Planning to Visit the Philippines Soon?

There are hundreds of tourists attractions in the Philippines. But as a lover of the Island of Marinduque (Home of the Morions and Heart of the Philippines), I am indeed partial to its beauty, charm and its friendly and hospitable residents. Therefore, help me achieve my dream of seeing this island becomes a world tourist destination, by telling all your friends and relatives about this site. Welcome, to you all, new readers and faithful followers of this site! The photo above is Poctoy White Beach in Torrijos, Marinduque with beautiful and majestic Mt Malindig in the background. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing your copyrights. Please do not forget to read the latest National and International news in the right side bar of this blog!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My College Years: 1951-1955

The Oblation Run* ( photo from

The Oblation Run, UPLB( photo from

My first two years was in UPIC ( University of the Philippines, Iloilo College). At that time, it was only a two year institution. I started as Pre-Med as requested by my mother. My mom always dreamed of having a physician in the family. I made good grades, "A"s and "B"s (1.0 and 2.0) in all my subjects, and obtained college and university scholarships during my first year. On my second year,I was awarded the Fernando Lopez Scholarship of free tuition fees for the whole year. The award was given to the student with the highest grade point average in the whole school. If there is a tie, the student with the most extracurricular activities wins the award. I was also elected President of the University of the Philippines Student Catholic Action( UPSCA), Iloilo Chapter. With this activity, I corresponded with the President of UPSCA Diliman, campus. At that time the president was Constantino Nieva, a law student from Marinduque. Later, he was ordained as a priest and studied in Rome, Italy for his Ph.D in Theology. Fr Nieva ( we call him Tito Tino, now) is the uncle of my wife, Macrine Nieva Jambalos Katague.

Life in UPIC went by very fast. In the Fall of 1953, I transferred to UP Diliman, College of Liberal Arts and decided to change my major to Chemistry. This change was inspired by my chemistry professor in UPIC. The fact that I hate the sight of blood, in my Zoology class dissecting frogs, made this change easy.

"There goes my mother's dream". ( Note: it was only about 5 years ago, when my niece, D'Wanie Katague Gregorio finished her MD degree, that my mother's dream was finally fulfilled)

In Diliman, I resumed my active participation with UPSCA, becoming a member of the UPSCA Student Council representing my college. Our spiritual adviser was the late Fr. John Delaney, a Jesuit priest. The rivalry between the UPSCANS and the FRATS /SORORITIES was the most published and talked topic during that time. This topic alone will consumed several pages in this article, so I am not discussing it. But this episode in my college life had been documented already in my college memoirs album. Needless to say, the UPSCANS dominated student politics for years and until the death of Fr. Delaney.

A circular chapel( Chapel of the Holy Sacrifice) in the Diliman campus was one of Fr. Delaney's project. During the ground breaking for the chapel, the names of one thousand (1000) students, faculty members and their families who went to mass and communion everyday for one year were buried in the church foundation. What an honor that my name was one of the one thousand names included in the church foundation.

It was Fr. Tino who first introduced me to his niece, Macrine Nieva Jambalos. That year, I also joined the "Chemical Society". As a neophyte, one of my task was to look for Macrine. I was not able to do it. At the same time, one member of the Chemical Society who resided in the same dormitory with Macrine knew that she was also looking for me. So we were playing "HIDE and SEEK'. Finally, Macrine and I met in the sacristy of the old chapel and the rest is history. Our college romance is too long to be included in this article. Someday, I will write a short version of our story for the sake of our four children and six grandchildren.

In 1955, I graduated with my Chemistry degree. I had written an article regarding my graduation( the 1 point I missed in the final examination, that change my outlook in life) in my previous posting( next article).

The two pictures above are the "OBLATION RUN", an annual activity that had been attracting nationwide visitors and the press in UP. There was no Oblation Run during my college years. The photo is from the web, by (pinoyblogosphere).
The first photo was in the Diliman campus. The second photo was the run in the Los Banos Campus,in 2004.

* Historical Notes about the Oblation Run from Wikipedia

The Oblation Run is an annual tradition of the members of the Alpha Phi Omega, one of the prominent U.P. fraternities. Members of the fraternity run around the campus naked (a concept known as streaking) to protest their sentiments about a current political or economic situation. The run started in 1977 to protest the banning of the movie, “Hubad na Bayani,” which depicted human rights abuses in the martial law era.

Contrary to popular belief, neophytes are forbidden to run. "All those who run are full-fledged members who have volunteered" are allowed to run, explains Ojie Santillan, the fraternity's Auxiliary Chancellor. "There is a misconception that the Oblation Run is something our neophytes have to undergo as part of their initiation. That’s not true. We never allow our applicants to join.(the Oblation Run)" Today, the Oblation Run is held on or about December 16th, in honor of the international founding of Alpha Phi Omega.

"The Great Centennial Run"

Exactly, on UP's 100th anniversary day, and in the “UP Oblation Run," 100 UP-based Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Fraternity and several UP alumni on June 18, at 11:00 a.m., ran naked along the University of the Philippines (UP) campus to commemorate the centennial anniversary. They sprinted from the Vinzon’s Hall and stopped at Palma Hall, for short photo opportunity. Jejomar Binay, alumnus and former prime chancellor of APO fraternity led the event. Runners called "Scholars of the People" carried placards, "Serve the People," to petition for the state subsidies to their education.

The History of the Sculpture from Wikpedia:

The idea for the Oblation was first conceived during presidency of Rafael Palma, who was the one to commission Tolentino to make the sculpture. Palma requested that the statue would be based on the second verse of Jose Rizal's Mi Ultimo Adios;

"In fields of battle, deliriously fighting,
Others give you their lives, without doubt, without regret;
Where there’s cypress, laurel or lily,
On a plank or open field, in combat or cruel martyrdom,
If the home or country asks, it's all the same--it matters not".

The concrete sculpture painted to look like bronze, measures 3.5 meters in height, symbolizing the 350 years of Spanish rule in the Philippines. The sculpture is replete with references of selfless dedication and service to the nation, and as Tolentino himself describes it;

"The completely nude figure of a young man with outstretched arms and open hands, with tilted head, closed eyes and parted lips murmuring a prayer, with breast forward in the act of offering himself, is my interpretation of that sublime stanza. It symbolizes all the unknown heroes who fell during the night. The statue stands on a rustic base, a stylized rugged shape of the Philippine archipelago, lined with big and small hard rocks, each of which represents an island. The “katakataka” (wonder plant) whose roots are tightly implanted on Philippine soil, is the link that binds the symbolized figure to the allegorical Philippine Group. “Katakataka” is really a wonder plant. It is called siempre vivo (always alive) in Spanish. A leaf or a piece of it thrown anywhere will sprout into a young plant. Hence, it symbolizes the deep-rooted patriotism in the heart of our heroes. Such patriotism continually and forever grows anywhere in the Philippines".

Originally, the statue was completely naked, but, as morality was prevailing at that time, it was modified by former U.P. President Jorge Bocobo with the addition of a fig leaf to cover the genitals. The sculpture was funded by the UP students of 1935-1936, and was presided by Potenciano Illusorio and Jose B. Laurel, Jr., presidents of the student council during the first and second semester respectively and was dedicated on March 1939 at the University's Manila campus where it stayed until February 1949, when the main administrative offices of the university moved to the new Diliman campus in Quezon City. The transfer of the Oblation to its new home served as the highlight of the move from Manila, which is historically referred to as the Exodus. The sculpture in front of the Quezon Hall at Diliman was installed facing west, purportedly a tribute to the American roots of the university. Today, that sculpture is only a bronze replica (which was recast from the original in Italy, in 1950, under the supervision of Tolentino himself) dedicated on UP's Golden Jubilee on November 29, 1958. The original sculpture is being kept at the Main Library (Gonzalez Hall), the former site of the UP College of Fine Arts, where Tolentino taught.

Several replicas of the Oblation were made for campuses of the University of the Philippines, some by national artist, Napoleon Abueva. 2005 national artist nominee Glenn Bautista,likewise, did his celebrated version of the Oblation in pen and ink as part of his school plates at the UP College of Fine Art under Professor Rebilion. The sculpture was registered at the Intellectual Property Office in the year 2004. Being the main symbol of the university, the Oblation is the centerpiece of many UP-related logos, like those of the Philippine Collegian and other student publications, the UP Cooperative, and the UP centennial emblem.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Could One Point You missed in a Test Change Your Life?

It did in my life and career! This is a true incident in my life. I don't think I have told anyone about it. I may have hinted it to my wife of 52 years,but I don't think she knew all the details. So here is my story. I have describe a summary of this episode in my previous posting “ You Have to Fail in order to Succeed “

This episode in my life occurred when I was in 3rd year college at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Q.C., pursuing a bachelor's degree in Chemistry. One of the subjects, required for the degree was Differential Calculus. I took this course with the engineering students instead with my chemistry classmates , because of some schedule conflict with my other elective courses. To make the story short, on the final examination for this course, I scored only 69% less than 1% for a passing grade of “C”. I was given a “Condition” and have to take a retest to pass the course. The next day, I took the retest and passed it with flying colors with a grade of 75%. So what is the big deal? I passed, how did this affect my life and career? Because of the “Condition” grade that I obtained, I was not qualified to graduate with HONOR (CUM LAUDE), even though my grade point average for the four years qualified me for that honor. ( the details of the grading point system in UP at that time was discussed in detail in my previous post).

The fact that I did not graduate with HONOR although I have the grade point average devastated my ego, and my self-esteem. In my class of 20 original freshmen, only 15 graduated in four years and only one graduated Cum Laude. This shows how hard and difficult it was to graduate with honors at that time.

With my ego deflated, I made a personal vow, that no matter what, I will pursue graduate studies in the US to show to my professor and the whole world of my capabilities and to redeem my self-esteem. My ego and self-esteem went back to normal levels when a year later, I passed the licensor Board Examination for Chemists, scoring 3rd place nationwide.

After graduation I was hired by my Alma Mater (UP) as Instructor in Chemistry. Two years later, I got married and have settled down in our home in Quezon City, a gift from my parents and my wife's parents. A year later, my wife was pregnant with our oldest son. I had completely forgotten my personal vow to do graduate work in US. I was very happy with my job in UP and enjoyed teaching.

One day, I received an acceptance for a full teaching assistantship/scholarship from the US, from one of several applications, I sent before, I got married. I have to decide. It took a lot of discussions with my wife and myself. Is my burning ambition my number #1 priority or my family and future child in my wife womb's? I can not decide, but thanks to my late father-in-law, I would have been stuck in the Philippines teaching at the university. I did not know that my father-in-law had advised my wife “To let me Go”. My wife later informed me, that without her father's advise she would not have given me her consent to leave her for my burning ambition. ( My wife did not know of my personal vow at that time)

So with a sad heart to leave my family, but with excitement to fulfill my dreams , I went to the US for graduate study. During my first year in the US, I was tempted twice to quit and return to the Philippines. I was very lonely especially on Holidays and Christmas, plus the winters of Chicago was bad for my body, that was accustomed to the tropical climate of the Philippines . I oftentimes ask myself, What in the “Hell”, am I doing here with tears in my eyes almost freezing in my face and my nose frozen because of the frigid temperatures of Chicago.

But my vow and burning ambition triggered by the 1 point I missed at the final exam in my Differential Calculus class kept me going, until I completed my Ph.D. Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. The rest of the story is history. Details of my life and career in the US from 1960 to the present are discussed in my blog site/,

If you have a similar experience that could have change your life, please let me know.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You have to Fail in order to Succeed

It's just like saying you have to fall before you can stand! Really true! I will give three examples to illustrate how true is the above statement and how it affected my life today.

The first incident to support the above statement occurred in my elementary school days. When I did not received the first honor award ( I got 3rd honor award) during my graduation both my parents and I were very disappointed. My parents even contemplated filing an official complaint to the school principal and my teacher of what they believe was a nepotism case since the valedictorian was related to the teacher and principal. However, I convince my parents not to do it. I told them, I will work harder in high school to be number #1, 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 five top five honor students from our elementary schools days. Needless to say, I graduated validectorian(#1) of our high school class. My classmate who was #1 in our elementary school days got the salutatorian award ( 2nd place). I was happy and felt vindicated. My teacher in the 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 incident was during my graduation with my Bachelor degree in Chemistry in(UP) University of the Philippines in Diliman,Quezon City. When I missed graduating cum laude,(with Honor) by just 0.24 points, I told myself I will 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 show 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, but two years later, I redeemed my self-esteem and inflated my ego by passing the Board Examination for Chemists taking 3rd place nation-wide.

Let me explained the grading system at that time, since I am not sure if it is still the same today.. In 1955 when I graduated in UP, the grading system was from 1 to 5 with 1.0 as excellent (A), 2.0(B). 3(C) (Passing). 4(D) Conditioned and 5( Failure). To graduate with honors, the average of your four years of grades are considered except physical education and ROTC ( Reserved Officers Training Corp). The scale for the following honors: Average for four years of 1.00 to 1.20 is summa cum laude ( with highest honors); 1.21 to 1.45 is magna cum laude ( with high honors) and from 1.46 to 1.75 ( with honor) is cum laude.

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 misfortune falls 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 ).However, at the end of the semester, I was able to forgave her after talking(in a confession) with Rev Fr. John Delaney, my Jesuit counselor of the University of the Philippines Student Catholic Action. (UPSCA) at that time. I had to forget the incident, otherwise I will not be able to receive communion during mass.

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 of what she did to my “ego” (with the 1% score that I missed during my final exam.) 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( my determination to finish my doctorate degree )reminded me of the personal vow I made to myself a few years earlier.

The third incident is a culmination of my twenty-two years of experience working for private industries here in US. I lost my first job in industry on my own free will. I wanted to receive a 20% raise in income as well as move to a warmer climate. 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 3rd job in private industry, because the firm wanted to save money and also wanted to get out of the pesticide business. The 4th job loss,I had in the private industry was the most heart-breaking episode in my career. I had only one day of warning. After working for the firm for twelve years with good performance, it took management only one day, to tell me, we do not need you any more, good bye and 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 will never worked for a private firm again in my lifetime. My determination to work for the Federal Government was achieved, when I worked for the Food and Drug Administration in the Fall of 1990. This decision was the best move,I have ever made in my career. My twelve years in FDA was filled with purpose, awards, accomplishments and personal growth . Our life in the suburb of Washington, DC was filled with civic involvements, social activities, humanitarian projects, pleasant memories, cultural projects, and even a private tour of the WHITE HOUSE. Receiving Christmas cards from the White House for four years (CLINTON) was the ultimate fulfillment of a Filipino student who immigrated to the US in 1960, raised a family of four professional children, had achieved in his lifetime. I could never have worked for FDA, had any one of the four private firms not failed me, or had retained me as an employee.

If you have experiences that illustrate “that you have to Fail in order to Succeed”, please feel free to comment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Political Joke-The Bushes Stinks

I receive this joke recently and like to share it with you!

Whether Democrat or Republican, you should get a kick out of this!

A little boy goes to his dad and asks, 'What is Politics?'
Dad says, 'Well son, let me try to explain it this way:
I am the head of the family , so call me The President.
Your mother is the administrator of the money, so! we call her the Government.
We are here to take care of your needs, so we will call you the People.
The nanny, we will consider her the Working Class.

And your baby brother, we will call him the Future.
Now think about that and see if it makes sense.'
So the little boy! Goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said.

Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to
check on him. He finds that the baby has severely soiled his diaper.

So the little boy goes to his parents' room and finds his mother asleep.
Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny's room Finding the door
locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father in bed with the
nanny. He gives up and goes back to bed.

The next morning, the little boy says to his father, 'Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now.'

The father says,'Good, son,tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about.'

The little boy replies,'The President is screwing the Working Class while the Government is sound asleep. The People are being ignored and the Future is in deep shit.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween- Tabi' Po Nono'

My Pangga ( beloved) Carenna Katague Thompson

Goblins( Nono),Ghosts and Witches

Recently, I was reading the Philippine Inquirer on line. An article and video clips regarding the evil possessions of 27 students in an Oriental Mindoro school attracted my attention. You could see the haunted look in the eyes of students "possessed". The authorities have called a local priest to exorcise the evil spirits, but the phenomena has not stopped. They are also planning to call the health authorities, to see if there is a health related explanation. An update of this paranormal incident was published in the Oct 30 issue of the Philippine Inquirer. Their explanation was "mass hysteria".

This news reminds me of Marinduque's local beliefs of the existence of Nono ( goblins) in the area. There are also stories about ghosts( white lady apparition) and witches. I know that in Iloilo, there is one town there that is supposed to be a lot of witches. However, there is no proof, this is true. In our resort property in Amoingon, some of our neighbors inform us, that once in a while in a moonless night they have seen an apparition of a white lady. I have never seen one during our annual six months stay at the beach resort. The white lady is supposed to guard the property from robbers and intruders. I hope this is true.

With regards to the Nono,( they reside in the big trees),even though I really do not believe it, I still say TABI PO NONO (Excuse me Nono,I have to pass by) when passing under the trees and bridges in my property at night. Even my 5 year old grand daughter from Sacramento, has learned of this phrase. We told her of the TABI PO NONO phrase last December, 2007 during our golden wedding anniversary celebration. The funny part is, when they were in Boracay a week later, she said the same phrase while passing a bridge at the Boracay Regency Hotel, where her MOM and Lola were staying. Hurrah to the memory of a 5-year old. Anyway, if you experience or hear of any stories about ghosts, nono and witches, please let me know. Happy Halloween to ALL!

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