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!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

30. Places in the US that Macrine and I had Visited-Seattle, Washington

The Space Needle
I attended another American Chemical Society (ACS) Meeting in the early 1990's. The main guest speaker was Bill Gates of Microsoft. His topic was of course the Future of Computers. It was a standing room only session and this meeting was one of the most informative meeting that ACS has sponsored for it members. I stayed in a
Victorian downtown hotel (Mayflower Park Hotel) adjacent to a shopping mall(West Lake Center) and of course StarBucks. I eat lunch at the revolving restaurant at the Space Needle and viewed the salmon runs ( Ballard and Chittenden Locks) facilities, went to the fish market(Pike Place) and did a little souvenir shopping in the adjacent mall to my hotel.
Salmon Jumping Upstream to Spawn and Die

Do you know that Seattle is the headquarters of StarBucks and Bill Gates(the riches man in the world) resides in a multi-million mansion in the Seattle suburb of Medina?

Here's a description of Gates residence in Medina, Washington. The world's richest man and family lives in the exclusive suburb of Medina, Washington, in a huge earth-sheltered residence in the side of a hill overlooking Lake Washington. The residence encompasses more than 66,000 square feet which is equal to 1.5 acres.The major rooms include 7 bedrooms, 24 bathrooms, six kitchens, and six fireplaces. The address of the mansion is 1835 73rd Ave NE, Medina, WA 98039.

The Residence is a very modern, 21st century residence in the "Pacific lodge" style, with advanced electronic systems everywhere & great interior design. In one respect though it is more like an 18th or 19th century mansion, It has a large private library with a domed reading room. While it does have a classic flavour, It has many unique qualities. Among the many genius marvels that are integrated into the home for the latest in modern conveniences are revolving works of art.

The floors are pressure sensitive, at any given time family member or security can know who is in the residence by the weight of their footsteps. Lights would automatically come on when you came in. Speakers would be hidden beneath the wallpaper to allow music to follow you from room to room. Portable touch pads would control everything from the TV sets to the temperature and the lights, which would brighten or dim to fit the occasion or to match the outdoor light.

Visitors to the residence are surveyed and given a microchip upon entrance. This small chip sends signals throughout the home, and a given room's temperature and other conditions will change according to preset user preferences. In 2009, property taxes on the home were reported to be US $1.063 million on a total assessed value of US$147.5 million.
Bill Gates Home of the Future
Inside this luxury home plan you will find Swimming pool size 17 × 60 foot (5.1 × 18.2 metre). The 17-by-60-foot swimming pool has an underwater music system and a floor painted in a fossil motif. Swimmers can dive under a glass wall and emerge outdoors by a terrace. Locker room off the pool has four showers and two baths.

Towering Douglas fir beams support the stainless-steel roof and are surrounded by walls of glass, concrete, and stone. While much of the residence is buried into the hillside, windows on the lakefront side provide views of Seattle to the west. There are 84 steps down from the entrance to the ground floor. The vertigo-inclined can take an elevator.

The Theater with apx 20 seat, Size: 1,500 ft. The 20-seat art deco theater is outfitted with plush chairs, couches, and a popcorn machine. The Screen is HDTV capable. The Library, Size: 2,100 sq. ft. The ornate, paneled library has a domed reading room with oculus (light well), fireplace, and two secret pivoting bookcases, one containing a bar. It's the fitting home for Leonardo da Vinci's 16th-century notebook, the Codex Leicester, which Gates bought for $30.8 million.
Aerial View of Bill Gates Residence in Medina, WA
The Formal dining room, Size: 1,000 sq. ft. Up to 24 guests can dine by the fireplace while enjoying the sweeping view from the third level. Nearby commercial-grade kitchen is 39 feet by 23 feet. The Reception hall capacity more than 150 people at a time,Size: 2,300 sq. ft.

Partly below ground, the reception hall can seat 150 people for a sit-down dinner or hold 200 for a cocktail party. A 6-foot-wide fireplace, faced in limestone, commands one wall. Another wall is dominated by a 22-foot-wide video display made up of 24 rear-projection television monitors, each with a 40-inch screen. A second commercial-grade kitchen serves the reception hall.

The Exercise room, Size: 2,500 sq. ft.It includes sauna, steam room, separate men's and women's lockers, and a trampoline room with a 20-foot ceiling.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the median American residence size is slightly more than 2,000 square feet. Microsoft founder residence is more than 30 times that size. Inside the Garage, you'll find a 1999 Porsche 911 Convertible and 1988 Porsche 959 Coupe. Steven Ballmer drives a 1998 Lincoln Continental. In fact, due to the 959’s questionable emissions and unknown crash ratings, it took a federal law signed by President Clinton to legally drive his 959 on American roads.

Its every One's Curiosity to know how world's richest man lives, Having net worth over 57 Billion Dollars.

I would not mind residing in a residence similar to Bill Gates. Just wait, If I win the Lotto, I will built one better than the Gates residence in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.

Here are two videos on some tourists attraction in the Seattle area.

Note: This is No.30, last of the series of articles on places that Macrine and I had visited in the US since 1960. I hope you enjoy this travel series. Part 2 will be places that we have visited outside the US.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

29. Places in the US that Macrine and I had Visited-Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Macrine and I have visited this historic site a couple of times when we had visitors from the Philippines when we were still residing in Maryland (1990-2002). This is a must see place for history enthusiasts and students. It is only about 75 minutes drive from our residence in Colesville, MD. The drive from Colesvilles, Maryland to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is very scenic with rural farms along the local highway.

Gettysburg Battlefield was the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the borough of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the county seat of Adams County, which had approximately 2,400 residents at the time. It is now the site of two Federally owned and administered areas: Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The Gettysburg Battlefield Historic District partially overlaps and partially protects other privately held properties.

Gettysburg, home to the Battle of Gettysburg (1863) of the American Civil War, draws in large numbers of tourists every year to visit the historical sites around the small community as well as the battlefield itself. Gettysburg has many activities and tours to offer to vacationers and tourists that are interested in the Gettysburg area and the history of the community and the battle. A narrated tour via double-Decker bus and tours of the Jenny Wade house are two examples. Ghost tours are also popular with tourists, profiling various locations reported to be haunted. One of the most popular times to visit Gettysburg is in the Summer and early Fall months, about June through October.

A popular attraction in Gettysburg is the reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg which is held every summer for the three days around the Fourth of July. Events include tours, ghost stories and reenactments.

The Dobbin House Tavern, which is one of the most famous restaurants in Gettysburg, was once home to Reverend Alexander Dobbin in 1776. The restaurant has since been authentically restored and provides an ambiance that was once present during the historic days of Gettysburg. The Dobbin House is lit by candles while the wait staff serves authentic foods from two centuries ago dressed in Civil War attire. Other historical attractions are the hotels and bed and breakfasts around the borough. The Gettysburg Hotel is a popular destination for tourists because of all the history that the hotel holds. The Gettysburg Hotel is located in the heart of downtown Gettysburg, within walking distance to historical sites, restaurants and shopping.

We drove around the military park and cemetery with a rented cassette from the Parks Office discussing the historical events that took place in that 3 day battle of July 1-3, 1863 during our first visit in the mid 1990's. On the second visit in 2001, we learned that the movie in the Visitor's Center( Birth of a Nation) shown prior to your tour is more informative than the audio cassette.

Note: This is No.29 of a series of articles on places that Macrine and I had visited in the US since 1960.

Monday, January 25, 2016

28. Places in the US that Macrine and I had Visited-Sugar Land, Texas

Dave and Macrine as Cowboy and Cowgirl in Sugar Land, Texas

In the summer of 2007, Macrine and I attended a Grand Reunion of Marinduque International,Inc (MI) held in Sugar Land, Texas. We flew to the Houston International Airport and was picked up by a member of MASTEG, and delivered to our hotel.

During the day, we had meetings discussing preparation for our next medical mission to Marinduque (www.marinduqueinternational.org), but in the evening we were free to see the sights of the surrounding area. We did not see much of Houston and did not feel like getting out of our hotel, because it was so hot and humid outside just like the Philippines in the months of April and May. Some of our members went to San Antonio for a day tour. But since I had been to San Antonio, we did not joined the tour. We did have a night tour of Houston at night similar to the video below.

Sugar Land is a city located in Fort Bend County in the U.S. state of Texas within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in Texas, having grown more than 158 percent in the last decade. In the time period of 2000–2007, Sugar Land also enjoyed a 46.24% job growth. In 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the city's population was 79,943, with a median family income of $110,327 and a median home price of $272,151.

Founded as a sugar plantation in the mid-19th century and incorporated in 1959, Sugar Land is the largest city and economic center of Fort Bend County.

The city is the third-largest in population and second-largest in economic activities of the Houston area.

Sugar Land is home to the headquarters of Imperial Sugar and the company's main sugar refinery and distribution center was once located in this city. As a nod to this heritage, the Imperial Sugar crown logo can be seen in the city seal and logo. The city also holds the headquarters for Western Airways and a major manufacturing facility for Nalco Chemical Company. In addition, Sugar Land has a large number of international energy, software, engineering, and product firms.

The Town Center

Sugar Land has the most master-planned communities in Fort Bend County, which is home to the largest number of master-planned communities in the nation—including First Colony, Sugar Creek, Riverstone, New Territory, Telfair, and many others.

Sugar Land holds the title of "Fittest City in Texas" for the population 50,000–100,000 range, a title it has held for four consecutive years.

In 2006 CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Sugar Land third on its list of the 100 Best Cities to Live in the United States.

In 2007, CQ Press has ranked Sugar Land fifth on its list of Safest Cities in the United States (14th annual "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan American").

In 2008, Forbes.com selected Sugar Land along with Bunker Hill Village and Hunters Creek Village as one of the three Houston-area "Top Suburbs To Live Well", noting its affluence despite its large population.

Note: This is No. 28( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that Macrine and I had visited in the US since 1960.

Monday, January 18, 2016

College Memories-UP Diliman, 1953-1957

Typical and Classic photo of a Monthly Social Dance, UP, Diliman. Can you guess the names of the couple dancing?

Excerpts from the Narra Hall Residence Hall, UP Diliman Face Book Page:

IN RESPONSE to the query of Ricky Sasil and others regarding the activities in the mid 1950's, I searched in my souvenir files today. Here's some of the activities I have attended besides the monthly socials from the souvenir programs in my files
1. A Song Recital of Helen Traubel, world-famous soprano, sponsored by the Conservatory of Music and the President's Committee on Culture, January 16, 1953
2. A Garden Party in honor of the visiting members of the International Olympic Committee and the Heads and members of the Delegation to the second Asian Games, Kawilihan, Mandaluyong, Rizal, May 9, 1954
3. Lecture Forum, The Intellectual and his Faith, sponsored by the Iota Eta Sigma and conducted by Rev Horacio de la Costa, S.J., July 24, 1953
4. A song recital of Aurelio Estanislao, baritone with the UP Symphony Orchestra, conductor, Ramon Tapales and Accompanist Regalado Jose, January 12, 1955
5. A dramatic presentation by the UPSCA Dramatic Guild, The Woman of the House. directed by Alejandro Casambre. Some of the actors were
Isabel Seviila, Letty Tison, Violeta Mariano and Rudy Aluyen, Feb 22, 1955. Other names associated with this play were Basilisa Manhit, Dionisia Rola, Conception Dadufalza, Angelina Villanueva and Ma Luisa Lorenzo,
I have attended several other plays and dances, but the above 5 I will always remember. Again may 2016 bring you Prosperity and Peace!

Pablo Benedictos and 2 others
Oscar Llorente Evangelista Thanks for sharing David

Ricky Sasil The UPSCA batch 1950s, contemporaries, ahead or behind you, David and Oscar are always present during annual reunion to celebrate the founding of UPSCA.
South Dorm Officers, 1954, The south dorm was my home away from home from 1953 to 1957.

Everything in the dorm was new. The rooms were shared by 4. You have space for a study table and a small closet. The bathroom is shared and I am happy with all the facilities since it were all new. As far as activities, we have the Monthly Socials . The dorm itself is quiet except during the annual open house, when every one is welcome/ The picture with Mercy Lopez posted by Emmanuel Umali from my autobiography was taken during an Open House.

As an UPSCAN I was busy with choir and other activities. My Life in UP at that time besides Chemistry was my involvement with UPSCA, Fr John Delaney and the construction of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Chapel. Chapter 4 of my autobiography discussed in detail my college experience from 1951 to 1955 as a student and from 1955 to 1959 as Instructor in Chemistry known then as the College of Liberal Arts.
UPSCA choir, 1954

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

27. Places in the US that Macrine and I had Visited-The Hawaiian Islamds

Macrine and I at the Maui Ocean Center and Aquaruim

Macrine and I had visited four out of the seven inhabited islands in the Hawaiian Chain of Islands. This was made possible through our International Interval(II) Vacation Exchange Program. We stayed for one week each in the Big Island, Maui, and Kaua'i and one day in O'ahu. We have stopped at the Honolulu Airport a number of times as a connecting airport during our annual trip to the Philippines from the US. We loved Hawaii, since it reminds us of Marinduque, Philippines.

Our first trip was in the summer 1979 where we stayed at Kona Village Resort, Kaupulehu, Kona, the Big Island for one week. This resort was nestled on the fabulous secluded Kona Coast away from the big crowds. This was my treat to Macrine for passing her Nursing Board Exam to practice nursing in the State of California. The second one was our one week stay in Maui through our exchange Program via II in the mid 1998. Our third visit was one week stay in Kauai in September 2003 also via II. We stayed at Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville. Our two bedroom suite has the view of the Bali Hai Mountain made famous by the broadway musical, South Pacific. In this vacation, we were joined by Ditas and Nick and their baby, Carenna, only about five months old.

The latest Hawaiian visit we had was in Honolulu, O'ahu just last year just for one day on our way to the Philippines.

The eight main Hawaiian islands (also known as the Hawaiian Windward Islands) are listed here from east to west. All except Kahoʻolawe are inhabited

1.Hawaiʻi often times called as The Big Island

2. Maui also known as The Valley Isle

3. Kahoʻolawe also known as The Target Isle( not inhabited)

4. Lānaʻi also known as The Pineapple Isle because of the pineapple plantations

5. Molokaʻi also called The Friendly Isle

6. Oʻahu also called The Gathering Place where Honolulu is located

7. Kauaʻi is also called The Garden Isle

8. Niʻihau known also as The Forbidden Isle

Photo of Fish from the Maui Aquaruim and Marine Center

Hawaii is tropical but it experiences many different climates, depending on altitude and weather. The islands receive most rainfall from the trade winds on their north and east flanks (the windward side) as a result of orthographic precipitation. Coastal areas in general and especially the south and west flanks or leeward sides, tend to be drier.

In general, the Hawaiian Islands receive most of their precipitation during the winter months (October to April). Drier conditions generally prevail from May to September, but the warmer temperatures increase the risk of hurricanes.

Rainbow as viewed from our 6th floor Condo in Kaanapali, Maui, Hawaii

Temperatures at sea level generally range from highs of 85-90 °F (29-32 °C) during the summer months to 79-83 °F (26-28 °C) during the winter months. Rarely does the temperature rise above 90 °F (32 °C) or drop below 60 °F (16 °C) at lower elevations. Temperatures are lower at higher altitudes; in fact, the three highest mountains of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Haleakala often receive snowfall during the winter.

Here's a video of the sights and sounds of this Tropical Paradise

One distinctive feature of Hawaii’s climate is the small annual variation in temperature range. This is because there is only a slight variation in length of night and day from one part of Hawaii to another because all its islands lie within a narrow latitude band. The small variations in the length of the daylight period, together with the smaller annual variations in the altitude of the sun above the horizon, result in relatively small variations in the amount of incoming solar energy from one time of the year to another. The surface waters of the open ocean around Hawaii range from 77 °F (25 °C) between late February and early April, to a maximum of 83 °F (28 °C) in late September or early October. With water temperatures this mild for hundreds of miles around, the air that reaches Hawaii is neither very hot nor very cold. Temperatures of 90 °F (32 °C) and above are quite uncommon (with the exception of dry, leeward areas). In the leeward areas, temperatures may reach into the low 90’s several days during the year, but temperatures higher than these are unusual.
The other reason for the small variation in air temperature is the nearly constant flow of fresh ocean air across the islands. Just as the temperature of the ocean surface varies comparatively little from season to season, so also does the temperature of air that has moved great distances across the ocean; the air brings with it to the land the mild temperature regime characteristic of the surrounding ocean. In the central North Pacific, the trade winds represent the outflow of air from the great region of high pressure, the North Pacific High, typically located well north and east of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Pacific High, and with it the trade-wind zone, moves north and south with changing angle of the sun, so that it reaches its northernmost position in the summer. This brings trade winds during the period of May through September, when they are prevalent 80 to 95 percent of the time. From October through April, the heart of the trade winds moves south of Hawaii; however, the winds still blow much of the time. They provide a system of natural year-long ventilation throughout the islands and bring mild temperatures characteristic of air that has moved great distances across tropical waters.

Note: This is No.27 (Part 1) of a series of articles on places that Macrine and I had visited in the US since 1960.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Photo Memories of My High School Years in the Philippines-1947 to 1951

My High School Graduation- Barotac Viejo, Iloilo-1951 I am in the front row Second from the Right

My sophomore year-one of my most hated subject-Vocational wood working class. I am in the front row squatting second from the Right.

National High School Conference for Visayas and Mindanao, Iloilo City, 1949

Delegates to the National High School Conference. I am in the front row knelling second from the Right

Here's a repost of an article about my hometown, I wrote 5 years ago:

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. 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 ttp://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.

I found this video which is supposed to be the municipal Hymn. The words are in Ilonggo. If you want and English translation, let me know.

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