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, February 25, 2012

The Best Smell of My Life


Photo of the Ylang-Ylang flower in my backyard, Chateau Du Mer, Marinduque, Philippines

This article was inspired by a Question of a friend in Facebook-regarding the best smell one has experienced. Mine is the smell of the blooming Ylang-Ylang trees in my garden at Chateau Du Mer, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines. I have two big mature trees in the backyard of Chateau Du Mer that are about 15 years old.

When the trees are in bloom, you can smell the fragrance of it flowers to as far as 50 meters and even farther if the wind direction is favorable. It is one fragrance, that I will never forget at Chateau Du Mer in Marinduque. Its reminds me of the perfume, Channel No.5.

The fragrance of ylang-ylang is rich and deep with notes of rubber and custard, and bright with hints of jasmine and neroli. The essential oil of the flower is obtained through steam distillation of the flowers and separated into different grades (extra; 1; 2; 3) according to when the distillates are obtained. The main aromatic components of ylang-ylang oil are benzyl acetate, linalool, p-cresyl methyl ether, and methyl benzoate, responsible for its characteristic odor.

On the subject of Ylang Ylang Oil,I am proud to inform readers of this blog that my Master’s degree thesis was the Analysis of the Volatile Constituents of Ylang Ylang Oil by Gas Chromatography. This was published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Vol.52, No.3 252-258 dated March, 1963.

I believe not too many non-Filipinos have heard of this tree and it fragrant flowers. Here’s a short information from Wikipedia for your reading pleasure.

Cananga odorata, commonly called Ylang-ylang (pronounced /ˈiːlæŋ ˈiːlæŋ/, EE-lang-EE-lang), cananga tree, ilang-ilang, kenanga (Indonesian), fragrant cananga, Macassar-oil plant or perfume tree), is a tree valued for its perfume. The essential oil derived from the flowers is used in aromatherapy and in the manufacture of perfumes.

Cananga odorata is a fast-growing tree of the custard-apple family, Annonaceae, that exceeds 5 m (15 ft) per year and attains an average height of 12 m (40 ft). It grows in full or partial sun, and prefers the acidic soils of its native rain forest habitat. The evergreen leaves are smooth and glossy, oval, pointed, with wavy margins, and 13–20 cm (5–8 in) long. The flower is drooping, long-stalked, with six narrow greenish yellow (rarely pink) petals, rather like a sea star in appearance, and yields a highly fragrant essential oil.

The Chemical Composition Typical chemical compositions of the various grades of Ylang ylang are reported as follows:

Constituents Linalool, geranyl acetate, caryophyllene, p-cresyl, methyl ether, methyl benzoate, other, sesquiterpenes.

Etymology

The name ylang-ylang is derived from Tagalog, either from the word ilang, meaning “wilderness”, alluding to its natural habitat, or the word ilang-ilan, meaning “rare”, suggestive of its exceptionally delicate scent. A more widely accepted translation is “flower of flowers”. The plant is native to the Philippines and Indonesia and is commonly grown in Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia.

The essential oil of ylang-ylang is used in aromatherapy. It is believed to relieve high blood pressure, normalize sebum secretion for skin problems, and is considered to be an aphrodisiac. According to Margaret Mead, it was used as such by South Pacific natives such as the Solomons where she did much of her research. The oil from ylang-ylang is widely used in perfumery for oriental or floral themed perfumes (like Chanel No. 5). Ylang-ylang blends well with most floral, fruit and wood smells.

In Indonesia, ylang-ylang flowers are spread on the bed of newlywed couples. In the Philippines, its flowers, together with the flowers of the sampaguita, are strung into a necklace (lei) and worn by women and used to adorn religious images.

Medicinal uses

Ylang Ylang is a common ingredient in the herbal motion sickness remedy, MotionEaze.

Circulatory System: Ylang ylang is recommended for treating palpitations and reducing high blood pressure

Nervous System : Ylang ylang is known for its ability to slow down over-rapid breathing and over-rapid heart beat. These symptoms are usually associated with shock, anxiety and anger.

Reproductive System: Ylang ylang has proven beneficial for treating PMS, especially associated with extreme mood swings that occurs just before the onset of menstruation. For this purpose, Fischer-Rizzi recommends blending Ylang ylang with clary sage and neroli. This blend should be used in a bath, massage oil or in a vaporizer.

Skin care: Added to the skin care preparation, Ylang ylang oil is beneficial in softening and balancing the moisture of the skin. It is recommended in hair care to treat split ends. It can be used in a shampoo base of massaged into the tips of the hair after shampooing with a base oil such as apricot kernel or jojoba oil. Ylang ylang is recommended for dry and oily skin and is reputed to have a balancing action on sebum production.

I hope you find this article informative. It is the best smell, I have ever experience in my life.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Building a Retirement Home in Marinduque?



Recently, I received several e-mail and telephone inquiries on the cost of building a retirement or vacation house in Marinduque. Before, I could give you a decent estimate, there are several items that I have to know:

1. What kind of a house do you want, that is either it will be constructed with native materials (nipa/bamboo/coco lumber) or with cement, hollow blocks and metal roofing
2. How big will the house be in terms of area, that is square footage or square meters
3. What kind of fixtures you want installed, such as plumbing, doors, windows, garage, balconies, fans, air conditioning, attics etc...

My estimate will consist only of materials and labor plus architect fees. It will not include furniture's, kitchen appliances, landscaping and caretaker expense and fencing of the property(highly recommended). It will not also include the price of the lot.

However, I can give you a decent estimate based on our retirement house built in 1996. If you want to build a similar house, 2700 sq ft, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, two balconies and a one car garage with cement, metal roofing, air conditioning and marble floors, my estimate will be around 4.3 million pesos. So based on today's exchange rate of 1 to 43, it will cost you around $100,000. This is cheap if you compared it to the standard 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house in Northern California. Here in Fair Oaks, CA the standard house (3BD,2B) sells for an average of $150,000 to $350,000 depending on location.

Speaking of location(in Marinduque),lots with beach front are very expensive if you can find one in Boac. There are a several beach front lots in Buenavista and Torrijos. They are cheaper compared to beach lots in Boac or Gasan. Lots in the interior ( no beach front) are much much cheaper and are in abundance.

If you already owned a beach front lot in Marinduque, here are a few tips you need to know before building.

Because of the salty ocean breeze especially on Habagat season (rainy- southwest winds), it is recommended that you build your house with stainless materials if possible. Double paint the outside and derusts annually. High maintenance expense is what you get for an ocean view and fresh ocean air during the amihan season (gentle Northeast winds) during summer.

So if you have a lot and have decided to build your dream vacation or retirement home, here are the steps to follow:

1. Hire a professional architect ( Research the type of architecture for your dream house). Visit local homes for ideas.
2. The estimate of the architect is normally low, so that your property tax will also be low.
3. Multiply by 2 the architect estimate. That will be your decent estimated cost until the house is finished.
4. Allot about 15 to 25% for furniture's, appliances, landscaping and caretaker expenses and fencing( highly recommenced).
5. If you can not personally supervise the construction, ask a relative or someone you can trust with finances to supervise during construction.

If you are really serious in constructing your dream house, let me know. I have 15 years of experience building three houses and one Conference Hall at the Chateau Du Mer Compound in Marinduque. I will be glad to give you ideas and free advice and tips( no consultation fees). Have Fun and Enjoy the planning, constructing, landscaping and eventually moving to your dream retirement house in Marinduque.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Things to do in Marinduque



There are numerous things to do in Marinduque during your vacation. But the following ten items are my recommendations:
1.Beach combing, snorkeling, bathing , scuba diving and sunset watching
This photo was taken at the balcony of the Beach House. Note that low tide is starting and the corals are starting to stick out also.


2.Caves Exploration-Spelunking. There are two caves worthy of exploration-Bathala in Santa Cruz and Tarug in Mogpog. The Bathala Cave consist of eight other caves. One of the caves has a resident python. Photo by Flickr.com

Resident Python-photo by 4.bp.blogspot.com
3.Island Hopping- The Tres Reyes Islands Marine Sanctuary, Polo and Maniwaya Islands.
This is Maniwaya island being develop as an alternative to Boracay, photo by panoramnio.com

4.Shopping for Morion masks and native handicrafts- nito products,wood carvings and potteries. This is a nito handbag, a popular gift item. Photo by handicrafts.org

5.Trip Around the Island-Sulfur and Hot Springs, Poctoy White Beach and Mt Malindig
This is Poctoy White Beach with Mt Malindig in the background in Torrijos, the most popular beach in the province.

6.Partaking and Enjoying the island delicacies- Ginatan na Manok sa Gata, bibingka, kare-kare and ulang-ulang soup. Photo of bibingka by wikimedia.org, yum, yum, it is delicious.

7.Join or just watch the Moriones Festival during Holy Week. Women Moriones Participants-photo by etravelpilipinas.com

8.Visit 400 year-old churches, ( Boac, Gasan and Santa Cruz )and antique homes in downtown Boac. This is one of the many antique houses in downtown Boac. This one is owned by my sister-in-law, Mrs Siony Jambalos. It is located just across the Boac Hotel.
The Green Mansion photo by Dong Ho
9.Watch colorful butterflies (in the butterfly farms) or native birds ( bird watching) in the foothills of Mt. Malindig. This is a monarch butterfly. Photo by howdididoit.com


10.Treat yourself to the most expensive and luxurious resort in Southern Luzon- The Bellarocca Resort and Spa in Buenavista or pamper yourself to an affordable private beach resort at Chateau Du Mer in Boac. The Beach House and Bridge at twilight.

For details visit the following websites: www.chateaudumer.com or http://marinduquemyislandparadise.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Modern Medicine versus local Albulario


Yesterday, our housekeeper, wife of our chief gardener and caretaker here at Chateau Du Mer(CDM),suddenly started throwing up and felt dizzy. She had also an excruciating headache. Macrine gave her an anti-nausea pill and aspirin but still she did not feel well. I took her blood pressure and it was normal.

She told us that there was a stranger in front of our house about an hour ago that probably was responsible for her bahoy/balis. Her husband decided to bring her to our local witch doctor who resided a couple of blocks from us. The local medicine woman confirmed that someone was responsible for her headache and vomiting.

Macrine and I thought she might be pregnant, but she told us definitely not, since she has been diligently taking her birth control pills. The medicine lady gave her ginger and advice her to boil the clothes she was wearing at the time she saw the stranger in front of the main house. She was told to drink a tablespoon of the boiled water and the rest as a sponged bath.

In the meantime, we gave her two tablets of aspirin and she went to sleep. The next day she was feeling better and her life was back to normal. So what cured her migraine headache? Aspirin or the medicine woman's brew?

There was another incident about the efficacy of the witch doctor medicine versus modern medicine. Five years ago, my 18 year old niece from Southern Califronia spent her summer vacation at Chateau Du Mer here in Marinduque. One morning just after beach combing for 30 minutes, she came home complaining of a severe stomach ache. We questioned her what kind of breakfast she had eaten, or did she ate or drunk any acidic drinks that morning. She said she had only toast, coffee and a banana. We gave her an anti-acid but her stomach ache still persisted.

Then our housekeeper asked her if she had meet a stranger while walking in the beach. She said yes. One of them was a local teenager we know and accompanied by another person we do not know. Our housekeeper requested her husband to look for the teenager and his companion and requested them to come to the house. Our housekeeper requested the stranger to apply his saliva in my niece stomach. After a few minutes, my niece aching stomach was cured and she felt relief.

I personally do not believe in nabahoy(excruciating headache) or nabalis(torturing stomach ache). However, there are other cases that I heard here in Marinduque besides the above two incidents. As discussed in the second case, the cure is see the person that gave you the scourge and get a sample of his/her saliva, then apply it to your head or stomach.

Interesting incidents indeed! What do you think? Heard of similar incidents in the Philippines or in other places?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day


A Love Story-Our Coming 55th Wedding Anniversary

Valentine' S Day is tomorrow here in the Philippines. The day is for lovers young and old. In my case, my wife are in our mid-70's so this coming Valentine's Day is really for the “Old”. We are old in chronological age but very young in spirit. My wife, Macrine and I have four adult children ranging in ages from 47 to 54 years old. We have six grand children ranging from 8 to 20 years old. This coming May 8 will be our 55th wedding anniversary.

Our love story started in the early 1950's at the University of the Philippines, in Diliman, Quezon City. I was introduced to my wife via her uncle, the late Reverend Father Constantino Nieva. At that time, Fr Tino ( that's how we called him when he was still alive) was a law student and the President of the University of the Philippines Student Action (UPSCA). UPSCA was a student organization with both social and religious goals under the guidance of the Late Reverend Father John P. Delaney, a Jesuit priest and Chaplain of the University for Roman Catholic residents of the UP campus. Macrine and I love music. We joined the UPSCA choir and our friendship developed into true love. In 1955 when I graduated from the University, Macrine and I had separated, since she transferred to another university.
However the next year during my 22nd birthday, she surprised me with a birthday cake, that she baked from scratch. It was an orange-chiffon cake, the best tasting cake I have ever tasted. We got together again that day. On May 8, 1957 we got married in Boac, Marinduque, her hometown. It was a 3-day celebration. The whole town were invited. Two water buffaloes, 10 baby pigs and 100 chickens were slaughtered for the occasion. We settled at our new home in Quezon City, a gift from both our parents.
I was then teaching Chemistry at the University of the Philippines- my Alma mater. In 1959, I received a positive response from my application for scholarship to do graduate studies in Chemistry to the United States. This stage in our married life is discussed in an article I wrote in my blog as follows:

“A year later, we were joyful to find out that my wife was in the family way with our oldest son. With all the blessings and major events transpiring in my life, I had completely forgotten about my personal vow to do graduate schoolwork in the US. One day I was surprised to receive a notice of an acceptance for a full teaching assistantship and scholarship. It was from one of the applications I sent out before we got married. The comfort and serenity of our married life was about to be shaken.

I enthusiastically shared this good news with my wife, who wasn't too glad to hear about it. The thought of me leaving her alone with a child on the way, to go halfway around the world, distressed her. We had several long and unproductive discussions regarding this favorable opportunity. I had to postpone my trip a few times to appease her. I was torn between choosing my ambition to do graduate studies in the US alone, or staying with my wife in the Philippines.

I had to make a tough decision before the graduate school offer expired. In retrospect, I was thankful to and appreciative of my late father-in-law who intervened on my behalf. If not, I would have been stuck in the Philippines teaching Chemistry at the university, and would have never seen the fulfillment of my ambition. I was not aware that he had advised my wife to reconsider her decision, and let me go freely to pursue my dreams.

My wife later on informed me that without her father's advice, she would not have given me her full consent to leave her and pursue my studies. She was not aware of the importance of my personal vow to do better in life, in light of failing to obtain my Latin Honors in college.

Inasmuch as my wife was anxious with our impending separation, I was deeply saddened to leave her alone, but excited to go and fulfill my dreams. I went ahead to the US for my graduate studies, but I was totally unprepared for what was in store for me. It was my first trip away from my homeland, family and friends. I was going to live and study in the American Midwest, and I had to adjust to the western lifestyle, culture and cold winter weather without any friends or relatives to comfort me.

During my first year in the US, the reality of living alone and studying in a foreign land negatively affected my drive and ambition. I was tempted twice to nearly quit school, leave the US and return to my family to the Philippines. Graduate schoolwork while teaching Chemistry was tough and demanding. I was miserably homesick, lonely and missed my wife very badly, especially during the Holidays and Christmas.

Moreover, the winters of Chicago were harsh, and can feel gloomy and depressing. It was difficult to tolerate the cold weather. I was accustomed to the tropical climate of the Philippines. In Chicago, I oftentimes asked myself what the heck I was doing in the US, with tears running down my face, and almost freezing on my cheeks and nose because of the frigid temperature. I could be happier and warm in my homeland, and be together with my cherished family.

The promise I made to fulfill my ambition, which was triggered by the one point I missed at the final examination in my Differential Calculus class, kept me going. I did my best with my work and studies. I never again considered quitting, and I was determined to finish what I had started. I finally made it, and I completed my Doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1964.

A year after I left the Philippines, my wife and our first baby, whose birth I did not witness, joined me in Chicago, Illinois. Their presence provided me with inspiration and encouragement to fulfill my ambition”.

The day after my Ph. D graduation was the start of my 25 years of professional career working for four private companies here in the US and then for another productive 12 years for the Food and Drug Administration(FDA). In 2002, I retired from FDA and started building our beach resort and retirement home in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.

I also wrote an article in one of my blogs on my secret of a lasting marriage. An excerpt of that article is as follows:

“Several of our friends and relatives often ask me what one has to do for a lasting marriage. In other words is there a formula or secret for a lasting marriage? The question has no specific answer and may vary from one couple to another. However, I do believe that the couple must really be in love with each other unconditionally. So, when do you know that both husband and wife have attained unconditional love?

You are truly in love with your partner when you have totally accepted her or his faults, weaknesses and flaws. There is no perfect human being, so once you have attained this outlook in your married life, your are indeed truly in love with your partner.

Do I have a secret formula for a lasting and happy marriage? I have no secret except that there should always be an open communication between you and your partner. In the case of my wife of 54 years, Macrine Nieva Jambalos, I have accepted her flaws and she has accepted my flaws and weaknesses. In addition, both of us have recognized our strengths as well as our gifts and different personalities. Again there is no perfect human being, and no perfect husband or wife. Our communication skills are perfect, we even think of the same things at the same time. A couple of days ago, when both of us were sitting in the patio just relaxing, all of a sudden I asked her about our grand daughter. Macrine was so surprise because at that moment she was thinking of exactly of the same subject. She asked me if I was reading her mind. Couples who have been married for a long time have usually the same likes and dislikes. But this is not a guarantee of a long lasting marriage. Sometimes, it is better to have different things to do, perhaps even a different hobby so as not to suffocate each other every minute of your daily life”.

This is my love story- 54 years and 9 months of patience, love, give and take and true communication. This coming Valentine's day, it will be only 90 days before we can celebrate our 55th wedding anniversary.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Working Alone versus Managing the work of Others


My career as a research chemist working in the laboratory for 27 years and later as Chemistry Team Leader for the Food and Drug Administration for another 12 years.

In my more than 41 years of professional career, I have experienced working alone as well as supervising the work of others. I have worked in four private firms( for 27 years) and the Federal Government( for 12 years), specifically, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I enjoyed both types of job situation. I tell you why.

My first job was for Chemagro Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri. The firm was a subsidiary of Bayer Corporation a German conglomerate. My title was “Chemist” and I worked for the Analytical Chemistry Department. The department was composed of about 50 employees half of them were either chemists or biologists. My specific task was to develop analytical methods for the detection of pesticide residues in plant and animal tissues. It was a very challenging job, being my first.

I worked alone with six other bench chemist and we report to a supervisor. I worked in Chemagro for five years. The firm sponsored the change of my student visa to a permanent resident visa, so my family and I can reside in the US permanently. The firm treated their employees very well. On Christmas time, all of us received a 13-month salary bonus. The employees along with their immediate families were also treated to an extravagant Christmas Party in a downtown Kansas City hotel, complete with dancing and free drinks all night. I left Chemagro to move to the West Coast for a milder winter climate as well as a 20% raised in salary. My supervisor wanted to keep me, but the company was only willing to give me a 10% salary raise.

My second industrial job was in the Agricultural Research Division of Shell Development Company in Modesto, California. My job title was “Research Chemist” and again I worked alone with five other chemist reporting to a supervisor who then reported to the head of the Analytical Department. My specific job was again developing analytical methods for detecting pesticide residues in plant and animal tissues. I worked for Shell Development for five years until the company decided to get out of the pesticide business and closed their research facility affecting the job of more than 200 employees.

My third industrial job was with Stauffer Chemical Company, Agricultural Research Division in Richmond, California. My job title was “Senior Research Chemist”. Again I worked alone doing the same project as my previous industrial jobs. I worked for 12years at Stauffer Chemicals with outstanding performance evaluation every year. I reached the position of Principal Research Chemist, the highest position attainable in the company without supervisory duties.

One day my supervisor called and informed me that my job has been terminated and I have one day to vacate the facility. It was the most shocking experience in my life. My feeling of anger, sadness and humiliation had been unforgettable. This incident was the lowest point in my professional career.

Fortunately, due to my networking abilities, I found another job just 4 weeks after my termination from the company. My job was in the same field as my expertise- Analytical Method Development for the Detection of Pesticide Residues in Food, Plants and Animal Tissues.

A friend from church hired me as a “Senior Research Chemist” and as a group leader with two technicians to supervise. My new employer ( Chevron Chemical Company) was also in Richmond, CA so I did not have to relocate my family. This job gave me the introduction and basic knowledge of managing the work of others. I worked for Chevron Company four and a half years, until the company decided to consolidate their research facilities in Texas. By this time after experiencing three lay offs working for a private company, I vowed that I will never worked for a private company.

My new goal was either to work for the state of California or the Federal government in Washington, D.C. Four months after I lost my job in Chevron,I was hired by the Food and Drug Administration(FDA)as a “Review Chemist” in the Fall of 1990. In 1994, I was promoted to “Expert Research Chemist” with a Government Service(GS)-14 rating. My expertise was on Antimalarial and Anti-parasitic drug products.

I worked alone doing Chemistry and Manufacturing reviews of all new drug anti-infective drug products submissions (NDA and IND) from pharmaceutical firms submitted to FDA.

As a reviewer, I have the privilege of working 2 days per week at home. I enjoyed this independence so much that I refused a promotion to team leader once. To be a team leader, you will not be able to work at home. You will be required to attend meetings both in-house and with representatives of Pharmaceutical firms every week. In addition you need to supervise six or more chemistry reviewers. However, the second time another opportunity arised, my co-reviewers and supervisor insisted I should apply since I am the best qualified. I did and in 1997, I became a Chemistry Team Leader. As far as I knew, I was the first Filipino-American to attained this position in the history of FDA.

As team leader, I was responsible for prioritizing, assigning, and assuring the technical accuracy of all chemistry, manufacturing and control issues for all new drug applications submitted to the Division of Anti-Infective Drug Products, Center of New Drugs. It was also my responsibility to give advice, instruct and promote high morale and teamwork in my group.

In 1998, I won the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Award. The citation reads, “For outstanding accomplishments in fostering the objectives of the EEO Program by hiring minorities and encouraging their professional growth while providing excellent leadership.” The award was the result of my hiring the first Black-American chemist in the Division.

I have received numerous certificates of appreciation, awards in leadership and communications, commendation for teamwork and excellence in the accomplishment of the FDA mission. I have also received several letters of appreciation from private industry for my review work.

There is nothing wrong with working alone, if you enjoyed your job. It is even better if you like your immediate supervisor. Working alone develops your skill in goal setting and scheduling. But in general, the monetary rewards is much lower than a person who has supervisory responsibilities.

Managing the works of others is not easy. However, it develops your skill to be more people-oriented and the monetary rewards are great. It is more stressful, more work and responsibility than working alone. But a supervisory job give more personal growth and satisfaction from my personal experience. My work in FDA as a team leader managing the work of six scientists had been the happiest and the most rewarding experience in my life.
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