Planning to Retire Soon!

If you are planning to retire in the Philippines soon, I suggest you visit several excellent websites on pro's and cons of retiring in the Philippines. However if you want to retire in the provinces, where life is simple, standard of living cheaper, less traffic congestion and pollution, availability of fresh seafood and vegetables compared to the big cities, my island province is the place for you! If this is your first time in my site, welcome. Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news in the right side bar of 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. The photo above is the front yard of Chateau Du Mer-Our Retirement Home in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines

Monday, August 31, 2009

Music for Motivational Meditation and Relaxation

Recently,I was searching for music for relaxation in You Tube. I found this short video to be the best on this genre by Alexandra Witch. I love the flowers and the music. Most of the flowers remind me of my gardens at Chateau Du Mer in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines. To get maximum effect follow her instruction. I happened to have a new 32 inches LCD monitor. I viewed the video full screen with only a black background. It is fantastic, and it did relax me. Do this everyday and you do not need sleeping pills to sleep. Let me know if you like this video also. Thank you, Alexandra. Here's the video!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bellarocca Island Resort Promo Package, 2009

I do not have any financial gains by posting that Bellarocca Island Resort has now a promo package for 3-days-2-nights including meals for a fairly reasonable price if you compared it to their standard rates. Moreover, If I have a choice, I would rather that you book your vacation at Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort for a much, much more reasonable price( $25 per person per night plus a 10% discount for 7 days or longer stay). ( or
Chateau Du Mer Beach House, Amoingon, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines (916-961-3365)
The Package Promo is effective September 1 to October 31, 2009. So, if you have been planning to see this island resort in Marinduque, now is the time. Otherwise the standard rates are so expensive, unless you are rich and famous or you are a Japanese or Korean tourist. For details, visit their newly available website, Enjoy Marinduque-my island Paradise!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Judging " Marinduque's Got Talent" Contest

The four days of reunion and business meeting of Marinduque International Inc in Buena Park, California was just concluded last weekend. (

Marinduque International Inc. is a non-profit organization composed of nine chapters all over the world. It's major humanitarian project is the Medical Mission held every two years in the province of Marinduque, Philippines. The four days included a Welcome Night/Dinner, A trip to the Casino, A Talent Contest, An Induction Dinner Dance, Business Meeting/Election of Officers and Farewell Brunch. The following are my brief impressions of the events that Macrine and I had attended.

Thursday Night, August 20-Welcome Party-”Surfin' California Theme- No Cost-We were not able to attend, but we heard it was fun. Moreover it was free, compliments of the host chapter-Southern California(MASC).

Friday Afternoon, August 21- Talent Contest.- I volunteered as one of four judges. Seven of the nine chapters participated in the contest. The chief judge informed us that there are five criteria in the judging as follows: Overall Performance, Extra-Ordinary or over all Impressions, Talent, Costumes and Humor.
The rating will be from 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest score. In the middle of the contest, out of the blue, we were told to limit the time to 15 minutes. Points will be deducted for overtime performance.
Here is my rating for the seven participants based on the above criteria. ( Toronto and Saudi Arabia Chapters did not participate)
MACUSA -4.8, MESA-4.2 , MANC 3.5, MASC -4.5, Vancouver-4.5, MASTEG- 4.5 and MACA-3.0

At the end of the program, the chief judge informed us that another criteria should be considered. This is the relevance of the presentation to Marinduque Culture. She said there are only two presentations that has relevance to Marinduque culture- MASTEG and Vancouver. We must choose the winner from these two presentations. Because of the boring length and over 15 minutes overtime of the MASTEG presentation, I choose VANCOUVER as the winner. The four judges were unanimous in choosing Vancouver as the winner.

The next day, I heard that there was a lot of dissatisfaction from our judging from another judge. Later on that night, somebody from MACUSA ask me why I did not vote for MACUSA as the winner, since they spent a lot of time preparing for their presentation. I told her, I gave their group the highest rating, and she was satisfied with my explanation. However, I did notice that most of the members of MACUSA were not talking to me during the Grand Ball and Induction of Officers. I suggest that in the next reunion in Chicago, the criteria for judging be given ahead of time to the participating chapters. Lessons learned from this event is to communicate in a timely manner.

Friday Night-Trip to the Casino. Forty six avid casino gamblers went to Club Serrano, San Manuel Indian Casino in San Bernandino County. Macrine and I were eager participants. Our weekly entertainment activity is to go to one of the two Indian Casinos near our residence. The two Indian Casinos are the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, CA and the Red Hawk Casino in Placerville, CA. Both Casinos are new. Almost all of the slots machines are brand new compared to the old slots machines in San Manuel. Needless to say, I lost $40 in 5 minutes. Macrine and I decided to use our $10 coupon at the seafood buffet instead of feeding the hungry one-arm bandits. We gorged ourselves with lobster, Alaska King Crabs, fresh oysters and numerous other dishes and desserts. The seafood buffet was the highlight of our trip. Later after dinner, I tried the “old” slot machines. It was definitely programmed so that the players chance of winning is almost nil. At the end of the night I lost $100, the amount I budgeted for the trip. I guess the old slot machines(true one-armed bandits) in Old Indian Casinos are programmed so that the player has only less than 10% chance of winning. I believe however that the newer Casinos are required by California law to increase the odds of players to win to about 40% in the slot machines. If you know the exact odds of winning the slots in Thunder Valley or at Red Hawk Casinos, let me know.

Saturday:August 22- 10AM to 4:00PM- Business Meeting and Election of Officers. The following are highlights of the meeting:

1.Clarification and Explanation why participation to the medical mission is one of the requirements to be President or Vice president of the organization, besides good moral character and the ability to manage a complex organization.
2.Latest status on the province legal battle against Placer Dome Mining, a subsidiary Of Barrick Inc.-A Canadian mining company.
3.Latest news on the reopening of the mines in Marinduque-canceled due to time constraint
4.Another public tantrum and dramatic outburst from a MASC member on topics #2 and #3
5 Election of Officers for 2010-2012
The results of the election are as follows:
President: Annie Miles Jalac- Vancouver
Vice President: Mike Miciano-San Diego
Secretary: Sonia Ferranco Baltazar- Northern Ca
Treasurer: Violeta Magsino-Chicago
Auditor: Joe Blanche-Southern Ca
PRO: Blanca Salcedo Ho- MACA
Our congratulations to the newly elected officers.

Grand Ball and Induction of New Officers:

Northern California Table at the Dinner Dance and Induction
Agnes and Macrine enjoying the festivities
More than 470 attendees crowded the ball room of the Knotts Berry Farm Hotel in Buena Park. The food was plentiful and delicious. The music was fine, but the dance floor was so small, that if you want to be trampled, go to the dance floor. Several of the guests were dancing on the side of the hall outside of the dance floor. I heard that one male guest complained to an officer of MASC, that they came to dance not to listen about the raffles. There a was an "after dinner dance snack" at the hospitality room of MASC president It was was well attended in spite of the late hour. There was plenty of snacks for every one to partake and to bring to their hotel rooms. In charge of this "after dinner dance snacks" was Joyce Ancog. Some members brought with them dozens of muffins and several sandwiches to their hotel rooms enough to provide breakfast for a dozen more guests in the morning. The "after dinner snacks" event was indeed successful, but it looks like some of the guests have not eaten for weeks during this after dinner affair by bringing so much food to their hotel rooms.

SUNDAY-August 23- Brunch at Jojo and Andrew Soriano Mansion in Orange, CA. Jojo, Andrew and mother, Fely Lansangan in her beautiful yellow terno greeted the guests in the gardens of their spacious antique mansion with free valet parking where a superb Filipino brunch was served from around 10AM to 1:00PM. Some guests arrived as early as 9:30AM and were served a refreshing melon drink or coffee. Then at exactly 10AM, Jojo ranged the bell announcing the buffet was served. More than a dozen Filipino breakfast delicacies such as salted duck eggs with sliced tomatoes, de-boned bangus(milk fish), sausage, daing(dried fish), samporado and other Filipino delicacies were served hot. It was delicious and I enjoyed specially the salted egg and fried fish combination with fried rice. My guess is by around 12 NOON most of the expected guest had arrived with the exception of a few who overslept and did not arrived till around 1:00PM, when half of the guests had already left. But I notice there were still plenty of food left after the late comers had arrived, so there is no danger that the late comers will have nothing to eat. I also notice that most of the MACUSA members were not there. They must have left for Chicago in the early morning. Macrine and I had a grand time. Thank you, Jojo and Andrew and Fely for your hospitality.

Note to my none-Filipino readers: Although arriving one hour to two hours late in a social event here in US is considered bad manners, there is still a lot of Filipino-Americans who practice "Filipino time" even if they are already residents of United States for a number of years. This behaviour reminds me of an Ilongo joke, " Dugay ka na sa America, tonto ka man gihapon", which meant "You have been a resident of the United States of America for a long time, but you are still stupid". This joke also refers to students from the provinces in the Philippines who had studied in Manila.

Our Stay at the Ancog Hotel and Gardens at La Mirada: Normally, when we attend MI, Inc meetings and reunion, we stayed at the Hotel where all the activities are held. This was only the second time that we stayed in a private residence of a member of the host chapter during an MI, Inc reunion. Our capable hosts were Ray and Joyce Ancog. We are glad we did accept Joyce invitation. About six months ago, Joyce called Macrine that if we are planning to attend the 30th Anniversary of MASC, she would be delighted if we stay with them. We said yes and they promised to pick us from the airport on Friday Afternoon and bring us to the airport Monday afternoon. We decided not to attend the Thursday night welcome Night Activity. Again, we are glad we stayed with the Ancogs. Their hospitality overwhelmed us. I enjoyed Ray's orchids and tropical plant collections. Relaxing in the patio of their residence in La Mirada was a delight. Looking at the blooming orchids, and fruit bearing guavas, avocados, oranges, cherimoya, persimmons and several citrus trees was the highlight of our stay. We also enjoyed our tour to Huntington and Redondo Beach Piers as well as our two-hour escapade to a ballroom studio in Long Beach Sunday night. Thank you, Joyce and Ray for your hospitality. This was the best MI, Inc reunion and meeting that we have attended for the last 10 years because we stayed with you.
Tour of Huntington and Redondo Beaches on our way home to Sacramento
Congratulations to MASC for a job well done. Special congratulations and thanks to Luz, Agnes, Albine, Grace, Connie, Joyce, Ray, Eve, Noly and other MASC officers who made this event a tremendous success. We hope to see you all in the next reunion in Chicago in 2011. David and Macrine Katague

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Six Marinduque Videos

Recently, I was surfing on the Web and You Tube. I found about sixty short videos on Marinduque. The following six videos are my favorites. The first one was made by Eli Obligacion to honor Governor Carrion and his administration. The second was a vacation video by a typical tourist. I do not even know the video maker and the people in the vidoes, but the video was well made and shows several beauty spots and beaches of Marinduque. The third and fourth videos are from NBN, Channel 4, with Mayo Suzuki featuring the town of Gasan and Torrijos. The video contains a tour inside the beautiful mansion of Mayor Vicky Lim in Bacong Bacong, Gasan, a butterfly farm, a facility for making virgin coconut oil and a fishing village in Torrijos.
The fifth video is by Mykvan, taken 2007, Views of Marinduque.

Video by Eli Obligacion. This video made me homesick. It is an excellent video of the sites, scenery, a little bit of history, culture and traditions of our island paradise with the background music by Yanni.(one of my favorite musician)

Vacation Video from a typical tourist to Marinduque. One of the best vacation videos, featuring the beauty of our islands. There are more than fifthy videos made by tourists about Marinduque in the Web, but the quality of most of the videos is not worth your time. But the above short video, I hope you will enjoy.

Part 1 of Mayo's Video of Channel 4- Lakbayin ang Magandang Pilipinas

Part 2 of Mayo's Video of Channel 4- Lakbayin ang Magandang Pilipinas
Video by mykvan, 2007
Here's the sixth and latest video from the tourism department of the provincial government.This is one of the best video about Marinduque that I have viewed recently

Genealogy of the" K(C)atague" and "Balleza" Surnames

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

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

There are several variations of the Katague name. These are: Catague, Catage, Catagi, Katagi, Katage, Kataque and Kata Gue ( from Indonesia). I know of a Japanese chemist with surname of Katagi. It may be true that Katague originated from Japan from the surname Katagi as my father once mentioned.

So if your last name is any of the above or if you are married to someone with any of the names above, we may be related. I will appreciate if you contact me in Face Book or Twitter or in this site. I will be delighted to meet you on line or in person.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Building a Retirement Home in the Philippines

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

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

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

However, I can give you a decent estimate based on our retirement house built in 1996. If you want to build a similar house, 2700 sq ft, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, two balconies and a one car garage with cement, metal roofing, air conditioning and marble floors, my estimate will be around 4 million pesos. So based on today's exchange rate of 1 to 48, it will cost you around $84,000. This is cheap if you compared it to the standard 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house in US. Here in Fair Oaks, CA the standard house sells for an average of $250,000 to 500,000 depending on location.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bitik and Tarug Caves,and Hinulugan Falls

Three recent boosts to the local ecotourism development in Marinduque includes the latest exploration of Bitik Caves in Santa Cruz, the Hinulugan Falls in Torrijos and the Tarug Caves in Mogpog.
Here's is the video of the exploration of Bitik caves published recently in the provincial blog as part of the Adventure Series, edited by E. Obligacion.

Two other sites that were also recently explored are Hinulugan Falls in Torrijos and Tarug Caves in Mogpog. May I reiterate that development of these local natural wonders of the province will definitely add to the claim of Marinduque as the ecotourism capital of the Philippines.
Entrance to Tarug Cave, Mogpog and Hinulugan Falls, Torrijos
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