Welcome to My Site

If this is your first visit, welcome! This site is devoted to my life experiences as a Filipino-American who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 1960. I came to the US as a graduate student when I was 26 years old. I am now in my late-70's and thanks God for his blessings, I have four successful and professional children and six grandchildren here in the US. My wife and I had been enjoying the snow bird lifestyle between US and Philippines after my retirement from USFDA in 2002. Please do not forget to read the latest national and International News in this site as well as clicking on my ads below. I have also posted some of my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes in this site. Some of the photos and videos in this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing on your copyrights. Cheers!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Where the Heck is Barotac Viejo, Iloilo?

Recently I was invited to join a FB secret group named the Balleza Clan whose members have roots in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. I am reposting the following article I wrote about 2 years ago about the town where I grew up. Comments from the clan will be appreciated.

Barotac Viejo, Iloilo, Philippines National High School. Me and My sister (Amor) in front of the Sign at the entrance of the school showing our mother's land Donation to the School

If you have not heard of this place, I do not blame you. It is a 4th class municipality about 60Km North of Iloilo City. Iloilo is one of the four provinces in Panay Island. Panay Island is part of the Western Visayas Region of the Philippines. The Visayas Region is the Central Part of the Philippine Archipelago. You may ask me why I am writing about Barotac Viejo, Iloilo (BVI) . Let me explained.

BVI is the town where I grew up. It is the town where I finished my elementary school years. It is also the town where I finished high school. In 1951 I graduated valedictorian of my high school class. It is the town where I have both pleasant and unpleasant memories of my childhood and teenaged years.

My childhood memories of the American-Japanese war occurred in the town proper, foothills and jungles of this town. ( http://davidbkatague.blogspot.com). My memories of my elementary and high school years as discussed in my autobiography , http://theintellectualmigrant.blogspot.com , (Chapter 2 and 3) also occurred in this town.

When I left BVI in 1951 to pursue my college degree in Iloilo City and later in Diliman, Quezon City, BVI was a 4th class town with less than 5000 residents. Today, Wikipedia states that is still a 4th class municipality, but with around 39,000 residents. When I left BVI in 1955, there was the elementary and high schools, public market, Cockfighting Arena, the Catholic Church, the Post office and one gas station, a couple of hardware stores, a Chinese bakery and may be 100 residential homes in the town proper. Today it is still a 4th class town with more buildings both for business and private homes. The local high school was named to be a national agricultural high school. Part of the land for the school was donated by my uncle ( Jose Balleza) and my mother Paz Balleza ( see photo above). There is a beach resort ( Balaring Beach) about 5 Km from the town proper.

When I left the town in 1955, the mayor of the town was Luis Tupas, a relative of my mother. Today the local politics, are still controlled by the Tupas family and their clan. When I left the town, my parents bestowed me a 12 hectare parcel of rice land as part of my inheritance, as discussed in my blog http://lifeinus1960present.blogspot.com. Today that land has been land reformed and I have not received a single centavo from the Philippine government. What was left of my inheritance is a 2-hectare parcel in the upland area without water irrigation and almost useless for crop growing.

So after all this years, almost 57 years, the town has not really changed. I found a Facebook Page about the town last year. Searching in Google, there is not much information about BVI. If you click on the Image Section, two of my pictures are in the first page.

In 2005, my wife and I accompanied by my sister visited our parents grave in the cemetery of BVI.Me and my wife and sister Amor at the Cemetery. Our old house (located at the back of the Post Office) was gone. The only thing that remained was the foundation stone with the engraving Dolce Building, 1952.

Tears from my eyes flowed like a gentle rain, when I saw that foundation, recalling the pleasant memories of my teen-age years. The house is gone but my memories of BVI will live forever. I wish for a better future for BVI and its residents. If you know of someone from Barotac Viejo, Iloilo, I will appreciate your comments.

Monday, December 15, 2014

My High School Years in the Philippines, 1947-1951

Class of 1951. I am seated in the front row, second from the left. In front row were the honor students and principal-Pablo Espanola, teachers Maring Barrido, Edna Lumampao and Armando Kapaw-an.

I went to high school in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo, Philippines from 1947-1951. I was only 13 years old in 1947. I was a shy and skinny teenager, but smart and had a photographic memory according to my parents. I was not athletic at all but an avid reader and maybe called a nerd in today's lingo. I graduated valedictorian of my school class at age 17. I was a voracious reader of several books that my parents were able to save from the bombing of our house in Jaro just after at the start of American-Japanese War in the Philippines on December 7,1941.

I remember listening to radio soap operas( Aklat Ng Pagibig- Book Of Love) with my family in the early evening from Monday to Friday. There was no television then. No Computers, no Internet, no Charge Cards or FaceBook. Our only two luxuries were a weekly subscription of an English news magazine, the Philippines Free Press for my father and the subscription of a local Magazine for my mother named Yuhum( Smile) published in the dialect called HILIGAYNON. The Yuhum contains episodes of novels in the Ilonggo dialect that the whole family anticipates eagerly week by week. As soon as we received the magazine, my mother has the first priority. After she finished she will pass the magazine to me. It is only after, I finished reading the magazine that it is free to all other members of the family. Our maids and helpers were the last in the order of priority for readership.

The Philippine Free Press was my father's favorite news magazine. I remember reading all the weekly news, the fight for democracy in the country, corruption and other political issues and subjects during that time. Yes, I remember there was corruption in the Philippines at that time, but not as blatant and rampant as of today with the pork barrel scams and several others corruption activities of the Pinoy politicians.

I was also lucky to get a subscription of a monthly US Magazine called The Farm Journal published in Iowa, USA. In one issue, I sent a letter to the Editor, describing how I enjoyed the journal specifically an article on gardening and fruit trees culture. I was surprised my short letter was published. Along with the notification of publication, I received a $1 cash payment. This was the first dollar I have earned in my life. Needless to say, I was so proud receiving that one dollar, I brag about it in my high school class. All my classmates were envious of my accomplishment and were very curious how I was able to do it. I did not spend the $1 but keep it in my scrapbook. At that time the dollar to peso exchange was still 1 to 2. My guess was that the value of that one dollar at that time is now equivalent to $50 today.

Another activity that I treasured was reading comics magazine of Batman, Superman and the Classics such as Les Mesirables, Don Quixote, The Last of the Mohicans and Tale of Two Cities. I have a collection of these comics that I treasured. When I left for college in Diliman, Quezon City, I placed it in a trunk with my photos and scrapbook. Four years later, after I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, I went back to Iloilo and my trunk was gone. I have no idea where it went. My father was supposed to know where it was but he died that year.

The memories during my high school years when there were no computers, television, Facebook, YouTube or charge cards, I will always treasure. Today, I often wonder how I survive those years without today's amenities and luxuries and technological advances.

Part of my coin collection during the late 1940's.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Turning Eight Decades Next Week

David B Katague with spouse Macrine and the 4D's. From Left to Right-Dinah, Ditas, Dodie and David III, Walnut Creek, California, Thanksgiving Day, 2014

Next Saturday, December 20, I will turn 80 years old. I am asking myself if I am successful and if so, what have I contributed to society and to the world as a whole. Personally, I feel very successful and very thankful to God for his blessings in my attainment of eight decades of a happy life( both with my personal and professional accomplishments*). My contributions to the world is summarized in the last paragraph of this blog.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, a simple party is planned. My oldest daughter, Dinah is coordinating the menu and details. It will be from 1 to 5PM at our residence here in Fair Oaks. A Thanksgiving mass has also been scheduled on December 18, at 7:00 AM at St. Mel's Catholic Church. A gift is not required, but a side dish will be welcome.

The main course for the party are honey baked ham, pancit (noodles) for long life, and dinugu-an ( blood pudding) and puto ( rice cake). Side dishes will be chicken macaroni salad, ambrosia fruit salad and a birthday cake/ice cream for desserts. There will be champagne for lovers of alcoholic drinks as long as you promise not to drive after the party.

For entertainment, my youngest granddaughter, Carenna Katague Thompson promise to serenade me with a new song that she had learned recently from her voice, guitar and piano lessons. Incidentally, 11-year old Carenna will be the lead actress in a children musical, The Rabbit Velveteen scheduled for February 6 to 8. The musical is presented by the Sacramento Theatre Company. I am indeed a very proud grandpa of Carenna's musical and acting accomplishments.
The following articles are excerpts from my autobiography previously posted in my blogs.



Last week, I had a chance to chat( via FB) with a former student who was a Pre-Med at UP Diliman, Q.C in 1957. He is now retired and had been a successful surgeon in the US for many years. For those of you who have not read my autobiography, I did taught Chemistry courses to Pre-Med, Nursing and Engineering students as Instructor in Chemistry, UP Diliman from 1956-1959.

During our chat about retirement and our professional careers, he asked me If I had a formula for success. I thought for a moment and replied: Patience, Common Sense, Hard Work and Luck. The above four words did indeed apply to my success in my professional career. The first three words I used to obtain my Master and Doctorate degrees in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Illinois. Luck when I become the Chemistry Team Leader ( first line Supervisor) for the Division of Ant-Infective Products, FDA when my supervisor was transferred to another division.

I am re posting today, excerpts from my article "The highlights of my Professional Career in Chemistry" just in case you have not read it in my blogs.

My picture used by Stauffer Chemicals in their Advertisement Brochures, 1981

In my more than 40 years of professional career, I have experienced both working rank and file, as well as supervising the work of subordinates. I have worked in four private firms and the Federal Government, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where I retired. I enjoyed the challenges and difficulties of both types of job situations. This is the highlights of my work experience story.

My first job after completing my doctorate degree was a Chemist for Chemagro Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri. It was a subsidiary of Bayer Corporation, a German conglomerate. I worked for the analytical chemistry department comprised of about fifty people; half that number was either chemists or biologists. My specific task was to develop analytical methods for the detection of pesticide residues in plant and animal tissues. I worked on my own, similar to six other bench chemists, and we all reported to the same supervisor.

The firm sponsored my visa conversion from a student to a permanent resident, and I was able to legally work and reside in the United States with my family. The company generously took care of its employees. At the end of each successful year, everyone received a 13th month salary bonus. The employees and their families celebrated wonderful annual Christmas parties in a downtown Kansas City hotel, with dancing and free drinks for the whole night.

As much as I enjoyed and loved working for Chemagro for five years, I found a new job which offered a substantially higher pay. Due to my exemplary work performance, my supervisor lobbied for me to stay with the company. I had to turn him down because they could not match the package presented by my new employer. It was also a chance for me and my family to move and live in the US west coast, where the mild winter climate is bearable compared to the Midwest.

My next job was at the agricultural research division of Shell Development Company in Modesto, California. I was a Research Chemist, and again I worked individually, same as five other chemists who all reported to a supervisor. My specific duty was similar to my previous job. I worked for them for five years, until the company decided to get out of the pesticide business. They closed their research facility affecting the jobs of more than 200 employees.

My third industrial job was with the agricultural research division of Stauffer Chemical Company, located in Richmond, California. I was a Senior Research Chemist doing the same project as my two previous jobs. I worked for twelve continuous years for the company, with outstanding annual job performance. I became a Principal Research Chemist, the highest attainable non-supervisory position.

One day in 1986, my supervisor informed me that my job had been eliminated, and I had one day to vacate the facility. It was the most dreadful lay off experience in my life. I felt anger, sadness and humiliation to be dismissed from work with one day notice, after all the years of hard work invested for the company. This was an unforgettable incident and was the gloomiest point in my professional career.

My supervisor was kind and allowed me to take my time to pack up my belongings. It took me two days to clear up my workplace. I was provided clerical help and office space, in preparation to look for another job, such as updating resumes, and using the computer and copy machine. I did received six weeks of separation pay plus benefits.

Fortunately, with the help of a friend who is a Church parishioner, I found another job thirty days after leaving Stauffer Chemical Company. He hired me as a senior research chemist and as a group leader with two technicians to supervise. It was in the same field as my expertise in my previous three jobs spanning the last twenty one years. My new employer was Chevron Chemical Company, and which was located in the same city as my former employer.

This job gave me the introduction and basic knowledge of managing the work of subordinates. I worked for Chevron Company for four and a half years. The company decided to consolidate their research facilities in Texas, and lay off all its research employees. This time I had enough distress and agony from working, and eventually getting laid off from several private companies. To avoid going through any more miserable layoffs, I made a vow that I would never again work for a private company.

In the three private companies I worked for, I was able to publish scientific journals for some of the research studies and analytical methods which I developed for the respective companies of Chemagro, Shell Development and Stauffer Chemical Company.

After deciding and making a vow to avoid working in the private sector, I made my new goal which was either to work for the state of California, or the Federal government in Washington, D.C. Four months after I lost my job in Chevron, I was lucky and joyful to be hired by the Food and Drug Administration as a review chemist in the fall of 1990.

In 1994 I was promoted as an Expert Research Chemist with a GS-14 rating. My expertise was on Anti-malarial and Anti-parasitic drug products. In 1997, I was again promoted to Chemistry team leader, supervising the work of six Chemistry reviewers including five with doctorate degrees.

As team leader, I was responsible for prioritizing, assigning, and assuring the technical accuracy of all chemistry, manufacturing and control issues for all new drug applications submitted to the Division of Anti-Infective Drug Products, Center of New Drugs.

In 1998, I won the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Award. The citation reads, “For outstanding accomplishments in fostering the objectives of the EEO Program by hiring minorities and encouraging their professional growth while providing excellent leadership.” I have received numerous certificates of appreciation, awards in leadership and communications, commendation for teamwork and excellence in the accomplishment of the FDA mission. I have also received several letters of appreciation from private industry for my review work.

Managing the work of others has its challenges. Moreover, it develops one’s skill in handling and developing people, and the compensation rewards and benefits are better. Due to additional duties, responsibilities and leadership, supervisory work can be more stressful than working as a subordinate. However, supervisory jobs give one more personal growth and satisfaction, based on my personal experience. My work in FDA as a team leader managing the work of six scientists had been the happiest and rewarding work experience in my career in Chemistry.



While looking at my old files, I found a copy of the nomination package( over 50 pages of documentation) that was sent by the Philippine Embassy, Washington, D.C. to Office of the President of the Philippines in 2002 for the Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organization Overseas. I was nominated for the Pamana Award in Chemistry. My package was approved and endorsed by the Philippine Embassy but was denied by Office of the President, Malacanang Palace in 2002. I was disappointed and irked because I was never given a formal letter of its denial, thus it reminded me of the above selfie photo that self destruct.

I have completely forgotten the above event in my professional life until today. I am comparing this event in my professional career as a selfie that self destruct or a pregnancy that was conceived ( endorsed by the Philippine embassy in Washington DC) but was aborted ( denial by the Powers in Malacanang in 2002).

In the above nomination package I have also listed several awards that I have received during my professional career from 1957 to 2002. My four most memorable, prestigious and non-aborted awards with no monetary value are as follows:

1. In 1990 I donated books and technical journals worth more than $1500 to the University of the Philippines Library. This donation was facilitated by the Commission of Filipino Overseas and accepted by the Executive Director, Alfredo Perdon. Perdon wrote me a Thank You letter as follows: " Your donation is a manifestation of the willingness of Filipino overseas to be actively involved in the development efforts of the country. Such participation through the commission's " Lingkod Sa Kapwa Pilipino or Linkapil serves to strengthen the linkages between Filipino overseas and their countrymen. Attached is the Linkapil Certificate of Acceptance along with the picture of the turnover ceremony at the UP library on May 23, 1990.

2. In 1998, I won the Equal Employment Opportunity Award (EEO) at the Food and Drug Administration. I received a plaque with the following citation: It reads, " For outstanding accomplishments in fostering the objectives of the Equal Employment Opportunity Program by hiring minorities and encouraging their professional growth while providing excellent leadership".

3. In 1995, I was elected (to a 5-year term) to the United States Pharmacopeia(USP) Council of Experts in the Standards, Antibiotics and Natural Products Divisions. As an elected member, I was responsible for establishing standards of identity, safety, quality, purity of drug substances and drug products as well as in-vitro and diagnostic products, dietary supplements and related articles used in health care. In March 2000, I was reelected to another 5 year term to the USP Council of Experts.

4. Last but not least, in l998, I received an Outstanding Filipino-American Senior Citizen Award in Chemistry, Science and Research. The medal and plaque was presented by Philippine Centennial Festival Committee of the Philippine American Foundation of Charities in Washington D.C.

5. My last award had monetary value: In 1986, I was awarded a grant to participate in the Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Nationals (TOKTEN) program for two weeks at the University of the Philippines Natural Science Research Institute, Diliman, Q.C. The program provided for free round trip transportation from US to the Philippines and back plus a generous per diem in dollars for two weeks. The program was coordinated by the United Nations Development Program in New York and in Manila. Today the program is now known as the Balik-Scientist Program.

The summary of my Pamana Award in Chemistry nomination package reads:

Dr Katague is a trailblazer in the field of Chemistry and Drug Regulation. He is the first Filipino American to attain the position of Team Leader and Expert in the Center of New Drugs, Food and Drug Administration. He is also the first Filipino-American to be elected for two 5 year terms( 1995-2005) to the United States Pharmacopeia Council of Experts since its inception in 1820. Dr Katague's drive and energy to succeed is a representation of the Filipino people's talent and passion for excellence. He has shown that Filipinos can contribute significantly to the advancement of science, therefore help the world a better and safer place by insuring that only safe and better quality drugs are approved and marketed.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Time for Some Ilonggo Folk Songs

VToday and the next day will be a rainy, windy and stormy day here in Northern California. It is time for some Pinoy Folk songs.




The butterfly is a common subject in many Philippine folk dances where the beautiful spread wings is a metaphor of many equally beautiful things like good looks, a delicate kandungga (big triangular scarf) decoration, a blossoming flower, a colorful woman's shawl or a dressed-to-kill woman going to church.

The "Ohoy! Alibangbang" from Negros and "Ining Alibangbang" from Sorsogon are song dances similar to the "Ay, ay Alibangbang!" and "Alibangbang Pula" both from Eastern Samar .

Handsome butterflies may also go courting from flower to flower as in the "Mariposa" of Pangasinan or the "Kuykuyappo" among the Isinay people of Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya.

Among the Christianized Gaddang and the Yogad people of Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya, the "Balamban" either mimics butterflies or a flying fish.

Tagalog Translation of "Ohoy Alibangbang"
Contributed by Youtuber Ezrach:

OH! PARU-PARO
Trala-lala-lala lala-lala-lala. . .
Oh! Paru-paru kung ikaw ay lumipad
Iyong alalahanin ang lahat ng mga bulaklak
Baka sa huli'y ikaw ay makalimot
Kawawang Gumamela, sa lupa Ahay! mahulog.

Oh! Paru-paru kung ikaw sumipsip ng bulaklak
Iyong alalahanin ang daan na dadaanan mo
Baka sa bandang huli, matinik itong paa mo
Kaawa-awang katawan, masayang lang ang dugo mo.
Trala-lala-lala lala-lala-lala. . .

Here's my rough English Translation

Oh Butterfly, trala-lala-lala-lala-lala
Oh Butterfly When your are flying
Just remember all the flowers
Perhaps later you may forget
Poor Hibiscus(Gumamela) will drop on the ground.

Oh Butterfly sucking the nectar of the flowers
Remember the path of the roads you have pass by
Perhaps later, you feet will get pinch by thorns
I pity your body since you just wasted your blood.
Trala-lala-lala lala-lala-lala..

SOURCE OF INFORMATION:
The Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia of Philippine Arts.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Tango and Memories of My Father

When I was a teenager growing up in the 3rd class town of Barotac Viejo, Iloilo, Philippines, My father used to teach us (me and my cousins) how to dance the tango, paso doble, the rumba and the waltz. This music does reminds me of my teenager days. This is one of the many reasons, why my favorite TV shows today are Dancing with the Stars(DWTS) and So You Think You Can Dance(SYTYCD).

I hope you enjoy the following video(s) and related music as much as I do.
Do not forget to view the related videos in this set. I recommend the Tango with the La Cumparsita music. This music was the first tango music my father used to teach us. Pleasant memories indeed!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Handel's Hallelujah and Merry Christmas to All

University of the Philippines Student Catholic Action Choir, 1952
This song reminds me of my student days at the University of the Philippines in the early 1950's. This song is one of the songs the University of the Philippines Student Catholic Action Choir sang in the 1952 Concert. Both Macrine and I will never forget those memories of our student days in UP, Diliman, Q.C., Philippines from 1951-1955. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!
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