental and more importantly new generation of researchers. Imagine what would happen if the final word on Philippine coral reef is given. This means no more funding for this research!!

This reminds me of one time I asked a very brilliant, respected, and
well-established Filipino researcher on what drives the metabolic process of some higher physiological processes that he was presenting. I immediately got the feeling that he was insulted, and in turn I did not get the answer since perhaps the question was considered insulting deserving to be ignored. I do still think the question is very fundamental and is the root of understanding life's force. Any taker?

Response of #1 to # 3 and #$4

(#3, I met you at the Biotech Symposium organized by Maoi Arroyo about 2 years ago at United Labs where we both participated.) Another reason I brought up the article co-authored by Dr. Gomez which hopefully is not lost in the exchange of opinions is for PAASE members
to comment on the coral reef problem from their own perspectives. As achemist/ biochemist for instance, I learned how increased CO2 in the environment leads to acidification of sea water as CO2 dissolves which in turn leads to slower calcification in coral reefs. Can this acidification be minimized or reversed, chemically or biologically in a "green manner"?
#4, you asked a very fundamental question in biology that can only come from a non-biologist and that is healthy. I don't have the answer but you make me think in a fundamental way. In multidisciplinary projects, there is the beauty of people coming from varied experiences and perspectives.
This would be a very boring world if everybody thinks alike.

Comments from Scientist# 6
Dear #1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and fellow PAASE members,

I feel that all of us are immensely proud and happy of the achievements of our fellow Filipino scientists and engineers and I believe that we share this sentiment for Dr. Edgardo Gomez, whose reputation as a world's expert on coral reefs is unchallenged. As I am, in general, unaware and uneducated of the literature outside of my own field of research I am grateful to Scientist #1 for sharing with us this article that was co-authored by Dr. Gomez. That's why #2 note indicating that some (I prefer not to know who they are) have interpreted #1 email in a very negative way was a complete surprise! In my opinion, that response does not even rise to level of us being thin-skinned or prickly but simply a misinterpretation.

It would have been easy for me to ignore this incident but I feel that it is important to voice my opinion, that is, I agree with #3,#4 and $5. We all know that progress in scientific research is propelled by the creativity and combined dedicated effort of many different players: the experts, professors, assistant & associate professors, senior researchers, post docs, students at various levels, technical assistants, etc.. Everyone has a contribution to make.

Science evolves because of competing ideas and diverse approaches. It continues to be renewed, as with every inch of progress or every little answer a manifold of questions follows. If we stopped at the signal event when the DNA structure was elucidated by Watson & Crick in 1950s, then we would not have the sequence of the human genome and those of many organisms!

Importantly, let's applaud the creativity, effort, dedication and perseverance of all Filipino scientists!

Comment Scientist #7

I am the one who thought that offering to help Ed Gomez deal with the problem of Philippine coral reefs would be an "utter insult" to Ed.I am a PAASE oldtimer and I am witness to many plans, some fulfilled, many unfulfilled, to help Philippine science. It is how some of those plans - and the intentions behind them - were expressed that had bothered me (and is still bothering me).

On several occasions, I have heard PAASE members talk about saving Philippine science. Yes, the word "save" was used. It would appear that those members think of themselves as messiahs who have the expertise and are duty-bound to save Philippine science. And it would appear that they think that the scientists in the Philippines are incapable of doing it themselves.

I do not agree with them. I think Philippine science has undergone a tremendous improvement in the last few decades. And I think it should be made clear to the messiahs among us that we should not be thinking of SAVING the Philippines but of
HELPING it. Moreover, I think those of us who are on the outside should never think we know Philippine science better than the scientists in the Philippines.

To wish to help Philippine science is a noble thought, but we should think very
carefully about how to do it. It is not simple. Two entities are involved in any "helping" situation: the helper and the "helpee" (this word is not in my dictionary, but I'm using it here for convenience).

In an ideal world, the helper always has good intentions and the helpee is always receptive and grateful. Sadly,this is not an ideal world.

The messiahs among us may have only good intentions (let's assume that that is true), but we all know that "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions", i.e., good intentions do not always achieve good results. Many factors affect the results. One of the most important is the helpee - in particular, how the helpee
feels about the help being given and about the helper.

The helpee may feel that the help being offered is not needed.
(Personally, I hate being offered help). I feel insulted. An offer of help makes me feel I have been judged incapable of doing things on my own. "I am not handicapped!", is my unverbalized reaction to such offers.) How do the Philippine scientists feel about the help being offered?

Do the helpers bother to find out? The helpee may even feel that the helper is being arrogant - offering to help somebody of lesser abilities. (I think of myself as a typical Filipino - proud of what I am, proud of what I am capable of doing,proud of what I have done. I will find it very insulting if somebody,Filipino or other, will offer to help me in my thinking, in what I am doing. "How dare them think they know better than me in what I'm doing?", would be my reaction.) How do the scientists in the Philippines feel about the helpers? "Amor propio" is very strong among Filipinos. We are naturally humble, but we don't think of ourselves as inferior to others. Let us try to remember that when we offer to help Philippine science. Sincere offers of help are always good, but those offers have to be made "quietly" and "softly" in my opinion. Sadly, this is not an ideal world.

Reading between the lines Scientist# 7 is probably jealous of Scientist #1
I will appreciate comments from any one on the subject. The technical aspect of this discussion was detailed in the attachment sent by Scientist #1. If you are interested I will be glad to send you a copy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My FDA Years and Life in Maryland-1990-2002

Dave and Macrine in front of their Colesville, MD residence on their way to the Grand Ball of the Philippine-American Foundation of Charities,1999

This is a continuation of the series of my life experiences here in US starting in 1960 when Macrine and I lived in Chicago, Illinois, while I was pursuing graduate studies at the University of Illinois.

By 1990, our four children had all completed their Bachelor degrees. Our oldest son had graduated from UC Davis law school and married a classmate. Our oldest daughter also has finished her Bachelors degree and also has married a former classmate in high school who had also finished his Bachelor degree. Our two younger children were pursuing graduate studies. Our younger son was pursuing a master degree at Carnegie Mellon University and our youngest daughter was also studying for her Master's degree at University of Southern California after graduating from UC, Berkeley with honors.

When I received a job offer from FDA, I accepted the position even though I will be receiving about $10K less in salary. We really do not need a high income at the stage of our life since our four children had already finished their bachelors degrees. Our two youngest children have scholarship money for their graduate degrees. In addition, I have learned a lesson, ( after working for four employers in the private industry) that if you want job stability and security, worked for the Federal Government.

So with high hopes and a sense of adventure, Macrine and I moved to the Washington, D.C area in the Fall of 1990. Our moving expenses were all paid by the Federal Government. We settled in our newly purchased home in Colesville, MD without touching any of our household goods. Both the packing and unpacking of our goods were paid by the government.

I started as a Review Chemist in the Office of new Drug Chemistry, Division of Anti-Infective Drug Products. After three years( 1993), I was promoted to Expert GS-14 with expertise in anti-malarial, anti-parasitic and systemic anti-fungal drug products. My promotion was published in the Philippines News dated March 31-April 6, 1993. It was written by Ernesto C. Parial, NY/NJ Bureau Editor. An excerpt of the article reads:


Colesville, MD- Dr David B Katague has been voted by the FDA Expert Regulatory Scientist Peer Review for promotion to GS-14.
Katague's expertise is anti-malaria, anti-parasitic and topical anti-fungal drug products. The promotion is a high honor, for out of more that 90 review chemists at the Center of Drug and Evaluation Research, only seven review chemists have passed the screening and approval of the Peer Review Committee, to the GS-14 status.

Dr Katague has served as a Review Chemist at FDA for almost three years. He has also more than 20 years of academic and industrial experience in the field of pesticide research and regulations. Prior to joining FDA, Dr. Katague worked as a research chemist for Stauffer Chemicals and Chevron Company at Richmond, California for several years. He and his family have been active with the Filipino-American Community from 1974 to 1990 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dr. Katague was president of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association, Berkeley Chapter, 1988-1990.

At present, Dr. Katague and his wife, the former Macrine Nieva Jambalos of Boac, Marinduque reside in Colesville, MD ( a suburb of Washington, DC). The Katagues have four children, all professionals, residing in the East Bay.

Dr. .Katague was born in Iloilo City, Philippines and was naturalized US citizen in 1972. He obtained his B.S. in Chemistry degree from the University of the Philppines and M.S. And Ph.D. degrees in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Illinois, Chicago.”

In 1997, I was again promoted to Chemistry Team Leader, supervising the work of six reviewers ( five with doctorate degrees). As far as I know, I was the first Filipino-American who has achieved this position in FDA. As team leader, I was responsible for prioritizing, assigning, and assuring the technical accuracy of all chemistry, manufacturing and control issues for all new drug applications submitted to the Division of Anti-Infective Drug Products. As team leader, I also give advice, instruct and promote high morale and teamwork in my group. In 1998, I won the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Award. The citation reads, “For outstanding accomplishments in fostering the objectives of the EEO Program by hiring minorities and encouraging their professional growth while providing excellent leadership.”

I have received numerous certificates of appreciation, awards in leadership and communications, commendation for teamwork and excellence in the accomplishment of the FDA mission. I have also received several letters of appreciation from private industry for my review work.

In 1995, I was elected to the United States Pharmacopeia, (USP), Committee of Revision(CR), Standards Division. As an elected member, I was responsible for establishing standards of identity, safety, quality, purity of drug substances and drug products as well as in-vitro and diagnostics products, dietary supplements and related articles used in health care. Election to this body is a very selected process. It is held every five years. In 1995, there were more than 700 scientists nation-wide from academia, government, and industry who volunteered to serve. USP narrowed it down to 256 final nominees. Of the 256, only 128 were elected. Election to the USP Committee of Revision confirms that the person is both the national and international expert in the field of election. In my case, it was in the field of antibiotics, natural products and botanicals.

The University of the Philippines Alumni Newsletter congratulated me with this statement, “ We join with your colleagues and your family in congratulating you for this singular honor, which brings prestige to the Philippines as well”. In March, 2000 I was reelected for another 5 year term.

In December, 2001, I received a special recognition award for my work on expediting review of two drugs, Sulfamylon and Silvadene. These two drugs were needed to treat burnt victims during the September 11 attack of the World Trade Center, New York and at the Pentagon, Washington, DC.
In January, 2002 I received another award for my work on Doxycycline, an antibiotic needed to treat anthrax victims due to bio terrorism activities from unknown terrorists.

Macrine and I were also actively involved with Filipino-American community in the tri-state area of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. We were also active with the Marinduquenos of the Capital Area (MACA). Some of MACA's projects were giving scholarships to needy students in PI. We also collaborated with the humanitarian projects of “ Feed the Hungry, Inc”in Marinduque. In 1998, we participated in the medical mission to Marinduque. We donated 100 used eyeglasses, medical supplies and equipments to the local hospital. In May, 2001 we again participated in the medical mission sponsored by Marinduque International,Inc.. I helped in the distribution of drugs and served as acting treasurer during the mission week, while Macrine was Executive Director of the organization.

In June, 1999, Macrine was elected overall chairperson of the Festival Committee that was in charge of the celebration of Philippines Independence for the whole month of June. An article was published by the Manila Mail, dated June 15, 1999. An excerpt of the news article written by Bing C. Branigin reads:


“A big crowd watched the Philippines took center stage when Filipino-Americans stage a colorful parade, fair and cultural show along historic Pennsylvania Avenue on June 6.

Filipino Americans display their pride in their culture and heritage to mark the 101st anniversary of independence from Spain and more than a century of Philippines- American relations.

More than 45 Filipino- American organizations participated in the parade and whole day fair and cultural shows. They are groups from Washington, D.C., Maryland, Northern Virginia, South Carolina and the 40 strong Ati-atihan group from Virginia Beach.

The Marinduquenos who are this year hosts, showed their moriones, clad in colorful costumes and mask.

Macrine Katague, Philippine Festival chairperson, said she was really impressed by the number of groups who participated. For the last six months, the Philippine Committee had been meeting regularly to make this year's event better.

A group of twenty food vendors sold favorite Philippine dishes, like lechon, pancit etc...For drinks, there was San Miguel beer, sago at gulaman, coconut juice and halo-halo. There were also twenty tents filled with dry goods, like T-shirts, jewelry, gift items, travel agencies and phone cards. One of the highlights of the fair was on-the-spot painting contest for the kids. The Philippine Embassy displayed stamp collection, fabrics and handicraft from the Philippines

Ambassador and Mrs Raul Rabe, patiently stayed at the Fair from 9:00AM to 6:00PM, enjoying all the activities. Rabe will end his term the end of this month. He will be replaced by Ambassador Ernesto Maceda.

Mr. Rabe told Manila Mail “ This is a great thing that we are celebrating our independence here in Pennsylvania Avenue. I noticed that every year we are getting better and bigger,. Hopefully we will keep the momentum going”..

To show their support to their “kababayans”, Marinduquenos from New Jersey came to town. Al Molato who represented the Eastern Seaboard Marinduqueno said, “ This is fantastic, imagine our small island is so small and taking a big role in the capital to host a big endeavor like this. I would like to salute my co-marinduquenos and Macrine Katague the chairperson, for a wonderful job.”

In July, 1998 I received an outstanding Senior-Citizen Award in Chemistry, Science and Research. I was awarded a medal and plaque. The award was presented by Philippine Centennial Committee of the Philippine American Foundation of Charities.

Prior to my retirement on October, 31, 2002, I was nominated by The Philippine Embassy for the Presidential Award, for Filipino Individuals Overseas,called PAMANA NG PILIPINO Award in Chemistry..

My twelve years in FDA was the happiest and most productive years of my professional life. Our involvement with the Filipino-American community will be memories that we will never forget. The next entry to this blog will be life after retirement.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Pinole, California Years, 1974-1990

My Picture was used by Stauffer Chemicals to advertise the Richmond Research Facility. Part of the wordings in the brochure reads, "At our Richmond Research facility, more than 300 scientists helped develop new agricultural products for the growing hungry world-products which help nature improve the yield and quality of vegetables, fruits and grains. Stauffer Chemical Company is a pioneer in products for agriculture. Over the years, company researchers have developed a remarkable number of successful farm products. But more importantly, the measure of our work at Stauffer is how well we improve the quality of your life....and that of our neighbors and around the world."

When Shell Development Company closed in Modesto, I was forced to look for another job. At that time job was plentiful for those who have doctorate degrees. I have several offers both from the Federal government and private industry. During this interval of my professional life, I did seriously considered working for the federal government because of stability concerns. However, compared to private industry, the wages offered by the government was about 10% less than the corresponding salary in private industry at that time. Since my family is on the stage when I will need extra money for their education, I chose to work for Stauffer Chemicals in Richmond , California. I started as a Research Chemist and after 10 years (1984) reached the position of Principal Research Chemist. This is the highest technical position ( without supervisory duties) attainable in the company. In 1986, a mass of layoffs occurred at Stauffer Chemicals. The company was getting out of the pesticide business. I was one of 60 employees relieve of our duties after just one day of notice. I just can not described the feeling of being laid off after 12 years of service and good performance. You feel betrayed and unappreciated, and envious of the other employees not fired. How I wish I took the Federal job offered to me at the time when I accepted the position at Stauffer. But they say “No crying over spilled milk”.

After recovering from the shock of getting laid off (with 90 days severance pay),I started contacting my network of friends including friends in church, and in the community. A week later, I have a job offer from Chevron Chemical Company also in Richmond. I guess, GOD was guiding me. My new supervisor is a friend I met at our church. We both are parish council members and also also Eucharistic ministers for the St. Joseph Catholic Church. This is an example, that developing a network of friends is very important. You never know when your network of friends could help you. My youngest daughter had learned from my experience. The last two jobs she had were through her network of contacts both in private industry and in the state government.

The twelve years we resided in Pinole were filled with community involvement for both Macrine, the children and myself. In 1976, I started taking night classes( one subject every semester) at the UC Berkeley, Extension Division. In 1980, I graduated with a Master's Certificate in Business Administration.

Macrine and I also got involved with the Filipino-American Association of Contra Costa County
One of our activities was published in the local paper, The Independent and Gazette, dated July 21, 1976. An excerpt of the article is as follows:

“A Filipino dinner, fashion show and program of community singing and folk dancing will be hosted for the public by the Filipino-Americans of Contra Costa, Inc. Donations is $4 per person and proceeds will go to St. Joseph Catholic School. Prior to the dinner, there will be a 5:30 PM mass. Part of the mass will be in Tagalog, the filipino national language. Dr and Mrs David Katague of Pinole and Mrs Oty Balagot are in charge of the liturgy. Mrs. Macrine Katague will sing “ Ave Maria”.

Menu for the dinner is lechon (roasted pig), chicken adobo, lumpia ( the filipino version of the Chinese eggroll), pancit ( similar to Chinese Chow mein). There will also be salad and dessert.

Filipino folk dances will include the “ Fandango Sa Ilaw ( Dance of Lights), performed by Dr. and Mrs David Katague. Other folk dances will be performed by various members of the association.

Loreto C. “Al” Almazol is general chairman of the Filipino Night and Gus Gutierrez, president of the Filipino-Americans of Contra Costa County, is in charge of decorating the Hall. Assisting him will be Mrs Macrine Katague, Mrs Connie Refre and Mrs Betty Almazol.”

The article had three photographs of Filipina dresses to be modeled and picture of the Katague's dancing the Dance of the Lights.

One of our other community involvement that was published in the West County Times, dated October 11, 1978 was a fund raising party for our local Children's Hospital Fund. An excerpt of the gala event titled “ Evening in Paris at Hilltop Mall” is as follows:

Pre-event parties are being planned throughout the East Bay in anticipation of "You..and... The Night and the Music”, the grand evening of dancing and entertainment being planned by the Hemlock Branch of Children's Hospital this Saturday from 9:00 PM to 1:00 AM at the Hilltop Mall.

Mr. and Mrs Jeffrey Blumenfeld of Orinda, owners of Jerri B's , will entertain a group in their home before the night's festivities begin. Mrs. Blumenfeld is a director in the Hilltop Merchants Association.

Another lively group promises to be those arriving from Mr and Mrs Steven Johnson's pre-party in the Napa Valley. Home-made Won-Ton soup will be the menu at Dr. and Mrs. David Katague's of Pinole.

Other hosts and hostesses welcoming guests for the evening of merrymaking will be Mr. And Mrs Ron Jeha of El Sobrante, Mr. And Mrs. David Waterworth, Mr. And Mrs. John Benone, all of Pinole. Mr and Mrs Len Stalhandske will travel from Portland, Oregon to attend the event.

This article in the same subject was published in the Independent and Gazette, September 27, 1978.

Hemlock Branch that rising star among fund raising auxiliaries of Children's Hospital Medical Center, will hold its champagne kickoff for “You.....the Night and the Music” and has been themed “ An Evening in Paris” this coming October 14.. About 2,000 guests are expected at the spectacular evening of dancing, entertainment and hearty feast of hors d'oeuvres catered by Narsai's of Berkeley.

The party is expected to raise over $10,000 for CHMC, topping by $2000 proceeds from the same event, launched for the first time last year. From 9:00 PM to 1:00 AM, guests may dance to Ernie
Heckscher's Fairmont Hotel orchestra, imbibe at our no-host cocktail bars, disco with “Disco Don”, and enjoy such hors d'oeuvres as prime rib sandwiches, crab puffs, teriyaki chicken, pate and eggplant with caviar wrapped in pita bread.

Chairmen Mrs Goy Fuller and Mrs. Albert Toretta, both of Pinole, said there will be a complete theatrical production featuring French songs, mime and Can Can dancing. Tickets ( $17.50 per person) may be obtained by sending checks, payable to Children's Hospital Branches, Inc or to Mrs....etc.......
The article has a photo of Mrs amd Mrs Albert Torretta and Dr.and Mrs. David Katague toasting champagne.

Dave and Macrine were also involved with the University of the Philippines Alumni Association,(UPAA) Berkeley Chapter. I was elected president of the association ,1989-1990. An article was published in the Philippine News dated June 6, 1989. The article was titled


Berkeley, Ca- Dr. Dave Katague, president of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association, Berkeley Chapter, announced the opening of the Mindanao Exhibit of the Philippine Kulintang Center on June 4, at 3:00 PM at the 5th floor of the Philippine Consulate Building, 447 Sutter St in San Francisco.

Some of the interesting pieces on the exhibit will be the “ULOL” or canopy under which weddings and other joyous occasions are held; the intricate and geometrically designed “pis” and the “banig” or mat woven by the Tausugs of Jolo. Highlights of the afternoon's program will be the performance of ethno
musicologist , Danongan Kalanduyan on the kulintang (musical instrument) accompanied by Musiban Guiabar on the dabakan (drum). The article contained four photos of the exhibits, myself and other officers.

On September 5, 1989 the Philippine News published an article on my induction as president of the UPAA. In the article is a photograph of the incoming officers. A Hawaiian Luau held in my rambling house in Silvercrest Street was the setting of the induction ceremony. An excerpt of the article titled


Pinole, California—In colorful Hawaiian setting, the new officers and board members of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association , Berkeley Chapter will be inducted on September 9, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

Consul Teresita V. Marzan of the San Francisco Philippine Consulate will be inducting officer of the affair which will be held at the lovely garden of the residence of incoming president Dave Katague, at 2638 Silvercrest , in Pinole.

Serving for the calendar year 1989-1990 are the following:

President: Dave Katague
Vice President: Charito Rosete
Secretary: Norma Villarente
Treasurer: Andrea Las Pinas
Auditor: Edna Victorino
Parliamentarian: Cleotilde Balagot

Appointed members of the board are: Minda Azarcon, membership chairperson, Charito Rosete, program/protocol officer, Norie Villa and Cora Yabut, Public and Press Relation Officers in charge of Newsletter. The permanent board of advisers are: Dr. Mellie L Lopez, founder, Atty Juan G. Collas, Jr, legal counsel of the UP Foundation and past president, Cleotilde Balagot.

Sometime in the middle of May, 1990, I donated several volumes of technical journals from the duplicate copies from Stauffer Chemical library that were about to be burned and discarded. I was able to salvage several volumes of hard bound copies of Journal of Chromatography, 1971-1976. Also included in my donation were dozens of volumes of hardbound copies of BioChemistry ,1969-1984. The value of the donation was about $1500. Shipping was arranged through the Commission on Filipinos Overseas ( CFO). On May 23, 1990, I received a thank you letter from Alfredo Perdon, Executive Director of CFO,as follows:

Dear Dr. Katague:

The Commission on Filipino Overseas acknowledge with thanks the donation of five boxes of technical journals to the Institute of Chemistry, University of the Philippines.
Your donation is a manifestation of the willingness of Filipino overseas to be actively involved in the development efforts of the country. Such participation through the Commission's “ Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino” or “ Linkapil” likewise serves to strengthen the linkages between Filipinos overseas and their countrymen.
Needless to say, these books will be a most welcome addition to the journal collection of the UP College of Science Library and will certainly be useful to the thousands of students in the said university. Best Regards and thanks you again for your donation.”

In January, 1986, I participated in the United Nations Development Program at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. The program was for two weeks of consultancy ( lecture and management of research) at the U.P. Natural Sciences Research Institute( NSRI). My round trip fare was paid by UN and I also received a substantial amount of per diem during my consultancy period of two weeks. It was satisfying to give at least two weeks of my "Know-How" to my Alma Mater. The program at that time was called TOKTEN ( Transfer of Know-How through Expatriate Nationals). Today, it is called Balik scientist program.

During this time, we were not only active in the community but also in the parish school (where our three younger children were attending),as well as our church. I was elected to the parish council representing the Filipino-American parishioners. Macrine and I joined the choir and were also Eucharistic ministers.

In early 1990 Chevron Chemicals announced the closing of the Agricultural Division. The company gave us six months to look for another job. This time I swear, I will never work in private industry. I have two choices, work for the State or the Federal government.

On the first week of May, I received an offer to work for the Food and Drug Administration as a Review Chemist, Center for New Drugs, Division Of Anti-Infective Drugs in Rockville, Maryland.

On May 22, 1990, I received a farewell note from our parish priest. Rev Fr, Paddy Bishop and all the members of the St. Joseph Parish Council. The letter made me shed a tear or two. It reads:

Dear David,

It is always difficult and emotional to bid adieu to a friend and fellow laborer in the “vineyards”. In your case, it is doubly hard for you have been such an active participant in the affairs of the Parish of St Joseph.

The Council will miss you. You have been a source of ideas and suggestions vital to the functioning of a body such as this. We were gratified when you made a commitment to serve the council. We are sad you are leaving us.

You and Macrine have been pillars in our community. We shudder as we contemplate our ministries without you. At the same time, we share in the excitement of your new job and home and surroundings. Our prayers will go with you as you begin this new phase of you journey.

We thank you for all of your contributions, and send you forth with our prayers and hopes for the future. We are confident that you are much loved; by each of us, by the parish family, and by our Lord and brother Jesus Christ.

Signed by Fr. Bishop, Fr Morrison and and twelve parish council members. One of the parish council member is Jim Leary, my supervisor at Chevron and the one who hired me without hesitation, when I was laid off at Stauffer Chemicals in 1986. My next entry will be our life in Maryland and my professional career with the FOOD and DRUG ADMINISTRATION- the Federal job, that I have wanted for a long, long time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Life in Modesto, California, 1969-1974

Citizenship Party, The Modesto Bee, May 17, 1972

From Kansas City, Missouri we moved to Modesto California, when a head hunter found me a job as Research Chemist at Shell Development Company, Agricultural Research Division. I was not unhappy with my job at Chemagro Corporation. But the lure of warmer climate and a 20% automatic salary increase were enough incentives to uproot my family from our comfortable new home in Platte Woods , Missouri. My boss at Chemagro wanted to retain me by offering me a 10% raise. I told him I will get a 20% salary increase and he said he will not be able to match that and wished me good luck in my new position. All our moving expenses were paid by Shell Development Company.

Six months after we settled in Modesto, Macrine and I organized the MABUHAY CLUB, a Filipino-American organization in Stanislaus County involved in social, educational and civic activities. There were only twelve of us( 6 couples) and they elected us the first couple President. Today, the organization has more than 400 members.

The whole family were also involved with community fund raising activities for the needy. The kids were active in the community theater ( music and folk dancing) and Macrine and I were involved with country club activities, party bridge and tennis. I taught cathecism classes (CCD) to high school students in the evening. In 1972, Macrine and I (and Dodie) became United States citizens. Our citizenship party was published in the May 17, 1972 issue of the Modesto Bee. Excerpts from the article is as follows:

Katagues Are Proud to be American Citizens by Laurelie Mullen

“ The party was as American as apple pie....everything was red, white and blue and the honorees were pleased as punch to tell the world they are a part of Uncle Sam's family. Instead of singing “For He is a Jolly Good Fellow” when the star-spangled cake was cut, everyone sang “ God Bless America” ...with feeling and a proud tear or two.

The occasion ? A citizenship party given by Dr and Mrs Dave Katague of Modesto, who are so delighted at finally becoming American citizens, after living in this country for more than 12 years, they just had to have a party to celebrate.

The Katagues and their oldest son Dodie, 13, all were born in the Philippines, but their other three children were born in the United States. “ It's such a joyous thing for us all to belong to one country”, Mrs Katague said to her 40 party guests, whom she had fed an authentic homed-cooked Filipino dinner consisting of six courses, not including the American cake, a gift from Nilda Valdez, herself a Filipino.

Katague is a research chemist for Shell Development Company near Salida. Their other children are Dinah, David III and D'Macrine.”

My career with Shell Development ended in 1974, when the company decided to close the facility and moved to Houston, Texas. It was time for me to look for another job.

During our five year stay in Modesto, we have purchased two homes. The last one was a country house at Skittone Road with a pool where Macrine had also a gift shop specializing in Philippines handicrafts and goods.

On August 1974, we gave a farewell party – a Hawaiian Luau complete with lechon( roasted pig) to the neighbors and friends. The party was published on the August 2, 1974 issue of the Modesto Bee. An excerpt of the party is as follows:


“Saying “Aloha” is never easy, but Dr. and Mrs David Katague, made it easier for themselves by giving a farewell luau for some 60 friends.

The Katagues residents of Modesto for 5 years are moving to Pinole , where Mrs. Katague will soon open a gift shop, similar to the one she has just closed here and her husband will join the staff of Stauffer Chemicals. He has been with Shell Development Company in Salida since moving to Modesto.

The gardens of Katague home on Skittone Road were lighted with tiki torches, setting the scene for a typical Polynesian feast, which included a pit roasted pig and several Filipino entries.

The Katague Children entertained with traditional dances. They are Dodie, 15, Dinah, 13, David III, 11 and D'Macrine 9. The article include 3 photographs, two of the lechon and Dave and Macrine in their Hawaiian outfits.”.

Note: this blog will continue with life in Pinole, Ca and my new employer Stauffer Chemicals of Richmond, California
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