Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Secret for Longetivity

My wife Macrine Nieva Jambalos Katague (for 57 years) turned 78 years old the other day. Thanks to all who extended their birthday greetings via FB and especially to Dr Celia Roque for her personal call. We did not have a big party as she requested. However, we have all the close relatives for lunch. We have pancit, egg rolls, fruit salad, leche flan, buko pie, empanada, spaghetti(no sugar)and the chiffon birthday cake with number 78 as the decor. Her birthday reminded me of the article I wrote 2 years ago as follows:

Last Sunday, Macrine ( my spouse of 55 years) and I attended a birthday celebration of one of our oldest couple friends here in Northern California. The couple are both retired physicians and are celebrating their 85th( wife) and 90th(husband) birthdays as well as their 57th Wedding Anniversary. The last time we saw them was in the mid 1980's, although we received Christmas greetings from them annually. Thus, we were delighted to be invited and are still healthy enough to attend. This is an example that senior citizens are still a major boost in the economy of the US.

The party was held in the 14th floor of the Hilton Garden Hotel in Emeryville, California. There were about 100 guests about 90% senior citizens. The party started with a Thanksgiving Catholic Mass and followed by a lunch reception of either filet mignon or salmon steaks. At the party we also had a chance to get reacquainted with several of our former couple friends and neighbors in Pinole who were members of the Filipino-American Association and also friends from church in the mid 1980's. Of course all of them are retired.

The couple celebrant have also a similar lifestyle with us-that is they are also snow birds. Like us, they spend their winter months in the Philippines. What was outstanding was the entertainment after lunch that children and grandchildren offered to the guests. I was also surprised that both couples were still lively and strong. Not one of them needed assistance in walking and none of them had suffered a serious illness. Their goal is to reach their 100 birthdays. I have a feeling, they may be able to achieve this goal. Incidentally, the nonagenarian celebrant is our compadre. He is the godfather of our youngest son confirmation about 40 years ago. Our son is now 50 years old.

I also got to chat with another guest who was our former primary-care physician in the 1980's. He told me, he is still working part time and still a practicing surgeon part time that is two times a week. I am a little envious of his situation since we are about the same age.

It was indeed fun to reminisce our younger days. The above experience reminded me of the following article I am reading today from CNN money magazine as follows:

Retirement age must rise - OECD By Emily Jane Fox :

Gradually increasing retirement ages may be the only way governments can keep up with people living longer, a report said on Monday.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- As life expectancy continues to rise, a new report suggests that governments need to raise the age of retirement in order to keep up. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said that by 2050, the average woman and man can expect to live roughly 24 and 20 years beyond retirement age respectively, up from 20 and 17 years in 2010. At the same time, retirement ages across many countries have stayed the same.

Without a change, the Paris-based economic think-tank said governments won't be able to pay for more people needing retirement funds for longer periods of time. "Extending working lives in a situation of slowly growing or declining workforces should provide an important boost to economic growth in aging economies," according to the report, which was released Monday.

The United States could use a boost. Social Security has already begun paying out more in benefits than it takes in from workers' payroll taxes. The trustees of the Social Security program reported in April that the program projects a $165 billion deficit in 2012. Social Security could pay promised benefits in full through 2033, the report said.

Raising the full retirement age gradually to 70 years-old could help plug this deficit by reducing Social Security outlays by 13 percent, the Congressional Budget Office reported in January. "With the fact that people are living longer, they should be partly responsible for meeting the cost of longer life expectancy," said Juan Yermo, head of the private pensions unit at OECD.

Today, the full retirement age in the United States is 66, up from 65 a decade ago. It is scheduled to increase by two months a year starting in 2017 until it reaches 67 in 2022. Meanwhile, 62 remains the age at which those who retire early can collect a percentage of their full benefits. The OECD suggested, however, that "67 or higher is becoming the new 65." "Extending the period over which you're contributing to the pension system would be less of a burden for everyone," Yermo said.

When will you be able to retire? Experts say that the benefits of keeping people in the work force could spread beyond social security.

"People today in their sixties are not only living longer, but they're healthier," said Don Fuerst, senior pension fellow at the American Academy of Actuaries. "They can be a productive part of our society, and our economy needs for them to be productive. They could give our economy a boost."

I can not end this article without telling you that I did asked my octogenarian and nonagenarian friends what is the secret of their longevity: They both answered: We tried to be active both socially and physically and we never stop smiling...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Battered Husbands and/or Boyfriends

I just learned of a recent event of a victim of the silent battered husband syndrome, prompted me to republish the following post, I wrote three years ago.

The first time I heard of a case of a battered husband was about 10 years ago when I was still working for FDA. One of the Review Chemist I had supervised confided in me, that the reason he is now divorce is that his former wife has been beating him almost at least once a month for the last two years. At first, he just protected himself, but after the fourth beating, he reported it to the police. The police came to their apartment, investigated and nothing else happened. The physical and mental abuse continued until he finally decided to break the marriage and left his wife. There was a restraining order issued against his wife.

My first reaction is of disbelief. This man although soft spoken is 6.6 ft, athletic and very masculine. He has a also a Ph. D degree in Chemistry, very personable,and friendly. I ask myself, Is this man telling the truth? But the way he confided in me was very convincing and I believe him. The abuse was not only physical but also mental according to him. The guy is about 45 years old and the couple have no children.

The second case of a battered husband that I heard was just recently in the Philippines. This case is sad and really touched my heart since the battered husband is a close relative of my wife. During one of our many family reunions, I noticed the absence of his wife. I ask him why his wife is not around. He said, I do not have a wife anymore, will you help me Tito to look for another. I was embarrassed for asking the question and totally forgot about the incident. However, the next day, I was talking to his Mom. She told me about the domestic abuse that her son has tolerated for the last 10 years. It was only last year that he told his Dad and Mom of what is going on. They are now separated. They separated couple have 2 children, 9and 2 years old. The children are with him, but his wife has visiting rights. In this case the abuse is also both physical and mental. As in case number one above, this man is good looking, athletic, very personable, and intelligent. This guy is only 39 years old. The above two cases prompted me to do a google search on this subject of battered men as follows:

Why Do We Know So Little About Domestic Abuse And Violence Against Men?
There are many reasons why we don't know more about domestic abuse and violence against men. First of all, the incidence of domestic violence reported men appears to be so low that it is hard to get reliable estimates. In addition, it has taken years of advocacy and support to encourage women to report domestic violence. Virtually nothing has been done to encourage men to report abuse. The idea that men could be victims of domestic abuse and violence is so unthinkable that many men will not even attempt to report the situation.

The dynamic of domestic abuse and violence is also different between men and women. The reasons, purposes and motivations are often very different between sexes. Although the counseling and psychological community have responded to domestic abuse and violence against women, there has been very little investment in resources to address and understand the issues of domestic abuse and violence against men. In most cases, the actual physical damage inflicted by men is so much greater than the actual physical harm inflected by women. The impact of domestic violence is less apparent and less likely to come to the attention of others when men are abused. For example, it is assumed than a man with a bruise or black eye was in a fight with another man or was injured on the job or playing contact sports. Even when men do report domestic abuse and violence, most people are so astonished men usually end up feeling like nobody believes them.

Do you know of a case of battered men? Here's a video for additional information on this unrecognized but important subject. Your comments will be appreciated.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Philippine Cobra and Python in Marinduque

Do You know that Marinduque is also the habitat of the Philippine Cobra and the Python? Based from the personal experience of our new house maid, the Philippine cobra and the python constrictor thrive very well on her neighborhood. Our new help has a house in Balagasan-a barrangay in the interior of the province that is mountainous but close to the Boac River. The python would visit their backyard at night and all she could her was the gasping breath of one of her roosters. On the otherhand she almost step on a cobra on her way to do her laundry in the nearby creek, a subsidiary of the Boac River.

The Philippine cobra occurs mostly in the northern regions of the Philippines. They can be found on the islands of Luzon, Mindoro, Catanduanes, and Masbate. This species likely may occur in other neighboring islands, but this remains unconfirmed. Records from the Calamianes group and Palawan require confirmation. The above information is what Wikipedia says. But I have now documented that the Philippine Cobra is also found in the mountains of the interior of the province of Marinduque. This knowledge is based on the personal experience of our new house maid who is a resident of Balagasan. Balagasan is in the interior of the province which is mountainous, but not too far from the Boac river and its small creeks. ]

So if you want to see a Philippine cobra and a python killing a chicken, go the mountainous barrangays of Boac such as Balimbing, Balagasan, Mainit and Binonga.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Life in the Philippines: Expensive Restaurants in Luxurious Malls and Usury


Who Says the Philippines is a Poor Country?

Last month we stayed at my sister-in-law Condo in Metro Manila for 4 days prior to our snowbirding sojourn in Marinduque. One Saturday first cousins Olga and Lito Quiazon treated us for lunch at Mesa Restaurant. This restaurant is located at the new SM Shopping Mall called the Aura at Taguig right at C-5. The mall was huge and beautiful and better built and design in most of the malls, I have visited in Northern California. There must be parking spaces for more than 10,000 cars.

Dining at this restaurant and window shopping in this mall, you will never think the Philippines is a poor country compared to US or Singapore. The restaurant was full and there was about a 3o minutes wait if you arrived after 12 noon. Luckily we have reservations at 11:30 and we we were served promptly. There were six adults in our party. Olga ordered about 5 main dishes, a soup dish a salad entry and two desserts. The servings were small similar to what they called the California cuisine. In spite of the small servings the food was delicious. One particular dish that I like was the binago-ongan. This is a dish made of pork and flavored with shrimp paste called bago-ong. In general I hate bago-ong because oftentimes it is salty and its fishy smell. But this binago-ong is just perfect and no smell plus the pork was tender and delicious. The other dish that I love was their fresh pomelo salad. Speaking of pomelo ( Pinoy or Chinese grapefruit).our two pomelos here in Amoingon were very fruitful this year. Last January, it yielded about 400 pomelos. When we arrived in Amoingon the last week of February, there were only about two dozen fruits that are still on the tree that my wife and I were able to enjoy

Back to the Mesa restaurant at the SM Aura Mall. Although the servings were small, the prices were expensive that only the rich Filipinos and Balikbayans that earned dollars can afford to dine, I truly believed. I saw Lito paying the waiter 5000 pesos for our lunch. In our party were 4 senior citizens with a 20% discount card that we all gave to Lito This made sense, when I remembered that the prices of the dishes in the menu ranged from 250 to 400 pesos. Again, thank you Olga and Lito for the delicious lunch. So who says The Philippines is a poor country. ( The dollar to pesos exchanged rate at that time was 1 to 44).

On another subject about life here in the Philippines: The usurious practice of lenders here in Marinduque makes me vomit. Our new care taker( for Macrine) lives in a barangay in the interior of Marinduque. It takes her an hour of bumpy roads riding in a tricycle from her village to downtown Boac. Two days after she received her first salary, she requested to take a day off. She informed me that she needed to pay a loan that she took 2 months ago of 500 pesos. Two months later she is being charge an interest of 100 pesos, so her total loan is now 600 pesos. I started calculating in my mind what the interest rate. It comes to 10% per month or 120% annually. I was so shocked when I heard this. But after talking to my driver here, I was informed this is common practice here in Marinduque. The lenders become rich, but when they die their souls will go to Hell because of their usurious ways. I told my driver in the US one can go to jail if they get caught. However here in Marinduque and possibly other parts of the Philippines, this lending practice is a way of life.

Our corrupt Pinoy legislators should pass a law to make usurious practices a crime and not to exclude themselves. Maybe I am just dreaming or very naive by even thinking about this.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Video of the Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort


It is less than a month when festivities of The Holy Week and Moriones Festival 2014 Celebration will showcase the province of Marinduque as the Lenten Capital of the Philippines. The following video was taken three years ago, but it is timeless and still applicable today. Here's the video in case you have not seen it. Enjoy!

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Guest Article from Susan Creamer Joy

In The Silence, by Susan Creamer Joy.

Today's guest article is from Susan Creamer Joy. Susan is one of my favorite authors in the ViewsHound community. Susan writes, draws, paints and cobbles together art from found objects making a variety of creations from jewelry to religious shrines. She frequently sports burns on her fingers from her soldering iron, paint on her palms and ink under her fingernails, but her hair is usually combed. When she is not losing time in the creative vortex of her studio, she is likely to be putting her knowledge of metaphysics and esoteric principles including Tarot, numerology, astrology and graphology to good use in consultations. Her children are grown, her husband still works and her four dogs believe she needs serious help. The title of her article is "A Matter Of Love And Death". Thank you Susan.

By the time they reached my bedroom door, I was already sitting up – my stomach ratcheted in the tense grip of an unnamed anxiety; my pillow, unburdened of my drowsy head.

To this day I cannot explain how I heard them coming up those stairs in their bare feet or how I knew that my father struggled to hold his composure as my mother unnaturally clutched at the folds of her dressing gown and followed him through the dark just a little too closely.

As the wooden groan of those old stairs tore into my bones that morning like a hacksaw, all I could see between the predawn shadows was the letter I’d written just hours earlier to my boyfriend, Chris, propped against the lamp on my desk across the room awaiting an envelope.

I had not slept well. It was late November and there had been so many changes since the middle of August when he left for the Air Force in Texas to begin basic training and I began my third new school in as many years.

The conspiracy between fate and the last surge of the Vietnam draft had broken apart the every-waking-minutes of our two-year union with unceremonious indifference. All that night my sleep had been infested by difficult dreams and by the illogical fear that truth and reality were merging into a darkness only a martyr could grasp; and at sixteen, martyrdom seemed reasonable only for the nuns among the poor in Bangladesh

I tried to remind myself that he would be home on leave for Thanksgiving in another few days. It was the only tether to calm I could find, but reviewing the facts offered little relief from my baseless fears.

Chris had been girding his pacifist sensibilities preparing to fight in an unpopular war that had not yet slaughtered its last innocent. I was hovering just over the line of inclusion at an exclusive girl’s school – missing him – and finding myself at odds with these young women and their attachment to propriety and with the prep-school veneer that blinded them to the fact that they were no better than anyone else.

Neither one of us was coping well with the worlds into which we were respectively summoned, and although we both knew that the best hope for any future together depended upon our individual successes apart, it was far from comforting most days.

But in spite of our discomfort, we each did our best; and, of course, there were the letters: Thin, plain-paper sheets with row after row after row of inky blue words penned with the intensity and awkward locutions of a love learned too soon. It had come down to just that little, but without them, I would have had nothing.

Chris was learning to fly. I was learning to drive, and both of us were aching to transport our souls to an earlier time through the hallowed intercourse of memories and dreams. Of course, as with all progress, there was the positive element: We were both clean and drug-free for the first time in years.

Now, without pretense, both healthy cognition and sincere motivation surfaced regularly in my psychology and prompted me to care about myself and to arbitrate against all temptation for a better standing in the world, in school and in my own eyes. I even did my homework.

No longer was I escaping today but, instead, living for my day of escape. Lying still in the dark of my room, I listened to the slow, padded footfall of my parents approaching and looked to the floor and to my history book half hidden beneath the nightstand where I’d tossed it the night before. Even in this early morning dark I could make out the swirls and stars in colored marker and the bubble-formed letters that spelled C H R I S in soft, juvenile curves on the torn book cover I’d fashioned out of a brown paper grocery bag.

I vaguely remembered throwing it there somewhat hastily. I had been doing my homework when a sense of urgency struck and I realized I had not written him as I promised I would and glancing at the clock, I noted it was nine-twenty-three. Why that mattered I had no way of knowing in that strange moment, but within hours, it would be one I would never forget; and although I was becoming drowsy and still needed to finish my work, I felt beyond reason that my letter to him could not wait.

So, I wrote. I would always write. I would always be there. He would always be there.“Suzi."It was my name spoken in the smooth and familiar voice of my mother, although weighted and slow, her head bowed to her chest almost as though she were speaking only to herself.

"Suzi.” She said it again, this time with sharp gravity, like a chisel against stone.

As if on cue, I leaned forward, flanked now by my parents who were sitting on either side of my bed.

I had been waiting for them. I don’t know how. I didn’t know why. The lights in my room remained off, but it seemed that the darkness clung more to them than to me, as though they were holding it there – away from me to give me enough light to see through the next moment. They were crying. My father was crying. My father. “Suzi. We have something very, very bad to tell you." Chris has been in a car accident." And he was killed."

If the world moved forward from that moment, I could not know it. f there were air around me worth breathing, I could not take it in. And if there were another sound beyond the leaden bellow of my own raw grief, I could not hear it.

"Who am I going to talk to? Who am I going to love?” I wailed. Who will love me? In that sodden moment violated by the intrusion of a predawn light that had no business rising, everything I ever believed about happiness, hoped for in life, trusted in or held as my own was annihilated.

After that – there was no after that. After that came months of hollow redundancies that would inform my way of being in the world for years to come. A serial commitment to waking up each morning, remembering he was gone and dedicating the remaining hours to forgetting. To that end I would try anything, drink anything, ingest anything, inject anything. It was a slow and arbitrary suicide by indifference.

Many years later, at 25 years-old and in the midst of a pharmaceutical free-fall leaning dangerously close to terminal, I discovered that I was expecting a child, and after a decade of forgetting, I remembered. I named him Griffin after the legendary winged lion, a symbol of the divine because what he inspired and the miracle that he was, were nothing less. I remembered and I loved again, and I went on to marry and to the gift of two beautiful daughters.

Today my son is struggling not to drown in the same well of drug abuse and apathy that almost swallowed me – his great, divine wings clipped by his own hand; and while it is up to him to restore his place in the sky, I will do my best to help provide an open runway.

In the meantime, I will continue soaring for both of us; bequeathed as I have been, with a determination to fly from a boy whose ragged fate precluded that dream.

Death took one young man from me once upon a dark time. If it has any intention of coming for this one, it will have to go through me. And trust me, it will be in for one hell of a fight.

Note: If you enjoy this article, please let me know.

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I love gardening, play duplicate bridge, has collection of orchids, bougainvillas, hibiscus and other tropical plants