Saturday, December 24, 2011

Beware of Scam and Phishing Letters

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Recently, I received an email from a person that I know. He is a member of MI, Inc ( Marinduque International, Inc.), a non-profit organization that my wife and I support. Six months ago, I received a similar email from Barcelona, Spain from a member of PAASE (Philippine-American Academy of Science & Engineering) that I also know personally. The first time I received this email from the PAASE member, I immediately called this person to verify. She said that she never sent it, so I was assured it was a scam.

Here's the latest scam letter from my email:

>I'm sorry for this odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it's because of the situation of things right now, I'm stuck in Madrid, Spain with Family right now, we came down here on vacation we were robbed, the situation seems worse as bags, cash, credit cards and cell phone were stolen at GUN POINT, It's such a crazy experience for us, we need help flying back home, the authorities here are not being 100% supportive but the good thing is that we still have our passport but don't have enough money to get our flight ticket back home, please I need you to loan me some money, I will reimburse you right as soon as I'm back home. I promise.

>All we need is 2,300 euros but anything you can spare right now will be appreciated and I promise to refund it to you as soon as I arrive back home safely, I give you my word. You can get it to me through western union, Please get back to me so that I can give you my details to send the money to.

>Thank you
>Name of a Person that you know

This person is a member of an organization that you belong or may be a Relative or a Friend

Note: a few hours after I received the above letter, the daughter of the person who was supposed to be in trouble sent me an email telling me that her Dad is OK, and ensuring me that indeed the above letter is a scam.

Have you received a similar email recently? Did you call the sender immediately to verify?
Recently, I received also two e-mails that appeared like phishing. What is Phishing?

Phishing is a way of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. This is similar to Fishing, where the fisherman puts a bait at the hook, thus, pretending to be a genuine food for fish. But the hook inside it takes the complete fish out of the lake. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public.

Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Phishing is an example of social engineering techniques used to deceive users, and exploits the poor usability of current web security technologies. Attempts to deal with the growing number of reported phishing incidents include legislation, user training, public awareness, and technical security measures.

1. First Letter:

Dear User,

Your UnionBank online account security is inactive,

but first you have to confirm your registration.
Click here to confirm your registration!

Privacy Department.
UnionBank of the Philippines

2. Second Letter

Dear Email Bearer;

We are upgrading our Email system to enable us reduce the occurrence of spam . You are to click on the Link below to Upgrade your Email.

Louis J Kern
Web Administrator

Note: Once you click on the link above, they will have information on your e-mail account. Last month I also received notification that my e-mail account is full and needed to be upgraded. When I looked at my e-mail usage, It shows only about 5% of the space allotted to me by my server. I know it was a phishing letter. I deleted it so I can not print it for your information verbatim. Anyway beware of phishers.

An email from Union Bank warning me about Phishing.

Dear Union Bank Client,

As an Internet user, you should know about phishing emails. They can appear to be from a well-known company but may put you at risk.

A phishing email generally asks you to click a link in the email and provide, update or confirm sensitive personal information. It may refer to a supposedly urgent or threatening condition concerning your account.

Please note that UnionBank will never send you an email asking for your personal information. You should NOT respond to such email or reveal your PIN or PASSWORD to anyone. Also, Do NOT visit the phishing site, as it is likely to contain a virus or otherwise compromise your confidential information.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Discrimination Against Filipinos in the US

The prejudice against Filipino immigrants in the US and specially in California in the 1920s to 1940s is well documented (1,2). One of the well-known books, America is in the Heart, documenting the life of the Filipino immigrants at that time period, was written by Carlos Bulosan. Mr Bulosan is my number one literary heroes of that time.

Like many Filipinos during that time, Bulosan left for America in July 1930 at age 17, in the hope of finding salvation from the economic depression of his home. He never again saw his Philippine homeland. No sooner had he arrived in Seattle, was he immediately met with the hostility of racism, forcing him to work in low paying jobs.

He worked as a farm worker, harvesting grapes, asparagus and other kinds of hard labor work in the fields of California. He also worked as a dishwasher with his brother, Lorenzo in the famous Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. He was active in labor politics along the Pacific coast of the United States and edited the 1952 Yearbook for ILWU Local 37, a predominantly Filipino American cannery union based in Seattle.

Mr Bulosan died in 1956. To honor his memory, a Bulusan Memorial Exhibit located in Seattle's International District and in the Eastern Hotel features his literary works and manuscripts. One of his famous books, America is in the Heart based on his autobiography is now made into a Philippine movie.

One of the famous quotes from that book is timeless, as follows: "We in America understand the many imperfections of democracy and the malignant disease corroding its very heart. We must be united in the effort to make an America in which our people can find happiness. It is a great wrong that anyone in America, whether he be brown or white, should be illiterate or hungry or miserable."

Discrimination against Filipinos was very blatant during the time of the Manongs and Carlos Bulosan. It appeared that by the 1960s, racial discrimination had disappeared from the minds of the American people. But in 1965, my wife and three children experienced their first discrimination experience in Gladstone, Missouri.

Gladstone is a northern suburb of Kansas City, Missouri with about 99.5% Caucasian population at that time.

The discrimination was not blatant but very subtle. After relocating in Missouri for my first job after my Ph.D. graduation from the University of Illinois, my family and I joined a Country Swim Club just a couple of blocks and a walking distance from our rented residence.

My wife, Macrine, and the kids would swim at the country club twice or three times a week. The first day, they were there, she overheard the conversation from two middle-aged ladies. She heard a comment of the first lady to her friend, "Look we are getting invaded by blacks already". Macrine looked around, but there were no black families around; she and the kids were the only colored (brown) people relaxing and swimming in the pool area. Macrine was bothered by what she heard but did not get upset. She continued watching the kids swimming in the pool. Suffice to say, I had never experienced personally an incident of prejudice or a discriminatory remark in my more than 51 years residing and working here in the US (California, Illinois, Missouri and Maryland).

After our second year in the neighborhood, we became more active socially and became well-known to the Gladstone community. I was elected by the members of the club as treasurer for two years. I was handling the payroll of three employees and collecting the membership fees of the 300 members. I was delighted that the club members and Board of Directors trusted me with their finances. I therefore conclude that the cure for discrimination is education and ignorance is the mother of prejudice.

If you are a Filipino-American or a member of a minority and are reading this article, have you ever experienced prejudice or discrimination in your life here in the US? Discrimination may be racial, religious, sexual, financial or your educational status.

Here's a trailer of an award winning documentary on the Filipino farm workers of Delano, California.

Trailer for "The Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the UFW" from Karen Everett on Vimeo.

(1) Carlos Bulosan, America Is in the Heart, 1946 (2) The Delano Manongs:Forgotten Heroes of the United Farm Workers-a Video by

My ten tips for Preventing Alzhiemer's Disease

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I am going to be 77 years old by the end of this year. I know my memory sometimes goes to a blank stage I called senior momentitis. However, most of the time (99%) my mind is clear and sharp, inspite of some aches and pains in my joints and other body parts, etc., a reality of growing old.

Here's my ten tips to all senior citizens or senior citizens to be reading this article. I believe if you follow these 10 items rigorously, you will maitain a sharp memory and perhaps even delay or prevent the dreaded Alzheimers disease.

1. Quit smoking if you are a smoker. The earlier you quit, the longer your life and hopefully dementia and Alzheimer's disease will not be in your future. I have never smoked in my life, but I know nicotine addiction is hard to break.

2. Join clubs or organizations that need volunteers. If you start volunteering now, you won't feel lost and unneeded even after you retire. In my case I do volunteer work as a medical mission volunteer sponsored my Marinduque International, Inc. in the Philippines.

3. Develop a hobby or two. Hobbies help you develop a robust brain because you're trying something new and complex. In my case I play bridge and other computer games on-line.

4. Take dance lessons, yuga or tai chi. In a recent study of nearly 500 people, dancing was the only regular physical activity associated with a significant decrease in the incidence of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. The people who danced three or four times a week showed 76 percent less incidence of dementia than those who danced only once a week or not at all. My wife and I were dance champions in the 1980s.

5. Start gardening or have daily walks for at least 30 minutes per day. Researchers in New Zealand found that of 1,000 people, those who gardened regularly were less likely to suffer from dementia Not only does gardening reduce stress, but gardeners use their brains to plan gardens; they use visual and spatial reasoning to lay out a garden. I have a big garden at Chateau Du Mer in Boac, Marinduque and I did all the landscaping plans and plantings in the beach resort. I walk for at least 30 minutes daily.

6. Read and write daily. Reading stimulates a wide variety of brain areas that process and store information. Likewise, writing stimulates many areas of the brain as well. I have 8 blogs that I maintain daily and read about 3 hours per day. I also write articles for ViewsHound and a page in Squidoo,com.

7. Listen to classical music. A growing volume of research suggests that music may hard wire the brain, building links between the two hemispheres. Any kind of music may work, but there's some research that shows positive effects for classical music, though researchers don't understand why. I have several collections of classical music both in my blogs and my CD collection.

8. Pray, meditate or go to church regularly. Daily prayer appears to help your immune system. People who attend a formal worship service regularly live longer and report happier lives according to a recent study. My wife and I attend Catholic mass every Sunday rain or shine.

9. Be sure you get enough sleep. Studies have shown a link between interrupted sleep and dementia. I sleeped between 7 to 8 hours every day. Last but not least

10. Eat more foods containing omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon, sardines, tuna, ocean trout, mackerel or herring, plus walnuts and flax seed. Flax seed oil, cod liver oil and walnut oil are also good sources . Eat more fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants in fruits and vegetable helped repair some of the damage caused by free radicals, one of the leading killers of brain cells. I am not a vegetarian, but I consumed a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and sea foods in my diet.

Do you have another tip? I will love to hear from you.

I am a Man but gave birth to two Sons

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I am a proud father of two sons for the ViewsHound community(VH). My first son was born two months ago. He turned out to be a poet. His name is Vic Vizarra. He is an engineer by profession and a poet by avocation. He was introduced to me via Facebook by a fellow Marinduqueno. She happened to be his childhood sweetheart.

Vic's first poem, A September Song was published in VH on October 10, 2011. His latest poem, Crazy Love had been in the "Most Like" column in ViewsHound for weeks. The following is Vic response to my article, Why I Have Inferiority Complex writing for ViewsHound.

"Two months ago, you told me sir Dave that the "fire is within me" when you commented on my first ever written poem, "My Forever Love" in my Facebook Notes. Since then, I already have 3 published poems in Viewshound within a month's time. Thank you very much for your encouragement and your confidence in me."

Here's an excerpt from Vic's Vizarra VH profile.

He appreciates the encouragement from his new found friends, Dr. David Katague and Ms. Sofia Velasco-Belbis and the inspiration from his first and true love, whom he called his "Forever Love". He is not a poet by any means, but his poems emanate from the bottom of his heart, making them especial. With the popularity of his poem, "Crazy Love" he could proudly say that a new poet from Marinduque is born.

My second son was just born a few weeks ago. His first article received several positive comments including a note from our editor, the very helpful, Ian Howlett.

His name is Frank Cabunoc. I meet Frank, last year on-line via my blogs. Frank wrote me he enjoyed reading my autobiography. We corresponded every now and then. I noticed from his comments that he is a good writer. I asked Frank to guest write for me in my blogs. As of today, he had a couple of guest articles published in my blogs. When I discovered VH last August, I encouraged Frank to write also for VH.
My encouragement resulted in his first article, mentioning me. Here's an excerpt from his well received first article.,

"On the other hand, my friend has been a prolific writer on his blog sites and an exceptional workhorse for ViewsHound. He is unstoppable by continuously entertaining us with his creative writing abilities and photograph submissions. I salute him for his literary productivity, the distinguished David Katague.

His previous article entitled "Why am I writing for ViewsHound?" inspired me and gave me an idea to create something entitled "Why I don't write for ViewsHound". His opinion of not comparing himself to other writers gave me a slight relief. I should also shun the idea of comparing myself to more experienced writers."

I am very proud of the writing accomplishments of my two ViewsHound sons. I am looking forward for more articles and poems from them.

Note: I think I am pregnant with a baby girl. Two months ago, a FaceBook lady friend wanted my comments and opinion on an article she is writing. I told her to submit it to ViewsHound. I beleieve she need more encouragement before she can overcome that fear of rejection for first time writers.

Why I keep writing for ViewsHound

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Positive comments and feedbacks to my articles are the reasons why I keep writing for ViewsHound (VH). However, if by a twist of fortune and luck, I win a couple more awards, it will be icing on the cake and will be highly appreciated.

I started writing for VH last August. As of today, I have submitted more than sixty articles and photographs. I have over 23,500 views, 22 followers, 9 badges, a gold and bronze winning articles. The following are my favorite commentators and their comments: M. Abott, D. Hamilton, G. Maoli, L. Arota, J. Bird, S. Ozmore, D. Page, D. Reynolds, J. Willoughby, S. Powers, S.C. Joy, L. Silverman, M. Dragoo, F. Lachica, V. Vizarra and G. Buesnel.

Mark Abbott.UTEP- Comment to, You have to fail on order to succeed.

I think this is the most positive thing I've read all week and possibly even all month. I wish everyone had the "can do" attitude that you have. I've been struggling like hell to perfect it for some time now and as discouraging as it can be at times, I think I've made a great deal of progress. I remember reading someones quote once (can't remember who it was) that said if you fail 999 times out of 1,000, you actually succeeded in finding 999 ways NOT to do something. Thanks so much for posting this. It makes a world of difference to see the necessary little reminders in the work of other writers.

Deb Hamilton · Top Commenter · Chicago, Illinois- Comment to, The best Christmas gift I have ever received.

I really loved this story! You must make friends easily... or I don't think your support system would have been this strong. You deserve some of the credit here, for sure. Very sweet tale.

Gianandrea Maoli · Top Commenter · Freelance writer at ViewsHound- Comment to, Am I a born or made writer?

Wow! One of the most encouraging pieces I've seen on VH! I would say that as far as great writers are concerned, I think there's a combination of being born to be great and being made into one. I think that even if your are born into it, it does take a writer a lot of time, patience, and even courage to keep writing and learning until they find the right way to express themselves. I do agree with you that it has great therapy tools to express your thoughts which is what I try to do with short stories in general. You did that very well in this work and I hope to see others from you in the future.

Lorna Paroginog Arota · Chinese Gen. Hospital school of nursing -Comment to, Childhood memories of the Japanese-American war in the Philippines-Part 2

You captured the WWII story through your wife's perspective in such an emotional and personal way. Your mother in- law lost a sister very dear to her heart from the hands of merciless Japanese soldiers who by no means will not spare any lives if you're in their way. I don't blame your mother for hating the Japanese, as my mother also did. That is the cruelty of war. Great article! you deserve another gold prize Dave.

Jan Bird · Top Commenter · College of Ripon & York St John -Comment to, Am I a born or made Writer?

This is the first article I've read today, David and it's a good one! I'm flattered to be quoted but I've never thought of myself as a "born" writer. I'm not fishing there, it's just not how I think of it. I think you can always learn and that we're all learning, constantly, from everything we write and everything we read, whether it's fiction, other writers' articles or mainstream journalism. We learn both how to do it and how not to do it. It is a craft and we can spend a lifetime perfecting and refining it. That's going to be one of life's pleasures for me for the rest of my life. I'm delighted for you that you've discovered such a love for writing and such a talent for getting your personal thoughts into words. You followed your heart and it shows. Your pieces are always deeply personal and reflective and I really enjoy that.

Susan Ozmore · Top Commenter- Comment to, I have an inferiority complex writing for ViewsHound

I really enjoyed your article. I'm a math/science person and also feel a sense of inferiority when compared to people who have spent far more time writing than I have. Although, I've done quite a bit of technical writing and have been told I do a very good job "translating" complex things into understandable prose, I still haven't gotten up the nerve to write for ViewsHound. I have started a blog though, and knowing that I'm not alone in feeling inadequate, maybe I'll get up the nerve soon to write for VH. The only thing is that your article is Excellent! I don't know if I can compare :-) Keep writing!

Dennis L. Page · Top Commenter · Onondaga- Comment to, Childhood memories of the Japanese-American war in the Philippines

You have presented the reader with a gut wrenching and true to life experience that only those like you, who experience such things can relay to the rest of us. My deceased father served in the United States Army in combat during WW II. First he was in New Guinea and then in the jungles of the Philippines. He was also taken from the front lines to learn how to do the initial land invasion of Japan. That, of course, never happened, but my dad always spoke highly of the Filipino people.

Debra Copley Reynolds · Top Commenter · Consultant at Princess House, Inc. -Comment to, Childhood memories of the Japanese-American war in the Philippines

A fascinating read, thank you. My grandfather served on a supply ship during WWII and told a few stories, I wish I had listened closer. Consider writing your tale in book length, please!

Jessica Willoughby · Top Commenter · Hard to Define at Developmental Skills Center-Comment to, Why I have an inferiority complex writing for ViewsHound

David, thank you for your kind words in your article. I love that you wrote this from such an authentic and honest viewpoint of how you felt. However, I want you to know that you are not alone in that feeling. To be completely honest, I think we all feel that way about something at some point. The very people you were so kind to put me in the company of, leave me in awe with their words. I could only aspire to someday write half as well as them. I think that you are a good writer. I write about topics which feel comfortable and creative for me. I love to read the work of so many others people because I can gain knowledge on topics that I am naive on. I enjoy reading about the things you write about, and there is never a need to feel inferior to anyone else. Easier said than done, I know. I am much better at giving that advice, than living that advice. Thanks again for your kind words. Nice piece, and keep up the good work. The more we write, the better we become. You know the old adage, practice makes perfect :) Have a great evening David!

Sarah Powers · Milwaukee, Wisconsin- Comment to, Domestic abuse against men: the battered husband

Thank you for writing this article, I know of a lot of people who don't believe, excuse, ignore, or even laugh at abuse of husbands. It's unfortunate that society feels this way about the abuse, and even rape of men. Hopefully articles like this will inspire people to think critically about these issues and what equality really means.

Susan Creamer Joy · Top Commenter · Works at Freelance Artist- Comment to, Memorable excerpts from the writings of my favorite authors at ViewsHound

Leslie is correct, David. We'll need enlarged exits from VH now:)) As for me, I am flattered and thrilled to be among this talented bunch and am equally inspired by and impressed with the many other wonderful writers here, yourself included:) Now, will someone call my driver and fetch my wrap? :)) Thank you, indeed!

Leslie Silverman · Top Commenter- Comment to, Why I am writing for ViewsHound

As always, David - honest, and direct well stated. Thanks for the mention. Keep writing for viewshound so we have the pleasure of reading you!

Michelle Dragoo · Top Commenter · Supervisor, Anatomic Pathology at Edward Hospital-Comment to, Memorable excerpts from my favorite ViewsHound authors

I have never been recognized, so, thank YOU. This truly brought tears to my eyes. I feel blessed to be in this esteemed group of writers.

Fernando Ceballos Lachica · Top Commenter · Works at Triond-Comment to, I have inferiority complex writing for ViewsHound.

Your writing style is great and I loved it! I can relate to your article actually. A Gold for you today! Cheers David!

Vic Vizarra · Top Commenter · Technology Consultant/Managing Owner at Viz-Mart Int'l. Computers-Comment to-Afterglows in the sunset of our lives.

I am now beginning to follow your articles and blogs. Hopefully you could lead me to your article about the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. I was then an electrical engineering student in 1977 when I visited the nuclear power plant as part of our field trip requirement for graduation. I was pretty much impressed by the design and set-up of said power plant and was just sad to know it just got wasted and not utilized as intended.

**Gail Buesnel · Top Commenter-Comment to, Childhood memories of the Japanese-American War in the Philippines**

David thank you for this aspect of the war. My uncle was a British POW held by the Japanese and freed by General MacArthur the same day the Japanese sent in death squads to murder all prisoners. He has written a book and a portion of it deals with his POW experiences. It would be fascinating to have all aspects recorded in a book, yours as a civillian, the POW's, the liberating Americans and even a Japanese soldier. I am going to try to send this article to my uncle via my cousin. Congratulations on winning the prize.

I have several more positive comments from my other articles for the ViewsHound community. But this article is already long. May I reiterate that the above comments had inspired me to continue writing for ViewsHound-one of my favorite writing site. If you read ViewsHound, please continue your feedbacks and I will continue writing for ViewsHound.

Time for a Break from My Writing Activities

Rest and Recreation in this Beach House, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines

Can writing become an obsession? The following activities can be habit forming: watching television, whether soap opera or ball games, drinking alcohol, illicit drug use, viewing pornography, smoking, gambling or sex. When people lose control of these activities and they become controlled by the activities, they can be addicted. For some people, writing can also be a habit-forming activity, and it may similarly affect their lives.

I have been following several outstanding ViewsHound writers and contributors. I have read many of their wonderful articles which reflect their approach to their craft. Based on the number, frequency and content of their articles and responses to comments, plus their profiles and other activities, I can infer that several of them have a compulsive writing disorder, if not, are in a specific writing obsessive stage.

I can also deduce that their writing dedication is not primarily geared to win the awards and recognition; it is a secondary objective which adds luster to their undertakings. Their main goal is the achievement to create their work and have it published, and the accompanying pride, sense of accomplishment and joy to share their wealth of ideas.

For several ViewsHound contributors who are unemployed, underemployed, retired or simply bored, writing is an exciting outlet and can be very therapeutic. It is an excellent way to use their free time and contribute to society. Many of the brilliant ones are able to write naturally and easily, and encounter few problems to build their thoughts into words. But for many average writers including me, it is arduous work, but a very rewarding and enjoyable activity.

I am retired and have plenty free time on my hands. I have portrayed my unassuming writer status when I wrote my article on having an inferiority complex when writing for ViewsHound. I did not expect to receive numerous insightful responses and comments. They were generally positive and encouraging that they heightened my ego. It has inspired me to continue to be a part of the regular contributors to the ViewsHound community.

I know why writing can be very life consuming. I am a devoted writer and I cannot seem to fulfill my unquenchable writing desires. I have been diligently writing for my blog sites for three years, and today my articles are also featured on other sites. There was a time when I was continuously blogging for the first two years, and then I started to struggle to create new articles.

I ran out of ideas to write, and was considering ending my writing career. However, the strong urge to create was still in me. My writing compulsion could not stop and make me quit what I have started. It also helped that my readers provided their feedbacks and suggestions. They encouraged and gave me ideas to continue my favorite pastime.

I was wrong to think of stopping, and I realized there are more than enough topics in the world to write about, in fact there is an infinite choice of topics. One merely needs to have an idea and build around a captivating subject to produce a creative work. Moreover, I had a constant need to feed the habit of creating my own composition, and have it published. With the addition of other sites where I share my work, I am now more emboldened to be ambitious with my writing efforts.

I admit I have a writing compulsion and I have to deal with it. If I leave it unchecked, I might end up spending all my time in front of my computer, and neglect my other activities. Recently, I used up so much of my free time thinking of ideas for what to write. There have been periods when my mind wandered, thinking about writing, instead of focusing on my driving, the church services, or the television. I come up with subjects on which I have never written or published. Before I forget them, I write down notes, and update the list as more ideas come to mind.

Most of my articles are from my life experiences, travels, relationship, or social interactions. Oftentimes I wake up in bed at night, and have a writing pad handy. Sometimes during long drives, ideas regarding my life experiences would just flash back on my mind. There have been instances when I read an article on ViewsHound or the Internet, and a subject relating to the article comes to mind. An example is the recent ViewsHound article about what the author learned after 15 years of marriage. I could relate to the writer because I have been married for 54 years, and this created an idea for a topic.

I've been choosing creative writing as a core of my ideas, and lately I've had several posts published on the same topic. This time I wanted to discuss the issue of writing compulsion. To ease my writing compulsion, I take several steps during every day that I write. I take short hourly breaks from my PC to rest my mind, eyes and body.

These small activities relieve me from the stress and strain of writing. Some might be small chores we'd rather avoid, but for the home-based writer, I've found them necessary. It clears up my mind and allows me to come up with new ideas to add, delete or fix on my work. If necessary, the break allows me to ponder whether to do more research. Doing short physical exercises help keep a sound mind and a sound body.

Am I in an advanced stage of my writing addiction? Not yet, although at this latter time of the year, I have tallied and counted my articles. As of early December 2011, I have produced hundreds of entries on my blogs, ViewsHound, and other new sites where I've been featured. I know I have done a lot of writing for a retiree, but it's my favorite pastime. I feel I am near the burn-out stage, and it would be suitable to take a different form of break.

The big break is coming soon; we've been in northern California since late spring of this year. After spending the holidays here with our children and their families, in January my wife and I will start our annual snow birding in our beach resort in Marinduque, Philippines. We prefer to avoid the winter chill here, which is uncomfortable for my aching muscles and aging years.

The tropical climate of the Philippines and the sea breezes of the Chateau Du Mer beach resort will be a welcome change from the rainy, foggy and cold days of northern California. Moreover, the pace of life is slower, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy including spending time in the yard and the garden. I will be able to personally tend to my resort and guests, meet up with friends and relatives, and spend endless hours walking by the seaside.

It will not be a total break from my writing activities, but a break from the cold and gloomy winter weather. By January and February, the weather is perfect in the Philippines, where the evenings are cool; days are warm, and not very hot, humid and sticky. All of the plants and trees are thriving in stark contrast to the leafless trees in California. Many of my tropical plants should be blooming. My readers should see new pictures of my tropical paradise in my future postings. See video below.

I will be writing, though in a different setting. I have my own personal computer in Marinduque, although the unpredictably slow internet connection may impede my posting productivity. I ask for my readers' patience, you will continue to see and read my work. With the fresh start in the tropics, I should be able to produce numerous articles, and internet permitting, publish as much work as possible.

I am also glad to announce that with my writing activity, I have encouraged and made positive influences on two of my Facebook friends, Vic Vizarra and Frank Cabunoc. They have decided to showcase their hidden talents for writing and poetry for the enjoyment of the ViewsHound readers. I am definitely proud of their accomplishments. I hope they will share my compulsive writing enthusiasm and be able to send more of their works.

Can your writing activities lead to writing obsession? In my opinion, it is possible, especially if you are someone with a creative personality. Watch out for the signs of excessive writing compulsion. If the signs are there, take a break. Having too much of anything can be bad, harmful and can ruin your life.

The best smell I have experienced in my Life

This article was inspired by ViewsHound Question on its Wall in Facebook-regarding the best smell one has experienced. Mine is the smell of the blooming Ylang-Ylang trees in my garden at Chateau Du Mer, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines. I have two big mature trees in the backyard of Chateau Du Mer that are about 15 years old.

When the trees are in bloom, you can smell the fragrance of it flowers to as far as 50 meters and even farther if the wind direction is favorable. It is one fragrance, that I will never forget at Chateau Du Mer in Marinduque. Its reminds me of the perfume, Channel No.5.

The fragrance of ylang-ylang is rich and deep with notes of rubber and custard, and bright with hints of jasmine and neroli. The essential oil of the flower is obtained through steam distillation of the flowers and separated into different grades (extra; 1; 2; 3) according to when the distillates are obtained. The main aromatic components of ylang-ylang oil are benzyl acetate, linalool, p-cresyl methyl ether, and methyl benzoate, responsible for its characteristic odor.

On the subject of Ylang Ylang Oil,I am proud to inform readers of this blog that my Master's degree thesis was the Analysis of the Volatile Constituents of Ylang Ylang Oil by Gas Chromatography. This was published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Vol.52, No.3 252-258 dated March, 1963.

I believe not too many non-Filipinos have heard of this tree and it fragrant flowers. Here's a short information from Wikipedia for your reading pleasure.

Cananga odorata, commonly called Ylang-ylang (pronounced /ˈiːlæŋ ˈiːlæŋ/, EE-lang-EE-lang), cananga tree, ilang-ilang, kenanga (Indonesian), fragrant cananga, Macassar-oil plant or perfume tree), is a tree valued for its perfume. The essential oil derived from the flowers is used in aromatherapy and in the manufacture of perfumes.

Cananga odorata is a fast-growing tree of the custard-apple family, Annonaceae, that exceeds 5 m (15 ft) per year and attains an average height of 12 m (40 ft). It grows in full or partial sun, and prefers the acidic soils of its native rain forest habitat. The evergreen leaves are smooth and glossy, oval, pointed, with wavy margins, and 13–20 cm (5–8 in) long. The flower is drooping, long-stalked, with six narrow greenish yellow (rarely pink) petals, rather like a sea star in appearance, and yields a highly fragrant essential oil.

The Chemical Composition Typical chemical compositions of the various grades of Ylang ylang are reported as follows:

Constituents Linalool, geranyl acetate, caryophyllene, p-cresyl, methyl ether, methyl benzoate, other, sesquiterpenes.


The name ylang-ylang is derived from Tagalog, either from the word ilang, meaning "wilderness", alluding to its natural habitat, or the word ilang-ilan, meaning "rare", suggestive of its exceptionally delicate scent. A more widely accepted translation is "flower of flowers". The plant is native to the Philippines and Indonesia and is commonly grown in Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia.

The essential oil of ylang-ylang is used in aromatherapy. It is believed to relieve high blood pressure, normalize sebum secretion for skin problems, and is considered to be an aphrodisiac. According to Margaret Mead, it was used as such by South Pacific natives such as the Solomons where she did much of her research. The oil from ylang-ylang is widely used in perfumery for oriental or floral themed perfumes (like Chanel No. 5). Ylang-ylang blends well with most floral, fruit and wood smells.

In Indonesia, ylang-ylang flowers are spread on the bed of newlywed couples. In the Philippines, its flowers, together with the flowers of the sampaguita, are strung into a necklace (lei) and worn by women and used to adorn religious images.

Medicinal uses

Ylang Ylang is a common ingredient in the herbal motion sickness remedy, MotionEaze.

Circulatory System: Ylang ylang is recommended for treating palpitations and reducing high blood pressure

Nervous System : Ylang ylang is known for its ability to slow down over-rapid breathing and over-rapid heart beat. These symptoms are usually associated with shock, anxiety and anger.

Reproductive System: Ylang ylang has proven beneficial for treating PMS, especially associated with extreme mood swings that occurs just before the onset of menstruation. For this purpose, Fischer-Rizzi recommends blending Ylang ylang with clary sage and neroli. This blend should be used in a bath, massage oil or in a vaporizer.

Skin care: Added to the skin care preparation, Ylang ylang oil is beneficial in softening and balancing the moisture of the skin. It is recommended in hair care to treat split ends. It can be used in a shampoo base of massaged into the tips of the hair after shampooing with a base oil such as apricot kernel or jojoba oil. Ylang ylang is recommended for dry and oily skin and is reputed to have a balancing action on sebum production.

I hope you find this article informative. It is the best smell, I have ever experience in my life.

One Point I missed in my Final Exam that Changed my Life

David and my wife, Macrine and son Dodie during our First Thanksgiving Day in the US, 1960

Could one point in a test that you failed in college change your life drastically? In my case it did make a world of difference, and for the better.

This is a true life-changing incident that happened when I was young. It was painful, unacceptable, and I felt I could never disclose it to anyone due to the disgrace involved. I have now decided it would be worthwhile, and possibly helpful, to unburden myself of this misery and share it with others.

I hope to enlighten people on how a failure in reaching my goal in college made me stronger, and made me strive to do better in my life. I have never told anyone about this life-altering episode which I experienced. I may have shared bits and pieces of it to my wife, but I don't think she knew all the details to fully understand my dreams, aspirations and ambitions.

This happened when I was in third year college at the University of the Philippines (UP), Diliman in Quezon City while pursuing my degree in Chemistry. One of the subjects required for students who major in Chemistry was a Math course in Differential Calculus. I had to take this course with the engineering students, and not with my fellow chemistry classmates. There was a conflict of schedule with my other elective courses.

This incident may not have taken place if I took the Calculus subject together with my chemistry classmates; they had a reasonable and impartial Math professor. The Math professor of the Engineering majors was legendary in campus for unjustly failing students. She was known to be very strict in her classes, that few among her students passed her courses. She was branded and classified throughout the university as a "terror" professor. The nickname was tagged to her for failing at least 50% of her students, almost every semester.

On the final examination for this course, I scored only 69%, which is 1% below the passing grade of "C". I was given a "Condition" grade and had to take a retest to pass the course. The next day, I took the retest and passed it with flying colors earning a grade of 85%. Sadly, the judgment had been handed down; nothing could be done to change my college records.

So what was the big deal? I eventually passed the Differential Calculus course, how did this affect my life and career? Because of the "Condition" grade that I obtained, I was not qualified to graduate with Latin honors or Cum Laude, despite the fact that my grade point average (GPA) for the four years qualified me for that honor.

It was a difficult pill to swallow. After working very hard to attain the coveted goal of receiving honors in college, I felt the pain of having failed to reach my objective. I had to go through endless days of melancholy and soul-searching trying to find comfort in getting over this unacceptable event. I realized I had to stop crying over spilled milk, move forward with my life, and do something better for myself in my future endeavors, to make up for this failure.

The fact that I did not graduate with honors devastated my ego and my self-esteem. I made a personal vow that no matter what happened, I would pursue and finish my graduate studies in the US. I set this goal to show my Calculus professor and the whole world of my capabilities, boost my self-confidence, and vindicate myself that I deserved the Cum Laude honor. I sent out applications to graduate degree programs in Chemistry with several American universities, and hoped and waited for a positive response.

After finishing college, I applied for a teaching position, and was hired immediately by my alma mater UP, as an Instructor in Chemistry despite graduating without honors. My former teachers were aware that I excelled in my major subjects, and was qualified to become their colleague as a Chemistry professor. I was assigned to teach General and Qualitative Chemistry laboratory courses to pre-medical, nursing and engineering students.

I was delighted and contented with the job of teaching my favorite subject. I enjoyed challenging and educating young minds to the intricacies of the science of Chemistry. It was a privilege and honor teaching the cream of the crop of college students, who were merely two or three years younger than I am. It was my first job that I will always cherish and remember.

Two years later, using my charm and eloquence, I convinced my college sweetheart Macrine, to eagerly accept my marriage proposal. The happiest day in my life was the day we finally got married in her hometown of Boac, Marinduque, which was attended by our beloved families and friends. We settled down and started our blissful life together in our home in Quezon City. Our first house was our wedding gift from both of our parents.

A year later, we were joyful to find out that my wife was in the family way with our oldest son. With all the blessings and major events transpiring in my life, I had completely forgotten about my personal vow to do graduate schoolwork in the US. One day I was surprised to receive a notice of an acceptance for a full teaching assistantship and scholarship. It was from one of the applications I sent out before we got married. The comfort and serenity of our married life was about to be shaken.

I enthusiastically shared this good news with my wife, who wasn't too glad to hear about it. The thought of me leaving her alone with a child on the way, to go halfway around the world, distressed her. We had several long and unproductive discussions regarding this favorable opportunity. I had to postpone my trip a few times to appease her. I was torn between choosing my ambition to do graduate studies in the US alone, or staying with my wife in the Philippines.

I had to make a tough decision before the graduate school offer expired. In retrospect, I was thankful to and appreciative of my late father-in-law who intervened on my behalf. If not, I would have been stuck in the Philippines teaching Chemistry at the university, and would have never seen the fulfillment of my ambition. I was not aware that he had advised my wife to reconsider her decision, and let me go freely to pursue my dreams.

My wife later on informed me that without her father's advice, she would not have given me her full consent to leave her and pursue my studies. She was not aware of the importance of my personal vow to do better in life, in light of failing to obtain my Latin Honors in college.

Inasmuch as my wife was anxious with our impending separation, I was deeply saddened to leave her alone, but excited to go and fulfill my dreams. I went ahead to the US for my graduate studies, but I was totally unprepared for what was in store for me. It was my first trip away from my homeland, family and friends. I was going to live and study in the American Midwest, and I had to adjust to the western lifestyle, culture and cold winter weather without any friends or relatives to comfort me.

During my first year in the US, the reality of living alone and studying in a foreign land negatively affected my drive and ambition. I was tempted twice to nearly quit school, leave the US and return to my family to the Philippines. Graduate schoolwork while teaching Chemistry was tough and demanding. I was miserably homesick, lonely and missed my wife very badly, especially during the Holidays and Christmas.

Moreover, the winters of Chicago were harsh, and can feel gloomy and depressing. It was difficult to tolerate the cold weather. I was accustomed to the tropical climate of the Philippines. In Chicago, I oftentimes asked myself what the heck I was doing in the US, with tears running down my face, and almost freezing on my cheeks and nose because of the frigid temperature. I could be happier and warm in my homeland, and be together with my cherished family.

The promise I made to fulfill my ambition, which was triggered by the one point I missed at the final examination in my Differential Calculus class, kept me going. I did my best with my work and studies. I never again considered quitting, and I was determined to finish what I had started. I finally made it, and I completed my Doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1964.

A year after I left the Philippines, my wife and our first baby, whose birth I did not witness, joined me in Chicago, Illinois. Their presence provided me with inspiration and encouragement to fulfill my ambition.

Do you have a similar experience that changed your life? I will be delighted to hear from you.

A Memorable New Year's Eve Escapade

California Central Valley Tule Fog

The New Year's Eve of 1970 was one of the most memorable events in my life in the United States. It was a peculiarly distinct night that I endangered us, me and my wife Macrine, by driving into the unknown, for a chance to celebrate a late dinner out. It was also the night we got to meet and know friendly strangers, who invited us to celebrate the New Year's Eve in their lovely home.

Before arriving in California, we were living a blessed life with four young children in Kansas City, Missouri. I loved and enjoyed working as a chemist for Chemagro Corporation. I could have stayed and worked longer for the company, but fate had other plans for my career. We had several friends, and we were established and comfortable in the ways and life in the Midwest. Our children were attending elementary school, while my wife was a full time housewife.

In September of 1969, I found a new job with Shell Development Company in central California. It was an attractive job offer which was difficult to turn down. They presented a substantially bigger salary suitable for my growing family. It was also a chance to move to the warmer California climate, and leave behind the harsh Midwest winters. After consulting with my wife and discussing the merits of the possible move, I immediately accepted the offer without any doubt and reluctance. Leaving a place we have learned to love and appreciate was sad, but we had to move on.

Our family relocated to Modesto, California, and we were excited about living in a new community, meeting new friends and getting to know new neighbors. The move was easy and relaxed. The relocation expenses, including the packing and unpacking by the movers, were paid for by my new employer. We simply moved in and got accustomed to our new surroundings.

The city of Modesto is located right in the heart of the central valley of California. It is the land of fruits and nuts, and also the agricultural region of the state. I love the outdoors, and living in Modesto gave us a chance to visit the nearby magnificent Sierra Nevada, and its various easily accessible natural attractions and parks.

The central valley is also known for its sinister side, its tule fog during winter, which covers much of the central valley in poor visibility mist. The locals called it the "soup". The tule fog (/ˈtuːliː/) is a thick ground fog that forms and settles in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys of California's great central valley. This spectacle is named after the tule grass wetlands or tulares, as they are called, found in the central valley. Vehicular accidents caused by the thick and zero visibility tule fog, are the leading cause of weather-related casualties in central California.

As a newcomer to central California, I had no idea about the soup and the gravity of danger it poses for motorists. Moreover, I was unaware how frightening an experience it could be to drive through the fog. I would never recommend anyone to go through such a worrisome ordeal.

During the last four months of 1969, we were occupied settling down and adjusting to our new home and community. We found a new school for our children, church, grocery, shops and parks. My life was thinly spread between my new job and home. We had no time to join any local group, and had no friends except for our neighbors. The demands of my job and family life made me a very busy man, and I had no time to make new friends except with my co-workers.

Before the New Year's Eve, my wife and I wanted to find social interaction in our community, but we had no friends or family to visit nearby. We decided to go out for a late dinner in one of Stockton's nicer restaurants, to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. It is about twenty miles north of Modesto. We left the children at home, while the teenage daughter of our neighbor watched over them.

We were excited to get out of the house and party for this New Year's Eve, like a young couple eager to go out on a date and explore the night life in town. As we left the house on that chilly and foggy night, we were about to embark on an adventure we never imagined. I remember the smile on my wife's face to get out of the house and enjoy the night together. We discussed the food and wine to order, and probably having dancing and celebration for the arrival of the New Year.

We reached the restaurant at about 9:30 pm, and the place was filled to capacity. We didn't realize that many couples had the same wonderful idea for the last night of the year. We had to wait in the bar before they could offer us a table. At the bar was another couple who was also waiting to be seated. They were a little bit older than us. The lady was of Asian ancestry and the man was Caucasian.

The couple appeared friendly, so me being the extroverted, outgoing and friendly individual, I started the introductions. I made small talk which initiated an animated conversation to pass away the time. We felt relaxed talking with the couple, and when we were called to be seated, we decided to get a table for the four of us together, instead of two separate ones.

Our dinner of steak and lobster was enjoyable. The conversation flowed freely, loosened by two bottles of wine. Based on our rapport and discussion, it appeared like the four of us were long time friends. We learned that the lady had Filipino ancestry. The couple is also Catholic, and has resided in Stockton for the last ten years. They had no children and had plans of adopting a child from the Philippines.

Their house was in a property near the restaurant, and a short drive away. We finished dinner and dessert at about 11:30 pm. Our new found friends decided to invite us to their home for an after dinner drink, and to avoid driving home in the highway at midnight, the New Year's Eve. With our adventurous spirit, Macrine and I trusted these strangers, and accepted their invitation without any fear or hesitation.

When we got out of the restaurant, the fog was already thick with only a few feet of visibility. I was not alarmed since the couple's residence was nearby. The house was tastefully furnished and decorated with several Philippine antiques that the lady had inherited from her Filipino grandparents.

We had a bottle of champagne at midnight and celebrated the arrival of the New Year. I only took a sip since I was the designated driver. We stayed at their home chatting and getting to know each other better. We talked about our families, interests, places we've lived and visited, and about the central valley. We ended the party at 1:00 am, and decided to go home.

As we stepped out of the warmth and comfort of their house, the cold air and the soup welcomed us outside; we could see nothing in front of us. It started to sink in my mind, whether we should proceed and drive through this very thick fog or not. I remember thinking; maybe we should pass the time somewhere, and let the fog go away before driving home. On the other hand, we could not delay the trip home to our children, and the babysitter also had to get home to her family.

I decided to start the car, drive slowly through the thick fog; my eyes open wide, a little bit nervous and anxious. We glanced at each other; my wife had the look of concern on her face. I remember her saying "this looks dangerous, and how will you see the road or the other cars on the highway". Seeing her worried look increased my growing apprehension of the peril of driving through zero visibility. The fog was so thick, my car's fog lights were useless, and we could only see a few feet away.

With arrogance, I was telling myself this was nothing to worry about. I've driven through blinding snowstorms, and snowy and icy roads in the Midwest. This would be easy; there is no rain or snow on the highway. I would manage this by driving slowly and totally focused on the road. Besides, at this time of the night there are few people and cars on the road.

On the contrary, my rational side was conflicting with my self-confidence. It was advising me to get out of the road and avoid any accident. It continued telling me that driving in this road condition is like a blind man walking through oncoming traffic.

Silence pervaded during the whole trip. No one dared to speak of negative thoughts. Both our minds were already consumed with thoughts of angst. I remember how distressing it was with all the worries racing through my mind. It made me imagine of graphic images of car wrecks, bloody and mutilated crash victims, and disturbingly, orphaned children left behind by foolish parents.

Driving the usual thirty minute ride home from Stockton took an eternity. Due to the slowness of my driving, seconds felt like minutes, and minutes felt like hours. I was hearing the clock ticking on my head slowly and forever. It was a never-ending hour of nerve-racking and concerned driving.

It took me a full hour to finally reach the safety of our home. It was a huge relief to find our children at home asleep. I was thanking all the saints in heaven that we were home safe and sound despite the danger that we just went through. The baby sitter was also pleased to see us back at 2:00 am.

Driving in the soup with zero visibility on New Year's Eve of 1970 is an experience I would like to avoid repeating in my life. The drive was terrifying; I vowed I will never again drive in a fog, maybe not even during an emergency situation.

Reflecting back to this experience, I cannot imagine that Macrine and I allowed ourselves to get to know and visit the home of complete strangers, who later on became our close friends. We continued our friendship with the couple until 1974, when we moved to the San Francisco bay area. I lost my job from Shell Development Company when it closed the agricultural research facility in Modesto. The company decided to get out of the pesticide business.

This was definitely one New Year Eve's escapade that we will always remember for as long as we live.

Joys and Activities After Retirement

Front Yard Landscaping of the Main House
My first activity after retirement was to write an article on the Joys of Retirement on one of my blog sites. I described in [that article](, my feeling of getting lost and useless after working for three years in the Philippines and 37 years in the United States. My feeling of uselessness completely disappeared after my wife and I started babysitting for our grand daughter, Carenna Katague Thompson. I commented that we loved more our six grandchildren than our four children, because our children are considered only our capital investments but our grandchildren are already our profits.

After retiring from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002 as chemistry team leader from the Center of New Drugs, I realized that I have plenty of free time. I decided I had to learn more about computer technology besides just emailing and word processing. Through trial and error, I created and designed my own website, My goal was to advertise my beach resort business worldwide. As a result of this endeavor, I was able to attract clients from Europe, Canada and the United States.

Our first guests at the beach resort, Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort and Conference Center, were two couples from Southern France. The two men were physicians. Their wives were a psychologist and an English/French teacher. I was a bit disappointed with the prospective clients' response to my website. My goal of advertising the beach resort through my website did not result in a lot of traffic and clients. I have more traffic from my nine blog sites than from my website above.

I also discovered the joys and challenges of blogging. I did not realize that today there are over 8 million bloggers in the world and it started in 2003. At present, I have nine blog sites on topics ranging from personal experiences, travel to the Philippines, politics, education and other miscellaneous topics and news of the day. I wanted to concentrate my blogging activities on the beauty and tourist attractions of Marinduque. My goal is to promote Marinduque as a world tourist destination not only on Easter Week (Moriones Festival) but also whole year round.

On August, 2008, my wife, Macrine and I received a Letter of Appreciation from the Office of the Governor of Marinduque as a results of my blogs promoting tourism in Marinduque. The letter reads as follows:


Dave and Macrine Katague

Peaceful Greetings from the Marinduque Provincial Government.

Having read your messages through the official website of the province, we are very thankful and overwhelmed for promoting Marinduque as a tourist destination not just in the country but also worldwide.

Indeed, Marinduque is a beauty not just because of its scenic spots but also because of people like you who support and promote this province and considers it their home. Hearing beautiful comments from people like you enthuse me more to serve my people and gives me the strong will to develop the province into a first class tourist destination.

On behalf of the people of the province, thank you very much and I salute you for making us proud of our province.

Jose Antonio N. Carrion

For the Governor: Signed by() Atty.Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco, Provincial Administrator


Macrine (my wife) and I had also been involved with the distribution of relief goods (rice and canned foods) through the Roman Catholic Dioscese of Boac to victims of typhoon Reming. Typhoon Reming devastated about 90% of the homes in the island of Marinduque about 3 years ago.

At present, Macrine and I are still devoting our free time and resources to our favorite humanitarian project in Marinduque—the Marinduque International Medical Mission of Love. For the last 15 years, we have been involved with the medical mission in Marinduque held every two or three years since 1996. For details about the medical mission, visit

After retirement, I also started paying all our household bills online through electronic banking. I discovered shopping online, chatting online and playing games online, specifically duplicate bridge, my favorite game since I was in college.

Today, I find writing and blogging relaxing and very enjoyable. I had my first article, Marinduque-Ecotourism Capital of the Philippines published in 2009 by, making me a citizen journalist. This was followed by my two other articles on US National Parks and Monuments and The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant revival in the Philippines.

Today, I am also writing for ViewsHound, a writing site based in the United Kingdom and I also have a page on Squidoo.

May I reiterate that the joy one gets from retirement is very specific. Some enjoy their free time by learning new activities, getting involved with humanitarian projects or spending more time with their grandchildren. Others hate retirement. They missed their coworkers and interaction at work. Others with no children or grandchildren spend their free time on traveling, turning their hobbies into small business or more community involvement. Those that retire and hate it are believed to die earlier than those who enjoy their retirement years.

I suggest you plan your retirement as early as you can. The happier you are on retirement, the longer you will live.

Voice Recognition Software-My Perfect Christmas Gift

My perfect Christmas Gift this year

If you are a regular reader of this site, you might have already seen or read a number of my articles published. You might also surmise that I must love to write due to the huge amount of work I have written. I hate to brag, but yes, I admit I love to write and express my thoughts on many topics.

My family can attest to this. Though I try to hide my so-called uncontrollable writing compulsion in the guise of net surfing, they have an inkling of my conspicuous writing activities. Time and again, I spend copious amount of time hunched back on my keyboard, focused on work, and oblivious of the events transpiring around me.

Writing is one of my favorite passions in life, but I detest the actual typing portion. If there was technology available to make a writer's work much easier, I would definitely be the first one to utilize and promote such a breakthrough contraption, and eventually resolve my predicament. My mind would then be free to wander, bring out more of my exquisite thoughts, and be able to create more masterpieces without worrying about the drudgery of typing.

I never learned to type properly during my elementary or high school days. I must be one of the slowest typists in the world, because I merely use my two index fingers to type one letter at a time. A respectable typist manages with the use of all fingers comfortably, and produces a substantial amount of work fast and efficiently.

Through all the years of regular typing and then keyboarding, I have improved on my typing skills, though not as substantial as I would have wanted, but slightly less than passable. Moreover, whenever my grown up children see me striving hard at work on my computer, they witness a wise old man who types at the speed and skill level of a 6 year-old child, slow and pathetic.

Last month, my son presented me with an amazing early Christmas gift, something very useful for keyboard challenged individuals. The gift I received was voice or speech recognition system software for my personal computer. It was the "Dragons Naturally Speaking" software made by Nuance Communications.

I was jubilantly telling myself, there is a God, he is good and technically gifted, and he has finally answered my prayers. I could now fully satisfy more than ever, my obsessive compulsive writing disorder.

It is software designed to make a computer listen to human voice dictations. The computer can then put down in writing the speech that it hears. It also follows voice commands for computer operation and formatting one's writing. In short, it mimics the actual keyboard typing through the use of the human voice.

Its use is a huge advancement for individuals with less than acceptable typing skills. I was thrilled with this gift, like a little boy excited to rip open and discover his birthday presents. I wasted no time, and had it immediately set up and utilized.

My son installed it on my personal computer with the Windows 7 operating system, and it worked delightfully. In order to use it properly, I had to train the software to recognize my voice, and be able to figure out the words as I spoke them. Due to the variety of the speech accents worldwide, it includes several options on the type of English that one would prefer the system to recognize.

Some of the options are: American English, Southeast Asian English, Spanish Accented English, British English and three other choices. First, I tried the American English, and the system worked fairly well, which was about 90% recognition. I was satisfied with the results.

My son suggested that I train the system using the Southeast Asian English. The use of this option was definitely a success; the recognition rating was almost 99%. I finally had on my hands a clever machine that fully understands my speech, and simultaneously solves my typing shortcomings. I was also very pleased that the software system recognized my undeniable Filipino accent.

I'm aware that I still have a Filipino accent when I speak English, even though I have been a resident of the US since 1960. I can distinguish fellow Filipinos who were born or grew up in this country, versus the ones who came over as adults based on their English accent. I immigrated to the US when I was already 23 years old, and by then, my speech pattern and accent have already been ingrained in my mind and my tongue.

No amount of training in diction or pronunciation could erase a trace of my Ilonggo accent. Ilonggo is the dialect in the province of Iloilo, Philippines where I grew up. Both the Tagalog national language and English are used as medium of instruction in the Philippine school system.

On the other hand, except for my eldest son who came here as a toddler, my three younger children were all born here in the US. They all understand and can speak a few American accented Tagalog phrases, the language they grew up hearing from their parents. They all have enviable American accents, and if ever they need to use the same Voice Recognition system, it would be best for them to choose the standard English option.

The software is not perfect. It cannot recognize some proper names, technical, medical and legal terms. It is exemplary in formatting, such as paragraphing, deleting words or sentences, and opening the Internet, office writer, and Facebook. I found it useful to first dictate my thoughts, and then do the editing by actually typing the correct words.

During the first few times I used the system; I was awed and amazed of how incredible it was in recognizing my Filipino accent. I would giggle and it would even type my giggling as "at, at, at, at, at". However, based on my experience, the software can never recognize the word "incredible". It always types it as "and credible". I tried changing my intonation, pronunciation or diction by saying the same word repeatedly, but I was still unsuccessful. In this specific case, I had no option but to type the correct word.

Writers with disabilities can benefit from speech recognition programs. Similarly, the software will be helpful for individuals who are deaf or have hearing difficulties, or for writers having typing issues. I am having fun using this application, and I continue to take advantage of the convenience it offers. And today, writing for me has become a double pleasure; I get to express myself while someone else does the typing.

Moreover, speech or voice recognition system is also useful for people who have difficulty using their hands, ranging from mild repetitive stress injuries (RSI) to serious disabilities that prevent them from using conventional computer input devices. Writers, secretaries, lawyers, and medical transcribers suffering from RSI are ideal customers of speech recognition soft wares.

This subject reminds me of the late author Philip Carlo, a chronicler of the New York mafia criminal activities which he depicted in several of his books. In his final years while dealing with the debilitating ALS disease, a terminal illness that causes the muscles to atrophy over time, he had to use the services of a personal secretary who wrote down his thoughts for his final book entitled "The killer within". At the latter part of their lives, ALS sufferers are helpless, and can no longer do even the most mundane everyday tasks in life. He could have benefited significantly from the use of this brilliant device.

Speech recognition is also used in deaf telephony, such as voice mail to text, relay services, and captioned telephone according to the Nuance Communications, Inc. brochures. Individuals with learning disabilities who have problems with thought-to-paper communication can also benefit from the software according to advertisements from the software developers.

Have you ever heard or used any voice recognition system soft wares? The available technology provided us with this incredible piece of equipment, and I have found it appealing to use. I would recommend its use, because it has been helpful in boosting my writing activities, and it has helped make my life easier by using my voice alone to operate the computer.

Here's a list of Voice Recognition Systems from Wikipedia:

Dragon Dictate for Mac – From Nuance Communications, released as a new version of MacSpeech Dictate in 2010.

iListen – Product from MacSpeech, developed and supported for PowerPC-based Macintosh until ca. 2009.

MacSpeech Dictate – By Nuance Communications. Dictation product for Intel-based
Macintosh. Renamed and upgraded as "Dragon Dictate for Mac" in 2010.

MacSpeech Dictate Medical – Dictation product for Intel-based Macintosh with included vocabularies for 54 medical and dental specialties. Developed by MacSpeech; acquired by Nuance Communications in 2010.

MacSpeech Dictate Legal – Dictation product for Intel-based Macintosh with a vocabulary of legal terms. Developed by MacSpeech; acquired by Nuance Communications in 2010.

MacSpeech Scribe – By Nuance Communications. Transcription product for automatically transcribing recorded dictation into text.

Speakable items – Included with Mac OS X or higher. Apple's speech synthesis and recognition technology is collectively called PlainTalk.

ViaVoice – Product from IBM, developed and supported until ca. 2007.

Voice Navigator- First voice control system for a graphical user interface by Articulate Systems in 1989

Extrasensory Perception and Premonition of Death

I am a believer in Extrasensory Perception (ESP). I do not have it, but I believe my wife has the sixth sense.

There were several cases in our married life, when my wife (Macrine) would confide to me about something she just felt or dreamt about the night before. The first case was in the mid-1960s when I was still in graduate school at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

She told me one night that her mother was calling for her in her dreams. Her dream was so vivid that when she woke up, she was insistent on calling the Philippines just to check. I told her to go ahead even though it was 2 a.m. in Chicago. To our surprise, we found out that her mother was sent to the hospital due a minor heart attack that moment when she heard her calling her name.

The next day, my wife wanted to go home to the Philippines. I gave her permission in spite of the financial burden in our budget. She stayed in the Philippines for two weeks taking care of her mother. On the third week, my wife's sister also flew from US to relieve Macrine of her duties. The next day, Macrine was back in Chicago, resuming her motherly duties to our two young kids.

One week after her return, she saw her mother's apparition and felt a cold chill on her whole body. She called the Philippines and found out her Mom passed away at about the same time as she saw her mom's apparition in our apartment.

The second case happened in the mid 1990s. We were residing in Colesville, Maryland at that time. I was at work when Macrine called me and she was in a panic. She heard her uncle calling and asking for help. When I arrived from work, we received a call from her cousin in California, informing us her Dad died just a couple of hours ago. The time of her uncle's death was exactly the time when Macrine heard her uncle calling for help.

The last case of Macrine's ESP and premonition of death experiences was about 10 years ago. It was around 11 p.m. while Macrine was watching the late night news. She felt a cold hand touching her. It lasted for a few seconds. In Macrine's mind, someone in the family had died. She had already forgotten the episode when we received a call from the Philippines the next day. One of Macrine's brothers died that night, again almost at the same time as Macrine felt the cold and freezing hand touching her.

So what is ESP? According to Wikipedia:

>"Extrasensory perception (ESP) involves reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind. The term was coined by Frederic Myers, and adopted by Duke University psychologist J. B. Rhine to denote psychic abilities such as telepathy, clairaudience, and clairvoyance, and their trans-temporal operation as precognition or retrocognition. ESP is also sometimes casually referred to as a sixth sense, gut instinct or hunch, which are historical English idioms".

How about you? Do you have ESP or the sixth sense? I will be glad to hear from you.

Your Failures are your Incentives for Success

Macrine and I during the Christmas White House Tour during the Clinton Years

Have you ever looked back in your past and remembered your failures? Have you realized that without those failures you could not have succeeded? The common saying that you have to fail in order to succeed applies to the following past events in my life.

The first event in my life to support the above statement occurred during my elementary school days. When I did not receive the first honor award (I got 2nd honor award) during my elementary school graduation both my parents and I were very disappointed. My parents even contemplated filing an official complaint to the school superintendent against my teacher and principal for nepotism since the valedictorian was a close relative of the teacher and principal.

However, I convinced my parents not to do it. I told them I would work harder in high school to be number one, to show the teacher and principal they made a mistake in the selection process. The whole four years of high school, I competed with the top five honor students from my elementary school. Needless to say, I graduated valedictorian of our high school class. My classmate who was the valedictorian in my elementary school got the salutatorian award (second place). I was happy and felt vindicated. My teacher in elementary school congratulated me but without looking straight into my eye, when my parents invited her to my high school graduation party at our house.

The second event in my life illustrating the statement "you have to fail in order to succeed" was during my graduation with my Bachelors degree in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City in 1955. When I missed graduating cum laude (with Honor) by just 0.24 points, I told myself I would pursue my Ph.D. in the United States to show my professor in Differential Calculus who gave me a "4.0" (condition) grade when I received only 69% in the final exam(I missed 1 point to get a C). I took a retest and passed it with flying colors.

In my chemistry class, there were only 15 of us and only one graduated cum laude. That showed how hard it was to graduate with honor in chemistry at that time. That grade of "4" certainly did deflate my ego and self-esteem. Two years later, my self-esteem was redeemed when I passed the National Board Examination for Chemists, taking 3rd place nation-wide.

My four years average including the "4.0" that I got from Differential Calculus was included in the calculation (not my passing grade of 3.0 after a retest the next day) turned out to be 1.99 (not high enough for honor). But if you calculate my four year average with the 3.0 that I got after the retest, my four year average turned out to be 1.74, enough to receive the cum laude (with honor) award.

When I found this out, I was so furious, I wished my calculus professor be run over by a car or misfortunes fall on her every day of her life. When I saw her in the hallway, I gave her a stare of hate (like an arrow that pierced her heart that did not stop bleeding until she died).

But I vowed to the whole world, I will obtain a Doctorate Degree in the United States to show to my Professor in Differential Calculus what she did to my ego. Looking back, I think I should thank her for what she did, because there were numerous times during my first year in Graduate School, that I wanted to quit. But once I remember the incident, it reminded me of the vow I made to myself not to quit at any cost.

The third event in my life illustrating you have to fail in order to succeed was the culmination of my 22 years of experience working for private industries here in US. I lost my first job in industry of my own free will. I wanted to receive a 20% raise in income as well as move to a warmer climate (West Coast of the US).

The second private industry job that I lost was due to the company moving and closing their agricultural research division and also consolidating their research facility in one location to save money.

I lost my third job in private industry because the firm wanted to save money and also wanted to get out of the pesticide business.

My fourth job loss was the most heart-breaking episode in my career. I had only one day of notice. After working for the firm for 12 years with good performance, it took management only one day to tell me that they not need me any more, good bye, and to look for another job.

That feeling of anger, loss of ego, shock and envy (for those who were not fired) was indescribable and humiliating. I vowed I would never worked for a private firm again in my life. My determination to work for the Federal Government was achieved when I worked for the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) in the Fall of 1990.

Working for FDA was the best move I have ever made in my career. My 12 years in the FDA was filled with awards, accomplishments and personal growth. Our life in the suburb of Washington, DC was filled with civic involvements, social and cultural activities, humanitarian projects and pleasant memories. The highlight of our stay in the Washington, D.C area was a private tour of the WHITE HOUSE.

Receiving a Christmas card from the White House for four years during the Clinton administration was the ultimate fulfillment of a Filipino student dream. Working for the Federal government was icing on the cake. Had any one of the four private firms not failed me, or had retained me as an employee, I would not have had the courage and incentive to work for Food and Drug Administration.

The above three events in my life showed that you have to fail in order to succeed.

How about you? Can you recall a past experience in your life that inspired you to success? I will be delighted to hear from you.

My Autobiography, Chapter 3:

Memorable Excerpts from Articles and Poems from my favorite Authors in ViewsHound

Twin Orchids from Garden of Chateau Du Mer

I discovered ViewsHound in August. Since then, I have read and viewed more than a thousand articles, poems, cartoons and photographs from more than 80 writers, poets, cartoonists and photographers. I enjoyed almost all the articles published on ViewsHound, but some of the articles and poems were so memorable and unforgettable that I felt I should put my appreciation in writing. These are the excerpts from articles and poems that I really love. Featured in this article are excerpts from the articles of Deb Hamilton, Jan Bird, Susan Creamer Joy, Kari Herreman, Jessica Willoughby, Richard Brown, Michele Dragoo and Leslie Silverman. In addition, excerpts from the poems of Vic Vizarra, Fernando Lachica and Guido Freddy Panes are also highlighted.

###From Deb Hamilton (Ringing the Taco Bell):
My friend (the wicked, wicked monkey) was laughing because he had the sudden inspiration that "ringing the taco bell" would make a great euphemism for female masturbation. There are surprisingly few monikers for this vital activity which aren't linguistically rewarding. Airing the orchid. Slicing the pie. Spelunking. Shining the diamond. Flickin' the bean. Ménage À Moi. Squeezing the peach. Shaking the dew off the lily. Groping the grotto. Twirlin' the pearl. Diddle the skittle. Schlicking. Now we have a new one: "ringing the taco bell." **The above euphemisms are all new to me.**

###From Jan Bird (Writing Bug):
Writing, for me right now, is like love. It isn't something I do, it happens to me. It takes me completely by surprise when I least expect it and then it absolutely refuses to let go until it wants to. It's intoxicating and irrational. It walks in and all my wisdom disappears (and yes, I know that's from a song, too, called "Love Changes Everything"). **This article inspired me to write my most commented and viewed article, "Am I a born or made writer?"**

###From Susan Creamer Joy (Flying Backwards):
In lieu of sleep these were among the questions that drowsed through the background of my mind last night like the uneasy chatter between strangers on a train; and as another sleep-deprived passenger, I strained to hear them over the productive noise of nocturnal locomotion. The monotonous undertone and restless murmuring of all these unresolved thoughts gripped my body in a tense hold of anxiety until my pillow felt like the steel side of a boxcar. **One of the most poetic and memorable paragraphs that I have read on VH.**

###From Kari Herreman (God's Forsaken Place, Part 1):
My mother hardly cast a look at me during those shadowy days. Her cold indifference to my homecoming was not unexpected. She had once punished me for embarrassing her in public by refusing to speak or even acknowledge me for three weeks… I had been twelve or thirteen years old at the time. Only when I had begged for her forgiveness by admitting to my own wretchedness had notice of my existence been granted. I only remember feeling enraged, desperate, and utterly powerless. I had no idea how deep that betrayal would eventually extend. **From an incredible and touching story.**

From Jessica Willoughby (Home: It's where the heart is):
I look back fondly at all of the parties and celebrations we have hosted over the years. The holidays were the best; Christmas being my hands-down favorite. Our home was a revolving door; people in and out with wishes of good cheer, gift exchanges, and engaging conversation. The intoxicating and comforting aromas of food baking escaped the confines of the oven, hijacking your sense of smell as it enveloped every room. I remember the enormous Christmas trees we would get each year. My mom, sisters, and I would go to Wambach Farms and find the biggest, tallest tree we could find. **Reminds me of my own family Christmas holidays.**

###From Michelle Dragoo (Am I my Mother's daughter?):
We all are given a hand in life. We all have a past. Troubled, tattered, and stained may it be. I myself have duel memories of my childhood. Some of which include weekends in Wisconsin with my mom at an Apple festival. The trees seemed to sing to us as their colors showed different shades and lights as the sun shone through them, and I remember all too well holding my mother's hand while walking the streets of the town to see different shops and restaurants. **This article reminds me of my childhood years.**

###From Richard Brown: (My Life before and After Depression):
I would wake up every morning at 4:00 a.m. in a cold sweat, and my first thought was, "Oh, shit, it's another goddamn day," and I could never get back to sleep. I wasn't exactly suicidal, but I began hoping every ache and pain was a sign of a heart attack. I screamed, "I wish I could have a breakdown and not deal with this," not understanding that I already was. Depression may have been the best thing that ever happened to me.

###From Leslie Silverman (Permits for Parents):
The children are the future. They are our legacy. Nothing is more important than the welfare of our children. Are these just hollow words that we are unwilling to back with necessary action? The children will inherit the earth. We should bear this in mind. Parents are responsible for their children's growth, health and well-being. They shape their future impact in and on the world. And yet, there is not even a bare minimum parental requirement to be met.

###From a poem by Vic Vizarra (A September to Remember):
There were nights when you silently screamed my name
And I bit my lips as you came into my dreams
The silhouette of a girl appeared with long flowing hair
Walking slowly down the beach as if floating on air
Your undying love, hope never to give up
And the power of love brought us back together
On this special day, a September to remember!

###From a poem by Fernando Lachica (Closer to You)
Unable to gaze to your beauty
my soul provides to my heart
a vision…
unable to touch you…
Our souls touch
which sends us to pleasure
and our bodies shiver with ecstasy
in oneness of perfection.

###From a poem by Guido Freddy Panes (Across the River of Life)
Our souls will enjoy the sunshine of his love
And justice reigns and love triumphs;
Our souls longed for such
In timeless pursuit,
Wretched by dishonesty, by unfaithfulness
And by the corruption of this world.

Only then can our souls find peace
Only then can we see the smile of those
That we have loved and missed,
We look and give our blessings to those
Who were left behind until
There will be no more tears.

*The above three poems were authored by my beloved "kababayans and Kaibigans"(countrymates and friends)!*

Last but not least, I enjoy the cartoons of Robert Enders and the photographs of Jan Bird, Viga Boland and Linda Seccaspina. My other favorite writers not featured in this posting are Chris Keith, Tony Gilbert, Dennis Page, G.H. Monroe, Debra Reynolds, Michele Stefanides, Amy Abbott and Gianandrea Maoli

Memories if the Japanese-American War in the Philippines-Part 3

Rape Victims during the Japanese-American War in the Philippines

The [first article in this series]( was my childhood war time experiences in the island of Panay, and the [second article]( was my wife's childhood recollection of the war in the provincial town of Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.

This third article is my cousin's story and memories of the war. She was 17 years old at that time. Her story was not directly communicated to me, but told to me by my mother.

In the summer of 1943, the Japanese had occupied the small town where my cousin resided with her adopted parents. My cousin, let us call her Linda (not her real name) was an abandoned child. Her mother was a native Filipina but her Dad was a Caucasian American. She was a beautiful teenager because of her mixed ancestry. Unlike the typical Filipina teenager, Linda was fair skinned in complexion, which she inherited from her father. She was abandoned by her Dad when she was only 4 years old. Her poor mother was not able to financially support her, so she was given for adoption to the older sister of her mother. Linda's aunt and uncle were farmers and lived in the barrio about 10 km from the main town of Barotac Viejo, Iloilo.

When the Japanese invaders occupied the town of Barotac Viejo, Linda's adopted family did not leave their farm. Once a week the family would walked to the market in town to buy their food supplies as well as sell some of their farm products (fresh vegetables, fruits, and hens' eggs).

One day, a platoon of Japanese soldiers saw Linda. They admired her beauty, snatched her from her parents and she disappeared for over an hour. Linda's parents were delirious with anxiety but were helpless and scared for Linda's life. About two hours later Linda joined her parents at the town market. She was in tears and told her parents that four Japanese soldiers had raped and assaulted her. She was told that if she were to tell anyone what happened, they would kill her and also her family.

This incident was kept secret by the family because of fear of retribution from the Japanese. But rumors in the area spread that the Japanese soldiers had started to rape young girls, and sometimes even older women. With these rumors circulating around, most of the young women in town would disguise themselves as older women in public so the Japanese soldiers would not be tempted to rape them. Other families forbade their daughters to leave the house and hid them in the barn or the outside buildings when they heard that the Japanese soldiers were coming to their village.

Meanwhile, in a related event in the next town, a few of the Japanese soldiers had cohabited with the local women.

My mother had a distant relative who was a rich widow in this town. Words had circulated that this widow had been seen entertaining a Japanese officer in her home. The widow had five children, four girls and one boy. In this town there were numerous natives who were friendly and cooperated with the Japanese.

They were called collaborators. Some acted as spies or as double agents (giving information to both the Japanese and the local guerrilla resistance forces hiding in the mountains).

The next year (1944), my mother's distant relative gave birth to another girl. The baby looked more Japanese than Filipino. She did not hide this fact and she gave her youngest daughter the same love and attention as her older siblings. The Japanese officer was very kind to the family, giving them gifts and extra food.

By the end of the war, her child was almost a year old when the Japanese were defeated and surrendered to the Filipino-American forces that liberated the island. Today, this girl is now a grandmother and still feels very insecure regarding her looks. She looks very Japanese and has no physical resemblance to her other four sisters.

By pure coincidence, I met this lady a couple of years ago during a Filipino-American party in Southern California. She married a Japanese-American citizen who was in the Japanese-American interment camp during the war when he was a boy. They have three children and two beautiful grandchildren residing in the Los Angeles area.

Meanwhile, Linda grew up to be a very beautiful woman. She got married to a local man and raised six children. Five years ago she died, at the young age of 71. I never spoke to Linda personally, but I saw her one day visiting my mother. Her physical appearance and demeanor did not show that she was at one time a rape victim of the Japanese invaders.


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