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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Advantages and Disadvantages of Resort/Hotels with Foreign Names

I noticed recently that a few beach resorts in Marinduque have foreign-based names. In 1996 when we first constructed Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort, it was the only beach resort or hotel with a non-english or tagalog name. Today, there are several beach resorts with either Spanish, Portuguese or Italian derived names. A good example is Bellarocca Resort( beautiful rock) in Buenavista. Bellarocca is a five-star resort and touted to be one of the best in Southeast Asia. Another example is a small beach resort in Balaring named Tierra Azurras ( is this Portuguese?). Of course, there is the old Villa sa APLAYA in Ihatub and Casa de Azul( Blue House)in Buenavista)*. The older hotels have tagalog or English names such as the Boac Hotel, Tahanan Sa Isok, East Point Hotel, Blue Seas, Katala, Cagpo and Love Bay Resorts. I believe naming the resort with non-tagalog names denote class and distinction. In the case of Chateau Du Mer(House by the Sea or House of the Sea), we selected the name after considering more than dozen names( Casa del Mar, Balay sa Baybay etc..) with the goal of attracting European specially French or Canadian tourists. We believe this goal was achieved since our first European guests were from France about 4 years ago. Today, we are attracting more American tourists. The disadvantage of the non-tagalog name, is that majority of the locals have a hard time pronouncing it, thus our local name recognition is slightly impaired. Anyway, we believed that Chateau Du Mer is a good name and the second building we will be constructing in the future will be named Bella Chateau. Note that the gramatically correct french name should have been Chateau de la Mer. But this was too long. For details on Chateau Du Mer, visit http://chateaudumer.blogspot.com *Changed recently to Blue Castle

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Memories of our one Day Tour of the Rock of Gibraltar

Our tour started from our vacation resort( Four Seasons Country Club)in Marbella.
The minibus started along the Costa del Sol and ends at La Linea de la Conception, the border of Gibraltar. The tour included a winding minibus drive to the top of the Rock along the Europa Point and the Galleries. The view of the city and the strait from the top was fantastic. Since I had a fear of heights, I did not look down to see the view. Our visit to the St. Michael Caves and Underground Church and the Barbary Apes Reserve were the highlights of this tour. According to our guide they have concerts inside the cave and the sound is stereophonic. At the end of the tour there was plenty of time to do some duty-free shopping in the many duty-free shops.
We had a typical English lunch of Fish and Chips. The lunch for two cost us $19 ( US) dollars. Gibraltar merchants will accept either US dollars ,British pounds, or Spanish pesetas. Good buys are spirits, tobacco, perfumes, gold jewelries and Lladro sculptures.

Gibraltar is a huge rock found to the south of Spain. The region belongs to the United Kingdom. On one side there is the Bay of Algeciras, and on the other the Mediterranean Sea. Gibraltar borders the town of La Linea de la Concepción, part of the county of Cádiz. The Rock of Gibraltar is the most famous rock in the world.
Gibraltar is situated at the southern end of Europe with a land frontier to Spain on its northern front. It sits at the joining of the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea.

The stretch of water that separates Gibraltar from north Africa is called the Strait of Gibraltar and throughout history has played a strategic part in battles fought and won to control the western Mediterranean seaways. In ancient times Gibraltar was one of the Pillars of Hercules. It was known to the Greeks as Mons Calpe, the other pillar being Mons Abyla on the Moroccan side of the Strait. Gibraltar marked the limit to the known world.

Intrinsically linked with the sea, Gibraltar is one of the busiest ports of call in the Mediterranean. It is also a stepping stone for immigrants all over the world through Africa and finally going to Europe.

Note: This vacation was part of our International Interval Exchange Package in the Fall of 2000.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Things I will always Remember at Chateau Du Mer

1. The chirping songs and cacophony of sounds of the birds(Mayas)as they fly from tree to tree looking for worms

2. Native fishes and tilapias thriving well on my creek that meanders to the ocean

3. Sunset and coral reefs at low tide seen from the balcony of the beach house

4. A Reflection of an almost full moon as seen from the balcony of the beach house

5. Thousands of fireflies illuminating the firefly tree on a moonless night, just like a Chistmas tree with flickering miniature lights

6. Monitor Lizard ( bayawak) looking for chicken or duck eggs. He looks scary, but actually harmless,unlike the Komodo dragons of Indonesia

7. A native hawk (lawin) diving from the sky for young chicks. This lawin is on a cage to do no harm to your chickens for the moment

8. Coconut rats feasting on young coconuts ( one coconut almost hit me on the head). Watch out for your head, specially on a windy day

9. Blue starfish and corals seen only a few meters from my back yard

10. Bougainvillas and orchids blooming in my front yard

11. A sunset that takes your breathe away ( notice the two swimmers also enjoying the sunset)

12. A papaya tree with ripe fruits ( not yet seen by the fruit bats)

13. Mangoes loaded with fruits almost touching the ground because of its weight

14. Bananas and avocado trees loaded with fruits( no picture of avocados)

15. The scream of an alley cat on “Heat” at midnight ( photo taken from the web), and last, but not least

16. The crowing of the rooster at 4:00AM everyday morning before dawn, a reliable alarm clock if you want to wake up that early

Please visit my website, www.chateaudumer.com or my blog site, http://chateaudumer.blogspot.com for more pictures!

If you are from Marinduque, do you have things that you will always remember about Marinduque. Please submit this to http://marinduqueonmymind.blogspot.com
Thanking you in advance for sharing and contributing to this literary project

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cancer Sucks, Indeed, My son-in-law a Victim

It is with sadness and relief to announce to you, my blog readers, that my son-in-law, Nick Thompson passed away last week. Nick was only 51 years old and was the husband of my youngest daughter, Ditas Katague. He left behind two daughters, Randi, 19 ( from a former marriage) and Carenna 8, ( my youngest grand daughter) and four sisters besides Ditas. Nick was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer about 2 years ago. The following is a brief background of the beginning of his fight for life against colon cancer as posted in Caringbridge.org. “In the Fall 2009, Nick was anxiously getting ready for coaching Carenna's Under 8 (U8) girls soccer team. He was always a bit nervous before game time, but lately his stomach was really churning. He thought it was just nerves but repeatedly the pain became intense...but only in the mornings. After a few visits to our primary care physician, and a few prescriptions to calm his nerves and cramping, Nick knew that something was definitely wrong. Right before Halloween, he called the Dr. who then scheduled him for a CT scan stat. November 5th, he went to the Med Ctr for a late afternoon CT scan. He finished after 6 pm and they couldn't find a Dr. to sign off or anyone to let him go home (his PCP had broken her foot that night), so they told him to go to the ER. He was treated by the ER docs for diverticulitis, an intestinal tract ailment, finally released around 1 am Friday morning with antibiotics and directions for a clear diet. Over the weekend, Nick got progressively worse, until we sternly advocated to the Drs that there was something definitely wrong. Finally got a hold of his PCP who requested a follow up CT scan on Tuesday morning. I brought him to the Med Ctr and he could barely walk and was delirious. They gave him a saline IV to hydrate him and did a 2nd CT scan. That afternoon we saw his PCP and he had him admitted to the hospital, but since there were no beds available, Nick had to spend yet another 12 hours in the ER. He was admitted for 3 days while they observed him, but no one wanted to tell him anything definitive. They waited til he went home and had his consult with the GastroIntestinal Specialist (GI) for a colonoscopy. She was wonderful and explained the different theories on what could be going on. She also scheduled an ultrasound for 2 days after his colonoscopy. December 2, 2009 Nick went in for his colonoscopy that revealed a huge tumor that was 90% blocking his colon. The GI specialist could not get around the tumor to finish the procedure. She took pictures of the tumor. The GI specialist was very compassionate and she kept apologizing and we were still not sure what she was saying. December 4, 2009 we went to get his ultrasound where they saw masses on his liver. After much patient advocacy on our part, the UC Davis Cancer center finally called us and immediate got us an appointment to see a surgical oncologist on December 10th. We met the team at the cancer center and they told us that it was very likely that Nick had colon cancer and that since the tumor was 90% blocking his intestine that it was emergent and they'd need to schedule surgery as soon as possible. December 15, 2009. Nick went in for surgery. The Stanford trained surgeon removed about 7 inches of his sigmoid colon and was able to reattach the colon to each other leaving no need for a colostomy. They biopsied his liver and sent the tumor for analysis. His diagnosis: Stage IV Colon cancer with metastasis in his liver. His recovery was brutal and he spent nearly 13 days in the hospital. Jump forward 6 weeks of recovery from surgery and Nick went into get a port for the chemotherapy the first week of February 2010. He started his first round of FOLFOX with Avastin on President's Day. Nick will received a minimum of 24 rounds of chemotherapy, every other week”. The following is from the Capitol Morning Report (CMR) dated April 23, 2012 Michael Bustamante, a principal with the lobbying and consulting firm California Strategies, reports that a friend of the Capitol community, Nick Thompson, died last week after a two-year battle with colon cancer. He was 51. Thompson was director of public safety for the CA Truckers Assn. and married to Ditas Katague, former chief deputy commissioner at the Dept. of Corporations and current chief of staff to PUC Commissioner Catherine Sandoval. Services will be held Friday April 27 at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Parish Church, 1040 39th St. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to an education fund for his daughter, Carenna, may be made out to: Edward Jones fbo Carenna Thompson, 3600 McKinley Blvd. Sacramento 95816, 916 454 1841. Contact: Bustamante 916 425 0839. Macrine and I will miss you, Nick. May your soul rest in Peace, Amen

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My top 10 Blog Sites-Cure for Computer Addiction

Balcony of the Beach House at Night-Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort

Last January 17 to April 10, my wife and I spent our annual snow bird vacation in my island paradise-in Marinduque,Philippines. In our retirement property, I did not have a 24 hour direct access to the Internet. However, I could go to downtown BOAC, only about a 15 minute drive to check my e-mails, manage my blogs and read FACE BOOK as well as surf in the Internet if I want to. My sister-in-law owns an Internet Cafe and for 20 pesos ( less than 50 cents) per hour, I could spend one to four hours in the Internet every day without breaking my bank account. But during the above period, I used the computer only every other day, thus I was able to cure my addiction of spending at least 6 hours per day in the computer, as what I have been doing prior to our snowbirding sojourn. I was cured with my computer addiction during this time. Now I am back to my daily routine of at least 4 hours on my PC.

When I am in the beach house and gardens, I do not feel like going to town because of the traffic, noise and the heat and humidity. In the beach house, there is always an ocean breeze during the months of December, January and February and thus no air conditioning is needed. If I get tired of gardening, I could watch TV, read or just enjoy relaxing. But, if I want pizza, hamburger or Halo-Halo, ice cream or my other favorite Filipino delicacies, then it is time to go to town.

So with this in mind ( that is no 24 hour direct Internet access and no longer addicted to my PC), I am proud to announce my top 10 favorite blogs as follows: The list are not arrange in any particular order of likes or favorites. To me the 10 are all equal in importance in my enjoyment in reading them as often as I can.

1. http://liveinthephilippines.com
2. http://marinduquegov.blogspot.com
3. http://gawker.com
4. http://dennisvilligas.blogspot.com
5. http://my_sarisari_store.typepad.com
6. http://tourism-philippines.com
7. http://zelmarqs.blogspot.com
8. http://comedyplus.blogspot.com
9. http://www.ironwulf.net

Please visit the blog sites above. It will be worth your time. Do you have a favorite blog site? Can you share!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Statistics from My Eight Blogs on My Vacation

The following is the 3 months statistics(during my vacation) based on the number of page views from my eight blogs. The first column was taken on 1/15/12, second column on 4/21/12, the 3rd colunm the net gain and the last colunm is the percent increase. Visitors from my eight blogs came from 142 countries.

Blog Name 1/15/12 4/21/12 Net Gain % Increased

1. Life in US 77,443 97,566 20,123 21
2. Marinduque Awaits You 93,491 109,939 16,448 15
3. Chateau Du Mer 71,888 83,512 11,624 14
4. Marinduque,Island Paradise 74,724 104,548 29,824 28
5. Why Retire in the PHL 27,614 31,994 4,380 14
6. Where the Heck is MDQ? 31,678 37,915 6,237 17
7. I left my Heart in MDQ 24,765 28,922 4,157 14
8. The Intellectual Migrant 42,738 62,712 19,974 32

Conclusion: I have no reason to quit blogging. The number of page views is increasing in the right direction. Hopefully this will translate into more adsense dollars. Note that this time period was during my vacation in the Philippines when I can only update my blogs one or twice a week. I am delighted with stats.

To all my readers from 142 countires, thank you for visiting my sites, especially to those of you who took your time in making comments and clicking on my ads. Have a good spring and later a summer vacation. I hope you continue supporting my blogs and tell your friends and relatives about my blog sites. Good day to ALL!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do you have a High Internet Presence?

Part of the David J Katague Clan with their wives and husband, Jaro, Iloilo, Philippines

Have you googled yourself lately? In my case, if I searched for the word “Katague”, my surname, the first two pages will be about my daughter, Ditas, my nephew from Australia with the same name as myself, my oldest son Dodie and his book, Cloyne Court and myself with my twelve blogs, my dozens of scientific publications and my autobiography.

If I searched for “David Katague”, I will get the same hits, but with my blogs in the first page along with my nephew's website. Please note that there are three David Katague's in the Internet: myself, my nephew from Australia and my son David E in the US.

My nephew, Dave Katague is a Sydney based photographer, motionographer, designer and cinematographer. He has a website, Davidkatague.com. His Internet presence is very high.

My son David E. had only a couple of publications, so his internet presence is very low.

My daughter Ditas had been employed in several California state agencies and in the governor's office, for the last ten years so her internet presence is very high, indeed.

My oldest son Dodie, is a prosecuting attorney and a writer, so his internet presence is also high.

As for myself, I believe my Internet presence is also high. Besides my 12 blogs and over 900 articles, I have several scientific publications in the field of pesticide residues, food and drug regulations.

There are several other Katagues in the Internet. For example, Stephanie Katague- my niece from Australia has an article in food preparation, my daughter, Dinah is getting published because of her art work and pottery and my wife Macrine Jambalos Katague name is in the Web because of her involvement with the medical mission in the Philippines. My brother, Efren from Australia is in the Internet because of his consulting business in the field of computers. My sister-in-law, Lourdes Katague, is in the Internet, because of her work in the field of library science in Sydney, Australia.

There are more than a hundred FaceBook (FB) users with the Katague surname and several hundreds more with the Catague surname. Their names are certainly in the Web.

So, do you have an Internet presence? If you are a Facebook user, your profile is in the Internet. If you have any article published during the last five years, I am sure your Internet presence is high.

Is there any advantage or disadvantage if your Internet presence is high? I do not know the answer, but if you have any opinion on this subject, please share via the comment section of this posting. I know however, that if you have a business or a product to sell, a high Internet presence is good and an advantage.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

End of the World Coming Soon. Are you Ready?

I just received an e-mail from a friend reminding me that the end of the world as predicted by Nostradamus, or by the Masons is just a little more than 8 months from now, that is on 12/21/2012. He asked me if I am ready. I answered him, yes without a doubt. I even told him, the end of the world could be sooner, if the US and other countries do not watch carefully what is going on in North Korea, Iran, or Pakistan these days.

The e-mail aroused my curiosity so I went to the website, www.history.com under Armageddon I found several videos, about the Masons, Nostradamus, THE MAYAN CALENDAR and Chinese predictions saying the same thing. But I am not worried and still feel ready for the end of the World. I feel I have done my best to the utmost of my ability, to be a productive citizen of the world as well as a good father and grandfather, husband and a retiree. I even informed him that I just finished organizing highlights of my autobiography and is now published in one of my seven blogs that I dedicated to family and friends. My autobiography is now in book form and had been given as my Christmas gifts to my grandchildren.

My question to you, my readers, Are you also ready? If not, start organizing your life. If you believe in this prediction you have less than 8 months to get ready. What do you think? Is this pure fiction or just a hype to sell more videos. Are there scientific basis for this prediction? Here's a short video for your information.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bright Future for the Filipino Youth

Zest Air- Flies Daily From Manila to Boac and Return-A 50-seater plane

Last week, Macrine ( my spouse of 55 years) and I were on our way to Manila from Boac, our first plane ride on our way back to Northern California. On this trip, I experienced an act of kindness from a complete stranger, from a handsome teenager from Manila. This act of kindness is an omen that if majority of the filipino youth think and act this way, there is a bright future for the filipino younger generation.

I was carrying two hand carries boarding a Zest Air plane bound for Manila. Suddenly, a young man rushes in front of me and volunteered to carry one of my hand carry up to my seat. I was sort of shocked, since this was not expected. I gave him a look of surprise and reluctantly gave him one of my hand carry bag.

Perhaps, you are wondering why I had two hand carries. The reason why I have two hand carries is that Macrine is now using a quad cane and is not able to carry her own hand carry bag. She refused to use a wheel chair in boarding the plane, since it was just a short walk from the boarding gate to the plane.

The volunteer was a young man named Carlo Yu. He is a student of De La Salle University in Manila. He is traveling with his mother and an older sister, returning to Manila after a three day vacation at the world-renown 5-star resort, Bellarocca Resort and Spa in Buenavista.

Thirty minutes later when we arrived in Manila, he and his sister again helped me picked up and load my three suitcases in my cart for check out.

Indeed what a kind and thoughtful young man. If most of the Filipino teenagers are like Carlo, there is indeed a bright future for the Filipino younger generation. Thank you again Carlo for your kindness. Perhaps someday our path will cross again, then I will have another chance to say thank you. Hep, Hep, Hurrah! for the Filipino Youth!

Note: When I was a college student in Manila, I remember helping an elderly couple carry one of their bags from the dock to the ferry boat during my annual summer vacation from Manila to Iloilo. As the saying goes " Wnat you sow you shall reap".

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sarswela-Philippine Musical Play or Drama

The Sarswela Flyer

Exactly two years and two months ago, Macrine and I attended a Sarswela, Walang Sugat (Not Wounded) in the open-air amphitheater at the Moriones River Bed Park in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines. This memorable event reminded me of the first filipino musical (in Ilonggo) that I had attended during my childhood years in Iloilo. It also reminded me of the Starlight Theater in Kansas City, Missouri in the late 1960's when we had annual summer subscriptions to Broadway musicals, such as West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie or The Sound of Music.

For those of you who are not familiar with word Sarswela. It is just a musical play or drama in Tagalog or any of the major languages in the Philippines. It is sometimes a comedy, sometimes a tragedy, but usually had a happy ending. "Walang Sugat" was written by Severino Reyes, The Father of the Sarswela of the Philippines.

Below is Eli Obligacion posting regarding this event.

"Severino Reyes' sarswela masterpiece goes on stage in Marinduque. Performed by Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation, Inc., awarded CCP Gawad para sa Sining as Best Theater Group in the country.

A component of the Philippine International Arts Festival 2010. Directed by Armand Sta. Ana. It stars Rey Clement Maaliao as TENYONG, Karren Uaje as JULIA, Ron Mariano as MIGUEL with Maria Ireen Crisostomo, Rowel Escalante, Crystal Mendonza, James Dimagiba, Joseph Rejoso, Melandro Pascual, Wilfredo Alberto, Christopher Adriano, Lemuel Galman, Egie Boy Galman, Ryan Managbanag, and 12 koro members.

In the production are Joseph Cristobal, Armando Sta. Ana, Estelita Dela Cruz, Consolacion Gamboa, Jose Ruel Paguiligan and Glen de Jesus. Lights and sound by the CCP Technical Crew.

The BKFI "Walang Sugat" production was originally mounted as part of “Sarsuwela Festival 2009” held at the U.P. Theater. It was the Father of Filipino Sarswela's statement against imperialism and oppression.

It depicts the cruelty of the Spanish friars and the experience of Filipinos in their hands. The story revolves around the hero Tenyong and how he outwits people trying to separate him from Julia, his love interest. The many twists and turns of this sarsuwela, made into a movie twice, has made it very popular among theater audiences.

This sarswela returns to Marinduque after 108 years, when "Gran Compania de Manila" the original production, presented it in Boac on Dec. 8, 1902 in celebration of the town fiesta with future president, Manuel L. Quezon as special guest".

The actors and actresses had beautiful voices, but sometimes the background tape orchestration music was so loud you could hardly heard the words and lyrics. I enjoyed very much the patriotic song, Ang BAYAN KO ( My Country). The costumes and scenes were beautiful depicting the time during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. The show opened with the shooting of Dr. Jose Rizal, Philippine National Hero. The play had several comedic moments which made the crowd laugh. The duets of the lead actors were beautiful and their voices blended harmoniously. Macrine and I enjoyed the evening very much.

Thank you Eli for inviting us to this rare event in Marinduque's cultural scene and environment and in the two complimentary front seats. Our congratulations to the commiteee for starting right on time and to you for advertising this memorable musical and historical drama.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Improving the "Filipina" Image On-line

If you search for "Filipina" in Google, Yahoo or Scour search engines, majority of the "hits" will be about mail order brides, sexy dates and dating Filipino or Asian women etc.

Today, it is not as bad compared to about five years ago. Thanks to the campaign of a few of our educated women in the Philippines (www.filipinaimages.com), the Filipino women on line image is improving.

However, there is still room for improvement. Visit the site. There is instruction on how you can help improve the Filipina image on line.

About 5 years ago during Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration there was a law passed recognizing women's rights in the Philippines. Ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed into law the measure prohibiting discrimination against women, and recognizing and promoting their rights.

Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, signed at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang Palace, ensures women’s equitable participation and representation in government, political parties, international bodies, civil service and the private sector.

RA 9710 recognizes and protects women’s rights at home, at work and in all spheres of society toward developing all aspects of their well-being. Its most salient features include increasing the number of women personnel until they fill half of third-level positions in the government, setting up in every barangay (village), a “violence against women’s desk,” providing incentives to parties with women’s agenda and barring the derogatory portrayal of women in media and film.

I believe this law was an aftermath of the Hayden Kho sex scandal, where Halili claimed she was maltreated sexually by Kho in a degrading and violent manner.

Moreover, to all Americans, Europeans, Australians, or Canadians and Non-Filipino Husbands, do not call your wife "My Filipina" as if your wife is a commodity that you have purchased or "my little brown girl", even if you meant it as endearment.

I am addressing it to all non-Filipino husbands who are married to Filipina women whether your are residing in Philippines or other parts of the world. I am also addressing this to all Men looking for Filipina wives in the internet and other dating sites. Filipina women are known to be good wives and they must be treated with respect and dignity. Comments anyone?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Enjoying a Snowbird Lifestyle in the Philippines

Marinduque-my Island Paradise

The following article was written by Celina Macaisa and posted by www.myphilippineretirement.com dated January 2, 2010. It was titled Retiring Half-a-Year in the US and the Philippines.

"When a Global Filipino Retires, which country does he choose for the next part of his life? Will he need to leave home, friends, and family (a second time)?

For decades, due to lack of well-paying jobs in the Philippines, Filipinos have been leaving their country and families behind to improve their own and their families’ standard of living.

And after decades of working hard in a highly-competitive, fast-paced business environment, and ‘you are on your own culture’ of a 1st world country; these (former) Filipinos are now prioritizing how to increase the quality of their retirement years.

Ironically, the Philippines which may not have been a great country to make a living in during their younger years is an excellent country for retirement: warm climate and culture, relaxed pace of life, and lower living expenses.

Hence, the ‘snowbird lifestyle’ of having two residences in different parts of the world, which has been practiced by Europeans and North Americans for centuries, is now gaining more acceptance by Filipinos who immigrated abroad.

The Rise of the Filipino Snowbird

“I know of another person who is doing the same lifestyle we have, 6 months in PI [Philippine Islands] and 6 months in the US. We call ourselves snow birds. A lot of our friends are envious of us.” - David B. Katague

However, although many Filipinos living abroad are aware of the ‘snowbird’ retirement lifestyle, many are not quite sure about the planning and costs needed to make it work.

Hence, this article is written to give a look on how one Filipino couple, David and Macrine Katague was able to put into reality their wish to live their retirement years both in the U.S. and the Philippines—-two countries they think of as home and where key family members live.

David B. Katague is a retired Chemistry Team Leader of the Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland USA. He is also currently a proprietor of Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort, in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.And one of the most interesting things you will learn from this interview is that beyond harsh winters and cost, ‘family’ is the driving reason and support factor for making this retirement lifestyle work".

Here is our interview with David B. Katague:

1) How many years have you spent in the US?
“[We] have lived in US since 1960 to the present.”

2) What were your top reasons for choosing your retirement lifestyle of living half-a year in the Philippines and half-a-year in the States?

“[Our reasons were] climate (even though the winters of Northern California are much milder than that of Chicago or Toronto), relatives, and cheaper standard of living.”

3) Before making this decision, did you know of another former Filipino retiree who practiced this ‘snowbird lifestyle’ that influenced you?
“[Yes], my sister-in-law”

4) Did you re-acquire your Filipino citizenship or retired in the Philippines under the Special Resident’s Retirement Visa (SRRV)?

“My wife reacquired her Filipino citizenship 2 yrs ago. I will consider applying for dual citizenship if I decide to live in Philippines permanently.”

5) How do you spend your time here in the Philippines? What makes retiring in the Philippines interesting and inspiring in terms of activities, new experiences, and living with other Filipinos?

”Setting up a small business (a beach resort and conference center (www.chateaudumer.com), keeps me busy while I am in Marinduque.

In addition since my favorite hobby is gardening, the tropical climate is conducive to growing orchids, fruits, and vegetables and other tropical ornamentals. This gives me plenty of exercise both physical and mental, an antidote to developing AZ disease.”

Also the presence of relatives makes life masaya lalo na [happy especially] during the Christmas and Easter Season. I do miss my grandchildren during Christmas while we are in PI [Philippine Islands].”

6) Practical concerns on this retirement lifestyle:
a) Are you receiving pension? How is this retirement way of life feasible?

“I have SS, private and federal pension. Since I am maintaining 2 households, it is a very expensive proposition. Luckily, I have a son, who takes care of our house here in NC [Northern California] while we are in PI.

When we are in US, I have a full time caretaker who takes care of the house and the beach resort.”

b) In articles discussing retiring in the Philippines, an allowance of US$1,000 to $1,500 a month is often quoted as enough for a retiring couple to live on. Is this still true in your experience?
“Yes, $1500 a month is still adequate in the provinces. In Manila, this amount will be probably too tight.”

c) Did you need to have a trial-run first? Or did you stay in the Phil with a tourist visa first before making the final decision?

“[No.] I know life in PI as I grew up there until I was 21 years old. The only question is where in the Philippines, we should retire, my home province or my wife's home province. Marinduque was the winner.”

7) Medical Insurance and Healthcare: In living half-a-year in the Philippines, what plans did you make for medical emergencies since U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not cover for treatment in the Philippines?

“I have Blue Cross under the Federal Insurance Plan. My wife has Phil Health. I recommend a minimum of $2000 for medical emergency.”

8) Are there any individuals and organizations who were a big help to you in setting-up your retirement life in the Philippines? What do you think the government can improve on to attract more former Filipino retirees?
“Yes, my sister-in law helped us built our retirement home, while we were still working here in US.”

“To encourage Filipinos expatriate, the government should help in relocation by exempting them of taxes for their household goods and car. Also, there should be someone in the Philippines to help them settle and facilitate their move.”

Note: Currently, one-time tax exemptions for importing personal goods (except for cars) to the Philippine is only provided to former Filipino retirees who applied for the Special Resident Retirees Visa (SRRV), within 90 days of SRRV issuance and not exceeding $7,000. These tax exemptions are not accorded to former Filipinos who are retiring in the Philippines through re-acquisition of Filipino citizenship. - myphilippineretirement.com

9) Advice on doing it right:

a) Any suggestion/advice for other Former Filipinos who are still evaluating their decision in living part of their retirement life in the Philippines?
“Always plan ahead. Choose a location, where you have relatives and friends [emphasis mine]. Get health insurance accepted in PI, but reserve cash for medical emergency.”
b) Last question: Are there some common pitfalls to avoid?

“Do not engage in business if you can not personally manage it or have a trusted relative or employee to do it.

Keep your mouth shut in local politics. [Get] acculturated again to the Filipino lifestyle of [being] easy going, no value of time [or different regard for time as compared to N. America] to avoid the rat race again, thus preventing a heart stroke.

Keep always busy both in mind and body, thus enjoying your retirement, and hopefully a long life.”

To summarize this interview, a global Filipino can enjoy his retirement years both in his country of birth and new home country through adequate financial preparation and family support.Why make a tough choice of permanently leaving your new home, new friends, and family in North America; or forego the warmth of the climate and culture of your country of birth when you can be a Filipino snowbird?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Joys and Pains of Managing a Small Beach Resort

Chateau Du Mer Beach House, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines

If you have been reading my blogs and Face Book notes and status, you probably know, that my wife and I owned and managed a small beach resort in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines. We named it Chateau Du Mer. It is a French name, loosely translated as House by the Sea or House of the Sea.

Grammatically, it should be Chateau De La Mer, since Chateau is a feminine noun, but for brevity, we used “Du” ( masculine form) instead of “De La”. Currently the resort could accommodate up to 15 guests. Most of our clients are non-Filipinos. Because of the name of the resort, majority of our guests were from France for the last five years. On Easter Week, the resort becomes a BED and BREAKFAST INN.

The resort is composed of a two-story beach house, a servant/care-taker cottage, a2600 sq ft 3-bedroom French Provincial house ( our retirement home), a conference Hall that could accommodate up to 400 attendees and four small buildings housing our diesel generator, tools and equipments and two water pump houses. My two sister-in-laws have also a vacation cottage, a beach house and a servant quarters with its own water well and pump house in the five acres of landscaped and fenced property. For a detail description of the beach resort, visit http://chateaudumer.blogspot.com or www.chateaudumer.com

Sunset from the Balcony of the Beach House-Photo by Philippe Godard

This year Holy Week Season and Moriones Festival was our busiest week. The beach house was fully booked. We had 12 guests from Denmark, France, Australia and Singapore. Reservations and deposits had been negotiated via e-mail and electronic banking about four months before Holy Week. However, I am glad to know that one month before Easter, I received numerous telephone and e-mail inquiries( almost daily) asking for availability and possible booking. This means that my Internet presence is good and my advertising is working. I wish I had more cottages to accommodate guests that do not plan ahead. Maybe next year, if I win the LOTTO, I will build more cottages. So what are the joys of running a small resort with mostly non-Filipino clients.

1. Meeting people of varying ages of different background and culture is very educational and inspiring.

2. Helping them with their transportation and other needs gives me things to do,so it makes me feel useful

3. Hearing positive feed backs about their vacation, amenities of the resort ( continental breakfast, hot showers, air-conditioning) as well as their enjoyment of the beauty of the island made me very proud that I have provided excellent service to our guests.

4. After a few days of stay at the resort, these guests became personal friends. Some of them plan to return, but all of them informed me they will recommend the resort to their friends and relatives.

5. Last but not least, the rental income helped me pay my annual real estate taxes and maintenance costs.

Now for the pains of managing the resort

1. Maintenance costs had been escalating. Recruiting trusted and capable workers, painters, plumbers, cook, housekeeper is getting harder in Boac.

2. Getting personal help( except for gardeners) had been my problem this year, so I have to do most of the driving and menial chores such as opening and closing the lights, etc..( We have two helpers from 7AM to 4PM on Monday to Saturday only).

3. Preparing and purchasing food for breakfast ( no rice and dried fish in the morning) for the enjoyment of non-Filipino guests required advance planning and skill. Luckily my wife had been excellent in this department based on positive comments about the breakfast we served.( mango pancakes, french toast, huevos rancherous are our guest's favorites)

4. Dealing with various personalities, different cultures and backgrounds is not easy and coping up with very demanding guests sometimes irritates me.

However, in general, the joys outweighs the pains. So as long as my good health continues, I will gladly do this annual activity. Who says that after retirement, you just sit on your butt and do nothing and feel sorry for yourself. Managing a small beach resort makes me feel young and useful. This is one activity that I enjoyed very much in my retiring years including conducting, managing and participating in several medical and dental missions in the province of Marinduque for the last ten years.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ten Things to Do during your visit to 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, April 12, 2012

Ancient Artifacts and History of Marinduque

Marinduque Residents and Soldiers during the Philippine-American War, 1900

Battle of Manila- The Philippine-American War :1899-1902

The following is an excerpt of the early history of Marinduque up to 1945 from Wikipedia: For additional details visit the website: www.ulongbeach.com
Legend has it that the island of Marinduque was formed as a consequence of a tragic love affair between two people: Marina and Garduke. Marina's father, a local chieftain, did not approve of this affair and ordered the beheading of Garduke. Before this could be done, the couple sailed out to sea and drowned themselves, forming the island now called Marinduque. Other versions of the legend also claim that the island was named "Malindik", named after Marinduque's highest mountain, Mt. Malindig. When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Philippines, they found the name hard to pronounce, which led to the renaming of the island as "Marinduc" and later the current "Marinduque" when spelled in its French from (e.g. Antique for Hantik, Cavite for Kawit).

During the Spanish and early American occupations, Marinduque was part of the province of Balayan (now Batangas) in the 16th century, Mindoro in the 17th century, and had a brief period as an independent province in 1901, when the Americans arrived.

During the Philippine-American War, Marinduque was the first island to have American concentration camps.[2] Marinduque is the site of the Battle of Pulang Lupa, where Filipino soldiers under Colonel Maximo Abad, defeated a larger better trained force of Americans.

In 1902, the US-Philippine Commission annexed the islands of Mindoro (now two separate provinces) and Lubang (now part of Occidental Mindoro) to the province.

Four months later, the province became part of the province of Tayabas (now Quezon).

On February 21, 1920, Act 2280 was passed by the Philippine Congress, reestablishing Marinduque as a separate province.

In 1942, the Japanese Imperial forces landed in Marinduque.

In 1945, landed from the American and Philippine Commonwealth troops attacked from the Japanese Troops liberated to the Battle of Marinduque in the Second World War.

If you like antiquities and archeology you will enjoy this video on ancient artifacts found in Marinduque from marinduquegov.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Moriones Festival, 2012

Photo credit: Toby Jamilla
This year Holy Week Festival is better than last year. There is only one Battle of the Moriones pageant that will be in Santa Cruz this afternoon. Last year there were two Battle of the Moriones shows, one in Boac and one in Santa Cruz sponsored by two political rivals. This year it appears that politics is now set aside just for this week. Because the Beach House is full I did not have the time to take pictures of the parade and religious procession. However based on the program schedule, this year celebration is about the same as last year with the exception of more foreign tourists. All the hotels and resorts are fully booked and the restaurants are busy. Thanks to the festival, the hotel and resort owners, food and transportation services are busy, hopefully earned enough to pay for taxes and expenses for the whole year. Below is an article I posted in my blog in 2008.

There are several excellent articles in the web discussing the Moriones Festival. This one is a brief summary of the festival written by Zenaida Serrano of Buenavista.

At the end of this article, I will list two photo blogs worth reading. Incidentally, these two blogs are in the top ten blog sites in the Philippines on my reading list.

Moriones Festival, Marinduque, Philippines

One of the most colorful festivals celebrated in the island of Marinduque is the Moriones Festival. Morion means "mask" or "visor," a part of the medieval Roman armor which covers the face. Moriones, on the other hand, refers to the masked and costumed penitents who march around the town for seven days searching for Longinus. This week-long celebration starts on Holy Monday and culminates on Easter Sunday when the story of Longinus is reenacted in pantomime. This is a folk-religious festival that re-enacts the story of Longinus, a Roman centurion who was blind in one eye.

Longinus Legend has it that Longinus pierced the side of the crucified Christ. The blood that spurted forth touched his blind eye and fully restored his sight. This miracle converted Longinus to Christianity and earned the ire of his fellow centurions. The re-enactment reaches its climax when Longinus is caught and beheaded.

The festival is characterized by colorful Roman costumes, painted masks and helmets, and brightly-colored tunics. The towns of Boac, Gasan, Santa Cruz, Buenavista and Mogpog in the island of Marinduque become one gigantic stage.

The observances form part of the Lenten celebrations of Marinduque. The various towns also hold the unique tradition of the Pabasa or the recitation of Christ's passion in verse. The Via Crucis is also reenacted and flagellants, known as Antipos, inflict suffering upon themselves as a form of atonement. After three o'clock on Good Friday afternoon, the Santo Sepulcro is observed, whereby old women exchange verses based on the Bible as they stand in wake of the dead Christ. Did you know that Morion means mask, which is part of the medieval Roman centurion’s helmet. Moriones are the masked penitents who take part in the reenactment of the legend of Longinus, and Passion of the Christ.
Comment: This pageantry and religious revelry on Easter Week is a must for tourist to see and participate. The whole week of celebration is climaxed with "Street Dancing" (like the New Orleans, Mardi Gras) in Gasan and a colorful Easter Parade in Boac.

I hope you find this video and short summary of the Moriones Festival and Holy Week Celebration informative.

Favorite Blog Sites on Moriones Festival

1. dennisvillegas.blogspot.com/april/2008
2. http://my_sarisari_store.typepad.com/moriones festival

Here's a video from this year Moriones Festival by Bert Morelos, of Vancouver, Canada.
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