Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands
View of Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands-Click on photo to link to Chateau Du Mer


If this is your first time in this site, welcome. It has been my dream that my province, Marinduque, Philippines becomes a world tourist destination not only during Easter Week but also whole year round. You can help me achieve my dream by telling your friends about this site. The photo above is your own private beach at The Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort. The sand is not as white as Boracay, but it is only a few steps from your front yard and away from the mayhem and crowds of Boracay. Please do not forget to read the latest national, international, and technology news in this site . I have posted some of my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes on this site also. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringement of your copyrights. Cheers!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Emergency Care in California and Philippines

Yesterday afternoon ( Sunday at about 2PM) my wife had chest pain. As a nurse she was monitoring if this pain is a signal of a mild heart attack or perhaps just indigestion. She took an aspirin and anti-acid tablets, but by 4 PM, the pain had not disappeared. Since it was Sunday, our regular doctor's office was closed. We called the doctor on call and he suggested we visit on URGENT CARE CENTER and request for an EKG. Macrine called her other nurse sister and she suggested not to go to the urgent care, since in general employees at the urgent care are not really expert in dealing with chest pains but to the emergency room services of our local hospital. I drove her to the emergency facilities at Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael. When we arrived at the emergency wing of the hospital, the waiting room was full, about 50 people. When we told the receptionist, she had chest pain, we were immediately taken to the examination room and an EKG was taken. Thirty minutes later, a doctor examined Macrine and the standard interview was conducted. After 5 minutes she was lead to the waiting room with a hard bed, where her blood pressure, pulse was automatically monitored and a blood sample taken for the enzyme test. A few minutes later a chest X'ray was taken . This was followed with a wait for three hours and another doctor interviewed Macrine again. By this time it was 7PM. I was hungry, so I went to the hospital cafeteria. Macrine was also hungry. The attending nurse gave her a turkey, sandwich and water and a cookie. In the cafeteria, I gorged with beef stew and French fries with a soft drink for $4.50. Not bad when you are starved. After dinner, I went back to Macrine's room, where another patient was being treated in the next bed in her room. One was a six year old kid who cut his chin ( reminds me of what happened to our granddaughter). The next patient was a Spanish-speaking woman about 40 years old involved in a car accident. Because the two beds were separated only by a curtain, I could hear all what is said regarding the car accident. Later on she was taken to MRI. She had a whiplash but very conscious. There are a lot of personnel walking in the hallway of the emergency room examination area. In the meantime, we watched TV while waiting for the results of the blood test, EKG and X'ray. By around 10PM, after I keep asking the nurse what is going on, the emergency room doctor came informed us that the results of the test were all fine. But as a precaution, additional test will be conducted and Macrine has to stay overnight in the hospital. She is in the high risk for heart attack, because she is a smoker. In the morning a stress test will be conducted. In the meantime, the examination bed was very uncomfortable and Macrine is developing back aches, so every now and then she had to seat in a chair. During this time, patients come and go. I looked at the waiting room, there were still around 30 people waiting to be seen by a doctor. This was around 11PM. Another interview from Registration and Admission office to the cardiac section of the hospital. Then another interview and brief examination by an admission physician. She happened to be a second generation Filipina and is the private doctor of my son. She was nice and very professional after she found out we are the parents of one of her patients. By the time they have assigned a regular hospital bed on the cardiac section it was midnight. My son who just got from work called me what was going on. I told him everything is fine. But he came to the emergency room, anyway, bringing with him Macrine's personal items for an overnight stay and my dinner. I went home tired after almost 9 hours in the emergency room. This morning at 8:30AM, I went back to the hospital to bring Macrine her medicine. When I arrived I was greeted by the attending nurse, a Filipina from my province, Iloilo. We conversed in Ilonggo and she informed me they have already given the pill for her diabetis . The attending physician came, ask Macrine more questions and order a stress test to be done today. The doctor said she will be released sometime today after one more blood test and EKG. I went home to eat breakfast and write this blog. I left my telephone number to the attending nurse-my kababayan, in case Macrine needs anything and when she is ready to be picked up. Macrine received excellent service from my kababayan nurse as well as the attending physician in spite of the long wait for the stress test. We we were able to check out of the hospital by 6:30PM.

After this first time experience in an emergency room here in Northern California, I kept on wondering what kind of experience it will be, if this happened in the Philippines. My insurance under the Federal Employees Program recognize Makati Medical Center, as a preferred hospital in the Philippines. If anyone has experienced emergency room services at the Makati Medical Center, please let me know, or for that matter any hospital in the Philippines. I am looking forward for your comments on emergency services in any hospital in the Philippines.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bellarocca Island Resort Promo Package, 2009

I do not have any financial gains by posting that Bellarocca Island Resort has now a promo package for 3-days-2-nights including meals for a fairly reasonable price if you compared it to their standard rates. Moreover, If I have a choice, I would rather that you book your vacation at Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort for a much, much more reasonable price( $25 per person per night plus a 10% discount for 7 days or longer stay). ( or, 916-961-3365 or 042-332-1754
Chateau Du Mer Beach House,Marinduque,Philippines

The Package Promo is effective September 1 to October 31, 2009. So, if you have been planning to see this island resort in Marinduque, now is the time. Otherwise the standard rates are so expensive, unless you are rich and famous or you are a Japanese or Korean tourist. For details, visit their newly available website, Enjoy Marinduque-my island Paradise!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cloyne Court, Episode Nine

Photo from
Cloyne Court, Episode Nine
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.


I knocked on the door of Nine B. A female voice yelled for me to come in. A woman was sitting on the bed, with her right foot on the mattress, putting nail polish on her toenails. She was wearing a sheer orange kimono type bathrobe. To my surprise, she wasn’t wearing underwear, and her legs were parted.

“Hi, are you Sandy?” I said, still staring and becoming uncomfortable.

“Not here,” she said, without a hint of modesty. Maybe she didn’t know. I wasn’t sure what the protocol was for this sort of thing. I stood there shifting from leg to leg embarrassed.

“I’m moving in. Central Office sent me. I need to get my keys and figure out what room I’m in.”

“Oh, yeah. I remember your paperwork,” she said, trying to blow air on her big toe nail. “You’re in Four C. It’s a triple room on the ground floor. The last person took one look at it and decided to drop out of Berkeley.”

“Is there something wrong with it?” I said.

“No, but you’ll have two roommates, and your bathroom is down the main hall. Visitors and the wandering homeless also use that bathroom. Your room opens to the main hallway, and it can be noisy, especially during party weekends. If you need quiet, you can study in the basement study lounge.”

I looked around the large corner room with double-hung, double windows facing west and north. It had a breathtaking view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

“I suppose this is the best room?” I asked, assuming the house manager would have the best.

“This is a great room. All the rooms on the west side have scenic views of the Bay. But there are better rooms. The four porch rooms that face the inner courtyard are in considerable demand. But if you get the second-story porch room, you have to know about the plants growing on the balcony deck. The owner climbs onto the deck to take care of the plants and can see into your room. Occasionally, people try to climb up and steal the plants.”

“Who’d want to steal plants?” I asked.

“They’re marijuana plants,” she said, as nonchalantly as if she had been talking about radishes in her garden. “And sometimes, the police come and haul the plants away. We have to let them in through the porch room.”

I wasn’t willing to risk police involvement at this early stage of my college career. I made a mental note to avoid this room. It turned out to be a lovely room with the sunshine streaming in from three sides of the enclosed sleeping porch, and it was a single room.

“You accumulate one point for each quarter you live here. At the beginning of each quarter, we take inventory of people who have moved out, and we auction their rooms. We have forty-five double rooms and forty-three single rooms of various sizes and locations, so you can find a roommate and combine your points to bid on rooms or you can try for a single room with the points you have, but single rooms are hard to obtain until you’ve been here a while.”

A man walked in to the room. The woman looked from her toenails and smiled at him. “Hey Sandy, this is Derek.”

Sandy was a guy. I had assumed, because the woman I was talking to was female, that naturally her roommate, the house manager, would be female. He was shirtless, perspiring heavily and carrying a basketball. He found a towel draped over a chair and wiped his brow with it. He came over, kissed the woman on the cheek and reached his hand into her kimono.

“You reek.” She winced. “Go take a shower.” She finished polishing her toenails on her right foot, extended her leg and waved it in a circle to air-dry it. She started on the second foot still oblivious to the view she was giving me.

“Hey Lisa, whose orange VW is parked in my spot on the driveway?” he asked.

Episode Ten from Chapter Two will be posted September 2nd.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Judging " Marinduque's Got Talent" Contest

The four days of reunion and business meeting of Marinduque International Inc in Buena Park, California was just concluded last weekend. (

Marinduque International Inc. is a non-profit organization composed of nine chapters all over the world. It's major humanitarian project is the Medical Mission held every two years in the province of Marinduque, Philippines. The four days included a Welcome Night/Dinner, A trip to the Casino, A Talent Contest, An Induction Dinner Dance, Business Meeting/Election of Officers and Farewell Brunch. The following are my brief impressions of the events that Macrine and I had attended.

Thursday Night, August 20-Welcome Party-”Surfin' California Theme- No Cost-We were not able to attend, but we heard it was fun. Moreover it was free, compliments of the host chapter-Southern California(MASC).

Friday Afternoon, August 21- Talent Contest.- I volunteered as one of four judges. Seven of the nine chapters participated in the contest. The chief judge informed us that there are five criteria in the judging as follows: Overall Performance, Extra-Ordinary or over all Impressions, Talent, Costumes and Humor.
The rating will be from 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest score. In the middle of the contest, out of the blue, we were told to limit the time to 15 minutes. Points will be deducted for overtime performance.
Here is my rating for the seven participants based on the above criteria. ( Toronto and Saudi Arabia Chapters did not participate)
MACUSA -4.8, MESA-4.2 , MANC 3.5, MASC -4.5, Vancouver-4.5, MASTEG- 4.5 and MACA-3.0

At the end of the program, the chief judge informed us that another criteria should be considered. This is the relevance of the presentation to Marinduque Culture. She said there are only two presentations that has relevance to Marinduque culture- MASTEG and Vancouver. We must choose the winner from these two presentations. Because of the boring length and over 15 minutes overtime of the MASTEG presentation, I choose VANCOUVER as the winner. The four judges were unanimous in choosing Vancouver as the winner.

The next day, I heard that there was a lot of dissatisfaction from our judging from another judge. Later on that night, somebody from MACUSA ask me why I did not vote for MACUSA as the winner, since they spent a lot of time preparing for their presentation. I told her, I gave their group the highest rating, and she was satisfied with my explanation. However, I did notice that most of the members of MACUSA were not talking to me during the Grand Ball and Induction of Officers. I suggest that in the next reunion in Chicago, the criteria for judging be given ahead of time to the participating chapters. Lessons learned from this event is to communicate in a timely manner.

Friday Night-Trip to the Casino. Forty six avid casino gamblers went to Club Serrano, San Manuel Indian Casino in San Bernandino County. Macrine and I were eager participants. Our weekly entertainment activity is to go to one of the two Indian Casinos near our residence. The two Indian Casinos are the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, CA and the Red Hawk Casino in Placerville, CA. Both Casinos are new. Almost all of the slots machines are brand new compared to the old slots machines in San Manuel. Needless to say, I lost $40 in 5 minutes. Macrine and I decided to use our $10 coupon at the seafood buffet instead of feeding the hungry one-arm bandits. We gorged ourselves with lobster, Alaska King Crabs, fresh oysters and numerous other dishes and desserts. The seafood buffet was the highlight of our trip. Later after dinner, I tried the “old” slot machines. It was definitely programmed so that the players chance of winning is almost nil. At the end of the night I lost $100, the amount I budgeted for the trip. I guess the old slot machines(true one-armed bandits) in Old Indian Casinos are programmed so that the player has only less than 10% chance of winning. I believe however that the newer Casinos are required by California law to increase the odds of players to win to about 40% in the slot machines. If you know the exact odds of winning the slots in Thunder Valley or at Red Hawk Casinos, let me know.

Saturday:August 22- 10AM to 4:00PM- Business Meeting and Election of Officers. The following are highlights of the meeting:

1.Clarification and Explanation why participation to the medical mission is one of the requirements to be President or Vice president of the organization, besides good moral character and the ability to manage a complex organization.
2.Latest status on the province legal battle against Placer Dome Mining, a subsidiary Of Barrick Inc.-A Canadian mining company.
3.Latest news on the reopening of the mines in Marinduque-canceled due to time constraint
4.Another public tantrum and dramatic outburst from a MASC member on topics #2 and #3
5 Election of Officers for 2010-2012
The results of the election are as follows:
President: Annie Miles Jalac- Vancouver
Vice President: Mike Miciano-San Diego
Secretary: Sonia Ferranco Baltazar- Northern Ca
Treasurer: Violeta Magsino-Chicago
Auditor: Joe Blanche-Southern Ca
PRO: Blanca Salcedo Ho- MACA
Our congratulations to the newly elected officers.

Grand Ball and Induction of New Officers:

Northern California Table at the Dinner Dance and Induction
Agnes and Macrine Enjoying the Festivities
More than 470 attendees crowded the ball room of the Knotts Berry Farm Hotel in Buena Park. The food was plentiful and delicious. The music was fine, but the dance floor was so small, that if you want to be trampled, go to the dance floor. Several of the guests were dancing on the side of the hall outside of the dance floor. I heard that one male guest complained to an officer of MASC, that they came to the affair to dance not to listen about the raffles. There a was an "after dinner dance snack" at the hospitality room of the MASC president. It was well attended in spite of the late hour. There was plenty of snacks for every one to partake and to bring to their hotel rooms. In charge of this "after dinner dance snacks" was Joyce Ancog. Some members brought with them dozens of muffins and several sandwiches to their hotel rooms enough to provide breakfast for a dozen more guests in the morning. The "after dinner snacks" event was indeed successful, but it looks like some of the guests have not eaten for weeks during this after dinner affair by bringing so much food to their hotel rooms.

SUNDAY-August 23- Brunch at Jojo and Andrew Soriano Mansion in Orange, CA. Jojo, Andrew and mother, Fely Lansangan in her beautiful yellow terno greeted the guests in the spacious gardens of their mansion with free valet parking where a superb Filipino brunch was served from around 10AM to 1:00PM. Some guests arrived as early as 9:30AM and were served a refreshing melon drink or coffee. Then at exactly 10AM, Jojo ranged the bell announcing the buffet was served. More than a dozen Filipino breakfast delicacies such as salted duck eggs with sliced tomatoes, de-boned bangus(milk fish), sausage, daing(dried fish), samporado and other Filipino delicacies were served hot. It was delicious and I enjoyed specially the salted egg and fried fish combination with fried rice. My guess is by around 12 NOON most of the expected guest had arrived with the exception of a few who overslept and did not arrived till around 1:00PM, when half of the guests had already left. But I notice there were still plenty of food left after the late comers had arrived, so there is no danger that the late comers will have nothing to eat. I also notice that most of the MACUSA members were not there. They must have left for Chicago in the early morning. Macrine and I had a grand time. Thank you, Jojo and Andrew and Fely for your hospitality.

Note to my none-Filipino readers: Although arriving one hour to two hours late in a social event here in US is considered bad manners, there is still a lot of Filipino-Americans who practice "Filipino time" even if they are already residents of United States for a number of years. This behaviour reminds me of an Ilongo joke, " Dugay ka na sa America, tonto ka man gihapon", which meant "You have been a resident of the United States of America for a long time, but you are still stupid". This joke also refers to students from the provinces in the Philippines who had studied in Manila.

Our Stay at the Ancog Hotel and Gardens at La Mirada: Normally, when we attend MI, Inc meetings and reunion, we stayed at the Hotel where all the activities are held. This was only the second time that we stayed in a private residence of a member of the host chapter during an MI, Inc reunion. Our capable hosts were Ray and Joyce Ancog. We are glad we did accept Joyce invitation. About six months ago, Joyce called Macrine that if we are planning to attend the 30th Anniversary of MASC, she would be delighted if we stay with them. We said yes and they promised to pick us from the airport on Friday Afternoon and bring us to the airport Monday afternoon. We decided not to attend the Thursday night welcome Night Activity. Again, we are glad we stayed with the Ancogs. Their hospitality overwhelmed us. I enjoyed Ray's orchids and tropical plant collections. Relaxing in the patio of their residence in La Mirada was a delight. Looking at the blooming orchids, and fruit bearing guavas, avocados, oranges, cherimoya, persimmons and several citrus trees was the highlight of our stay. We also enjoyed our tour to Huntington and Redondo Beach Piers as well as our two-hour escapade to a ballroom studio in Long Beach Sunday night. Thank you, Joyce and Ray for your hospitality. This was the best MI, Inc reunion and meeting that we have attended for the last 10 years because we stayed with you.
Tour of Huntington and Redondo Beaches on our way home to Sacramento
Congratulations to MASC for a job well done. Special congratulations and thanks to Luz, Agnes, Albine, Grace, Connie, Joyce, Ray, Eve, Noly and other MASC officers who made this event a tremendous success. We hope to see you all in the next reunion in Chicago in 2011. David and Macrine Katague

Coconut Bio-fuel Plant in the Philippines

Image from
Construction of the first coconut bio-fuel energy plant was announced by the Arroyo administration recently. It will be located in the coastal town of Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte Province. More than 400,000 hectares of land will be developed and planted with coconut trees to insure the supply of coconut oil for domestic market demand .

This bio-fuel power project is one of the many ways of solving climate change because the use of coconut bio-diesel will reduce green house gas emission in the atmosphere. The advantage of bio-fuel in comparison to other types of fuel sources is its biodegradability.

The first phase of the project is the construction of the Coconut Oil Mill Plant.. This will include a copra warehouse, copra milling section, coconut oil refinery section, copra cake section, storage tanks, administration offices and port facility. The second phase will be the construction of the Coconut biodiesel plant and the coconut shell processing plant. This plant is expected to produce at least 2,000 tons of coconut oil per month with provisions of up to 25,000 tons and resulting to about 300,000 tons of coconut biodiesel annually.

The estimated cost of this project is about 3.5 billion pesos of which 500 million pesos is allocated for land and infrastructure development. The remaining 3 billion pesos will be for the plantation of coconut trees, including provisions for livelihood and employment, farm supplies, fertilizers, seedlings and other needs.

Completion of this project will ensure the region its own source of alternative fuel, thus lessened the regions dependence on imported fossil fuels. It will also create job opportunities and an economic boom to other related industries.

I hope that Marinduque will be a future site of the next coconut bio-fuel plant in the Philippines. Marinduque has the land and coconut plantations needed for this eco-friendly project. Provincial officials should lobby the next administration for this excellent project, which will be a big boost to the improvement of economic conditions of the province.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Six Marinduque Videos

Recently, I was surfing on the Web and You Tube. I found about sixty short videos on Marinduque. The following six videos are my favorites. The first one was made by Eli Obligacion to honor Governor Carrion and his administration. The second was a vacation video by a typical tourist. I do not even know the video maker and the people in the vidoes, but the video was well made and shows several beauty spots and beaches of Marinduque. The third and fourth videos are from NBN, Channel 4, with Mayo Suzuki featuring the town of Gasan and Torrijos. The video contains a tour inside the beautiful mansion of Mayor Vicky Lim in Bacong Bacong, Gasan, a butterfly farm, a facility for making virgin coconut oil and a fishing village in Torrijos.
The fifth video is by Mykvan, taken 2007, Views of Marinduque.

Video by Eli Obligacion. This video made me homesick. It is an excellent video of the sites, scenery, a little bit of history, culture and traditions of our island paradise with the background music by Yanni.(one of my favorite musician)

Vacation Video from a typical tourist to Marinduque. One of the best vacation videos, featuring the beauty of our islands. There are more than fifthy videos made by tourists about Marinduque in the Web, but the quality of most of the videos is not worth your time. But the above short video, I hope you will enjoy.

Part 1 of Mayo's Video of Channel 4- Lakbayin ang Magandang Pilipinas

Part 2 of Mayo's Video of Channel 4- Lakbayin ang Magandang Pilipinas
Video by mykvan, 2007
Here's the sixth and latest video from the tourism department of the provincial government.This is one of the best video about Marinduque that I have viewed recently

Cloyne Court, Episode Eight

Cloyne Court, Episode Eight
By Dodie Katague
Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the later 1970s.
To the right of the front door, was the telephone switchboard booth, the size of a tollbooth on the Bay Bridge. On one end was the original style-telephone switch panel with the spaghetti maze of quarter inch amplifier jacks, patch board panel and rotary dial like the ones they used in the 1930s before telephone operators were replaced by an electric relay switch. On the other side were mailbox dividers and a stack of unsorted mail and packages.

Sitting in the booth was a woman wearing a telephone operator’s headphone and microphone. She appeared to be about five foot, with short-cropped brown hair and looked normal except for a gold ring in her pierced nose. As she waited for a call to patch through, she sorted the US mail into the mail slots divided by alphabet. Every third piece was dropped into a trashcan outside the booth. “Doesn’t live here. (Drop) She graduated. (Drop) He dropped out. (Drop) Hey Kyd, do we have a Jim Jones living here?”

No answer. (Drop)

“I’m looking for Sandy, the house manager,” I said. “I’m Derek Marston. I’m moving in.”

“I’m Cindy. So, you’re the new guy. I hope you last longer than the last one.”

“What happened to the last one?”

“He was an ex-marine on the G.I. bill. We don’t get too many of those at Berkeley. I guess he couldn’t hack it. You know, the politics, the class work and the magic mushrooms. Kind of wigged out after the last party. He was one of the weird ones.”

She declared this as if ‘weird’ didn’t apply to her. But weirdness is in the eye of the beholder. For all I knew, voting for Gerald Ford was a weird offense punishable by some subliminal shunning. I reminded myself not to disclose that fact.

As she spoke, I saw a flash of gold in her mouth. She had a pierced tongue with a double-knobbed stud sticking through it.

“How do I find the house manager?” I asked.

“Down this hallway, stairwell at the end on the right, up three flights of stairs to the ninth floor, room Nine B.”

I didn’t understand her directions. Did I have to climb nine flights of stairs? Cindy must have seen my puzzled look.

“Listen carefully to me,” she said, then sighed as if she were already bored with what she was about to say. “I’m only going to tell you this once. This ground floor and main hallway are numbered as the fourth floor even though there’s only one floor beneath us. Three floors are in every wing. You are standing in the central wing. The floor above us is the fifth floor, and the floor above that is the sixth floor. Got it?”

“Somewhat,” I answered. “Is the floor beneath us the third floor?”

“No, that’s the basement.”

“Where’s the ninth floor?”

“Good question. The west wing is down the hall in that direction.” She pointed west. Thank God! If she had pointed in a different compass direction, I would have been lost forever in a geographic twilight zone.

She said, “The fourth floor ends where the fire door used to be. So you can’t really tell. Once you walk through that threshold, you are on the seventh floor. Are you still with me?”

“Seventh floor. Got it.”

“Take the staircase up. Above that floor is the eighth floor and above that is the …” She paused to let me fill in the blank, as if to test me on my knowledge.

“The ninth floor?”

“Very good. And on the east wing where the kitchen and dining room are, that’s the first floor, so if you’re following the logic here, the two floors above them are …” She paused again to let me fill in the sentence.

“The second and third floor?”

“Hey, you’re smarter than you look,” she said. “I’ll ring the house manager’s room.” She plugged a cord into a jack and tapped out the Morse code letter ‘B’ on the ringer: Ringgggg Ring Ring Ring. Ringggggg Ring Ring Ring.

“What room was that again?” I asked.

She looked at me with an exasperated glare. “The University must have lowered their admissions standards. You’re the third person this week that has an attention disorder. Nine B.” The phone rang, and she turned away to answer the call.

As I walked down the main hallway, I could see the walls needed a coat of paint. Some glass panes on the multipaneled windows were cracked and opaque from the accumulated dirt and grime. The main-hallway carpet looked recently vacuumed, but the collection of dust in the corners suggested a need for a more competent cleaning. Overflowing trashcans should have been emptied days ago judging from the smell.

I climbed the three flights of stairs to the top floor and came out on floor nine onto a narrow hallway where a rotary phone, sitting on top of an Oakland area Yellow pages, rang. I sidestepped my way around the fifty-foot length of telephone cable snaking back to the telephone jack box at the other end of the hallway.

Every floor had a communal hallway telephone. Each room was assigned the Morse code equivalent of the room letter. When the phone rang on my floor, I listened to the rings to see if it were for me. Of the useless things I learned at Berkeley, I still remember American Morse code. I also learned to hate the Morse code for P, five short rings. The two women who lived in room P received calls all hours of the day and night and never answered their phone on the first set of rings.

Episode Nine from Chapter Two will be posted on August 26.

Web Site: Cloyne Court Hom

Monday, August 17, 2009

Good Bye, Cory

The Filipino Channel here in Northern California was in full blast for eight hours last week. My wife and I were watching the funeral services of the former President Corazon Aquino. She was the first woman president of the Philippines. It was in her term that democracy was restored in the Philippines. Her life and presidency, seemed like a second hand movie to me, since my family and I were residing here in the United States during her term. However, after reading all the eulogy and personal tributes and watching all the TV clips and news about her death, it was clear that we will miss her also and that the Filipino people have lost a woman, who was not only a former president but also a woman who has faith and is loved by the Filipino people. One of the tributes, that attracted my attention is the one written by Eli Obligacion of Mr Obligacion said it well. This tribute made me aware that she almost won the Nobel Peace Prize. Are you aware of this nomination? Anyway, Cory May you rest in Peace, Amen.

Chateau Du Mer-No problem with Brown Outs

Lately, I have received several complaints from tourists and residents about frequent brown outs in Marinduque. I have also heard that several visitors from Manila and abroad have second thoughts of spending their vacation funds just to arrive in Marinduque, then suffer the consequences of no electricity. I am proud to announce that my resort, Chateau Du Mer has its own industrial generator, so power brown outs is not a problem in the Beach Resort and Conference Center. Power black outs will not ruin your wedding reception parties or seminar,or your vacation just in case there is a brown out. There is no additionial fees for this convenience. The use of the GENERATOR is included in the rental fees.

However, I thoroughly agree with the complaints from several residents and tourists that this problem should be given the highest priority of the provincial government.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cloyne Court, Episode Seven

Episodes Five and Six not released!

Cloyne Court, Episode Seven
By Dodie Katague
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a real story that took place in Berkeley, California in the 1970s. A decision was made to jump-start chapter two and post it early.


I never heard of Cloyne Court Co-op before that day on the BART train. As I stood at the corner of Ridge Road and LeRoy Avenue, one block from campus, and within sight of the Campanile, I felt a pang of anxiety. This was my last chance to go back to Briones Valley.

Outside, on the front lawn of overgrown weeds, to the left of the massive four-foot wide Craftsman-style door, several men were clearing a patch of dirt and installing a five-foot tall yellow plaster banana. I stood in front of the massive three-story, wood-shingled building and watched them use a large level to balance the sculpture in its base.

“What are you staring at?” said a guy with a bushy mustache and mop-top haircut, who I took to be the actual sculptor of the giant Musa sapientum.

“Nothing. I was just looking at it,” I said. "What does it mean?"

“That’s the whole point,” said the sculptor. “Art is supposed to mean anything you want it to be. It's supposed to make you think of things you never considered. What do you see when you look at it?”

“A giant phallic symbol,” I said.

“See, I told you, Jeff,” said one of his helpers. “That’s exactly what I thought when I saw it."

The helper turned to me. "You should see his master’s thesis project in the backyard. It’s a dirt mound with a hole large enough for a person to cocoon, surrounded by ornamental grass mounds and has two pink wooden legs installed in a V shape pointing at the sky. That looks like a woman's …well, you know.”

Jeff looked at his helper and me with disdain. “You’re both morons. All you ever see in my sculptures is sex. Is that all men ever think about?” He ranted about the ivory tower, the bourgeoisie, the natural wellness of being and other topics I had never heard about. I lost interest in the conversation after ‘you’re both morons’ and headed inside.

As I discovered later, Cloyne Court was the largest residence hall owned by the University Students’ Co-op Association (USCA), housing one-hundred-fifty students. In its heyday, back at the turn of the nineteenth century, it was considered a classy modern hotel boarding University faculty, visiting professors, famous guests like Susan B. Anthony, and people waiting for their Northside Berkeley homes to be built.

The Co-op survived the 1906, San Francisco Earthquake and the Berkeley Northside Fire of 1923, which destroyed seven hundred homes several blocks north of campus. Years of college students and time had taken its toll on the building.[1] In 1977, at seventy-three, the building needed more than a paint job to bring it up to its fabled past. So, in 1982, the City of Berkeley declared it a historical landmark making it eligible for restoration funds. It is the only Berkeley City Landmark with my initials still carved on the inside doorjamb in the downstairs photography darkroom.

As I entered the building, I saw a glass-protected bulletin board called the Rogues Gallery mounted on the hallway wall. Inside the case were one-hundred-and-fifty, black-and-white mug shots of the residents with a script calligraphic nametag under each picture to identify them.

Beneath it was a long ratty couch. The couch color had once been yellow, but now was a dirty dismal, one of the few colors found in nature that is not on the PANTONE standard list.

I developed a love-hate affinity for that couch, the central gathering place for residents who wanted to interact with others. Residents like Betty Sue and Krista would do their class reading assignments there hoping for a human distraction between chapters. It would also be the starting point for our impromptu get-togethers, the late-night discussions, and the assembly place to gather before we headed to Fenton’s ice creamery or LaVal’s pizza. It was the same couch where I first saw that look of yearning in a woman’s eyes.

Lying on the couch was a student with a large Mohawk haircut. He was reading Descartes’ Discourse on the Method and eating a bag of Doritos. I looked at the Rogues Gallery to discover his name. How hard could it be to find a black-and-white photo of a man with a Mohawk? However, of the hundreds of photographs, there were no Mohawks. I saw that one square was missing a photo. It had a name, Kyd Byzzarre.

“Hi, are you Kyd?” I asked.

“Depends on whose asking,” he said. He looked me over suspiciously.

“I’m Derek. I’m moving in,” I said. I held out my hand to shake, but he didn’t budge. “How come your picture isn’t up here?”

His eyes lit up as he put down the book. Someone had finally taken an interest in the reason for his reflective reticence.

“I don’t want my picture taken, because I believe every time a photo is taken of me, it captures a little of my soul’s essence I can never get back. We have a limited amount of essence, you know. Some African tribes believe the loss of photographic essence is a religious sacrilege. I see it as a constitutional freedom. I don’t believe the government has a right to steal my essence.”

“How did you get a driver’s license?” I asked.

“I don’t drive. I ride a bicycle,” he said. “But I intend to go to law school and sue the Department of Motor Vehicles for violating my constitutional rights.”

That is, if a car didn’t flatten him while he pedaled to school. I would learn later that except for this oddity and his Mohawk, he turned out to be an intelligent guy, a capable basketball player and a sensitive and caring soul inside the punk exterior. I also discover that he had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for driving on a suspended license in Nevada, which gave him an additional reason for his ardent religious fervor.

[1] When the USCA bought the property in 1942, it was a male-only residence and provided additional housing for the Post World War II veterans returning to school under the G.I bill. In 1972, the Co-op went coed, changing its character forever.


Episode Eight from Chapter Two will be posted on August 19

Web Site: Cloyne Court Home Page

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cloyne Court, Excerpt Four , Five and Six

Here's Excerpt Four of Dodie's book. It is not true that we received food stamps, but we did reside in a student housing, subsidized by the government. Enjoy!
This is a typical Governmemt subsidized housing while I was a student at the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1962.

“I was nineteen when you were born,” my father said, "barely an adult, myself. But we made the best of it. We got by. I worked nights. I went on to earn my master’s degree and by then your sister was born. I was a graduate teaching assistant. Most times, we didn’t have enough money to pay the rent and feed four mouths.

“At one point, we moved to the projects and received food stamps. I didn’t like living on public assistance, but we had no choice. But you do. Don’t make the wrong choice now. Don’t make a choice you’ll regret for the rest of your life.”

“Don’t misunderstand us,” said my mother. “You were a godsend. We love you dearly. We can’t envision our lives without you.”

“But the timing was off,” my father said. “I gave up a lot back then.”

But that was eighteen years ago. I looked around at the twenty-four-hundred square foot tract house we lived in. It wasn’t the projects. We weren’t on public welfare. It wasn’t about them now. It was about me.

“I promise you I won’t make the same mistake, Dad,” I said. And I wanted a chance to prove it. “If you’re worried I’ll end up like you, I won’t. I’m not like you."

“You’re more like your father than you will ever know,” my mother said.

“Wait until the school year is over. Take the time to think it over,” my father said.

But a year was a glacial ice age.

“I can’t wait. I’d rather drop out of school than live like this."

“Living like this?” My father looked around. He pounded his fist on the granite kitchen countertop. “There’s nothing wrong with this home!”

He raised his voice. “If you drop out of school, you might as well pack your bags and … “ But his sentence trailed off into silence. And what? Leave? Isn’t that what I wanted? To live somewhere else?

“This conversation is over,” he said. “Why don’t you go to your room and … study?” He stormed off into the other room. It was the same ending for every argument.

I went to my room, lay on the bed, and stared at the cottage cheese ceiling and memento covered walls.

The walls were framed vignettes of my teenage life. There were photos from the senior prom next to the posters of Farah Fawcett and Cheryl Tiegs. I had tacked up the ticket stubs from every event I attended: nightclubs, rock concerts, movies and sporting events. Besides them were my debating medals prominently displayed alongside pictures of me in a leisure suit, below the second-place ribbons in impromptu speaking and humorous interpretation.

In addition, there was a guitar chord chart, which showed every chord variation--including barre chords--which I had not yet mastered. It hung next to my favorite photos of John Denver, Jim Croce and the Eagles.

More revealing, I had hundreds of black-and-white photographs pinned to a cork board wall that ran from ceiling to floor and took up one side of the room. They were of my high school friends- Eddie, Robbie & Jeanette, in stupid poses, jocular grins, bleary-eyed stoned expressions and moments of faux triumph. There were pictures of us washing cars to raise money; singing in the school choir; cheering at the Friday night football games and horseplaying at a summer pool party. Because I was the photographer who took these pictures, I was not in them. Yet, I could look at each picture and remember exactly where I was and what had happened. I was proud of them.

But I was prouder of the special photographs I kept hidden from my parents. They were my artistic collection of nude and seminude women. Actually, there was only one woman, my best friend--Jeanette.

Cloyne Court, Episode Five
By Dodie Katague
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.

I had known Jeanette since third grade at St. Joseph’s school. Her family was Irish Catholic, which accounted for her red hair and large family of eight siblings. Not only did I see her in school every day but also on Sundays at church, where her family sat in the entire third pew on the right side. My family took the back pew in the left front section, near the entrance because we frequently arrived late.

I hadn’t noticed that she had blossomed into a fine young lass (as her father would say) until I saw her at a party, sitting on some guy’s lap kissing him. I was full of envy and revulsion. Here was a girl whose birthday parties I had attended and whose mother taught both of us to bake cookies in her avocado green kitchen. To think of her as a sexual being caused me to have a hard-on that gave me guilt that only a thorough Catholic upbringing could instill.

So, how does a clueless high school student get a stunning, buxom, natural redhead to pose nude in front of a camera? It was easier than I thought it would be. I asked her. She said yes.

One a warm spring day, I was taking pictures for my photo school admissions portfolio of her posing in a decaying wooden farm shed window. I joked that my application would certainly be accepted if I had some nudes in my artwork. She looked at me for a minute, and I could see her mind concluding I had no ulterior motive for her to bare herself in front of me. And I didn’t. I needed the pictures, and I wasn’t about to lose a willing photography model by having sex with a longtime friend. Off came her blouse and out popped her beautiful breasts.

And those breasts were featured prominently in my artistic collection.[1] I had pictures of her standing topless in the farm-shed window. Both breasts exposed. One breast covered. Both breasts covered by her crossed hands. Topless photo poses of her on a half-sunken wooden boat on the mud flats of San Pablo Bay.

I had her standing unabashed naked in the middle of an orange poppy field or leaning against a stately oak tree contrasting her smooth white skin with the dark textured bark. We did water studies, where I would photograph the natural pattern where the waterline met her exposed buttocks or breasts. And my favorite series, where I photographed her as she stood on top of the largest grassy hill in Briones Valley at dusk. Her buttocks were featured prominently in the upper side of the photo overlooking the town. I called the artwork “Moon over Briones Valley, California” as a farcical tribute to Ansel Adams’s “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.”

I tried to create the same Adams effect in the photos by increasing the black parts in the sky around her white buttocks to give it a contrasting intensity between light and dark that was characteristic of Adams’s operatic style.

I was awakened from my thoughts by the sound of my father and mother arguing upstairs in their bedroom. I couldn’t hear what was said. I hoped my mother was winning. If anyone could understand me, it had to be her.

A few minutes later, my parents knocked on my bedroom door. My mother entered carrying my birthday present I had left on the kitchen counter. She handed it to me. Behind her was my father. They had decided and despite the disagreement, the yelling, the raised voices, and feigned crying that accompanied their intense arguments, they were united in the outcome.

“Your father and I met at college,” she said in a wistful tone.

“And it’s your life,” my father added. “Don’t screw it up.” I’m sure he meant it literally. “You’ll have to get a part-time job to pay for your housing. But we agree you should live on campus.”

“Go ahead, open your present,” mother said. “It’ll also be a going-away gift.”

I untied the ribbon and ripped open the package. It was a new camera. A Minolta SRT-102 single lenses reflex 35mm camera with a 35-105 millimeter-macro zoom lens, the latest model that had replaced the SRT-101.

"We know you wanted to be a photographer and attend that trade school, but attending Berkeley and graduating from there will be better for you in the long run,” my father said. “But we didn’t want you to think we didn’t care. I’m sure you’ll find a good use for the camera in Berkeley.”

I hugged them both for the longest time. I loved my family. My life was beginning. I was leaving the nest. But it didn’t hurt to leave open the possibility of returning home in case my initial flight from infancy crashed and burned.
Web Site: Cloyne Court Home Page

Cloyne Court, Episode Six
By Dodie Katague
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.


A week later, I was in the UC housing office seeking a place to live for the Winter Quarter. I wanted to move into the dormitories on the south side of campus, but there were a dozen students on the waiting list. The fraternities had already had Rush week, but if the frat boys were like the pompous and self-centered jerks I met in my classes, I wanted nothing to do with them.
On the ROOMMATES WANTED board were two listings: One was for a black nonsmoking vegetarian female into EST willing to share a room with a white lesbian Jewish female graduate student working on her master’s degree in Political Economics of Natural Resources; the other advertised for a male who was willing to live in a pool cabana that had been illegally converted into an in-law unit, and work as a pool-boy for the landlord in exchange for a lower rent. The landlord wanted prospective tenants to submit a picture with their application and be willing to discuss their top ten sexual turn-ons.

OK, I admit, the latter listing was from the Berkeley Barb, the local adult free weekly, in the personal classified section. I would have considered the listing, but I didn’t understand what the abbreviations GWM, S/M, N/S, B/D, m4mm meant.

My prospects looked bleak until I reached into my sweatshirt pocket and found a crumpled flyer taken from a hawker at Sather Gate. The flyer was for housing at the University Student Cooperative Association, or the Co-op. The handout advertised housing that was cheaper than the dormitories because it was student-run and operated. Each student had to contribute five hours work a week at the house and the flyer said there were openings for Winter Quarter starting in January.

Here was my chance to move and be near campus. I applied for the first available spot at any of the eleven houses.

My inauspicious residency at Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road, Berkeley, California, north of the UC campus, was about to begin.

Web Site: Cloyne Court Home Page

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Marinduque-Communist Free

Photo from
ABS-CBN NEWS, Philippines announced recently that the Philippine Military would turn over the responsibility of addressing communist’s insurgency in Marinduque to the local Philippine National Police (PNP). The news stated that membership of the New People's Army (NPA), a group of communist rebels has gone to zero in the island. Marinduque is the first province throughout the Philippines where internal-security operations will be turned over to the local PNP.

Arm Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Lt. General Roland Detabali said that for the past few years, no reported incidents involving the communists rebels (NPA) had been reported in my island province. My family and I have been residents of this island six months every year since 2002 after my retirement from the Food and Drug Administration, in Rockville, Maryland. I am not surprise of this news.

General Detabali also said that the military has plans to turn over to the local police the counter-insurgency operations against the communist’s rebels in the neighboring provinces of Romblon, Cavite and Laguna in the near future.

AFP estimated that there are still around 4,800 members of the NPA scattered all over the country. There are still problems with the communist rebels in the Bicol Regions as well as in the province of Batangas. Lt. General Detabali hopes that by the end of President Arroyo's term in about 10 months the threats of communist insurgency will be completely eliminated in the whole country.

The handover ceremony was held recently at the village of Paye in the capital town of Boac.Local government executives, top military and police officials attended this turnover ceremony.

AFP officials declared that this turn over of responsibility is a milestone in the internal security operations of the Philippine Military and its fight against communist rebel’s activities in the country.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cloyne Court-Excerpt Three

Here's Excerpt Three from Cloyne Court: My wife and I did not have pre-marital sex. Dodie's writing is fiction this time, just for dramatic effect. But the essence of the conversation between the three of us is true.

Image from
Continuation of Excerpt Two:

“Most of them. My Political Science professor is a Nobel laureate,” I said. I wanted to reassure her the tuition money was well spent, but in a lecture hall with five hundred students, my Nobel laureate professor, M.S. PhD. B.F.D., would never learn my name or recognize my face.

My father entered the kitchen. He was holding a gift-wrapped package behind his back. It was my birthday present. They had remembered and had waited for me to finish dinner. “Happy birthday!” They cheered and presented me with the gift.

“Thanks Mama. Thanks Dad. Listen, I have something to tell you.” I hoped they could see the seriousness in my face.

“This isn’t about dropping out and going to that photography trade school again, is it?” my father asked. Trade School had been my fallback plan if Berkeley had rejected me. “I’ve told you before, we will not pay your tuition for any school other than Berkeley. If you want to reject the best thing that’s happened to you, we will not pay for it. Right, mama?” He looked at my mother for support.

“Derek, we know you’re having adjustment problems at Berkeley. Everybody does. That’s normal,” said my mother.

“Mama, Dad, I am not dropping out. But, if I’m going to college for the next four years, I want to experience a real college life. I don't want to spend a quarter of my life on a BART train.”

They paused and looked relieved.

I continued, “I need to live on campus. I’m tired of commuting back and forth every day to Berkeley. I have no friends. I have no social life. I want to do more than go to class and come home.”

“College isn’t for social life, it’s to get ahead in life,” my Dad said. “Study hard now. Get a good job. Then you can have a social life.”

“But, you had a social life while you were in school,” I said.

“That was different. I was married. I was completing my Masters in chemistry and your mother was having children.” He looked at her, as if she had been the sole cause of the children being born while he studied at some mid-western podunk college.

“What he means,” said my mother, “is you have a safe, warm place to live while you go to school. You don't have to work. You don’t have to worry. You can focus your energy into your studies without distractions.”

Their reasons made sense. I had a free place to live. I had student loans to pay for my part of my tuition and federal work/study grants to pay for books and incidentals. However, it still wasn’t good enough. I wanted the distractions.

“I’m not meeting anyone.” That was the true reason I wanted to live away from home. I wanted to meet a woman who would meet me after class for drinks at the Café Med and take me back to her dorm room.

“Don’t make the same mistake I made,” my father pleaded. “My whole life …” He glanced at my mother. “Both our futures were changed because I had the same urges--the same desires you have now. I could have waited. But I didn’t. I was young and foolish. I should have concentrated on school. I should have never fallen in love at such an early age. But it happened, and I--we paid the consequences.”

“What consequences?” I wondered. They met. They fell in love. They married. They had children while they were still in college and graduate school. Their lives turned out fine.

My mother looked at my father for a moment and sighed. He came over to her and gently placed his hand on her shoulder, “Go ahead. Tell him.”

She took a deep breath. “You weren’t a premature baby. I did not go into labor early because I slipped and fell,” my mother said. “That’s the story we told your grandparents when you were born. You were a full-term baby.”

She told me this, as if she were admitting to murder, ashamed of my conception. My father kept his stoic face as practiced as any professional poker player.

I did a mental calculation. My mind began to spin. I was a love child. “You were three months pregnant with me when you married?” I said. I was shocked. Not because they had premarital sex, but because they had admitted they had sex. Nobody wants to hear that from their parents.

Excerpt Four coming soon! (

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bitik and Tarug Caves,and Hinulugan Falls

Three recent boosts to the local ecotourism development in Marinduque includes the latest exploration of Bitik Caves in Santa Cruz, the Hinulugan Falls in Torrijos and the Tarug Caves in Mogpog.
Here's is the video of the exploration of Bitik caves published recently in the provincial blog as part of the Adventure Series, edited by E. Obligacion.

Two other sites that were also recently explored are Hinulugan Falls in Torrijos and Tarug Caves in Mogpog. May I reiterate that development of these local natural wonders of the province will definitely add to the claim of Marinduque as the ecotourism capital of the Philippines.
Entrance to Tarug Cave, Mogpog and Hinulugan Falls, Torrijos

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Time for Second Contest to win free 2-nights and 3 Days stay at Chateau Du Mer, Boac,Marinduque

About two years ago, I announced a contest to win 2-nights and 3 days stay at Chateau Du Mer. A winner was chosen last year. Today, I am announcing a second contest to win this prize. I encourage all members of Face Book Katague/Catague Clan Group to participate in this contest. Read the details below:

Have you heard about the scenic beauty and unspoiled beaches of the island of Marinduque? Here is your chance to win a free 2-night stay at the Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines. All you have to do is write an essay of not more than 250 words why you want to visit Marinduque. The essay will be judged on originality and honesty. The winning essay will be published in my blog above. It is open to all non-marinduqueno over 13 years old.

The prize is redeemable whole year round except on the weeks of Easter and Christmas and will not expire until December, 2011. It is non transferable and requires at least 60 days notice prior to the date of arrival.

Please note that the beach house maximum capacity is only 4 adults and 2 children. For details about the beach house, visit my website and for information on the province of Marinduque, visit

Please submit your essay as a comment in this blog or to my e-mail
I am looking forward for your submission..

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cloyne Court-Excerpt Two

Image from
Based on a true story from 1977, University of California, Berkeley
“I don't mean to be ungrateful for your advice,” I said, “but how do you know what my life is like?
“It’s written in your face. Your aura is grey and orange with a touch of sulfur. You’re tired and depressed. You desire to control your life, but you can’t. Go and live elsewhere. You must do this for your future.”
Her percipient statements unnerved me. How could she know that I was tired and depressed from riding in silence with hundreds of train commuters twice each day? Had she been following me around campus, as I passed hundreds of cute women in Sproul Plaza, none of whom I had the courage to speak to, while aggressive hawkers shoved flyers at my face at Sather Gate? I looked for another seat. The train was packed.
She started chanting or moaning to herself. I wasn’t sure which. Nevertheless, it was loud enough that other passengers began to stare at her; then at me. I wanted nothing more to do with her. She was probably just another schizophrenic mental patient who roamed the Berkeley city streets.
Even so, as I listened to her chant, I suddenly felt an inner peace. I no longer felt revolted by her presence. On the other hand, why should I believe her? Why should I suspend my skepticism? That’s when I had the vision.
Like a seasick stupor, everything around me stood transfixed and silent as the train moved forward. I could not hear the ambient noise of the wind rushing by the windows or the sound of the train wheels click-clacking on the tracks. All I heard was her chanting like an Indian medicine woman. That’s when I realized the old hag was a shaman. She was giving me a message that in my soul I knew to be true .
But how could she know? Could she really read my bioenergy and feel my unhappiness? Or had she just read my body language and tagged me as a gullible mark as any charlatan fortuneteller or con man could do?
Either way, I was not deterred by her madness. I wanted to believe her because at that moment in my young life, I had nothing else to believe.
“Where should I go?” I asked.
“Cloyne Court. North on the ridge road; in sight of the tower.” She chanted the words like a Nostradamus prophecy.
I acknowledged her advice with a sharp nod and as abruptly as it had appeared, the vision departed. I could hear again the train driver announce the next stop over the intercom as he brought the train to a screeching stop. My shaman stood , walked through the sliding train doors and onto the train platform.
That evening, as I walked the short distance from the bus stop to my parent's house in the dwindling twilight, I decided to heed the shaman’s words and make my first life-changing decision eight hours into my adult life. Time was a-wasting and I wanted to get on with it. Now I had to break the news to my parents. Would they let me move out? How would I pay to live on my own?
“How’s my brilliant University student today?” my mother asked, as she placed my reheated dinner in front of me. My mother’s cooking was full of spices and her years of domestic culinary practice could transform meatloaf into a Chez Panisse main entrée. I’m sure the dinner was up to her usual piquant standard, but tonight I forked the food from one side to the other as I thought of when to tell them of my decision.
“It’s tough, Mama,” I told her. “College is a lot harder than high school. Everyone is smart and experienced. Most of the students have already covered the basics in high school, while I’m learning it for the first time.”
It was a disappointing discovery. My public high school taught to the lowest common denominator. I had been bored. Absolutely, nothing had challenged my mind, and I graduated with straight A’s without exerting myself.
I didn’t want to tell her that I had flunked the University Subject A exam and was now required to take “Bonehead” English (along with half of all incoming freshmen), because I had failed to prove I could write to the University’s standards.
The news would have shattered my mother’s pedestal opinion of me. My acceptance to Cal, the University of California, Berkeley, the most prestigious public University in the country, granted her bragging rights at her weekly coffee klatch of mothers whose children were at lesser-ranked institutions of higher learning.
“And the professors? Are they good?” she asked.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cloyne Court-Excerpt One

The Cloyne Court Yard, Image from
Here's Excerpt One of Dodie's first novel, The Cloyne Court:
Experiencing a spiritual epiphany is like hallucinating from a drug overdose. Both alter your future in ways you can never imagine. While you’re under the influence of either, you’re acutely aware that something inexplicable and bizarre is occurring, but you don’t want the vision to end until you’ve figured out what’s causing you to look at your life with a surreal insight.
On my eighteenth birthday in October 1976 while waiting at the Berkeley BART station, I noticed a pretty young woman board the train several cars down from where I stood. She was dressed similar to me, wearing a blue sweatshirt with an embossed gold script Cal logo, straight-leg blue jeans, and carried a heavy book pack. From her clothes, she looked like a freshman university student. As I stood in the aisle, grasping a handhold ceiling strap in a jam-packed rocking train of silent commuters headed towards the end of the line in Richmond, I felt compelled to talk to her.
Was she commuting each day to school as I was? Would she be riding the same connecting bus to my hometown of Briones Valley, a small, middle-class suburb on the banks of San Pablo Bay? Was she also living with her parents while attending her first year at the University of California, Berkeley?Image from
On this milestone birthday, I had become an adult in the eyes of the law. Yet, not a single student, teacher, person or nonfamily member noticed or cared. Except for my Teaching Assistant in Chemistry, who spoke only to impart scientific knowledge while holding a piece of chalk, no one had uttered a single word to me or conversed with me that day.
I had just endured an interminable four hours in a Chemistry lab, trying to attain some subatomic result within a minor standard deviation of acceptable answers. I had failed miserably. My Calculus homework remained in my book pack unopened.I would be spending my first evening of adulthood trying to resolve equations I would never understand.
However, I wanted to understand her and without a contrived plan of what I was going to say to her, I urged myself forward, bumping against people who were standing firm in the aisles and traversed my way from train car to train car.
“Hi, I’m Derek Marston! Are we in the same Subject A class?” I thought I would say to break the ice, but that would assume she knew what “Subject A” was.
Or perhaps, “Weren’t you in my high school photography class?” But that line would ring hollow if she had attended a school that was small enough that every senior knew every other senior, and besides, I was a college man now. Why bring up a past I was glad to escape?
In the third train car, I saw the back of her head. I hurriedly sat in the empty seat opposite her, trying not to smile at my lucky break!
As I looked into her face to speak, I was revolted at the sight. My beguiling woman wore a reddish brown shag hairdo as disheveled as a cheap wig hastily pinned to a Styrofoam head. Her wrinkled face, lined with age, was pocked with red freckles and her bulging eyes and gaunt cheeks gave her a ghoulish appearance.
Despite her ghastly look, she had a tiny-jeweled earring in her pierced left ear that stood-out like a minuscule diamond in a coal slag. She was the woman I had seen entering the train, and she must have seen the disappointment in my face.
“You must leave,” she said, staring at my brow.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize the seat was taken.” I was looking for a graceful way out of my dilemma.
“No! Stay seated. You must leave your home and find happiness.”
Why was she telling me this?________________________________________________________
Excerpt Two will be in my next posting, soon! Watch for it! (TO BE CONTINUED)

Cloyne Court-Dodie's First Novel

In my posting dated 7/30/09 in this site, The POWER IS WITHIN YOU, I wrote that when I found out that Dodie's ( my oldest son) first novel, The Cloyne Court was scheduled for publication by Three Clover Press this Fall , I was very exited and happy for him. But deep inside me, I feel a little envious, since writing is not my son's livelihood and writing a novel is also one of the things I wish I could do in my spare time. But this envy turn to admiration and pride just within a few minutes after I read the news from the publisher. I immediately sent him an e-mail congratulating him on his achievement and that my Christmas gift from him this year will be an autographed copy of his book The pre-publication promotion for Dodie's book is at below

What is a creative memoir? Well, it is the same as creative nonfiction. In the case of 'Cloyne Court', the story is based on journals the author wrote while attending the University of California, Berkeley and living at the student coop. So, this novel is based on a true story.
The memoir, especially as it is being used in publishing today, often tries to capture certain highlights or meaningful moments in one's past, often including a contemplation of the meaning of that event at the time of the writing of the memoir. The memoir may be more emotional and concerned with capturing particular scenes, or a series of events, rather than documenting every fact of a person's life.
The names of the 'characters' that populate Katague's memoir have been changed to protect those innocent people that may be guilty. Individual characters in the memoir are composites of several, real people and do not represent one person.
Katague said that more than seventy-five percent of his memoir is factual. He did take liberties with the other twenty-five percent for plot purposes, and that is where the author recreated scenes from memory that were not clearly defined in the journals he kept. Due to that, anyone that lived at Cloyne Court from 1976 to 1980, may find some scenes do not match what they remember. That is to be expected.

I hope you will read and purchase Dodie's first novel. He is now starting on his second novel, The Devil's Mountain,DA, a thriller set on a dysfunctional District Attorney's Office, somewhere in Northern California. My next posting on this subject will be some excerpts from Chapter 1 of his book.


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