Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Coconut Crab and Spiny Lobster of Marinduque

Coconut crab or lobster cooked in coconut milk is one of the most delicious dish that I have tasted in Marinduque. So what what is a coconut crab? Here's what Wikipedia says:

The coconut crab, Birgus latro, is a species of terrestrial hermit crab, also known as the robber crab or palm thief. It is the largest land-living arthropod in the world, and is probably at the upper size limit for terrestrial animals with exoskeletons in recent Earth atmosphere, with a weight of up to 4.1 kg (9.0 lb). It can grow to up to 1 metre (3 ft) in length from leg to leg. It is found on islands across the Indian Ocean and parts of the Pacific Ocean as far east as the Gambier Islands, mirroring the distribution of the coconut palm; it has been extirpated from most areas with a significant human population, including mainland Australia and Madagascar.


In the Cook Islands, the coconut crab is known as unga or kaveu, and in the Mariana Islands it is called ayuyu, and is sometimes associated with taotaomo'na because of the traditional belief that ancestral spirits can return in the form of animals such as the coconut crab


Slipper lobsters are a family of decapod crustaceans found in all warm oceans and seas. Despite their name, they are not true lobsters, but are more closely related to spiny lobsters and furry lobsters. Slipper lobsters are instantly recognizable by their enlarged antennae, which project forward from the head as wide plates. All the species are edible, and some, such as the Moreton Bay bug and the "Balmain bug" (Ibacus peronii) are of commercial importance.

I am looking forward to eat these two delicacies in Marinduque next week.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Formula for a Lasting Marriage-Part 2


TODAY is Valentine's Day. A day for lovers, young and old. This is the best time to write Part 2 of my article on the Formula for a lasting marriage. I wrote my first article on my formula for a lasting marriage about a year ago. I did receive several positive comments on that article. In that article I emphasized that open trust and communication between the husband and wife is a must for a lasting marriage. Another point I discussed in that article was accepting the flaws as well as the strength of your partner is a must for a lasting marriage. This new article (Part 2) is inspired from two incidents that I experienced recently.

The first incident occurred while my wife and I were waiting in the patient lounge at the diagnostic laboratory for our normal six month interval blood work check up. A couple seating near us mentioned that they have been married for 63 years. I asked the guy, if he has a secrete formula for their lasting marriage. He jokingly answered "I do what she wants pointing to his wife". His wife heard it, she smiled and reply, that is not true because I also like to please him whatever he wants almost all the time. The lesson here is the "gave and take" is still one of the formula for a lasting marriage.

The second incident happened while I was in line at our friendly local bank cashing a check. The line was long and the bank had only two clerks because it was about lunch time. The wait was about 30 minutes and to get rid of boredom, I started a conversation with an elderly lady next in line. After a few pleasantries, she mentioned that yesterday was her 54th wedding anniversary with her second husband. Her marriage with her first husband lasted only about a year, because both of them were young and immature. So I asked her if she has a formula why her second marriage has lasted for more than 54 years. Her quick reply was, my husband and I just laugh a lot. If we have problems we talk about it and just laugh about it.

To me this means that to have a positive attitude and not taking problems seriously is another formula that helps guarantee a lasting marriage.

So my dear readers if you have been married for more than 10 years, can you share with me and my readers, your formula for a lasting marriage. I will appreciate it very much and thank you in advance for sharing. Again, Happy Valentine to You All!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Good News and Looking Forward to Sweat Like a Pig


This week there are three good news in the David Balleza Katague Family.

The first good news is that we have finalized our snowbird vacation dates leaving the US next week and staying in the Philippines up to the first week of May. We have also arranged for a 90 day supply of all of our prescription drugs. I am looking forward to see my blooming orchids, fruit-bearing trees ( mangoes, papayas and bananas) and of course the beach house. I am also looking forward to play with Miko, our pet dog and walking on the beach and gardens every day if it is at all possible( not raining).
One of my favorite orchids ( The Princess Mikasa) at the Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines

However, there will be pain and suffering when during the months of April and May, there will be numerous days when the heat and humidity of summer will turn to its ugly head in the Philippines. There will a slight relief from the ocean breeze in our beach house in Marinduque, but I will not be surprised if I sweat like a pig again this year. Moreover, I am not also looking forward staying in Manila for a couple of days during the summer months due to the oppressive heat, high humidity, air and noise pollution as well as the traffic jam for 12 to 14 hours per day. Manila on summer time is appropriately correct to be referred to as the Gates of Hell in Dan's Brown recent novel published last year.

The second news is that my youngest daughter have been invited to Spain for a study trip (for work). A great honor for her and hopefully she will be able to take her daughter out of school the last week of May. My grand daughter (Carenna) can therefore experience Northern Spain and Paris, France. She will have to hire a nanny to baby set for Carenna in Barcelona and Bilbao while she work. Any volunteers?

*The third good news is that my oldest daughter found another job in San Francisco with much higher pay than her current job doing identical work and responsibilities. The not so good news is that she will have a longer commute. But my daughter is so delighted of this new challenge and personal growth in her professional life and the much higher pay she will receive. Her new position will start March 1.

Again, wish me well in our snow birding days in the Philippines this year!

*Addenda: My oldest daughter just called me a few minutes ago she will not be commuting to San Francisco. Her current employer promoted her when she asked for permission to leave. Her current employer will match the salary offer plus 5% more. Thus, she is staying with her current job which she enjoys. I am so happy of this new development and is indeed good news!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Do You Have a Favorite Filipino Dish?


Kare-tripe and ox tail in peanut butter Sauce ( photo from lakbay.com)


Lumpia Shanghai (photo from photobucket.com)


Halo-Halo for Merienda( photo from freeweb.com)

My wife and I have resided here in the US since 1960. We have adapted to hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, cottage cheese, yogurt and typical US cuisine, fast foods, as well as filipino dishes that we craved once in a while. Cooking filipino food here is no longer a problem, since you can purchase ingredients in the Filipino-American store or an Oriental store(Chinese, Korean or Japanese). In the 1960's there was only one Filipino store near our residence in Chicago. We oftentimes have to shop in China Town downtown. Today, there are Filipino grocery stores in most medium-sized and big cities in US to cater to the expanding population of Filipino Americans who had immigrated to US in the 1980's.

We have resided in several cities here in US ( Sacramento, Pinole, Modesto, CA, Chicago, Kansas City and Maryland). Every time we moved, my first job was to look at the telephone directory for the nearest oriental or filipino store to our house.

The above two main dishes and one dessert or merienda are some of the dishes that my wife loves to cook every now and then to satiate our longing for filipino dishes. Not pictured are pancit( a noodle dish), Chicken or pork adobo( cooked in water-vinegar mixture), chicken afritada,(a chicken dish cooked in tomato sauce with potatoes and green peppers) and deboned and stuffed chicken called relleno. The above dishes are also the favorites of our children who grew up here in US and does not really know the cuisine of the Philippines.

Our children are brown and looked very Filipino, but they are as American as apple pie. In their college years, some of their friends called them “coconuts”. Their friends would comment, “ you guys are brown outside but very white inside”. That indeed is the truth!

My wife is an excellent cook. The saying " the way to a man's heart is through his stomach", applies to our life. When we were student at the University of the Philippines our romance was on and off, since I was not really ready to get married. One day before my 21st birthday (we have not talked or seen each other for almost a year), I was surprise to receive a birthday gift from her. Her gift was a chiffon orange cake that she baked from scratch. It was the most delicious cake I have ever eaten. It reignited our romance and we started dating again. The next year we got married. I was only 22 years old at that time. The next year, we had our oldest son and I was already in US doing graduate work at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Do you have a favorite filipino dish or an some other native dish of your country of origin? I will appreciate if you share it with me and my readers.

Here's a video about Filipino food-an opinion of one person. I do not agree with some of his assessments.

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Joys of Retirement at Chateau De La Mer, Marinduque, Philippines

I have been retired from USFDA since 2002. At first, I feel I have lost my identity as an individual or have lost my contribution to society. However, within a few weeks all these feelings were gone. It started when my wife and I started baby sitting one of our grandchildren. As some economics professor states: "Your children are your capital investments, but your grandchildren are your profits. That is why you love your grandchildren more than your children". I really agree with the statement. Retirement also gives you lots of time to do things you like to do, such as your hobbies and of course travel. In my case, I turned my hobby of gardening and landscaping into a small business in the Philippines. This endeavor was planned about five years before 2002. That year my wife and I started construction of our retirement home in Boac, Marinduque , Philippines. The next year we built a beach house, followed by a Conference Hall two years later. Needless to say, planning and executing the landscaping was a challenge and very enjoyable. With the help of local labor, I not only enjoy the time gardening and landscaping, but also help improved the economic situation of the province by providing work and jobs to the local residents. With plenty of time, I have engaged into two specific activities as follows: First, I created a website for my small business. By trial and error, I created and design the website, www.chateaudumer.com I have never been a computer nerd or expert. But with plenty of time and patience, the fruits of my labor could be enjoyed if you visit the website above. The second activity, I have not done before was to utilize on-line activities, such as shopping, paying bills ( save you stamps) and playing computer games in the Internet. I really enjoyed playing duplicate bridge on line. You play with players all over the world and can chat in between games. But be careful, you are not spending too much time in the computer. It is very addictive. With a lots of time, my wife and I devoted more time on our favorite humanitarian project. For the last 15 years, we have been involved with medical mission to the province of Marinduque. For details please visit the website: www.marinduqueinternational.org As a summary, the joy one gets on retirement is very specific for an individual. Some enjoy their free time by learning new activities, getting involved with humanitarian projects or spending more time with their grandchildren. Others hate it, since they missed their former jobs and co-workers. Others with no children still enjoy retirement by traveling, turning their hobbies into business or more community involvement. Of course those that retire and hate it, is believe to die earlier than those that enjoy their retirement years. So, plan your retirement as early as you can. The happier you are on retirement, the longer you will live.

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

Orchids and Statuaries in the Gardens of Chateau De La Mer

Orchids in the Front Yard of the Main House The photos above are some of the statuaries and orchids from the Gardens Of Chateau de la Mer, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.