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!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Eruption of Mount Malindig, Philippines

Can you imagine a scenario if Mt Malinding in my beloved province of Marinduque, Philippines erupted today?
I am not hoping it would happen in my lifetime, but the chance that this eruption will not occur is zero. Assuming that the eruption is as intense in magnitude as Mt Pinatubo, destruction of the island particularly the town of Buenavista and Torrijos will be tremendous . The five star, Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa- the tourist jewel of Marinduque will be covered with volcanic ashes and will not be available for the enjoyment of our rich kababayans from Manila as well as tourists from Japan and Korea for quite a long time. The whole western coast of Marinduque, from Boac to Buenavista sites of beautiful homes and mansions owed by the Expatriate Marinduquenos and the rich businessmen from Manila and the location of several beautiful beach resorts ( including my own, Chateau Du Mer)will be a big mess. It will probably take several months or longer to bring it up to the pre-eruption conditions that we natives thoroughly cherish and enjoy. I hope this scenario will never happen, but we should be prepared and not surprise just in case it happens. Let me explain why this scenario could happen in the future.

Mt Malindig is considered a potentially active volcano, in part because of the sulfur and hot springs in Malbog, Buenavista. It has never erupted, but because it is an active volcano, the chance it will not erupt is nil. Its unique location, at the heart of Southern Tagalog Region, creates a panorama that encompasses Mindoro, Verde Island and Southern Luzon. It is the largest mountain in the island popular for mountain climbers and hikers. It is the home of different species of wild orchids and other endemic wild life in the island. Due to the elevation of more than 1000 meters above sea level, it is by Philippine environmental law a protected area. Mt Malindig is a stratovolcano with coordinates 13.2694 degrees North and 121.9922 degrees East.

The photo above is Poctoy White Beach with Mt Malindig in the background- the most photographed scenery in the islands. Let's hope that this eruption scenario will not occur for a long, long time. In the meantime, let us enjoy this beautiful mountain this summer, by hiking to the top, bird watching or just enjoying the panoramic view at the top. In a clear day, you can see Mindoro and the surrounding islands of the Southern Tagalog region.
Note: Today, Mt Malindig is dormant. There is a legend in Marinduque, why it has been dormant for quite some time. Evidently, at one time in the past, the volcano was showing sign of eruptions by the steam and boiling water oozing from top of the mountain. The local devotees of the Statue of the Virgin of Biglang Awa ( Perpetual Succor) prayed and prayed until the oozing of boiling water and steam stopped. When the faithful devotees of the Biglang Awa came to say thank you, by kissing the feet and gown of the statue, they observed that it was wet. The Lady of Biglang Awa is the patron saint of the town of Boac, capital of Marinduque. Today, there is a shrine built by the side of the Boac Cathedral in honor of Biglang Awa. Image from diosceseofboac.org

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Are You Suffering from some Form of Addiction?

If so, seek medical help before it is too late. There are several types of addiction. The most common from my personal point of view are gambling, computer, nicotine or TV addiction. There are other types such as drugs, pornography or sex addiction. Any activity that ruined the balance of your life is an addiction. Let me discuss only four types of addiction that I have personal experience.
Image from youcanstopnow.com
Nicotine: My wife is addicted to nicotine. She is a nurse and she knows the medical implications and effects of nicotine in her body. She tried to quit several times for the last 40 years. I even sent her to a Cessation Clinic, but after a few weeks, she is back to smoking. Nicotine causes changes in your brain, that makes people to use it more and more. Nicotine addiction is the hardest to break, because of the physical symptoms of withdrawal.Among the symptoms of withdrawal are: Irritability, anxiety, hostility,impatience, depressed mood, restlessness, difficulty concentrating and decreased heart rate.
The worst part of this habit, is that cigarettes increases one's risk of a heart attack My wife knows this as a medical professional, but she can't quit. I need help to convince her to stop. Can you help? For more information on nicotine addiction call 1-800-662-4357.
Photo from highlyvisitedblog.com
Computer/TV Addiction: I am mildly addicted to it. I spent about four to six hours in the computer every day. First thing I do, when I wake up is to read my e-mail. Then I check my Face Book and Twitter Accounts. Then I read all the news in US and in the Philippines. Then I manage my eighth blog sites. Afterwards I will start writing articles if I am in the mood. By the time I could get out of the computer, it is about noon time. I know I am mildly addicted, because when we are in Marinduque, if there is a power outage for more than an hour, I become restless and irritable and depressed. Luckily, I still could control my computer habit and it is not ruining my life. My wife is mildly addicted to the Filipino TV channel. She loves watching Filipino soap operas(Amaya). For information on how to treat computer addiction, call 1-617-855-2908.
Photo from cbc.ca.gov
Gambling Addiction: Both my wife and myself are mildly addicted to the Casinos. As part of our entertainment, we go to the Casinos every week. My wife loves the slot machines and I play Pai Gow Poker. We used to go to movies, eat in fancy restaurants and attend Broadway shows and Concerts prior to my retirement. We do however, stick to our weekly budget. Once we reached that budget, we go home. Sometimes we win, but our losses are more than our winnings as expected. I know that I will never get rich going to the Casinos. We also go the Casinos because of the reasonable prices of food in the Buffet. When we are in the Philippines for six months every year, we go only to the Casino maybe once or twice and we really do not missed it. So, thank GOD, we are not GAMBOHOLICS yet ! If you know of someone with gambling problems, the number to call is 1-877-718-5543.
Again, let me emphasized, if you think you are addicted to the Casinos or the Computer, please seek professional help, as soon as possible. Do not wait until you are deeply addicted orthe addiction have already ruined your life.

The Power is within You

Image from upnorthlive.com
Last week I reached a positive step in my writing activities. Last July 22,I have my first article published (Marinduque: Ecotourism Capital of the Philippines) by www.huliq.com. Yesterday, my second article ( US Parks Encourage Tourism to National Parks and Monuments) was also published by this Citizen News Review-an on line newspaper/magazine. Huliq.com is an independent news organization that encourages citizens like me to contribute daily news and reviews on business, politics, health, science, technology, sports, arts, recreation and social issues from all parts of the world. Huliq.com will publish articles on the above topics or on any subject that in the judgment of the author will make our world more livable and better. So why do I consider this event a positive step in my writing career. Let me explain why.

I never had any formal training on news writing or creative writing. My first writing experience was during my high school days way back in the late 1940's in a small rural high school in the Philippines, when I was elected Editor of our high school newsletter published quarterly. My whole college experience is all devoted to science and chemistry so that by early 1960's, I obtained my masters and doctorate degrees in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Illinois in Chicago. Then there is the period of almost 38 years, working as a bench chemist for three major Pharmaceutical companies and later as a Chemistry Team Leader for the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) supervising the work of five Ph. D.'s reviewing new drug applications submitted by pharmaceutical companies worldwide in the field of Anti-infective drug products ( antibiotics, anti-malarial and anti-parasitic drug products). My professional career did not require the ability of writing news. However it did require, the ability to write concise and simple scientific reports, easily understood by both non-scientists and scientifically trained personnel.

After my retirement from FDA in 2002, I decided to start blogging, just to keep busy. Surprisingly, I enjoyed writing articles about my life experiences, then about my second home and island Paradise ( Marinduque), as well as other miscellaneous topics, such as retirement, travel, hobbies ( gardening), medical mission management and volunteerism. I also started creating a website for my small beach resort business( Chateau Du Mer) in the Philippines. As of today, I have 8 blog sites on tourism, retirement opportunities in the Philippines, life in general in the Philippines and United States. I have also completed my autobiography that I dedicated to my six grandchildren here in Northern California. It will be ready as a book by November. I hope that this book will be a Christmas present that my grandchildren will cherish and will always remember. In this book, I also discuss the lives of my parents ( their great grandparents) who were born in the early 1900 in the Philippines. In my dedication, I indicated that knowing their roots should give them a better understanding and clearer picture of their future.

Prior to the publication of my first article on Huliq.com, I have three articles about the Philippines that has been published by a private on line magazine publisher. Today, I have written more than one hundred articles in my 8 blog sites. Prior to the publication of my first news article, I feel just like an ordinary blogger. Once in a while, I get comments from a couple of visitors in my site that they enjoy my style of writing. One day, I called myself a frustrated writer. On that day, I learned that Dodie's ( my oldest son) first novel has been scheduled for publication by Three Clover Press this Fall. I was very happy and excited to learn of this good news, but deep inside I was a little bit envious of my son's accomplishments, since writing is not his major source of livelihood and I always wanted to write a novel myself. Dodie's first novel is titled "The Cloyne Court." Cloyne Court is a student housing at the University of California in Berkeley. As a proud DAD, I will be the first one to buy a few copies of his book.
The picture below is the garden of this student housing in UC Berkeley, CA,-the major scene of Dodie's first novel. He is now writing his second one, a thriller and suspense novel in the corrupt and fictional world of the district attorney's office somewhere in Northern California

When I wrote in Face Book that I no longer feel like a frustrated writer but a full-pledged citizen journalist, my sister-in-law from Australia commented that any thing you want, you can accomplished, since the POWER IS WITHIN YOU. With this comment I feel motivated to write more news articles for Huliq.com. Today, I finished my third article( Revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP),Philippines. It takes at least a couple of days to see if it has been accepted. Who knows someday, I may be even be paid for writing news article for this on-line newspaper/magazine. However, financial renumeration is not my goal, but the thought that my articles are good enough for publication reinforces my feeling that I am now a full-pledged citizen journalist and not just a frustrated writer/blogger.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Overcoming Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Image from realage.com
I receive recently the following article on Dementia from a friend in the Philippines. I thought she wrote the article, but I found out it was just forwarded to her by a friend from Australia. So, I do not know the real author, but I feel this article has compelling content and very important for every body to read.
If you know the real author please, let me know. There are 20 things or tips recommended by the author to prolong or overcome dementia in this article. However, I will add number 21. Quit smoking if you are a smoker. The earlier you quit, the longer your life and hopefully Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease will not be in your future. Here is the article:
"Most of us start worrying about dementia after retirement-and that may be too little,too late. Experts say that if you really want toward off dementia, you need to start taking care of your brain in your 30s and 40s - or even earlier.
More and more research is suggesting that lifestyle is very important to your brain's health," says Dr. Paul Nussbaum, a neuropsychologist and an adjunct associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "If you want to live a long, healthy life, then many of us need to start as early as we can."
So what can you do to beef up your brain - and possibly ward off dementia? Nussbaum, who recently gave a speech on the topic for the Winter Park ( Fla. ) Health Foundation, offers 20 tips that may help".
1.Join clubs or organizations that need volunteers. If you start volunteering now, you won't feel lost and unneeded after you retire.
2 Develop a hobby or two. Hobbies help you develop a robust brain because you're trying something new and complex.
3.Practice writing with your non dominant hand several minutes everyday.This will exercise the opposite side of your brain and fire up those neurons.
4.Take dance lessons. In a study of nearly 500 people, dancing was the only regular physical activity associated with a significant decrease in the incidence of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. The people who danced three or four times a week showed 76 percent less incidence of dementia than those who danced only once a week or not at all.
5.Need a hobby? Start gardening. Researchers in New Zealand found that,of 1,000 people, those who gardened regularly were less likely to suffer from dementia! Not only does gardening reduce stress,but gardeners use their brains to plan gardens; they use visual and spatial reasoning to lay out a garden.
6.Buy a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps a day. Walking daily can reduce the risk of dementia because cardiovascular health is important to maintain blood flow to the brain.
7.Read and write daily. Reading stimulates a wide variety of brain areas that process and store information. Likewise, writing (not copying)stimulates many areas of the brain as well.
8.Start knitting. Using both hands works both sides of your brain. And it's a stress reducer.
9.Learn a new language. Whether it's a foreign language or sign language,you are working your brain by making it go back and forth between one language and the other. A researcher in England found that being bilingual seemed to delay symptoms of Alzheimer's disease for four years. And some research suggests that the earlier a child learns sign language, the higher his IQ - and people with high IQs are less likely to have dementia. So start them early.
10 Play board games such as Scrabble and Monopoly. Not only are you taxing your brain, you're socializing too. Playing solo games, such as solitaire or online computer brain games can be helpful,but Nussbaum prefers games that encourage you to socialize too.
11.Take classes throughout your lifetime. Learning produces structural and chemical changes in the brain,and education appears to help people live longer.Brain researchers have found that people with advanced degrees live longer and if they do have Alzheimer's, it often becomes apparent only in the very later stages of the disease.
12.Listen to classical music.A growing volume of research suggests that music may hard wire the brain, building links between the two hemispheres.Any kind of music may work,but there's some research that shows positive effects for classical music,though researchers don't understand why.
13.Learn a musical instrument. It may be harder than it was when you were a kid, but you'll be developing a dormant part of your brain.
14.Travel. When you travel (whether it's to a distant vacation spot or on a different route across town),you're forcing your brain to navigate a new and complex environment.A study of London taxi drivers found experienced drivers had larger brains because they have to store lots of information about locations and how to navigate there.
15.Pray. Daily prayer appears to help your immune system. And people who attend a formal worship service regularly live longer and report happier, healthier lives.
16.Learn to meditate. It's important for your brain that you learn to shut out the stresses of everyday life.
17.Get enough sleep. Studies have shown a link between interrupted sleep and dementia.
18.Eat more foods containing omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon, sardines, tuna, ocean trout, mackerel or herring, plus walnuts (which are higher in omega 3s than salmon) and flax seed. Flax seed oil, cod liver oil and walnut oil are good sources too.
19. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables mop up some of the damage caused by free radicals, one of the leading killers of brain cells.
20. Eat at least one meal a day with family and friends. You'll slow down, socialize, and research shows you'll eat healthier food than if you ate alone or on the go.
Do you have another tip? I will love to hear from you.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Music Appreciation - Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite

The first composition that our music teacher introduced in our music appreciation class about 25 years ago was Ferde Grofe, The Grand Canyon Suite, Part III- On the Trail. This was not too hard to appreciate compared to other classics by Chopin, Schubert or Bach. I will consider this music more on the modern type than the standard old classic of Brahms or Ravel. Recently, I was browsing on You Tube for music for relaxation and I found this video of The Grand Canyon and the music by Grofe. This reminded me of my music appreciation class, a long time ago. If you read my recent posting in one of my blogs, I indicated that the Grand Canyon was the only one natural wonder from the US that made it to the top 28 finalists as voted by Internet Users all over the World. The final voting for the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World is scheduled for 2011.
photo from incadventures.com
If you have visited Grand Canyon, you will feel very humble by the beauty and enormous size of this park. Visitors who have visited this park will feel that this place is more than a great chasm carved over a million years through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. It is more than an awe-inspiring view. It is more than a pleasuring ground for hikers, backpackers or for the floaters in the turbulent Colorado River. The park is a gift from nature that transcends what we experience. Its timelessness provokes a comparison to our short existence in this universe. In its vast spaces, nooks and canyons, gorges and forests, visitors may find solace and peace from the hectic lives that they are experiencing today.
I am voting for the park to be one of the 7 new Natural Wonders of the World along with Palawan's Subterranean River in the Philippines- the longest underground river in the world. I hope you will do it also. Here's the video for your enjoyment.

Choral Singing in the Philippines and in California

When I was a student at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City from 1952-1955, I joined the University of the Philippines Student Catholic Action Choir (UPSCA). This is an activity that both Macrine and I enjoyed. So every time I heard choral music it reminds me of my student days. This video is one of the best choral music that I have heard so far from You Tube. Enjoy "the Prayer" as sang by the world renown Philippine Madrigal Singers.The background are sceneries of nature,animals and birds with most of the photographs highlighting the four seasons in the US. A couple of photos show children from the Philippines and India.

Macrine and I loved singing in the choir. In our younger days, we sang in our church choir on Sunday masses in Pinole, California. Three years ago, we sang in the Church Choir here in Fair Oaks. We even sang a duet of Silent Night in Tagalog at the concert before the Christmas midnight mass. Macrine used to be a soloist. She sang soprano coloratura in her younger days. Today her voice is ruined by her cigarette smoking. I sing baritone, also comfortable with tenor. I could read notes, and took piano lessons, when I was a kid. I have taken only about six months of voice lesson, but did well on my first concert singing "O Solo Mio", an Italian song and Buhat, a Tagalog song. This shows that I am not only a frustrated writer but also a frustrated singer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Crow and Bryce Canyon National Park

Two weeks ago, Macrine and I took a one day tour of Bryce Canyon(Utah) from Las Vegas, Nevada. Because of the distance from Las Vegas ( about 490 miles round trip), our tour inside Bryce Canyon was limited to only about two hours. Bruce Canyon National Park is not on the final list of the new 7 Natural Wonders of the World Contest, but it is as stunning and spectacular as the Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona), one of the top 28 finalist in the world wide contest for the 7 new Natural Wonders of the World.

There are 14 scenic stations in the Park. But our tour driver and guide was only able to stop at three scenic points, Bryce Point, Inspiration Point and Sunset Point because of time constraint. The highlight of the tour was a 45 minute walk from Inspiration Point to Sunset Point. It would have been fantastic, if we could have stayed at least for one day. Luckily, while browsing in You Tube, I found this video by Gabriel Lakey. He titled his video, A View from the Rim. However, my title above is "A Crow and Bryce Canyon". View this four minute video and you will know why. Thank You, Gabriel for this mesmerizing and spectacular shots of Bryce Canyon. The first minute has no audio, but be patient. Enjoy, relax and meditate as you view this video!

Meditation and Nature Relaxation Video

About two weeks ago, Macrine and I also visited Zion National Park( Utah) on our way to Bryce Canton National Park. The tour started from Las Vegas, Nevada. We did not have enough time to really enjoy this beautiful national park. I wish we could have stayed at least overnight and have a leisurely walk in the early morning. Luckily, I found this beautiful video from You Tube by Gabriel Lakey. He titled it, Early Morning in Zion. The photography is fantastic and spectacular. The sound of dripping waters from the rocks is so relaxing and invigorating. It is worth your 10 minutes time to view it for relaxation and meditation. Thank You Gabriel for this beautiful video. The background mood music by Jeffrey Gold and Vince Lauria is perfect. The background music is available from Itunes. More Power to your mesmerizing photography, Gabriel. I love your video of Zion National Park.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I have Blue Birds in My Back Yard

For the last three years from Spring To Fall I have bluebirds residing in my back yard here in Northern California. They nest and play in the Holly and Pyracantha Shrubs planted as screens for the small swimming pool in my small backyard.

Do you think I am wasting my time writing this article? Please continue reading this post to find the answer.

Is this common in my neighborhood ? From talking to the neighbors, I know my yard is the only one with four or more residents of blue jays that enjoys the water and food that I give them every day. Sometimes, I forget to give them bread crumbs or rice. They will remind me by their loud chirping, jumping and coming closer to the patio. They are getting so tame, that they stay only a few feet from their feeding station when I go out to give their daily bread crumbs or rice morsel. As soon as I put the food in the feeder, they would happily consume the food and bring some to their nests for their babies. If I gave them too much food, the leftover is welcome by a couple of residents squirrels in my yard.

My neighborhood is a subdivision of older homes from 20 to 40 years old. But I do not see too many birds in the neighborhood. Our house is still very close to the mall, shops and and schools which are populated with a lot of people during the day. However, my yard is the only one with two big maples trees and one oak tree that give a lot of shade during summer. This week has been hot with 5 days of consecutive three digits temperature from 12 Noon to around 7:00 PM. However, as soon as the sun sets, the temperature goes down to a comfortable low 70's. By early morning,when you wake up, it is cool with temperature in the mid 60's. The temperature slowly rises, so by 12:00 noon it will be in the 90's or as of this week were in the low 100's. Today the “High” was only 99 degrees F. This morning “Low” was 65 degrees with a gentle wind, which feel very comfortable. This temperature pattern will last the whole summer. When Fall comes in September, the normal Low and High in this area will be around 55 degrees and around 78 degrees. By late October, my blue birds are gone. I will not see them until the middle of April next year. I am not sure where they spend their winter months, probably in Southern California or Mexico.

The blue jays are also a favorite of my 6-year old grand daughter, Carenna. When she visits us, the first thing she would ask is if she could feed the birds. I consider these birds my pets. We have pets in the Philippines, two dogs, one cat and several chickens. But here in Sacramento, our only pets are these blue jays that reside in my back yard during spring, summer and fall in this beautiful Northern California neighborhood every year. This is the reason, why I spent a few minutes writing this article. Do you have pets in your back yard?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Memories of My Parents

David Jamili K(C)atague Family taken in front of their Residence in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo in 1956.
Front Row(Left to Right): Papa David, Efren, Amor, Ruben and Mama Pacing
Back Row( Left to Right); Me, Myrla, Agnes and Erico

My father, Dr. David Jamili K(C)atague, D.D.S. was born in Guimaras, Iloilo on December 29, 1905. He was the middle son of three brothers, Julio ( the youngest) and an older brother (I forgot his name). His parents were poor, but have a small property in Guimaras and Binalbagan, Negros Occidental. My father was very smart. Since his own parents can not afford to sent him to college, a rich aunt from Leganes, Iloilo adopted him. He was sent to Iloilo High School in La Paz, where he graduated salutatorian of his class. His childhood friend, Atty. Paciano Villavieja was the valedictorian. He was a freshman in high school when the three brothers of Guimaras,Iloilo change the first letter of their last name from a "C" to a "K".

He did not tell me much of his college days, but he finished dentistry(Doctor of Dental Surgery) at the University of the Philippines,Manila in 1929. That same year he passed the dental board examination (number 2 nationwide) and married my mother, Paz Barrido Balleza of Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. They resided in Jaro and built a two-story house in Arguelles Street. My father had a dental office in the first floor of their residence. After five years of marriage, they were still childless, so they adopted a son, named him Rodolfo. A year later (1934), I was born on December 20. I grew up in Arguelles street until 1941, when the Japanese-American War started in the Philippines, then we moved to Barotac Viejo where I finished high school in 1951.

My father's childhood years was very normal for that time. When he was in high school his father died and his mother remarried the younger brother of his Dad, so his mother's name was still Mrs. Catague. This second marriage produced nine children, three girls and six boys. The family resided in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental. I had two occasions in my childhood years to visit relatives in Binalbagan. My father had also mentioned that we have relatives in Hinigaran and Himamaylan as well as in Antique and Guimaras.

My father was a people person. I remember during our monthly shopping trip for supplies in Iloilo City, that he would greet and smile to every person we met along Iznart and JM Basa Streets. On one occasion, he greeted a person with enthusiasm as if they were long time friends. Afterward, I asked him who the person was and he said he does not even know his name. He treated men, women, young and old alike. I told him he would be a good politician. He could also draw freehand. His sketches and freehand drawing were beautiful. I know now that my children and grandchildren talents of drawing, sketching and painting is from his genes, since I have no ability at all to draw, paint or sketch.

My mother on the other hand was very reserved. However, although she had not finished high school, she was good in mathematics. She could add and multiply in her head. One day, a vendor came to the house and was selling some farm products. She ask for the price and the vendor said 3 for 1 peso. Without blinking and hesitation, she said here is 8 pesos give me two dozens. I was amazed in how fast she could compute in her head ratio and proportion problems.

The marriage of my parents resulted in seven children. I am the oldest( chemist and frustrated writer), followed by Erico(lawyer), Myrla (education), Agnes(dentist), Efren (engineer), Ruben ( accountant) and Amor(chemist). Agnes is now in Maryland. Myrla resides in Toronto. Efren resides in Sydney, Australia. Ruben is in Bacolod and Amor and Erico are still in Iloilo. All of them are married and have several children and grandchildren.

My mother, Paz Barrido Balleza family are big landowners in Barotac Viejo and the neighboring towns of Banate and Ajuy. The Balleza family were considered rich at that time. She was born on January 14,1909 and is the youngest of three children, the only girl with two older brothers, Modesto, Jr ( lawyer) and Jose who are much, much older than her. My mother's parents both died, when she was only in high school. So, she was under the care of her oldest brother, Modesto. At that time, Modesto Balleza family has a big house in Iloilo City, just across the street from St. Paul Hospital and one block from Assumption College-an exclusive school for girls.

My mother went to high school at Assumption College until she was a junior. In her senior year, she met my father, falls in love with him, stopped school and got married. My mother with tears in her eyes told me, that the reason she married without finishing high school, was to get away from the control of her oldest brother. When their parents died, there was no Will. Thus, the properties ( rice lands, coconut and corn lands, fish ponds ) were all under the control of her two brothers. The division of property according to my mother was very unfair. The brothers claimed the best rice lands to themselves. What was left for her to inherit were the properties in the distant barrios, rice land with no irrigation, except for one parcel of rice land( 20 hectares) near the town. Of course, she did not received one-third share of their parents properties.

When she married, control of her properties was given to her. My Dad then help her manage the rice lands and other properties. I remember, we have more than 20 tenants come to the house in Barotac Viejo, almost every week during the planting and harvest season, besides the encarcado ( the overseer) of my mother's properties. At the side of our house, we built another house to store the rice harvests, so that we can sell the rice when prices are high because it is off season. The proceeds from the rice harvests were the one that send all seven of us to college. The income of my father as a dentist was just enough for our daily expenses. His dental patients oftentimes had no cash. In exchange for his dental services, they would bring chickens, eggs and vegetables and other farm products. Later, my father decided to quit his dental practice and spend full time in managing my Mom's rice land, fish ponds and other properties.

My mother was very frugal. She would not leave a morsel of rice in her plate. I remember her say, "If you do not finish your food, God will punish you". So even today, I always have a clean plate after lunch or dinner. My mother had a strict budget and allocates 10% of the farm income into her savings. By the time, I was in college, they have enough savings to purchase a commercial property in Iloilo City. With the back pay, that my father received having served as a Dental Officer in the Philippine-American Army from 1941-1945, they were able to build a commercial building at Iznart street, just across the YMCA building and very close to the provincial capitol.

The building we called “KATAGUE BUILDING”. When my father died in the early 1970's, the building was not properly maintained. In the late 1980's, my mother died. The seven of us decided to sell the building and land. The land was valued more than the building, because of its location. The new owner demolished the “Katague” building, built a bigger building and is now a school and a bank office in the first floor. When my parents died, they have a Will allocating the lands to the seven of us. As the oldest child, I inherited the best of the rice land, the 20 hectares of rice land near the town with irrigation. At about this time, the Agrarian Reform Program was in full implementation. My inherited rice land was the first one reformed. Since,I was residing in the US at that time, I was not able to do anything. Today, the 20 hectares are now owned by my parents' former tenants. I have not received a single peso from the Philippine Government. The only land left for me was a 7-hectare upland parcel planted with corn and beans. My sister in Iloilo is now managing it for me. The rental income is barely enough to pay for the annual taxes.

Ten years ago, I visited the rice land that was land reformed. I cried when I remember the history of this particular piece of land. Of the ten tenants that benefited from this program, only one approached me and acknowledged his gratitude. He told me, he was able to send all his children to college from the proceeds of my inheritance. As a matter of fact his oldest daughter after graduation from college married a US navy man and now resides in Northern California, only about 40 miles from us. So, this is a segment of my parents life experiences, as I recall it today. To my children, grandchildren and relatives, I hope you find my parents' life-story informative.
Amor (Knitz), Macrine and I visiting the tomb of our parents in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo on December 18, 2008. The tomb has been renovated and improved with contributions from Agnes, Efren, Amor and myself about five years ago.
Note: My mother was also generous. She donated a parcel of her inheritance of more than 14,700 square meters to the local high school (Barotac Viejo National High School). Her brother, Jose also donated the biggest portion of land for the school. Attached below is the sign in front of the high school acknowledging the donation. Knitz and I took this photo opportunity that documented the donation.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Global Warming

The Coral Reefs of the Philippines
Recently,I was reading the Philippine Inquire on line, my daily habit after retiring. There was a news item that Dr. Joey Comiso, a NASA physicist emphasized that global warming will affect the Philippines more because of our biodiversity both flora and fauna particularly our coral reefs. I can not agree more. Dr Comiso said that even a small rise in the ocean temperature will have a catastrophic effect on our coral reefs which could led to a chain of reaction until all the fish and others living creatures in the ocean perish. Scary but possible!.

So what can we do as ordinary citizens? There are several suggestions from several authors of what we can do as an individual. But the most important one that I always remember is to reduce our carbon emissions, by helping clean our environment, and used less fuel. The government however, has a major role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the environment. For example by regulating emissions from tricycles, and diesel buses , requiring catalytic converters or more efficient engines will definitely reduce the pollutants in big cities as Manila, Cebu, Baguio or Davao. Polluting the environment should be punished by monetary fines. The fines earned should be allotted to the clean-up of garbage, wastes and the environment.
Here's a short video on Global Warming.
A Movie Trailer- An Inconvenient Truth-Al Gore

Is there a Caste System in the Philippines?

The Philippines is not India or Pakistan. But better believe it, there is a caste system in the Philippines. The caste system exits between the rich and the poor, between educated and uneducated, and to some minor extent between the mestizos and the "browned-skinned and flat-nosed" Filipinos.

Let me start with the clash between the rich and the poor. It is well known that the Philippines is not really a true democracy but an oligarchy. Oligarchy is defined by Webster as a form of government in which the supreme power is place in the hands of a small exclusive class. This exclusive group are the rich. If you live in the Philippines, you know or have heard of a few families that run our country as well as our business. And what about the poor? They just suffer and accepts what is handed to them, good or bad!

The second item is the clash between the educated and uneducated. The educated usually had comfortable lives, excellent social status, travels, eats in five-star restaurants and also sends their children to excellent schools. The uneducated have lower social status, do the menial jobs and if lucky can get jobs as farming tenants, personal maids, or drivers of the rich and educated Filipinos. In Marinduque, there are hundreds of tenants who work for the rich landowners. These folks were raised as Roman Catholics, but only go to Church twice a year, during Christmas and Easter. When invited to your house in town, they will not enter your front door. They enter the back door. Entering the front door is bad manners. They will not eat at the same time with you, even though you invite them. They will wait until you are finish before they eat.

On the last item of heritage, spanish mestizos versus brown skinned Filipinos. Today, this is not so blatant. But during my grandparents and parents time, the mestizos feel they are superior in terms of social standing and race. They speak fluent Spanish as well as Tagalog and are the elites of society. The mestizos would look down on the non-mestizos or even the Chinese Filipinos. In Marinduque, a few decades ago, if you are Filipino-Chinese, you are not invited or included in the social activities of the "socialites", even though you are doing well as a businessman. It is only today, that it is no longer a social taboo to invite the non-mestizos to your home for a socialization. During my grandparents time, it is also a taboo to marry outside your social class. Children of the rich, are discourage to associate with children of families that resides in the "other side of the river" ( similar to American expression of the "other side of the railroad track").

Comments anyone?

New chemical element: Copernicium is Element 112 | The Composed Gentleman

As a retired chemist this article is closed to my heart. I could hardly pronounced the names of the new elements, but the fact tells me science is not a dead subject. I hope you find this posting informative
New chemical element: Copernicium is Element 112 | The Composed Gentleman

Monday, July 13, 2009

Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Utah

Zion National Park-View from Angels Landing

Bryce Canyon National Park
Macrine and I just experienced one of the best vacation we had since my retirement. For one week we stayed in Las Vegas, NV at the Polo Towers -under our time exchange program with International Interval, Inc. One day, we took a mini bus tour which lasted for 14 hours. The bus picked us up at Polo Towers about 6:30AM. Our first rest stop was at an Indian Reservation along I-15 N, where Macrine purchased two cartoons of cigarettes tax free and we had a chance to have coffee. We also had a packed breakfast, orange juice, muffins and energy bars provided by the tour company, Sweet Tours.

Macrine at the Visitor Center, Zion National Park
By the time we reached Zion National Park it was about 10:30AM. Along the way, our guide and driver relates to us ( eleven passengers), the history of Las Vegas, the fauna and flora of the area, the desert and rock formations that made this area so majestic and stunning. After our arrival, our tour driver parked at the Visitor Center. We took the park's bus( private cars not allowed) inside the canyon, stopping at several scenic point stops to take pictures. We did not have time to walk, since we still have to go to Bryce Canyon. The bus tour took about 60 minutes. Zion is indeed spectacular. We saw colorful canyons, forested mesas, and sandstone cliffs so high and indeed stunning and spectacular views. After the tour, we went back to the Visitor Center where our packed lunch of roast beef sandwiches was waiting for us. During lunch we exited the Park via the East Entrance- the Zion Mt Carmel Highway. We passed one of the longest tunnel in the US. By the time we reached the vicinity of Bryce Canyon ( with a photo stop at Red Canyon) it was about 2:00PM. We stopped at Ruby' Gift Shop, just outside the entrance of the Park for souvenirs and mandatory bath room break.

Then we started our two hours tour of the Park. First we stopped at Bryce Point, took some pictures, walked near the rim of the canyon and stayed there for about 15 minutes. If you have vertigo, this is not the place for you.
Macrine at Bryce Point
Our driver took us to Inspiration Point( second stop) and more picture taking and views to feast your eyes with the stunning scenery. We have an option to walk for 45 minutes from Inspiration to Sunset Point(last stop) or ride in the bus with our driver. If you hiked you will have a closer look at the Hoodoo's. Macrine and I decided not to hike as both of us have already aching feet from our walk at the Fashion Mall in Las Vegas and along the Strip Casinos the day before. We waited for the hikers until 4:00PM at Sunset Point. There, Macrine and I took more pictures and again the view was fantastic, and spectacular.
The Hoodoos
We were able to take pictures of the Hoodoos. Hoodoos are just pillar of rocks shaped like human beings. The fantastic shape is a result of erosion, millions of years ago. Legends say that the Hoodoo's cast a spell on all visitors to the park. After two hours at Bryce, we were on our way back to Las Vegas. On the way home, we stopped for picture taking along Navajo Lake. We were also passing the outskirts of Cedar Brake National Monument. We stopped at Cedar City for a quick fast food dinner. By the time we arrived in Las Vegas at our condo-hotel,it was 8:30PM. We were tired but happy to visit the two most beautiful national parks in the US.

The above map is our route encompassing three States, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.
Getting there from Las Vegas: I-15N, route9E, 89N and then 12E
Going Back to Las Vegas: 12W, then 89S, then 14W (thru Cedar City) and then I-15S
I am glad I did not drive!( Total round trip mileage is about 490 miles)
Here's a short video by David Attenborough of BBC for your enjoyment.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Photo Gallery-1956 to the Present

The following thirteen pictures were taken from 1956 to the present. The pictures were taken in the United States (Washington DC, Sacramento,CA, Las Vegas, NV, Houston,TX) and in the Philippines(Barotac Viejo,Iloilo,Jaro,Iloilo City, and Boac, Marinduque)
Chateau Du Mer Beach House at Twilight,Boac,MDQ
Ditas Katague Thompson with her boss Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Ditas Katague Thompson with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, May 26, 2009. Ditas is my youngest daughter. She is Director of Census, 2010, State of California

Dave with sister Amor Katague Gregorio cutting his 74th birthday cake, Iloilo City, December 20, 2008
Our Golden Wedding Anniversary, May 8, 2007, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines

Marinduque International Members Pre-Medical Mission Meeting, Las Vegas, NV 2007

Dave and Macrine with Dr. Jim and Lorna Roscetti, Houston, TX 2007

Dave and Macrine in their Cowboy Outfits, Houston, TX 2007

Governor Arnold S. at his Birthday Dinner with Dave and Ditas, Walnut Grove, CA July, 2005

GMA ( was VP at that time) with Dave and Macrine, Washington, DC. 1999

Lea Salonga and Ditas, Washington DC, Reception for President Estrada,1999

President Clinton at Asian Pacific Meeting Washington, DC, 1994
Note: Dave and Macrine in the inset Picture on the Background. Dave in his red tie and cumber band and monkey suit

David Jamili Katague, Sr. and Family-in front of Dolce Building, Barotac Viejo, Iloilo, 1956
Front Row: Papa David, Efren, Amor, Ruben and Mama Pacing
Back Row: Me, Myrla, Agnes and Erico

Friday, July 3, 2009

Who are Your Favorite Filipino Musicians?

I have several favorite Filipino musicians. However, my latest favorite is Charice Pempengco of the Oprah Wimpry fame. Below is her first single "Note to God" for your listening pleasure.

My other favorite is still Lea Salonga of the Miss Saigon Fame. I believe she is one of the best Filipina Broadway singer of the 21th century.
Lea and Isay Alvarez singing "The Movie in My Mind"- Miss Saigon Performance in Manila

The third filipina singer that I like is Pop Diva, Kuh Ledesma. She is more closer to my generation than the other two above.Here's her rendition of "One More Try",
one of her hit songs. This was sang at the Folk Arts Theatre in 1984.

There are other Filipina and Filipino singers known over the world, but Charice, Lea and Kuh are my three favorites. Who is your favorite Filipina or Filipino singer? I love to hear from you.

Senior Citizen Jokes of the Day

Image from swapmeetdave.com
The following jokes were sent to me recently by a friend from the Philippines. I am sharing it with you. I hope that after reading these jokes, you smile, but also appreciate what the senior citizens of today ( including myself) are experiencing. Some of these sufferings are incontinence, hard of hearing, aches and pains, lapse of memory ( senior moment) and loss of libido. If you are a senior citizen and do not have any of the above symptoms, congratulations are in order. Here are the four of my favorite jokes, illustrating the above sufferings that are part of growing old.

1. Two elderly gentlemen from a retirement center were sitting on a bench and just bullshitting to pass the time. One turn to the other and says " John, I am 83 years old and I am just full of aches and pains. I know you are about my age. How do you feel?.
John answers, I feel like a new born baby.
Really! ? Like a new born baby?
Yep. No hair, no teeth, and I think I just wet my pants.

2. The boss walked into the office one morning not knowing his zipper was down and his fly wide open. His secretary walked up to him and said, This morning when you left your house, did you close your garage door? The boss said yes but was puzzled by the question. Later on, he noticed his fly was open and zipped it up and understood his secretary's question
Later, he headed out for coffee and paused by his secretary desk and ask, When my garage door was open did you see my Hummer parked in there?
She smiled and said No, I did not. All I saw was an old minivan with two flat tires.

3. Three old guys were walking.
First one says, Windy, isn't It?
Second one says, No, its Thursday!
Third one says, So am I, Let go get some beer.

4. A little old man shuffled into an ice cream parlor and pulled himself slowly, painfully up into a stool. After catching his breath, he ordered a banana split.
The waitress asked kindly, " Crushed nuts?
No, he replied, " Arthritis ".

I hope the above jokes made you laugh a little, and add a little spice in your daily routine. Comments anyone?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Internet Withdrawal Symptoms

The Internet Addict
After my retirement from FDA a few years ago,it has been my daily habit as soon as I wake up, while drinking coffee, to read news in the Internet( CNN, Philippines Inquirer, COMCAST, LiP web magazine, Facebook, Twitter etc..) as well as read my e-mail. In addition, I have to check for new and interesting articles and responses to my comments from several of my favorite blog sites. Weekly, I will also check the balances of my bank account and investments and monthly, I pay my bills via the Internet or sometimes purchase items in the Internet. In addition to the news, I usually check what is new in You Tube. By the time I finish all these, three hours is gone and it is almost lunch time.
One day, we had an electric outage which lasted for about four hours. Power outage is rare here in Sacramento, compared to Marinduque. In Marinduque, it occurs almost daily or weekly, for 30 minutes or less. If there is a typhoon it will last for a few days. Needless to say I have a generator in Marinduque, because of my resort business. If there is a "blackout", I have electric power for the whole resort.

Now back to my withdrawal symptoms: I feel depressed. I do not know what to do with myself and appears a little bit confused. Since there is no power, I tried to put on my battery operated radio. I was bored after 30 minutes. So, I started looking for magazines to read. I was still uneasy though after I finished reading all of RD. So, I decided to do yoga exercises, do a little push up and then I started to sweat a little bit. After a while I took a shower and I felt good. It was about 11:00AM and the power was still out. My restlessness started again, so I realized I was really missing the Internet. Luckily an hour later the power was on. Without any hesitation, my PC was on. So fellow bloggers, and Internet addicts, have you experience Internet or blogger withdrawal symptoms? I would like to hear of your experience and how you overcome or controlled it.
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