Sunday, March 30, 2014

Is the Bellarocca Resort and Spa Closing?


With no air services from Manila to Marinduque, the financial success of the Bellarocca Resort in Buenavista is indeed not guaranteed and rumors are circulating that this 5 star resort is in financial distress and might even be closing soon. I could identify with the Bellarocca situation being a small beach resort owner here in Boac. Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort main income source is from tourist abroad ( US and Europe). This year I have lost several prospective clients from abroad for this Holy Week when they learned that there are no air services from Manila to the island. The tedious, overcrowded and almost whole day land and sea ride turned off three of my prospective clients from Europe this month. Thanks God, I do not depend my livelihood on my beach resort. I am re posting the photos, I took of Bellarocca during our post medical mission R & R in case you have not seen it. It will be a shame if Bellarocca resort will close because of the medieval( no air services) transportation amenities of this beautiful island province, I called my second home.













Above are some of the photos I took during our recent visit and overnight stay at the now world famous 5 star resort in Buenavista, Marinduque, Philippines-The Bellarocca Resort and Spa, last February 13-14, 2011. This visit was in connection of Marinduque International Inc, post medical mission R&R activity. Anne Miles (President of MI, Inc-2010-2011) and I arranged for this visit which included a Catholic Mass by Bishop Rey Evangelista of the Diocese of Boac and a Valentine Dinner Dance. The resort gave us a 50% discount on our accommodation but not on meals and other amenities. It was a visit to remember. The place is beautiful and the view of Mt. Malindig and the Marinduque mainland from our bedroom as well as from all public areas of the resort was mesmerising and breath-taking.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Time for the Joke of the Month



It has been a while since I have posted a joke in this site. This one is titled Underwear Dust from Sandee Comedy Plus. Enjoy!

One evening a husband, thinking he was being funny, said to his wife, 'Perhaps we should start washing your clothes in 'Slim Fast'. Maybe it would take a few inches off of your butt!'

His wife was not amused, and decided that she simply couldn't let such a comment go unrewarded.

The next morning the husband took a pair of underwear out of his drawer. 'What the heck is this?' he said to himself as a little 'dust' cloud appeared when he shook them out.

'Cathy, he hollered into the bathroom, 'Why did you put talcum powder in my underwear?'

She replied with a snicker. 'It's not talcum powder; it's 'Miracle Grow'!

Hat tip: Dr. Vern

Note: I hope it worked this time!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wolves and Pythons in Marinduque's Gateway

Beware of Scammers and Pythons Doing Door to Door Service from Manila to Marinduque
I am reprinting this article by Jun Pasaylo so that tourists are aware that there are scammers regarding the Door to Door Services from Manila to Marinduque. I am posting this especially for the benefit of my clients at Chateau Du Mer this coming Holy Week and Moriones Festival celebration. Please share this article so all the tourists coming to Marinduque are aware of this shenanigans of Pahid and his likes.

Marinduque: Wolves in its gateway
by Jun Pasaylo

AS A traveling journalist, there’s no place that captivated the tip of my pen as Marinduque — its enchantment can command the writer’s inspiration within me to chronicle the sweetest embrace of its places and people.
I never wrote (and published) so many stories of places as that of Marinduque since I first visited the place few years ago. Almost all of these stories remain accessible in the Internet via Philippine Star Online Portal, http://www.philstar.com.
But my good memories were tainted by an experience in my recent travel there last weekend.
At Balanacan Port, Mogpog, Marinduque. Photo: Mark Julius Estur
I came from a travel abroad and met my fiancée in Lucena City for her monthly pre-natal check-up. She is six month pregnant. After more than 12 hours in series of laboratory tests and shopping for maternity needs, we managed to catch the 10:30 p.m. Marinduque-bound vessel.
Seeing our cargoes, the porters met and offered us the “Door-to-Door” van service so we would save ourselves from the hassles of unloading-and-onloading when we reach Balanacan Port.
When we met the driver of “Door-to-Door” van (Plate No. 257, Green), I told him I will pay for six seats (we were only three — me, my fiancée, and our housemaid) provided that we will occupy the two seats on the front and the four seats at the back of the driver for our cargoes.
He has no words but, “Yes sir, no problem.” At P450 per head, I paid P2,700 for the six seats.
Leaving our things under the driver’s care and banking my trust to a Marinduqueno, I and my fiancée went upstairs and enjoy the three-hour boat ride from Dalahican Port in Lucena City to Balanacan Port in Marinduque.
But the romanticity of the moonlit evening was short live and turned into a nightmare.
When the Roro vessel positioned to dock Balanacan Port, we slowly squeezed ourselves to the lower deck like all other passengers. When we approached the “Door-to-Door” service, we find our baggage by the floor and not being on-loaded to the van.
While the passengers were busy for disembarkation, the driver attempted to put our cargoes at the back portion of his van, to which I protested because our earlier agreement was for those to be situated on the back of the driver seat.
Worse, when he opened the door of his van and invited us inside, the seats that were promised to us were already occupied and he wanted us (me, my fiancée and our maid) to sit in the back seats.
So I protested not to ride, considering that my pregnant fiancée could not be able to sustain the bumpy ride on the back. By this time, the driver called another man (later I knew him to be certain “Joel” a worker of Philippine Port Authority in Balanacan) and told us that Joel will guide us to a waiting van outside.
Hoping for another vehicle, we went with Joel only to find out that no van is waiting outside but a regular passenger jeepney. I went to the Police station to ask for a rescue, but no officer was awake that time (around 2am). When I went back to the Roro to confront the driver, he and his vehicle were nowhere to be found.
Later, I managed to know that the name of the driver was “Alyas Pahid”.
According to the porters that conversed with me, Alyas Pahid is a notorious scammer of tourists in Marinduque victimizing anyone that come in his way. But he still remains in his ill practice up until today because tourists don’t have time to file formal complaints against him, and authorities have done nothing to stop him.
Porters in Balanacan called him “Pahid” but I named him “Boy Buni” because you can easily identify him on the marks of “bunis” on his hands and face.
Few minutes later, we went back to the police station and managed to log the incident in the Police Blotter of Balanacan Police Station, leaving my number there with a promise from law enforcers that they will exerts all efforts to catch Pahid.
But until this blog is posted, I haven’t get any notice from the police that they intercepted Pahid and his vehicle amid the fact that there are only two entry-and-exit points in the province.
My fiancée has been once a victim to this kind of driver when the barker of “Door-to-Door” service promised that the van will travel up to Torrijos town, only to find out that the driver won’t go to her hometown anymore and left her past midnight at Sta. Cruz Plaza.
I wrote this article to warn tourists to Marinduque to watch for this man. I understood that he has connections because “Joel” himself, the man that brought us to the passenger jeep, has PPA identification in him.
I wrote this article because I pity those people and groups like the Marinduque Tourism Council that tirelessly promoted and trumpeting the havens of Marinduque in the tourism arena, not knowing of these wolves that are drooling to devour innocent victims even before they can set foot in the province.
I wrote this article to call on the attention of Marinduque tourism authorities to address this kind of problem because this is the main thrusts of your local tourism industry, a foremost strand of the province’s economic life.
I recalled my good experiences in the country’s top tourism destinations like Baguio and Davao, where you don’t need an extra tip for drivers but pay the fare according to the taxi meters. I left a DLSR Canon camera in Naga City and it was returned to me. I left a travel bag in a taxi in Legazpi City last December, and I still got it intact when it was returned to me early this month (February). You don’t need to worry to travel to Davao City if it’s your first time — go to the next police station and surely you have a law enforcer to guide you to your destination.
As we masquerade the province of Marinduque – Home of the Moriones Festival – to be on the top of the country’s tourism destination, these are the kind of people that we need to build, and not the kinds of “Pahid”, in the gateways of our localities. Grand Inquisitor
Comment:
Seller Nollos: I think the first thing that the board members has to do in our province is to pass a resolution to control our door-to-door services. We all know that all of these vans are holding a private license plate. Require them to have a franchise if they want to be in that business. Enough is enough for all of these monkey business.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Search for the Fountain of Youth

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...

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.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

7-Day Continental Breakfast Menu at Chateau Du Mer


During the months of March and April when we are here in Boac, continental breakfast for 2 is complimentary to guests who pre-pay their rental. The following is the one week menu at the resort.

1. Mango or banana pancakes with syrup and Australian butter

2. French Toast

3. Regular toast with Eggs ( scrambled with onions, tomatoes or green pepper ( huevos rancheros)

4. Pandesal

5. Oatmeal from US or cereal

6. Fried Rice with sausage or with Vienna Sausage

7. Rice Cake( suman) or Puto

Coffee( Brewed Barracco) or tea, orange juice and fruit of the season ( banana, mango, cantaloupe or papaya) accompanies all breakfast meals

Coffee is brewed from the beans (not instant) and strong ( if you do not like strong coffee it will be diluted with water)

During your check in we will take your breakfast preference. Choice of juice and fruit of the season is our call!

Our mango pancakes has been a favorite of our clients from US and Europe the last 5 years when we started offering Continental breakfasts

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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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.