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!

Monday, March 31, 2014

My Two Ylang Ylang Trees are in Bloom

One of my favorite Hibiscus in my Garden here at Chateau Du Mer. I have six varieties of this gumamela shrubs in my garden.

Since the last week of February at the start of our snow birding stay here at Chateau Du Mer in Amoingon, Boac, Macrine and I had been enjoying the fragrant and sometimes intoxicating smell of the Ylang Ylang flowers about 15 meters from our back porch. The smell is very strong in the late afternoon and early evening hours of the day.

Speaking of flowers, my new gardener did not understand me when I told him that the gardenia, plumeria and oleander flowering plants needed to be fertilized and cultivated. I realized then that the gardenia is called rosal, the plumeria is known as the kalachoche, the hibiscus is known as gumamela and the oleander is called adelpha here in Marinduque. With gardening in my mind today, please allow me to re post the following article I wrote about 4 years ago on the Ylang Ylang tree.

The Ylang Ylang Tree

I have two mature trees of Ylang Ylang in my garden at Chateau Du Mer. The two trees along with six mango trees were planted after the completion of the construction of our retirement house in 1990. When the trees are in bloom, you can smell the fragrance of the flowers 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.

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.

Characteristics

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.

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.

The Ylang Ylang Flowers
Uses

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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Is the Bellarocca Resort and Spa Closing?


With no air services from Manila to Marinduque, the financial success of the Bellarocca Resort in Buenavista is indeed not guaranteed and rumors are circulating that this 5 star resort is in financial distress and might even be closing soon. I could identify with the Bellarocca situation being a small beach resort owner here in Boac. Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort main income source is from tourist abroad ( US and Europe). This year I have lost several prospective clients from abroad for this Holy Week when they learned that there are no air services from Manila to the island. The tedious, overcrowded and almost whole day land and sea ride turned off three of my prospective clients from Europe this month. Thanks God, I do not depend my livelihood on my beach resort. I am re posting the photos, I took of Bellarocca during our post medical mission R & R in case you have not seen it. It will be a shame if Bellarocca resort will close because of the medieval( no air services) transportation amenities of this beautiful island province, I called my second home.













Above are some of the photos I took during our recent visit and overnight stay at the now world famous 5 star resort in Buenavista, Marinduque, Philippines-The Bellarocca Resort and Spa, last February 13-14, 2011. This visit was in connection of Marinduque International Inc, post medical mission R&R activity. Anne Miles (President of MI, Inc-2010-2011) and I arranged for this visit which included a Catholic Mass by Bishop Rey Evangelista of the Diocese of Boac and a Valentine Dinner Dance. The resort gave us a 50% discount on our accommodation but not on meals and other amenities. It was a visit to remember. The place is beautiful and the view of Mt. Malindig and the Marinduque mainland from our bedroom as well as from all public areas of the resort was mesmerising and breath-taking.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Time for the Joke of the Month



It has been a while since I have posted a joke in this site. This one is titled Underwear Dust from Sandee Comedy Plus. Enjoy!

One evening a husband, thinking he was being funny, said to his wife, 'Perhaps we should start washing your clothes in 'Slim Fast'. Maybe it would take a few inches off of your butt!'

His wife was not amused, and decided that she simply couldn't let such a comment go unrewarded.

The next morning the husband took a pair of underwear out of his drawer. 'What the heck is this?' he said to himself as a little 'dust' cloud appeared when he shook them out.

'Cathy, he hollered into the bathroom, 'Why did you put talcum powder in my underwear?'

She replied with a snicker. 'It's not talcum powder; it's 'Miracle Grow'!

Hat tip: Dr. Vern

Note: I hope it worked this time!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wolves and Pythons in Marinduque's Gateway

Beware of Scammers and Pythons Doing Door to Door Service from Manila to Marinduque
I am reprinting this article by Jun Pasaylo so that tourists are aware that there are scammers regarding the Door to Door Services from Manila to Marinduque. I am posting this especially for the benefit of my clients at Chateau Du Mer this coming Holy Week and Moriones Festival celebration. Please share this article so all the tourists coming to Marinduque are aware of this shenanigans of Pahid and his likes.

Marinduque: Wolves in its gateway
by Jun Pasaylo

AS A traveling journalist, there’s no place that captivated the tip of my pen as Marinduque — its enchantment can command the writer’s inspiration within me to chronicle the sweetest embrace of its places and people.
I never wrote (and published) so many stories of places as that of Marinduque since I first visited the place few years ago. Almost all of these stories remain accessible in the Internet via Philippine Star Online Portal, http://www.philstar.com.
But my good memories were tainted by an experience in my recent travel there last weekend.
At Balanacan Port, Mogpog, Marinduque. Photo: Mark Julius Estur
I came from a travel abroad and met my fiancée in Lucena City for her monthly pre-natal check-up. She is six month pregnant. After more than 12 hours in series of laboratory tests and shopping for maternity needs, we managed to catch the 10:30 p.m. Marinduque-bound vessel.
Seeing our cargoes, the porters met and offered us the “Door-to-Door” van service so we would save ourselves from the hassles of unloading-and-onloading when we reach Balanacan Port.
When we met the driver of “Door-to-Door” van (Plate No. 257, Green), I told him I will pay for six seats (we were only three — me, my fiancée, and our housemaid) provided that we will occupy the two seats on the front and the four seats at the back of the driver for our cargoes.
He has no words but, “Yes sir, no problem.” At P450 per head, I paid P2,700 for the six seats.
Leaving our things under the driver’s care and banking my trust to a Marinduqueno, I and my fiancée went upstairs and enjoy the three-hour boat ride from Dalahican Port in Lucena City to Balanacan Port in Marinduque.
But the romanticity of the moonlit evening was short live and turned into a nightmare.
When the Roro vessel positioned to dock Balanacan Port, we slowly squeezed ourselves to the lower deck like all other passengers. When we approached the “Door-to-Door” service, we find our baggage by the floor and not being on-loaded to the van.
While the passengers were busy for disembarkation, the driver attempted to put our cargoes at the back portion of his van, to which I protested because our earlier agreement was for those to be situated on the back of the driver seat.
Worse, when he opened the door of his van and invited us inside, the seats that were promised to us were already occupied and he wanted us (me, my fiancée and our maid) to sit in the back seats.
So I protested not to ride, considering that my pregnant fiancée could not be able to sustain the bumpy ride on the back. By this time, the driver called another man (later I knew him to be certain “Joel” a worker of Philippine Port Authority in Balanacan) and told us that Joel will guide us to a waiting van outside.
Hoping for another vehicle, we went with Joel only to find out that no van is waiting outside but a regular passenger jeepney. I went to the Police station to ask for a rescue, but no officer was awake that time (around 2am). When I went back to the Roro to confront the driver, he and his vehicle were nowhere to be found.
Later, I managed to know that the name of the driver was “Alyas Pahid”.
According to the porters that conversed with me, Alyas Pahid is a notorious scammer of tourists in Marinduque victimizing anyone that come in his way. But he still remains in his ill practice up until today because tourists don’t have time to file formal complaints against him, and authorities have done nothing to stop him.
Porters in Balanacan called him “Pahid” but I named him “Boy Buni” because you can easily identify him on the marks of “bunis” on his hands and face.
Few minutes later, we went back to the police station and managed to log the incident in the Police Blotter of Balanacan Police Station, leaving my number there with a promise from law enforcers that they will exerts all efforts to catch Pahid.
But until this blog is posted, I haven’t get any notice from the police that they intercepted Pahid and his vehicle amid the fact that there are only two entry-and-exit points in the province.
My fiancée has been once a victim to this kind of driver when the barker of “Door-to-Door” service promised that the van will travel up to Torrijos town, only to find out that the driver won’t go to her hometown anymore and left her past midnight at Sta. Cruz Plaza.
I wrote this article to warn tourists to Marinduque to watch for this man. I understood that he has connections because “Joel” himself, the man that brought us to the passenger jeep, has PPA identification in him.
I wrote this article because I pity those people and groups like the Marinduque Tourism Council that tirelessly promoted and trumpeting the havens of Marinduque in the tourism arena, not knowing of these wolves that are drooling to devour innocent victims even before they can set foot in the province.
I wrote this article to call on the attention of Marinduque tourism authorities to address this kind of problem because this is the main thrusts of your local tourism industry, a foremost strand of the province’s economic life.
I recalled my good experiences in the country’s top tourism destinations like Baguio and Davao, where you don’t need an extra tip for drivers but pay the fare according to the taxi meters. I left a DLSR Canon camera in Naga City and it was returned to me. I left a travel bag in a taxi in Legazpi City last December, and I still got it intact when it was returned to me early this month (February). You don’t need to worry to travel to Davao City if it’s your first time — go to the next police station and surely you have a law enforcer to guide you to your destination.
As we masquerade the province of Marinduque – Home of the Moriones Festival – to be on the top of the country’s tourism destination, these are the kind of people that we need to build, and not the kinds of “Pahid”, in the gateways of our localities. Grand Inquisitor
Comment:
Seller Nollos: I think the first thing that the board members has to do in our province is to pass a resolution to control our door-to-door services. We all know that all of these vans are holding a private license plate. Require them to have a franchise if they want to be in that business. Enough is enough for all of these monkey business.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Secret for Longetivity

My wife Macrine Nieva Jambalos Katague (for 57 years) turned 78 years old the other day. Thanks to all who extended their birthday greetings via FB and especially to Dr Celia Roque for her personal call. We did not have a big party as she requested. However, we have all the close relatives for lunch. We have pancit, egg rolls, fruit salad, leche flan, buko pie, empanada, spaghetti(no sugar)and the chiffon birthday cake with number 78 as the decor. Her birthday reminded me of the article I wrote 2 years ago as follows:

Last Sunday, Macrine ( my spouse of 55 years) and I attended a birthday celebration of one of our oldest couple friends here in Northern California. The couple are both retired physicians and are celebrating their 85th( wife) and 90th(husband) birthdays as well as their 57th Wedding Anniversary. The last time we saw them was in the mid 1980's, although we received Christmas greetings from them annually. Thus, we were delighted to be invited and are still healthy enough to attend. This is an example that senior citizens are still a major boost in the economy of the US.

The party was held in the 14th floor of the Hilton Garden Hotel in Emeryville, California. There were about 100 guests about 90% senior citizens. The party started with a Thanksgiving Catholic Mass and followed by a lunch reception of either filet mignon or salmon steaks. At the party we also had a chance to get reacquainted with several of our former couple friends and neighbors in Pinole who were members of the Filipino-American Association and also friends from church in the mid 1980's. Of course all of them are retired.

The couple celebrant have also a similar lifestyle with us-that is they are also snow birds. Like us, they spend their winter months in the Philippines. What was outstanding was the entertainment after lunch that children and grandchildren offered to the guests. I was also surprised that both couples were still lively and strong. Not one of them needed assistance in walking and none of them had suffered a serious illness. Their goal is to reach their 100 birthdays. I have a feeling, they may be able to achieve this goal. Incidentally, the nonagenarian celebrant is our compadre. He is the godfather of our youngest son confirmation about 40 years ago. Our son is now 50 years old.

I also got to chat with another guest who was our former primary-care physician in the 1980's. He told me, he is still working part time and still a practicing surgeon part time that is two times a week. I am a little envious of his situation since we are about the same age.

It was indeed fun to reminisce our younger days. The above experience reminded me of the following article I am reading today from CNN money magazine as follows:

Retirement age must rise - OECD By Emily Jane Fox :

Gradually increasing retirement ages may be the only way governments can keep up with people living longer, a report said on Monday.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As life expectancy continues to rise, a new report suggests that governments need to raise the age of retirement in order to keep up. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said that by 2050, the average woman and man can expect to live roughly 24 and 20 years beyond retirement age respectively, up from 20 and 17 years in 2010. At the same time, retirement ages across many countries have stayed the same.

Without a change, the Paris-based economic think-tank said governments won't be able to pay for more people needing retirement funds for longer periods of time. "Extending working lives in a situation of slowly growing or declining workforces should provide an important boost to economic growth in aging economies," according to the report, which was released Monday.

The United States could use a boost. Social Security has already begun paying out more in benefits than it takes in from workers' payroll taxes. The trustees of the Social Security program reported in April that the program projects a $165 billion deficit in 2012. Social Security could pay promised benefits in full through 2033, the report said.

Raising the full retirement age gradually to 70 years-old could help plug this deficit by reducing Social Security outlays by 13 percent, the Congressional Budget Office reported in January. "With the fact that people are living longer, they should be partly responsible for meeting the cost of longer life expectancy," said Juan Yermo, head of the private pensions unit at OECD.

Today, the full retirement age in the United States is 66, up from 65 a decade ago. It is scheduled to increase by two months a year starting in 2017 until it reaches 67 in 2022. Meanwhile, 62 remains the age at which those who retire early can collect a percentage of their full benefits. The OECD suggested, however, that "67 or higher is becoming the new 65." "Extending the period over which you're contributing to the pension system would be less of a burden for everyone," Yermo said.

When will you be able to retire? Experts say that the benefits of keeping people in the work force could spread beyond social security.

"People today in their sixties are not only living longer, but they're healthier," said Don Fuerst, senior pension fellow at the American Academy of Actuaries. "They can be a productive part of our society, and our economy needs for them to be productive. They could give our economy a boost."

I can not end this article without telling you that I did asked my octogenarian and nonagenarian friends what is the secret of their longevity: They both answered: We tried to be active both socially and physically and we never stop smiling...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Battered Husbands and/or Boyfriends

I just learned of a recent event of a victim of the silent battered husband syndrome, prompted me to republish the following post, I wrote three years ago.

The first time I heard of a case of a battered husband was about 10 years ago when I was still working for FDA. One of the Review Chemist I had supervised confided in me, that the reason he is now divorce is that his former wife has been beating him almost at least once a month for the last two years. At first, he just protected himself, but after the fourth beating, he reported it to the police. The police came to their apartment, investigated and nothing else happened. The physical and mental abuse continued until he finally decided to break the marriage and left his wife. There was a restraining order issued against his wife.

My first reaction is of disbelief. This man although soft spoken is 6.6 ft, athletic and very masculine. He has a also a Ph. D degree in Chemistry, very personable,and friendly. I ask myself, Is this man telling the truth? But the way he confided in me was very convincing and I believe him. The abuse was not only physical but also mental according to him. The guy is about 45 years old and the couple have no children.

The second case of a battered husband that I heard was just recently in the Philippines. This case is sad and really touched my heart since the battered husband is a close relative of my wife. During one of our many family reunions, I noticed the absence of his wife. I ask him why his wife is not around. He said, I do not have a wife anymore, will you help me Tito to look for another. I was embarrassed for asking the question and totally forgot about the incident. However, the next day, I was talking to his Mom. She told me about the domestic abuse that her son has tolerated for the last 10 years. It was only last year that he told his Dad and Mom of what is going on. They are now separated. They separated couple have 2 children, 9and 2 years old. The children are with him, but his wife has visiting rights. In this case the abuse is also both physical and mental. As in case number one above, this man is good looking, athletic, very personable, and intelligent. This guy is only 39 years old. The above two cases prompted me to do a google search on this subject of battered men as follows:

Why Do We Know So Little About Domestic Abuse And Violence Against Men?
There are many reasons why we don't know more about domestic abuse and violence against men. First of all, the incidence of domestic violence reported men appears to be so low that it is hard to get reliable estimates. In addition, it has taken years of advocacy and support to encourage women to report domestic violence. Virtually nothing has been done to encourage men to report abuse. The idea that men could be victims of domestic abuse and violence is so unthinkable that many men will not even attempt to report the situation.

The dynamic of domestic abuse and violence is also different between men and women. The reasons, purposes and motivations are often very different between sexes. Although the counseling and psychological community have responded to domestic abuse and violence against women, there has been very little investment in resources to address and understand the issues of domestic abuse and violence against men. In most cases, the actual physical damage inflicted by men is so much greater than the actual physical harm inflected by women. The impact of domestic violence is less apparent and less likely to come to the attention of others when men are abused. For example, it is assumed than a man with a bruise or black eye was in a fight with another man or was injured on the job or playing contact sports. Even when men do report domestic abuse and violence, most people are so astonished men usually end up feeling like nobody believes them.

Do you know of a case of battered men? Here's a video for additional information on this unrecognized but important subject. Your comments will be appreciated.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Philippine Cobra and Python in Marinduque

Do You know that Marinduque is also the habitat of the Philippine Cobra and the Python? Based from the personal experience of our new house maid, the Philippine cobra and the python constrictor thrive very well on her neighborhood. Our new help has a house in Balagasan-a barrangay in the interior of the province that is mountainous but close to the Boac River. The python would visit their backyard at night and all she could her was the gasping breath of one of her roosters. On the otherhand she almost step on a cobra on her way to do her laundry in the nearby creek, a subsidiary of the Boac River.

The Philippine cobra occurs mostly in the northern regions of the Philippines. They can be found on the islands of Luzon, Mindoro, Catanduanes, and Masbate. This species likely may occur in other neighboring islands, but this remains unconfirmed. Records from the Calamianes group and Palawan require confirmation. The above information is what Wikipedia says. But I have now documented that the Philippine Cobra is also found in the mountains of the interior of the province of Marinduque. This knowledge is based on the personal experience of our new house maid who is a resident of Balagasan. Balagasan is in the interior of the province which is mountainous, but not too far from the Boac river and its small creeks. ]

So if you want to see a Philippine cobra and a python killing a chicken, go the mountainous barrangays of Boac such as Balimbing, Balagasan, Mainit and Binonga.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Life in the Philippines: Expensive Restaurants in Luxurious Malls and Usury


Who Says the Philippines is a Poor Country?

Last month we stayed at my sister-in-law Condo in Metro Manila for 4 days prior to our snowbirding sojourn in Marinduque. One Saturday first cousins Olga and Lito Quiazon treated us for lunch at Mesa Restaurant. This restaurant is located at the new SM Shopping Mall called the Aura at Taguig right at C-5. The mall was huge and beautiful and better built and design in most of the malls, I have visited in Northern California. There must be parking spaces for more than 10,000 cars.

Dining at this restaurant and window shopping in this mall, you will never think the Philippines is a poor country compared to US or Singapore. The restaurant was full and there was about a 3o minutes wait if you arrived after 12 noon. Luckily we have reservations at 11:30 and we we were served promptly. There were six adults in our party. Olga ordered about 5 main dishes, a soup dish a salad entry and two desserts. The servings were small similar to what they called the California cuisine. In spite of the small servings the food was delicious. One particular dish that I like was the binago-ongan. This is a dish made of pork and flavored with shrimp paste called bago-ong. In general I hate bago-ong because oftentimes it is salty and its fishy smell. But this binago-ong is just perfect and no smell plus the pork was tender and delicious. The other dish that I love was their fresh pomelo salad. Speaking of pomelo ( Pinoy or Chinese grapefruit).our two pomelos here in Amoingon were very fruitful this year. Last January, it yielded about 400 pomelos. When we arrived in Amoingon the last week of February, there were only about two dozen fruits that are still on the tree that my wife and I were able to enjoy

Back to the Mesa restaurant at the SM Aura Mall. Although the servings were small, the prices were expensive that only the rich Filipinos and Balikbayans that earned dollars can afford to dine, I truly believed. I saw Lito paying the waiter 5000 pesos for our lunch. In our party were 4 senior citizens with a 20% discount card that we all gave to Lito This made sense, when I remembered that the prices of the dishes in the menu ranged from 250 to 400 pesos. Again, thank you Olga and Lito for the delicious lunch. So who says The Philippines is a poor country. ( The dollar to pesos exchanged rate at that time was 1 to 44).

On another subject about life here in the Philippines: The usurious practice of lenders here in Marinduque makes me vomit. Our new care taker( for Macrine) lives in a barangay in the interior of Marinduque. It takes her an hour of bumpy roads riding in a tricycle from her village to downtown Boac. Two days after she received her first salary, she requested to take a day off. She informed me that she needed to pay a loan that she took 2 months ago of 500 pesos. Two months later she is being charge an interest of 100 pesos, so her total loan is now 600 pesos. I started calculating in my mind what the interest rate. It comes to 10% per month or 120% annually. I was so shocked when I heard this. But after talking to my driver here, I was informed this is common practice here in Marinduque. The lenders become rich, but when they die their souls will go to Hell because of their usurious ways. I told my driver in the US one can go to jail if they get caught. However here in Marinduque and possibly other parts of the Philippines, this lending practice is a way of life.

Our corrupt Pinoy legislators should pass a law to make usurious practices a crime and not to exclude themselves. Maybe I am just dreaming or very naive by even thinking about this.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Let us Start the Day with Some Classical Music

Today is a beautiful day in Boac, Marinduque. It is time to open the day with 4 of my favorite classical pieces..Enjoy!

The following four classical pieces are my favorites. Listening to them lowers my blood pressure and relaxes me and I forget all the problems of the world. How about you, do you have any favorite classical music? Does classical music relaxes you?

Tchaikovsky-None But the Lonely Heart


Shoztakovich-Romance (From the Gadfly)


Rachmaninov- Rhapsody from the Theme of Paganini

Chopin Waltz-Grand Valse Brillante

Sunday, March 16, 2014

7-Day Continental Breakfast Menu at Chateau Du Mer


During the months of March and April when we are here in Boac, continental breakfast for 2 is complimentary to guests who pre-pay their rental. The following is the one week menu at the resort.

1. Mango or banana pancakes with syrup and Australian butter

2. French Toast

3. Regular toast with Eggs ( scrambled with onions, tomatoes or green pepper ( huevos rancheros)

4. Pandesal

5. Oatmeal from US or cereal

6. Fried Rice with sausage or with Vienna Sausage

7. Rice Cake( suman) or Puto

Coffee( Brewed Barracco) or tea, orange juice and fruit of the season ( banana, mango, cantaloupe or papaya) accompanies all breakfast meals

Coffee is brewed from the beans (not instant) and strong ( if you do not like strong coffee it will be diluted with water)

During your check in we will take your breakfast preference. Choice of juice and fruit of the season is our call!

Our mango pancakes has been a favorite of our clients from US and Europe the last 5 years when we started offering Continental breakfasts

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Is the Filipino Accent Funny or Not?


Image from shutyourmouthtumbler.com
The following video (and related videos) explain why Filipinos like to joke about their Filipino accents. In my previous posting I discussed the numerous number of dialects in the Philippines. A stranger will usually guess what part of the country you came from by just listening to your accent. Some accents annoyed me, others I love to hear. If you are a Filipino-American, which accent annoys you? The Ilocano, the Ilonggo, the Batanganeo or the Cebuano? Enjoy the following videos.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Short Video of The Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort

It is less than a month when festivities of The Holy Week and Moriones Festival 2014 Celebration will showcase the province of Marinduque as the Lenten Capital of the Philippines. The following video was taken three years ago, but it is timeless and still applicable today. Here's the video in case you have not seen it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Frustrations and Tribulations of a Primary Care Giver


Last year my wife of 57 years was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She is taking two medications that control her tremors. However, the two medications had several side effects such as constipation, nausea, itching, hypersensitive to sound and minor events in her daily living.

Her constipation and itching are alleviated by drugs and diet. Nausea is prevented by herbal drugs as ginger tea. However her hypersensitivity to sound and excessive concern for minor events in her life often frustrates me. I have to be patient and kept my cool most of the time. However today here in Amoingon, an event occurred that made me raised my voice in frustrations. But before I discussed this event , let me described our life here in Marinduque versus our daily life in Northern California, USA.

In the US I am the primary care giver with some minor help from my youngest son who also live with us. My son works full time and he can only help during his days off. My wife needs constant attention to prevent fatal falls because of her unbalanced gait, and walk. Last year she fell five times. Luckily her falls were not serious and I was there to help her.

Here in Marinduque we hired two temporary help until the first week of May-our scheduled return to the US. This is a much needed relief of my duties as the primary care giver. However at night I am always ready to assist her going to the bathroom and her other personal needs when our live-in help is asleep in the next bedroom.

The other day an incident occurred that made my wife very upset with concern. One of the gardeners doing yard work cut his hand while cutting a young coconut to drink the coco water. We immediately washed it with water and alcohol and applied bandage to the wound. The next day he did not report for work and my wife was so concern for the welfare of our gardener. She wanted me to drive him to the local hospital for a tetanus injection right away while we are still having breakfast. I told her to wait for our driver who was doing some errands and let him drive the gardener to the hospital for his injections.

I told my wife today I am waiting for a call from the US regarding the prospect of renting the beach house for Holy Week this year thus I can not leave the house. She murmured that I am more concern of the call from the US than saving the life of our gardener from a tetanus infection. When I heard this I blow my cool and raised my voice in frustration. I felt MY BLOOD PRESSURE went up. I have to go to my computer for relief and to calm down from my anger and frustration. Again, thank you DSL and my Internet Connection!

Again, Please Lord let me maintain my cool at all times especially when irrational behavior occurs with your love ones that is suffering from neurological disorder such as PD and AZD.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Battered Wives in the Philippines


Last month while interviewing for a caretaker for my wife, we decided on the second applicant that appeared to be soft-spoken and showed empathy on my wife’s illness. The first applicant did not show up and informed us she is scared of ghosts and Goblins she feels reside in our big compound. After a few days our new help informed us that she accepted as a live-in help, because she is scared that her husband will harm her if she does not leave him soon. She told us her life story of both physical and verbal abuse. Evidently, her husband is an alcoholic and jobless. We told her she will be employed until May when we return to the US and her husband do not follow her here in Amoingon. This incident reminded me that battered wives are not rare species in the Philippines. This is an experience that reminded me about two decades ago of rumors that two of my wife cousins were battered wives but were smart enough to leave their husbands before something bad could have happened. Today, my wives cousins appeared to be happy in their second marriages.

Please note that this is my 3rd article on battered wives and husbands that I have personally experienced both here in the Philippines and the United States.

Is the Philippine government( social services) and the Catholic church doing anything to alleviate this problem?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Inefficiency of the Boac PLDT Computer System


Three years ago, I applied for a DSL internet connection for our retirement home here in Amoingon, Boac( see photo above). At that time, I was told that the waiting time was 3 months. Since we were staying only for 4 months, it was simple economics not to have it connected. I was also informed that If I want to use the same telephone number, I have to ask authorization from my sister-in-law to transfer the phone from her name to my name. My sister-in-law did all the requirements including a letter that she is transferring her rights of the 332-1338 telephone number to my name. The next year, I followed my application and was informed that they have no records of my application and the telephone number is still in my sister-in-law’s name. I reapplied and when I inquired how long it will take for the installation I was told four weeks. I decided again, it is not a smart decision money wise to have an Internet and Wifi connection also that year, since we will be using it only for about one month.

Three weeks ago this year, I decided I will apply for a DSL connection as soon as I arrived in Boac. We arrived in Boac Sunday and next day I went to the PLDT office and inquire about my application for a DSL connection. They have my name in their computer system, but the telephone number is still in my sister-in-law’s name. Again this time I called my sister-in-law and I let her talk to the PLDT representative. The representative told her to FAX an ID to their office and another letter transferring her rights to the number to my name. In the meantime, I have to reapply again for the 3rd time. I decided to do it, because I was informed it will take only from one week to 2 weeks waiting time. I was told PLDT will process the installation first and after that process the name transfer. I told PLDT to call me or text me prior to the Installation, to be sure I am home.

Exactly one week after my application, my door bell rang. Two PLDT Technicians told me they are ready to install my DSL and Wifi Connection to my computer. My computer happened to be 10 years old and had no port connection for the Internet cable. I called my computer technician for home service and after one hour my computer was cable ready. The technician was able to make my computer work for about an hour, but it was old and very slow. Moreover my PC Monitor finally conked out. I decided to purchase a new computer, monitor, key board and a mouse. For 15K, I have a brand new computer with a 20” Monitor and I am satisfied with the speed of the Internet Connection.

I have been using my DSL Internet for 3 days when this afternoon, I received a call from a PLDT representative asking for my sister-in-law. I told her my name and inform her my sister do not reside here and is in Manila. So she said maybe I can answer a few questions about the recent DSL connection in my home here in Amoingon. I said in the affirmative.

She asked me if I am happy of the Installation and why. I told her I am neither happy or unhappy of the Installation process. However, I am very unhappy that the phone number is still in my sister-in-law's name. I gave the representative the history of the name transfer and told her the company computer system stinks if it ever exists. She apologize, but I was happy I was able vent my frustration to her on the inefficiency of the PLDT computer system. The representative apologized but did not say, she is going to investigate on the status of the name transfer application. The next time a PLDT representative ask for my sister-in-law name regarding our telephone number, I will raise Hell again! I want to be sure though that I have taken my blood pressure pill, before I raise my voice in frustration.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Resort and Hotel Owners Getting Ready for Caving Congress


The other day I attended a meeting for hotel and resort owners in the town of Boac, Marinduque, Philippines. The meeting was called by the Municipality of Boac in coordination with the Provincial government of the province of Marinduque. The 14th National Caving Congress will be held from April 10 to 14 in Boac. There will be around 200 attendees expected from local, national and international cave enthusiasts and their families.

The meeting was scheduled at 1:30PM at the third floor of Boac Municipal Building . Most of the hotel and resort owners or their representatives were present on time except for three owners that arrived at 2PM. As expected the meeting did not start as scheduled ( Filipino time). But I was delighted the meeting started at 2PM only 30 minutes late. The organizers requested the owners to bring with them the available packages of accommodation for their venue for the duration of the meeting, including rates, amenities and rooms availability. In that meeting I met two non-tagalog speaking owners. One is a French Canadian and the other is Dutch. The hotel owned by the Dutchman is still under construction, but will be ready by April 1 in time for the Caving Congress. He will name his hotel, Amsterdam Palace. The hotel has no website yet, but I promise to help him create a site at blogger.com before April 1.

One issue mentioned during the meeting was the completion of the Marinduque Airport. It was mentioned that the province will be lucky if the airport construction will be done by July or August this year(hopefully not next year).

The Caving Congress will feature only 4 caves in the province, although there are over 100 caves in the province of various sizes including one with a subterranean river system located in San Isidro, Santa Cruz. It was also mentioned that there is now a private tour company in Boac offering several day tour packages ranging from 1800 to 2700 pesos per person which includes lunch and merienda. The privately owned Bathala Cave will not be in the tour, since it is not well maintained.

I reiterated that without air services, tourism will not thrived in Marinduque. One hotel owner commented that Marindque is so near from Manila but yet so far because of the absence of air transportation services to the island.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Major Renovation and Long Term Lease Availability of the CDM Beach House


Since last month several renovation projects had been initiated at the Chateau Du Mer Beach House. The first project is the installation of a more durable fence consisting of cement, hollow blocks and PVC pipes. Thus, there will be no more rusts problems( from the salty ocean breezes) of the chain link fence that had provided security and privacy of the property for the last 15 years. Estimated cost of this project is $2000 ( dollars). As of today the dollar to peso exchange is 1 to 44.7 in Manila and 1 to 44.3 here in Marinduque.

The second project is upgrading the electrical wiring system to accommodate new air conditioning system.

The third project is installing stainless steel gutter system.

The fourth project is to install new shade system in the balcony at the upper floor of the beach house.

Last year a kitchenette area was installed at the lower level. The kitchenette has a refrigerator, two-hole gas burners and a microwave oven for light cooking.

Completion of this renovation is targeted one week before the Holy Week Season. As of today, I have received several inquiries from several prospective clients from Manila, Europe and from the US. I required a minimum of 3-4 days stay at the beach house and an advance deposit of 1000 pesos to confirm the dates of your reservation.

As of today our most important business decision is to make available a long term rental of the beach house( minimum of 6 to 12 months renewable lease).

If you know of anyone looking for a beach house to rent on a long term basis please contact me. I will give a 10% commission to all referrals based on the first month rental lease agreement. For details call me at 042-332-1338 ( land line in Philippines) or on my cell phone 09098967590 or in my US phone at 916-961-3365. Please also visit my site at http://chateaudumer.blogspot.com or at www.chateaudumer.com

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Only in Marinduque


This morning a door to door service woke me up at 4:30AM. I was in deep sleep when I heard the newly installed buzzer in our front gate. I thought the kids in the neighborhood were playing with the buzzer as in previous years. The bell rang two more times and I realized is time to wake up and see who is ringing the door bell . I walked barely awake to the front gate about 20 meters and asked what time is it and who is ringing the buzzer in this early morning hours.

I heard an apologetic response, door to door service Sir. What time is it? 4:30AM Sir. Why so early? Please be patient with us Sir. We are still delivering to Buenavista. Our load of fresh vegetables are rotting, that is the reason for this very early delivery.

I opened the gates, 4 small boxes and a long side table with glass top was delivered in my back porch. After checking that the glass top was not broken, the door to door service with another apology went on their way to Buenavista about 45 minutes away. The delivery was part of the mop and pail package that my sister in-law purchased for me in Manila. It cost 600 pesos. It is needed to clean our marble floors in the main house and the tile floors of the conference Hall. The glass top side table and other boxes were for my sister-in-law beach house and cottage.

Thank you dear sister-in-law for ordering the mop as well as my new PC and monitor, but hopefully the next delivery will not be early in the morning as this one.

Another item I want to mention is the dental service in this poor island with no air service from Manila. In general the dental services here are comparable to US standards and are much, much cheaper than the dental cost in California. I had ordered two new dental partials last year. The other day, one of the teeth in my lower partial broke after I eat a small piece of lechon skin ( roasted baby pig).

I tried to call my dentist in his land line several times. His telephone kept on ringing but no one is responding. I got tried ringing his phone, so I decided that my driver and I just drive to his office. Luckily, he was in his office and have my partial fix after leaving it overnight.
The third item I observed that is only in the Philippines is the special check out line for senior citizens in the grocery stores. During our 4 day stay in Manila prior to our land and sea trip to Marinduque, we purchased about a 2 weeks supply of grocery staples, fruits and vegetables. I was accompanied by my sister-in-law who has a senior citizen card and booklet. I was surprised to see a special check out line with seats for waiting only for senior citizens. I believe we got a 5% discount for certain basic food items, but not for alcohol and tobacco. Not much discount, but every penny here in the Philippines counts. There is no such line in the US.

Finally, I want to emphasize that I am really enjoying our 90 days snowbirding time here in Marinduque so far. The mornings are cool but in mid day it is getting hot and humid- a sign that the hot summer season in the island Paradise is getting near.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Did Your Parents Gave You a Lucky Name?


Image from luux.com

My late Mother-in-law had given my wife a formula based on numbers for predicting whether a marriage,a birth of a child or any addition to your household will bring good or bad luck or even death to your family or household. My wife had followed this formula when we assigned names to our four children. I am not superstitious, but I follow it also, because I have witnessed several cases of relatives in the Philippines, that has suffered early death, divorce or sickness because the combination of the baptismal names of the couples falls into the category of CONDENADO ( meaning condemned or death). There are five categories, BUENAS( good luck), DUDUSO ( doubtful), PELIGRO ( danger), MALAS( bad luck) and CONDENADO. I have the number values for the 26 alphabets and the numbers that are suppose to be lucky, doubtful, danger, bad luck and condemned. But my wife refused to give her permission that I divulge this in my blog. But here is the essence of this pseudo science of numerology.

The 26 alphabets are assigned numerical values from zero to 26. Some of the alphabets have the same values. Eight alphabets are valued 12, four alphabets are valued 9, three alphabets are valued 18, and the rest from of the alphabets are valued from zero to 26.

The letters in your Baptismal name is added. This sum tells the numerologist if your number is either of the above five categories. Then the baptismal name of your wife is also added. The sum of your name and your spouse is added. If it exceeds 30, you start counting to 1. If you have a baby, the baptismal name of the baby is added to both husband and wife's total. Any addition to the household, even household help must be considered especially if the maid, cook or gardener lives in your house.

So how will you know if the sum of all the names in your household will bring you good or bad luck?

There is a list of lucky numbers, unlucky numbers, doubtful numbers, danger numbers and condemned numbers. There are 7 lucky numbers among them are 7, 9 and 11. There are eight unlucky numbers among them are 4, 8, and 29. There are 20 doubtful numbers among them are 5, 6 and 27. There are 8 danger numbers among them 12, 15 and 23. There are 8 condemned numbers among them are 3, 13 and 30.

Let me cite a specific example. My name "David" has a numerical value of 30 or zero. From the chart of 5 categories it is a bad number. So my parents did not give me a lucky name. But if you combined it with my wife's name value 21 our total is 21. The number 21 is doubtful. When our oldest son was born we made it sure that the combination of our 3 names is among the lucky numbers of 1,3,7, 9,and 11.

This numerology system is similar but not identical to the Chinese numerology.
For example number 4 is a pretty bad number in Cantonese, for it sounds death, but in this system 4 is a good number. Eight is a good number in Chinese, but a danger number in this system. Both 1 and 9 are good numbers in Chinese and in my mother-in-law numerology chart.

Curious? I am sorry I can not elaborate more on this. My wife says, it will be bad luck to give details of this Numerology Activity that my Mother-in-law had been practicing for years when she was still alive. Evidently, this has been passed from generation to generation and believe to have originated from Spain. Have you heard a similar activity in your local province in the Philippines, UK or in Spain?.

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