Welcome to Marinduque-My Island Paradise

If this is your first time in my site, welcome! If you have been a follower, my heartfelt thanks to you, also. Help me achieve my dream, that someday, Marinduque will become a world tourist destination not only on Easter Week, but also whole year round. You can do this by telling your friends and relatives about this site. The photo above is Mt Malindig in Torrijos.
Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news in this blog . Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on the infringement of your copyrights. Cheers!

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands
View of Mainland Marinduque from Tres Reyes Islands-Click on Photo to link to Marinduque Awaits You

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I want to Go Home Now! It is Hot in Here!


The whole province of Marinduque is now celebrating the Moriones Festival. The weather is hot and humid. So a few minutes ago Macrine gave a sigh of yearning, "I want to Go Home now, it is hot here and I missed my rib-eye steak". I immediately replied that we have less than 3 weeks of snowbirding left and she should be patient. I then ask what she really miss in US. Here's her list.

*Cooking in an air conditioned kitchen

* Our weekly trip to the Casino and Dinner Out

* Our weekly visit from Carenna and Ditas

The food that she misses are rib eye steak, roast beef, beef stroganoff, and Dungeness Crabs.

In my case, I really miss my 24-hr internet availability using my 48" PC personal monitor. I also missed the tender and juicy steak from Raleighs and the Chili Relleno from El Torito. Besides the above, what else will we miss when we fly back to US in three weeks?

I will miss my Garbens, Orchids, Fruit orchard, the gentle sea breezes and the lovely sunset.
I will miss the papayas, chicos, bananas and mangoes
I will miss my daily walk and exercise along the beach and inside the compound.

Here are a few things that we will never miss in Marinduque

The crowing of the roosters as early as 3:00AM

The barking of the pack of dogs in the middle of the night

The crazy and inconsiderate jeepney and tricycle drivers

The dogs,pedestrians, children and chickens crossing the national road without any warning

The electrical power brown outs and lastly

The heat and humidity of the summer months of April and May

But next year we will back to get away from the winter chills of US ( our main reason for snowbirding)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

No Mangoes this Year, but Plenty of Chicos and Papayas



Chicos and Bananas
Due to the frequent rains in the month of March, most of the mango flowers have rotted except in a couple of trees. However, my other fruit trees are prolific starting with my papayas and pomelo( native grape fruit) trees. I have several varieties of papayas. My favorite variety ( see photo above) is the dwarf. Since December last year and until now we averaged harvesting 2 papayas per week. Our most prolific trees are the pomelos. I have two trees. One is the sweet variety and the other the sour variety. We have harvested more than 100 fruits per tree since last year. We have to give away some of the fruits to neighbors and relatives. The pomelo has even reached to the nephews and niece of Macrine in Manila.

The next tree that was productive was our star apple tree. However, we were able to enjoy only about 2 dozen fruits, most of it was eaten by the fruit bats before we could harvest it. Our big tamarind tree is also loaded with fruits until now. No body wants the fruits and it is just rotting in the ground. Occasionally, one of our temporary gardener picks up some of the fruits makes it into a jelly. It is delicious, but very laborious.

The other tree that is very productive are my chico trees. We have already harvested more than 200 fruits. Some of the fruits are huge, close to the size of a peach. In general chicos are about the size of plums or apricots.

My favorite fruit tree is the jackfruit. We have three trees. One is a native variety and the other two are from Thailand. It was a gift of Gen Recaredo Sarmiento- our local fruit grower expert.

My other trees that are loaded with flowers are the cashew and avocado trees. Oh, yes I have 7 pineapples plants and three of them have already fruits. Too bad when the fruits mature, we will back to US by then.

I have two guayabano trees, three ates ( custard apple0 AND ONE SANTOL TREE. They looked green and healthy, but no signs of flowering.

My two rambutan trees have recovered from the typhoon last year. Unfortunately, my two lanzones and durian trees never recovered from the heavy rains and winds last year.

I am indeed a happy man. My dream in my childhood years to live surrounded by fruit trees had been attained.

Addendum to My Article on Drug Expiration Dates and Its Efficacy

The other day, I wrote my personal comments about drug expiration dating and its efficacy. I had several positive comments and it seems the topic was informative. Below is an article on the subject which added confirmation on my personal knowledge is this subject. I hope you enjoy the article as follows:

Do Medications Really Expire? By Richard Altschuler

Does the expiration date on a bottle of a medication mean anything? If a bottle of Tylenol, for example, says something like "Do not use after June 1998," and it is August 2002, should you take the Tylenol? Should you discard it? Can you get hurt if you take it? Will it simply have lost its potency and do you no good?

In other words, are drug manufacturers being honest with us when they put an expiration date on their medications, or is the practice of dating just another drug industry scam, to get us to buy new medications when the old ones that purportedly have "expired" are still perfectly good?

These are the pressing questions I investigated after my mother-in-law recently said to me, "It doesn't mean anything," when I pointed out that the Tylenol she was about to take had "expired" 4 years and a few months ago. I was a bit mocking in my pronouncement -- feeling superior that I had noticed the chemical corpse in her cabinet -- but she was equally adamant in her reply, and is generally very sage about medical issues.

So I gave her a glass of water with the purportedly "dead" drug, of which she took 2 capsules for a pain in the upper back. About a half hour later she reported the pain seemed to have eased up a bit. I said "You could be having a placebo effect," not wanting to simply concede she was right about the drug, and also not actually knowing what I was talking about. I was just happy to hear that her pain had eased, even before we had our evening cocktails and hot tub dip (we were in "Leisure World," near Laguna Beach, California, where the hot tub is bigger than most Manhattan apartments, and "Heaven," as generally portrayed, would be raucous by comparison).

Upon my return to NYC and high-speed connection, I immediately scoured the medical databases and general literature for the answer to my question about drug expiration labeling. And voila, no sooner than I could say "Screwed again by the pharmaceutical industry," I had my answer. Here are the simple facts:

First, the expiration date, required by law in the United States, beginning in 1979, specifies only the date the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of the drug -- it does not mean how long the drug is actually "good" or safe to use.

Second, medical authorities uniformly say it is safe to take drugs past their expiration date -- no matter how "expired" the drugs purportedly are. Except for possibly the rarest of exceptions, you won't get hurt and you certainly won't get killed.

Studies show that expired drugs may lose some of their potency over time, from as little as 5% or less to 50% or more (though usually much less than the latter). Even 10 years after the "expiration date," most drugs have a good deal of their original potency. So wisdom dictates that if your life does depend on an expired drug, and you must have 100% or so of its original strength, you should probably toss it and get a refill, " If your life does not depend on an expired drug -- such as that for headache, hay fever, or menstrual cramps -- take it and see what happens.

One of the largest studies ever conducted that supports the above points about "expired drug" labeling was done by the US military 15 years ago, according to a feature story in the Wall Street Journal (March 29, 2000), reported by Laurie P. Cohen. The military was sitting on a $1 billion stockpile of drugs and facing the daunting process of destroying and replacing its supply every 2 to 3 years, so it began a testing program to see if it could extend the life of its inventory. The testing, conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ultimately covered more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter. The results showed that about 90% of them were safe and effective as far as 15 years past their original expiration date. ( I have personal knowledge of this having worked for FDA for 12 years)

In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, said he concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. Mr. Flaherty noted that a drug maker is required to prove only that a drug is still good on whatever expiration date the company chooses to set. The expiration date doesn't mean, or even suggest, that the drug will stop being effective after that, nor that it will become harmful. "Manufacturers put expiration dates on for marketing, rather than scientific, reasons," said Mr. Flaherty, a pharmacist at the FDA until his retirement in 1999. "It's not profitable for them to have products on a shelf for 10 years. They want turnover."

The FDA cautioned there isn't enough evidence from the program, which is weighted toward drugs used during combat, to conclude most drugs in consumers' medicine cabinets are potent beyond the expiration date. Joel Davis, however, a former FDA expiration-date compliance chief, said that with a handful of exceptions -- notably nitroglycerin, insulin, and some liquid antibiotics -- most drugs are probably as durable as those the agency has tested for the military. "Most drugs degrade very slowly," he said. "In all likelihood, you can take a product you have at home and keep it for many years." Consider aspirin. Bayer AG puts 2-year or 3-year dates on aspirin and says that it should be discarded after that. However, Chris Allen, a vice president at the Bayer unit that makes aspirin, said the dating is "pretty conservative"; when Bayer has tested 4-year-old aspirin, it remained 100% effective, he said. So why doesn't Bayer set a 4-year expiration date? Because the company often changes packaging, and it undertakes "continuous improvement programs," Mr. Allen said. Each change triggers a need for more expiration-date testing, and testing each time for a 4-year life would be impractical. Bayer has never tested aspirin beyond 4 years, Mr. Allen said. But Jens Carstensen has. Dr. Carstensen, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin's pharmacy school, who wrote what is considered the main text on drug stability, said, "I did a study of different aspirins, and after 5 years, Bayer was still excellent. Aspirin, if made correctly, is very stable.

Now I think I'll take a swig of the 10-year dead package of Alka Seltzer in my medicine chest -- to ease the nausea I'm feeling from calculating how many billions of dollars the pharmaceutical industry bilks out of unknowing consumers every year who discard perfectly good drugs and buy new ones because they trust the industry's "expiration date labeling."

Again, do you find this article informative? Cheers to ALL! Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Progress in Marinduque

View of Bellarocca from the Mainland, Lipata, Buenavista
Beginning tomorrow, Zest Air will have daily flights from Manila to Marinduque and back. This has been awaited for two years. It means more tourists to the island, a much needed improvement to the economy of this 3rd class province. The standard fare will still be around $75 round trip and the plane is still a 50-setter. However, the last couple of days, Zest Air had a promo for only about $20 round trip for travel between June to October, 2011.

Most of Zest Air passengers are tourists bound for Bellarocca Resort and Spa in Buenavista. From the airport the tourists are transported via air conditioned vans to the resort, about an hour drive. From the airport to downtown Buenavista is a national road mostly paved and not a bad ride. But from downtown Buenavista to Lipata ( a three minutes rubber speed boat ride to the resort) is a winding road and unpaved road. If you are prone to car sickness be sure to take your motion sickness pill.

Inside the resort it is another world. The architecture of the buildings make you feel you are in Santorini Island, Greece. The employees are well trained to serve you and makes you feel at home right away, starting with a refreshing drink on your arrival. Then there is a 5-minute orientation by the manager on the amenities of the resort. All the rooms have mesmerizing views of Mt Malindig and the mainland. The resort is rated 5-star, suited for the young and the rich but not too friendly to senior citizens. All travel inside the resort is by electric golf cart. The restaurant served decent meals at resort prices. Because of Bellarocca, Marinduque was chosen by an Australian travel magazine as one of the top ten island in the world to visit recently.

Another progress in Marinduque is the activation of the provincial website, www.marinduque.gov.ph I have been waiting for this to happen. Thank you to the Travel and Tourism Team from the Office of the Governor. In the website is the current schedule of events for the Moriones Festival, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cooking is a Labor of Love in Marinduque

Coconut Lobster-very Rare and Expensive Dish in Marinduque served with Cucumber and Philippine Sour Tomatoes
Macrine loves to cook in the US. But here in Boac, she complains it is a labor of love. Meat products such as pork, beef and lamb are not as tender as the one you purchase in the US. Except for LIVER, all of meat products must be pressured cook to be tender enough for the teeth of senior citizens like us. On the other hand chicken ( not the native one) is acceptable and could be enjoyed without the use of the pressure cooker.

Moreover, our kitchen area is not air conditioned, so Macrine "sweats like a hog" when she cooks even with the assistance of our cook and housekeeper.

The dish that Macrine loves to cook is Liver with Onions. She cooked it in soy sauce with lemon, vinegar, sugar and garlic salt. Another dish that she does not trust our cook are the tempura tiger prawns, okra, sweet potato and eggplant. All other dishes are cooked by our cook without her supervision. My favorite dish is eggplant relleno with shrimps, onions and tomatoes. Speaking of tomatoes, the Philippine variety are small and sour whereas the US variety are huge and sweet. So in the PHL tomatoes are vegetables and in the US they are fruits. Agree or disagree?

Marinduque is abundant with fresh vegetables. You can purchase almost all kinds of vegetables except green lettuce, broccoli, asparagus and spinach. Fresh Fish and sea foods are also abundant and reasonable except during the rainy season and during Lent. My favorite fish is BINGAW-a fish belonging to the red snapper specie. It taste like pork and has no fishy smell. It is expensive and rare.

Speaking of fish, Do you know that the fish head is the most delicious part of the fish. When you have an important guest for dinner, it is customary to serve him the head in the soup dish called sinigang. The sinigang is cooked with a variety of vegetables and may be flavored only with Philippine tomatoes ( sour) or with tamarind also a sour fruit.

Fish Heads in the soup reminded me of a memorable event, when my younger brother and his family from Australia visited us in Colesville, Maryland in the mid-1990's. During the week of their visit we received a gift of SALMON from our fisherman friend from Virginia. Macrine cooked it as sinigang. Instead of me, gorging the fish head, I gave it to my brother, since he was our guest. Later on my brother informed me that was the most delicious fish dish he had tasted for quite sometime. He was very appreciative, that I gave him the fish head. I hope he remembers this event. Anyway, the saying that "a Way to a man's heart is through his stomach" really applies in our marriage. I am very appreciative that Macrine is a Good Cook!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Two 87 Year Olds-Close to Us

Golden Wedding Anniversary, 2007

Our ninong and ninang ( primary sponsors) during our golden wedding anniversary four years ago, are now both 87 years old.

Our ninang is still strong and walks everyday to church about 1/2 km uphill with her caretaker. She has a clear mind and still enjoy life to the fullest, since I see her on several social events here in Boac during the last four months. She is still involved with her beach resort business and coconut plantations. She is a widow, no children, but had adopted one of her nephews.

On the other hand our ninong appears to be weakening and lethargic. For the last three weeks, he has not visited us. It used to be his routine to drop by for coffee every Wednesday morning before he goes to the bank in downtown Boac. We asked his caretaker what is happening. The caretaker told us, he has no appetite and just take Ensure. He is lethargic and shows some signs of senility. Our Ninong is also a snowbird. He has 4 children and several grandchildren all residing in US. He has decided to quit snowbirding beginning this year, since he gets better care here in Marinduque.

Today is Wednesday. If he does not drop by, it is time to visit him.

Macrine and I are praying for the continued health of our ( both are 87-year old)) ninang and ninong here in Marinduque.

Is Snowbirding Really Great?

Photo taken at the Balanacan Cove Convention Center with David III and Frank Irlandez, March, 2011
You bet it is! This lifestyle is fantastic if you hate the cold temperatures in the US on winter time. But why are there not too many Filipino-American retirees snowbirding?

My guess is that it just too expensive, maintaining two households. In addition, one must have personal resources to take care of your house in US (abroad) while you are in the Philippines and vice versa. In our case, we are lucky to have a son who is single and has the time to take care of our residence in US while we are in the Philippines. On the other hand, we are spending a lot of money hiring a caretaker/gardener/housekeeper/cook to take care of our second home here in MDQ when we are in US in the spring and summer months.

Just recently, we almost lost our Caretaker/Housekeeper. But after 1 month of vacation and sick leave, they decided to return. It would have been ideal, if we have another relative here in MDQ to take care of our second home when we are in US, but I guess that is asking too much.

I hope that our current arrangement will continue as long as we have the energy( that is healthy enough to travel back and forth) to maintain this snowbird lifestyle.

Here are the highlights of our 2011 Snowbirding Year

1. Catholic Wedding of Elaine Lazarte and Alex Chaplain
2. One week of MI, Inc Medical Mission in Marinduque
3. Valentine Dinner and Dance and an overnight stay at the Bellarocca Resort & Spa
4. Attended several parties including Macrine's 75th birthday, Blessing of Bob and Elisa Howard Cottage in Laylay, Dinner with Rene and Genny Nieva at the Amanah Forest Preserve
5. Dinner with Steve Sosa in his beach house in Quatiz, Gasan and
6. Holy Week and Moriones Festival Celebration

Is snowbirding in your future plans after retirement? If so, please feel free to ask me if you have questions anytime. After all we have been snow birding since 2002 and we have a lot of experience and knowledge on this subject. Cheers!

Note: I believe the word "snowbirding" is not yet listed in the Webster dictionary.

Drug Expiration Dates and Its Efficacy


I have always wanted to write an article in one of my blogs about drug expiration dates for the information of all our MI, Inc missioners as well as to the thousands of patients in Marinduque. The e-mail below of Dr Sulit( One of the Founders of MI, Inc) to Anne Miles (President, MI, Inc-2010) attracted my attention and the following is my response.

Let me emphasized that almost 99% of the drugs we distribute for free during the past seven medical missions in Marinduque are within their expiration dates. My guess is that only 1% that we gave may have expired from 1 to 6 months past the expiration date. These drugs are still good and effected as explained in the e-mail below:

"Dear Annie,
Attached are two of many articles about drug expiration dates
which pharmaceutical companies are required to put on the labels of
medicines which they manufacture. The expiration dates do not mean
that the "expired drugs" immediately become ineffective and harmful
after the expiration dates. Unfortunately, medicines which have
passed that date are perceived as ineffective and harmful and create
an alarming concern among practitioners and the patients. These
articles should help clarify that some expired medicines which were
among the left over drugs from the recent medical mission which
were donated to the Marinduque health system are still good and
safe to dispense to the patients. I thought that it is good to share
these information with other people so that they are also informed in
case that the question is brought up to them, I hope that the 2
attached articles get to you with the letter".
Warm regards,
Hector

As a former FDA employee ( I was Chemistry Team Leader), one of my major responsibilities is to approve expiration dating of all new drugs submitted for approval in the Division Of Anti-Infective Drugs.

In general, tablets and capsules are still good and effective from 1 to 3 years after expiration when stored at room temperature. I have approved an anti-malarial tablet that was stable for 10 years. The stability of the drug is dependent on several factors, three of the important factors are storage temperature, packaging.
and its formulation.

In general, suspensions and syrups, will still be good 1 to 6 months after expiration. Most of these drugs have short expiration dates perhaps not more than 18 months or less.

Educating the general public and our missioners regarding drug expiration dating should be MI, Inc primary goal during our medical mission.

I remember an incident during our mission in Buenavista last February. Macrine and I were working in the pharmacy section one afternoon. Macrine gave a bottle of tablets to an elderly patient. The woman looked at the bottle and she saw that expiration date was December, 2010. She wanted to return it, but I interjected that the tablets are still good. She took the drug back with an attitude that we were giving her a "Poison".

This attitude is not an isolated case. The general public believes that once the drug has past its expiration date, it is no longer good and must be discarded immediately. My rule of thumb is: For capsules and tablets-one year after expiration is still good. For suspensions and syrups, 6 months after expiration should still be OK.

Do you find this article informative. I will appreciate your feedback soon. Cheers!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Miko-Our Bilengual Dog, Driving and Snowbirding in Marinduque



Last month-whole month of March, Miko, our pet dog ( see photo above) was our only companion, 24 hours a day except when our laundry lady and two temporary workers are here in Amoingon to do their duties. Our driver/caretaker and cook/housekeeper ( husband and wife team) were on their two weeks paid vacation and two weeks of paid sick leave. Thus, I got to feed Miko every day as well as exercise him in the beach every afternoon 15 minutes before sunset. Miko understands both English and Filipino commands such as sit, move and let's go as well as kain na, alis etc.... Miko loves American food and leftovers. His favorite is Chicken Macaroni salad and Spaghetti.

My other duties was to drive Macrine to the public market in downtown Boac. This is the job, I really do not enjoy, because the public market stinks ( the FISH section) and is always crowded and not many parking spaces. Luckily, I have to do this only once a week.

Speaking of driving in Marinduque: Driving here requires that you toot your horn more often. It also teaches you how to expertly maneuver overtaking the slow tricycle drivers as well as carefully passing jeepney drivers who drop and pick up passengers in the middle of the road. In addition to the inconsiderate jeepney drivers, you have to watch out for pedestrians, small children, dogs and chickens crossing the national road without any warning. However, after driving to downtown Boac ( 10 KM one way) and to downtown Gasan ( 12KM one way) for one month, I feel more at ease, thus, do not need the service of our driver. On the otherhand, Macrine really missed the services of our housekeeper and cook. Macrine does not mind cooking, but hates washing the dishes. We do not have a dishwasher here( we do have a washing machine), so dishwashing have to be done manually. Macrine hates the grease and oil that sticks on the plates, so she has to boil water to rinse and clean the dishes every time.

The other day, our Help returned to their normal duties. We feel we are back in Paradise. But, remember that there is no perfect place on earth. Paradise only exists in your heart and mind. But to my mind, Marinduque is paradise when you have help in your daily activities, such as cooking, cleaning the house, driving, gardening and other errands. This is indeed close to perfect living especially when you compared it to our daily activities in Northern California-our primary residence.

If you have been following my blogs, we are called "snowbirds", or as our new friend from Toronto, Canada commented when he learned of our lifestyle. " So you are "snowbirding" every year" ? Yes, Indeed and we loved it.

Watch out for my next article on "Snowbirding" and Retiring in Marinduque.
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