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

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fruit Trees in the Gardens of Chateau Du Mer

The Mango Tree-I have three varieties in my Garden-The Indian, Guimaras and Carabao Mangoes
My caretaker/gardener informed me last month that due to the El Nino drought in Marinduque, two of my Durian trees died in spite of his vigilant watering. One of the tree was attacked by insects that looks like a big fly but yellowish in color that sucks the sap of the seedling. The roots of the other tree was attacked by ants residing in the soil. However, my other fruit trees, the rambutans( 2), the lanzones(2) and the jack fruits ( 2) trees are doing well. The above eight fruit trees were given to me by Retired General Recaredo Sarmiento of Boac and Lucena., about three years ago. General Sarmiento is the “atid” of my wife. “Atid” is the colloquial term for brother. Evidently, Macrine's father, the late Bernardo Jambalos was the Godfather of General Sarmiento during his baptism and comfirmation.
Gen Sarmiento's hobby is orchard planting, reforestation and farming.

The other fruit trees in my garden are guayabanos, cashew, avocados, starapples, duhats, ates, guavas, mangoes( 3 varieties) and papayas as well as several varieties of bananas . Of the above fruit trees, my favorite is the guayabanos, also known as soursop tree known for its anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties . The following are photos of the fruit trees. The Durian photo is from the web. Note that it almost look like a jack fruit tree, except that the leaves are bigger and shiny. My desire is to have a passion fruit tree in the near future. You are welcome to visit my orchard and flower gardens any time, if perchance you are in the vicinity of The Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort and Conference Center.
The Rambutan Tree and Fruits
The Lanzone Tree and Fruits
The Jack Fruit Tree
The Durian Fruit Tree

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ten Essentials for Successful Retirements

In 2002,I retired from FDA. My first action was to kept busy, so I would not feel empty, useless and bored. I started to blog. My first article was "The Joys of Retirement" posted at

The following article by Philip Moeller summarizes the ten essential requirements that made retirement a success. If your are near retirement years, this article must be a "must" read for you. I guarantee if you score an "A" in the 10 items listed, you will be happy in your retirement years and you do not have to be envious of me!

"Day after day brings new headlines of problems and pitfalls for retirees. We save too little and can't afford to stop working. We make poor investment decisions and don't know how to get the most out of our shrunken nest eggs. Social Security benefits may be cut. Medicare benefits also face trims. The national ship of state is going down the tubes in so many ways, and no one will be handing out life preservers to older citizens as the ship sinks.

Maybe these are all true and worrisome trends. Nonetheless, people will retire, and many of them will enjoy terrific lives in their later years. They will join millions of other Americans who have managed to do the same. What are their secrets? Here, culled from research studies and retirement experts, are 10 essentials for successful retirements.

1) Planning. Successful retirements rarely happen by accident. They require planning, and it should begin well before retirement begins. Younger people do not need to have any detailed plan for their later years. Heck, many probably don't know what they'll be doing next year. But they should set up tax-favored retirement investments, contribute enough to trigger the top employer match, and place their money in stable and safe investments. Older people should begin in their 50s to ask questions about the adequacy of their retirement funds. They also should attack some of the big retirement issues -- where do they want to live, how do they want to spend their time, and the like. At whatever age retirement becomes financially viable or physically necessary, they should have a more detailed plan and ways to achieve it.

2) Budgeting. Most people overestimate their retirement income and underestimate their retirement expenses. Well before the regular paychecks stop, many successful retirees will have taken a hard-nosed look at their retirement income and expense needs. Expense budgeting is crucial. Once the income and expense sides of your personal ledger have been completed, you can see if there's a gap that needs to be closed. Most likely, it will be closed by trimming expenses. Many experts say it's a good idea to look at your locked-in sources of retirement income --Social Security and traditional pensions -- and match this amount to your fixed expenses -- mortgage, utilities, insurance, fixed debt payments, operating expenses for your car, and basic household costs for food and other necessities. Then, look at the likely income stream from your investments and use those funds for discretionary spending on vacations, restaurants, and the like. This way, if returns on your investments don't fare as well as you thought, you won't have to eat into your investment accounts to pay expenses. When markets recover, you can resume your spending.

3) Homework. Retirement is many things but a life of leisure usually must be preceded by a lot of homework. This is particularly true when it comes to healthcare costs. The average 65 year old couple will spend $250,000 on health care during the rest of the their lives -- the single largest unknown expense for most people. Medicare was complicated enough before health reform was enacted. Anyone planning to retire in the next several years should spend time understanding how the new law might affect them. Other areas that can benefit from some study: how healthy is the economy of the area you're thinking of choosing for your retirement home; what are the state and local tax rates in that area; what are state estate taxes like; do you have a good approach to spending down your assets in retirement, and, what is the best strategy for you about when to begin claiming Social Security benefits.

4) Realism. None of the planning, budgeting, and homework you do will provide the basis for a successful retirement unless you're realistic in your assessments and assumptions. Most people, for example, actually retire several years before they earlier said they would. Likewise, they say they will continue to work well past their 65th birthday. They don't. You need to be honest with yourself.

5) Balance. The key to a lot of good things in life is a sense of balance. Successful retirements involve a good balance between expectations and reality. This doesn't mean sacrificing your dreams. It does mean road-testing your dreams to see what it would take to make them possible.

6) Health. No surprise here. Good health is the "knock on wood" wish of every retiree. What's different today than a generation ago is the widespread recognition that good health is no accident but the probable result of good diet and exercise habits. These habits need to start now, not when you're 70 years old, although it's never too late to begin. It's been proven that strenuous exercise, with heavy weights and sweat-inducing cardiovascular workouts, can help even people in their 80s and 90s. Investing in good health is as important as socking money away in retirement accounts.

7) Family and Friends. As people look forward to their later years, the priorities that loom largest tend to be people, not possessions or unshared travel experiences. As with your health, good relations with friends and family members need to be developed and nurtured over time. If there are people you know you want to spend time with when you're retired, figure out what you need to do today to enhance the odds you will have the strong bonds you desire in the future. Having honest conversations with children is crucial, especially when it comes to issues surrounding grandchildren. Maybe you want to live close to grandchildren and see them a lot. Do your kids feel the same way? Do they expect you to be constantly on call to be free babysitters? How would you feel about that? Do you expect your kids to be constantly on call to help you out with household chores and errands? Make sure you're all on the same page before taking important actions you might later regret.

8) Socialization. Loneliness is a killer for older people. This is especially true for men, who are seen in surveys to have harder times than women making friends, and tend not to ask for help or reach out to loved ones. If you don't have a rich circle of family and friends, and aren't likely to build one before retirement, perhaps a senior community makes sense. Even if you don't need help due to physical ailments, you might need the structured social support services that a retirement community can offer. Don't be in denial on this one. Looking through scrapbooks of old family pictures gets, well, old after a while.

9) Legacy. People who are happy in retirement frequently have taken care of major life decisions rather than leaving them to some future date. Uncertainty is stressful, and stress should not be a sought-after condition at any stage in life and especially not in retirement. Questions about passing on wealth and possessions should be decided when you're healthy, and should be discussed with family members and other loved ones. Maybe your daughter doesn't really want your wedding china. That doesn't mean she's a bad person. Maybe you think leaving college money for grandchildren is a great idea. But you should discuss it with your kids. If you trust your children, perhaps they should control these funds. Where do you want to be buried when you die, or do you even want to be buried? If you're married, do you and your spouse agree on these matters? These are discussions you should have.

10) Acceptance. With due apologies for being presumptuous, let me suggest that we all have made many, many mistakes by the time we retire. Often, the people we'd view as the most successful are the hardest on themselves as they approach and enter retirement. Maybe it's workplace failures. Or personal relationships. Often, it's the quality of parenting. Whatever it may be, carrying this baggage around with you during retirement is a heavy, heavy burden. It's nearly impossible to win the blame game. If you play the comparison game, you can always find someone who did things better than you. You may need professional help with this, but forgiving yourself for being human can be a liberating act as you approach retirement and your later years.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

MI, Inc. Medical Mission VII, February, 2011

Marinduque International, Inc (MI) Seal and Logo
I just talked to Annie Miles Jalac, president of MI and she gave me the following tentative schedule for next year medical mission to Marinduque. I am posting it, so that those who wants to join the mission could mark it in their calendar. After the mission, I am trying to negotiate a group discounted rate for a 2 night 3-day vacation in Bellarocca Resort and Spa.( A minimum of 10 couples is required for this discounted rate. Once I have the official rate, I will post it in FaceBook or in this blog. If you are interested in joining this group, please let me know. Now for the tentative schedule:

February 5 ( Saturday): Orientation/Registration at Chateau Du Mer, Amoingon, Boac
February 6 ( Sunday) Mass by the Bishop Evangelista at Gasan Cathedral-Morning
Welcome Dinner by the Governor-Lupac-Evening
February 6 ( Monday) Start of Hospital Operations and Clinic in Gasan-whole Day
February 7 ( Tuesday) “ and Clinic in Buenavista-whole Day
February 8 ( Wednesday) “ and Clinic in Torrijos-Whole Day
Evening: Appreciation Dinner-Chateau Du Mer- Amoingon, Boac
February 9 ( Thursday) Hospital Operations and Clinic in Santa Cruz-Whole Day
February 10 ( Friday) “ and Clinic in Mogpog-Whole Day

February 11 ( Saturday) Whole Day Clinic in Boac
Evening- Valentine Dinner and Dance- Possible Venue- Bellarocca ( Buenavista) or Chateau Du Mer ( Boac)

February 12-14 Post Mission 2-night and 3-day Vacation to Bellarocca Resort ( under negotiation)

Marinduque International has a website ( but has not been updated to include information for this coming medical mission. However, please visit the site, since all the previous medical missions are all documented in detail including pictures and articles on this humanitarian project.

If you love Marinduque, I urge you to join us next year for this humanitarian project. As the saying goes, “ The time that you have really live, is the time that you have touch the lives of others”. If you can not personally joins us, your monetary or “in kind” donation will be welcome. Please note that part of your donation may be tax deductible, since MI, Inc is a non-profit organization registered in US. For details on your tax deduction, please consult your accountant or tax advisor.

MI, Inc next meetimg will be in Las Vegas in mid November to finalize the medical mission schedule according to Ms Miles of the Vancouver Chapter. On another note, Northern California Chapter Meeting will be on October 23 in Pittsburg, CA according to chapter president Eddie Lazarte.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Orchids Collection in Chateau Du Mer Gardens

One of the many reasons why I love Marinduque is that the climate is conducive to growing orchids outside all year round. Most of my orchids bloom almost every four months except during the hot summer months. My gardener waters the orchids every day only in the morning. It takes her at least 25 minutes to water ( spray) the orchids every day( no rain that day). We fertilized every three months. There are aphids and insects ( ants) in some varieties that had to be hand pick and killed, since I am not in favor using insecticides. Here's some of my orchids for your viewing pleasure:

In 1996, when we first built the main house at Chateau Du Mer in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines, I started planting about a dozen orchids in front of the house. Today, I have a collection of more than fifty varieties of dendrobium, phalaenopsis and vandas. The dendrobiums and phalaenopsis cost around 100 to 200 pesos today(about $4 to $8 US dollars),still very cheap compared to US prices here in California. The vandas cost from 250 to 500 pesos depending on the variety and its rarity. My favorite orchid is the Princess Mikasa, a blue orchid(see top photo above). This was a gift from my first cousin from Iloilo about five years ago. I had to hand carry this on the plane to Marinduque. My cousin's primary business is growing orchids. She has more than a thousand plants in her home in Pototan, Iloilo. She attends to all the orchids Shows and Fairs in the Philippines and exhibits her orchids for sale and competes for awards. My other orchids, I purchased them from orchid gardens in Lucena, Quezon as well as locally during agricultural Fairs and at the Flea markets in Gasan and Boac. The other orchids in the photos are dark pink and yellow vandas as well as the purple dendrobium. I also have three cattleyas in my garden.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, I learned that my on-line friend in Guimaras and his filipino wife are returning to the US next month. They have lived in Guimaras Island for almost a year but decided to return to the US. Another on line friend residing in Davao with his Filipina wife for almost 3 years is now in US and is trying to settle in Las Vegas as a taxi driver. His wife is still in the Philippines and he is now processing the paper work, so his wife could join him in Las Vegas.

I also read from Bob Martins web magazine( LiP) that there are several expats returning to their country of origin from all parts of the Philippines. So why are these expats leaving the Philippines. The following article may have the reasons for their leaving the Philippines.

According to the U.S. State Department's 2007 figures the number of permanent U.S. residents in the
Philippines is approximately 105,000 (250,000 total including visitors and temporary residents). This number
hasn't substantially increased for several years. Why? Could it be people are either moving to other countries,
returning home or just dying? Since I haven't seen many deaths reported, I assume the former. If the
Philippines were the ideal retirement location, the U.S.expat population should be growing in proportion to the
total number of U.S. retirees. It doesn't appear to be happening. I don't have any explanations other than a
word of caution. Clearly making the adjustment to living in the Philippines must not be as easy as we might
imagine. Exactly! Adjusting is difficult for many, and adapting to life here can be a MAJOR challenge.

The reasons for expats departing after moving to "paradise" are varied, but the most common I've experienced are:  Inability to adapt to Philippine culture, to include inability to accept corruption as society's "norm," pervasive dishonesty, constantly being overcharged for goods and services, constant attempted scams, and expats often being viewed as a "walking ATM machine;" heat / humidity / typhoons; massive poverty; infrastructure deficiencies of a developing nation; failures in relationships; developing a chronic health problem (often alcohol abuse-related), and the best treatment option is returning to Western medicine; victim of crime; financial problems (resulting from
declining value of dollar, failing to manage money on a budget, business failure); unable to cope with being
fully retired (i.e., need to continue working to feel relevant and making a contribution to mankind)

THE BOTTOM LINE: Before committing 100% to the Philippines, try it for a year or two, and have an alternate plan that will allow you to return to your home country if you are unable to adapt. DO NOT take this decision lightly! Nobody really knows what they're getting in to until they are here and experiencing the trials, tribulations, and virtues of Philippine life on a DAILY basis!

Adapted from the "Living in Cebu" Forums
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