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!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Photo Mementos from Ditas 50th Birthday Party

About 100 guests, friends and relatives attended Ditas Macrine Katague 50th birthday Party last Saturday. However today, March the 23rd is the real date of her birthday. Ditas was born in Kansas City, Missouri on a snowy morning 50 years ago at the Kansas City North Memorial Hospital. I could not forget that day, since I was so scared driving on ice and sleet that day on my way to the hospital, after my wife Macrine Nieva Jambalos Katague started to complain of labor pains, telling us our youngest daughter is ready to see the world.

Last Saturday celebration was a blast based on comments and photos published on Ditas FaceBook page. The following are some of the photos of that happy event in my youngest daughter's life.

The highlight of the party was Carenna's singing and guitar playing. Carenna sang 4 songs. One of the songs she wrote and composed herself. Here are two comments from the guests regarding Carenna's singing talent.

"She has an amazing and special voice. I was spellbounded listening to her live. I am sure that you will open all the doors that are needed for her to get a recording.

A room full of adults stood there spellbound. She's peaceful and graceful. When she takes the stage, she's brave and her voice can hit the soft and strong notes so naturally. And she writes her own music. Amazing. What a finale to a great party."

Here are some comments about the party:

"Dang, do you know how to throw a party, Ditas Katague!! This was truly special and unique event. What a beautiful, positive way to celebrate an important milestone year. Thanks for sharing your special day with me and so many of your wonderful friends. Happy Birthday!!!"

"Such a great event. Unique and memorable, Just like you!"

"I became interested in Pranayam breathing after listening to a lecture by a western medicine doctor who had studied ancient Indian meditation. After years of resisting anything related to spiritualism (I suffered at the hands of a very abusive method called the Grinberg Method) I gave into the gentle peersuasions of a very special person, Ditas Katague. She organized a beautiful birthday party in downtown Sacramento and the first hour involved a full lesson of Yoga. I'm hooked. Going to start regular lessons. One day I guess I'll master the art of alternate nostril breathing "

"Happy 50th Birthday Ditas! I do miss you. Your art is amazing...Just like you!"

Last Saturday's party was a fun afternoon-evening filled with arts, yoga, music, food and drinks and good company. Again, my beloved daughter may you have several decades more birthdays to come. Remember when you celebrate your 100th birthday, I will be 130 years old, long gone, but happy to know that I have a good daughter and grand daughter named Ditas and Carenna. Love you both!(From DAD and MOM).

Friday, March 20, 2015

Time for Some Oldies from the Platters

If you grew up in the 1950's to 1960's, you should remember these two songs by the Platters. Enjoy! Comment?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Daily Struggles of Two Caregivers

In my first posting about Caregivers, I emphasized that caregivers must have a break or help from others to prevent burning out. In this article I will describe in detail what my daily activities are and how I manage not to burn out. The second story is a conversation of myself and another caregiver of how she manages her life and at the same time taking care of her husband. She will remain anonymous for privacy reasons

One of my primary duties as the primary caregiver for my wife who has Parkinson's Disease is to help her take her medications on time. The second item is to insure she take balance meals and reminds her of her daily exercises. If its a good and sunny day, we will take a short walk around the house perhaps from 5 to 10 minutes depending in how she feels that day.

My wife needs help dialing the phone and putting on the TV. In the morning she is sometimes weak before she takes her medications. Later on in the afternoon, she feels better and will try to help me cook dinner. Before I know it is time to bed. This daily routine is only interrupted by our twice a month trip to the Casinos and Dinner. Her monthly beauty shop and quarterly trip to two doctors-a GP and a neurologist is another break in our daily routine. There are times when she feels like going to church or to the Filipino store after church, otherwise we attend mass in Television every Sunday. My son who lives with us and works full time help me takes care of his Mom on his day off. Without my son's help, I probably would have burn out by now. In between my care giving duties, I manage maintaining my blogs, writing activities, and play computer games(bridge) for my own mental health.

The following is a FB conversation between myself and a long long time friend who is also the primary caregiver to her husband suffering from a rare neurological disorder. For the sake of privacy I will just call her FBM and her husband Steve( not his real name)

"Hi Dave, Just started a while ago face booking and I saw your message. I am sorry I was not able to respond to you soon today. Great to be able to contribute on your new article about caregivers. Being a nurse helps me a lot understanding the medical "lingo" thrown at me whenever I take Steve to the doctors. Taking care of Steve and understanding his illness are challenging but I can handle them.

The hardest part I went through and is still is, is making decisions for every day problems, whether I should do this or do that without getting a second opinion from somebody I trust. I guess I was afraid to make a mistake then and even up to now with my decision making. An example is our rental house, which I am debating whether to upgrade the bathrooms and the flooring; will I have to increase the rent and how much? I guess we grew up in our culture that expects the man/husband to do the decision making for the family and that's how I got used to.

So, since Steve became ill, I have to learn fast and do all the decision making. Reading books, navigating the internet, talking with friends are my resources to increase my knowledge on problems/issues I have to solve.

Praying also helps me a lot to ease the burden of making a decision. Since I am able to leave Steve alone for 2-3 hours, I can see my friends for lunch or go do my errands which is a great therapy for me.I walk everyday as much as possible for half an hour for health reason. I still do the housework but I am not over zealous in keeping our house neat, tidy and clean.

I hired a gardener and a pool cleaner when Steve started to get sick so that has been a big help for me. My oldest son and family live closely so if in emergency I can call him or his wife to help me out. Just this week, my daughter in-law took my car to Modesto for front power window repair. I have a handy man who helps me fix little things in the house. I enjoy reading articles about caregivers and I know your article will be a good one for me to read once you have finished it. I hope my little contribution may add a little insight to your project. Love and regards to Macrine."

My response: Hi FBM, thank you so much for your reply. Your detailed response is much appreciated. I think, I will make a separate article on this. I will not mentioned your name, but your personal experience will be helpful to others who are in your situation. Again may I reiterate that as a caregiver, we should not forget to take care of ourselves otherwise we will burn out.

Friday, March 13, 2015

My Octogenarian or Older Seniors Pride List

My wife's Aunt- Elizabeth Nieva Santo Domingo and Yong Nieva( Macrine's first cousin)-Photo by Yong Nieva

If you have been reading my blogs, you know I remain mentally active by writing and reading every day since my retirement from the Food and Drug Administration(FDA), Center of New Drugs in 2002. This blog is dedicated to all senior citizens all over the world who are 80 years old or older but are still active both physically and mentally. The list is not in any particular order of importance.

The first senior citizen in this Pride List is Macrine's aunt- Mrs Elizabeth Nieva Santo Domingo. She is 91 years old (see picture above). She keeps active by her daily walk to daily mass to church. She eats healthy meals and had a happy married life without any children but surrounded and loved by nephews and nieces and other relatives.

The second senior citizen in my list is my next door neighbor, Mrs Lina Edison. She is 84 years old, She lives alone, walks every day and work in her garden everyday. She has never smoked in her life, eat primarily vegetables and seafood products. She attributes her good health by daily exercise and not eating too much meat.

The third person in my list and the most known nationally in Philippines and Marinduque politics is Carmencita Ongsiako Reyes. She was born November 9, 1931. She served as an Assemblywoman from 1985 to 1986, Congresswoman of Marinduque from 1978 to 1998 and 2007 to 2010, as well as governor from 1998 to 2007 and 2010 to present.

Reyes won a seat in the Batasang Pambansa in 1984 under the ruling Kilusang Bagong Lipunan Party of President Ferdinand Marcos. She aligned herself with then-Marinduque Governor Aristeo Lecaroz, also of the KBL Party. Reyes was a close ally of the Marcos regime. Her husband, Edmundo M. Reyes, was appointed by President Marcos as the Commissioner on Immigration. Reyes served as an Assemblywoman until the 1986 EDSA Revolution drove Marcos out of power. Edmundo Reyes (now deceased) her husband is my wife's second cousin.

The fourth senior citizen in my list is Imelda Marcos. She is known all over the world as the widow of Ferdinand Marcos. Imelda Marcos was born July 2, 1929. In popular culture, she is often remembered for her collection of more than a thousand pairs of shoes.

When President Marcos' government was accused of being involved in the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr., the people in Manila led the so-called People Power Revolution and forced Marcos out of office in 1986. Corazon Aquino, as the then new elected President, requested that American forces at Clark Air Base have the Marcos family exiled to the United States, and they were sent to Hawaii. After the death of Ferdinand, Imelda and her family were granted permission by Aquino to return to the Philippines. Her return has since allowed her to restore her political dynasty. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 1995 for Leyte, and again in 2010 for Ilocos Norte.

The fifth senior citizen in my list is Dr Jose Gan, Ph.D Joe was born on November 30, 1933 in Pavia, Iloilo. He has a Ph. D.,in Biochemistry, U of Illinois at the Medical Center, Chicago,(1960-1964) and was a Postdoctoral fellow at the University of California in Berkeley

During his elementary and high school years he was active in basketball and soccer and other sports . In the US, He plays tennis two to three times during the week.(mainly single); He also dabbled in martial arts (tae kwon do and ninjutsu) in his early fifties and sixties, He quit these sports about 5 years ago when chronic neck pain and other arthritic pains caught up with him. Today he confines his physical activities to yard work (mowing, edging trimming, etc) and flower and vegetable gardening.

Other names in my list are: Dr. Tino Ibabao, MD (91), and Dr Lilia Ferrer Ibabao, MD ( 84)

Here's a video about The Relevant Octogenarians. Octogenarians are persons from 80 to 89 years old and I belong to this group.

Finally, if you know of senior citizens over 80 years old or over who are still active, please let me know so I can add their names to this list.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Primary Caregivers and Burnout

I am a primary caregiver to my wife of 58 years who has Parkinson's Disease. I have learned to be patient, more loving and understanding, but there are times when I am so tired and just want to give up. Parkinson's Disease patients have problem with movement, cognitive problems and change of moods and other physical and mental problems ( side effects of medications).

There are times when my wife could hardly walk in the morning. In her good times, she wants to travel and visit relatives. Sometimes, she acts like a ten year old kid and is hard headed. In my frustrations, I will raise my voice and she will plead because her ears hurt from my high pitch voice. I then realized, it is not her fault to be hard headed because she has a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of her brain.

I am lucky that my wife is not suffering from Alzheimer's Disease (AZ) because the care needed by Alzheimer's patients are more extensive than that of a Parkinson Disease patient. In the case of AZ patients professional caregivers are highly needed and recommended besides the immediate relative in the household. I am also lucky that our youngest son lives with us. He works full time but on his day off, he helps me take care of his Mom. He drives us to our social appointments if the drive is at night and takes longer than one hour because of my eyes( needed cataract surgery). Occasionally, he would help me with the shopping and cooking. He maintains our yard and swimming pool.

Are you a primary caregiver? Who are the caregivers? According to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, during the past year, 65.7 million Americans (or 29 percent of the adult U.S. adult population involving 31 percent of all U.S. households) served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative.

Estimates also suggest that the majority of caregivers are female. The percentage of family or informal caregivers who are women range from 53 to 68 percent, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. While men also provide assistance, female caregivers tend to spend more time providing care than male caregivers (21.9 versus 17.4 hours per week). Further, women are likely to assist with more difficult caregiving tasks, such as toileting and bathing, while men are more likely to assist with finances or arrange for other care (Family Caregiver Alliance, 2012).

I know of two personal friends who are caregivers. One is a retired nurse who takes good care of her husband suffering from a rare neurological disease. The other friend takes care of her mother who is suffering from Dementia. Lucky for her, she has a husband and a sister taking turns taking care of her Mom.

Here's a video about the burning out of a Caregiver. The caregiver need to take care of herself or himself and really needs a break from his or her responsibility every now and then to prevent burnout.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Coping Up with Empty Nest Syndrome (ENS)

I was exchanging messages with a relative in FB recently. In our conversation, she mentioned that all her children have left the house and she misses them. I informed her she is suffering from empty nest syndrome and it is normal or another stage in one's life as we age. Here's her exact words. I am not mentioning her name for the sake of anonymity.

"I was in tears reading your blog(Thank You Lord,I Have Thoughtful Relatives). It reminds me of our situation....just me and my husband in a 4,000sq. ft. house and I have to do the cleaning. My health is not good. I miss my children, how happy and busy was our household before and now they are busy in their professions and family. My eldest who has his medical practice in San Antonio, Texas. He calls us every Sunday, the second one calls when he has a chance. His having two kids is hard and my daughter calls when she remembers. They are all in medical field so working night shifts sometimes is hard. I will have them read your blog. Thanks Nong David".

Here's my response:

I appreciate your feedback, I think your feeling is very normal at this stage of your life. You are suffering from-empty nest syndrome. Keep busy and just count your blessings. Are you still working? Keep in touch! Give my regards to the family!

Here's another conversation between myself and an expat FB friend whose son, ( 18 years old) is leaving the Philippines to visit the US and probably stay there for a year with his American grand parents

Me: I guess this is the time for the oldest one to fly away from home. FBM are you feeling the empty nest syndrome?

FBM: Definitely David. My heart ached already. But I have to let him spread his wings. He has to learn the other side of his culture. But you are spot on, I'm definitely in pain already. Big sigh...

So what is empty nest syndrome(ENS) and how one can cope up with it Here's some information from Wikipedia.

Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of grief and loneliness parents or guardians may feel when their children leave home for the first time, such as to live on their own or to attend a college or university. It is not a clinical condition.

Since a young adult moving out from his or her parents' house is generally a normal and healthy event, the symptoms of empty nest syndrome often go unrecognized. This can result in depression and a loss of purpose for parents, since the departure of their children from "the nest" leads to adjustments in parents' lives. Empty nest syndrome is especially common in full-time mothers.

All parents are susceptible to empty nest syndrome, although some factors can create a predisposition to it. Such factors include an unstable or unsatisfactory marriage, a sense of self based primarily on identity as a parent, or difficulty accepting change in general. Full-time parents (stay-at-home mothers or fathers) may be especially vulnerable to empty nest syndrome. Adults who are also dealing with other stressful life events such as menopause, the death of a spouse, or retirement are also more likely to experience the syndrome.

Symptoms of empty nest syndrome can include depression, a sense of loss of purpose, feelings of rejection, or worry, stress, and anxiety over the child's welfare. Parents who experience empty nest syndrome often question whether or not they have prepared adequately for their child to live independently.

Many mothers, often the primary caregivers, are more likely than fathers to experience empty nest syndrome. However, research has shown that some fathers expressed feelings that they were unprepared for the emotional transition that comes with their child leaving home. Others have stated feelings of guilt over lost opportunities to be more involved in their children's lives before they left home.

One of the easiest ways for parents to cope with empty nest syndrome is to keep in contact with their children. Technological developments such as cell phones, text messaging, and the internet all allow for increased communication between parents and their children.

Parents going through empty nest syndrome can ease their stress by pursuing their own hobbies and interests in their increased spare time. Discussing their grief with each other, friends, families, or professionals may help them. Experts have advised that overwhelmed parents keep a journal, or go back to work if they were full-time parents.

Our personal experience with empty nest syndrome started when our oldest son, went to college. My wife did cry and I told her he will be back at the end of the week to do his laundry. My wife finally accepted the fact that her oldest child is growing up and let him go. This feeling of loneliness was repeated four times, since we have four children. Their first day away from home always gave us a feeling of sadness. The first one was the hardest and the last one was the easiest.

Finally if you are in the stage of your life when you children has to go to college or live by themselves, do not feel sad, It is part of the stage of life. Keep busy and try to communicate to them as often as you can. Here's a short video from UK.
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