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 30, 2010

Time for Joke of the Week-Answered Prayers


From Sandee Comedy Plus. I hope this one will give you a smile, particularly if you have a "bad" day.

"The pastor asked if anyone in the congregation would like to express praise for answered prayers.

Suzie Smith stood and walked to the podium. She said, “I have a praise. Two months ago, my husband, Tom, had a terrible bicycle wreck and his scrotum was completely crushed. The pain was excruciating and the doctors didn’t know if they could help him.”

You could hear a muffled gasp from the men in the congregation as they imagine the pain that poor Tom must have experienced.

“Tom was unable to hold me or the children,” she went on, “And every move caused him terrible pain.” We prayed as the doctors performed a delicate operation, and it turned out they were able to piece together the crushed remnants of Tom’s scrotum, and wrap wire around it to hold it in place.”

Again, the men in the congregation cringed and squirmed uncomfortably as they imagined the horrible surgery performed on Tom.

“Now,” she announced in a quivering voice, “Thank the Lord, Tom is out of the hospital and the doctors say that with time, his scrotum should recover completely.”

All the men sighed with unified relief.

The pastor rose and tentatively asked if anyone else had something to say.

One man stood up and walked slowly to the podium. He said, “I’m Tom Smith.”

The entire congregation held its breath.

“I just want to tell my wife the word is 'sternum.'”

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Are there Optional Clothing Beaches in Marinduque?

Love Formation in the Nude-Image from dannystewart.net

I posted a question in FaceBook recently about "clothing optional" beaches in Marinduque as follows:

Several friends here in Northern California are asking me if there are "clothing optional" beaches in Marinduque or any where else in the Philippines. I really do not know. But,I know of several secluded coves in Marinduque that you can sun bath in the nude if you wish. Any body from Marinduque or the Philippines have the answer?

I received three comments from FaceBook friends. Here are their comments.

1. David there are private beaches/cove in Torrijos or some of the islets around like south side beach of Gaspar Island in Tres Reyes. It is secluded and my foreign friends are using those areas but they should be discreet.

2.As long as they are discreet and not being a nuisance, I've found that you can pretty much do as you wish.(Note to everyone... No one wants to see what I've got!) Not certain about "official" nude beaches, but there are so many secluded, nearly empty stretches of beach here, and hundreds of little islets in the country, finding someplace shouldn't pose a problem.

3.Anybody may do what they want provided it is not causing public disturbance. Marinduque is still considered as conservative place with people warm and friendly, yet will react if they see nude body under the sun.

I have also heard that there are clothing optional beaches in Palawan and Boracay!

In this video are optional clothing beaches of Southern California and Santorini, Greece ( definitely not in Bellarocca Resort of Buenavista, Marinduque). Enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Latest Update on the Halili-Kho Sex Scandal

Katrina and Hayden
Here's the latest news on the Halili-Kho sex scandal. It was written By Julie M. Aurelio and posted in the Philippine Daily Inquirer dated 8/26/2010.

"MANILA, Philippines—As mediation efforts between the camps of Katrina Halili and the mother of celebrity cosmetic surgeon Hayden Kho Jr. failed, a judge said the libel case filed by the actress against Irene Kho would go to trial.

In yesterday’s hearing, Judge Ma. Filomena Singh of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 85 directed both Halili and Irene Kho to undergo mediation to discuss the possibility of an out of court settlement.

However, nothing came out of the meeting as both camps had nothing to say to each other during the mediation session.

A source said Halili and Irene Kho just sat beside their lawyers and remained silent throughout the 10-minute proceeding.

Halili’s lawyer, Raymund Palad, and Kho’s lawyer, Jose Paolo Patajo, eventually admitted that it was hopeless to mediate between the two parties.

The court then set the pretrial at 2 p.m. on Oct. 20.

Halili filed the libel charges against her former lover’s mother after the older Kho alleged in two television interviews that it was the actress who introduced her son to illegal drugs.

Her complaint was junked by the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office but the decision was overturned by the Department of Justice after Halili filed a petition for review.

Halili and the younger Kho were embroiled in a scandal last year after videos of them having sex ended up on the Internet.

The actress, who claimed that the videos were taken without her knowledge and consent, sued the cosmetic surgeon before a Pasig City court for violation of the Anti-Violence Against and Children Act.

In September, Kho was suspended for one year by the Philippine Medical Association “for conduct offensive to the profession.”

Note: Mrs Irene Kho is originally from Marinduque and now resides in Quezon City.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Enjoy Marinduque For Less than $80 A Day(For 2)


The Beach House with a 180 degree Balcony overlooking the western Marinduque Sea

You do not have to spend a fortune( Bellarocca Resort) to enjoy the beaches, hot and sulfur springs, caves and underground rivers, cliffs and coral reefs, diving or snorkeling or just relaxing in your beach house balcony over looking the coral reefs of the Amoingon Coast, in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines:
If you stay at Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort in Boac.

Note: Chateau Du Mer is a 3-bedroom HOUSE not a HOTEL Room. All rooms are either air-cooled or air-conditioned. There is a kitchen with small refrigerator and a microwave oven. There is hot water for showering. There is daily maid service. Massage therapy, manicure, haircut and transportation services are available with one day advance notice.


HOTEL rooms will cost around $20 to $40 per day depending on location and amenities in Marinduque.

A decent hotel room in Manila will cost you around $100 to $200 per day plus 12% tax. Bellarocca's Resort cheapest hotel room is about $329 per day without meals. Lodging and accommodation is a BARGAIN in Marinduque with the exception of Bellarocca. If you are not looking for night life, Marinduque is an excellent alternative to Boracay in Aklan ( http://marinduquemyislandparadise.blogspot.com)

The cost of the beach house for two is only $ 60 per day. Your food will cost you around $12 to $15 per day for two depending on the meals you desire. Transportation cost will vary from $10 to $15 depending on how far you travel from the resort. Curious? Visit http://chateaudumer.blogspot.com.

The resort is owned and operated by David and Macrine Katague, Filipino-American Retirees who spend their retirement time half of the year in Marinduque and the other half in California, USA.

Here are some of the things to DO and SEE( videos) while you are in Marinduque-My Island Paradise.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Statins-the right cholesterol-lowering drugs for You?


The following article written by the Mayo Clinic Staff attracted my attention today. Currently, I am on statin therapy (Lovastatin). However, lately. I have been experiencing muscle and joint pains- the most common side effects of Statins. I am thinking of quitting taking statins, but instead take fish oil capsules as suggested by a physician friend in the Philippines. If you are under statins therapy, are you also experiencing minor muscle and joint pains? I will be glad to hear from you!

"Statins are drugs that can lower your cholesterol. They work by blocking a substance your body needs to make cholesterol. Statins may also help your body reabsorb cholesterol that has built up in plaques on your artery walls, preventing further blockage in your blood vessels and heart attacks.

Statins include well-known medications such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and others. Lower cost generic versions of many statin medications are available.

Already shown to be effective in lowering cholesterol, statins may have other potential benefits. But doctors are far from knowing everything about statins. Are they right for everybody with high cholesterol? What happens when you take a statin for decades? Can statins help prevent other diseases?
Should you be on a statin?

Whether you need to be on a statin depends on your cholesterol level along with your other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

High cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, meaning your total cholesterol level is 240 milligrams per deciliter, or mg/dL, (6.22 millimoles per liter, or mmol/L) or higher, or your "bad" cholesterol (LDL) level is 130 mg/dL (3.68 mmol/L) or higher, your doctor may recommend you begin to take a statin. But the numbers alone won't tell you or your doctor the whole story.

If the only risk factor you have is high cholesterol, you may not need medication because your risk of heart attack and stroke could otherwise be low. High cholesterol is only one of a number of risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

Other risk factors
Before you're prescribed a statin, your cholesterol level is considered along with other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including:

* Family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease
* Inactive (sedentary) lifestyle
* High blood pressure
* Age older than 55 if you're a man, or older than 65 if you're a woman
* Poor general health
* Having diabetes
* Overweight or obesity
* Smoking
* Narrowing of the arteries in your neck, arms or legs (peripheral artery disease)

If your doctor decides you should take a statin, you and your doctor will have to decide what dose to take. Statins come in varied doses — from as low as 5 milligrams to as much as 80 milligrams, depending on the medication. If you need to decrease your LDL cholesterol significantly — by 50 percent or more — it's likely you'll be prescribed a higher dose of statins. If your LDL cholesterol isn't as high, you'll likely need a lower dose. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about the amount of statins you're taking.
Lifestyle is still key for lowering cholesterol

Lifestyle changes are essential for reducing your risk of heart disease, whether you take a statin or not. Lifestyle changes you should consider making include:

* Quitting smoking
* Eating a healthy diet that's low in fat, cholesterol and salt
* Exercising 30 minutes a day on most days of the week
* Managing stress

If you're following the recommended lifestyle behaviors but your cholesterol — particularly your low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol — remains high, statins might be an option for you. Risk factors for heart disease and stroke are:

* High cholesterol
* High blood pressure
* Diabetes
* Being overweight or obese
* Family history of heart disease
* Not exercising
* Heavy alcohol use
* Poor stress and anger management
* Older age
* Smoking
* Narrowing of the arteries in your neck, arms or legs (peripheral artery disease)

Consider statins a lifelong commitment

You may think that once your cholesterol goes down, you can stop taking medication. But, if your cholesterol levels have decreased after you take a statin, you'll likely need to stay on it indefinitely. If you stop taking it, your cholesterol levels will probably go back up.

The exception may be if you make significant changes to your diet or lose a lot of weight. Substantial lifestyle changes may help you lower your cholesterol without continuing to take the medication, but don't make any changes to your lifestyle or medications without talking to your doctor first.
The side effects of statins

Although statins are well tolerated by most people, they do have side effects, some of which may go away as your body adjusts to the medication.

Common, less serious side effects

* Muscle and joint aches (most common)
* Nausea
* Diarrhea
* Constipation

Potentially serious side effects

* Liver damage. Occasionally, statin use causes an increase in liver enzymes. If the increase is only mild, you can continue to take the drug. If the increase is severe, you may need to stop taking it, which usually reverses the problem. If left unchecked, increased liver enzymes can lead to permanent liver damage. Certain other cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as gemfibrozil (Lopid) and niacin, increase the risk of liver problems even more in people who take statins. Because liver problems may develop without symptoms, people who take statins have a blood test six weeks after starting a statin medication to check their liver function. After that, your doctor may recommend yearly blood tests.
* Muscle problems. Statins may cause muscle pain and tenderness (statin myopathy). The higher the dose of statin you take, the more likely you are to have muscle pains. In severe cases, muscle cells can break down (rhabdomyolysis) and release a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin can damage your kidneys. Certain drugs when taken with statins can increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis. These include gemfibrozil, erythromycin (Erythrocin), antifungal medications, nefazodone, cyclosporine and niacin. If you take statins and have new muscle aching or tenderness, check with your doctor.

It's important to consider the effects of statins on other organs in your body, especially if you have health problems such as liver or kidney disease. Also, check whether statins interact with any other prescription or over-the-counter drugs or supplements you take.

Keep in mind that when you begin to take a statin, you'll most likely be on it for the rest of your life. Side effects are often minor, but if you experience them, you may want to talk to your doctor about decreasing your dose or trying a different statin. Don't stop taking a statin without talking to your doctor first".

Personal Note: A friend in Face BOOK who is a physician in the Philippines commented that a good alternative for statins are fish oil capsules. There are less bad side effects when taking fish oils.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Why you should Consider Retiring to the Philippines


Ten Great Reasons Why You Should Consider Retiring To The Philippines from http://retire2philippines.com

Here are ten great reasons to consider the Philippines as your retirement location:

Affordable – The Philippines offers a lower cost of living for those facing retirement on a limited budget and confronted by the soaring cost of living in the West.

Climate – The all year round warm temperatures (72f-95f or 20c-30c) will be a welcome change to many that dread facing another bleak and cold winter. Most will find it easier to deal with a warmer climate and increased humidity than the bone chilling cold.

Relaxed Lifestyle– The Philippines has a much slower and more relaxed pace of life compared to the ‘Rat Race’ in many western cities, plus lots of golf courses and great fishing holes.

Language – English is widely spoken and understood. There really is no need to learn the local language if you do not wish to.

Personal Safety – There are certain parts of the Philippines not recommend for foreigners but most areas are relatively safe and much safer than most US cities. There are safety considerations but most involve simple precautions and common sense. Day-to-day living is carefree.

Shopping – The Philippines has many modern shopping Malls where almost everything you would need is available. Most western foods and products are easily obtainable.

Communications – It’s easy to get the telephone connected. Mobiles are widely used and calls are relatively cheap. Broadband Internet and cable TV are readily available.

Nursing / Home Care – Those who may require additional home care, either now or in the future, can employ a full time, trained nurse at a fraction of the cost of doing so in the West.

Medical – There are many fully equipped medical facilities and highly trained specialists around the Philippines with most concentrated in the two major cites.

Dental / Optical – Getting dental work or new dentures in the Philippines is really cheap. The same goes for getting a new set of prescription glasses.

And here are four more reasons for you to put the Philippines on your must see list of retirement options:

Companionship – If you are facing retirement alone then the Philippines is a great place to find someone special to share your retirement with.

Visas – The Philippines actively promotes itself as a retirement destination and has set up a government agency called the Philippine Retirement Authority. There are a number of special visas available to prospective retirees such as the SRRV.

Housemaids – The luxury of having a full time housemaid is another big plus when considering the Philippines. For less than $50 per month you can have someone there to keep the house clean and prepare meals.

And last but by no means least, the Filipino people are:

Friendly – The Philippines embraces Western values and culture. In many other countries westerners are only tolerated but in the Philippines many genuinely like us.

Here's a music video about Manila:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Marinduque-Photographers' Delight


Marinduque is a photoblogger dream. The province is endowed with unspoiled white sand beaches, pristine blue waters, fringing reefs, virgin coral reefs, coves, limestone caves, meandering rivers, mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls and streams, fabled sulfur and hot mineral springs,old churches and of course beautiful sunsets. The Internet is filled with photographs of the scenic beauty of this island not only from the local professional photographers but also from amateur photographers all over the world. The province has more than six big islands popular to beach lovers, scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts. It has Mt Malindig known to mountain climbers and hikers. It has Bathala and Tarug Caves popular to spelunkers and just curious seekers. In one of the eight caves of Bathala, there is a resident python, believed to be enchanted. If he shows himself when you visit the caves, it is suppose to bring you good luck.
Sunset over Tres Reyes Islands- Photo from panoramnio.com
The nearest and most accessible islands from the capital town of Boac are the Tres Reyes Islands ( Islands of the Three Kings), Gaspar, Melchor and Baltazar in the town of Gasan. The local names are Laki, Pangkog and Man-nga ( see map above). These islands are located southwest of the mainland. The other three group of islands bigger in area and more populated are Polo, Maniwaya and Mongpong Islands. These are located in the Northeast part of the mainland in the town of Santa Cruz. Maniwaya's Polo Maria White Beach is being develop as an alternative to Boracay. There is a bigger island, Salamongue Island which is not as well known to the tourists and residents.. I really do not know the reason, but I believe it is not as accessible from the mainland . Moreover, it is not as developed( no electricity or running water) compared to the other islands.

One of the most popular white beach located in the mainland in the town of Torrijos is Poctoy White Beach. It is about a 70 minutes drive from downtown Boac. Poctoy White beach with Mt, Malindig as the background is the most photogenic and the most photographed scenery in the island.

Just late last year, the former Elephant Island in Lipata, Buenavista, owned privately, was renamed Bellarocca Resort Island and Spa. It has been converted to look like Santorini Island, Greece with buildings all painted in white sticking in the cliffs. From what I heard, this resort is one of the most expensive and luxurious resort in Southeast Asia. The cheapest room charges $300 per night excluding meals and other amenities. When I was in Marinduque last year, I met a few rich and famous Filipinos( businessmen, actors and actresses, TV personalities)) from Manila as well as Korean and Japanese tourists at Masiga Airport in Gasan on their way to the resort. From the resort advertisement, I know that the most expensive accommodation is a 3-bedroom villa with its own pool and jacussi charging over $ 1000 per night without meals.

Dong Ho, Oggie Ramos, Ferdz Decena, Allan Barredo, Sydney Snoeck and Dennis Villegas are some of the photographers that I know who have photo blogs about Marinduque. Their pictures are beautiful, unique and mesmerizing. It is worth your time to visit their photo blogs sites. Looking at their photographs of Marinduque, its Tradition and Culture will surely make you proud of the beauty of our island paradise.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bayanihan-Philippines National Folk Dance Company

Dance of Lights(Pandango Sa Ilaw)
I saw my first live performance of the Bayanihan Dance Company way back in the early 1960's in Chicago, Illinois. I have never forgotten, how good and fantastic was the performance of this dance company at that time. Today, I am proud to reminisce with you a video performance of the company in 2006. I hope you enjoy this video and related videos.

In case you have not heard of Bayanihan Dance Company, here is a short article from Wikipedia for your reading pleasure.

"The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company is the oldest dance company in the Philippines. A multi-awarded company, both nationally and internationally, Guillermo Gomez Rivera has called it the "depository of almost all Filipino dances, dress and songs."
The company was founded in 1957 by Helena Z. Benitez and debuted May 27, 1958 at Expo '58, the Brussels World Fair responding to the request of then President Ramon Magsaysay. Since then they have made at least 14 major tours to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, US and the Middle East. It has performed in 6 continents, 66 counties and 700 cities worldwide. They perform folk dances from throughout the Philippines and from other countries. The group takes its name from the Filipino word bayanihan which means working together for a common good.

In appreciation and recognition of their pioneering efforts and international success in the realm of Filipino dance, the people of the Philippines through the 10th Congress enacted R. A. 8626 declaring the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company as The Philippines National Folk Dance Company".

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ten Basic Things you have to know about Filipinos


I found the following video interesting and informative. In case you have never meet a filipino or filipina, this video will be a good start to learn more about Filipinos. There are now close to four million Filipino-Americans residing in US. I am a Filipino-American and I am proud to be a "PINOY". Like any race, there are good as well as bad filipinos. But in general, Filipinos are friendly and hospitable and easy to get along with.



Here's a short article on Filipino-Americans from Wikipedia.

"Filipino Americans are Americans of Filipino ancestry. Filipino Americans reside mainly in the continental United States and form significant populations in California, New Jersey, New York, Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and Northern Marianas.

The earliest recorded presence of Filipinos in what is today the United States occurred in October 1587, when mariners under Spanish command landed in Morro Bay, California. The earliest permanent Filipino Americans to arrive in the New World landed in 1763, later creating settlements such as Saint Malo, Louisiana and Manila Village in Barataria Bay. These early settlements were composed of formerly pressed sailors escaping from the arduous duties aboard Spanish galleons and were "discovered" in America in 1883 by a Harper's Weekly journalist.

Significant immigration to the United States began with the need for agricultural laborers in the 1900s, with Filipinos settling primarily in what was then the Territory of Hawaii and California, after the Spanish-American War, which turned the Philippines into a territory of the United States. This immigration would slow to a trickle during the 1930s due to multiple factors, including the United States' recognition of independence of the Philippines on July 4, 1946. Filipino immigration to the United States would not see a resurgence until the late 1960s. Of the immigrants who arrived after the late 1960s, most settled in California, while others found a new home around U.S. Navy bases, major metropolitan areas, the West, and to a lesser extent the South. Some came looking for political freedom, but most arrived looking for employment and a better life for their families.

Personal Note: I went to US to pursue my Graduate Degree in Chemistry in 1960. I have no intention of residing in US, then. But after graduation with my Ph.D, I was offer a job that was hard to refuse and I see this as a big opportunity for a better life for my family. A year later, my wife and oldest son joined me in Chicago, Illinois. The rest of the story is history. ( For the rest of my story visit http://theintellectualmigrant.blogspot.com)

The Filipino American community is the second largest Asian American group in the United States. Filipino Americans are also the largest subgroup of Overseas Filipinos.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the 2007 American Community Survey, identified approximately 3.1 million persons as "Filipino alone or in any combination." The census also found that about 80% of the Filipino-American community are United States citizens. Also in 2007, the U.S. State Department estimated the size of the Filipino American community at 4 million or 1.5% of the United States population. There are no official records of Filipinos who hold dual citizenship.

Intermarriage among Filipinos is not uncommon, as they have the largest number of interracial marriages among Asian immigrant groups, as documented in California. It is also noted that 21.8% of Filipino Americans are multiracial, second among Asian Americans".

I hope you find the above article informative and erased your homophobic attitudes toward Filipino-Americans due to ignorance. Here's a video of some famous Filipino celebrities. This list is just a sample of filipinos who are known worldwide.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Only in the Philippines-Put a Smile in Your Face


The Tarsier-world smallest primate(Monkey) in the World. Can be found only in the Philippines in the island of Bohol.

The following article, I have read a couple of years ago. But today, a friend e-mailed it to me. I can help but smile and I decided it to share it with you my blog readers. If you have read this before, my apology. It was written by a British journalist, Matthew Sutherland, stationed in the Philippines. His observations are so hilarious but true!!! !

MATTER OF TASTE

"I have now been in this country for over six years, and consider myself in most respects well assimilated. However, there is one key step on the road to full assimilation, which I have yet to take, and that's to eat BALUT.

The day any of you sees me eating balut, please call immigration and ask them to issue me a Filipino passport. Because at that point there will be no turning back. BALUT, for those still blissfully ignorant non-Pinoys out there, is a fertilized duck egg. It is commonly sold with salt in a piece of newspaper, much like English fish and chips, by street vendors usually after dark, presumably so you can't see how gross it is.

Food dominates the life of the Filipino. People here just love to eat. They eat at least eight times a day. These eight official meals are called, in order: breakfast, snacks, lunch, merienda, merienda ceyna, dinner, bedtime snacks and no-one-saw-me- take-that- cookie-from- the-fridge- so-it-doesn' t-count.

The short gaps in between these mealtimes are spent eating Sky Flakes from the open packet that sits on every desktop. You're never far from food in the Philippines . If you doubt this, next time you're driving home from work, try this game. See how long you can drive without seeing food and I don't mean a distant restaurant, or a picture of food. I mean a man on the sidewalk frying fish balls, or a man walking through the traffic selling nuts or candy. I bet it's less than one minute.

Here are some other things I've noticed about food in the Philippines :

Firstly, a meal is not a meal without rice - even breakfast. In the UK , I could go a whole year without eating rice. Second, it's impossible to drink without eating. A bottle of San Miguel just isn't the same without gambas or beef tapa. Third, no one ventures more than two paces from their house without baon (food in small container) and a container of something cold to drink. You might as well ask a Filipino to leave home without his pants on. And lastly, where I come from, you eat with a knife and fork. Here, you eat with a spoon and fork. You try eating rice swimming in fish sauce with a knife.

One really nice thing about Filipino food culture is that people always ask you to SHARE their food. In my office, if you catch anyone attacking their baon, they will always go, "Sir! KAIN TAYO!" ("Let's eat!").

This confused me, until I realized that they didn't actually expect me to sit down and start munching on their boneless bangus. In fact, the polite response is something like, "No thanks, I just ate." But the principle is sound - if you have food on your plate, you are expected to share it, however hungry you are, with those who may be even hungrier. I think that's great!

In fact, this is frequently even taken one step further. Many Filipinos use "Have you eaten yet?" ("KUMAIN KA NA?") as a general greeting, irrespective of time of day or location.

Some foreigners think Filipino food is fairly dull compared to other Asian cuisines. Actually lots of it is very good: Spicy dishes like Bicol Express (strange, a dish named after a train); anything cooked with coconut milk; anything KINILAW; and anything ADOBO. And it's hard to beat the sheer wanton, cholesterolic frenzy of a good old-fashioned LECHON de leche (roast pig) feast.. Dig a pit, light a fire, add 50 pounds of animal fat on a stick, and cook until crisp. Mmm, mmm... you can actually feel your arteries constricting with each successive mouthful.

I also share one key Pinoy trait --- a sweet tooth. I am thus the only foreigner I know who does not complain about sweet bread, sweet burgers, sweet spaghetti, sweet banana ketchup, and so on. I am a man who likes to put jam on his pizza. Try it!

It's the weird food you want to avoid. In addition to duck fetus in the half-shell, items to avoid in the Philippines include pig's blood soup (DINUGUAN); bull's testicle soup, the strangely-named "SOUP NUMBER FIVE" (I dread to think what numbers one through four are); and the ubiquitous, stinky shrimp paste, BAGOONG, and it's equally stinky sister, PATIS. Filipinos are so addicted to these latter items that they will even risk arrest or deportation trying to smuggle them into countries like Australia and the USA , which wisely ban the importation of items you can smell from more than 100 paces.

Then there's the small matter of the purple ice cream. I have never been able to get my brain around eating purple food; the ubiquitous UBE leaves me cold.

And lastly on the subject of weird food, beware: that KALDERETANG KAMBING (goat) could well be KALDERETANG ASO (dog)...

The Filipino, of course, has a well-developed sense of food. Here's a typical Pinoy food joke: "I'm on a seafood diet.

"What's a seafood diet?" "When I see food, I eat it!"

Filipinos also eat strange bits of animals --- the feet, the head, the guts, etc., usually barbecued on a stick. These have been given witty names, like "ADIDAS" (chicken's feet); "KURBATA" (either just chicken's neck, or "neck and thigh" as in "neck-tie"); "WALKMAN" (pigs ears); "PAL" (chicken wings); "HELMET" (chicken head); "IUD" (chicken intestines), and BETAMAX" (video-cassette- like blocks of animal blood). Yum,yum. Bon appetit..

WHEN I arrived in the Philippines from the UK six years ago, one of the first cultural differences to strike me was names. The subject has provided a continuing source of amazement and amusement ever since. The first unusual thing, from an English perspective, is that everyone here has a nickname. In the staid and boring United Kingdom , we have nicknames in kindergarten, but when we move into adulthood we tend, I am glad to say, to lose them.

The second thing that struck me is that Philippine names for both girls and boys tend to be what we in the UK would regard as overbearingly cutesy for anyone over about five. Fifty-five-year- olds colleague put it. Where I come from, a boy with a nickname like Boy Blue or Honey Boy would be beaten to death at school by pre-adolescent bullies, and never make it to adulthood. So, probably, would girls with names like Babes, Lovely, Precious, Peachy or Apples. Yuk, ech ech.. Here, however, no one bats an eyelid.

Then I noticed how many people have what I have come to call "door-bell names". These are nicknames that sound like -well, doorbells. There are millions of them. Bing, Bong, Ding, and Dong are some of the more common. They can be, and frequently are, used in even more door-bell-like combinations such as Bing-Bong, Ding-Dong, Ting-Ting, and so on. Even our newly appointed chief of police has a doorbell name Ping . None of these doorbell names exist where I come from, and hence sound unusually amusing to my untutored foreign ear. Someone once told me that one of the Bings, when asked why he was called Bing, replied, "because my brother is called Bong". Faultless logic.

Dong, of course, is a particularly funny one for me, as where I come from "dong" is a slang word for well; perhaps "talong" is the best Tagalog equivalent!! !
Repeating names was another novelty to me, having never before encountered people with names like Len-Len, Let-Let, Mai-Mai, or Ning-Ning. The secretary I inherited on my arrival had an unusual one: Leck-Leck. Such names are then frequently further refined by using the "squared" symbol, as in Len2 or Mai2. This had me very confused for a while. Then there is the trend for parents to stick to a theme when naming their children. This can be as simple as making them all begin with the same letter, as in Jun, Jimmy, Janice, and Joy.

More imaginative parents shoot for more sophisticated forms of assonance or rhyme, as in Biboy, Boboy, Buboy, Baboy (notice the names get worse the more kids there are-best to be born early or you could end up being a Baboy).

Even better, parents can create whole families of, say, desserts (Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Honey Pie) or flowers (Rose, Daffodil, Tulip). The main advantage of such combinations is that they look great painted across your trunk if you're a cab driver. That's another thing I'd never seen before coming to Manila --taxis with the driver's kids' names on the trunk.

Another whole eye-opening field for the foreign visitor is the phenomenon of the "composite" name. This includes names like Jejomar (for Jesus, Joseph and Mary), and the remarkable Luzviminda (for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao , believe it or not). That's a bit like me being called something like "Engscowani" (for England , Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland ). Between you and me, I'm glad I'm not.

And how could I forget to mention the fabulous concept of the randomly inserted letter 'h'. Quite what this device is supposed to achieve, I have not yet figured out, but I think it is designed to give a touch of class to an otherwise only averagely weird name. It results in creations like Jhun, Lhenn, Ghemma, and Jhimmy. Or how about Jhun-Jhun (Jhun2)?

How boring to come from a country like the UK full of people with names like John Smith. How wonderful to come from a country where imagination and exoticism rule the world of names. Even the towns here have weird names; my favorite is the unbelievably named town of Sexmoan (ironically close to Olongapo and Angeles). Where else in the world could that really be true?

Where else in the world could the head of the Church really be called Cardinal Sin?

Where else but the Philippines "!

Note: Philippines has a senator named Joker, and it is his legal name.












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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Longest Underground River in the World-Palawan


If you plan on visiting the Philippines and have a couple of days to spare, schedule a trip to Palawan for the longest navigable subterranean river in the world. This site has been been nominated as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. However, if you are short of time, a mini version of an underground river has recently been discovered in Marinduque. Marinduque is only 30 minutes from Manila and you will save at least one day. However, do not expect the underground river in Marinduque as spectacular as the one in Palawan. Enjoy the following video.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Doing Business in the Philippines-Hopes for Improvement


The Makati Skyline, Philippines

The following posting, I wrote about two years ago during the previous Arroyo Administration. Today, I have high hopes that the P-Noy administration will improve the conditions of doing business in the Philippines. Just recently, I heard that the paper work for getting a business permit has been shortened from several pages to two and the time to get a permit was shortened from two days to two hours. Is this news true?

"I just finished reading a short article that it is not easy to do business in the Philippines. According to the article based on the World Bank survey, Singapore took the top spot in the rankings in the ease of doing business. New Zealand was 2nd and US was 3rd. Hong Kong was 4th, Japan 12th, and China 83rd. Could you guess PI ranking? A pathetic 140th!!

This is not news to me. Grease money runs the country. Unnecessary paper work slows down the growth of small business. For example just getting a permit takes a lot of paper work and grease money. Even in the business of tourism ( which should be encourage by the government), the presence of "grease takers" really frustrates me. There are other specific examples, that I will not mention for fear that it will have a detrimental effect in my small business in the Philippines. To survive, I follow the principle, "If in Rome do what the Romans are doing". Sad but that is the reality of life.

The article concluded that we should not be discourage from doing business in the Philippines. It says there are some rotten eggs in the basket, but the good ones outnumber the bad ones. It also advise us to know the proper way of doing things and stick to it and most of all ditch those greasers. What do you think? Is this a reasonable advice?"

Again, with P-Noy in power, I have high hopes that there will be an improvement in the business environment in the Philippines.
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