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 early-80'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!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

He Who Squeaks, Gets the Oil- Events in the Past Six Days

The Mercy San Juan Medical Center, Carmichael

If you are reading my FB status you probably know that Macrine had hip surgery (repair) on her left hip after a Fall on Thursday March 16 at around 10 AM. The surgery was successful. She is out from Mercy Hospital and now checked in at Manor Care Rehabilitation Center and scheduled to stay from 20 to 30 days(if needed) for Physical Therapy and Healing. A lot of my friends and relatives are curious what exactly happened. Thus this blog.

On the morning of Thursday while eating her brunch of left-over Pancit, she walked straight to the kitchen sink a couple of feet away with out her walker. I was in the bedroom fixing and cleaning up and suddenly I heard a scream. David our son who lives with us was a few feet standing on trying to help her standup but she screams with pain lying on the floor. She can not move because of the pain on her hip, so I decided to call 911 and asked for an ambulance. In exactly 7 minutes the County Ambulance and Fire Truck was in our front door. The whole neighborhood was curious and told me that if I need help I can just ask. In 10 minutes we were in the Emergency Room of Mercy San Juan Medical Center. Incidentally the driver of the ambulance is our neighbor.

Three hours later after all the X'ray, Cat Scan and other tests, Macrine was admitted to the Hospital and scheduled for surgery the next day at 10 AM. At about 9:55AM she was transferred from her room to the pre-operation room where the anesthesiologist talked to me about the anesthesia and the orthopedic surgeon explained to me the procedure and if I have any questions. Ten minutes later the scheduling nurse informed me there was a delay because there is an emergency which will use the same operating room. It was not until 12:30 PM when she was wheeled to the OR.

David III and I waited until 3:30PM when we learned that surgery was completed and Macrine was in the recovery area. In the surgery waiting room for visitors were Jean Maeda( Macrine's sister), Dinah (our daughter), Elaine, our granddaughter besides David III and myself. At about 5PM Macrine was still sleepy and the nurse requested that one of us should talked to her to facilitate her waking up. Jean, Dinah and I took turns to keep Macrine awake so she can be transported to her regular room in the Hospital.

The surgery recovery time at Mercy turned out to be 3 days. The nurses and assistants scheduled for Macrine's recovery were all excellent, helpful and industrious except for one male nurse. There were 3 Filipina nurses and one Filipina Assistant who were particularly industrious, concerned and doing their job perfectly. I was also particularly impressed by a young Indian Nurse who was assign on the night Shift. She was very young and soft spoken. At first I thought she was a student nurse. For the last two days Macrine's room had been hot we have to turn the electric fan to keep the air circulating. On the 3rd day during this Indian nurse shift, she notice the room was also hot. She immediately called the maintenance man and in 5 minutes the problem was solve. I was impressed by the decision making capability of this young nurse.

Now on the details of one lazy male nurse. On one of the day shifts, Macrine's IV was ringing, telling me its clogged and need attention. I dialed his extension and he answered he will take a look at it. I waited for 10 minutes he did not arrived. The alarm bell bothered me, so when I saw another nurse in the hallway, I requested her to look at the IV. She straightened the IV tube to remove the air bubbles and hit the restart button and the problem was solved.

An hour later when this male nurse went to check for Macrine's blood sugar I confronted him with of what happened and he just ignored me. When I told this story to the Filipina Nursing Assistant, she told me that this nurse is known to be the Lazy One. One afternoon, on my way home after David III took over to kept his Mom's company I confronted this Nurse in front of the other nurses of the event. Later on the afternoon David informed that this nurse was very helpful and appeared to be compassionate and did not appeared lazy at all. So the above incident is the first example of the Filipino proverb, He who squeals(complain)gets the oil(attention/help).

After Macrine's release from Mercy San Juan Hospital, we followed the recommendation of the Mercy Staff to have Macrine admitted to Manor Care of Citrus Heights only a few miles from our residence for rehabilitation for her hip surgery. The Physician in Mercy said that Manor Care of Citrus Heights is the Cadillac( the best) of skilled nursing facility in our area. Prior to our signing in, David III visited the facility and talk to the Manager asking for all the financial details and services rendered by the facility.

Dodie( my oldest son) and I followed it up the next day and toured the facility. We were impressed plus it is only 5 minutes from our residence. For the basic care for 20 days covered by Medicare, Macrine has to share a room with a complete stranger. You have an option for an upgrade of to a private room for an additional $60 per night at your own personal expense. I opted on the Upgrade Service telling my oldest son, that when you die you can not bring your money with you, you might as well enjoy it while you are still alive. My Blue Cross Blue Shield(BCBS) Federal Insurance will cover the next 21 to 30 days if needed, but will not pay also for the upgrade private room. The only reason BCBS will pay for the upgraded single room is for the insured to show she has an infectious disease.

Manor Care of Citrus Heights

Another example supporting the above proverb, occurred on our first two hours at Manor Care. We hired a van transport ( at the additional expense of $75 according to the manager at Manor Care) transferring Macrine from Mercy San Juan Hospital to Manor Care. The transfer took only 10 minutes since the distance was only about 4 miles. The gurney guys transferred Macrine to her new bed at Manor at about 2:30PM. No one greeted us so we waited for 30 minutes. I got tired waiting so I went out of the room and went to the nurse station. I told her we have arrived. She looked at her file and said oh yes, the paper work is here. When I asked her when could we have nursing service since Macrine's CarboLevodopa is due. If she missed her medications by 30 minutes she trembled and get agitated and really feel sick. Maybe another hour since we are in the process of Shifts. I was mad and demanded to see Chief nurse and give a lecture about the recommendation of the Mercy Staff that they are supposed to be the Cadillac of Skilled Facility in our area. In five minutes there was a nurse and assistant helping us check in and I sign all the paper work.
Macrine resting on her wheel chair
The Beautiful flower arrangement sent by Jean and Family. Thanks a Million!

Today, as I am writing this, we are happy of the services rendered by Manor Care specially their physical therapy department. Food service is excellent. Most of the nurses and nurse assistants are industrious and compassionate. The longer wait I had was about 10 minutes after I pressed the bell for assistance. The facility employs a few Filipinos, Latinos and other Asians(Indians/Chinese). I am specifically impressed by one of the nursing Assistant, named Christine, a Chinese-American. We are scheduled for released this coming March 27, the day after Macrine's 81st Birthday. Incidentally, the party for Macrine's 81st BD this coming March 26 Sunday has been cancelled. The above are the details of Macrines Hip Surgery and Recovery for the past 6 days. Again for those who sent their prayers via FaceBook, thanks a million!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Our Four Luxuries in Life in the US Today

The David Katague Clan, 2016

This year is our 57th year living in the US. Macrine will be 81 years old next week and I turned 82 years old last December 20. We have lived in almost all regions of the US except the South. We have resided in Chicago, Illinois* (5 years), Kansas City, Missouri** (5 years), Modesto, California*** (5 years), Pinole, California**** (12 years), Colesville, Maryland *****( 12 years) and currently in the Sacramento, California suburb since 2002.

We have purchased six houses during those years and saw our four children and six grandchildren finished their college education ( BS and professional degrees) except for our youngest grand daughter who is only 13 years old. We have enjoyed vacationing in several countries outside the US. We have also visited almost all the big cities in the US.(http://davidbkatague.blogspot.com)

We have also built a retirement home and beach house and conference hall in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines (http://chateaudumer.blogspot.com).

Front Yard of our Retirement Home, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines

Today we live a simple life. Our four luxuries are:

1. The service of two Cleaning Ladies for the whole house twice a month.

2. The home service for a whole body massage (one hour each) once a month

3. Food Delivery Service for Gourmet cooked meals ( just heat it for 2 minutes) once to twice a week and our

4. Twice a month Escapade to our local Indian Casino for Dinner and a little Gambling ( slots and Pai Gow Poker)

Prior to the PD diagnosis of Macrine, we spent from 3 to 5 months every year at our retirement home in Marinduque. However, since last year, because of Macrine's health we were not able to travel to the Philippines and enjoyed our beach house. We really missed Amoingon, Boac (Chateau Du Mer) this time of the year when the weather in the Philippines is dry and cool.

Because of her PD and medications, Macrine felt isolated once in a while. Thus a visit and phone call from relatives and friends are very much welcome.

So what is in our future? This will depend on the progression of Macrine's Parkinson. For me, my arthritis has limited my movement a little, but my mind is sharp! I still enjoyed a mean game of duplicate bridge on line.

Friends and Relatives, please pray for our health so that we can continue our simple life here in the US perhaps for another decade. Another decade may be a dream but one can hope, anyway. Give us a call just to say hello, message us in FB or send us an e-mail and if you are nearby visit us! Macrine and I are looking forward for your call, message or visit. Surprise US!






Friday, March 17, 2017

All You Want to Know About Generic Drugs but were Afraid to Ask

When I was still employed by FDA ( 1990-2002), I have numerous contacts with other chemistry reviewers and team leaders from our Division Of Generic Drugs. Thus I did have knowledge that if a drug is approved by the Generic Drug Division, it will be as effective, safe and of the same quality as the brand name drug, but it will be definitely cheaper in cost. Thus if my physician changed my prescription to the Generic version, I have no problem with it. However, I have friends and relatives who still believe that the generic version of the drug is inferior than its brand name, thus they are cheaper. Unlike dietary supplements, generic drugs are approved by FDA prior to marketing.

Just recently, one of Macrine's prescription drug for her PD was changed to a generic version which was a hundred time cheaper than the brand name drug. The brand name drug was very, very expensive I have to purchase it via Mail through my Federal Insurance Mail Prescription Benefits. The brand name was Azilect and the Generic version is Rasagiline. Here's the announcement of the approval of the generic version of Azilect on March 17, 2016.

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of rasagiline was announced by its manufacturer, Orchid Pharmaceuticals. Rasagiline, is the company’s first AB-rated generic for Azilect (Teva Neurosciences) tablets, indicated for the treating of Parkinson’s disease.

The drug works by blocking the activity of monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B), an enzyme that breaks down dopamine, which therefore helps to stabilize blood levels of dopamine. It is important that dopamine levels are regulated because low dopamine levels, may lead to problems with balance, movement, muscle control, and other symptoms of Parkinson’s.  The recommended dose of Rasagiline for the treating of Parkinson’s is once daily either alone or in combination with levodopa, another Parkinson’s medication.

Orchid Phamaceuticals plans to introduce Rasagiline to the U.S. market in the third quarter in 2016. Orchid has a 180-day exclusivity period for Rasagiline. Global sales for Azilect in the year 2015, was approximately $514 million, according to Teva Neuroscience’s annual report".

But why are Generic drugs cheaper than the brand name drugs, let me explain. But first here the official definition of Generic Drugs.

Generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs that have exactly the same dosage, intended use, effects, side effects, route of administration, risks, safety, and strength as the original drug. In other words, their pharmacological effects are exactly the same as those of their brand-name counterparts.

Generic drugs are only cheaper because the manufacturers have not had the expenses of developing and marketing a new drug. When a company brings a new drug onto the market, the firm has already spent substantial money on research, development, marketing and promotion of the drug. A patent is granted that gives the company that developed the drug an exclusive right to sell the drug as long as the patent is in effect. This patent will last from 17 to 20 years depending on the date of approval.

As the patent nears expiration, manufacturers can apply to the FDA for permission to make and sell generic versions of the drug; and without the startup costs for development of the drug, other companies can afford to make and sell it more cheaply. When multiple companies begin producing and selling a drug, the competition among them can also drive the price down even further.

There is no truth in the myths that generic drugs are manufactured in poorer-quality facilities or are inferior in quality to brand-name drugs. The FDA applies the same standards for all drug manufacturing facilities, and many companies manufacture both brand-name and generic drugs. In fact, the FDA estimates that 50% of generic drug production is by brand-name companies.

Another common misbelief is that generic drugs take longer to work. The FDA requires that generic drugs work as fast and as effectively as the original brand-name products. This is called the Bioequivalence Studies.

Sometimes, generic versions of a drug have different colors, flavors, or combinations of inactive ingredients than the original medications. Trademark laws in the United States do not allow the generic drugs to look exactly like the brand-name preparation, but the active ingredients must be the same in both preparations, ensuring that both have the same medicinal effects.

References: Office of Generic Drugs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Generic Drugs: What you need to know, 2009 and http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=46204&page=2

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls for New Drug Applications

My primary function as the Chemistry Reviewer and Team Leader in the Division of Anti-Infective Drug Products ( New Drugs Chemistry), when I was still working for FDA was to insure that all chemistry, manufacturing and control(CMC) requirements are followed by the Pharmaceutical companies before their new drug application are approved for marketing.

I had worked for FDA for 12 years. It was of my most satisfying and productive job in my more than 22 years of professional career here in the United States. Working for FDA was the best move I have ever made in my career. My 12 years in the FDA was filled with awards, accomplishments and personal growth. Our life in the suburb of Washington, DC was filled with civic involvements, social and cultural activities, humanitarian projects and pleasant memories. The highlight of our stay in the Washington, D.C area was a private tour of the WHITE HOUSE.

A couple of years ago, I posted this article in my blogs. However, recently I hired a new gardener. He was very friendly and asked me what I was doing before my retirement. I told him to visit my site. I am not sure if my gardener is computer savvy, but he is young and appeared to be curious and intelligent. I hope he reads this:


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Some of our Treasured Photos in the 1950's

A photo speaks more than a thousand words: The following are some of our treasured photos of the 1950's. If you know of any one in the photographs, please let us know.

Our Wedding Cake Décor-Miniature of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrifice, UP, Diliman, May 8, 1957

For more information on the Chapel of Holy Sacrifice read: https://missionwithoutfear.wordpress.com/2007/05/09/the-vision-of-fr-john-p-delaney-sj/

Macrine and the UP Women's North Dorm Delegates to the UP Men's South Dorm ( Narra Hall) Dance, 1953:

For more information on the UP Men's South Dorm( Narra Hall) read: https://www.facebook.com/groups/narraresidencehall/

Macrine and Guia, 1954

Macrine's PE Swimming Class-1952 with Remedios Pinion as Instructor

Macrine and Angie Villanueva( Sisters of the Cenacle) were classmates in PE swimming class, 1952 For additional information about the Cenacle Sisters of the Philippines read: http://www.cenaclephilsing.org/about/

Macrine Bachelors Science in Commerce(Accounting)Graduation with Dad and Mom Jambalos, 1956

My childhood, Boys Scout Years and Elementary school graduation Photos

UPIC Picnic, Santa Fe Resort, Bacolod City, 1953

UPIC News of My 3rd Place Finish, Chemistry Board Examination, 1957

In this news clipping, Roman Sirilan, my contemporary took first place in the private land surveyor board exam. He graduated magna cum laude from the College of Engineering in Diliman, UP and taught also in UP after graduation, a path that I followed although I did not graduate with honor in Chemistry. Roman and I were in the same boarding house, El Chalet, during our first two years in college at UP Iloilo. For details on my not graduating with honor that inspired to strive for success read:


If you are in any of the photos or if you know of someone in any of the photographs, I like to hear from You!

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Manila and Balleza Clan Massacre During World War II

The most famous and documented massacre of Filipino civilians by the Japanese Imperial army during World War II was the bombing of Manila. My mother-in-law youngest sister, Blanca Decena Nieva who was an army nurse died during that time. The summary of this massacre as documented in Wikipedia is as follows:

The Manila massacre involved atrocities committed against Filipino civilians in the city of Manila, Philippines by Japanese troops during the World War II Battle of Manila (1945). The Manila massacre was one of several major war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army, as judged by the postwar military tribunal. The Japanese commanding general, Tomoyuki Yamashita, and his chief of staff Akira Mutō, were held responsible for the massacre and other war crimes in a trial in late 1945 in Manila. Yamashita was executed on 23 February 1946 and Muto on 23 December 1948.

In the Battle of Manila from February to March 1945, the United States Army and the Philippine Commonwealth Army advanced into the city of Manila to drive out the Japanese. During lulls in the battle for control of the city, Japanese troops took out their anger and frustration on the civilians in the city. Violent mutilations, rapes, and massacres occurred in schools, hospitals and convents, including San Juan de Dios Hospital, Santa Rosa College, Santo Domingo Church, Manila Cathedral, Paco Church, St. Paul's Convent, and St. Vincent de Paul Church. Dr Antonio Gisbert told of the murder of his father and brother at the Palacio del Gobernador, saying, "I am one of those few survivors, not more than 50 in all out of more than 3000 men herded into Fort Santiago and, two days later, massacred. The Bayview Hotel was used as a designated "rape center".

According to testimony at the Yamashita war crimes trial, 400 women and girls were rounded up from Manila's wealthy Ermita district, and submitted to a selection board that picked out the 25 considered most beautiful. These women and girls, many of them 12 to 14 years old, were then taken to the hotel, where Japanese enlisted men and officers took turns raping them. One Japanese order read, "The Americans who have penetrated into Manila have about 1000 troops, and there are several thousand Filipino soldiers under the Commonwealth Army and the organized guerrillas.

The combined death toll of civilians for the battle of Manila was approximately 100,000, most of which was attributed to massacres by Japanese forces. Some historians, citing a higher civilian casualty rate for the entire battle, suggest that 100,000 up to more than 500,000 died as a result of the Manila massacre on its own, exclusive of other causes.

However, similar events in Panay Island is not well documented including the Balleza Clan massacre in my hometown Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. Philippines, with the exception of the Hopevale Martyrdom of American soldiers in Tapaz, Calinog, Panay Island.(www.us-japandialogueonpows.org/Ibuki%20Kumai.htm)

However, through oral communications, I have received the following FB communication regarding the Balleza clan killings. These were events that I heard from relatives when I was growing up in my hometown of Barotac Viejo in the 1940's. The Balleza family that were killed were closed relatives of my mother, Paz Balleza Katague. I remember very well Noel Balleza, Sr and his wife Nay Edna who was a paraplegic( wheel chair bound)were survivors of the massacre. The following is from the FB page of Freya Tupas Tamon-member of the Balleza clan from Barotac Viejo, Iloilo.

Me and My youngest sister(Amor Katague Gregorio) in front of Barotac Viejo National High School, pointing at the sign showing the Land Donation of my mother (Paz Balleza Katague) and my uncle Jose Balleza-members of the Balleza Clan. This is the school where I graduated valedictorian in 1951.

Freya Tupas-Tamon: "During World War II, Japanese Troops were searching for the well-known BALLEZA CLAN ! But before they reached the House. GOOD that maybe it was LOLO GENARO who let HIS SONS: Tay Noel, Tay Adan,& Tay Alec to FLEE AWAY (Hide in Forest) to SAVED their LIVES... GOD hath MIRACLES !!! Then, Nay Edna, wife of Tay NOEL was placed in the river for she was sickly, and water was her only Medicine. I won't also FORGET the story of Nay COLING (SOCORRO Balleza TUPAS BOQUIREN): It was in Bgry. Gen. Luna that the Japanese ordered them to make two lines: Balleza Family & Workers!! Some workers joined the Group of Balleza w/out knowing that Group of Workers were NOT MASSACRED !!! All the Balleza clan were killed".

The following is my FB communication with one of the grandson of the Genaro Balleza, whose father was saved because he fled from the hideouts of the Balleza clan who were rounded up by the Japanese soldiers.

"All I know from the story was that my father was not there when they were rounded up. He fled to Balaring. My mom was not there too for she could not walk. "Lupog sya". The one who led the Japs was their former servant. All in all there were 17 members of the family killed including servants. Dads two sisters were killed also (Concordia, and the other sister) and one of the husband and their child. I hope this will explain a bit more of that painful tragedy."

Another undocumented massacre by the Japanese of Filipino civilians closed to my heart was the killing of my aunt( youngest sister of My Dad) family in Negros Occidental. I just heard this from another aunt ( first cousin of my Dad) just last year. I have no details of the event.

If you are reading this and have details on the Balleza clan killings please let me know. I really would like to know the exact date of the massacre and how many were killed and who survived to tell the story.
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