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, June 29, 2009

Is the Philippines a Supersensitive Nation?

Baldwin wants a Mail Order Bride from Philippines

Recently, Alec Baldwin commented he wants a mail order bride from Philippines or Russia. He meant it as a joke, but it created a lot of uproar and anger in the Philippines. Filipinos are indeed very super sensitive people and the Philippines is a very sensitive nation. Personally, I am not offended, since Baldwin I believe meant it as a joke. I even think it is a compliment to Filipino women to be desired by an aging actor ( he will be 51 years old when he commented on David Letterman show). The fact that a good looking American actor desires the comfort of a Filipina in his aging years is compliment to the caring and loving prowess and reputation of our Filipino women.
photo from eveythingfabiolus.com
Another case illustrating how super sensitive Filipinos are, was the comment of a Hongkong journalist stating that the Philippines is a nation of Maids. He really meant it as a joke. But the reaction of the Philippine government to label him as person non-grata and forbids him to visit the Philippines unless he apologized was an over reaction. Personally again, I took it as a joke, since I believe it is not really true. Perhaps, the world perceive the Philippines as a nation of workers because of our OFW situation. However to me, the Philippines is actually a nation of College Graduates. Whether they have jobs or not is another story.

The third case that created a lot of uproar and anger was the episode on one of my favorite TV show : “The Desperate Housewives”. A comment from one of the housewives ( Susan) implied that the training and quality of the medical education in the Philippines is inferior compared to training of doctors who finished in the US. I happened to watch that episode, but instead of getting upset, I just laugh so hard. Again there was an over reaction in the Philippines, calling for a ban of the show and asking for ABC to apologize. I knew this implication is not correct. I have numerous friends who graduated and obtained their medical degree from the University of the Philippines ( my alma mater ) and the University of Santo Tomas. They are as good if not better than medical graduates here in the United States.
Desperate Housewives - Music of Wisteria Lane
Here is a short music video from one of my favorite TV shows.
If you believe in yourself or has a high self-esteem, the incidents above should not bother you. They above incidents to me are all meant as a joke. If we can not laugh at our selves once in a while, then we do not deserved to be respected by others. But the Philippines is still a nation with low self-esteem, so that the slightest negative comments from others, the nation overreacts.

What do you think?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Genealogy of the" K(C)atague" and "Balleza" Surnames

Several years ago, I started a genealogy of my mother's last name- “Balleza”. I was able to trace it back to the 15th century. The name originated from Bilbao, Spain. I then traced it to Mexico, then to US in Texas and then to the Philippines. I was able to locate a town in Mexico named Balleza, in the state of Chihuahua. The town was founded in 1640 and named after Fr. Mariano Balleza ,a Spanish friar.. I was able also to communicate with a radio announcer in Houston, Texas whose family name is also Balleza. I also found several Balleza families in Googles and recently in Face Book. Note that the name is similar to another name in the Philippines “ Belleza”, a Spanish word which means beautiful. But “Balleza” and “Belleza” are two different names in the Philippines. I am happy and satisfied with the origin of my mother's last name. When my mother was still alive, she told me that her grandfather was a Spanish soldier that participated in the Spanish colonization of the Philippines (1565 -1898).

Today, I am curious on the genealogy of my father's last name. When my father was still alive, his last named was spelled with a “C” instead of the “K”. He changed it with the “K” when he was in high school. My father has two brothers who also changed it to start with a “ K”. But all of my father other relatives as far as I know has not change it. So there are a lot of “Catague's” in the Philippines, that are my relatives. The famous Catague is a painter named Fernando. His paintings are exhibited in the museum of Iloilo and Manila. My father has informed me that Fernando is a relative and originally was from Antique. . In the Philippines, I know there are Katagues in Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Antique, Cavite and in Mindanao. I also found there is a Katague in Brazil from Googles. I just recently meet a niece in Face Book from Vancouver, B.C. She is the daughter of my first cousin from Bacolod, Negros Occidental. There are several Katagues in Face Book, and one in Twitter, but I do not know if we are related. Incidentally, there is a town in Bohol, named “Catague”. I am curious, how the town got its name, but I do not have the time to do research on it. If you know, please let me know. It will be highly appreciated.

There are several variations of the Katague name. These are: Catague, Catage, Catagi, Katagi, Katage, Kataque and Kata Gue ( from Indonesia). I know of a Japanese chemist with surname of Katagi. It may be true that Katague originated from Japan from the surname Katagi as my father once mentioned.

So if your last name is any of the above or if you are married to someone with any of the names above, we may be related. I will appreciate if you contact me in Face Book or Twitter or in this site. I will be delighted to meet you on line or in person..

Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Stage in Life-Ian graduated from High School

Ian Katague King in his Barong Tagalog ready for His High School Graduation with Lolo and Lola Katague
Two weeks ago, our oldest grandson,Ian Katague King (he turned 18 last January) graduated from high school. Macrine and I attended his graduation with the thought that this is another stage in our life worth remembering. Macrine and I are lucky to experience this event in our lives, since both of us are still in fairly good health. During the graduation ceremony ( about 4 hours), my mind keep wandering about Ian's future. We know he is going to college next Fall, taking Architecture. Then in four years, we hope he will get his degree. In the next two years, he will hopefully get married and maybe have a family of his own, That means , Macrine and I will be a great grand Parents before our 8oth Birthday. I hope we both live long enough to reach that stage in our lives.
Carenna at her Kindergarten Graduation last year
This weekend we babysat again for our six year-old grand daughter, Carenna Katague Thompson, for the whole 4 days and 3 nights. Carenna is our youngest grand daughter. Normally, we just babysit for her during the day. The last time she stayed overnight was last year. At that time, she did not want to sleep alone in her own bed, so she slept between Macrine and I in our California King size bed. We did not realized at that time that Carenna turns 360 degrees during her sleep. In doing this maneuver, she would kick Macrine on the breast and also my upper torso during the whole night. Needless to say, we had a sleepless and disturbed night. So we told her Mom, the next time she stays with us overnight, she will have to sleep on her own bed either in our guest room or in our bedroom if she is scared sleeping alone in another room. Carenna promised to sleep in her own portable bed, but in our bedroom. We said that is fine. In the early part of the her first night, every thing went well as planned. However, by about 4:00 AM, I was awaken by a whisper “ Lolo, could I sleep with you and Lola”. I can't say no, so I said “come on”. She would then climb over and sleep between us. By 5:30AM as soon as day light, we were both awake. It was early for my normal waking hours, but I have no choice. Macrine did not realized this happened until, I told her the next day. The second night, she slept in her own portable bed. Again, the same thing happened at about 3:00AM. This time though, she was not restless and did not wake up until 7:00AM, my normal waking hour. At the third and last night, Carenna slept all night in her portable bed. Our goal for her is to sleep independently when she stays with us overnight. This has been accomplished. Before we know it, she will be a teenager. We are looking forward for that day, when she turns 13.This will be another stage in our lives worth remembering.

Our standard routine when Carenna stays overnight is that we bring her to our local mall to play in the children area inside the mall. After that, we buy her an ice cream and bring her to the toy shop. If she has been good, we buy her an inexpensive gift. Later she would swim with her Lola, then watch her favorite TV show, Tom and Jerry in the ON DEMAND movies section. She enjoys this activity, since her MOM and DAD do not subscribe to CABLE. In between swimming and Cable TV, she would draw free hand or color in a pre-printed pictures. Her free-hand drawing looks good for her age. This reminds me of my own father who was an excellent free-hand artist. Of course, Carenna's mother, Ditas, is also artistic. She has a Bachelor degree in Art from UC Berkeley. Her sculpture during her student days at UC Berkeley, had been exhibited in the campus and she had participated in Arts Shows during her student days.

The joy of taking care of our six year old grand daughter is indescribable. She is smart for her age. She talks like a 10-year old kid. She knows of her Filipino heritage(half Filipino-half Irish) and that she is a mestiza. Baby sitting for her makes us feel young again, although at the end of our babysitting session, we feel very tired and exhausted. This is an experience in the stage in our life that we enjoyed very much. For as they saying goes, you love more your grandchildren than your children, since your grandchildren are already your profits from your investments ( your children).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Food for Thought for Today

Fathers' Day was just celebrated a few days ago. It reminded me of the article, I wrote in 1968 for our weekly Christian Family Movement (CFM) newsletter. I found these quotes timeless and are still applicable today.

Marriage is an institution, but who wants to live in an institution.

The trouble with most average American is that they expect their children to be above average.

The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day.

A mother of 13 children was asked "how in the world can you have time for 13 children" she replied, "when I had only one child, it took all my time, what more can 13 do?

A Chicago psychologist lists these rules for parents to insure their child happiness
Avoid favoritism, do not compare one child to another
Don't be too dominating; don't impose your own ambitions or hobbies
Don't be upset at what your neighbor's children accomplish
Don't remind yourself constantly that you worked harder or had fewer privileges.

An excerpt from Sam Levenson's book "Everything But Money"

The fear of depriving our children has produced the most "gifted" generation of children in our history. We shower them with gifts to prove our love, with the inevitable result that the gift of love has degenerated into a love of gifts.

Are we offering things as parent substitutes? Are we offering presents instead of our presence? Are we giving things because we are reluctant to give time or self or heart?

Some Food for Thought, Indeed!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today is Fathers' Day

Photo from momtobedepot.com
To all you fathers, I wish you the best. Today, I started the day going to church early. The mass was ordinary, but the homily was inspirational. The priest mentioned that the measure of how a good a father you are is how you treat your wife. He also mentioned that fathers that attend church services are less likely to get a divorce and are happier than fathers who do not attend religious services. After church, David III and his Mom treated me to a Seafood Chinese All you can Eat Buffet. They have oysters, shrimps, fish, crabs and about fifty other dishes including dim sun and sushi. If you are hungry, this is a good bargain for $14.99 per person. The dinner includes soft drinks and several choices of dessert besides the standard fortune cookie.

Now did I get a gift? Sure did! Last week, Ditas my youngest daughter treated me and Macrine to the Lion King, a Broadway musical along with my beloved Carenna and to a Chinese dinner after the show. The tickets were expensive, but the show was beautiful especially the staging, costumes and songs. This gift was indeed appreciated, since I have not seen a Broadway show for quite a while.

Today, David III also purchased a fathers gift that I could really used every day. It is a 32" LCD monitor screen for my PC, but it could also be used as a TV screen. I am using it now and it is really fantastic. Watching movies from YouTube is just like watching it on a regular TV screen, if not better. Because of the cost, I told David, this monitor will also be my gift for my birthday and Christmas this December from him.

Dinah my oldest daughter wish me Happy Fathers Day by telephone about an hour ago. She said my card is on the mail. I am not expecting any monetary gift from her, since her family do not have extra money for gifts. Dinah's husband lost his job last year and was out of a job for six months. They have spent most their savings while her husband was looking for a job. Luckily as of last April, both Dinah and husband have found contract jobs in their area of residence. Hopefully, their jobs become permanent when the economy recovers.

My oldest son has not greeted me yet. It is almost 10:00PM. Last year, he did not also call me on Fathers' day, but the next day he call for his customary greetings. If he does not call tomorrow, I will be very disappointed.

Again, if you are reading this blog, I hope your day is as happy as mine, in spite of the fact, that my oldest son has not called me yet today. I will wait another hour.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Moving is an Adventure

photo from topviralpictures.com
Although, I am not in the US navy or army, my family have moved nine times from the 1960's to 2002 . Most of these moves were paid by my employers. These moves are either intercity or interstate., voluntary or involuntary. Each move is for a different reason, but it is always an adventure, filled with anxiety and hopes for a better life and new experiences . The places we have lived are as follows:
Chicago, Illinois ( 2 moves), Kansas City, Missouri ( 3 moves), Modesto, California (2 moves), Pinole, California ( 2 moves), Silver Spring, MD and Sacramento, California. .

Our first interstate move was from Chicago,Illinois to Kansas City, Missouri in 1964. After my graduation with a PhD. Degree from the University of Illinois in Chicago, I was got my first industrial job in Kansas City, Missouri. The move was paid by my employer, Chemagro Corporation. The movers packed and unpacked every thing we owned which was not much. We first rented a 3 bedroom house in Gladstone, Missouri, right in town. The family( Macrine and three kids) got involved with the local church and country club activities. The house was right in town and after two years, our landlord wanted to sell his property, so we were forced to rent another house nearby. This house is more secluded with an undeveloped land in our backyard. At the back of the property is a small creek, where our three kids love to play. We are always on our toes if they play on the creek, since we are afraid an accident may happened. An accident did happened, when our little David scrapped his knees and had to be driven to the emergency room for several stitches. Macrine was so scared ( too much blood), she did not realized she was driving in second gear on her way to the hospital. On our fourth year in Kansas City, we decided to buy our first house in Platte Woods, Missouri, North of Kansas City. The house was a 4 -bedroom ranch with a one acre of lot. We called it “The Nipa Hut”. Our Christmas Parties with the Filipino-American community in the area was featured in the two local newspapers, The Dispatch and Kansas City Star. We live in the Kansas City area for 5 years,.

Our next move was to Modesto, California. Modesto is in the heart of Stanislaus County, a part of California Central Valley- a farming community in 1969. This was a voluntary move. After five years of Midwest weather, I wanted to move to California for a better paying job and climate. With the move, I got a 20% raise and fulfill my wish to live in a warmer climate. My new employer paid again all our moving expenses, including relocation expenses. Shell Development Company also paid for our hotel expenses and help us in the purchase of a new home in Modesto, right in town. By this time we had 4 kids and decided to apply for American citizenship. It was granted in 1972. Our citizenship party was featured in the Modesto Bee- a local newspaper. Macrine at this time wanted to have a gift shoppe where she could sell Philippine handicrafts and other gift products from the Philippines. So we decided to sell our house right in town and purchase a farm house with a gift shop in front at Skittone Rd, right in the border of Modesto and Salida. The gift shop was doing well, but after five years in Modesto, Shell Development decided to close their agricultural research and move all of it to Houston, Texas. Since we do not want to move to Texas, I decided to look for another job close to San Francisco or in the East Bay.

I was lucky to find another research chemist job with Stauffer Chemical Company in Richmond, California in 1974. We purchase a new house in Pinole, walking distance to the High School. We selected Pinole, since it had a “Debate-Forensic Program” that our oldest son wanted. When we move from Modesto, our oldest son said, he will never forget the fact, that we uprooted him from his high school at Beyer where he was active in the forensic team. So his requirement was that we move to a place where there is a local forensic team in the high school. When all the kids graduated from high school, we decided to move from our 2-story house to a ranch type house in the same area. This was instigated, when one day, I sprained my ankle playing tennis and I had a hard time climbing the stairs to our bedroom. So we move to Silvercrest Rd up in the hill with a nice view of the San Pablo Bay. This time we do the moving ourselves. Since it was only about 2 miles from our former house, it was not a hard move, although we have to hire a local moving company for the heavy furniture and appliances. The expenses for this move came from our own pockets. In this ranch home on the hill with a view, we hold several parties for the University of the Philippines Alumni Association, Berkeley Chapter, when I was President at that time,1988-1989.

In 1990, my new employer, Chevron Chemical Company, decided to close their agricultural division in Richmond. This time I promised to myself, I will never work for a private company due to stability concerns. My goal was to work either for the State or the Federal government. My chance to work for the Federal government came when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hired me as a review chemist and later Team Leader, after I attended a Job Fair in San Francisco in 1990. Luckily at that time, the Federal government had a budget for relocation expenses for employees under their Special Hiring Program. So without touching anything, the federal government paid for all our relocation expenses and also help us find a new house in Maryland. We found a ranch type home in Colesville, MD, north of Silver Spring. We live there for 12 years until my retirement in 2002.

The latest move we had was in 2002 from Maryland to Sacramento, California. Why retire in the Sacramento Area? We want to be near our children and grandchildren, so at least we could help in baby sitting. Our youngest daughter and husband live not too far from us. and our two other children in Walnut Creek, about a 90 minutes drive. This move was our hardest move. We had to pay for all the moving expenses. After a garage sale, giving away some of our possessions to friends, relatives and neighbors, we still have more than 500 boxes plus two cars to transport across the continent. Since we were not sure where to buy a house in the Sacramento area, we decided to rent first. After one year, we decided to purchase another ranch type house in the city of Fair Oaks, the Eastern suburb of Sacramento. We love it here in Fair Oaks. It is convenient to shopping malls, the casinos (Thunder Valley and Red Hawk) and of course to my Pangga, Carenna. For details about our life in the various locations listed above, please visit my web site. http://theintellectualmigrant.blogspot.com

Friday, June 19, 2009

We are going to Las Vegas, Nevada, Again

Paris Hotel and Casino Photo from panamericanos.org
Next month,we are going to Las Vegas right on the Strip for one week. I was able to exchange one week of our vacation time from Lake Tahoe, our home resort to Las Vegas, Nevada through International Interval(II) Exchange Program. Exchanging via II is not that easy. Last year I tried to exchange it with resorts either in Cebu or Davao putting a time slot for 6 months,but had no luck. Requesting an exchange to popular places like Hawaii, San Francisco or Paris, France is almost impossible, even if you request one year ahead. Last week I was lucky, I got the exchange I want. Here is the surprising part of this deal. While I was surfing at the II website for availability for the time slot from June to December, I saw that several resorts in Las Vegas are available for the time slot I plugged in. Most of the resort are not in the "Strip" however, except for one. When I was surfing the resort I was interested in, it had only efficiency rooms available, so I did not complete the exchange. I waited another 30 minutes, then I saw that a 2 bedroom suite was available and I had only 18 minutes to complete the transaction. I immediately called my wife, if she want to go to Las Vegas again. She said yes, so I started completing the exchange form and as I fill the needed information, it keeps on informing me the time left of the availability of the the 2-bedroom. I completed the exchange in 10 minutes with 8 minutes to spare. What a hassle if you are under time pressure. Anyway, we are looking forward for one week of fun, gambling, site seeing and watching shows and enjoying the cheap buffet in Las Vegas. Note that I was also able to get discounted airline fares to Las Vegas from Southwest Airlines.
The article below was my write up about last Vegas, last year.

Las Vegas is one of my favorite cities in US. For gamblers, this is the city where they enjoy their fantasy of becoming a millioner. For the non-gambler, it is the city for entertainment and food ( daily buffet served in all of the casino hotels at reasonable prices). For me, although I am not a slot machine addict, I still enjoy an occasional game of pai gaw poker. For my wife, a slot machine enthusiast, this place is heaven until all her money is gone for that day. Anyway, I love Las Vegas. The two pictures were taken showcasing the MGM Hotel Casino( at night) and New York, New York Casino Hotel.
The other two photos were taken two years ago during our annual meeting( Marinduque International, Inc) finalizing plans for our medical mission to Marinduque.

Members of the Marinduque International, Inc Pre-Medical Mission Meeting in Las Vegas

If you decide to go to Las Vegas, bring a lot of money whether you want to gamble or not. Here's a video of New York, New York Casino Hotel, Las Vegas, NV.
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