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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Aswang and Manananggal of the Philippines

Image from

This coming Saturday is Halloween Day here in Northern California. To celebrate Halloween Day, I thought that the following story from Dave DeWall (I have his permission to post this story in this blog) is worthy of publication and very timely.

I know that most of us here in US do not believe in witches. But in the Philippines (this is true story according to the author) witches, nono's, manananggals, giant capri's, and ghosts are part of life and folklore specially in rural areas and in the provinces. Personally, if I am in the Philippines, I tend to believe it, but when I am here in Northern California, I am not a believer. However during Halloween, the subject of witches becomes a topic of interest to me.

The Witches and Manananggal of Guimaras Island, Iloilo-by Dave DeWall
Source: October 21 and 22, 2009

“My wife’s younger sister Emily, was a beautiful baby. Cute sharp nose and just one of those infants people would gush over and comment on how maganda (beautiful) she was. She was the favorite of her parents and adored by her older brothers and sisters. When Emily was about a year old, she became extremely ill. Wouldn’t drink her milk and didn’t want to eat. What she did eat was immediately vomited. She suffered diarrhea and dehydration, and couldn’t sleep at night.
Melinda’s Tatay (Father) and Nanay (Mother) bundled up the sick little one and took her to the doctor. The doctor examined her, and prescribed some medicine. Emily got a little better the next day, but then she became quite ill again, and so another trip back to the doctor. Quite expensive for Melinda’s Father and Mother who struggled to make ends meet and support a family of eleven. The doctor prescribed more medicine, again Emily got a little better for a couple of days. Then she worsened again. More trips to the doctor with the same results as before. The same pattern persisted, get a little better, than sick again. Tatay and Nanay were becoming increasingly worried and extremely distraught; the doctor’s visits had drained what few pesos they had before Emily became sick, and now all their money was gone. What could they do to save their little infant Emily?

Only one thing to do, Tatay and Nanay decided they would have to sell the family carabao (water buffalo, the ultimate work animal on farms in the Philippines, not caribou as the carabao is often mistakenly referred to by foreigners like myself --check this link out by my friend Mindanao Bob from “Live in the Philippines” for a great explanation of what a carabao is and for a photo: They had to raise the cash to take Emily to the hospital and have extensive tests run on her. This was an act of utter desperation; the caribou plowed the rice fields for the family farm. Without the carabao there would be no rice fields plowed and no rice next season: No rice to sell. No rice to eat. The decision was final; the next morning Melinda’s Mother and Father would bring the carabao into San Miguel to be sold.

Darkness then falls in the heart of the jungle as the giant lizards’ cries of “tukkku …tukkku..tukkku” reverberate throughout. Giant pythons hang menacingly on the trees. An evening where Melinda and her family, distraught with worry over baby Emily, huddle inside their candle lit nipa hut shorn of any modern conveniences such as electricity and running water. No telephone. No television. The only contact with the outside world was a tiny transistor radio. Emily was especially ill that evening, vomiting and crying; reinforcing Tatay’s and Nanay’s decision to sell the carabao and bring their beloved infant daughter to the hospital. Nanay held the little baby in her arms to try and comfort her and rock her to sleep. The hour is around midnight.

Suddenly the family heard a loud commotion outside! A cat emitting strange high-pitched screams was outside the front of the nipa hut. Melinda peered out the window and saw its eyes as they glowed fiery red! Tatay cracked open the front door, and the demon cat jumped inside the front entrance of the nipa hut, and according to my wife Melinda who witnessed it, FLEW across the room. It was common knowledge in the Philippines that a witch or Manananggal had the ability to inhabit an animal’s body and possess it. Melinda’s father quickly grabbed his bolo (machete) and ran towards the flying cat screaming: “You are NOT going to eat my child, you Son of a b----!” The cat literally flew out the front door, and my father-in-law shouted at all the children to gather all their old slippers (rubber flip-flops) and put them in the front yard. The multitude of old flip flops were piled up and put in a semi-circle, and Melinda’s father set fire to them.

As Melinda and her family huddled in the nipa hut, she could hear piercing screams and laughter coming from just beyond the burning mountain of rubber: it was the witch tormenting them, still in the cat’s form! Thick black smoke poured from the mound of melting flip flops, and the terrorized family huddled inside with Tatay in the doorway, bolo in his upraised right hand. The evil laughter continued from right beyond the flames tauting them.

And Blood Shall Spill!

Yesterday’s blog concluded with Melinda and her family being taunted by the Manananggal, a witch that took the form of a cat. As Melinda’s father continued to stand at his post at the front door, armed with his bolo, Melinda relates that she could still hear the witch cat laughing and screaming at them, but the burning pile of rubber flip flops was keeping the creature at bay. A half hour passed and finally the jungle fell silent; the witch was gone for the moment, and even the cry of the lizards halted.

Morning finally arrived, and though shaken by the previous evening’s horrible events, Melinda’s Mother and Father prepared the carabao for the long journey out of the jungle to San Miguel; Emily’s condition was worsening, and the carabao had to be sold to raise the funds necessary to admit the little infant to the hospital. Hospital services had to be paid for when those services were completed.

Tatay and Nanay, Melinda and the family reach the outskirts of San Miguel, and Nanay (Melinda’s Mother) runs into her sister Feliciana, a local healer. They had not seen each other for months. “Have you heard there is a new Manananggal in town looking for a baby so she can eat the infant’s liver?” asks Tita (Aunt Feliciana.) Tatay and Nanay froze! That was the witch that visited their house last night! Manananggal take on the form of an attractive woman during the day, and are known to seek out the most beautiful of babies. The witch was after little Emily!

With a quivering voice, Melinda’s Mother told her sister of the visit last night. Tita grabbed her sister’s arm, and told her they had to get Emily to the local healer that had far greater powers than Tita, the healer, had. They would need an extremely powerful healer to deal with the wretched Manananggal!

Tatay and Nanay, and Melinda and family along with Tita Feliciana who needed to make the necessary introductions since this particular healer was know throughout the region as “the healer of all healers”. One could not expect to just walk through his door without waiting for hours as he had a multitude of people that sought his services every day; but this was a dire situation. Immediate action was needed. Tita Feliciana intervened.

The healer listened to the story of the previous night’s harrowing event. His face remained stoic. Did not nod in agreement or disagreement with anything said. Asked no questions. He knew how to deal with this menace. The Healer instructed Melinda’s Mother and Father to go out and purchase a black chicken and then come back with it and Baby Emily.

Fortunately it was early Sunday morning, the busiest market day in San Miguel. It did not take long for Tatay and Nanay to purchase a black chicken. They rushed back to The Healer with the ailing Emily, Melinda and the rest of the family in tow. As witnessed by Melinda, The Healer chopped off the head of the black bird with one swift blow of the bolo. He poured the blood of the chicken out into a vessel, and made the sign of the cross on Emily’s forehead, legs, arms, and stomach. Then he took some ginger and rubbed that on the infant Emily. The Healer instructed Tatay and Nanay to go straight home, but be sure to leave the candles lit the whole evening.

Melinda’s family made the long journey back home to the jungle. Nanay fed Emily some milk. She hungrily drank all of it. Did not vomit any of it. Nanay fed her some rice porridge. Again Emily ate it all, and again, did not get sick. The house was lit with every candle available in every room. Nightfall came again. Emily went to sleep quickly, still covered with the dried chicken blood; it was the first time in almost a month that she slept so peacefully. The little one did not get ill the whole day since she left The Healer that morning. Tatay sat near the front door the whole evening with his bolo nearby, but the night slipped away without any event.

Morning came, and Emily again drank all her milk and ate her porridge. Nothing happened, she was completely healed. The chicken’s blood was then washed off of her, and Nanay patted her dry, and held her in her arms, grateful for what The Healer had done. Oh, and the carabao? It was still there. Didn’t need to sell it now. The witch? Don’t know what happened to her, but a new one has taken her place here in San Miguel now. She is a young one in the second year of high school, and it is said she is looking for a beautiful young child to devour that child’s liver. Again, The Sainted Patient Wife was eyewitness to this account, and swears it is true. Who am I to say? Many forces of darkness battle against the good every day in this world. I am but a stranger in a strange land”. Thank you Dave for your story!

Here is a short video from a movie trailer about aswang in the Philippines to complement the story above.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween is Near-Witches, Nono and Goblins

Carenna in her butterfly costume-Mariposa Princess

If you go to the stores and shopping malls here in Northern California, you will see that most of the decorations are now about Halloween costumes, candies, masques and other items for the Halloween Night Festivities.

In the Philippines, the web is already filled with stories about witches ( aswang), capri, duende ( nono) or elves as well as stories about ghost and apparitions . Superstitions and Folklore's are part of life in the Philippines, specially in the provinces.

I know when I was growing up way back in the late 1930's, my parents and relatives had been telling me of stories about aswang( flying witches) visiting homes in the middle of the night and looking for pregnant women, so they could suck the fetus from their stomach. One way of discouraging the aswangs to your homes is to put garlic in all the windows. Other superstitions are the giant people called capri. There are two kinds, the white( good) and black ( the evil one). Opposite to this are the small people, the elves or Nono ( in Marinduque) .

Last year, I wrote a short article about Ghost, Goblins and Nonos . At that time my beloved Carenna( see photo above) was only five years old. She turned six last May and now in first Grade. The article that I wrote last year are as follows:

"One of the beliefs and folklore's in Marinduque are the existence of Nono ( goblins) . There are also stories about ghosts( white lady apparition) and witches. I know that in Iloilo, there is one town where there are a lot of witches(Dingle). However, there are no proofs, this is true. In our resort property in Amoingon, some of our neighbors inform us, that once in a while in a moonless night they have seen an apparition of a white lady. I have never seen one during our annual six months stay at the beach resort. The white lady is supposed to guard the property from robbers and intruders and she is the ghost of my mother-in-law".

"With regards to the Nono,( they reside in the big trees),even though I really do not believe it, I still say TABI PO NONO (Excuse me Nono,I have to pass by) when passing under the trees and bridges in my property at night. Even my 5 year old grand daughter from Sacramento, has learned of this phrase. We told her of the TABI PO NONO phrase last December, during our golden wedding anniversary celebration. The funny part is, when they were in Boracay a week later, she said the same phrase while passing a bridge at the Boracay Regency Hotel, where her MOM and Lola were staying. Hurrah to the memory of a 5-year old. Anyway, if you experience or hear of any stories about ghosts, nono and witches, please let me know".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kalutang Group-Viva Marinduque

I found this on You Tube. The background music is from the KALUTANG Group of Bangbang, Gasan. Source of video:
This video is a slideshow of "Viva Marinduque" performance tour in Marinduque's six municipalities in celebration of Araw ng Marinduque and Philippine International Arts Festival in February. Background music performed by Pangkat Kalutang of Bangbang, Gasan using wooden percussion instruments made from twatingan and bayog trees endemic to this Philippine island.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

All You can Hear are the Sound of the Waves......

This relaxing video, although filmed in Oahu, Hawaii reminds me of Chateau Du Mer Beach in Boac, Marinduque. You could close your eyes and just listen to the waves. All you can hear are the sound of the waves and your heart beat. Guaranteed to relax you and to forget the worries of the world. Visit Marinduque and stay at Chateau Du Mer!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Grandson First Video Production

I have two grandsons and four granddaughters. Philip Katague is one of my two grandsons here in Northern California. He is the oldest son of my oldest son, Dodie (Diosdado) Katague. As a grandfather I am proud of my grandchildren accomplishments. Above is Philip's first video as an actor, an assignment in one of his classes in high school. Isn't he handsome? The Katague genes are certainly showing, but has been diluted with American genes from his mom. I hope you enjoy his short video!

Philip Winchester Katague, Christmas, 2007

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Marinduque or Guimaras Islands/Contra Costa or Sacramento Counties- Places For Retirement in the Philippines and Northern California,United States

Marinduque-My Island Paradise and Heaven on Earth

Five years prior to my retirement from FDA, my wife ( Macrine) and I had to make a decision where in the Philippines, we will build our retirement home, since we have decided to live the snow bird lifestyle in our retirement years. If you have been following my blogs, you know what a snow bird lifestyle is. However, if this is your first time, allow me to explain what the term “snow bird” meant. It is a lifestyle involving the best of the EAST and WEST, both culturally and weather-wise. That is, when it gets cold here in Northern California ( after Thanksgiving), Macrine and I flies to the Philippines where the weather is perfect, cool, and dry with very low humidity. When it start to get hot and humid in the Philippines ( Easter Season), around mid-April, we fly back to Northern California when it is the start of spring and perfect weather.

There are hundreds of places in the Philippines, where one could build a retirement home on the beach. Macrine and I had narrowed it down to two islands, Marinduque or Guimaras Island in Iloilo.

Marinduque is Macrine, province of birth. She finished high school at the local catholic school for girls in Boac, the capital town of Marinduque. Iloilo on the other hand is my province of birth. I finished at the local high school in the town of Barotac Viejo, about 60 Km north of Iloilo City. Macrine's parents had several beach front lots along the western coast of Marinduque at Barrios Laylay and Amoingon.
Sunset in Guimaras Island -photo from

My father has a beach front lot in the island of Guimaras in the town of Buenavista. After several months of discussing the pros and cons between Marinduque or Guimaras, Macrine convinced me that Marinduque is our Island Paradise instead of Guimaras Island for the following reasons.

1.The proximity of Marinduque to Manila-only 30 minutes versus 50 minutes airplane ride

2.The location, area and physical set-up of the beach front lots. In Marinduque, the beach front lot is about 5 acres, and also along the national road. There is a creek running in the property that flows to the ocean inhabited by fish and crabs. The lot has several full grown shade and fruit trees and more than 100 banana and coconut trees.

On the other hand my father's lot in Guimaras is small and I had never seen it. In addition, the title of the lot was still not in my name. The lot is also isolated and far from the national road. Another factor against Guimaras is that the island was still under developed( poor roads), although there was a plan to build a bridge between Guimaras and the mainland in Iloilo City at that time.

3.Social Support System: Macrine has lots of closed relatives in Boac. I have relatives in Guimaras but I have never meet them. Most of my closed relatives are in the mainland in Jaro..

4.Last, but not least, I feel in love with Marinduque, its hospitable residents, its culture ( putong, Kalutang and Moriones Festival) and its delicious food ( ginat-an na manok, Kare-kare and ulang-ulang). For details read my posting "Why I Love Marinduque at

Now let us talk about the choice between Contra Costa and Sacramento County, here in Northern California. When I retired from FDA, we had a choice to buy a house either in Contra Costa County, so we could be closed to our two oldest children and grand children ranging in ages from 5 to 13. Or we could settled down in Sacramento County so we could be closed to our two youngest children. Our youngest daughter was pregnant at that time, thus could use our help in baby sitting for our future grandchild. It was a not a hard decision, why we chosed Sacramento County versus Contra Costa County. First the homes in Sacramento area is much, much cheaper than the Walnut Creek area where our oldest son and daughter resides with their respective families. Moreover, our future grandchild needed us and we were looking forward to do our “APO”stolic mission as baby sitters. "APO" is the tagalog word for a grandchild. In addition, the Sacramento area has less traffic and pollution and standard of living is a little bit cheaper than the Walnut Creek area. Sacramento is much closer to Lake Tahoe, the location of our time share property, although we are much farther to San Francisco and its famous China Town, Fisherman's Wharf and other attractions. There is less hassle to depart at the Sacramento airport compared to San Francisco Airport when we fly to the Philippines every year or to Las Vegas and other cities. I love the Sacramento Airport because it is so compact and only a short walk from the check-in ticket counters to the departing terminals. At present, a huge International Terminal Addition is under construction. I do hope they design the new addition with the convenience of passengers in mind.

I hope that after reading this posting, you understand why most of our friends and contemporaries are envious of our snow bird lifestyle. I also advise you that five years before the big date, start planning what you want to do in your retirement years. It is never too early to plan for your retirement years.
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