Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

February Readings

Aloha Everyone,

Since last night, we lost our two WiFi router connections.  Initially we blamed the bad weather all over the USA to our inabilities to email or send text messages. Eventually we realized that our WiFi routers needed more loads. 

The good news which came out of this is J.J. and I went to bed at 7:00 pm, woke up 3:00 am after 8 hours of sleep. Extra time in the morning gave us plenty of time to gather and drop off our weekly laundry. More importantly, extra time was available to finish reading the four books I’ve been working on for February.

Among these, Age of Enlightenment is my favorite followed by Viking. One of our dearest friends, late Per V. always presented him as a real Danish Viking. Actually, the church our younger son, Jeff, was baptized had a small replica of a Viking ship hanging from its ceiling beam. Well from Viking, it was revealed that Vikings were from Sweden.

Greater motivation was required to finish Mongols and The Black Death. The latter’s explanations on how art, music (especially children’s nursery songs) and literature were influenced gave me “ah huh” moments.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, February 27, 2023

Two Women & Their Resiliency

Aloha Everyone,

I had to ask myself whether it’d be fair to put these two stories in the same blog. One undergoing tremendous challenges of suffering from sceptic shock after childbirth. She lost both of her limbs and will live the rest of her life as a paraplegic. She’s young, educated, happily married with a supportive husband, family, friends and community.
Most of all, her two young children will give her motivation and incentive not to give up.

The second story is a very different nature. Her challenge is financial related to safe and affordable housing which people of all ages are facing.  What makes her story worth mentioning is her solution and now sharing her turning point with others.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Historically Bad US Weather

Aloha Everyone,

Stormy weather, historical snow falls, severe tornadoes and wind, warnings of dangerous road conditions are posted from the West Coast to Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard. Flights delays, rerouting or cancellations are common stories we hear.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Wherever you are, please stay healthy and safe.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine - 1 Year Anniversary

Aloha Everyone,

Hearing from friends we made on board the Azamara on our Mediterranean Cruises is happy yet a painful reminder that one year has passed since the Russian Invasion of Ukraine and no clear ending in sight.

Understanding the history of Ukraine, it’s unique relationships with Russia gives one a better picture of the complexities of the regional politics, social, economic ties including shared ancestry and common languages.

Zelensky and Putin are looking for decisive victory. With commitments by the USA and western allies while China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia’s posture of what’s in it for me, we are looking at another painful period in our history.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, February 24, 2023

Milky Way’s Famous Halohalo

Aloha Everyone,

J.J.’s recollection is that Milky Way, located in Pasay City then, was a place to go for merienda (snacks) and to hang out with his classmates. Milky Way was known for its mouthwatering and stomach filling Halohalo.

Funny how often our conversations shift to food and restaurants. Over our lunch yesterday with Marita, she mentioned Milky Way if we are looking for authentic Filipino food and great Halohalo.

The nearest Milky Way Cafe is located less than a 5 minute walk from our current condo. Immediately after we were given menus, we perused for familiar Filipino dishes. Finding none, we asked the waiter if he has another menu. We had sat in the wrong restaurant. The second floor, where we were is a Spanish restaurant and the third floor is Milky Way Cafe.

The appearance from the entry to interiors were old and dated. Nothing to write home about the two dishes we ordered. But then, JJ and I were there for Halohalo. Maybe my mentioning to our waiter that we heard that Milky Way is where we find the best Halohalo and we would like to share one. He instructed the person who puts together the Halohalo to serve it in two containers with no compromising on ingredients. It was very satisfying and filling. J.J. was all smiles after he also helped me finish my serving :-)

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Paul in the Philippines, a Social Media Site

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. participates in expatriates' forums where he comes across with helpful information on traveling in the Philippines.  Most of the social media sites are managed by bloggers targeted to English speaking audiences who are already in the Philippines or are thinking of visiting here.

This particular entry applies specifically to Americans. According to the most recent information, there are approximately 400,000 American citizens residing in this country. Hopefully, you don’t have to deal with any of the items covered here.

Expat Issues and Solutions in the Philippines/Homeless? Jailed? Dead? Me...

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Lunch at Kimpura

Aloha Everyone,

The name Kimpura takes us back several decades when we worked on their advertising and photography requirements. Since then, Kimpura has relocated to Greenbelt 5. We once knew the original founder who worked on a number of entities including management of a supermarket.

From a mutual acquaintance, we heard that current management is led by one of the sons of the original founder. This group now manages several restaurant concepts including Jade Garden, Peking Garden, Kimpura and our favorite no frill but simply wonderful Chinese food, Luk Yuen.

J.J. ordered Tempura Teishoku (set menu consists of shrimp, fish, squid and vegetable tempura, a bowl of rice and a bowl of miso soup). I asked for 2 pieces of Tamago (small bite size sushi of egg on rice secured with seaweed) plus cha soba (green tea buckwheat noodle) and tempura shrimps.

Our server was excellent, and he cleared our table and replaced dipping sauce without being asked. Female servers all wore what appeared to be a formal long-sleeve “kimono”, Japanese robe. Due to stiffness of the material including the size and the quality of the ready to wear “obi”, sash, whether walking or serving, the women were hampered by the long sleeves.

The spacious restaurant at 11:30 am was already getting filled. The amount of food we ordered was too much and we stood up without finishing. J.J. enjoyed the Buko Sherbet (sherbet made of young coconut) that came as a part of his lunch, and we declared that the restaurant was worth another visit. The total cost was $29. We would pay at least twice that amount in California.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

J.J.’s Eyes are Healthy!!!

Aloha Everyone,

This morning J.J. had his eyes checked and he received the news that his eyes are good! He will get a new prescription eyeglasses replacement for reading and retain his previous driving/walking glasses which he had it made in Athens.

As with most Optical Lab services, eye exams are free. Where they make money is in sale of prescription glasses especially glass frames.  

From our readings, the two of us knew that about 92% of glass frames are produced by one company in Italy. Where it becomes costly is when brand manufacturers add their highly advertised frames.

It was interesting to see the store trying to persuade J.J. to choose a pair of frames that were 3 times higher than the standard one he has chosen. J.J. asked in a nice way if there are any advantage of the brand name frame. Their designs were nearly identical including the frame sizes, fit and weight.

The total costs for J.J.’s new reading glasses are US $60.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, February 20, 2023

Preparing for our Eventual Return to the USA

Aloha Everyone,

At times, it seems time had stood still when everything takes time to get accomplished. Perhaps it has to do with the tropical climate or maybe a hangover from the Spanish era of “hasta mañana” literal translation is “see you tomorrow” but often used as euphemism to describe slowness of services, tardiness of appointments, etc.

J.J. and I each prepared our calendar for the next 5 months and inputted main events. He did it on his laptop while I did mine on sheets of paper. The two of us then compared and updated so we would be in agreement.

As of this writing, we have one definite lunch meeting, two parties to attend, appointments with hair salon and nail salons.

The two of us will be moving back to Makati Diamond Residences 4 days prior to our departure date of March 22nd.

We’ve already had dates to visit our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in La Jolla, dates for my PreOP appointments with my Ophthalmologist, and our doctor at Optum. This hopefully could be combined with our Annual Medicare Checks. 

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Rainy, Foggy Tagaytay Ridge

Aloha Everyone,

Views from Tagaytay Ridge of Taal Volcano is usually clear, serene with an ever-changing mood affected by sunlight and overhanging clouds. Taal Volcano is a second most active volcano in the Philippines. It is located on Volcano Island in the center of Taal Lake when an ancient caldera was formed by prehistoric eruptions.

According to driving guide, it will take 50-70 minutes to get there if we leave Makati before 9 :00 am. Our departure time was a little delayed. Steady rain, thick fog plus Sunday morning traffic meant that our driving time each way was 2 hours. Some of J.J.’s friends have made recommendations on restaurants, but we skipped the first choice after finding out that we couldn’t even access the main gate to their private parking lot.

There was a string of restaurants located along the ridge. J.J. commented that here one can observe the prosperity of the middle-class Filipinos having large family gatherings.

Our second choice, Bag of Beans, was perfect. Our small party consisted of our friend, Joy, and her son Andreas meant that there was no waiting. We enjoyed good food, good conversation and the wonderful ambiance of the restaurant. Even without seeing the famous Taal Lake and Taal Volcano in its midst, this was a memorable outing to Tagaytay.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, February 18, 2023

New Survey Doubles the Number of Islands in Japan

Aloha Everyone,

Thanks to advanced technology, Japan has more than double their number of islands. From an original count of 6,852 to 13,853 islands is astonishing!

During the previous study done in 1987, thousands of islands were left out because they were within lakes or rivers.  Using the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, river sandbanks are now recognized as islands. Though in conclusion, Kyodo News reporting stated that this dramatic increase is unlikely to change the size of Japan’s territory or its waters (which could impact fishing rights in the international waters.)

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, February 17, 2023

Photogenic But Not Healthy Eating

Aloha Everyone,

To combat our healthy meals which tends to be repetitive and boring, J.J. and I decided to make some brave decisions to feature interesting but unhealthy dishes in one of our blogs.

1.  Deep-fried Butterfly Plapla (Tilapia all twisted and deep fried with eyes and gaping mouth looking at you.)

2.  Deep-fried rice noodle served with some kind of steaming sauce, and all stirred as you wait to be served.)

3.  Strawberry & Camias (supposed to be fresh strawberries and fresh Star Apples (sour tropical fruit) served with no ice cream or sugar). The waiter who takes your order and the server who brings it to your table are often not the same individuals. 

So, I didn’t try items #1 and 2 and took some sips of item #3.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Local Economics 1, 2, 3

Aloha Everyone,

Some economists referred this period we are living as “unusual, unpredictable and unprecedented.” In another words, experts are baffled by the housing market, stock market and jobless data.

General public do not own nor rely on stocks as part of their retirement portfolio.

Having an interesting conversation with a local businesswoman helped us shed some light. For example, people have a hoarding mentality. Always prepare for tomorrow as supermarkets might run out of goods.

It seems that marketeers react to people’s fear and thus bundle up goods so one can save anywhere from 35-50% off the regular prices. The two of us will buy a reasonable amount of good which we know will be consumed prior to our leaving the Philippines but we don’t hoard consumer products. Rather we make purchases on a need basis.

In the Philippines we’ve been using two modes of transportations: private cars, meaning our family or friends will give us lifts or public, metered taxis. A cheaper mode of transportation is called “piggybacking” or in Tagalog, Ankas. I watched a motorcycle driver hands his potential rider a helmet. The rider will wear the helmet without any preventative measures of catching someone else’s germs and off they go. Really not at all sanitary.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Rapid Escalation of Russian Emigration

Aloha Everyone,

Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the rapid escalation of Russian emigration has been noted.

  • By early October 2022, it’s estimated that a total of 900,000 Russian citizens & residents have left Russia. This number included economic migrants, conscientious objectors and political refugees.
  • A large number of the emigrants tend to be young & well-educated professional; a net result is the Russian brain drain including Russian Information Technology specialists.

Unfortunately, there are always enterprising individuals who make profit taking advantage of difficult situations. According to BBC news dated February 13, 2023, more than 5,000 pregnant Russian women have entered Argentina in recent months.  For children to be born in Argentina, they are entitled to Argentinian citizenship. Unlike Russian passport with limited traveling access, with Argentinian passport, one can enter 171 countries visa-free.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Our Friend, Yasu, is a Vigneron!

Aloha Everyone,

My reading of Age of Enlightenment led me to researching native pronunciations for the names of German, French philosophers, physicists, mathematicians and other great thinkers. Which led me to Julien Miguel‘s postings.  Julien Miguel at 43 years has over 12,299 videos on his channel and is one of the most powerful influencers in the wine industry. 

I learned that Vigneron cultivates the grapes and makes his own wines from his own grapes. So, all of these years, I was wrong in thinking that our friend, Yasu is a Vintner when he really is a Vigneron.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, February 13, 2023

Venice Grand Canal Mall

Aloha Everyone,

This was an unexpected surprise. Venice Grand Canal Mall is an ambitious attempt to create the world-famous vistas of Venice. This mall located in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) offers unusual photo opportunities in this tropical land. 

Ponte Rialto was an excellent choice. Ala carte plates were pricier, but our choice of set menu was perfect. The course started with bruschetta, pasta of your choice for the second course, choice of fish or meat with green salad as the main. This was followed by a panna cotta dessert. Butterfly tea that came with the set lunch was too sweet, but overall, it was a wonderful meal. Even just to return to Ponte Rialto for another lunch, we felt that lunch and taxi rides of $30.30 was well worth it.

Our observation is that Venice Grand Canal Mall serves as a place to walk around and take photographs with mostly eateries and restaurants. Very few shops.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Skin Cancer Screening

Aloha Everyone,

During our annual physical last year at Optum Health Care, we were recommended to see a Dermatologist to check for a skin cancer screening. Since both of us are cancer survivors, we take the word “cancer” very seriously. The great news is that we were seen by Dr. Reyes at Makati Medical, no relation of J.J., and was cleared that our skins are fine!

To celebrate this terrific news, we dined at Sentro 1771 in Greenbelt 5. While their claim of “First in Modern Filipino Cuisine” cannot be validated, of the 4 dishes J.J. selected, we both enjoyed fried Pampano. This flat pan-sized fish is also available in the United States. 

Reason I like Pampano is that it does not have a fishy taste nor smell. Squeeze lemon or calamansi juice and it is good as any fish can get.

Being another holiday weekend, restaurants including Sentro 1771 were packed with young and young-at-heart, celebrating Valentine’s Day. The serving staff at Sentro 1771 were pleasant, hardworking and made it a good dining experience.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, February 10, 2023

Nail Spa

Aloha Everyone,

Our manicure, pedicure and foot massage appointments took us an hour each. We sat in a lounge chair and for the next 60 minutes, we marveled at their efficiency and attention to details. This was not a mass production business like the one we use in Torrance, California.

The two women seemed to enjoy working together. There were at least 10 customers who stopped by. The women who usually manned the receptionist desk were on their lunch break. Some people made appointments for the afternoon or for other days. Maria and Linda giggled and joked how they should be compensated for setting up future appointments.

The cost for manicures/pedicures plus foot massage, inclusive of generous tips was US$52.73. Maria apologized that because the location of the shop is in Ayala Mall, we are charged more. If it was elsewhere, the cost would be considerably lower.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Composer Burt Bacharach

Aloha Everyone,

Burt Bacharach is a six-time Grammy Award winner and three-times Oscar. He often worked with Hal David. Burt Bacharach’s songs have been recorded by such well-known artists as Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, The Carpenters and Dusty Springfield. 

Burt Bacharach had over 70 years of active music career. He died at age 92.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey - Honorary Doctorate from Harvard

Aloha Everyone,

They are all extremely successful high achievers, top in their field and drop outs of colleges. A common thread is that each received an Honorary Doctorate from Harvard University. They are socially responsible, giving and compassionate, emotionally healthy philanthropists.

I listened to eight Harvard University Commencement speakers over the past 10 years. Among them, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey were clearly outstanding.

Bill Gates

Steven Spielberg

Oprah Winfrey

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Our Appointments with Orthopedic, Taxi Ride Back

Aloha Everyone,

Dr. Eufemio seemed visibly pleased that we’re making good progress. J.J. and I gave him our feedback regarding how much the two of us appreciated our sessions with the PT.

Dr. Eufemio’s office is located in the Bonifacio Global City (BGC). To get there via taxi depends on which taxi driver we were lucky to hire. Local Taxi drivers do not own their own cab. They rent from a company and work under a “Boundary system”. This means they have 12 hours shift and the taxi must be returned before the next shift so the next driver can take over the vehicle.

J.J. flagged a taxi, but when the driver heard Makati Greenbelt, he asked if we know the direction. Our response was you should know that’s your business. He became agitated mentioned about the boundary system. Our decision was to get out of the taxi and find an alternative. It was only 10:30 am and the taxi driver should have a more than sufficient time to make the round trip.

Our 2nd Taxi driver was familiar with Makati Greenbelt. He asked if we wanted to be dropped off at Greenbelt 1, 2, 3, 4 or by the Greenbelt Chapel. He had a small garland of Sampaguita, the Philippines’ National Flower. Subtle fragrance of the flowers on his rear-view mirror and Filipino mood music from his radio all seemed good. Then he took a small packet of what seems to be powder chocolate which he kept on sprinkling into his mouth. Maybe that’s how he gets his energy… Hopefully, the content indeed was just an innocent Nestle Chocolate powder.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, February 6, 2023

Our Final Session with PT

Aloha Everyone,

I learned a great deal. Beginning with how to sit down and how to stand to protect myself from recurrence of a pinch nerve. What I taught to my yoga, Taichi and Quigong students needs revision. For example, the correct way to walk is heel toe, heel toe. Well the PT added one more important step: it’s heel, tighten or lift your knee then put down your toe. By adding lifting your knee motion, your stomach contracts as well as tighten your pelvic region thus protecting your spinal column. The two of us learned 7 forms of exercise for stretching and strengthening the lower back. These sets prepared by the Orthopedic’s Sports Medicine Clinic, PEAK FORM are recommended to do at least twice a day each, requiring 40-60 minutes.

From 7:00-8:00 am, the PT worked with me. Then while it was J.J.’s turn, I continued my practice. After two straight hours of work out, I couldn’t wait to enjoy our “healthy” lunch.

J.J. and I realized that most restaurant staffs get confused if you ask to modify their set menu items. However we learned that if one has an allergy, they are much more accommodating. Here are my modified dishes including steamed tofu, no sauce, steamed broccoli, no salt, no pepper, no dressing and so on.

Aloha -- Cathi