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, May 31, 2010

Time to Go to Las Vegas-Rooms are Free

Las Vegas at Paris-Night Time

The other day, I received a brochure from MGM indicating that most of the Tuesday to Thursday dates for the month of June is FREE. All other dates for the whole month of June are discounted. Macrine and I were allmost tempted to Fly to Las Vegas. But we have other priorities right now. Anyway, you could easily get bargain accommodations in LV during the summer months. If you decide to go, Have FUN and Good Luck in the Casinos.
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. Macrine and I love Las Vegas.

The three pictures were taken showcasing the MGM Hotel Casino( at night) and New York, New York Casino Hotel and Paris Casino and Hotel. If you decide to go to Las Vegas, bring a lot of money whether you want to gamble or not.
Here's another photo in front of the Mirage Hotel and Casino

Here's a short video of New York, New York Casino Hotel, Las Vegas, NV.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Computer's Use of Marinduquenos All Over the World

Are you a computer Nerd or do you still have a Phobia for computers?
A couple of days ago, I had a conversation with my wife regarding the use of computers by Marinduquenos all over the world. I ask her, If she could guess the number of Marinduquenos all over the world that uses the computer either via Social networking, google research, internet shopping/banking or doing business in the web, etc...
She told me her guess would be at least 1000 computer users. I disagree and my guess would be triple that number. I based my guess on the number of Marinduquenos on FaceBook/Twitter as well as the number of visits to my blogs, the last two years. As of today I have 3000 visitors from more than 65 locations all over the world.
http://marinduqueawaitsyou.blogspot.com and http://marinduquemyislandparadise.blogspot.com

To confirm my guess, Please try to answer this question without first looking at the answer.
Question: If you type Marinduque in GOOGLE search, what is the subject on the first line of the List. Please give your answer to my e-mail listed on my site or via comment on this site. After one week, I will tally the number of correct responses and will get back to you via this site. Have a Good day and continue your adventures and joys in cyberspace and in the Internet. From the GrandPa Blogger ! Note: Response from Non-Marinduquenos is welcome, Also

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vicki Belo and Hayden Kho-Dating Again, Indeed!

Vicki Belo and Hayden Kho, Jr. spotted on "Dancing With The Stars" (Screen shot from YouTube) with Tom Bergeron host of the top rated TV show in US.

Here is the latest gossip from the Philippines. Evidently, Dr. Vicki Belo was seen with Hayden Kho in the front row of the Dancing with Stars ABC TV show. If you are reading this and you are a Filipino, and you have not heard of the Hayden Kho video scandal and Vicki Belo, you must living in another world.( For original article on this scandal and background read my 5/27/09 posting in this site). The two are the most "talk" May-December couple of the Decade in the Philippines. Incidentally, Hayden mother Irene hails from Marinduque and I have meet her in person several times during the last five years prior to the video sex scandal in the Philippines. Comments anyone?

Here's the article by Neil Ramos published in the May 20 issue of the Manila Bulletin
for your reading pleasure.

The on-off sweethearts Vicki Belo and Hayden Kho are together in the US for a “spiritual journey.”

In an interview aired a few days ago, Belo expressed elation that Kho was given a reprieve by the courts to undertake the trip.

"I've always wanted him to go on a spiritual journey. I’ve been encouraging him to do so for the longest time,” said she.

Recall that Kho is embroiled in a court case filed against him by actress Katrina Halili in relation to a controversial sex video of them that he made.

Although Halili’s lawyers had raised objection with the trek, noting that Kho is on “hold departure order,” Belo insists everything was done legally.

“The judges decided to let him [Kho] take the trip, since there would be no hearings for the whole month of May," she explained.

Kho echoed the same in a text message to the press: “Atty. Palad [Halili’s lawyer] was notified of the trip.”

As she is wont to do, the 54-year old “Doctor to the stars” is backing her beleaguered 29-year old lover all the way, going as far as to accompany Kho in his trip.

Belo and Kho were seen recently in LA as audience members in the set of the hit international reality series, “Dancing with the Stars.” Footage of that episode has been uploaded on the popular video-sharing website YouTube.

The sighting seemingly confirms what everybody has long suspected – that the two are back in each other’s arms.

A few months ago, Belo vowed to avoid seeing Kho, whom she said she has broken up with. “No texting, no calling, no seeing, zero anything,” she promised.

Belo swore to stick to the pledge until at least May 20, Kho’s birthday, but to no avail. Only a few weeks later after making public her resolve, she was seen together with Kho at the club, Encore, formerly known as Embassy. She also became a constant presence in Kho’s hearings.

Belo said she simply wanted to give Kho "moral support," which the latter very much appreciated.

In an interview Kho stated, “It feels good to have somebody continuously supporting you even though you made a mistake or that you’re going though something really tough. You feel thankful that somehow you still have a friend that will stick with you no matter what. It’s a rare thing to have especially nowadays.”

The disgraced Casanova added he is more secure whenever Belo is with him.

“I’m very confident especially [when] she’s around. I’m very confident that this will be over soon,” Kho said.

Despite her continued association with Kho, who was once rated in an SWS survey as among the most distrusted personalities in 2009, Belo—as with her business—still enjoys the trust of clients.

This much was proven recently with The Belo Medical Group being cited by Reader’s Digest as one of the country’s most trusted brands in 2010. The medical institution got the platinum award in the beauty clinic category.

Belo topped the survey conducted by the prestigious magazine, which identifies the brands that Asians trust across a range of consumer product categories. Brands that scored above their competitors received a gold award, while those with scores more than three times that of their competitor, were given the platinum award.

Simultaneous with the international recognition, Belo was also featured in the Asia Business Channel report, “The Philippine Advantage,” discussing medical tourism in the region.

Meanwhile, an insider has it that, after the short stint in LA, Belo and Kho will head out to Paris, France.

Kho should be back in the country by June 7 in time to appear in court.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Are you a Facebook Addict?

I believe you are if:

1. FB is your homepage or default browser

2. You read your FB three times a day, in the morning, in the afternoon and before your bedtime

3. You open FB when you feel depressed or bored

4. You read all the chatters including all ramblings of your friends and people you do not even know

5. You love hearing all the compliants, plans and gossips and pictures of people you do not even know

6. Last in my list ( but probably not in yours) you get withdrawal symptons, if there is problem with your PC and the internet is not available for more than 3 hours and FB is not available.

I know there are other symptoms, I had not listed, so please feel free to add to the above list.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chronic Absentism in the House of Congress (Philippines)

My heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Allan Velasco as the newly elected Congressman for the lone district of Marinduque.

The following article attracted my attention because Marinduque just elected a new congressman who is not a professional politician. So, I hope Mr Velasco attends the session in congress during his term regularly and represents our province to the best of his ability.

I am shock to learn that only 20% of the congress members attend the session regularly and the rest are practioners of "chronic absentism".

This article is titled, Is Congress Worth Running for? and written by Walden Bello, published by INQUIRER.net on April 25,2010.

As a retired scientist, I enjoyed the details and comments on the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant discussions. Thank you, Mr Bello for a well-written and informative article.

I wonder how many Filipino voters know that only 20% of their elected representatives attend the congressional sessions regularly! The rest are just waiting for their pork barrel handout from the President! What a bad, bad system!Eliminate the pork barrel system. It is major source of corruption in the Philippines. Do you know what happen to the pork barrel money alloted to your district for public works, during this 14th Congress?. Here's the article for your reading pleasure:

"As someone that comes from civil society, I am often asked this question.

I do not blame people for being so cynical. After a year in the institution, I cannot deny that all they have heard about the House of Representatives is true.

Chronic Absenteeism and other Foibles

The problem goes beyond the chronic absenteeism that forces the House leadership, for lack of a quorum, to resort to various subterfuges to conduct a modicum of business. I would say that about 50 per cent of my colleagues are there mainly to get their priority development funds or pork barrel to distribute to their constituencies. This being their sole interest, they are easily manipulated by the Executive which—no matter what the Constitution says--really holds the power of the purse.

There are members of the 14th Congress who, I am told, have never once spoken on the floor in their nine years in the House. And when members do rise to deliver privilege speeches, they usually devote these to attacking enemies in their congressional districts, which is why very few members appear to be paying attention even when a speaker is trying his bombastic best to pound his absent foe to smithereens.

The subject of a privilege speech is sometimes amusing. One member once rose to denounce a local airline for not allowing his aide to check in for him, leading to his being left behind. But while outsiders might have found devoting 45 minutes to this topic absurd, it was not at all to many members. When the congressman finished his tirade, others rose to lambast the same airline for similar experiences that wounded their sense of entitlement.

Saving Grace
Yet I would say that there are some 20 per cent of the 269 members of the 14th Congress whose ken goes beyond local concerns to encompass national and international issues. These 20 per cent are the House’s saving grace, for they are the ones that on certain days—not often, it must be admitted—raise the level of debate above that of parochial local concerns and personal and political grudges

Boying Remulla once told me that the institution houses outstanding individuals that would outclass the members of the Senate any day of the week. This may not be far from the truth. Among the people who, in my opinion, represent the best traditions of the House when it comes to discussing and debating national issues, one must include Edcel Lagman and Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, the co-authors of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Extension Law (Carper) and the Reproductive Health Bill. One can always rely on Caloy Padilla, Edno Joson, Jonathan de la Cruz, and Magi Gunigundo for thoughtful interpellation. The same can be said of the mercurial Teddyboy Locsin, though the latter’s tongue sometimes gets the better of him. For impassioned manifestations of concern on burning issues, one can always count on, among others, Joel Maglunsod, Janet Garin, and Luz Ilagan.

Yet the cast of people who can argue a good case are not only on my side of the fence, that is, on the progressive or liberal side. Pabling Garcia of Cebu is an opponent on the question of land reform, but few can surpass him in his knowledge of the legal history of agrarian reform, and his skilled advocacy of the contra position certainly pushed most of us land reform advocates to sharpen our arguments and make them unassailable in the end, even to Garcia.

The Party-list Factor

Caloy Padilla once asserted that it is the party-list representatives that, with their advocacy based on issues, have transformed the discourse in the House, introducing advocacy of the interests of the marginalized that is both skilled and impassioned. There is a lot of truth to this statement, but it must be qualified. The party list groups are a diverse lot, a significant number of them being simply administration fronts that can be rolled out to deliver a yes vote on issues dear to the heart of Malacanang, like constitutional change. But I would agree with Padilla that the genuine party-list groups have, in fact, contributed significantly to transforming congressional discourse. Of course, one can still hear brazen statements made in plenary such as the complaint of one congressman from the national capital region that, “What else are we allied with the administration for if not to be able to get priority development funds.” Such statements of naked interest are, however, rare these days and advancing individual interest must now be couched in terms of promoting the “common interest.”

The Nuclear Power Faceoff

Interestingly, the measure that probably took up the most number of hours of plenary debate devoted to a single bill during the House sessions of 2009 was the bill to activate the Bataan nuclear power plant proposed by Mark Cojuangco. What many observers found unique in the debate was its being conducted at such a detailed technical level that members could be forgiven for thinking they had wandered into a graduate school seminar on the pros and cons of nuclear power. Like a number of my colleagues, I found myself opposing Cojuangco on the bill, and over nine hours our duel—complete with powerpoints--ranged from the volcanic and seismic characteristics of the Bataan peninsula to the storage of hazardous waste, the construction of nuclear containment structures, the cost of nuclear power compared to solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources, and the impact of different kinds of energy sources on climate change.

At the end of these exhausting marathon debates, with the clock striking 9 pm, Cojuangco and his opponents would often count only 20 to 25 congressmen remaining on the floor. But that such a “graduate seminar” could take place over several weeks on the floor of the House was a sign of the ongoing transformation of the institution’s discourse and culture.

For the most part, conservative interests still rule Congress. Yet change is not absent. Change is most prominent at the level of discourse, and one cannot discount the positive impact a change in discourse has in terms of making the atmosphere more congenial for a substantive program of reform. The pace of change of the institution may strike many as glacial now, but there will be times, I am convinced, when the pace of change, will quicken.
So is Congress worth running for? Yes, because it is not at all hopeless as a platform for change.

But I could, of course, be wrong".

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Elimination of the Pork Barrel-should be Aquino's Top Priority

Here is the latest posting in the Philippine Inquirer about the Pork Barrel. I hope this will be the top priority of the Aquino's administration. The pork barrel is the major source of corruption in the Philippines.

"People voted for Noynoy because he promised change. His priority, he said, is to eliminate corruption. He vowed to bring the corrupt to justice, especially GMA and her allies who helped her commit the abuses of her administration.

Which brings us back to the subject of the pork barrel. Pork is very bad not only for the health but also for the morals of the people, especially people in the government. The pork barrel is one of the principal causes of corruption that Noynoy promised to eradicate. The first thing he should do to eradicate corruption, therefore, is to abolish the pork barrel.

The pork system is an anomaly. It is not allowed by the Constitution, and generations of taxpayers have asked all the presidents to abolish it, but presidents let it stay because it is a convenient way to keep the congressmen in line. When they become uncooperative, all the president has to do is to freeze the release of pork-barrel allocations and the congressmen suddenly see the light and cooperate.

The pork barrel is a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money. The fund is used by legislators to pay for public works and other projects in their districts. But only half of the project’s budget goes to the project itself. The rest is kicked back by the contractor to the congressman, public works and other government officials down the line.

That is why congressmen go into contortions to defend the pork-barrel system. “We have the power of the purse” is a common refrain, meaning they have the power to appropriate anything, including the corrupt pork barrel.

False. Congress cannot appropriate anything that is not in the budget prepared by the Executive Department. So all the Executive Department has to do is not to include any Countrywide Development Fund or Priority Development Assistance or any other disguised fund in the budget submitted to Congress. Congress cannot legally add any appropriation that is not suggested by the Executive.

Also, legislators, national and local, cannot increase their own salaries. This is to prevent abuse. But they go around the ban by concocting all sorts of allowances for themselves.

The most abundant source of corrupt money is the public works project which can cost, on the average, hundreds of millions of pesos each. These are the roads and bridges, schoolhouses, health clinics, textbooks, social halls, etc. that rise with billboards proclaiming that “This is a project of Congressman so-and-so.” Thus, the congressman becomes another Department of Public Works and Highways. Constructing public works projects is the job of the DPWH, not of the congressmen. The job of congressmen is to enact laws. Read the Constitution and you will not find any provision authorizing congressmen to be a duplicate DPWH. Because of the pork barrel, the legislators are usurping the functions of the DPWH.

The pork-barrel system should be abolished but it is instead spreading. The Quezon City Council has appropriated P43 million a year in pork for each councilor. There are six councilors for each of the city’s four districts. So do the arithmetic. And you can be sure that the yearly pork rises every time the councilors pass the budget. This is illegal. The Commission on Audit should not allow this".

To all Filipino voters, please inquire what happened to the pork barrel that was allocated to your district from the previous administration. You may be surprised to learn that it probably went to the pocket of your congressman or congresswoman and not a single peso was spent for the improvement of public works in your province or district.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Snow Bird Lifestyle -Aren't you Envious?

Marinduque-my Island Paradise
The following article was written by Celina Macaisa and posted by www.myphilippineretirement.com dated January 2, 2010. It was titled Retiring Half-a-Year in the US and the Philippines.

When a Global Filipino Retires, which country does he choose for the next part of his life? Will he need to leave home, friends, and family (a second time)?

For decades, due to lack of well-paying jobs in the Philippines, Filipinos have been leaving their country and families behind to improve their own and their families’ standard of living.

And after decades of working hard in a highly-competitive, fast-paced business environment, and ‘you are on your own culture’ of a 1st world country; these (former) Filipinos are now prioritizing how to increase the quality of their retirement years.

Ironically, the Philippines which may not have been a great country to make a living in during their younger years is an excellent country for retirement: warm climate and culture, relaxed pace of life, and lower living expenses.

Hence, the ‘snowbird lifestyle’ of having two residences in different parts of the world, which has been practiced by Europeans and North Americans for centuries, is now gaining more acceptance by Filipinos who immigrated abroad.

The Rise of the Filipino Snowbird

“I know of another person who is doing the same lifestyle we have, 6 months in PI [Philippine Islands] and 6 months in the US. We call ourselves snow birds. A lot of our friends are envious of us.” - David B. Katague

However, although many Filipinos living abroad are aware of the ‘snowbird’ retirement lifestyle, many are not quite sure about the planning and costs needed to make it work.

Hence, this article is written to give a look on how one Filipino couple, David and Macrine Katague was able to put into reality their wish to live their retirement years both in the U.S. and the Philippines—-two countries they think of as home and where key family members live.

David B. Katague is a retired Chemistry Team Leader of the Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland USA. He is also currently a proprietor of Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort, in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.And one of the most interesting things you will learn from this interview is that beyond harsh winters and cost, ‘family’ is the driving reason and support factor for making this retirement lifestyle work.

Here is our interview with David B. Katague:

1) How many years have you spent in the US?
“[We] have lived in US since 1960 to the present.”

2) What were your top reasons for choosing your retirement lifestyle of living half-a year in the Philippines and half-a-year in the States?

“[Our reasons were] climate (even though the winters of Northern California are much milder than that of Chicago or Toronto), relatives, and cheaper standard of living.”

3) Before making this decision, did you know of another former Filipino retiree who practiced this ‘snowbird lifestyle’ that influenced you?
“[Yes], my sister-in-law”

4) Did you re-acquire your Filipino citizenship or retired in the Philippines under the Special Resident’s Retirement Visa (SRRV)?

“My wife reacquired her Filipino citizenship 2 yrs ago. I will consider applying for dual citizenship if I decide to live in Philippines permanently.”

5) How do you spend your time here in the Philippines? What makes retiring in the Philippines interesting and inspiring in terms of activities, new experiences, and living with other Filipinos?

”Setting up a small business (a beach resort and conference center (www.chateaudumer.com), keeps me busy while I am in Marinduque.

In addition since my favorite hobby is gardening, the tropical climate is conducive to growing orchids, fruits, and vegetables and other tropical ornamentals. This gives me plenty of exercise both physical and mental, an antidote to developing AZ disease.”

Also the presence of relatives makes life masaya lalo na [happy especially] during the Christmas and Easter Season. I do miss my grandchildren during Christmas while we are in PI [Philippine Islands].”

6) Practical concerns on this retirement lifestyle:
a) Are you receiving pension? How is this retirement way of life feasible?

“I have SS, private and federal pension. Since I am maintaining 2 households, it is a very expensive proposition. Luckily, I have a son, who takes care of our house here in NC [Northern California] while we are in PI.

When we are in US, I have a full time caretaker who takes care of the house and the beach resort.”

b) In articles discussing retiring in the Philippines, an allowance of US$1,000 to $1,500 a month is often quoted as enough for a retiring couple to live on. Is this still true in your experience?
“Yes, $1500 a month is still adequate in the provinces. In Manila, this amount will be probably too tight.”

c) Did you need to have a trial-run first? Or did you stay in the Phil with a tourist visa first before making the final decision?

“[No.] I know life in PI as I grew up there until I was 21 years old. The only question is where in the Philippines, we should retire, my home province or my wife's home province. Marinduque was the winner.”

7) Medical Insurance and Healthcare: In living half-a-year in the Philippines, what plans did you make for medical emergencies since U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not cover for treatment in the Philippines?

“I have Blue Cross under the Federal Insurance Plan. My wife has Phil Health. I recommend a minimum of $2000 for medical emergency.”

8) Are there any individuals and organizations who were a big help to you in setting-up your retirement life in the Philippines? What do you think the government can improve on to attract more former Filipino retirees?
“Yes, my sister-in law helped us built our retirement home, while we were still working here in US.”

“To encourage Filipinos expatriate, the government should help in relocation by exempting them of taxes for their household goods and car. Also, there should be someone in the Philippines to help them settle and facilitate their move.”

Note: Currently, one-time tax exemptions for importing personal goods (except for cars) to the Philippine is only provided to former Filipino retirees who applied for the Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV), within 90 days of SRRV issuance and not exceeding $7,000. These tax exemptions are not accorded to former Filipinos who are retiring in the Philippines through re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship. - myphilippineretirement.com

9) Advice on doing it right:

a) Any suggestion/advice for other Former Filipinos who are still evaluating their decision in living part of their retirement life in the Philippines?
“Always plan ahead. Choose a location, where you have relatives and friends [emphasis mine]. Get health insurance accepted in PI, but reserve cash for medical emergency.”
b) Last question: Are there some common pitfalls to avoid?

“Do not engage in business if you can not personally manage it or have a trusted relative or employee to do it.

Keep your mouth shut in local politics. [Get] acculturated again to the Filipino lifestyle of [being] easy going, no value of time [or different regard for time as compared to N. America] to avoid the rat race again, thus preventing a heart stroke.

Keep always busy both in mind and body, thus enjoying your retirement, and hopefully a long life.”

To summarize this interview, a global Filipino can enjoy his retirement years both in his country of birth and new home country through adequate financial preparation and family support.Why make a tough choice of permanently leaving your new home, new friends, and family in North America; or forego the warmth of the climate and culture of your country of birth when you can be a Filipino snowbird?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mothers Day to All Mothers in the World

Mothers Day is tomorrow. Advertisement for flowers and other mothers day gifts is flooding the TV, radio and in the internet. But who could afford those flowers if you are jobless and only in a retirement pension. I have an idea though to send you a flower from the gardens of Chateau Du Mer in Boac( See photo above). This photograph was taken by Gabby Del Rosario, son of Renan and Gilda Del Rosario of Muntinglupa, PI. The Del Rosario family were our guests at Chateau Du Mer in Boac last December, 2008.

Remember motherhood is the hardest and most challenging job in the world. A good mother is not only patient, devoted and loving but also a friend. I hope you have a fun mothers' day. If you are following this blog, you may be one of the many mothers that have touched our lives the last 53 years of our married life. Your comments will be appreciated. David Balleza and Macrine Jambalos Katague

Memories of My Parents-David Jamili and Paz Barrido Balleza Katague

David Jamili Katague 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

Tomorrow is Mother's Day here in Northern California. But today, Ditas and David E III are treating their Mom ( my wife Macrine) to a steak dinner ( rib eye) barbecued perfectly right in our backyard to celebrate Mother's Day. In my case, this day also reminded me of memories of my parents when I was growing up in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. Thus I am re posting part of the article, I wrote about my parents from my autobiography, http://theintellectualmigrant.blogspot.com Again, Happy Mothers Day to all Mothers in the World!

Here is my posting on Memories of My Parents dated 7/15/2009

My father, Dr. David Jamili Katague, 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( # 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 visit relatives in Binalbagan.

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 Citizen journalist), 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 his oldest brother. When their parents died, there was no Will. Thus, the properties ( rice lands, coconut 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. Below is the "sign" in front of the high school acknowledging the donation. Macrine took this photo of Knitz and I at the entrance of the high school. During my time, this high school was not named as a national high school.

(Note: A short genealogy of the Balleza and K(C)atague surnames is posted on my blog, http://lifeinus1960present.blogspot.com dated 6/28/09)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Beautiful ( NOT UGLY) American in the Philippines

Map of Marinduque-Heart of the Philippines

This is a true story. This incident happened while I was checking out from our hotel in Makati City ( Somerset Olympia) last April 10. Prior to checking out, I was surprise to learn that my VISA credit card had been frozen due to more than 4 months of inactivity. Thus, I was prepared to pay cash. The cashier informed me of my bill ( P15,000 and P7.50) for the four days. She then asked if I have 2.50 pesos in change so she could give me back P10 after I gave her 15 of 1000 pesos denomination. I look around if my wife is near, but she was out of the office, enjoying her cigarettes. I glanced by my side and saw a white middle-age man also checking out. All of a sudden, he gave the clerk 2.50 pesos and gave me smile. I was a little bit embarrassed, but manage to say thank you. I asked then if he is an American. He said, yes. I told him I am also an American, but spends six months in Marinduque and six months in Northern California every year, enjoying the snow bird lifestyle. We then exchanged business cards. This American is about 35 years old and a sales manager of radiology equipments with an American company in Salt Lake City, Utah. His wife and family had been on vacation in the Philippines for a week. However, his family decided to stay a couple more days, but he is flying home by himself to US that afternoon for business reasons. When he saw my business card, he ask where and what is in Marinduque. I have to give him the standard answer, I gave to all non-Filipinos.( I have a different answer if a Filipino ask me where is Marinduque). In addition, I told him that anytime he wants to visit Marinduque, he gets a free one night stay ( worth P2500) at the beach house (Chateau Du Mer). He was excited and said that the next time he will be in the Philippines, he will go to Marinduque. The 2.50 pesos he gave me is worth only about 0.06 cents, but it is his kind and friendly action that counts. Hopefully, I will have another client at Chateau Du Mer, soon. Indeed a beautiful American!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Political Innuendos and FB Chatter(Marinduque)

Now that election is only a couple days, political campaigns and innuendos are in high gear even in the FaceBook pages here in Marinduque. I found it educational and entertaining to read posting in FaceBook as follows: (Most of the postings are in Tagalog).
From a Candidate for Board Member addressing the Current Governor: Could you show us what happened to the 75 million pesos that the provincial government borrowed from the Land Bank?

Response of the Governor: Before you ask that question, could you ask your ally, the current congresswoman, what projects has she done for the 70 million pesos she received as her pork barrel?

Another comment from a FaceBook User addressed to the local mayor: mayor ____, before you spent too much time campaigning, you better fixed our water system. We have no water and electricity, but we have cockfights.

These chatters in FaceBook show that you can be an instant millioner if you are a politician in the Philippines, because of the pork barrel.

I also heard that Chris Aquino was in Boac recently, campaigning and somebody from the audience throw her a banana instead of rotten eggs. Is this true?

On another topic. Today, I heard that power brownouts are no longer occurring in Boac.

On a personal note, because of the drought my gardens at Chateau Du Mer are in poor shape, but my orchids are doing OK. Thanks to the daily watering of Cecile and Edwin. I am praying for the rains to come soon!

I am also praying for a peaceful election in the Philippines. I hope that the least corrupt candidates win. Good Day to ALL!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Recent Addition to Amana Forest Reserve

The Latest Building Addition at the Amana Forest Reserve

The following are some photos on the latest developments at Amana Forest Reserve owned by Yong Nieva, Macrine's first cousin. Yong recently completed another building with living room and bedroom. It was just recently decorated by Ivy, Yong's internationally famous interior designer wife. If this is your first time to read about Amana Forest Preserve in Cawit, Boac, Marinduque and curious about this beautiful vacation retreat, please read my original article on Amana, about a year ago at http://marinduqueonmymind.blogspot.com

The following photos will illustrate the saying that " a picture is worth more than a thousand words". These photos were published in Alvin Fortuna's Facebook page a week ago. Alvin took more than 200 pictures during the Holy Week Break/Outing of Yong's employees at the Romulo Cafe Restaurant in Quezon City. Congrats to Alvin for his fantastic and beautiful photos at the Reserve.

The Three Musketeers( Me, Macrine and Yong) during Romulo's Cafe employees Holy Week Outing/Break at Amana

Macrine and Yong by the Sea -not really white sands, but clean and private

David & Macrine Katague, Yong, Mems and Lemon Carrion enjoying a quite lunch of Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce cooked by Macrine

The original Cottages-note at the "Cogon" Roofs
Yong relaxing. But, where is the glass of wine? Macrine and I will bring a bottle from California, next time!
The Yoga and Meditation Cottage
The Romantic Bedroom
The Living/Dining Room Area. Where's the white sofa?
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