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!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our First Thanksgiving Day in United States, 1960


It was November,1960 when Macrine and I and our oldest son,Dodie(who was only 2 years old then) experienced our first Thanksgiving Celebration in the United States. That year, I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois at the Medical Center in Chicago. The Chicago Hospitality Center along with YMCA and CFM invites all Foreign students in the area to spend a Thanksgiving weekend to the homes of volunteers in small towns of Illinois away from the crowded city of Chicago. Some of my foreign student friends were reluctant and did not accept the invitation, but I had an adventurous spirit so with great anticipation, Macrine and I along with Dodie went with 12 other foreign students and their families to Central Illinois. Our host for that weekend was Mrs. Johnston, a widow from Danville, Illinois. She lives alone and her beautiful bungalow house right in downtown Danville. We left Chicago in the morning, had thanksgiving dinner ( turkey and all its trimmings)in late afternoon. This was followed by a program in the evening at a local community center, where all the Hosts met and socialized with other invited students from Korea, Iran, Mexico, Japan, Chile, South Africa, Egypt and the Philippines. Macrine, Dodie and I represented the Philippines.
The next day we had a grand tour of the area, the farms and then to Springfield, the capital of Illinois. The tour of the area and Springfield was the highlight of our 2 days break from our hectic schedules as a graduate students.


So, did I like the roasted turkey? Nope, that was first time I had turkey. In the Philippines we do not celebrate Thanksgiving and I had never tasted turkey before. I did not like the pumpkin pie either. What I enjoyed was the oyster stuffing,ice cream and the cranberries sauce.

So why do I write this post. Well, to thank the Lord for all the good things and the past 49 years of Thanksgiving Days, He has given me and my family so far here in US. In addition our visit to the “real” Americans ( not the Ugly ones) that Thanksgiving day in 1960 prompted me to write an article of my impressions of the US at that time and has remained in my memory until today:

Our Impression of America

" During our first year in Chicago, we never received an invitation to participate in the hospitality program. Our name was probably buried in the list of foreign students or perhaps our foreign student adviser was sleeping in her job. During these first year of adjustments to the American way of life, we formed a very wrong impression of Americans. Asides from our daily contacts with fellow students in the school rooms or dormitories, our only other social contacts were people in the streets, subways, buses, department stores, supermarkets and other public places. These were all artificial contacts, giving us an impression that Americans are unfriendly, artificial, insincere, apathetic,intolerant and above all ignorant.The latter adjective was quite true, since the ordinary or typical American does not have the vaguest idea where the Philippines, Japan or even Puerto Rico is located in the map.

" However, in our second year, we began receiving invitation to spend a weekend in suburban homes as well as dinner invitations in city homes. At first, we were reluctant to accept the invitation, however with our adventurous spirit, we said yes.
From then on, "we have the whole world in our hands". We are thankful to CFM, the YWCA and the Hospitality Center of Chicago for making our stay filled with pleasant memories.

"On the other hand what impressions could we have brought back to the Philippines, if our stay was limited to one or two years ( true for exchange visitors). How many visitors and exchange scholars brought home with them the wrong impressions and attitude towards the American people in general? I knew there were a few foreign students in the dormitories who were disillusioned about the United States. One of them was a former dorm mate from Chile. He received an invitation, but never did conquer his apprehension of accepting one.

" At present as couple leader of the first interfaith group in our diocese, we will do our very best to reciprocate, promote, and encourage hospitality programs to foreign students and scholars in our area. We believe that opening our homes and our hearts on weekends and holidays, is one of the best ways of promoting world peace and understanding. Let us then make it possible for foreign students and scholars get the true picture of America and its people. Let us give them the opportunity to share with us our way of life. Let us get busy as a group or perhaps join other groups in order that we can show to the future leaders of the world, how sincere, friendly and aware we are of other human beings in other parts of the world. This is one of the many ways we could be more Christlike, we believe".
This letter was published by CFM in their monthly magazine, ACT, for all their members worldwide.

I also would like to dedicate this poem to all my readers in this blog.
Thanksgiving Every Day-By Karl Fuchs
The table is brimming with good things to eat;
We're surrounded by family and friends; what a treat.
The feelings that fill us today can’t be beat;
It’s Thanksgiving Day, and it all feels complete.
But other days, sometimes things don’t seem so fine;
Those days are not polished and don’t seem to shine.
It's then in our minds, we forget all the good,
And think of the things we would get, if we could.
On days when our thinking causes us dread,
If we could remember, it’s all in our head,
And not let our minds take our gratitude away,
Then we'd make every day like Thanksgiving Day.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL

Friday, November 20, 2009

Three Memorable and Controversial Films, I love


I enjoyed the following three films, that I have seen recently. The following are the synopsis of the movies and the controversy behind the movies. The first movie, Brokeback Mountain was touted to be the greatest love story ever filmed. I agree since I cried at the end of the movie. The second movie, Da Vinci Code was a bit of disappointment, since I enjoyed the book more than the film. The third one is not as clinical as the original book and I also enjoyed viewing it very much. If you have not seen these movies, I guarantee it is worth your time, especially if you like controversial subjects, as I do. Again, these movies are for mature audiences only.

1.Brokeback Mountain (2005)
D. Ang Lee

Almost a quarter of a century after the similarly-themed Making Love (1982), this Best Picture-nominated melodrama appeared with its story about two young cowboys who had an unexpected tryst while shepherding in 1963. It told how their ill-fated love affected their married lives in the following three decades. This was the first mainstream gay/bi-sexual romance film, heavily-promoted by the media, to receive multiple awards and critical/public acclaim, with eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture (and ultimately three Oscars) from major A-list film-maker and Best Director-winning Ang Lee. The much talked-about film quickly became the most honored movie in cinematic history - it had more Best Picture and Director wins from various film organizations than previous Oscar winners Schindler's List (1993) and Titanic (1997) combined. It was also the critical darling of the media and the expected favorite to win, although Crash surprisingly took the top honor.
However, some conservative Catholic organizations cited the film as "morally offensive" for its open portrayal of a homosexual relationship, and others criticized the film as sexually propagandistic. Conservative Christian fundamentalist groups heavily cited the film as glorifying homosexuality and for pushing a sexual agenda. However, those who were critical of the film were labeled "homophobic". Although widely hailed as a "breakthrough" film for gay cinema, neither of the film's two lead actors, nor its director, nor its screenwriters were gay, and the film was originally advertised in trailers without specifically referring to the film's 'gay' themes or scenes.

2.The Da Vinci Code (2006)
D. Ron Howard
Director Ron Howard's much-anticipated, big-screen religious conspiracy thriller with the tagline "Seek the Truth" was faithfully based upon Dan Brown's best-selling fictional book. It told about an investigation by symbologist and Harvard professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and French police cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) after the discovery of the murder of the Louvre Museum's elderly curator Jacques Sauniere (Jean-Pierre Marielle).
The man's naked body was found with symbols and an enigmatic encrypted code written in blood, a scrambled numerical sequence, and a revealing pose. [He was murdered by self-flagellating albino monk Silas (Paul Bettany) in the employ of devious Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molina).] This information led the wrongly-accused murder suspect Langdon and Sophie through a byzantine trail of clues -- to a millenarian secret sect called The Priory of Sion (with heretical theories about the marriage of a mortal Jesus Christ with Mary Magdalene and fathering a child - the real Holy Grail!) and crippled Grail scholar Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen). The search also led them to knowledge of the Priory's centuries-old battle with the clandestine Catholic sect Opus Dei regarding a 2,000 year old conspiracy to hush information, new findings about the Holy Grail, to Da Vinci's master work The Last Supper, London's mythical Church Temple (where a group of Templars Knights were believed to be buried), and Sir Isaac Newton's tomb at Westminster Abbey.
Several Catholic and Opus Dei groups, as well as conservative Christian groups, called for a boycott, mostly during the making of the film, accusing it of blasphemy. Even albinos were offended by the film, and lobbied for changes to the way the film portrayed them. Yet the tedious film was received lukewarmly as a convoluted, flat and stultified bore.

3.Kinsey (2004)
D. Bill Condon
This serious and engrossing biopic was about controversial, Midwestern human sexuality researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson) who laid the groundwork for the coming sexual revolution, with its tagline: "Let's talk about sex". It stirred up continuing protest about the impact of his pioneering work, interviews and liberal publications on morality and behavior. Kinsey startled the world with the publication of his Kinsey Report (aka Sexual Behavior in the Human Male) in 1948 and its follow-up Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953).
The non-erotic, non-exploitative, and non-prurient film was attacked by morality extremists for its candid and frank drama about the famous Indiana University doctor's obsessive life-work. It illustrated how Kinsey's own wife Clara McMillen (Oscar-nominated Laura Linney) had painful sexual problems with her inexperienced husband during their honeymoon, and then later was engaged in an extra-marital affair with her husband's bi-sexual assistant Clyde Martin (Peter Sarsgaard) - who also had a homosexual encounter with Kinsey and appeared in a full-frontal scene; and that a young Kinsey was punished with a confining genital strap to prevent him from masturbating by his ultra-moralistic, bullying, and repressive minister father (John Lithgow). In the film's final heartbreaking interview scene with an older, middle-aged lesbian subject (Lynn Redgrave in a cameo), she expressed how she was freed from homosexual guilt ("You saved my life"), after experiencing lesbian feelings.
Concerned Women for America (CWA) protested that the film was "an attempt to cover up sex researcher Alfred Kinsey's horrifying reality." They accused the film of misrepresenting how Kinsey actually had encouraged pedophiles to molest children (in the name of science). Other neo-Puritanical proponents thought the film was another example of how Hollywood was normalizing perversion, attacking Christian values about sexual morality, and promoting a "pro-homosexual agenda." And an advertisement for the film was initially rejected by PBS' WNET in New York because the film was deemed too commercial and provocative.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Genealogy of the" Katague" and "Balleza" Surnames


Several years ago, I started a genealogy of my mother's last name- “Balleza”. I was able to trace it back to the 15th century. The name originated from Bilbao, Spain. I then traced it to Mexico, then to US in Texas and then to the Philippines. I was able to locate a town in Mexico named Balleza, in the state of Chihuahua. The town was founded in 1640 and named after Fr. Mariano Balleza ,a Spanish friar. I was able also to communicate with a radio announcer in Houston, Texas whose family name is also Balleza. I also found several Balleza families in Googles and recently in Face Book. Note that the name is similar to another name in the Philippines “Belleza”, a Spanish word which means beautiful. But “Balleza” and “Belleza” are two different names in the Philippines. I am happy and satisfied with the origin of my mother's last name. When my mother was still alive, she told me that her great grandfather was a Spanish soldier that participated in the Spanish colonization of the Philippines (1565-1898).

Today, I am curious on the genealogy of my father's last name. When my father was still alive, his last named was spelled with a “C” instead of the “K”. He changed it with the “K” when he was in high school. My father has two brothers who also changed it to start with a “ K”. But all of my father other relatives as far as I know has not change it. So there are a lot of “Catague's” in the Philippines, that are my relatives. The famous Catague is a painter named Fernando. His paintings are exhibited in the museum of Iloilo and Manila. My father has informed me that Fernando is a relative and originally was from Antique. In the Philippines, I know there are Katagues in Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Antique, Cavite and in Mindanao. I also found there is a Katague in Brazil from Googles. I just recently meet a niece in Face Book from Vancouver, B.C. She is the daughter of my first cousin from Bacolod, Negros Occidental. There are several Katagues in Face Book, and one in Twitter, but I do not know if we are related. Incidentally, there is a town in Bohol, named “Catague”. I am curious, how the town got its name, but I do not have the time to do research on it. If you know, please let me know. It will be highly appreciated.


There are several variations of the Katague name. These are: Catague, Catage, Catagi, Katagi, Katage, Kataque and Kata Gue ( from Indonesia). I know of a Japanese chemist with surname of Katagi. It may be true that Katague originated from Japan from the surname Katagi or Katague as my father once mentioned. This was recently confirmed by one FACE BOOK member whose last name is Katague but is now residing in Brazil.

So if your last name is any of the above or if you are married to someone with any of the names above, we may be related. I will appreciate if you contact me in Face Book or Twitter or in this site. I will be delighted to meet you on line or in person. We have a group in Face Book-The Katague and Catague Clan. Please join us.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rigodon De Honor -Dance with the Stars

The Grand Entrance and Parade of Participants- Note my matching Barong to Macrine's Terno! Macrine did not used the matching removable butterfly sleeves bolero, since it was a very warm evening.

About eight years ago, Macrine and I had the honor to be invited to participate at the Rigodon De Honor dance at the Grand Ball of the May Flower Festival in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.
Right in the middle of the Dance Promenade

The Rigodon de Honor is an elegant dance which was brought to the Philippines by the Filipinos who returned from their travels abroad during the Spanish era. This dance takes its name from its opening performances at formal affairs such as the President's Inaugural Ball and other Festivals in Philippines and also in other parts of the world. In Marinduque, members of the provincial government, including the Governor and his wife, legislative officials, and other prominent members of the town are usually invited to participate in the Rigodon. Traditionally, a ballroom waltz dance would follow the Rigodon. This particular dance is a form of quadrille which is a historic dance performed usually by four couples in a square formation.

In Marinduque, it is an honor to be invited to participate in the dance. It meant you belong to the high society of the town and recognized as a leader in the community. Macrine and I were invited to dance at the Grand Ball of the May Flower Festival in Boac in May, 2001. At that time Macrine was the President of Marinduque International Inc-a non-profit worldwide organization based in US and Canada whose main goals is to conduct medical mission to the needy in Marinduque every other year. At that time, I also served as acting Treasurer of the organization. For the whole month of May, we (sixteen couples) practiced almost everyday. Near the end of the dance, a part called the CADENA ( it means chain) had to be performed perfectly, otherwise confusion and mayhem could ruined the dance. Attached is a video( taken during the Philippine Gala of the Filipino-American Community of Washington, D.C.) for your viewing pleasure, I found in You Tube! The video is a bit grainy, but does illustrate the movement and choreography of the dance. Note that the women are wearing their ternos( with butterfly sleeves) and the men their barongs.

This second video is better filmed and dance by our younger generation from the Philippines, Kalilayan Dance Group of Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental. This dance is similar to the rigodon dances during the Spanish era. As I mentioned above, to be invited to participate in the Rigodon is considered as the subtle way of "branding" certain members of the community to specific social ranks. Usually performed as a party opener, the Rigodon starts off by calling the names of the participants; first the rich and influential who will compose the cabezera or headline followed by the not so popular and lesser ranking dancers who will then form the costados or sideline. The Cabezera's will start the dance movement and then followed by the costados. What a way to brand and assign social ranks in the community!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time of the Year for "Autumn Leaves" to Fall


In two weeks time, Macrine and I will be in our beloved province of Marinduque enjoying our winter sojourn. But before we could do that, I need to do a lot of things here in Northern California. First the raking of the leaves, then the cleaning of the gutters, then covering the swimming pool and finally sending balikbayan boxes to the Philippines for Christmas presents to relatives. But for the moment, let me share you the following photo from my backyard and a song appropriate for this time of the year.

As I gaze at my backyard window( see photo above) a few minutes ago, the beauty of the maple trees in my yard with its yellow, orange and light red leaves getting to fall in the next couple of days, reminds me of the song Autumn Leaves. There are several interpretations of this song by several musicians, but this video is one of my favorites. Moreover, the autumn scenery in the video is just mesmerizing. Autumn or Fall is one of my favorite seasons here in Northern California. However, next week when these leaves start to fall, I will certainly spend a number of hours raking these leaves and definitely an aching back after wards. But this is the way of life here in Northern California this time of the year. Enjoy this video.
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