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!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Aswang and Manananggal of the Philippines

Image from www.manananggal.com

This coming Saturday is Halloween Day here in Northern California. To celebrate Halloween Day, I thought that the following story from Dave DeWall (I have his permission to post this story in this blog) is worthy of publication and very timely.

I know that most of us here in US do not believe in witches. But in the Philippines (this is true story according to the author) witches, nono's, manananggals, giant capri's, and ghosts are part of life and folklore specially in rural areas and in the provinces. Personally, if I am in the Philippines, I tend to believe it, but when I am here in Northern California, I am not a believer. However during Halloween, the subject of witches becomes a topic of interest to me.

The Witches and Manananggal of Guimaras Island, Iloilo-by Dave DeWall
Source: www.rooster4am.com October 21 and 22, 2009

“My wife’s younger sister Emily, was a beautiful baby. Cute sharp nose and just one of those infants people would gush over and comment on how maganda (beautiful) she was. She was the favorite of her parents and adored by her older brothers and sisters. When Emily was about a year old, she became extremely ill. Wouldn’t drink her milk and didn’t want to eat. What she did eat was immediately vomited. She suffered diarrhea and dehydration, and couldn’t sleep at night.
Melinda’s Tatay (Father) and Nanay (Mother) bundled up the sick little one and took her to the doctor. The doctor examined her, and prescribed some medicine. Emily got a little better the next day, but then she became quite ill again, and so another trip back to the doctor. Quite expensive for Melinda’s Father and Mother who struggled to make ends meet and support a family of eleven. The doctor prescribed more medicine, again Emily got a little better for a couple of days. Then she worsened again. More trips to the doctor with the same results as before. The same pattern persisted, get a little better, than sick again. Tatay and Nanay were becoming increasingly worried and extremely distraught; the doctor’s visits had drained what few pesos they had before Emily became sick, and now all their money was gone. What could they do to save their little infant Emily?

Only one thing to do, Tatay and Nanay decided they would have to sell the family carabao (water buffalo, the ultimate work animal on farms in the Philippines, not caribou as the carabao is often mistakenly referred to by foreigners like myself --check this link out by my friend Mindanao Bob from “Live in the Philippines” for a great explanation of what a carabao is and for a photo: http://liveinthephilippines.com/content/2007/10/are-there-caribou-in-the-philippines/). They had to raise the cash to take Emily to the hospital and have extensive tests run on her. This was an act of utter desperation; the caribou plowed the rice fields for the family farm. Without the carabao there would be no rice fields plowed and no rice next season: No rice to sell. No rice to eat. The decision was final; the next morning Melinda’s Mother and Father would bring the carabao into San Miguel to be sold.

Darkness then falls in the heart of the jungle as the giant lizards’ cries of “tukkku …tukkku..tukkku” reverberate throughout. Giant pythons hang menacingly on the trees. An evening where Melinda and her family, distraught with worry over baby Emily, huddle inside their candle lit nipa hut shorn of any modern conveniences such as electricity and running water. No telephone. No television. The only contact with the outside world was a tiny transistor radio. Emily was especially ill that evening, vomiting and crying; reinforcing Tatay’s and Nanay’s decision to sell the carabao and bring their beloved infant daughter to the hospital. Nanay held the little baby in her arms to try and comfort her and rock her to sleep. The hour is around midnight.

Suddenly the family heard a loud commotion outside! A cat emitting strange high-pitched screams was outside the front of the nipa hut. Melinda peered out the window and saw its eyes as they glowed fiery red! Tatay cracked open the front door, and the demon cat jumped inside the front entrance of the nipa hut, and according to my wife Melinda who witnessed it, FLEW across the room. It was common knowledge in the Philippines that a witch or Manananggal had the ability to inhabit an animal’s body and possess it. Melinda’s father quickly grabbed his bolo (machete) and ran towards the flying cat screaming: “You are NOT going to eat my child, you Son of a b----!” The cat literally flew out the front door, and my father-in-law shouted at all the children to gather all their old slippers (rubber flip-flops) and put them in the front yard. The multitude of old flip flops were piled up and put in a semi-circle, and Melinda’s father set fire to them.

As Melinda and her family huddled in the nipa hut, she could hear piercing screams and laughter coming from just beyond the burning mountain of rubber: it was the witch tormenting them, still in the cat’s form! Thick black smoke poured from the mound of melting flip flops, and the terrorized family huddled inside with Tatay in the doorway, bolo in his upraised right hand. The evil laughter continued from right beyond the flames tauting them.

And Blood Shall Spill!

Yesterday’s blog concluded with Melinda and her family being taunted by the Manananggal, a witch that took the form of a cat. As Melinda’s father continued to stand at his post at the front door, armed with his bolo, Melinda relates that she could still hear the witch cat laughing and screaming at them, but the burning pile of rubber flip flops was keeping the creature at bay. A half hour passed and finally the jungle fell silent; the witch was gone for the moment, and even the cry of the lizards halted.

Morning finally arrived, and though shaken by the previous evening’s horrible events, Melinda’s Mother and Father prepared the carabao for the long journey out of the jungle to San Miguel; Emily’s condition was worsening, and the carabao had to be sold to raise the funds necessary to admit the little infant to the hospital. Hospital services had to be paid for when those services were completed.

Tatay and Nanay, Melinda and the family reach the outskirts of San Miguel, and Nanay (Melinda’s Mother) runs into her sister Feliciana, a local healer. They had not seen each other for months. “Have you heard there is a new Manananggal in town looking for a baby so she can eat the infant’s liver?” asks Tita (Aunt Feliciana.) Tatay and Nanay froze! That was the witch that visited their house last night! Manananggal take on the form of an attractive woman during the day, and are known to seek out the most beautiful of babies. The witch was after little Emily!

With a quivering voice, Melinda’s Mother told her sister of the visit last night. Tita grabbed her sister’s arm, and told her they had to get Emily to the local healer that had far greater powers than Tita, the healer, had. They would need an extremely powerful healer to deal with the wretched Manananggal!

Tatay and Nanay, and Melinda and family along with Tita Feliciana who needed to make the necessary introductions since this particular healer was know throughout the region as “the healer of all healers”. One could not expect to just walk through his door without waiting for hours as he had a multitude of people that sought his services every day; but this was a dire situation. Immediate action was needed. Tita Feliciana intervened.

The healer listened to the story of the previous night’s harrowing event. His face remained stoic. Did not nod in agreement or disagreement with anything said. Asked no questions. He knew how to deal with this menace. The Healer instructed Melinda’s Mother and Father to go out and purchase a black chicken and then come back with it and Baby Emily.

Fortunately it was early Sunday morning, the busiest market day in San Miguel. It did not take long for Tatay and Nanay to purchase a black chicken. They rushed back to The Healer with the ailing Emily, Melinda and the rest of the family in tow. As witnessed by Melinda, The Healer chopped off the head of the black bird with one swift blow of the bolo. He poured the blood of the chicken out into a vessel, and made the sign of the cross on Emily’s forehead, legs, arms, and stomach. Then he took some ginger and rubbed that on the infant Emily. The Healer instructed Tatay and Nanay to go straight home, but be sure to leave the candles lit the whole evening.

Melinda’s family made the long journey back home to the jungle. Nanay fed Emily some milk. She hungrily drank all of it. Did not vomit any of it. Nanay fed her some rice porridge. Again Emily ate it all, and again, did not get sick. The house was lit with every candle available in every room. Nightfall came again. Emily went to sleep quickly, still covered with the dried chicken blood; it was the first time in almost a month that she slept so peacefully. The little one did not get ill the whole day since she left The Healer that morning. Tatay sat near the front door the whole evening with his bolo nearby, but the night slipped away without any event.

Morning came, and Emily again drank all her milk and ate her porridge. Nothing happened, she was completely healed. The chicken’s blood was then washed off of her, and Nanay patted her dry, and held her in her arms, grateful for what The Healer had done. Oh, and the carabao? It was still there. Didn’t need to sell it now. The witch? Don’t know what happened to her, but a new one has taken her place here in San Miguel now. She is a young one in the second year of high school, and it is said she is looking for a beautiful young child to devour that child’s liver. Again, The Sainted Patient Wife was eyewitness to this account, and swears it is true. Who am I to say? Many forces of darkness battle against the good every day in this world. I am but a stranger in a strange land”. Thank you Dave for your story!

Here is a short video from a movie trailer about aswang in the Philippines to complement the story above.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween is Near-Witches, Nono and Goblins


Carenna in her butterfly costume-Mariposa Princess

If you go to the stores and shopping malls here in Northern California, you will see that most of the decorations are now about Halloween costumes, candies, masques and other items for the Halloween Night Festivities.

In the Philippines, the web is already filled with stories about witches ( aswang), capri, duende ( nono) or elves as well as stories about ghost and apparitions . Superstitions and Folklore's are part of life in the Philippines, specially in the provinces.

I know when I was growing up way back in the late 1930's, my parents and relatives had been telling me of stories about aswang( flying witches) visiting homes in the middle of the night and looking for pregnant women, so they could suck the fetus from their stomach. One way of discouraging the aswangs to your homes is to put garlic in all the windows. Other superstitions are the giant people called capri. There are two kinds, the white( good) and black ( the evil one). Opposite to this are the small people, the elves or Nono ( in Marinduque) .

Last year, I wrote a short article about Ghost, Goblins and Nonos . At that time my beloved Carenna( see photo above) was only five years old. She turned six last May and now in first Grade. The article that I wrote last year are as follows:

"One of the beliefs and folklore's in Marinduque are the existence of Nono ( goblins) . There are also stories about ghosts( white lady apparition) and witches. I know that in Iloilo, there is one town where there are a lot of witches(Dingle). However, there are no proofs, 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 and she is the ghost of my mother-in-law".

"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, 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".

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Viva Marinduque-The Kalutang Group


I found this on You Tube. The background music is from the KALUTANG Group of Bangbang, Gasan. Source of video: marinduquegov.blogspot.com
This video is a slideshow of "Viva Marinduque" performance tour in Marinduque's six municipalities in celebration of Araw ng Marinduque and Philippine International Arts Festival in February. Background music performed by Pangkat Kalutang of Bangbang, Gasan using wooden percussion instruments made from twatingan and bayog trees endemic to this Philippine island.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Love and Hate of Life in the Philippines

Photo from anton.blogs.com
Several months ago I wrote two articles as a guest writer for Bob Martins' web magazine “Live in the Philippines. The first article is the ten items that I love about the Philippines from the perspective of a balikbayan retiree living the “snow bird” lifestyle. Snow bird means that if it is winter time in US, my wife and I flew to the Philippines. When it gets super hot and humid in the Philippines we fly back to US. We do this every year. Most of our friends and contemporaries are envious of our lifestyle. But I say, “Eat your Hearts Out”.

Of course there is no perfect place on earth even if I call Marinduque my Heaven on Earth and my Island Paradise, (http://marinduquemyislandparadise.blogspot.com). So I wrote a second article on the ten most annoying things in the Philippines also listed below.

The following are the ten items I like and love about the Philippines. I modified and revised this list from the one published in Bob Martin's web magazine a while ago to reflect current conditions in the Philippines. These ten items are not in order of importance. I also sited my blogs for references on the subject listed.
1.The cheap standard of living: The cost of food and services with the exception of electricity is cheap in the Philippines specially services. For example haircuts, massages , pedicures and manicures is much cheaper in Philippines than in US. A specific example are Mens’ haircut. I pay between 60 to 100 pesos in Marinduque, but here in Northern California, I pay between $12 to $14 for a haircut. For $1500 plus or minus 10% a month, my wife and I live like a Queen and King here in Marinduque. The current exchange rate is about 48 pesos for one dollar as of this writing date. For fast conversion from pesos to dollars or vice versa, use “50” as the factor.
2.The simplicity and peaceful life in the provinces. The locals are easy going and do not hurry for their appointments. There is not much traffic in the provinces and in small towns. (http://marinduqueonmy mind.blogspot.com).
3.The abundance of fresh meat and seafood, vegetables and fresh fruits ( papayas, mangoes and bananas) at a reasonable prices as well as the Filipino delicacies ( lechon, lumpia and pancit) and desserts ( bibingka , leche flan and Halo-Halo).
4.Accessibility to the beaches, mountains, caves , rivers , islets for picnicking, bathing, snorkeling, scuba diving or just relaxing ( I am talking about Marinduque, not the big cities).
5.The social support system is fantastic. The presence of friends and relatives specially during Christmas and Easter seasons is an experience one can not forget. The Philippines celebrates Christmas five months every year starting from September 1 to January 31. (http:/planningtovisitthephilippines.blogspot.com)
6.Availability of all modern amenities, good restaurants, international food , modern health services in Manila, Iloilo, Cebu and other big cities and five stars vacation resorts all over the islands.
7.The dry and cool weather, ocean sea breezes ( at Chateau Du Mer )during the months of November to February. (http://chateaudumer.blogspot.com)
8.The numerous Fiestas and Festivals the whole year round, specially during the months of January and May. (http://lifeinus1960present.blogspot.com).
9.The hospitality of the people and their attitudes toward foreigners and visitors.
10.Historical and Cultural heritage we have as a nation from Spain , such as our old churches, folk dances, Kundiman music, Putong, Kalutang and respect for our elders and freedom of the press and speech and educational opportunities we had from the United States.(http://theintellectualmigrant.blogspot.com).

The ten items I dislike about the Philippines are listed below. This list is modified from what was published in Bob Martin's magazine to reflect current conditions (#4, #6 and #10) in the island.
1.Traffic and Pollution ( in big cities) There is always traffic congestion almost 24 hours a day, especially in big cities. The only time of the day when there is no traffic congestion in Manila and suburbs is between 2 to 4 AM. This is a good time to go to the airport to be in time for your 6AM flight.
2.Jeepney and Bus drivers: They drive like maniacs. They pick up and drop passengers in the middle of the road. Most provincial drivers drive like maniacs. They will overtake private cars on the wrong side of the highway and even on dangerous curves.
3.The long lines in the banks and ATM machines and people cutting-in the lines
4.The noise of crowing cocks and the barking dogs at 4AM or even earlier and loud karaoke music and out-of -tuned and horrible singing of the neighbors
5.When you invite one in your party, he or she brings one or two others, without advising you ahead
6.Filipinos seldom RSVP an invitation or answers their e-mails in a timely manner. Some have Face Books accounts , but seldom or never opens it. ( why open an account if you do not open it at all ?)
7.The heat and humidity during the summer months especially the months of March, April and May
8.The smell of fish and Durian-(probably only in Davao) in the wet markets
9.Littering'/urinating on the streets and on the beaches, parks and other public places
10.Frequent brown outs/ black outs, typhoons and torrential rains in the provinces.
You could probably add more items, but the good things outnumbered the annoying things.DO YOU HAVE ITEMS TO ADD TO THE ABOVE TWO LISTS? PLEASE SHARE!
Again as snowbirds, my wife an I are happy whether we are in the Philippines or United States. We believe that “HOME IS NOT A PLACE, BUT IN THE HEART!”.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Meditation Music and Inspiring Quotes

In my search for more relaxation music, I found this one not only very relaxing but the quotes from famous people are also inspiring. I think if you listen to this video, you know exactly what I meant. There are more than a dozen quotes, but my favorite is from George Burns, the comedian,
" You can not help getting old, but you do not have to be old". What's yours?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Latest Update on Power Outages in Marinduque


Here's the latest update on the power outages in Marinduque from Eli Obligacion blog, in case of you have not read it. I found this post very informative and educational.

Monday, October 5, 2009
MARINDUQUE POWER OUTAGES – part 2
WHAT'S REALLY BEHIND ALL THESE?

("Vicious and pernicious" is how Board Member Eleuterio Raza, Jr., Chair, Committe on Rules & Legal Matters of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, rightly describes the power outage situation in Marinduque. It has worsened now with up to 24-hour brownouts. "When will we see the light at the end of the tunnel?", asked BM Jose Alvarez, vice-chair of the said committee, during a public hearing last Thursday, Sept. 30 at the Capitol Session Hall. Alvarez went as far as suggesting that a declaration of a State of Emergency in Marinduque might be an option to consider. Following is the second post on this subject by this blogger).

In a consultation meeting with the Department of Energy and Napocor that transpired in 2004, the Marinduque Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Marelco), opted to have its own New Power Provider (NPP), in the promulgation of DOE’s Circular No. 2004-01-001.

Under this arrangement, Napocor’s function is limited to the maintenance of existing capacity with units at Bantad and Poctoy, including the power barge in Balanacan that was secured in 1997 by Gov. Carrion during his incumbency (1995-1998).


The said existing Napocor units being used today are already too old and their capabilities have greatly diminished. Marinduque requires 6.76 MW at its peak. Current capacity is only 3.1 MW. This has resulted in recurring brownouts lasting up to 24 hours.

The Marelco decision in 2004 to have its own New Power Provider put into place pilot projects for the privatization of the National Power Corp. under the Small Power Utilities Group (NPC-SPUG).

3i POWERGEN, the New Power Provider:

3i Powergen became the New Power Provider for Marinduque on the basis of a contract signed on Sept. 27, 2005, between Marelco, Napocor and the said company with then incumbent government officials, then Cong. Edmundo Reyes, then Gov. Carmencita Reyes and then provincial administrator Luisito Reyes signing as witnesses.

3i Powergen was to introduce a new technology in power generation that will harness wind energy potentials in the island province. It was to utilize Wind-Diesel Hybrid Technology to boost the electric power requirements of Marinduque.

It was to put up a 15.7-mw hybrid wind-diesel plant with investments estimated at P677 million.


The commercial operation of the plant was to start by February 2007. 3i Powergen, however, failed to implement the contract as the company went bankrupt and its financiers have left the country, according to its Vice-President, Domingo Lagundi, and as reported by Marelco itself. (SP Public Hearing, Sept. 30, 2009).

The contract was never implemented, the project never took off. Marelco, however, has remained passive and has not taken up the issue squarely with Napocor and the relevant authorities until today, that would have led to a resolution of this particular issue.

NAPOCOR, the Power Development Entity:

State-owned Napocor at the present time, is still planning to raise money for the financing of its Small Power Utilities Group’s (SPUG) budget to cover next year’s requirements. SPUG is Napocor’s missionary electrification arm, taking on a leading role in planning power development in missionary areas such as Marinduque.


Napocor assesses requirements and prospects for missionary electrification including the program for private sector participation. SPUG operates 304 generating units with a total generated capacity of about 129 MW. It serves 78 small islands and eight off-grid areas or those areas not connected to the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao grids. It provides electricity to 42 customers consisting of 39 electric cooperatives. (manilatimes.net, Sept. 11, 2009; phistar.com, Oct. 5, 2009)

MARELCO, The Power Distributor:

Marinduque Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Marelco), exists as a cooperative under the jurisdiction and control of the National Elecrification Administration (NEA). Marelco is tasked with the distribution of power.

Under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), electric cooperatives are given the option to register either with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Under R.A. 9136, electric cooperatives should enjoy the principles of democratic control, autonomy and independence wherein the general membership assembly is the highest policy and decision-making body empowered to dictate to the cooperative board of director and management what it wants, and not to the whims and caprices of any government agency.

Cooperatives could then thrive as "self-sufficient and independent organizations with minimal government intervention or regulation" as envisioned under the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008.

Further, registration of cooperatives under the CDA would result in the restoration of their exemption status from taxes by local government units (LGUs) on real property, franchise, income, as well as on importation of needed equipment, value-added tax, translating into lower electricity rates for the benefit of the member-customer-owners.

Marelco, however, has opted NOT to register with the Cooperative Development Authority nor the Securities and Exchange Commission and therefore not an independent organization but one subject to the “whims and caprices of any government agency”.

(to be continued)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

All You can Hear are the Sound of the Waves .....

This relaxing video, although filmed in Oahu, Hawaii reminds me of Chateau Du Mer Beach in Boac, Marinduque. You could close your eyes and just listen to the waves. All you can hear are the sound of the waves and your heart beat. Guaranteed to relax you and to forget the worries of the world. Visit Marinduque and stay at Chateau Du Mer!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Finally, Seair Flies to Marinduque


Here's the schedule of SEAIR from Manila to Marinduque and back. I am glad to see Zest Air will now have a competition. This schedule was posted by Sheila Evano in her Face book Notes. Thank you Sheila!

South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) will commence flight for their newest route Manila – Marinduque – Manila this October 17, 2009. Flight frequency and schedules are as follows:

Tuesday, Saturday
Manila – Marinduque DG 385 ETD Manila: 0940H
ETA Marinduque: 1040H
Marinduque – Manila DG 386 ETD Marinduqe: 1100H
ETA Manila: 1200H

Thursday
Manila – Marinduque DG 387 ETD Manila: 1100H
ETA Marinduque: 1200H
Marinduque – Manila DG 388 ETD Marinduqe: 1220H
ETA Manila: 1320H

Sunday
Manila – Marinduque DG 389 ETD Manila: 1300H
ETA Marinduque: 1400H
Marinduque – Manila DG 340 ETD Marinduqe: 1420H
ETA Manila: 1520H

As per SEAIR (www.flyseair.com) website , the LET410 Turbolet is a twin engined short-range transport aircraft manufactured by the Czech aircraft manufacturer LET, mostly used for passenger transport. With more than 1,100 produced, it is the most popular 19-seat plane in history. It provides first class comfort, while simultaneously servicing unpaved airstrips. In the 19-seater class, no plane is better suited for short-haul.

Manufacturer: LET A.S.
Powerplant: M601-E
Length: 14.42 m (47 ft 4 in)
Wingspan: 19.98 m (65 ft 5 in)
Height: 5.83 m 19 ft 2 in)
Seat Capacity: 19 + 2 crew
Number of planes: 6
Max. Take-off Weight: 6,600 kgs (15,520 lbs)
Speed: 175 knots

To book your flight to Marinduque), contact SEAIR CALL CENTER : +632 849.0100

Office: Makati/Manila – Commercial; 2nd Floor La'O Centre, Arnaiz Ave. Makati City, Philippines 1200: Commercial FAX: +63 2 849.0219 Reservation FAX: +63 2 849.0239.

The round trip fares were not published in Sheila's posting but I hope it will be competitive with Zest Air. This means that after October 17, there will be daily flights from Manila to Marinduque and back, since Zest air flies Monday,Wednesday and Friday. This will surely be a boast to Marinduque's tourism business and a convenience for some Marinduque residents, business men and women.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My first Cockfighting Experience in Marinduque


I grew up in the Philippines, until I was 25 years old. But I have never attended a cockfighting tournament. When I was growing up my parents instructed me never to go inside the arena or else I get a beating in the buttocks. However, without my parents knowledge, my friend and I were outside the arena a number of times where there are stalls selling merienda's( Filipino cakes and balot) and other goodies. So outside the arena, I could still remember the noise and commotion inside when the winner is announced in my mind even until today.

It was only two years ago, when we celebrated our Golden wedding anniversary that I attended a cockfighting tournament in Marinduque. This was the first request of my two sons, nephew to be (boy friend of my niece) and son-in-law who all grew up in US. They have heard and read about it, so they were really curious. So the first Sunday of their visit in Marinduque, I took them to my first cockfighting experience. We were accompanied by a local relative who was a cockfighting enthusiast and a semi-addict of this bloody sport and gambling activity in the Philippines.

WOW! What an experience! The crowds were 99.9% male. There were only three women out of about 300 gamblers. My son-in-law and "nephew to be" were the only white-skinned males(gringos) in the crowd. Of course my son-in-law who is 6 feet and 6 inches tall stuck out like a sore thumb with his height and bald head. At first I really did not understand what was going on, as the attendees were all shouting their bets to the bet taker almost at the same time. But I heard the bet taker never makes a mistake. What a memory! There were two sides, MAYRON or WALA. When I was growing up, the two opposing sides were “ SA PULA and SA PUTI”.

MAYRON means you have something and WALA means you have nothing. PULA means red and PUTI means white, indicating the opposite color of the roosters. But sometimes the roosters have the same color, so this was abandoned to the current mayron or wala as the two opposing sides.

Anyway, the noise was so deafening once a winner or a “kill” was declared. It sounded like a thousand males had an orgasmic experience all at the same time. It was so loud, that I had to cover my ears. I enjoyed more watching the antics of the crowd than the actual cockfights except for the moment of kill. After a few of these bouts, I got tired, so I went outside the arena. In the meantime, my guests were betting and enjoying themselves. We stayed for only about an hour since I was getting tired due to the noise, the heat and humidity in the arena. My son won about $10, but my son-in-law lost $15. They had a grand and fantastic time. I did not!

I will never attend a cockfighting tournament again, I just don't like the gambling atmosphere and the smell of the place(amoy pawis). My preference in gambling are the casinos not the cockfighting tournaments. It was however, an experience worthy of posting in this blog. Cockfighting also reminded me of bull fighting in Spain, that I attended about ten years ago. I loved the bull fights, not the cock fights.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Our Time Share and Exchange Experiences

The Ridge Resort, Lake Tahoe, Nevada( Our Home Resort)

Some time in the mid 1990's, Macrine and I purchased a time share at the Five Star, Ridge Resort in Lake Tahoe. Nevada. The resort is located at an elevation of 7342 feet above sea level. On the east side of the 8th floor of our 2 bedroom condo unit, you have a view of Lake Tahoe and on the west side the small town of Minden , Nevada. We purchased this time share not intentionally, but we were persuaded by the high pressure sale pitches of the aggressive sale personnel. They offered us a free dinner for two by just attending their one hour sales presentation and tour of the resort facilities. At that time most of the resorts time sharing program had no options for exchanges to other resorts. But the Ridge has that flexibility, so we signed up for a 2-bedroom unit for one week every year. We could exchange this to other five star resorts all over the world as long as they participate in the Interval International (II)Time Share Exchange Program. Since our purchase, we have exchanged our time share in Marbella, Spain, Cancun, Mexico. Puerto Rico, Aruba, Las Vegas, Nevada, Maui, Kawaii and the big Island of Hawaii. We had a grand time and fantastic vacations staying in five star resorts/hotel equivalent to The Ridge at the above places.

However, lately, I found it hard to exchange it via II, even with resorts in the Philippines. So, this year we spent our week at our home resort, The Ridge at Lake Tahoe. This occurred last week, while news of monsoon rains devastated Manila(Ondoy) and followed by a typhoon bound for Northern Luzon(Pepeng). Our prayers to those who died in these disasters. Marinduque International, Inc is in the process of raising funds to help typhoon victims in our beloved province of Marinduque.
The view from our 8th floor unit of Minden, Nevada and other buildings in the Resort

In Lake Tahoe last week, the first two days the weather was perfect. Then on Wednesday it snowed and the wind was howling at about 50 mph the top of the Daggit Summit where the resort is located. So we stayed indoors that day. But the next day, the weather turned bright and sunny again. In the meantime, we did a little casino gambling every day except Wednesday. At the end of the week, both Macrine and I lost only $200 each, not bad for 5 days of gambling for four hours each day. Macrine played the Slots and I played Pai Gao Poker.

Purchasing a vacation time share is not for everybody, especially if you do not plan your vacation ahead of time. To insure and take advantage of the exchange program flexibility, you need to be organized. With our time share, my wife and I just can not travel at the spur of the moment or if there is a promo package offered by travel agencies. Our vacation time is tied up to our time share program. Moreover, before you could exchange you need to reserve your week, then deposit it to II. After that you need to tell II to exchange it, listing three resorts and three time periods. This is the one that takes a long time, especially if the resorts you selected are popular resorts and the time periods are the busy vacation season. Owning a time share do not really save you vacation money as the sales pitches proclaimed. However, with your time share program you stay in four or five star resorts, that otherwise you can not afford or willing to pay on your own. In addition, you have the flexibility to choose places all over the world. There are over a thousand resorts listed in the Interval International Directory available for exchange. However, popular vacations spots such as Hawaii, San Francisco or France are hard to get, even if you reserved two years ahead. Availability of resorts are posted in the Internet on first come, first serve basis. So if you have the patience of Job, you may be able to get an exchange that fits your time and need. As an example, last year, I wanted to exchange my time share with a 2-bedroom unit in Las Vegas right on the Strip. I was doing this in the computer. There were about five hotels on the Strip with one bedroom units available on the week that I wanted, but no two bedroom unit. I waited for another ten minutes and surfed again. To my surprise a 2-bedroom unit was available on a hotel right on the Strip but I have only 15 minutes to complete the transaction. I completed the transaction in 10 minutes and within 20 minutes, I received a confirmation via e-mail. I was lucky and had the patience of Job surfing in the Internet. Otherwise, I may have to be content with a one bedroom unit not close to the Strip.

So what is my recommendation? If you are someone who do not plan ahead and do not have the patience of Job, do not purchase a time share. In addition, time share will cost you maintenance fees that gets higher every year. Put your vacation money in the bank or invest it. When the time comes for your vacation, then that is the time to get your money. Enjoy your vacation to a place that you choose and the time that is convenient for you and your love ones. Try vacationing in Marinduque, Philippines where your hard-earned dollars will go a long way. Stay at Chateau Du Mer Beach House for as low as $25 per day per person including meals (http://chateaudumer.blogspot.com).

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