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!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Forth Worth-Dallas, Texas and Vicinity



One of the perks and benefits working for FDA is attending an annual meeting of the American Chemical Society. In the mid 1990's, I attended one in Forth Worth-Dallas, Texas. This is a part of our continuing education program for chemist reviewers and team leaders. Again, Macrine was not able to join me. I stayed at a Hotel in the Cow Palace Stock Yard in Forth Worth. I did not have a lot of free time to tour the area except for a short visit to The Six Flags for half a day, Mckinney trolley and just drove around the downtown area. Below is a video, a must see if you have never been to Dallas-Forth Worth area.

Dallas is the second largest city in Texas. Together, the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex offers visitors a variety of attractions and activities that simply can't be found elsewhere. From world-class zoos and museums to Texas-sized honky-tonks, the DFW area has it all. The top ten attractions recommended for tourists and visitors in the area are as follows:

1. Six Flags-Open year around, Six Flags Over Texas has been on forefront of them park entertainment for decades and offers rides, shows, and more to Dallas area visitors.

2. Texas Stadium-Home to the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Stadium also hosts a variety of other sporting and entertainment events. However, even when there isn't an event, visitors flock to Texas Stadium for tours.

3. Dallas Zoo-Visit animals from around the world in award winning natural habitats at the Dallas Zoo. During the summer months, visitors can even ride a monorail around the zoo grounds.

4. Dallas Arboretum-Located on White Rock Lake, just outside of downtown Dallas, the Arboretum features colorful gardens all year long. Tours are available daily. The Arboretum is also available for weddings and other private functions.

5. Medieval Times-An 11th-century style castle with a fish-filled moat is just the setting for the unique experience of an evening spent at Medieval Times.

6. McKinney Trolley-Dallas' McKinny Trolley is a historical trolley system, which recreates how a real trolley system of the early to mid-20th century looked and operated.

7. Billy Bob's-With close to 3 acres under one roof, Billy Bob's is certainly "Texas size." The massive nightclub is host to top country music acts, professional bullriding, and plenty of dancing.

8. Sixth Floor Museum-This museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating information on John F. Kennedy's life, career, assassination and death. Located on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building - the very spot the sniper's gun was found - the Sixth Floor Museum let's you gain a feel for how things happened in 1963.

9. National Cowgirl Hall of Fame-A one of a kind museum, Fort Worth's National Cowgirl Hall of Fame features exhibits and memorabilia honoring the 'gals of the west.

10. Ft. Worth Zoo-Visitors to the Ft. Worth Zoo will be transfixed by its wonderful exhibits, ranging from Raptor Canyon to Koala Outback, and attractions such as Tasmanian Tower and their virtual safari.

Note: This is No. 26 ( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that I had visited in the US since 1960.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-City of Brotherly Love


Another city that I visited because of an American Chemical Society Meeting was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania way back in the mid 1980's. Again, Macrine was not able to join me, because of conflict on her work schedule. I did enjoy walking and window shopping at South Sreet and Society Hill. I also saw the famous Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and The Statue of Benjamen Franklin. I did enjoyed my 5 days visit of this historic city.
Philadelphia (pronounced /ˌfɪləˈdɛlfiə/) is the largest city in Pennsylvania, sixth-most-populous city in the United States and the fifty-first most populous city in the world. In 2008, the population of the city proper was estimated to be more than 1.54 million, while the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area's population of 5.8 million made it the country's fifth largest. The city, which lies about 45 miles (72 km) southwest of New York City, is the nation's fourth-largest urban area by population and its fourth-largest consumer media market, as ranked by the Nielsen Media Research.

It is the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. Popular nicknames for Philadelphia include Philly and The City of Brotherly Love, from the literal meaning of the city's name in Greek (Greek: Φιλαδέλφεια (/pʰilaˈdelpʰeːa/, Modern Greek: /filaˈðɛlfia/) "brotherly love", compounded from philos (φίλος) "love", and adelphos (ἀδελφός) "brother").

A commercial, educational, and cultural center, Philadelphia was once the second-largest city in the British Empire(after London), and the social and geographical center of the original 13 American colonies. It was a centerpiece of early American history, host to many of the ideas and actions that gave birth to the American Revolution and Independence. It was the most populous city of the young United States, although by the first census in 1790, New York City had overtaken it. Philadelphia served as one of the nation's many capitals during the Revolutionary War and after. After the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the city served as the temporary national capital from 1790 to 1800 while Washington, D.C., was under construction. Here's a tour of the city and the Amish country of Lancaster. It will be worth your time to view this video, if you have not been to Philadelphia and surrounding area.

Philadelphia is central to African American history. Many of its larger suburbs such as Chester, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; Camden, New Jersey; and Trenton, New Jersey (sometimes included in the New York metropolitan area) have African American majorities. This community has been large since before the Great Migration, and despite area civil rights gains, continues to be affected by poverty and high crime. The area, in common with most of Pennsylvania, also has a very large population of Italian Americans.

Note: This is No.25( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the Katague Family had visited or resided in US since 1960.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Boston, Massachussetts and Vicinity


I attended another American Chemical Society Meeting in Boston, MA way back in the late 1970's. This was another city, that Macrine was not able to join me because of her job status. So without Macrine, my fellow FDA employees toured the city and surrounding vicinity before and after our meeting sessions. I did enjoy the historic monuments and antique homes and mansions and partake Maine Lobsters in one of the city famous seafood restaurants. We visited Faneuil Hall, a well-known stop on the Freedom Trail, sometimes called "the Cradle of Liberty" because of its role in the American Revolution. Boston is the city in America that is almost an extension of Europe.
Boston (pronounced /ˈbɒstən/ (help·info)) is the capital and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. Boston city proper had a 2009 estimated population of 645,169, making it the twentieth largest in the country. Boston is also the anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area called Greater Boston, home to 4.5 million people and the tenth-largest metropolitan area in the country. Greater Boston as a commuting region includes six Massachusetts counties, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, and Worcester, all of Rhode Island and parts of New Hampshire; it is home to 7.5 million people, making it the fifth-largest Combined Statistical Area in the United States.

Boston shares many cultural roots with greater New England, including a dialect of the non-rhotic Eastern New England accent known as Boston English, and a regional cuisine with a large emphasis on seafood, salt, and dairy products. Irish Americans are a major influence on Boston's politics and religious institutions. Boston also has its own collection of neologisms known as Boston slang.The city has a number of ornate theatres, including the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston Opera House, Citi Performing Arts Center, the Colonial Theater, and the Orpheum Theatre. Renowned performing-arts organizations include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Ballet, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Lyric Opera Company, OperaBoston, and the Handel and Haydn Society (one of the oldest choral companies in the United States). The city is also a major center for contemporary classical music, with a number of performing groups, some of which are associated with the city's conservatories and universities. There are also many major annual events such as First Night, which occurs on New Year's Eve, the annual Boston Arts Festival at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, Italian summer feasts in the North End honoring Catholic saints, and several events during the Fourth of July period. These events include the week-long Harborfest festivities and a Boston Pops concert accompanied by fireworks on the banks of the Charles River.

Because of the city's prominent role in the American Revolution, several historic sites relating to that period are preserved as part of the Boston National Historical Park. Many are found along the Freedom Trail, which is marked by a red line of bricks embedded in the ground. The city is also home to several prominent art museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In December 2006, the Institute of Contemporary Art moved from its Back Bay location to a new contemporary building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro located in the Seaport District. The University of Massachusetts campus at Columbia Point houses the John F. Kennedy Library. The Boston Athenaeum (one of the oldest independent libraries in the United States), Boston Children's Museum, Bull & Finch Pub (whose building is known from the television show Cheers), Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium are within the city.



Boston has been a noted religious center from its earliest days. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston serves nearly 300 parishes and is based in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross (1875) in the South End, while the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, with the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (1819) as its episcopal seat, serves just under 200 congregations. Two Protestant faiths are headquartered in Boston: Unitarian Universalism, with its headquarters on Beacon Hill, and the Christian Scientists, headquartered in Back Bay at the Mother Church (1894). The oldest church in Boston is King's Chapel, the city's first Anglican church, founded in 1686 and converted to Unitarianism in 1785. Other notable churches include Christ Church (better known as Old North Church, 1723), the oldest church building in the city, Trinity Church (1733), Park Street Church (1809), First Church in Boston (congregation founded 1630, building raised 1868), Old South Church (1874), and Mission Hill's Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (1878).
Here's a video on the sites and sound of this beautiful and historic city.


Note: This is No. 24 (Part 1) of a series of articles on the places that I had visited in the US since 1960.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are the Full Body Scanners in your Airport?


Are you in favor of the use of full body scanner in airports? Do you think it is an invasion of privacy? Should it be mandatory or optional? Look at the video below and judge for yourself.


Here's the latest news on this subject from Justicenewsflash.com.by Sandra Quinlan.
Memphis Pilot Refuses Full-Body Scan, Pat-Down; Stands Up for Privacy Rights

Memphis, TN—A commercial pilot is taking time off work and seeking legal counsel after he refused to walk through a full-body scanner at Memphis International Airport, as reported by WMCTV. The pilot, who declined a pat-down as well, maintained that while airport security is indeed imperative, a system that does not infringe upon individuals privacy or civil rights should be established.

According to Michael Roberts, “I did exactly what I’ve done for the last four-and-a-half years to get to work, but this time they wanted to put their hands on me… They wanted me to take off my shoes and go through the scanner, and I told them I didn’t want to go through the scanner.”

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents then told him he would need to go through a secondary screening to pass through security, a pat-down.

He also rejected the secondary screening. “The bottom line is, I’m not especially comfortable with being frisked by an agent of the federal government everyday on my way to work,” the ExpressJet Airlines pilot said.

After the incident, TSA agents asked Roberts for his driver’s license, supervisor’s name, and ExpressJet Airline’s phone number, informing him that they would be filing a report with the Transportation Security Operations Center.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Orleans, Louisiana and Vicinity


Macrine and I visited New Orleans in the late 1970's during an American Chemical Society Meeting. We stayed at the Hyatt Hotel just across the Louisiana Superdome and Convention Center. During the day, I attend the meeting, but after 5PM we were free to enjoy Bourbon Street and the French Quarters. We also took the bus tour of the city and surrounding areas. We attended a jazz concert. We saw the raised cemetery plots( above-ground tombs), antique homes and shoppes. It was a week to remember. Although, it was not Mardi Gras when we visited the city, there was always a long line during lunch and dinner time. We did enjoy the hurricane rum drinks and the ethnic Creole dishes.

New Orleans has many major attractions, from the world-renowned French Quarter and Bourbon Street's notorious nightlife to St. Charles Avenue (home of Tulane and Loyola Universities, the historic Pontchartrain Hotel, and many 19th century mansions), to Magazine Street, with its many boutique stores and antique shops.
According to current travel guides, New Orleans is one of the top ten most visited cities in the United States; 10.1 million visitors came to New Orleans in 2004, and the city was on pace to break that level of visitation in 2005. Prior to Katrina, there were 265 hotels with 38,338 rooms in the Greater New Orleans Area. In May 2007 there were over 140 hotels and motels in operation with over 31,000 rooms.

A 2009 Travel + Leisure poll of "America's Favorite Cities" ranked New Orleans first in ten categories, the most first-place rankings of the 30 cities included. According to the poll, New Orleans is the best U.S. city as a spring break destination and for "wild weekends," stylish boutique hotels, cocktail hours, singles/bar scenes, live music/conerts and bands, antique and vintage shops, cafés/coffee bars, neighborhood restaurants, and people-watching. The city also ranked second for gay friendliness (behind San Francisco, California), friendliness (behind Charleston, South Carolina), bed and bath hotels and inns, and ethnic food. However the city was voted last in terms of active residents and near the bottom in cleanliness, safety, and as a family destination.

The French Quarter (known locally as "the Quarter" or Vieux Carré), which dates from the French and Spanish eras and is bounded by the Mississippi River, Rampart Street, Canal Street, and Esplanade Avenue, contains many popular hotels, bars, and nightclubs. Notable tourist attractions in the Quarter include Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the French Market (including Café du Monde, famous for café au lait and beignets) and Preservation Hall. To tour the port, one can ride the Natchez, an authentic steamboat with a calliope, which cruises the Mississippi the length of the city twice daily. The city's many beautiful cemeteries and their distinct above-ground tombs are often attractions in themselves, the oldest and most famous of which, Saint Louis Cemetery, greatly resembles Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Also located in the French Quarter is the old New Orleans Mint, a former branch of the United States Mint, which now operates as a museum, and The Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum and research center housing art and artifacts relating to the history of New Orleans and the Gulf South. The National World War II Museum, opened in the Warehouse District in 2000 as the "National D-Day Museum", is dedicated to providing information and materials related to the Invasion of Normandy. Nearby, Confederate Memorial Hall, the oldest continually operating museum in Louisiana (although under renovation since Katrina), contains the second-largest collection of Confederate memorabilia in the world. Art museums in the city include the Contemporary Arts Center, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

New Orleans also boasts a decidedly natural side. It is home to the Audubon Nature Institute (which consists of Audubon Park, the Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium of the Americas, and the Audubon Insectarium), as well as gardens that include Longue Vue House and Gardens and the New Orleans Botanical Garden. City Park, one of the country's most expansive and visited urban parks, has one of the largest (if not the largest) stands of oak trees in the world. There are also various points of interest in the surrounding areas. Many wetlands are in close proximity to the city, including Honey Island Swamp. Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery, located just south of the city, is the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.

New Orleans is almost synonymous to Hurricane Katrina(2005). New Orleans was catastrophically impacted by the failure of the Federal levee system during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. By the time the hurricane approached the city at the end of August 2005, most residents had evacuated. As the hurricane passed through the Gulf Coast region, the city's federal flood protection system failed, resulting in the worst civil engineering disaster in American history. Floodwalls and levees constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers failed below design specifications and 80% of the city flooded. Tens of thousands of residents who had remained in the city were rescued or otherwise made their way to shelters of last resort at the Louisiana Superdome or the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Over 1,500 people died in Louisiana and some are still unaccounted for. Hurricane Katrina called for the first mandatory evacuation in the city's history, the second of which came 3 years later with Hurricane Gustav.

Note: This is No.23 (Part 1) of a series of articles that the Katague Family had visited in the US since 1960.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

San Antonio, Texas and The Alamo


I attended an American Chemical Society Meeting in San Antonio in the mid 1980's. Macrine was not able to join me because of her new job as a visiting nurse. At that time the Tower of Americas was still on the planning stage. I stayed in the Alamo Victorian Hotel next door to the Alamo. All our meetings were in the Convention Center, just a walking distance from my hotel. I enjoy the River Walk and the River Rides. San Antonio reminds me of Venice, Italy. I love San Antonio and would not mind visiting it again.

The City of San Antonio (pronounced /ˌsænænˈtoʊni.oʊ/) is the second-largest city in the American state of Texas and the seventh-largest city in the United States, with a population of 1.4 million. The city is the seat of Bexar County. Located in the American Southwest and the northern part of South Texas, San Antonio is the center of Tejano culture and Texas tourism. The city is characteristic of other Southwest urban centers in which there are sparsely populated areas and a low density rate outside of the city. It was the fourth-fastest growing large city in the nation from 2000 to 2006 and the fifth-fastest-growing from 2007 to 2008. The San Antonio–New Braunfels metropolitan area has a population of nearly 2.1 million based on the 2009 U.S. Census estimate, making it the 28th-largest metropolitan area in the U.S and third in Texas.

The city was named for the Portuguese St. Anthony, whose feast day is on June 13, when a Spanish expedition stopped in the area in 1691. Famous for Spanish missions, the Alamo, the River Walk, the Tower of the Americas, the Alamo Bowl, and host to SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme parks, the city is visited by approximately 26 million tourists per year according to the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city is home to the four-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs and the annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, one of the largest in the country.
San Antonio has a strong military presence—it is home to Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base, and Brooks City-Base, with Camp Bullis and Camp Stanley outside the city. Kelly Air Force Base operated out of San Antonio until 2001, when the airfield was transferred over to Lackland AFB and the remaining portions of the base became Port San Antonio, an industrial/business park. San Antonio is home to five Fortune 500 companies and to the South Texas Medical Center, the only medical research and care provider in the South Texas region.

Here's a scene from the movie "The Alamo". I love the violin solo in this scene.


San Antonio is synonymous to the Alamo. It is a must visit for all tourists to the City. More than 2.5 million people a year visit the 4.2 acre complex known worldwide as "The Alamo." Most come to see the old mission where a small band of Texans held out for thirteen days against the Centralist army of General Antonio López de Santa Anna. Although the Alamo fell in the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, the death of the Alamo Defenders has come to symbolize courage and sacrifice for the cause of Liberty. The memories of James Bowie, David Crockett, and William B. Travis are as powerful today as when the Texan Army under Sam Houston shouted "Remember the Alamo!" as it routed Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. The Alamo has been managed by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas since 1905. Located on Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio, Texas, the Alamo represents nearly 300 years of history. Three buildings - the Shrine, Long Barrack Museum and Gift Museum - house exhibits on the Texas Revolution and Texas History. Visitors are welcome to stroll through the beautiful Alamo Gardens. Just a short distance from the River Walk, the Alamo is a "must see" for all who come to San Antonio.

Note: This is No.22 (Part 1) of a series of articles of the places that I have visited in the US since 1960.

Monday, October 25, 2010

One week of Summer Vacation in Ocean City, Maryland


Due to the proximity of Ocean City from our residence in Colesville, MD(less than 2hours drive), It was a pleasure taking one week of our summer vacation to this beach town when I was still working at FDA. We rented a one bedroom condo owned by a co-worker in FDA. It was a relaxing week and we got to see the surrounding vicinity including the wild horses of Assataugue Island and drove up north to Bethany Beach, Delaware. On our way from Colesvilles, we stopped at the beautiful towns of Easton and Cambrigde for a brief sightseeing tour of the antique homes.


We enjoyed the board walk and the beach and feasted on Maryland Crabs. Eating Maryland crabs is hard work if you are used to eating Dungeness crabs of San Francisco. But the Maryland crab's meat is sweeter and tastier than the Dungeness meat which reminds me of the crabs in Iloilo, Philippines where I grew up. If you like to play golf, Ocean City is the place for you. Here's a video about the sights and sounds and things to do in Ocean City.


Ocean City, sometimes known as OC, or OCMD, is an Atlantic Ocean resort town in Worcester County, Maryland, United States. Ocean City is widely known in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and is a frequent destination for vacationers in that area. The population was 7,173 at the 2000 census, although during summer weekends the city hosts between 320,000 and 345,000 vacationers.

Today, the Ocean City area continues to sprawl westward across the bay and toward Berlin and Ocean Pines. It is part of the Ocean Pines Micropolitan Statistical Area. The resort area now accommodates hundreds of thousands of vacationers a year.
Ocean City now extends just over 9 miles (~15 km) from the southern inlet to the Delaware line. The strip now supports hotels, motels, apartment houses, shopping centers, residential communities, and condominiums. The southern tip houses the Ocean City Boardwalk. The boardwalk is the main shopping district and entertainment area of the town. The boardwalk has many prominent businesses including Fisher's Caramel Popcorn & Thrashers French Fries. Other notable boardwalk businesses are Dollies Salt Water Taffy, the Atlantic Stand & Dumser's Dairyland. The Boardwalk has two amusement parks, Trimpers Rides and The Pier, which was recently renamed Jolly Roger at The Pier, after its sister uptown local amusement park. The downtown neighborhood is marked by Victorian style houses and other older buildings, many of which have been razed in recent years to construct more parking lots, hotels and condos.

The firefighter memorial is located on the boardwalk. Ocean City has a long history of fishing, both commercial and recreational. The town bills itself as the "White Marlin Capital of the World." During the summer numerous charter and private boats fish for billfish, tuna, wahoo, and other game fish. In early August, one of the largest fishing tournaments in the world, the White Marlin Open, is held. Prize money for the largest White Marlin, Blue Marlin, and Tuna can range over 1 million dollars.
Aerial View of Ocean City, Maryland
The town supports a year-round population of about 8,000, with the town itself being a major employer. Summer employment in Ocean City rises many multiples above that level, supported by a large number of college-age and young adults - many native to Eastern Europe and the United Kingdom - attracted by numerous job opportunities. In the summer, businesses and government agencies are augmented with about 100 seasonal police officers, plus extra firefighters and other workers.

Tourism in the winter has picked up pace. Where once even many traffic lights were shut down or bagged up, increased traffic from golfers and Ocean City Convention Center conventions has convinced many seasonal restaurants and hotels to remain open. Many bars and restaurants that close during the winter re-open for St. Patrick's Day.
The Board Walk
The city has erected a memorial to the firefighters who lost their lives on September 11. This memorial is located on the boardwalk, about six blocks from the inlet. The memorial consists of a firefighter statue, engraved brick and stone, and a piece of one of the twin towers that collapsed in New York City.

Note: This is No.21 ( Part 1) of a series of articles on the places that the Katague Family had resided or visited in the US since 1960.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wine Tasting Escapade to Napa Valley



Macrine and I had driven a number relatives from the Philippines to the Napa Valley a couple of times when we were still residing in Pinole, CA in the late 1980's. We have been to a few wineries but the top ten we enjoyed most are as follows: Here are the name of the wineries, telephone numbers, address, time of operation and other details, just in case you have the urge for a wine tasting escapade in the Napa Valley. View this video first, before you read my top ten wineries.

1. Beringer Vineyards tel. +1 707.963.4812 2000 Main Street St. Helena, CA 94574
Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Cost: $ $5 - $20

2. Black Stallion Winery tel. +1 888-BSW-NAPA 4089 Silverado Trail Napa, CA 94558
Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Cost: $ $10; Reserve $30
Two for One Tasting Coupon!

3. Mumm Napa tel. +1 707.967.7700 tel. +1 800.686.6272 8445 Silverado Trail Rutherford, CA 94573 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 4:45 pm Cost: $ $6 to $25
VIP Pass-2 for 1 Tour
The Wine Enthusiast Magazine calls Mumm Napa one of "America's Best Tasting Rooms". noted for outstanding sparkling wines, friendly staff, and photography galleries.

4. Silverado Vineyards tel. +1 707.257.1770 tel. +1 800.997.1770 6121 Silverado Trail Napa, CA 94558 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cost: $ Varies

5. Domaine Carneros by Taittinger tel. +1 707.257.0101 1240 Duhig Road Napa, CA 94559
Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm Cost: $ $7.00 and up

6. Domaine Chandon tel. +1 707.944.8844 tel. +1 800-736-2892 One California Drive Yountville, CA 94599 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am 6:00 pm Cost: $ $16 & Members Free

7. Louis M. Martini Winery tel. +1 707.968.3361 tel. +1 800.321. WINE 254 S. St. Helena Hwy St. Helena, CA 94574 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Cost: $ $15-$30 Members Free

8. Robert Mondavi Winery tel. +1 707.968.2001 tel. +1 1-888-766-6328 ext 1 or 2
7801 St. Helena Highway Oakville, CA 94562
Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Cost: $ $15-$30
Complimentary Tasting Offer

9. Sterling Vineyards tel. +1 707.942.3344 tel. +1 800.726.6136
1111 Dunaweal Lane Calistoga, CA 94515 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm
Cost: $ 30 Resrve;$35-40 VIP
Discount Passport-$5 off

10. William Hill Estate Winery tel. +1 707 265 3024 1761 Atlas Peak Road Napa, CA 94558 Tasting Room - Yes hrs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Cost: $ $12-25, members free
2 for 1 Tasting Flight Coupon



Napa County is a county located north of the San Francisco Bay Area in the U.S. state of California. It is coterminous with the Napa, California, Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2000 the population is 124,279. The county seat is Napa. Napa County was one of the original counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Parts of the county's territory were given to Lake County in 1861. The word napa is of Native American derivation and has been variously translated as "grizzly bear", "house", "motherland", and "fish". Of the many explanations of the name's origin, the most plausible seems to be that it is derived from the Patwin word napo meaning house, although local residents will often cite an urban legend that gives the translation as "you will always return".

Napa County, once the producer of many different crops, is known today for its wine industry, rising in the 1960s to the first rank of wine regions with France, Italy, and Spain.

Note: This is No.20 ( Part 1) of the series of articles that Macrine and I had visited or resided here in US since 1960.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Vicinity



We visited Williamsburg and Virginia Beach via Our International Interval Vacation Exchange Program in the mid 1990's. One day in Colonial Williamsburgh was not enough. This historic area is a must visit for history enthusiasts and students of US history. It is the biggest living museum in the US.

Williamsburg is well-known for Colonial Williamsburg, the restored Historic Area of the city, and for the adjacent College of William & Mary, established in 1693, the second-oldest university in the United States. Nearby, and established in 1770, the predecessor of the current Eastern State Hospital is considered to have been the earliest mental hospital in the United States.

The Historic Triangle of Virginia, which also includes Jamestown and Yorktown, is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with Williamsburg located in the center. The three are linked by the National Park Service's Colonial Parkway, a 23-mile-long (37 km) National Scenic Byway which is carefully shielded from views of commercial development. The toll-free Jamestown Ferry is located at the southern end of the Colonial Parkway. State Route 5, another scenic byway, links Williamsburg and Richmond. Here's a video about this living museum.



Most highway travelers reach Williamsburg via nearby Interstate 64, U.S. Route 60, and State Route 143, each major east-west highways. Commercial airline service is available at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (20 miles), and at Richmond and Norfolk airports (both 55 miles away). All are located along I-64 and offer limousine service to Williamsburg, as well as rental cars.



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Virginia Beach is the easternmost city of Hampton Roads that make up the core of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA. This area, known as "America's First Region", also includes the independent cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as other smaller cities, counties and towns of Hampton Roads.

Virginia Beach is a resort city with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels, and restaurants along its oceanfront. Every year the city hosts the East Coast Surfing Championships as well as the North American Sand Soccer Championship, a beach soccer tournament. It is also home to several state parks, several long-protected beach areas, three military bases, a number of large corporations, two universities, and numerous historic sites. Near the point where the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, Cape Henry was the site of the first landing of the English colonists, who eventually settled in Jamestown, on April 26, 1607.

The city is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the longest pleasure beach in the world. It is located at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the longest bridge-tunnel complex in the world.

Here's a short video taken on the Virginia Beach Board Walk areas. I love this Board Walk (not commercialized) a lot than the one in Atlantic City, New Jersey or Santa Cruz, California.



Note: This is No.19( Part 1) of a series of articles that the Katague Family had visited or resided in US since 1960.

Friday, October 22, 2010

North Carolina Outer Banks and Vicinity


Macrine and I spent a weekend in Nags Heads, North Carolina in the mid 1990's. A couple friend from Washington,D.C. invited us to their summer home one weekend. We drove all the way to the Cape Hatteras Light House and on the way we passed by Virginia Beach. We also visited the Wright Brothers museum and also the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum. It was a fun sight seeing trip although it took us about six hours drive from our house in Colsville, Maryland. The weather was perfect since there was no hurricane warning at the time of our visit.

The Outer Banks (also known as OBX) is a 200-mile (320-km) long string of narrow barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, beginning in the southeastern corner of Virginia Beach on the east coast of the United States. They cover approximately half the northern North Carolina coastline, separating the Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.

The Outer Banks is a major tourist destination and is known for its temperate climate and wide expanse of open beachfront. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore has four campgrounds where visitors may camp.

The Wright brothers' first flight in a powered, heavier-than-air vehicle took place on the Outer Banks on December 17, 1903, at Kill Devil Hills near the seafront town of Kitty Hawk. The Wright Brothers National Monument commemorates the historic flights, and First Flight Airport is a small, general-aviation airfield located there.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The treacherous seas off the Outer Banks and the large number of shipwrecks that have occurred there have given these seas the nickname Graveyard of the Atlantic. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is located in Hatteras Village near the United States Coast Guard facility and Hatteras ferry.

Geography

The Outer Banks is a series of islands: from north to south — Bodie Island, Roanoke Island, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island. The Outer Banks is considered to be the areas of coastal Currituck County, Dare County, and Hyde County. Some consider the Outer Banks to stretch as far south as Cape Lookout including portions of Carteret County. Areas south of Cape Lookout in Carteret County are considered the Crystal Coast, which for tourism purposes has been coined the "Southern Outer Banks", but geographically is generally not considered part of the Outer Banks. The northern part of the Outer Banks, from Oregon Inlet northward, is usually considered part of the North American mainland, although it is technically separated by the Intracoastal Waterway, which passes through the Great Dismal Swamp occupying much of the mainland west of the Outer Banks. Road access to the northern Outer Banks ends in Corolla, North Carolina, with communities such as Carova Beach accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles. North Carolina State Highway 12 links most of the popular Outer Banks communities. The easternmost point is Cape Point at Cape Hatteras on Hatteras Island, site of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Typical Vacation House in Nags Head, North Carolina

The Outer Banks is not anchored to offshore coral reefs like some other barrier islands and as a consequence often suffers significant beach erosion during major storms. In fact, its location jutting out into the Atlantic makes it the most hurricane-prone area north of Florida, for both landfalling storms and brushing storms offshore. Hatteras Island was cut in half on September 18, 2003, when Hurricane Isabel washed a 3,000 foot (900 m) wide and 30 foot (9 m) deep channel called Isabel Inlet through the community of Hatteras Village on the southern end of the island. The tear was subsequently repaired and restored by sand dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Note: This is No. 18 ( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the Katague Family had visited or resided in US since 1960.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Miami Beach, Florida

Miami South Beach on a typical Winter Day
Macrine and I had been to Miami Beach twice in the early 1980's during the American Chemical Society Meeting. We stayed at the well-known Fontainebleau Hotel. One evening there was a dance contest. We participated and won 3rd place in the CHA CHA. We also toured the Deco District and South Beach described in detail below.

Miami Beach is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. The city was incorporated on March 26, 1915. It is located on a barrier island between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean; the Bay separates Miami Beach from the city of Miami, Florida. The city is often referred to under the umbrella term of "Miami", despite being a distinct municipality. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 87,933. 55.5% of the population was foreign born. A 2005 population estimate for the city was 87,925. Miami Beach has been one of America's pre-eminent beach resorts for almost a century.
The Fontainebleau Hotel and Resort

In 1979 Miami Beach's Art Deco Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Art Deco District is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world and comprises hundreds of hotels, apartments and other structures erected between 1923 and 1943. Mediterranean, Streamline Moderne and Art Deco are all represented in the District. The Historic District is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the East, Lenox Court on the West, 6th Street on the South and Dade Boulevard along the Collins Canal to the North. The movement to preserve the Art Deco District's architectural heritage was led by former interior designer Barbara Capitman, who now has a street in the District named in her honor.

Image and cultural depictions

South Beach (also known as SoBe, or simply The Beach, the area from 1st street to about 25th street) is one of the more popular areas of Miami Beach. Topless sunbathing is legal on certain designated areas of the beach. Before the TV show Miami Vice helped make the area popular, SoBe was under urban blight, with vacant buildings and a high crime rate. Today, it is considered one of the richest commercial areas on the beach, yet poverty and crime still remain in some places near the area. Miami Beach, particularly Ocean Drive of what is now the Art Deco District, was also featured prominently in the 1983 feature film Scarface and The Birdcage. The New World Symphony Orchestra is based in Miami Beach, Florida, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

Lincoln Road, running east-west between 16th and 17th Streets, is a nationally known spot for great outdoor dining, bicycling, rollerblading and shopping and features and galleries of well known designers, artists and photographers such as Romero Britto, Peter Lik, and Jonathan Adler.

Jewish population

Miami Beach is home to a number of Orthodox Jewish communities with a network of well-established synagogues and yeshivas, in addition to a liberal Jewish community containing such famous synagogues as Temple Emanu-El (Miami Beach, Florida) and Cuban Hebrew Congregation. It is also a magnet for Jewish families, retirees, and particularly snowbirds when the cold winter sets in to the north. They range from the Modern Orthodox to the Haredi and Hasidic – including many rebbes who vacation there during the North American winter.

There are a number of kosher restaurants and even kollels for post-graduate Talmudic scholars, such as the Miami Beach Community Kollel. Miami Beach had roughly 60,000 people in Jewish households, 62 percent of the total population, in 1982, but only 16,500, or 19 percent of the population, in 2004, said Ira Sheskin, a demographer at the University of Miami who conducts surveys once a decade. Miami Beach is home to the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach.

LGBT Community
The gay community in Miami Beach has dramatically deteriorated over the years. By 2010, most LGBT populations moved up north into Broward County.[9] Random anti-gay attacks and Miami Beach Police brutality against gay men are the most recent evident factors attributing to the exodus of LGBT culture, residents, and tourists. Ironically a new gay friendly mayor, Matti Herrera Bower, came together with increased corruption and homophobia in the city's police department. Also, since the new mayor took office in 2007, an ordinance to close parks and beaches where gay men congregate was executed, which led to an ongoing harassment of single men in general. As a result, Miami Beach male tourists regardless of sexual orientation have been increasingly becoming targets for the Miami Beach Police Department, resulting in wrongful arrests and deaths. In 2005, a local gay friendly radio station, Party 93.1 FM changed its format from dance to rock. As a result, Issues Over the Rainbow, South Florida's only gay-oriented FM talk show was cancelled. Gone along with the show – the station's sponsorships of the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival; Care Resource's annual White Party gala to fight AIDS; and Winter Party, a five-day fundraiser in early March that benefits South Florida gay charities. In February 2010, ACLU announced that it will sue the City of Miami Beach for an ongoing targeting and arrests of gay men in public. According to the ACLU, Miami Beach has a history of arresting gay men for simply looking "too gay".

Other Information

According to the Morgan Quitno Awards, Miami Beach is one of the most dangerous small cities (population between 75,000 and 99,999) in the country. Each December, The city plays host to the major contemporary art exhibition Art Basel Miami Beach. In November 2007 and 2009, a multi-media art festival ("Sleepless Night") was held based on Nuit Blanche.[

Climate-Similar to the Philippines

It has a tropical monsoon climate with hot humid summers and warm winters like the Philippines. There is a marked wet season during the summer months, with dry winters that feature much lower humidity. Miami Beach is one of only a handful of U.S. locales that has never recorded snow or snow flurries in recorded weather history.

Miami Beach's location on the Atlantic Ocean, near its confluence with the Gulf of Mexico make it extraordinarily vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms. Despite only experiencing one direct hit from a major hurricane in recorded weather history, (Hurricane Cleo in 1964), the area has seen indirect contact from hurricanes Betsy (1965), Andrew (1992), Irene (1999), Michelle (2001), Katrina (2005), and Wilma (2005). Miami's Beach reminds of the Philippines.

Note: This No.17 (Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the Katague Family had visited or resided in the US since 1960.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Disney World, Orlando, Florida


We visited Disney World in Orlando, Florida in the Late 1980's during an American Chemical Society Meeting.


Magic Kingdom theme park, one of 4 Theme Parks in Walt Disney World Resort, captures the enchantment of fairy tales with exciting entertainment, classic attractions, backstage tours and beloved Disney Characters. It is similar to Disney Land in Anaheim, CA but there is more walking to see all the attraction and rides. You better wear walking shoes. One day is not enough!

It is designed like a wheel with the hub in front of Cinderella Castle, with pathways spoke out across the 107 acres of Magic Kingdom theme park that leads to following 7 whimsical lands:

•Main Street, U.S.A.® area
•Adventureland® area
•Frontierland® area
•Liberty Square
•Fantasyland® area
•Mickey's Toontown® Fair area
•Tomorrowland® area

The fireworks in Disney World is comparable to the Fireworks during July 4th in the Mall in Washington, D.C. ( we have seen the Mall Fireworks almost every year when we were still residing in Colesville, MD)



Note: This No.16 (Part 1) of a series of articles on the places that the Katague family had resided or visited in the US since 1960.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Love Dim Sum and Fresh Lumpia


I love Dim sum. We used to spend a leisurely lunch at a dim sum restaurant every Sunday, just after our weekly Sunday 11AM mass when we were still residing in Silver Spring, MD. But today, My wife and I had not visited a dim sum restaurant for almost a year now. I am suffering from hunger pangs and salivating just writing this post, because I remember the delicious dim sum dishes in the photo above as well as the one below this paragraph.

Dim sum is the Cantonese term for a type of Chinese dish that involves small individual portions of food, usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate.
Sweet Buns-yum,yum

History

Dim Sum is usually linked with the older tradition of yum cha (tea tasting), which has its roots in travellers on the ancient Silk Road needing a place to rest. Thus teahouses were established along the roadside. Rural farmers, exhausted after working hard in the fields, would also go to teahouses for a relaxing afternoon of tea. At first, it was considered inappropriate to combine tea with food, because people believed it would lead to excessive weight gain. People later discovered that tea can aid in digestion, so teahouse owners began adding various snacks.

The unique culinary art of Dim Sum originated with the Cantonese in southern China, who over the centuries transformed Yum Cha from a relaxing respite to a loud and happy dining experience. In Hong Kong, and in most cities and towns in Guangdong province, many Chinese restaurants start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather to eat dim sum after morning exercises, often enjoying the morning newspapers. For many in southern China, yum cha is treated as a weekend family day. Consistent with this tradition, dim sum restaurants typically only serve dim sum until mid-afternoon (right around the time of a traditional Western 3 o'clock coffee break), and serve other kinds of Cantonese cuisine in the evening. Nowadays, various dim sum items are even sold as take-out for students and office workers on the go.


While dim sum (touch the heart) was originally not a main meal, only a snack, and therefore only meant to touch the heart, it is now a staple of Chinese dining culture, especially in Hong Kong. Health officials have recently criticized the high amount of saturated fat and sodium in some dim sum dishes, warning that steamed dim sum should not automatically be assumed to be healthy. Health officials recommend balancing fatty dishes with boiled vegetables, minus sauce.

Fresh Lumpia
My other favorite dish is the Philippines Fresh Lumpia- the one made from "ubod"-the heart of the coconut. Lumpia are among the most famous of all Filipino dishes. These are not the fried, eggroll-like lumpia you may have tried, but a lighter, home-style version, in which delicate egg pancakes are rolled around lettuce and a tasty chicken, shrimp, and vegetable filling. If you have adventurous guests, let everybody make their own lumpia right at the table-it's a great way to get a dinner party rolling!

Here's a recipe for the fresh wrappers and a typical filling. Instead of the coconut heart(ubod),the recipe below used jicama sometimes called the Mexican turnip or sincamas in the Philippines.

Wrappers
2 large eggs
1-1/4 cups water
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
About 3 tablespoons cooking oil
Filling
1/2 cup julienned onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half, thinly sliced
1/4 pound medium raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, and halved
1-1/2 cups finely julienned jicama
1/2 small carrot, finely julienned
2 green onions, finely julienned
2 teaspoons oyster-flavored sauce
1 teaspoon Filipino fish sauce (patis)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 tender lettuce leaves



Recipe: Fresh Lumpia (The Philippines) http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/special/1999/asia/lumpia.html

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fresno Underground Gardens, Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks

General Sherman Tree
In the mid 1970's, while still residing in Modesto, the David Katague Family visited Sequoia and the adjacent King's Canyon National Parks. We saw the giant trees including the General Sherman tree- the largest tree on Earth. On our way back we stopped in downtown Fresno to tour the Forestier Underground Gardens. I enjoyed this tour very much since I an a avid gardener. If you have not visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park and you live in the Central Valley of California, you are missing some wonders of nature and I suggest put it in your schedule next summer.

Sequoia National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Visalia, California, in the United States of America. It was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans 404,051 acres (1,635 km2). Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet (4,000 m), the park contains among its natural resources the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) above sea level. The park is south of and contiguous with Kings Canyon National Park; the two are administered by the National Park Service together.

The park is famous for its Giant Sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world, in terms of wood volume. The Giant Forest is connected by the park's Generals Highway to Kings Canyon National Park's General Grant Grove, home to the General Grant tree among other sequoias. The park's Giant Sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres (81,921 ha) of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Indeed, the parks preserve a landscape that still resembles the southern Sierra Nevada before Euro-American settlement.

Kings Canyon National Park is a U.S. National Park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno, California. The park was established in 1940 and covers 462,901 acres (187,329 ha). It incorporated General Grant National Park, established in 1890 to protect the General Grant Grove of Giant Sequoias. The park is north of and contiguous with the Sequoia National Park


Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno

FORESTIERE patterned his underground world after the ancient catacombs of his native land. The Roman arches dominate the underground landscape while the stonework provides stability and beauty. But unlike the dark catacombs that protected the remnants of the lifeless, Forestiere designed well-lit courtyards and grottos to bring forth the radiance and vitality of life. This network of rooms, grottos, and passageways once honeycombed almost 10 acres, and numbered nearly 100.

FORESTIERE preferred his cool underground lifestyle to that lived by most people of his time—above ground in hot, wooden, “sweat boxes.” His unique home included a parlor with fireplace, a summer and a winter bedroom, a courtyard with a bath and a fish pond, and a kitchen with all the conveniences of his era. This earthen home was
his friend and protector from all types of inclement weather.

Amazing Underground Sights and Wonders

It has been said that “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Every twist and turn throughout this delightful underground maze brings a new beauty to behold. The stonework, the scallop-shaped seats carved into the walls and passageways, and the lush greenery of trees/ grapevines growing beneath the ground proclaim Forestiere’s
love for life, nature, and the divine Creator of it all.

ESCAPING the intense Fresno heat is as easy as descending a flight of stairs. Step down into the cool, welcoming arms of nature-shaded rooms and courtyards. Amazingly, the underground climates here (micro-climates) change depending on the location. Temperatures can range anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees from above ground, or just a couple of degrees from one spot to another. This photo shows a citrus tree (once bearing 7 varieties of citrus) growing at a second underground level (about 22 feet down). The different levels also affect the timing of tree blossom appearance and protect them from frost.

Note: This is No.15 ( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the Katague family had visited or resided in US since 1960.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Highway 1 from San Francisco to Mendocino/Fort Bragg

The Rugged Mendocino Coast
In the late 1980's Macrine and I (no kids this time) drove Highway 1 from San Francisco to Mendocino just for one time to celebrate a wedding anniversary. On our way we stopped at St Orres in Gualala along Highway 1 for lunch. We stayed overnight at the Victorian Mendocino Hotel that was constructed in 1878 and restored in 1975. The Hotel had 51 deluxe accommodations. It is luxurious, and romantic. There are garden suites and cottages situated on two acres of botanical gardens with fireplaces. Italian marble vanities, private balconies and spectacular ocean or garden views are featured in some rooms. Antiques, fine art, down comforters, stained glass and Oriental carpets, are some of the luxuries provided by the Hotel.
St Orres at Gualala, California
St. Orres is a combination 4-star restaurant with dramatic dining room setting, lodge, and series of cottages located on the Mendocino coast about 3 hours north of San Francisco.
Stinson Beach Near Muir Woods
I loved to drive the kids and Macrine to Point Reyes National Park almost once a month during the summer months. We purchased fresh oysters at Point Reyes and swam in Stinson Beach and Bolinas Bay (away from the Nude Beach because we have small children at that time). We also drove around the Muir Woods National Park, Mt Tamalpais and around Marin County and back to Pinole, Contra Costa County where we resided.
Muir Woods National Park
We ate lunch at Sausalito and Tiburon every now then. We went to Bodega Bay a couple of times just for sight seeing. We drove to Santa Rosa, Guerneville, Napa, Geyservile, Glenn Ellen and surrounding areas. I was young and adventurous at that time and I really did not mind driving just for sightseeing. The kids love it. Today, I hate to drive especially at night. What 30 years of time passing by can do to the human body and spirit.
Point Reyes National Seashores

Note: This is No.14 (Part 1) of a series of article on the places that the Katague Family had visited or resided in US since 1960.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is the Philippines a Good Destination for Retirement?


The Philippines is a great place to retire for many reasons. First is the people, they may be different from ones you may know back home that have become very western. The Filipino is easy going and generally happy. They tend to smile a lot which makes a great change from the sour faces we are used to seeing around us each day. The pace of life is much slower and the attitude to just about every aspect of life is more relaxed. If you want to really get out of the Rat race then the Philippines is the place.

The Philippines is also a relatively inexpensive retirement destination where you can make your retirement dollar really stretch. There are many that are surviving very comfortably on less than $1000 per month. If you have more you can really start to enjoy some Compared to back home the cost of living is much cheaper. You will save heaps on all of the basic including accommodation, food, utilities and transport. Some imported goods can be a little more expensive but if you are prepared to look for local substitutes then you will save even more.

How many of us could afford to have our own house maid or driver back home? Can you imagine hiring a live in house maid that gets up early each morning to prepare things? That works six days a week! The cost of a such a house maid is less than 2000 pesos a month. In dollars that is just $35 a month. How many can you afford?

The Philippines has all the modern amenities you expect. There are plenty of restaurants serving international cuisine, night clubs and entertainment spots, golf courses and other sports, shopping Malls and of course the beaches where you can just lay in that hammock and sip your favorite beverage under the shad of a coconut tree as you watch the sun set over the sea.

If you are single then perhaps one of the most attractive (pun intended) aspects to the Philippines is the Filipina women. Renowned for her beauty and femininity. The Philippines is truly a paradise for a single man.

Top Good Reasons Why Living, Retiring or doing Business in the Philippines
The Philippines is the only English speaking country in Asia. It has a culture known for its hospitality, beautiful beaches and warm and friendly people. You can experience a high quality standard of living for a very low cost. And that means with loyal live-in maids and helpers, cheap taxis, fine rental homes in quality neighborhoods, with rents so low you will have a hard time believing it. And it has a wide range of entertainment from exciting night life to golf, international restaurants to stunning resorts beyond compare. It also has many intangibles to bring you joy for no money at all. Ask any of the Americans living in the Philippines and ask of the foreigner living here too.

Why Will You Love the Philippines, the Filipinas, and the Filipinos?

Living, Traveling and Retiring in the Philippines as a foreigner or "expat," is a dream come true for me. Beaches, ocean and mountains are all at my doorstep. The sun almost always shines here, where I live, out of the northern typhoon belt.

Almost all Filipinos and Filipinas adore foreigners, expatriates, (expats) who live here or retire here. And they welcome and appreciate or just tourist too, the only English speaking country in the world were foreigners from any country are respected and admires.


I was first here in 1980, two times. But in my two stays of several months, it got in my blood. Even after the first visit, I knew I would be back. But it took ten of the longest years in my life. I counted the days though I was reasonably happy where I was until I got back to what I consider my paradise. You too, will become addicted to the sunshine, smile and laughter if you come over to this best kept secret in the world, or it was until the Internet gave people access to information about the joys and wonder of living in the Philippines. Filipinos are too shy to promote their "poor," country, to me the richest in the world because of the Filipino people, the beauty of them and their culture of happiness, sharing and love.

So we expats who live here help promote the Philippines. It is truly a fantastic place to visit for many reasons. You will find out more on the website and if you join our free mailing list, Living, Retiring Traveling, and Doing Business in the Philippines. And if you want it all with you and more, do get the package of valuable information books and newsletters at Philippine Dreams.

As a man, I love to see the beautiful Filipinas smile. I even enjoy the smile of the men, coming from their hearts. I know many foreign women find the Filipino men polite, romantic and attractive. Many foreign men are attracted to Filipinas and marry them. Some stay here, some take their wives back to their countries. Some return to the Philippines later, to live or retire. Some only return every year to visit. Once you have been here, you will come back. The Philippines and the Filipino people are addictive.

Generosity is part of the culture in the Philippines. Getting to know the Filipino culture will greatly enhance your living or traveling experience. But it is not something you have to do. The Filipino people are very tolerant of foreign culture and customs. They understand it's hard to adapt to another country right away. Filipinos have traveled the world as contract workers, and know the problems of acculturation.

The Filipino people make you feel needed and wanted here. When I lived in the States as a retiree, I felt lost in my own country. But here I feel wanted and appreciated, not yet put out to pasture. I can be a provider of help and information, and an asset to this developing country. I'm not just a barnacle on the bottom of the ship of the United States. Other foreigners living and retired here share this feeling with me. I hope you also get to experience the hospitality and the joy of being needed here. If you find it hard to understand or accept another culture, you will not be happy in any country, certainly not here. This website and our Yahoo list, Living, Retiring, Traveling and Doing Business in the Philippines, are great places to start learning the Filipino way.

Conclusion: The Philippines is the only English speaking country in Asia. It has a culture known for its hospitality, beautiful beaches and warm and friendly people. You can experience a high quality standard of living for a very low cost. And that means with loyal live-in maids and helpers, cheap taxis, fine rental homes in quality neighborhoods, with rents so low you will have a hard time believing it. And it has a wide range of entertainment from exciting night life to golf, international restaurants to stunning resorts beyond compare. It also has many intangibles to bring you joy for no money at all. Ask any of the Americans living in the Philippines and ask of the foreigner living here too.


Source: D B Rainer, http://hubpages.com

Santa Cruz and Monterey Vicinity and Pacific Coast Highway

Lone Cypress Tree in Monterey-the most photographed tree in California

We have been to Santa Cruz, Carmel and Monterey vicinity a couple of times in the early 1980's. We visited the Santa Cruz Board walk, the Monterey aquarium, Cannery Row and the 17 mile drive in Carmel on scenic route Highway 1. A winding road that leads through an exclusive neighborhood and past scenic coastal views to the famed Pebble Beach, the 17-Mile Drive is one experience the Katague family will not forget. Our leisurely drive on the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to Los Angeles that took us two days is one experience that we will never forget.

Here's a short review about the 17-mile drive from a satisfied tourist.
Visiting 17-Mile Drive-A must for Visitors

The 17-Mile Drive is fundamentally a road that passes through an exclusive neighborhood. You'll pay a fee (per car) to drive on it and motorcycles are not allowed. Despite what you may read elsewhere, the drive from the Highway 1 Gate to the Carmel Gate is approximately 17 miles. If you enter and/or leave through different gates, the distance may be different.

Once you get inside, you'll find signs and red-painted dashed lines on the pavement to help you follow the 17-Mile Drive route. The road winds through a forested area and along the oceanfront, passing three golf courses, two luxury hotels and the famed Lone Cypress tree. The guide map you get at the gate will give a brief description of each point of interest.

If you want to picnic along the 17-Mile Drive, stop at the Safeway store at the intersection of Highway 1 and Rio Road to pick up supplies or try the 5th Avenue Deli (between San Carlos & Dolores) in downtown Carmel. You can also buy picnic goodies along the drive at the Pebble Beach Market next to The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Best picnic spots are between Point Joe and Seal Rock and you'll find picnic tables at many stops. Local seagulls roost on the tables when no one is around, so you may want to bring something to spread over the table before you eat.

Even though it's written on the bottom of the 17-Mile Drive entry fee receipt, it's a little-known fact that you can get a refund. If you spend more than $25 at any of the Pebble Beach Company restaurants along the 17-Mile Drive, they'll deduct the fee from your bill. We recommend Roy's restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Bay for their great views and service. Their prices are also much more reasonable than the Lodge at Pebble Beach, and after the fee was subtracted, our lunch bill was only a few dollars more than a mediocre breakfast we had in Carmel the previous day.

Here's some of Monterey's county tourist destinations for you to consider.
"Visit Monterey and see the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, made famous by Nobel Prize-winning Salinas writer John Steinbeck. Experience the legendary golf courses of Pebble Beach. Take a California wine country vacation in Carmel Valley, Soledad or Salinas Valley, or go art gallery hopping in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea or buzzing Sand City. For an outdoor experience, hike the wild trails of Big Sur, go surfing in Moss Landing, or watch the hang gliders in Marina and Seaside. Dine in centrally located Del Rey Oaks, and relax in an old-fashioned, seaside home town among the Victorian cottages and Monarch butterflies of Pacific Grove. Monterey County is your destination for a perfect California vacation".

With regards to Santa Cruz ,the board walk is too touristy, but fireworks on the beach during July 4th is fun if you do not mind the crowds.
Fireworks at Santa Cruz Beach

Scenic Pacific Coast Highway Drive

My wife and I have driven scenic California Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles with a stop at San Luis Obispo and the Hearst Castle. This experience offered us, the best American coastal scenery in our life time. My next posting will be our leisurely trip from San Francisco to Mendocino passing through Point Reyes National Park and Bodega Bay in the late 1980's.( Posting Number 14).

Some of California's best views lie along the coast road between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The most dramatic scenery is on the stretch between Carmel and San Simeon.

The Pacific Coast Highway – officially designated California Highway 1 – is a favorite route for visitors exploring the state. The 485 miles between San Francisco and Los Angeles is one of the country's best scenic drives. A minimum of two days is needed to see a few of the attractions and allow for plenty of stops to admire the beautiful views along the Pacific Coast Highway.

The coastal scenery is most dramatic on the stretch between Carmel and San Simeon. Here are the highlights of this central section of the Pacific Coast Highway drive.

1.Carmel-by-the-Sea: The actor Clint Eastwood once served a term as mayor of this purposely quaint town 4 miles south of Monterey. It has a beautiful setting on the headlands of Carmel Bay, sloping gently down to the ocean shore. In order to preserve its character, city ordinances forbid such things as parking meters, streetlamps, franchise restaurants and even postal deliveries. The result is a picturesque – and wealthy – town with designer shops and numerous art galleries. Among the best is the Weston Gallery on Sixth Street, with works by famous photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, a former resident. At the end of Ocean Avenue, Carmel Beach is a peaceful spot with beautiful white sand backed by pine-covered cliffs. Further along, Carmel River State Beach has a lagoon and nature preserve harboring many bird species. At both beaches, strong tides and dangerous currents make swimming hazardous. Sea otters and sea lions can be spotted at Point Lobos State Reserve, 2 miles south. The point is also a good place to see migrating California gray whales, especially in January, April and the beginning of May.

2. Carmel Mission: Slightly inland along the river, this was the second in the chain of California missions. Established in 1770, it served as the headquarters for Northern California. Father Junípero Serra, founder of the missions, is buried at the foot of the altar. The mission has been carefully restored to its original plan. The church features an ornate Gothic arch behind the altar, while reconstructed rooms such as the kitchen and Father Serra's simple cell depict mission life.

3.Big Sur: The 100-mile stretch of coast known as Big Sur is the highlight of the Pacific Coast Highway. Here, Highway 1 runs dramatically along a narrow, winding route carved out of the cliffs, high above the sea. Below are rocky coves and crashing waves; inland are steep mountains, canyons and dense forests. Bixby Creek Bridge, 260 feet high and 700 feet long, was the world's largest single-arch span for many years after its construction in 1932.
Few people live in this rugged region. The town of Big Sur is really just a long string of restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations. A cluster of restaurants and shops surround the resort of Nepenthe, tucked away behind oak trees. Most of the coastline is protected in several state parks, which offer hiking trails, campsites, wilderness areas and access to sandy beaches and rocky shores. These include Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Jade Cove.

Note: This is No.13( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the David B. Katague family have either resided or visited in US since 1960. No. 14 will be our trip from San Francisco to Mendocino passing through Point Reyes National Park and Bodega Bay.

Friday, October 15, 2010

San Diego, California and Vicinity

San Diego Skyline
We have visited San Diego three times since 1960. It is one of my favorite California cities, because the climate reminds me of the Philippines. A friend grows bananas, guavas and avocados in his backyard. It is not only a nice city to visit but also to live and retire if you could afford the housing in the area. Three of our family favorite places in the San Diego area are the Zoo, Legoland and Sea World. It is also a convenient starting place to visit Tijuana, Mexico. Be careful if you decide to visit Tijuana, Mexico for pickpockets etc. We love San Diego and will never get tired of the city.
The Zoo
The Coronado Bridge

Here's a short video of the sites and sounds of this beautiful city.


Note: This No. 12 (Part 1) of the series of articles on the places that the Katague family had either visited or resided in the US since 1960.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

San Luis Obispo, Hearst Castle and Vicinity


Macrine and I had been to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon twice in the late 1970's. There are five tours one can take, but if it is your first time, Tour #1 is highly recommended by the National State Park officials. It is about 41 miles from San Luis Obispo, where most tourist stay overnight to return the next day for another tour.
The Garden
Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark mansion located on the Central Coast of California, United States. It was designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951. In 1957, the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California. Since that time it has been maintained as a state historic park where the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, is open for public tours. Despite its location far from any urban center, the site attracts roughly one million visitors per year.

Hearst formally named the estate "La Cuesta Encantada" ("The Enchanted Hill"), but usually called it "the ranch". The castle and grounds are also sometimes referred to as "San Simeon" without distinguishing between the Hearst property and the adjacent unincorporated area of the same name. The history of this castle is fascinating and interesting. For details read the Wikipedia.
The Pool-edged with Gold

Now for information about San Luis Opispo, just recently listed as one of the top ten and best cities to live in the United States.

San Luis Obispo (pronounced /sæn ˈluːɪs ɵˈbɪspoʊ/; Spanish for St. Louis, the Bishop) is a city in California, located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on the Central Coast. Founded in 1772, San Luis Obispo is one of California’s oldest communities. The city, referred to locally as "SLO", "SLOtown", "S.L.O" and "San Luis", is the county seat of San Luis Obispo County and is adjacent to California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). As of the 2006 Census Bureau estimate, the city population was 42,963 (down 2.8% from 2000). One of Macrine's nephew graduated from Cal Poly in the late 1980's.

The City in 1876

Earliest human inhabitants of the local area were the Chumash peoples, who settled in the vicinity circa 5,000 to 10,000 years BC. One of the earliest villages lies south of San Luis Obispo, and reflects the landscape of the early Holocene when estuaries came farther inland and sea levels were higher. These Chumash people exploited marine resources of the inlets and bays along the Central Coast and inhabited a network of villages including sites at Los Osos and Morro Creek.

San Luis Obispo once had a burgeoning Chinatown in the vicinity of Palm St. and Chorro St. Laborers were brought from China by Ah Louis in order to construct the Pacific Coast Railway, roads connecting San Luis Obispo to Paso Robles and Paso Robles to Cambria, and also the 1884 to 1894 tunneling through Cuesta Ridge for the Southern Pacific Railroad. SLO's Chinatown revolved around Ah Louis Store and other Palm Street businesses owned and run by Chinese business people. Today, Mee Heng Low chop suey shop is all that remains of the culture, although a revitalized Chinatown development is being planned. A display of some of the unearthed relics from this period can be seen on the first floor of the Palm Street parking garage, which was built over the location where Chinatown once stood. The San Luis Obispo Historical Society (adjacent to the Mission) also contains rotating historical exhibits.

San Luis Obispo was also a popular stop on both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 with the rise of car culture. Due to its popularity as a stop, it was the location of the first motel, the Milestone Mo-Tel.

Among San Luis Obispo's historical buildings is the former San Luis Obispo Carnegie Library, located at 696 Monterey Street. The San Luis Obispo Carnegie Library was built in 1905 with a grant of $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie, who funded the establishment of 142 California libraries in the early 1900s. The Romanesque style building was designed by architect W.H.Weeks of Watsonville, California and was built by contractor Joseph Maino of San Luis Obispo. As one of numerous California public buildings designed by W. H. Weeks, it shares features with Carnegie libraries in nearby Lompoc and Paso Robles. The San Luis Obispo Carnegie building served as the city library until 1955, when a new public library was built at the corner of Palm and Morro Streets. It has been home to the San Luis Obispo County Historical Museum since 1956. The Carnegie Library building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Note: This is no. 11 ( Part 1) of a series of articles on places that the Katague family had visited or resided in the US since 1960.

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