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 . 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!

Friday, September 4, 2015

5. Places Outside the United States that Macrine and I had Visited-England

Place #5: London, Bath and Vicinity, England

London Tower Bridge
Macrine and I went to London on a whim, that is no previous planning. I saw an ad in the Washington Times dated July 21, 1992 to see a football game between the Redskins and the SF 49'ers in Wembly Stadium, London for August 16, 1992. I immediately called Macrine at work and ask her if she could take a week of from work.

The package consists of 5 days and 4 nights at the Scandic Crown Hotel in the London Docklands, two tickets to the football game, continental breakfast daily, full day tour of London and a mini cruise of the Thames River, welcome dinner hosted by Ricky Erwins (no.32) of the Redskins, and a round trip non-stop airfare from Dulles to Heathrow including ground transfer and tour guide via a luxury motor coach for only $1,099 per person. The package was offered by Trafalgar Tours, Bethesda, Maryland.

Other tours around London are available for an additional fee. Macrine and I took the one day tour to Bath, England with a reasonable additional fee of less than $50 per person whuch included lunch and a round trip train fare from London to Bath.
We had a grand time in Bath, seeing the Roman Baths museum and enjoying a lunch of Fish and Chips.
On this vacation, we saw the outskirts of the Buckingham Palace, Westmister Abbey, the Big Ben, rode the London underground railway system called The TUBE, shopped at Harrod's and saw Miss Saigon at the Drury Lane Royal Theatre. The highlight of our tour was not the Redskins and 49er's game, inspite of the fact that the Niners beat the Redskin 17-15, three seconds before the end of the game with a field goal, but the show, Miss Saigon. Our group of 40 tourists were all Redskin fans except for Macrine and I, so we were outnumbered and received a lot of boos when we cheered for the Niners. We paid scalped prices for the two tickets to Miss Saigon, but it was worth it. Tears rolling from our eyes moved by the story and music of the modern Madame Butterfly musical will never be erased in our memory. The leading lady was not Lea Salonga, but another Filipina singer. The leading man, Junix Inocian, who inherited Jonathan Pyrce role, is also a Filipino and did a good job singing the "American Dream" song. The Royal Crescent in Bath We took a one day tour to Bath, Avon about 75 minutes train ride from Paddington Station in London. Paddington Station reminds me of Union Station in Washington, DC. However, you have to pay to use the WC(rest rooms) or CR (Comfort Rooms in the Philippines) One of Bath's principal industries is tourism, with more than one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city on an annual basis. The visits mainly fall into the categories of heritage tourism and cultural tourism. This is aided by the city's selection in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognising its international cultural significance. All significant stages of the history of England are represented within the city, from the Roman Baths (including their significant Celtic presence), to Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent, to Thermae Bath Spa in the 2000s. The Roman Bath The size of the tourist industry in Bath is reflected in the almost 300 places of accommodation – including over 80 hotels, and over 180 bed and breakfasts – many of which are located in Georgian buildings. The history of the city is displayed at the Building of Bath Collection which is housed in a building which was built in 1765 as the Trinity Presbyterian Church. It was also known as the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel, as she lived in the attached house from 1707 to 1791. Two of the hotels have 'five-star' ratings. There are also two campsites located on the western edge of the city. The city also contains about 100 restaurants, and a similar number of public houses and bars. Several companies offer open-top bus tours around the city, as well as tours on foot and on the river. Since 2006, with the opening of Thermae Bath Spa, the city has attempted to recapture its historical position as the only town in the United Kingdom offering visitors the opportunity to bathe in naturally heated spring waters. Note: This is No.5 (Part 2) on the series of articles on places that Macrine and I had visited outside the US since 1960.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

4. Places Outside the United States that Macrine and I had Visited-Morocco

Place #4: A Day in Tangiers and Morocco, North Africa

Camel Rides in Morocco

From Marbella,Spain, Macrine and I joined a one day tour to Tangier, Morocco, North Africa as part of our vacation in Costa del Sol in October, 2000. With this visit we could claim that we have been to the Continent of Africa. It was a beautifully organized tour and is described below by a writer from the Spanish tourism department:

"From the most southern point of Spain (Tarifa), Morocco is only 14 kilometers away. On most days you can see the mountains at the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar very clearly, and at night you see the lights of the houses. Being so close to Spain, Morocco Tourism is very tempting. Especially because it’s not only another country, but even another continent.

There are several options to a Morocco Tourism visit, one of them is booking a daytrip from Tarifa to Tangier( this is the one we took). There are two excursions to Tangier every day, starting at 9am and 11.00am, and cost 56 euro (ferry, guide, bus and lunch included). Tickets are sold at the office of FRS or at Marruecotur, both near the Paseo de la Alameda in the centre of Tarifa. The excursion starts in the port of Tarifa. Here you cross the Spanish border and get on the boat, a fast ferry that brings you in 35 minutes to Tangier. As there is a time difference between Morocco and Spain of 2 hours (in summer), you arrive in Morocco either around 7.45am or 9.45am.

Morocco Tourism for the first time is quite impressive. Not so much because of the beauty of the landscape (the skyline of Tangier is not very special), but more for the complete different culture and language. There are two different ideas about the origins of Tangier, the Berber and the Greek. According to the Berber legend, Tangier was founded following the return of a dove from the Arch of Noah with soil in its claws, indicating that there was a new world – Tanja in Berber language. The Greek version states that Tangier derives from the name “Tingi”, daughter of the giant Anthee. For the ancient Greek authors Tangier was “the most beautiful city of the known world, a region of gods where the men are the tallest and most beautiful that one can find.” If this is (still) true, you have to decide for yourself. Because of its geographical situation Tangier has always been the door to Africa. For a long time it used to be an important international meeting point, until it became stronger attached to Morocco".



"Once you have arrived in Morocco, a bus drives you from the port to the old town. The old town is surprisingly similar to a lot of old towns in Andalucian cities. At the entrance there is an old arc, after which you find a labyrinth of small streets, small houses, ancient buildings, a castle and small typical shops. Most of the shops appear to be there for tourists only, during the tour you’ll visit some of them. The shop owners are not too shy to sell you all their merchandise on the streets, of course for “a very special price” (which drops rapidly if you don’t show any interest). Also included in the tour is a lunch in a traditional Moroccan restaurant. They serve traditional food and at the end you’ll get a traditional Moroccan tea. It´s questionable if it´s really a traditional restaurant, as it seems to run on tourists only, but at least the food is good".

"After a stroll through the old town, you get a chance to have a look at the new town. This part of Tangier appears to be quite modern, with big buildings, broad streets and larger, more modern shops. A visit to the outskirts of Tangier is included as well. Big houses with big fences dominate the scene, so probably the rich are living here. You also get the opportunity to ride a camel, on payment of a few euros. The whole tour takes about 7 hours".

Personal Note: Walking on the narrow cobblestone streets of the Medina (Old Town) in Tangier was not easy. Street peddlers hustle you all day. They sell all kinds of trinkets that will challenge even an experienced bargain hunter like me. However, I had my good buy of the day on this tour. I saw a mineral stone ( similar to the one you see in the Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC) that aroused my attention. The asking price was 3000 pesetas. I bargained 500 pesetas. As expected I received a groaning response from the peddler( a man in his late 20's) that I am too cheap and should be ashamed for bargaining too low. I just smile and ignored him. The peddler keep up on following me until lunch time when the price went down to 2000 pesetas. I said no and stuck to my original bargain. I totally forgot about this haggling episode, when out of no where the peddler accosted me again and lowered the price to 1000 pesetas. I said no deal until the price went down to 700 pesetas. Three hours later as I was stepping on the bus on our way home, the peddler gave up. He gave the mineral stone to me as I handed him the 500 pesetas from the window of the bus. I certainly had a grand time in this haggling process.
We did visit a carpet shop, but I was not in the mode of bargaining. In addition if we buy a carpet, it will be bulky to carry around, although they can shipped your purchase to the US with a ridiculously high fees.

Macrine on the other hand is not a bargain hunter or haggler. Her best purchase was what they called the "Moroccan Gold". It is the most expensive spice in the world.
It is SAFFRON. The powder looks light reddish brown, but when you add water it turns yellow, just like the color of TUMERIC, another spice. You need only a very small amount for cooking paella and other Spanish or Filipino dishes like the ginat-an na manok sa gata (chicken in coconut milk) of Marinduque-one of my favorite Filipino dish. Saffron is very expensive, so most cooks used a cheaper substitute, the TUMERIC or "dilaw" in Marinduque.


A snake Charmer in Action

Note: This is No.4 ( Part 2) of a series of articles on places that Macrine and I had visited outside the US since 1960.

Monday, August 31, 2015

3. Places Outside the United States that Macrine and I had Visited-Gibraltar

Place #3: One Day Tour of the Rock of Gibraltar



Our tour started from our vacation resort( Four Seasons Country Club)in Marbella.
The minibus started along the Costa del Sol and ends at La Linea de la Conception, the border of Gibraltar. The tour included a winding minibus drive to the top of the Rock along the Europa Point and the Galleries. The view of the city and the strait from the top was fantastic. Since I had a fear of heights, I did not look down to see the view. Our visit to the St. Michael Caves and Underground Church and the Barbary Apes Reserve were the highlights of this tour. According to our guide they have concerts inside the cave and the sound is stereophonic. At the end of the tour there was plenty of time to do some duty-free shopping in the many duty-free shops.

We had a typical English lunch of Fish and Chips. The lunch for two cost us $19 ( US) dollars. Gibraltar merchants will accept either US dollars ,British pounds, or Spanish pesetas. Good buys are spirits, tobacco, perfumes, gold jewelries and Lladro sculptures.

Gibraltar is a huge rock found to the south of Spain. The region belongs to the United Kingdom. On one side there is the Bay of Algeciras, and on the other the Mediterranean Sea. Gibraltar borders the town of La Linea de la Concepción, part of the county of Cádiz. The Rock of Gibraltar is the most famous rock in the world.
Gibraltar is situated at the southern end of Europe with a land frontier to Spain on its northern front. It sits at the joining of the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea.


The stretch of water that separates Gibraltar from north Africa is called the Strait of Gibraltar and throughout history has played a strategic part in battles fought and won to control the western Mediterranean seaways. In ancient times Gibraltar was one of the Pillars of Hercules. It was known to the Greeks as Mons Calpe, the other pillar being Mons Abyla on the Moroccan side of the Strait. Gibraltar marked the limit to the known world.


Intrinsically linked with the sea, Gibraltar is one of the busiest ports of call in the Mediterranean. It is also a stepping stone for immigrants all over the world through Africa and finally going to Europe.

Note: This is No.3 (Part 2) of a series of articles on places outside the US that Macrine and I had visited since 1960. This vacation was part of our International Interval Exchange Package in the Fall of 2000.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

2. Places Outside the United States that Macrine and I had Visited-Spain

Place #2 : Malaga, Marbella, Granada and Costa del Sol and Vicinity, Spain

Marbella Sea Side

Macrine and I visited the Costa del Sol area of Southern Spain, Marbella, Malaga and vicinity in 2000. We spent one week( October 5 to 13) in this coastal area of Spain. This was again through our International Interval Exchange Vacation Package. This is a time sharing experience that beats them all! Not even Cancun, Mexico or San Juan, Puerto Rico could equal the sights, sounds, the history and grandeur of the Costa del Sol area of Southern Spain. Our one week stay at the Four Seasons Resort and Country Club, in Marbella was not enough. We were joined midweek by our daughter Ditas and niece, Ella Lazarte from US. The highlights of our one week stay were the three one day tours that we took as follows:


1. Granada City Tour with Lunch with a visit to the Alhambra Castles and Gardens
This tour included a short driving tour of Malaga and passed by the bull ring staduim. On the way to Granada, we enjoyed the sights of almond and citrus trees and olive plantation. It also included a lunch for two. At that time it cost us 8500 pesetas ( exchange rate at that time was 170 pesetas equals $1). To me this is a bargain, since I do not have to drive or rent a car ($70 per day for car rental). In addition, the tour guide knowledge of the area help you appreciate the tour more. We met another American couple during this tour. Most of the tourists are English or Germans with a few Americans.


2. One Day Tour of Gibraltar, including a winding ride to the Top of the Rock with the Barbary Apes and St. Michael Cave and some free duty shopping (For details see Article No.3)

3. One Day Tour of Tangiers, Morocco, highlighted by shopping and a Moroccan lunch and a ride on a German Hydrofoil yatch across the Gibraltar Strait. (For details see Article No. 4).

The Spaniards were very friendly, and very willing to help and answer questions of tourists. With my knowledge of Spanish, I felt home right away. My maternal ancestry and roots in Spain made me want to return and perhaps stay a little while longer. One week is indeed not enough to really savour the delights of Southern Spain.

The food specially seafoods( paella), wines and pastries were delicious and served promptly with gusto. The resort personnel were very helpful in arranging taxi service, tour planning, tickets confirmation, wake-up calls and other services. Someday, I like to go back to Spain and perhaps visit Seville, Cordoba and Barcelona. Here's a short video about Malaga.



Málaga (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmalaɣa]) is a city and a municipality in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,305 in 2009, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in the country. This is the southernmost large city in Europe. It lies on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) of the Mediterranean Sea, about 100 km (62.14 mi) east of the Strait of Gibraltar and about 130 km (80.78 mi) north of Africa.
Málaga enjoys a subtropical climate. Here are the warmest winters in Europe, with average temperatures above 17.2 °C (63.0 °F) during the day in the period December to February. The summer's season lasts about 8 months, from April to November, although also in December and March sometimes there are temperature above 20 °C (68.0 °F). Málaga, together with adjacent towns and municipalities such as Rincon de la Victoria, Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Fuengirola, Alhaurin de la Torre, Mijas and Marbella, forms the Málaga metropolitan area, with a population of 1,046,279 according to 2009 data.

Marbella

Marbella is a city in Andalusia, Spain, by the Mediterranean, situated in the province of Málaga, beneath La Concha mountain. In 2000 the city had 98,823 inhabitants, in 2004, 116,234, in 2010 circa 135,000.

Marbella and the nearby Puerto Banús are important beach resorts of the Costa del Sol. Marbella is a popular destination for tourists from Northern Europe, including the UK, Ireland and Germany as well as the US.

The area around Marbella is particularly popular with those who like golf. Marbella also hosts a WTA tennis tournament on red clay, the Andalucia Tennis Experience

Would you believe that Marbella and the whole Costa del Sol area is littered with Chinese restaurants? Across the bridge from the Four Seasons are two Chinese restaurants. Ditas and Ella were dying to have chinese food after their two weeks sojourn in the interior of Morocco (Fez). One day, while we were in downtown Marbella, I talked to a Chinese lady. She said there is a labor organization in Spain that imports Chinese waitresses and cooks to serve in 6-months rotation at restaurants in several cities of Spain and Italy. It sounds like the Philippines OFW ( Overseas Filipino Workers) program.

Note: This is No.2 ( Part 2) of a series of articles on places that Macrine and I had visited outside the US since 1960.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

1. Places Outside the United States that Macrine and I Had Visited-Canada

Place #1: Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler, British Columbia, Canada


This is Part 2 of a series of articles on places that Macrine and I had visited outside the US since 1960. Part 1 (No 1 to 30) were places that we either had resided or visited in the US including the Hawaiian Islands. This article is number 1.

The series will include our trips to Spain, Morocco, Rock of Gibraltar, London, Rome, The Vatican Cancun, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Cuernavaca, Mexico and the Bahamas.

One of the fifteen places that my wife and I have visited outside the US was our trip in August, 2005 to Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler, B.C., Canada. . This was in connection with another Grand Reunion of Marinduque International, Inc- a non-profit organization organized to give free medical missions to Marinduque, Philippines. It was one week of Fun and Relaxation that we will always remember.

British Columbia is on the western coast of Canada. The climate of Vancouver is Mediterranean similar to San Francisco, California. Vancouver is about 2 hours drive north of Seattle, Washington and has also a large Filipino-American community. We enjoyed Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth(Sunken Garden) Park and Exotic China Town. Historic Gas Town and the drive along English Bay Drive was great. We took a sunset dinner cruise along Vancouver Harbor passing through English Bay, False Creek, Burrard Inlet and under the Lions Gate bridge(photos above).


We took a tour of Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. The tour started from Vancouver via a 90-minute ferry ride across Georgia Strait and the beautiful Gulf Islands. Included in the tour is an admission to the world famous Butchart Garden (photo above). Here's a short video of the Butchart Gardens, one of the most beautiful gardens in the world.

The tour included a 30 minute drive along Beach Drive with views of Juan De Fuca strait and the Olympic Mountains. We also passed by the Upland and Oak Bay Streets residential areas, the Royal Victoria Yatch Club and the University of Victoria ending at the Victoria Harbor. Photo of Victoria Inner Harbor at Night-from thelifeofluxury.com

The next day, we took a one-day tour to Whistler, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The scenic tour started with a relaxing drive up the Sea to Sky Highway which overlooks majestic Howe Sound with its panorama of mountain lakes and glaciers. Along the way we stopped at Shannon Falls, one of North America's waterfalls at the Squamish Forest Reserve.

Oo our way to Whistler, Canada-Photo from www. people.uleth.ca

We highly recommend the above three places in Western Canada for a relaxing and enjoyable vacation.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Chapter 6: The Ancestral Roots of the Nieva Clan of Marinduque-Epifania Morente



EPIFANIA MORENTE: FOUNDING MOTHER OF THE NIEVA CLAN: The wife of Calixto Nieva, the founding father of the present-day Nievas and other families who may not be surnamed Nieva but with Nieva blood flowing in their veins, was Epifania Morente nicknamed Maning. Thus, Maning could very well be referred to as the "Founding Mother" of the Nieva clan.

It is not known for sure if the Nievas who were originally from Camalig, Albay and who migrated to Marinduque had any foreign blood. But definitely, because of Calixto's marriage to Epifania, foreign blood was infused into the Nieva gene pool. I was told by the old folks that Maning was the oldest of four" love children of a Spanish friar with the name of Fr. Santiago del Rosario who was the parish priest of Boac in the early 1800s. Previously assigned in Bulacan, he brought along with him his mistress, a woman (name unknown) from a supposedly good family in Bulacan who was educated at one of Manila's leading school for women at the time.

It is believed that the mother of Epifania was given the priest's middle name of Morente. The priest himself must have been the a love child of a Spanish friar with a Filipina woman since such children were supposed to be given religious surnames like de los Santos, de Jesus or in the case of the priest, del Rosario.

Interestingly, to this day the lapida or tombstone of Fr. Del Rosario may be seen imbedded on the aisle of the Boac Cathedral, the only one such in the church. So when Nievas walk up the aisle, they better make sure they don't step on it. Give it the proper
respect it deserves. For without him, we Nievas would not be around today.

This is Chapter 6 of the series on the Ancestry of the Nieva clan of Marinduque authored by Rene Nieva. Previous Chapters have been published in my blogs just recently.

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