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, February 28, 2011

Philippines Has Highest Electrical Rates

Photo by Daisy Catague Cababasay
In the February 23 issue of the Philippine Star, an article written by Jess Diaz reported that our country besides being ranked as among the most corrupt countries, also holds the unenviable record of having the highest residential power rates not only in Asia but also in the entire world.

Reading this article reminded me of my previous article in this blog about the PRO's and CONS' of Living in the Philippines versus the US.

One harmful consequence to the economy of the Philippines due to this high power rates is the discouragement of foreign investors. The article also indicated that the Energy Regulatory Commission(ERC) as well as Congress should both share the blame for this high cost of electricity( residential and commercial). Congress added a 12% value added tax(VAT) on electricity just recently.

So, as ordinary citizens, what can you do to save electrical cost? Your ideas are welcome. In my case here at Chateau Du Mer, every room has a sign to shut off lights, fans and air conditioners if the occupants plan on leaving their rooms for 15 minutes or longer. Most of my clients from abroad follow this sign. However, my relatives from US ignored the sign. My relatives from US are so spoiled and used to the fact that electrical power in US is cheap.

My solution is to check the rooms once it is vacated. They call me SCROOGE or KURIPOT when I shut off the lights, fans and air conditioners. I do not mind being called names to save electrical costs. Again, your ideas are welcome about saving electrical costs in your residences and offices.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Electric Power is Back in MDQ-Reserve Now for the Moriones Festival


For the last week, Boac and its vicinity had no power brown or black outs. If you compare this with the power brown outs last month, one can not believed that MARELCO and its obligation to provide the electrical needs of the people in MDQ had been exemplary this last week. I hope this will continue until this coming Holy Week Season if not longer. Easter Week is the busiest season here in Marinduque as far as tourism because of the Moriones Festival. Here at Chateau Du Mer, we are already partially booked for the coming Holy Week. We however have still space for six. The room is air conditioned and with hot water shower. It is available for $70 to $100 per night depending on the number of persons in your party. If you plan on attending this year Moriones Festival, it is now the right time to arrange your accommodation and travel needs to Marinduque. Hopefully, I will see you in Marinduque this Holy Week!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Balanacan Convention Center, Mogpog





A new resort and convention center is now open in Balanacan, Mogpog. It is located 1 KM east of downtown Balanacan. It is owned and operated by Frank and Flor Irlandez. The Irlandezes were my classmates in college and graduate school. Both Frank and Flor are from Batangas, but Frank fell in love with Marinduque ( particularly the Balanacan Cove area) when he visited the province about 4 years ago.

Construction of this convention center started about two years ago. It has magnificent and mesmerizing views of the cove. It has limited rooms for overnight stay or longer. There is dancing with a live band on Wednesday and Friday nights from 8 to 11PM. The entrance fee is 100 pesos per person. For additional information, call 0920 268 8953.

Thank you Frank and Joy for the lunch yesterday and showing us your beautiful resort.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hot Springs, Curva Grill and Marinduque Cuisine




Macrine, David E and I pampered ourselves with a one day R & R after our one week of hectic and sometime chaotic schedule during our participation to MI, Inc Medical Mission Of Love. We started our day at 10AM and arrived at the Marinduque Hot Springs in Buenavista after an hour. The hot spring has been modernized and renovated. There are now several buildings and two pools. The landscaping looks fabulous. The water temperature was just right for me, but Macrine wanted it warmer. David E just did care about the water temperature. He soaked his aching body for an hour. I stayed only for 30 minutes and it was time for our sandwiches, candies and bottled water. David E brought himself, a bottle of San Miquel beer. We were the only patrons of the Hot spring since it was midweek. This experience was worth more than the 300 pesos, I paid for the entrance fee.

At 1:30PM we decided to drive back to Amoingon. On our way back we passed by the Curva Grill-a restaurant at the outskirt of downtown Buenavista. The restaurant is on the second floor of a house overlooking the rice fields. We were the only patrons of the restaurant. We ordered Calamari, french fries, hamburgers, pancit bijon and mushroom soup. The calamari was excellent and I recommend this restaurant to all visitors to Marinduque.

We ended our day at 3:30PM. After 3 hours of sleep, it was time for Dinner. Our cook, Cecille, prepared PINAKBET. It is dish of mixed vegetables( okra, eggplant, green beans, squash and bitter melon ) sauteed in shrimps and pork. Besides Pinakbet we had coconut lobster (IGOD). This dish was a gift from Mr.Senecio Saguid of Gasan. The coconut lobster is very rare and thus expensive. It taste better than Dungenness or Maryland Crabs or for that matter the Maine Lobster. Eating this dish made me feel I am dining in Paradise. Thank You for your gift.

Thank you God for this wonderful day in my island Paradise in Marinduque-also our second home.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Heart Melted and I Cried Again


This 2011 Medical Mission of Love is not different from the previous missions that Macrine and I had attended since 1998. More than six thousand of the poor and the needy from the distant barangays in the province of Marinduque lined patiently from 4 to 6 hours just to see A PHYSICIAN and obtained free medicines ( cough syrup, multivitamens, pain medications, anti-acids and maybe antibiotics) for their aches and pains true or imagined. At the end of the day in each town, there are always about 200 to 300 more patients that have to be sent home since we do not have enough physician volunteers this year. This is the same case in our HOSPITAL operations. This year we had only 3 surgeons and 1 anesthesiologist. Thus we have to send a lot of patients home along with their disappointment and hopes that maybe in our next mission, they can be accommodated.

A hospital case that touched my heart and that made me mad: A patient was already in the operating table after the preliminary tests had been done the day before was sent home because of one basic instrument not available. I heard from the surgeon who stayed at Chateau Du Mer, that instrument he needed for the operation is a basic instrument, but the hospital does not have one. So where is the priority of our provincial and health officials?

In Buenavista, I helped in the repacking area section of the Pharmacy Department. At about 2PM, there were still about 200 to 300 patients waiting in line. The patients were told to go home, since there already 200 in line ahead of them and our physicians will not be able to see them. However, about 100 did not go home in the hope that multi-vitamens and cough syrup, and Paracetamol will still be given to them at the end of the day.

One middle-aged woman with her 2 kids ( Ages 3 and 5)started begging to the two of us working in the repackaging area very closed to the lines. She said her 2 kids are coughing and had fever and asked us if we can give her Paracetamol and cough syrup. I looked at her and the two kids and my heart melted and I shed a tear or two.

I stood up, talked to the Pharmacist-in-Charge that day and she told me "NO". She told me that If the others in line saw me giving the drugs only to her, if might cause a RIOT. I whispered to the woman to wait until closing time. By 4:30PM there will still around 10 patients waiting. At around 5:00PM there were still a couple of patients hanging around. But, I called the woman aside, give her a bottle of Paracetamol;, cough syrup and multi-vitamens along with the usual instructions. She thanked me an gave me a SMILE that still lingers in my mind today.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Last Day and Assessments of MI, Inc Medical Mission of Love


Sunrise from the Balcony of Our Terrazzo Unit #309, Bellarocca Resort, Buenavista, Marinduque










I had participated in six out of the seven medical missions of MI, Inc to the poor province of Marinduque since 1998. The 4th and 5th medical missions were managed and chaired by my wife, Macrine Nieva Jambalos Katague. She was Executive Director( 02-04) and President of MI, Inc( 04-06) at that time. In 2006, I acted as treasurer during the mission when the treasurer fainted and lost consciousness( how long we really do not know) in the bathroom of our residence at Chateau Du Mer, Amoingon due to heat stroke. She was flown to Manila via Helicopter and luckily she survived without any ill effects.

This assessment is based and compared to the previous six mission held in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. The first mission was held in 1996. My ratings are as follows: POOR ( Needs Improvement),GOOD and Excellent ( exceeds expectation).

Over All Performance, Planning and Effectiveness/Service- GOOD
Number of Patients Served at the Clinical Operations in the 6 Towns Good
Number of Patients Served the Hospital(minor,major & ophthalmic surgeries) Good
Overall Funding and Fund Raising Activities POOR
CHAPTER Participation/Funding(except Macusa & MABC ) POOR
Doctors and Dentist Recruitment Efforts POOR
Hospital Coordination and Communication POOR
Crowd Control, Registration and Nursing Good
Dental Operations Good
Pharmacy Operations ( except for a couple of local volunteers stealing drugs) GOOD
Local Transportation ( except for one driver stealing drugs) Good
STATISTICAL TEAM AND MANAGEMENT Good
Meals ( Breakfast) Coordination of Meals for Paid Registrants POOR
Donated LUNCHES AND DINNERS Good
WEDNESDAY Night Recognition Program POOR
Friday and Saturday Nights Dinner Reception Excellent*

* Entertainment-FR Edwin Sager Dance Troupe
* Friday Night was hosted by Gov C Reyes and V.Vice Gov Antonio Uy
* Saturday Night Dinner was hosted by Congressman Allan Velasco

Missioners Overall Satisfaction GOOD
Post Mission Rest & Recreation at the Bellarocca Resort Excellent
Scheduling of Clinical Operations ( need a midweek rest) POOR
Selection of Venues for Registration, Orientation and Recapped Meetings EXCELLENT
POST Mission Activities-Paying Bills and Distribution of Extra Drugs- GOOD

My congratulations to MI, Inc and its officers, specially to Annie Miles Jalac (President) and Mike Miciano(VP) for a job well done. My thanks to all missioners and local volunteers for their participation and service to the poor of Marinduque.
Special thanks to my sister, Agnes Katague Galvin from Maryland for her $100 contribution to this mission.

Pictures of this mission could be found in my FB page. Information on MI, Inc
visit, www.marinduqueinternational.org

Temper Tantrums and 30 Second Outburst:

I have observed that a few of our tired and exhausted missioners had temper tantrums during the whole 7 days of activities.

1. A pharmacy volunteer shouted and screamed at a local volunteer stealing drugs
2. A previous officer of the organization had a temper tantrum in Bellarocca, when she found out there was no toilet paper in one of the stall in the Ladies bathroom
3. A new volunteer from Canada had a temper tantrum when his table was not called first for the dinner buffet line in Bellarocca and Lastly,
4. I had a 30 seconds outburst regarding the management of breakfast served to the missioners as well as the non-transparency of budgeting for this 2011 mission.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Assessments of MI, Inc Medical Mission of Love, 2011


I had participated in six out of the seven medical missions of MI, Inc to the poor province of Marinduque since 1998. The 4th and 5th medical missions were managed and chaired by my wife, Macrine Nieva Jambalos Katague. She was Executive Director( 02-04) and President of MI, Inc( 04-06) at that time. In 2006, I acted as treasurer during the mission when the treasurer fainted and lost consciousness( how long we really do not know) in the bathroom of our residence at Chateau Du Mer, Amoingon due to heat stroke. She was flown to Manila via Helicopter and luckily she survived without any ill effects.

This assessment is based and compared to the previous six mission held in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. The first mission was held in 1996. My ratings are as follows: POOR ( Needs Improvement),GOOD and Excellent ( exceeds expectation).

Over All Performance, Planning and Effectiveness/Service- GOOD
Number of Patients Served at the Clinical Operations in the 6 Towns Good
Number of Patients Served the Hospital(minor,major & ophthalmic surgeries) Good
Overall Funding and Fund Raising Activities POOR
CHAPTER Participation and Funding POOR
Doctors and Dentist Recruitment Efforts POOR
Hospital Coordination and Communication POOR
Crowd Control, Registration and Nursing Good
Dental Operations Good
Pharmacy Operations ( except for a couple of local volunteers stealing drugs) GOOD
Local Transportation ( except for one driver stealing drugs) Good
STATISTICAL TEAM AND MANAGEMENT Good
Meals ( Breakfast) Coordination of Meals for Paid Registrants POOR
Donated LUNCHES AND DINNERS Good
WEDNESDAY Night Recognition Program POOR
Friday and Saturday Nights Dinner Reception Excellent*

* Friday Night was hosted by Gov C Reyes and V.Vice Gov Tonton Uy
* Saturday Night Dinner was hosted by Congressman Allan Vekasco

Missioners Overall Satisfaction GOOD
Post Mission Rest & Recreation at the Bellarocca Resort Excellent
Scheduling of Clinical Operations ( need a midweek rest) POOR
Selection of Venues for Registration, Orientation and Recapped Meetings EXCELLENT
POST Mission Activities-Paying Bills and Distribution of Extra Drugs- -NOT DONE as of this writing date

My congratulations to MI, Inc and its officers, specially to Annie Miles Jalac (President) and Mike Miciano(VP) for a job well done. My thanks to all missioners and local volunteers for their participation and service to the poor of Marinduque.

Pictures of this mission could be found in my FB page. Information on MI, Inc
visit, www.marinduqueinternational.org

Temper Tantrums and 30 Second Outburst:

I have observed that a few of our tired and exhausted missioners had temper tantrums during the whole 7 days of activities.

1. A pharmacy volunteer shouted and screamed at a local volunteer stealing drugs
2. A previous officer of the organization had a temper tantrum in Bellarocca, when she found out there was no toilet paper in one of the stall in the Ladies bathroom
3. A new volunteer from Canada had a temper tantrum when his table was not called first for the diiner buffet line in Bellarocca and Lastly
4. I had a 30 seconds outburst regarding the management of breakfast served to the missioners as well as the non-transparency of budgeting for this 2011 mission.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One Sunday in Bellarocca Resort and Spa-2/13/11


At the conclusion of the 7th Medical Mission of Love, 55 missioners from US, Canada and Marinduque treated themselves with an overnight stay at the world famous 5 star Bellarocca Resort and Spa at the southern end of Marinduque island. Our day started with assembly at the Masiga Airport in Gasan. We were then transported by van and after one hour we reached Lipata, Buenavista. Then we were transported by a rubber speed boat and in three minutes were in the island- felt like I was in Santorini Island in Greece. We were greeted with singing/dancing welcoming our arrival and given a lei of bougainvillas. We proceeded to the orientation room where we had a refreshing drink. At 9:00AM MI,Inc had a "recap" meeting discussing the pros and cons of the whole week of humanitarian work to the poor and needy in this 4th class province of the Philippines. Then we were free to do anything we want until 4:00PM. Some avail themselves with the aqua sports, others play golf, most of us just relax and enjoy the magnificent view of Mt Malindig and the mainland from the balcony of our rooms. In my case, I spent the whole morning updating my blogs, reading my 500 e-mails that accumulated the whole week. The previous week we spent giving free medicines in the public courts in the six towns of Marinduque. It was very hectic and exhausting and I wished we had a one day break. A few of our missioners got sick. At 4:00PM, the bishop of Boac, Most Reverend Rey Evangelista officiated a catholic mass just for us. At 6:00PM we had a our buffet dinner and Valentine dance also attended by the bishop and his assistant. The food was excellent as usual specially the salads and dessert. At 10:00PM, the evening ended with attendees saying thank you to the officers of MI, Inc for a successful mission of Love and to all non-Marinduqueno guests. I personally acknowledged the staff and employees of Bellarocca for their excellent service and for the 50% discount the resort gave us. Again, thank you to the doctors, nurses, dentists. pharmacists and all non-medical support missioners who contributed to the success of this mission of Love, 2011. I looked forward to see most of you in Chicago in August 4 to 7, for our election of officers and reunion. Thank you MACUSA and Ms Ching Jao Manalo for inviting us to your event this August. Pictures of this one day affair in Bellarocca can be found in my FaceBook account. The time of your life that you have touch the lives of others is the time that you have really live.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Last DAY of Medical Mission, Torrijos, Marinduque

Statistical Team in Action with High School Students at the Marinduque National High School
Yesterday, was the 6th and last day of MI, Inc Medical Mission of Love in Marinduque. Talking to the nurses AND SURGEONS at the provincial hospital, they approximated THAT about 250 minor surgeries and about 25 major surgeries had been performed by our three surgeons in five days. In addition, the ophthalmic team headed by Dr Raymond Sulit had performed about 25 surgeries.

The total patients seen in the six towns is about 6000. This number is an estimate. The correct and exact number will be released by the Statistical Team, headed by Marita Jao and ably assisted by Lito Quiazon and David E. Katague. The team were also assisted by 45 high school students( data entry). The students worked up to almost midnight last night to complete data entry of the patients seen in Torrijos as well as the medications prescribed. At the end of the day in Torrijos, most of the leftover drugs ( non-prescription) were just distributed to more than 200 patients that were still waiting in line to see a doctor without any paper work. Thus this number will not be reflected in the statistical report that the statistical team will submit to MI, Inc.

Most of our physicians and dentists had already gone back to US. Some of our missioners got sick due to our hectic schedule. There was no day of rest as in previous missions. As usual food and merienda were in abundance. Our lunch was donated by the Mayor of Torrijos, Gil Briones. The meriendas were donated by three families with relatives residing in the US.

Our dinner was sponsored by our young and handsome Congressman Allan Lord Velasco at his beach resort in Poctoy, Torrijos. After a delicious buffet, the congressman had photographic sessions with all the missioners. There was a short dancing session with a live band and a couple of singers. I heard that this is the same band and duo singers that also performed at the Bellarocca Resort-next in our schedule. Photos of this last day are in my FB account. Watch out for my pictures of our Valentine and Dinner Dance to be held this evening in this resort. I am writing this blog in the Computer Room of this 5 star resort. The missioners were all tired but deep in their hearts they are happy for they have touch the lives of their poor Kababayans here in Marinduque. As my favorite saying states: THE TIME YOU HAVE TOUCHED THE LIVES OF OTHERS IS THE TIME THAT YOU HAVE REALLY LIVED.
Our

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Selected Photos from the 4th Day of the Medical Mission of Love, Mogpog, Marinduque









Above are selected photos during the 4th day of MI, Inc Medical Mission of Love in Mogpog as well as photos of the Statistical team with Marinduque National high school students. The Statistical team using the Access Software is headed by Marita Jao and assisted by Lito Quiazon and David E Katague. Note that David E is the son of this blogger. David E is a mission volunteer from Fair Oaks, California. About 45 high school students are involved in the data entry (of patients seen and medications prescribed and given to the poor in the six provinces of Marinduque). Except for Santa Cruz, all the five towns of Marinduque,( Boac, Gasan, Buenavista, Mogpog and Torrijos) welcomed the missioners with open hearts ,hospitable spirit and attitude. Santa Cruz municipal officials first said yes, then later said no and then change their decision to "yes" at the last minute after officers of MI, Inc showed the town officials the statistics of the number of patients served by MI, Inc from the previous mission, 2006 and 2008. Today is the mission in Santa Cruz. My wife and I decided not to serve and volunteer our time and energy to the poor of this town, based on the incident above. If we are not welcome why forced ourselves to the town whose officials do not appreciate our humanitarian efforts.

Monday, February 7, 2011

First and Second Day-Medical Mission of Love, Marinduque, Philippines





The first day of the 2011 Marinduque International Mission of Love ( 7th) started with more than 1000 patients lining outside the public court of the Gasan Municipal Court as early as 7:30AM. Later on the day another 500 more indigents were willing to wait for 3 to 4 hours before one of our 7 physicians and 20 nurses as well as about 25 pharmacists and another 50 support personnel missioners( crowd control, registrations, statistics, reporters etc) from US and Canada were able to serve their medical needs and avail themselves with the free medicines, vitamens, etc..during this first day of our 7th medical mission to my poor but beautiful island of Marinduque.

Simultaneously, hospital operations at the Boac Provincial Hospital ( both minor and major surgical operations as well as ophthalmic surgery operations) also had a chaotic start. As expected the first 4 hours of hospital operations was chaotic. But later on the late afternoon, about 45 minor surgeries and 25 ophthalmic surgeries were performed. Special thanks to our two outpatient surgeons, Dr. Al Manahan from Dallas, Teaxs and Dr. Mendiola, and of course to all the local hospital personnels that supported this operations. Today, major surgeries are scheduled at the Hospital. Clinical operations is in Buenavista- the town were the 5 star Bellarocca Resort is located. Above are some pictures I took. The whole album is on my FaceBook page. Watch out for a more detailed account and my personal impressions of this humanitarian project, very close to my heart.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Redwood National and State Park, California


The Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) are located in the United States, along the coast of northern California. Comprising Redwood National Park (created 1968) and California's Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks (dating from the 1920s), the combined RNSP contain 133,000 acres (540 km2). Located entirely within Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, the four parks, together, protect 45% of all remaining Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) old-growth forests, totaling at least 38,982 acres (157.75 km2). These trees are the tallest and one of the most massive tree species on Earth. In addition to the redwood forests, the parks preserve other indigenous flora, fauna, grassland prairie, cultural resources, portions of rivers and other streams, and 37 miles (60 km) of pristine coastline.

In 1850, old-growth redwood forest covered more than 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of the California coast. The northern portion of that area, originally inhabited by Native Americans, attracted many lumbermen and others turned gold miners when a minor gold rush brought them to the region. Failing in efforts to strike it rich in gold, these men turned toward harvesting the giant trees for booming development in San Francisco and other places on the West Coast. After many decades of unobstructed clear-cut logging, serious efforts toward conservation began. By the 1920s the work of the Save-the-Redwoods League, founded in 1918 to preserve remaining old-growth redwoods, resulted in the establishment of Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks among others. Redwood National Park was created in 1968, by which time nearly 90% of the original redwood trees had been logged. The National Park Service (NPS) and the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) administratively combined Redwood National Park with the three abutting Redwood State Parks in 1994 for the purpose of cooperative forest management and stabilization of forests and watersheds as a single unit.

The ecosystem of the RNSP preserves a number of threatened animal species such as the Brown Pelican, Tidewater Goby, Bald Eagle, Chinook Salmon, Northern Spotted Owl, and Steller's Sea Lion. In recognition of the rare ecosystem and cultural history found in the parks, the United Nations designated them a World Heritage Site on September 5, 1980 and an International Biosphere Reserve on June 30, 1983.

Note: This is No.22 of a series of articles on national park in the US.
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