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!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Love and Hate of Life in the Philippines

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Music for Relaxation and Meditation

I was searching for meditation and relaxation music in You Tube last night. I found this short scenic video ( about 4.5 minutes) which reminds of Marinduque, particular the scenic photos of the beaches and sunsets. However, the scenes are actually from India. It is titled "Water Element" from the album Sci-India by Zane Savage. The music could be purchase from Astronomy Records. Enjoy!

Dan Brown's Latest Novel- The Lost Symbol

I just purchased Dan Brown's latest novel, “The Lost Symbol” at Wall Mart for less than $17 this morning. The cover price is $29.95. I have read all of his four books, The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, Deception Point and Digital Fortress. Of course The Da Vinci Code is his most popular and widely read novel and was made into a blockbuster movie. If you have not read the book or have not seen the movie you must be living in another world. Anyway, here's the short synopsis of the “ The Lost Symbol” to whet your appetite.

“ In this stunning follow-up to the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown demonstrates once again why he is the world's most popular thriller writer. The Lost Symbol is a masterstroke of story telling-a deadly race through a real labyrinth of codes, secrets, and unseen truths....all under the watchful eye of Brown's most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels and temples of Washington, D.C., The Lost Symbol accelerates through a startling landscape toward an unthinkable finale.

As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the US Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object-artfully encoded with five symbols-is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.

When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon-a prominent Mason and philanthropist-is brutally kidnapped. Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-seen location-all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.

As the world discovered in The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, Dan Brown's novels are brilliant tapestries of veiled histories, arcane symbols and enigmatic codes. In this new novel, he again challenges readers with an intelligent, lightning-paced story that offers surprises at every turn. The Lost Symbol is exactly what Brown's fans have been waiting for...his most thrilling novel yet.”

Of the four older novels of Dan Brown, my favorite is Angels and Demons. May be after I finished reading The Lost Symbol, I may change my mind. I got to go. I am so eager to start reading my new purchase. I hope to hear from you after you read The Lost Symbol. Happy Reading.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Five Favorite National Parks

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Last Monday was officially the start of the Fall Season here in Northern California. However, the temperature is still like summer and my air conditioner is still continuously humming. I believe in a couple of weeks, the temperature will turn to normal levels and you will see the leaves turning yellow and golden brown in the foothills of Northern California and in the Lake Tahoe Areas. Next week we are spending one week at our time share at “The Ridge”, Lake Tahoe, Nevada. I am looking forward to see the start of the fall colors along Highway 50 as well as some casino gambling at Harrah's and at Harveys. Perhaps, a Cruise and Dinner at the Lake if we are lucky at the casinos. Wish us luck!

How about you? Have you been to a national park with your family this summer? Macrine and I have visited the following five national parks just recently with the exception of Yosemite. I added a short description of the five parks. These five parks are in our favorite list.

1. ARCHES: The park is known for its natural arches. There are more than 2000 ranging in size from a three foot opening up to the Landscape Arch which measures 306 feet from base to base. It lies near the heart of the desert called the Colorado Plateau, in the State of Utah. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of land forms in a small area. You can bike, hike or drive an 18 mile scenic road from the entrance to the north point of the Park. There are three picnic areas along the way. The two most famous arch are the Delicate and Skyline Arches.

2. BRYCE CANYON: The park is famous for its unique geology, consisting of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau of Southern Utah. The erosional force of frost-wedging and the dissolving power of rainwater have shaped the colorful limestone into bizarre shapes including slot canyons, windows, fins and spires called “Hoodoos”.
The park was named after the Mormon pioneer Ebenezer Bryce and it become a national park in 1924.

My wife and I visited this park just about three months ago. This visit was one of the best vacation we had since my retirement in 2002. Tinted with colors ranging from light brown to dark red, these whimsically arranged rocks, creates a wondrous landscape of mazes. A 45 minute walk from Inspiration to Sunset Point was the highlight of our visit. Ponderosa pines, high elevation meadows, and fir-spruce forest border the rim of the canyon and abound with wild life. Several scenic points offer a panoramic view of three states and about 200 miles of visibility. We did not stay overnight, but our guide tour and driver, informed us that the lack of large light sources nearby, creates unparalleled opportunities for for stargazing at night.

3. GRAND CANYON: This park is the only natural wonder of the US, that made it to the final 28 natural Wonders of the world as announced by the new 7 natural wonders of the world organization, recently. I have also visited this park and I agree with the 7 new natural wonder judges that Grand Canyon should be one of the top 28 finalists in this worldwide contest. I am even hoping that it will be voted one of the 7 new natural wonder of the world in 2011.

The Grand Canyon is more than a great chasm carved over million of years ago through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. It is more than an awe-inspiring view. It is more than a pleasuring ground for those who explore its roads, hike its trails or float in the currents of the turbulent Colorado River.

The Canyon is a gift of nature that transcends what we experience in life. Its beauty and size humbles us. Its timelessness provokes a comparison to our short existence in this universe. Visiting the place makes me feel calmed and relaxed , as I gazed in amazement the beauty and splendor of this National Park. The park can be enjoyed whole year round.

4. YOSEMITE: I have visited this park a number of times about 20 years ago, when my family was still residing in the Stanislaus County, Modesto, California. The park embraces a spectacular tract of mountain and valley scenery of the Sierra Nevada. It was made into a national park in 1890. The park has a number of waterfalls, meadows, forests that include groves of giant sequoias, the world largest living trees.

The park highlights include the Yosemite valley, high cliffs, and waterfalls. There is the historic Wawona Hotel( famous for its Christmas Dinners and Decorations), the Mariposa Grove, which contains hundreds of giant sequoias, Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows and a large sub-alpine meadow surrounded by mountain peaks and Hetch-Hetchy- a reservoir in a valley considered a twin of Yosemite Valley. Ninety Five percent of the park area is designated as wilderness areas that provides opportunities for solitude and relaxation. There are over 800 miles of trails for hiking and backpacking. There is some trout fishing in the streams that my family enjoyed during one of our visits several years ago. Our first visit to the park in the early 1970's was my first experience in camping. One night, our camp site and garbage can was visited by the bears - an experience my kids will never forget. The visit of the bears was the highlight of our trip to Yosemite at that time. The classic beauty and fascinating ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range are well represented in the wilderness of Yomesite National Park. I consider this park very friendly to families with small children.

5. ZION NATIONAL PARK: This is another park that my wife and I just visited recently. The park is home to narrow canyons, overlooks, emerald pools, a petrified forest, a desert swamp, springs and waterfalls, hanging gardens, wild flowers and wildlife .It is located in Southwest Utah near the Arizona border. Zion is part of the Southwest “ Grand Circle” of national parks, monuments, historical areas and recreation areas. It is also a wilderness preserve which includes the world largest arch-KOLOB ARCH, spanning 310 feet. The park has high plateaus, a maze of narrow, deep, sandstones canyons and striking rock towers and mesas. The North Fork of the Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge with canyon walls that rises to 2000-3000 feet above the canyon floor in most places. My wife and I just spent just 90 minutes touring the canyon by the Park's bus. We did not have the time to hike or at least stay overnight. We wish we have more time to enjoy the wild life flora and fauna of the park. According to the park's guides, the Park is home to many mammals and critters such as the collared lizard, Gambel's quail and sometimes even a golden eagle.

Other parks that we have visited are as follows: The Redwood National Park, the Muir Woods National Monument, The Point Reyes National Seashore, The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, The Hawaiian Volcano National Park (photo above), Shenandoah Mountains, and the Blue Ridge Mountain and its famous Skyline Drive in Virginia, and the Luray Caverns in West Virginia. For description of these parks, visit the National Park Service site at

Cloyne Court, Episode Thirteen

Cloyne Court, Episode Thirteen
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

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


Wow, I had never seen that before! And it wasn’t just one slide of clitoris rising through the pubic hair, but twenty or thirty slides of buttons in every shape, size, skin color, pubic hair color and vaginal area. I must admit at first I was excited to see color slides of a woman’s erogenous zone, but after the eighth or ninth slide, the presentation was becoming a numb, clinical anatomy lesson.
When the room lights came back on, several men were standing by the hallway doors peering into the room. They had seen the slides of the giant vaginas from the hallway.

Mary Jewell asked them to come in and join the discussion or leave. The men quickly left allowing me to savor my honored role as the token male.

Once the women had become comfortable again, Candace opened the discussion on successful techniques for orgasm. I hoped she had a Cliff Notes® version with the answers (and pictures and drawings!) that she was going to hand out, but I was overly optimistic. She wanted suggestions from the audience.

A bashful silence filled the room for several minutes, until one brave soul, a woman who lived on the eighth floor with her lesbian lover, spoke up. “My partner and I like to use our tongues. It can be supersensitive, and she’s very sensitive down there.”

As I listened to this woman describe a private intimate detail between them, my mind wandered. I imagined her and her partner with their heads between each other's legs. The discussion continued for several minutes until my fantasy was interrupted by a question directed to me.

“Derek, what do you think?" asked Candace. "From the male perspective, because you are the only male here, and of course, we won’t stereotype your answer as being applicable to all the male species, do you have any special techniques that you find helpful for your partner?”

I could feel everyone staring at me. I couldn’t answer this question from experience. I had none. I wouldn’t admit it either, and I wasn’t going to let down the entire male species by not giving an answer. I blurted the first lines I remembered from Penthouse magazine, October 1976 in the Forum section.

“I like to thrust deeply.”

Several of the men-haters in the group made audible comments. “Typical man!” “It’s always about the penis, isn’t it?” “Animalist!”

I said, “No wait, hear me out!

It appeared to me whatever I had to say would be meaningless to those close-minded women opposed to my presence because of my gender.

“Please go on,” Candace said. “We’re listening.”

“It’s not the penis that is doing the stimulation, but the man’s body rubbing against her repeatedly in rhythmic thrusts.”

I heard more anti-male murmurs and some allusions to rape and violence.

“Gently, at first,” I said. “Slowly building in intensity while looking for signals from her body, like her breathing or her muscle spasms or the expressions on her face.”

What did I know about a woman’s muscle spasm or facial expression? Nothing. I was quoting verbatim from page 57 of The Sensuous Man by M [1], but it was working. "I like women who voice their pleasure. It tells me whether I'm doing something right or whether I should try something else."

Several women verbally endorsed the statement. “You tell ‘um, girl!” said Keisha, the only black woman living in the house. Keisha had Bo Derek cornrow braids and light-chocolate skin that made me think of brown sugar. Her show of support was followed by suppressed tittering and giggling from the rest of the room.

I looked around. The women would never think I had anything germane to say. Then it occurred to me that I had actually learned something from the slide show.

“Wasn't the whole point of the slides to show that every woman has the same body parts, but every woman is different? Different techniques for different women,[2]” I said.

I continued for a minute or two explaining in the most feminine erotica of terms, the sex scene from some Mitchell Brother's porn movie I had seen at my best friend, Jeannette’s older brother's friend's bachelor party, and attributing it to me. When I finished, the room fell silent. I felt like smoking a cigarette.

Keisha fanned herself in exaggeration. “Wow! I’m exhausted. You can roll over and fall asleep now!” Keisha was wearing a tight Danskin’s Camisole that clung to her dancer’s body. I couldn’t imagine falling asleep with her.

Several of the other heterosexual women in the room murmured in agreement. Carrie and her lesbian lover hugged each other tighter and glared at me in disgust while the other lesbians kept reassuring themselves by repeating their mantra, "A woman doesn’t need a man to satisfy themselves!" to anyone that listened. I was proud of myself. I had upheld the benefits of the male penis in front of the legion of lesbians.

At the end of the discussion, Candace held up a reference book. It was the revised and updated version of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She said, “I recommend that your co-op purchase several copies for your house library.”

“Let’s vote on it at tomorrow night’s house meeting,” Mary Jewel said.

“Can we get it on the agenda this quickly?” Jill asked.

“Not a problem,” Lisa said. “I’ll just show my Bunkie the coital positions in chapter twelve. It’ll be on the agenda tomorrow.”

The meeting ended and several women, who I did not know but wanted to get to know, approached me.

“You were brave to attend this meeting,” said one. “Welcome to Cloyne Court.”

“Yeah, I wish my Bunkie would have attended. He might have learned a lesson or two,” said another. “Glad there’s a sensitive man who understands women.”

I basked in the attention. I looked around the room. My mystery woman was leaving. She was cheerless and silent, unlike the rest of the attendees, who seemed energized and empowered from the evening’s information. I wanted to introduce myself, but she disappeared up the stairs. I wondered why she looked so sad.

[1] Which I read sub rosa at the Briones Valley Public Library Reference section while hiding it in an oversized monograph on Pet Care.

[2] What I meant to say was ‘different strokes for different folks’ but stroking is a man thing. I didn’t think the lesbians would appreciate the phallic metaphors.

Web Site: Cloyne Court Home Page (

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Its Already Christmas in the Philippines

Do you know that September 1 is the beginning of Christmas Season in the Philippines? It not only starts on the first day of September, but it ends 5 months later on January 31 every year. If you do not believe me , try reading some blogs about life in the Philippines from American and European expatriate nationals who are now living in the Philippines with their Filipina wives. My favorite web site is Bob Martin's, In this magazine, one of the contributors discuss how he felt hearing “White Christmas” and other Christmas songs two weeks ago, cooling off at Mcdonald Restaurant at their local mall because there was a power outage that day in their subdivision. Speaking of Christmas songs my favorite Filipino Christmas song is Pasko Na Sinta Ko( Its Christmas, My Love) sang by world famous singer Lea Salonga. Here's a short video of the song plus another Filipino Christmas ballad( Sana Ngayon Pasko Na). If you are an OFW ( Overseas Filipino Worker) you will enjoy these two songs with background of the Philippine scenery, Filipino food and delicacies. I hope it will make you feel nostalgic about the Philippines.
I hope you enjoy Lea Salonga's rendition of these two popular Filipino Christmas ballads.

Here in US, the Christmas Season starts after Thanksgiving and ends the day after New Year or sometimes after the Feast of Three Kings on January 6. Merry Christmas to ALL!

I believe the Philippines is the only country in the world that celebrate Christmas 5 months every year.
Am I right? Are there any other countries in the world that celebrates Christmas longer than 5 months?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Social Networking and Face Book

Some of the Networking Sites
There are several social networking sites in the web. The three popular ones are Face Book (FB), Twitter (TR) and My-Space (MS). I have FB and TR, but I like FB better, because there are several applications available for users. I love the Chat option and the Link option. You can also play games, like Farmville or Mafia Wars. But I do not play the games posted in FB. It is just an avenue for advertising. I play Bridge and Bookworm in the computer, however. You can also post your pictures, set up events and create and joined open and closed groups. I created a group, "Marinduquenos All over the World”. I joined the group, The Catague and Katague Clan and Marinduque the Heart of the Philippines. In FB, I was able to reconnect with long lost relatives, and linked my eight blog sites. I have Twitter, but you are limited to 140 words so I prefer FB. The Chat option of FB is sometimes spotty and slow, but I have chatted from locations in Jedda, the Philippines, Canada, Australia and other parts of US. I am happy with the Chat option. Try it, if you have not done it yet. You can actually chat with several users at the same time.

So, what are your reasons why you use FB. I guess you want to find friends in the Internet, chat with them and expressed your daily sentiments for everybody to read.
By doing so, it makes you feel better for you know at least one person is reading it. Right? You probably also enjoy reading what others are doing or saying. It is just like eves dropping on someone. Probably, similar to watching a reality TV show. Am I right? My daughter also informed me that some Face Book users are called "creepers" or "stalkers". I called them "eves droppers". Some like to add comments and others are just automatic "like Clickers". Which group do you belong? I belong to both groups. Others joined to advertise their blogs and hopefully connect with clients. Whatever your reasons are for using Face Book is not important as long as you enjoy doing it. Happy Face Booking to All!

I observed that most users of FB are young. You will know by their chatter and immature comments. But I have also several mature, intelligent and educated friends in FB. I believe most of my friends in FB are in their early 20 to 30's. I have only about 200 friends, and wants more. So, if your are reading this blog and used FB and are not in my friends list, please invite me. Again, I will be glad to hear, why you like Face Book and Social networking in general.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Son is Learning Filipino (Tagalog)

I have four children ranging in age from 44 to 51 years old residing here in US. The three were born in US , but all of them grew up without learning how to speak Tagalog, the Filipino national language that my wife and I speak at home, besides English and a little Spanish as well as the Ilongo dialect, the dialect that I grew up with. When my children were growing up, I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois in Chicago. We resided in the Staff Apartment of the University. We have no Filipino neighbors and the playmates of our children were all English speaking. We have a Filipina psychiatrist friend residing nearby our apartment. We consulted her, if it is wise to teach the children Tagalog. She advised us not to teach the children the language, since she felt, it will just confuse them. This advise was the worst advise we had received, judging from what my children are telling us today.

My oldest son studied Tagalog at University of California in Berkeley during his undergraduate student days. Because, he was not speaking it daily, he has forgotten what he has studied and currently can not speak the language. My second son, however, insisted on speaking to us in Tagalog, in spite of his American accent, after he took a Tagalog course in an evening class in our local junior college. He purchased a Tagalog-English dictionary. He has also video lessons, where could listen to the real Filipino accent. He is improving in his proficiency and vocabulary of the language. His accent, however, is still very American, that sometimes we have to ask him to repeat what he is saying since we can not understand him.

Two years ago, at our 50th Wedding Anniversary, he gave his congratulatory speech in Tagalog. He was the talk of the town and received thunderous applause after his talk. The guests enjoyed his courage to speak in public with his little knowledge of the language.

This morning, I found my son glued in our newly purchased 42'' LCD TV screen practicing his accent. He had purchased another video with a Filipino pronouncing the Tagalog words with pictures. My son live with us, since he is single. He takes care of the house, the yard and pool when we are in the Philippines. Someday, he wants to retire in the Philippines and his knowledge of Tagalog will indeed be useful. I am so proud of my son learning our native language. As for the my other three children, they have no intention of retiring in the Philippines, so learning Tagalog is not one of their concerns. My advise to the second, or third generation Filipinos residing in US, Canada or other parts of the world is to teach your children the language in their formative years ( 2 to 4 years old). You will never know that in the future, they might want to visit or live in the Philippines.

(Note: Since most Filipinos speak English, visiting the big cities in the Philippines will not be a problem if you can not speak Tagalog. However, if you plan on retiring in the provinces in the Philippines, it is to your advantage that you know the language, so you could easily communicate with the locals, your maids, your gardener, your laundry woman and also the local rural folks who are not college graduates. Speaking the local language will make you feel at home also and part of the community.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cloyne Court, Episode Twelve

Lesbianism and Art- From
Cloyne Court, Episode Twelve
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

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


I made eye contact with the nearest one and introduced myself across the side of the sofa arm. “Hi, I’m Derek.”
“Get lost, dickhead!’

“Is this the house meeting?”

“Ass, what do I look like, the agenda Nazi?”

“Well, now that you mention it.”

“Fuck off, prick.”

Why were they angry around men? Was it a mating ritual that identified them to other lesbians? Was there some secret phrase or password that would let me into their inner circle of understanding? I imagined the conversation.

“See that man seated over there?”

“You mean that prick?”

“Yeah, I’m a dyke too. Let’s go to my room and read some Camille Paglia." (wink)

I would have been honored to have a lesbian woman as my friend. It would have been so edgy. So racy. So Berkeley. Think of the special bonding conversations we could have. “See that woman there. She’s hot. I’d like to get into her pants!”

“Me too.”

I didn’t care whom they had sex with. I only cared about whom I had sex with. Learning to figure out whether a woman was interested in men was just another hurdle that stood between me and losing my virginity.

Mary Jewell called the meeting to order. Her long peasant sundress hid her rubenesque body. She glanced at me and looked surprised. “Ok, let’s start the meeting. We have a speaker tonight, but before we get to that, Carrie wanted to voice a concern. Carrie.”

Carrie was the butch woman with the short-cropped haircut I had spoken to earlier. “I am concerned about the oppressive presence here tonight. I do not feel I can adequately value or express my views when there are intruders among us.”

I was wondering whom she was referring too, when Mary looked at me and asked me to introduce myself. I stood. “I’m Derek Marston. I’m pleased to meet all of you. I moved into the house this morning. I’m new to the co-op system and Berkeley. I’m here to learn new things and try new experiences…”

I was interrupted by a voice from the back of the room. “It goes against custom to have you here.”

Before I could respond, a verbal sparring debate began. “Custom is what has oppressed women for centuries. Why should we behave like our oppressors?” said a strong female voice.

“I think the meeting should be open to everyone,” said another voice.

“But it puts a damper on open discussion.”

“If we can’t discuss sensitive topics with men present, who are we going to talk too?”

“Besides, how will they ever learn to please us if they don’t learn?” said another voice.

“Women shouldn’t have to depend on men for anything.” That statement came from the aisle of lesbos.

The discussion deteriorated into everyone talking at once and nobody listening to anyone. I listened in awe to the impassioned pique my presence had provoked.

“OK, let’s take a vote,” Mary said.

I was impressed at student democracy in action. However, if the house had to vote on every item, like who was allowed to attend the house meeting, this was going to be a long night. They still hadn’t approved the minutes from the last meeting, and I was interested in whether the house would approve building a backyard sauna.

The vote was taken. I was allowed to remain. Carrie the lesbian rolled her eyes in disgust.

“Ok, tonight’s speaker is Candace Harris,” Mary said, reading from a card. “Candace is a facilitator from the Peer Sex Education Program.”

Candace was a tall, lanky woman. She was wearing leather motorcycle pants, black boots and a white camisole that showed off her firm, bare shoulders and accentuated her nipples against the thin material. She was not wearing a bra, and I watched her breasts jiggle as she paced the floor.

Mary continued. “Tonight’s discussion is entitled Pre-orgasmic Women and Techniques for Self-Gratification.”

That’s when I realized I was at the wrong meeting. This was the Sunday night women’s group. The house meeting was the next evening. I discovered later that there was an unspoken understanding that men were not welcome at these meetings. It was for women only, so they could discuss topics freely without the dominating masculine viewpoint hampering the discussion. How could I leave? Too many women had spoken in my defense, and the vote had been overwhelmingly in favor of letting me stay. Though I was now embarrassed to be there, I did not want to disappoint them. I remained.

Candace led the discussion by asking, "Can I get a show of hands of women who haven't had an orgasm or aren't sure?"

I looked around nonchalantly trying not to stare. Half the women in the room raised their hands. That’s when I saw her sitting on the windowsill for one of the large French windows. She was the pretty woman I’d seen at the Berkeley BART station on my eighteenth birthday.

Now that I could see her face, I studied her. She had long flowing auburn hair and a quiet, familiar face that turned to look at every person who spoke. She was barefoot and wore a simple collarless striped shirt with long sleeves and a worn pair of faded blue jeans. She looked like all the women I had known from high school. Yet, something was different about her. I stared until we made eye contact. She smiled. My heart jumped. She shifted her gaze to answer Candace’s question and, if memory serves me correctly, raised her hand.

Candace continued her poll. “And let’s have a show of hands from the others who have had an orgasm but want a stronger one or multiple orgasms?”

There were a couple of raised hands from the side sofa, including Carrie and her lover, Sonya. Multiple orgasms? I had never thought about them. At least I had enough experience, although self-induced, to know that if one orgasm was good, multiple ones had to be better. I paid attention now. I wished I had brought some paper and a pen to take notes.

Candace turned off the room lights and started the slide show. The slides were actual close-up pictures of women’s vaginas with the labia held open to show the clitoris.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I love Sunsets! How about You?

1. Sunset from Balcony of the Beach House, Amoingon, Boac, Marinduque
Over the years, I have seen and photographed several dozens of sunsets in several countries that my wife and I have visited. We have been to Marbella, Spain, Rome, Italy, London,England, Vancouver, B.C., Cancun, Mexico, Aruba, Hawaii( Maui, Kawaii, Big Island), Puerto Rico and most of the US big cities, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Kansas City, St Louis, Miami, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and other small cities . But the two most beautiful sunsets that stirs my emotion are the one at Amoingon Bay ( taken at the balcony of our Chateau Du Mer Beach house-photo # 1) and the one over Manila Bay(# 9 photo). You will probably say, I am partial since I am a Filipino-American, but judge it yourself. Below are ten of my favorite sunset pictures for your viewing pleasure. Comments, anyone?

2. Sunset, Eagle Beach, Aruba

3. Sunset, San Juan, Puerto Rico

4. Sunset, Hanalei Bay, Kauai

5. Sunset, Kaanapali, Maui

6. Sunset, Kona Village, Big Island, Hawaii

7. Sunset, Marbella, Spain

8. Sunset, Cancun, Mexico

9. Sunset, on Manila Bay, Philippines

10. Sunset, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Today is Grandparents Day in US and Canada

David B & Macrine J Katague-Grandparents of Six ranging from 6 to 18 years of age-Photo taken August 22, 2009, Buena Park, California

Do you know that today is grandparents day. I was not aware of it until after church this morning. The priest celebrating the mass ask the congregation of the significant of this Sunday. Only one out of the 500 attendees was able to answer him correctly. Then he invited all great grandparents to stand. About 10 couples stood up. Next he requested all grandparents to stand up to be recognized. There were about 50 of us who stood up. The whole congregation then gave us an applause.

National Grandparents Day is a secular holiday celebrated in the US and Canada on the first Sunday after Labor Day. In the United Kingdom it is observed on first Sunday of October. In France, grandmothers and grandfathers day are celebrated separately each year. Grandmother's are honored in the first Sunday of March and Grandfathers on First Sunday of October just like in UK. I have no idea if Grandparents Day is observed in the Philippines. If there is no official day for grandparents in the Philippines, I urged the Arroyo administration to do it before her term ends next year. If there is such a date, please let me know. Here's a short history of grandparents day from Wikipedia:

“Grandparents Day can be traced back to the first national Grandparents Day in 1978. With the efforts of Hermine B. Beckett Hanna, of North Syracuse, New York, who started the process in 1961 and was recognized by Congressman Jim Walsh, of New York in front of the U.S. House of Representatives. Marian McQuade of Oak Hill, West Virginia has also been recognized nationally by The United States Senate, in particular Senator Alphonse D'Amato, and President Carter as the founder of National Grandparents Day. McQuade made it her goal to educate the young in the community to the important contributions senior citizens have made, and to the important contributions they are willing to make if asked. She also urged the young to adopt a grandparent, not for one day a year, not for material giving, but for a lifetime of experience and caring just waiting to be shared with others.
In 1973 Senator Jennings Randolph (D-WV) introduced a resolution in the Senate to make Grandparents Day a national holiday. Five years later in 1978, Congress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day and then-President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation[1].The statute cites the day's purpose as: "... to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer."
So listen all you young people of US and Canada, if you read this blog, please say Hello to your Grandparents to acknowledge their importance in your lives. If you want to send flowers, the official flower of Grandparents Day is the Forget-me-not. As for my own grandchildren, I really do not expect them to send me anything, for I am very sure, they do not even know that today is Grandparents Day!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11, 2001 (9-11-01)

Do you remember exactly where you are on that day-when the most heinous crime in the 21th century was committed by Terrorists? I know exactly where I was and what I was doing that day. I documented it in my autobiography. Here's a short excerpt from my autobiography describing that day. Whether you are an American or not, this crime has reverberated all over the world and still affects the way we live and travel all over the world. Here is my posting from

"My career in FDA would not be complete if I do not mentioned the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. I remember clearly what I was doing and how I felt afterward. That morning in September 11, 2001, The office of New Drug Chemistry had a joint meeting with representatives of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PHARMA) at the Hilton Hotel in Gaithersburg, MD. At about 9:20AM, we received an announcement that the meeting is canceled and we can go home, since the World Trade Center in New York was burning. All of the attendees went to the hotel lobby and the TV was announcing the news. I felt sick, depressed but helpless to see the burning WTC building((see photo above).Later, I learned that the Pentagon in Washington DC was also bombed and another plane crashed in the field somewhere in Southern Pennsylvania. Later I also found out that this United Airline plane was intended for the White House. Had it not been for the courageous heroics of several passengers, the White House would have suffered the same fate as the WTC and the Pentagon.
The most heinous crime of the century produced thousands of burnt victims. Two drugs in my Division, Sulfamylon and Silvadene, approved for the treatment of burns were out of supply. A chemistry manufacturing supplement has to be approved to manufacture more of these ointments in a new facility. This required a review by the chemist, an inspection of the facility by a field inspector, my approval as the chemistry team leader plus the paper work by the project manager. The drugs are needed immediately, so we have to do an expedited review of the manufacturing supplement. It took us only 12 hours to approve the new facility and the review of the chemistry, manufacturing and control submission. This review normally will take at least one month to three months depending on the availability of the field inspector and the schedule of the review chemist.
In December, 2001, the four members of my review team received a special cash award and recognition award from FDA management for our work on expediting review of two drugs, Sulfamylon and Silvadene. Of my more than a dozen awards I had, this one is the most appreciated. I felt that I have done my job as a public servant and had helped the victims of the terrorist attack in a timely manner. The photo above, the first picture I saw on television the morning of September 11, 2001, I will never forget as long as I live".

Here is also a video from You Tube remembering that Day of Infamy. Please extend your sympathy to the families of the victims of this heinous crime of the 21th century!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cloyne Court, Episode Eleven

Photo from

By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

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

Shortly after dinner, I sat on a couch in the sunroom and waited for the house meeting to begin. As women sauntered in and took seats, I ogled them and categorized each one into one of two groups: Group A, women that I wanted to sleep with, and Group B, women I wanted to have sex with. There is a difference.

I did not find it odd that no men had come into the room. Women at my high school were always in the forefront of student government.

As I classed them using my secret genus and species nomenclature (for instance, mammary gigantica or oral seductus), I discovered there were subcategories of women; groups of lifestyle choices or fashion statements, I wasn’t sure which, that were new to me.

I soon discovered that Cloyne Court’s largest group of women was the earth mother type. Women like Becky, Bonnie and Mary Jewell, who wore long flowing sundresses or peasant skirts, granny glasses and Birkenstocks with home-knit toe socks. They were the Berkeley natural granola women, who cared about what food they ingested, but went to Grateful Dead concerts smoking and snorting or dropping whatever drugs they could get free, cheap or barter. I saw them as anachronisms of the flower children, Sixties holdovers that refused to accept the double knit polyester disco styles that were now in vogue.

Mary Jewell put a slide projector on the table at the front of the room while Becky moved a clunky portable movie screen into place. I assumed tonight’s house meeting would use audio-visuals to give us an idea of what type sauna the house should install.

Bonnie was talking to Jill, who from her rapid speaking cadence and harsh nasal voice and mordant syntax (“Smart, he isn’t!”), I assumed was Jewish. Like Lisa, who I had met earlier as she polished her toenails, Jill had a distinctive large nose and spoke like a New Yorker. I couldn’t figure out whether her dialect was regional or cultural. I was not attracted to the disguised derision in her innocent questions (“I should be happy for him with such a small shmeckle?”). She acted distant and aloof.

Sitting next to me on the couch was Cindy from the telephone switchboard. She was a punker dressed in black with pale-white skin, her hair dyed an orange Day-Glo color. She sported pierced jewelry in several visible body locations. Cindy liked wearing leather jackets and studded neck chokers and fingerless gloves when she went out, but tonight she was dressed casually in a black Buzzcocks T-shirt, Army Surplus pants and black combat boots. She looked darned hot to me! I just couldn't get past the pierced nose ring. I kept staring at it when I talked to her instead of looking at her eyes.

Nonetheless, I was an equal opportunity hound-dog. I had only two criteria in dating women.

First, they had to be intelligent. One reason I never attempted to date Jeanette, my best friend from high school, was that she wasn’t on the same intellectual plane as I was. She didn’t know who Paul McCartney’s first band was before Wings[1], and she didn’t care. It's not that I use cultural literacy as a bellwether of intelligence, but if people don't know general history, science, art and literature, what good are they at Trivial Pursuit® parties?

That criterion was easily met at Berkeley. Everyone was intelligent, many to the point of being obnoxiously erudite. They had to be to get accepted to the university.

Second, and the harder of the two criteria was that they had to want to go out with me.

While I vowed to remain open-minded and unprejudiced, the infinite possibilities of women I wanted to lose my virginity to was growing smaller by the second. I was crossing women off my list for later liaisons for all the wrong reasons or maybe for the right reason. I was not attracted to them as a person.

Then, to my disappointment, I saw a group of women that halved my list. They were the butch-biker chicks who were sitting on the next couch with their lesbian lovers. They were giving me dirty looks.
Photo from
These women lived at Cloyne Court with a festering blister on their shoulders. It seemed that there were a lot of them. At least, I thought so. This was the first time I had ever encountered lesbians in quantity (more than one) and quality (giving each other tongue as they sat on the couch, their arms around each other's waists, waiting for the meeting to begin).My first impression of them was as stereotyped as the misogynistic, libido-driven, dumb asses they thought men were.

Why did they hate men in general? Why did they see any man’s attempt to have a friendly conversation to be a sexual come-on?
[1] And while I will accept The Beatles as the correct answer, the history purists among us will point out the more correct answer is The Quarryman.

Web Site: Cloyne Court Home Page

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Marinduque-World Tourist's Destination

Here's the latest report from by Eli Obligacion spotlighting Marinduque as tourist destination, dated September 6, 2009. My dream and hope is to see my beloved island, Marinduque, become a worldwide and whole year round tourist destination in the years to come competing with Boracay and officially declared as the eco-tourism capital of the Philippines. This is the reason, why I devote so much time promoting the island province as a tourist destination in my two blogs: and


Marinduque Airport streamer welcoming Secretary Ace H. Durano and party. The party of thirty expected to arrive today at the Marinduque airport includes Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque, Jr. and other top officials from the Department of Tourism and tourism attaches from Philippine embassies abroad. The list also includes directors Ma. Victoria Jasmin, Allan Canizal, Benito Bengzon, Jr., Ma. Rica Bueno, Dir. Louella Jurilla from among others, as well as local and foreign media representatives.

The visit is part of the tourism department’s annual marketing and technical visits to top priority destinations such as Albay, Cebu, Bohol and Manila. Marinduque which is now on the list, has drawn the attention of the travel industry with the launching of Bellarocca Resort and Spa. Part of Bellarocca’s promotional thrusts for resort guests is the integration of visits to Marinduque’s tourist attractions as well.

In recent months, the provincial tourism office has taken time to show the Bellarocca group headed by its sales manager for travel, Sheila Evano, to local tourism sites like Tarug caves, Bathala caves, Paadjao falls, Poctoy Beach and the Torrijos loom-weavers. Support for development of eco-tourism sites with potential to generate livelihood has been adopted by the resort as part of its social responsibility program. A joint undertaking of the provincial government, the municipality of Buenavista and Gold Barrel, Inc.,resort owner, is the current establishment of a 100-hectare forest area in Barangay Tungib-Lipata in Buenavista, where a 9-hole golf course has been developed, part of Bellarocca facilities.

These moves have triggered greater optimism for local tourism stakeholders as well as for bigger prospects for Bellarocca Island Resort and Marinduque tourism in general.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Frequent Brown Outs in Marinduque, Philippines

Photo from
Recently, I have received several e-mails from residents of Marinduque, as well as comments from several bloggers from Marinduque, that frequent brown outs in the province is still the norm of life in the province. Is this still true or has it improved? I have also read from several Philippine blogs and Web magazines in the Philippines that in most parts of the Island with the exception of big cities and metropolitan areas, this power outage is also currently an irritant to the comfort of residents. Although this occurrence will be an economic boost to the sellers of generators, not every ordinary citizen could afford the luxury of buying even just a small generator, especially in Marinduque.

If Marinduque wants to promote tourism worldwide and whole year round, it is imperative that this frequent brownouts be solved soon. This frequent brown outs have not affected Bellarocca, for it has big industrial generators according to Kristin Rebutica, answering my questions in Face Book just recently.

In the case of Chateau Du Mer, I also have an industrial generator that I described in my blog dated 8/17/09, so the frequent brown outs do not also affect my beach resort and conference center business.

I am however imploring the provincial officials to place solving this problem as their highest priority, if they want to promote tourism worldwide and whole year round in the province. I am hoping that the problem of frequent power outage will be solved soon in Marinduque-My Island Paradise and Second Home.
Comments anyone?

Diving Sites in Marinduque

Image from
Our province is mostly known worldwide because of the Moriones Festival. However, it has recently been in the news due to interests of divers all over the world to explore the diving sites in the island and in the vicinity. Among the diving sites are:
1.Natanco- north of the island has good walls and drift diving. Corals are abundant. Close by is the wreck of a Japanese torpedo boat
2.Baltazar-west of the Island-one of the Tres Reyes Island Chain- has a cave 20m worth exploring. Stone fish may be a problem.
3.Elephant Island-now known as Bellarocca- private resort with good walls, coral formation and and several varieties of tropical fish. Currents could be strong, but conditions for photography good.
4. Torrijos- canyons and fissures to explore. Can expect to encounter grouper, barracuda, tuna and shoals of tropical fish.
5.Maestro De Campo Island-southwest of Marinduque- a wall on the west side and a wreck of a ferry boat, MV Mactan on the east side
6.Banton Island- farther southwest – amazing corals and an array of fish. Dolphins, sharks and sting rays may be seen. From February to May are the good months for scuba diving
7.Sibuyan Sea- outlying areas to the south and east of Marinduque are fairly unexplored. Puerto Galera, Mindoro is the place to organize this tour if you are adventurous.
Here are two excellent videos, I found in You Tube. Enjoy! Happy Diving

Diving Video from Southern Leyte, Apo Reefs, Sogod Bay, and Puerto Galera

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Win Free 2-nights and 3-days stay at CDM

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 350 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 18 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..

My Filipina Wife-My Little Brown Girl?

If you search for "Filipina" in Google, Yahoo or Scour search engines, majority of the "Hits" will be about mail order brides, sexy dates and dating Filipino or Asian women etc.

Today, it is not as bad compared to about five years ago. Thanks to the campaign of a few of our educated women in the Philippines (, the Filipino women on line image is improving. However, there is still room for improvement. Visit the site. There is instruction on how you can help improve the Filipina image on line.

Recently there was a good news toward recognizing women's rights in the Philippines. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed into law the measure prohibiting discrimination against women, and recognizing and promoting their rights.

Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, signed at the Heroes Hall in MalacaƱang Palace, ensures women’s equitable participation and representation in government, political parties, international bodies, civil service and the private sector.

RA 9710 recognizes and protects women’s rights at home, at work and in all spheres of society toward developing all aspects of their well-being. Its most salient features include increasing the number of women personnel until they fill half of third-level positions in the government, setting up in every barangay (village) a “violence against women’s desk,” providing incentives to parties with women’s agenda and barring the derogatory portrayal of women in media and film. I believe this law was an aftermath of the latest Hayden Kho sex scandal, where Halili claimed she was maltreated sexually by Kho in a degrading and violent manner.

Moreover, to all Americans, Europeans, Australians, or Canadians and Non-Filipino Husbands, do not call your wife "My Filipina" as if your wife is a commodity that you have purchased or "my little brown girl", even if you meant it as endearment. I am addressing it to all non-Filipino husbands who are married to Filipina women whether your are residing in Philippines or other parts of the world. I am also addressing this to all Men looking for Filipina wives in the internet and other dating sites. Filipina women are known to be good wives and they must be treated with respect and dignity. Comments anyone?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cloyne Court, Episode Ten

Photo from
Cloyne Court, Episode Ten
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

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


I was parked on the driveway, the only spot I could find. “I think that’s me. Sorry, I’ll move my car as soon as I move my stuff into my room.”

“Oh, you’re the new person Central Office sent over?” He reached for the folder with my paperwork that was lying on the desk next to a huge bong. “Did you get your keys or see the place yet? If not, I’ll give them to you as we head down to the shower room.”

“As for roommates,” Lisa continued, “We’re all adults here. Your roomie can be anyone you want, male or female. We don’t care. We are not your parents.”

“And Sandy is your roomie,” I said, stating what I believed to be the obvious.

“No, Sandy is not my roomie. He’s my bunkie. There’s a difference.”

I was puzzled.

“A roomie is someone who shares a room with you. That person can be male or female. It can be a platonic relationship if you want. But a Bunkie is someone who shares your bunk or your bed and that means more than roomie status.”

I looked around the room. The two co-op-issued single-sized wooden bed frames had been pushed together under the north window to create one large double bed. A queen-sized mattress had been thrown over both beds to eliminate any crevice between the two. That furniture arrangement I understood.

Sandy grabbed his bath towel and walked down the stairs in the direction of the office. I followed, mouth agape, still wondering if this place was an Alan Funt hoax. As we walked, he pointed out the common rooms of the house.

“This is the sun room.” He pointed to a large bright peninsular shaped room with French style casement windows on three sides, letting the sunshine in on the four worn couches. The view from the windows overlooked a courtyard with a basketball court, green grass lawn and flowering poplars.

“House meetings are every Monday night,” he said. “You just missed the new resident orientation. Since the student residents run the place, we vote on everything that goes on here. You should come to the meetings. Next one is tonight. Should be exciting. We’re voting on whether to convert Jeff’s mound hole in the backyard into an outdoor underground sauna. He needs the V poles for his next sculpture.”

Through the large windows, I could see the pink V poles female sculpture on the grass in the backyard.

We passed the Rogue’s picture gallery I had seen when I first entered the building. “Make sure the photo manager gets your picture to put in the Rogue’s Gallery. That way everyone learns your face and who you are. With a hundred and fifty people living here, it’s hard to get to know everyone in the house. Oh, by the way, didn’t I read in your house application you were into photography? Do you have darkroom skills? We’re hiring a new photo manager. Our last one graduated.”

“Yeah, I’m into that,” I said. “I know how to develop black-and-white film and print pictures with an enlarger.” I felt proud and was astonished he had actually remembered something I had written in my application.

“Wonderful! There’s a darkroom in the basement. You should run for election for the photo manager position. It’s an easy two-hour work shift. I’ll nominate you at the house meeting.”

“Work shift?” I asked.

“Geez, didn’t you read the house application you signed. That's why living here is thirty percent cheaper than living in the dorms. The students run the place. That means we all have jobs. If you don’t want a cushy assignment, you can sign up for a shift cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming the carpet, yard work, gardening, recycling or work in the kitchen.”

I didn’t like cleaning my room at my parent’s house. Assuming the other eighteen-year-olds in the house had my same work avoidance issues, I didn’t see how the house actually got cleaned. And that underlying work ethic certainly explained why the house was in a state of shabbiness and low level of cleanliness.

We walked by the newspaper room. In the center of the room was a massive craftsman-style conference table, an original to the house with two long benches on either side. The table was so large that six people, three on each side, could lay out the newspapers flat on the table and still have room to turn the pages without getting in one another’s way. The table had dozens of outdated newspapers strewn about, so you couldn’t actually see the tabletop. On the wall by the windows were two vintage vending machines in pristine condition. Next to them, were recycling bins overflowing with newspaper, glass bottles and aluminum cans. The room smelled like the bins hadn’t been emptied for some time.

“What brand of beer do you like?” Sandy asked.

Because I was underage and couldn’t legally drink, I could not give a definitive or experienced answer.

“Doesn’t matter anyway. We’re voting tonight on whether to keep selling the Lucky Lager beer in the vending machines at the same low price or raise the price a quarter and substitute a better brand.”

I looked at a vending machine. It was dispensing beer at fifty cents a bottle, various brands of candy, condoms and an empty slot whose dispensing handle appeared well used. Sandy saw me staring.

“That’s for the doobies. A dollar each. They go quick. We run out on weekends and Laurent restocks them when he rolls a new batch. He actually gets two hours work credit for it.”

We continued along the hallway past the TV room, dining room and kitchen and headed down the stairs to the basement shower room. On the door of the shower room was a posted sign:

M-F 9-10 AM, 4-5 PM Women only
M-F 10-11 AM, 5-6 PM Men only
All other times, Co-ed

I followed him into the shower room and was dumbstruck. It was a large open room with eight showerheads spraying from a central stainless-steel structure with niches for a soap dish and water handles much like my high school shower room. Along the tiled walls were several wooden benches and near the door were wall hooks to hang your towel.

Photo from
“The showers are coed. Anyone, male or female can shower at any time except for the four hours when it’s either women or men only."

My jaw dropped. “Doesn’t that cause problems?”

“We haven’t had complaints. Is that going to be a problem for you?”

Sandy draped his towel on a hook and took off his gym shorts. He turned on the shower and signaled that the tour had ended.

“No,” I said, stammering, “I think I can get used to it.”

Episode Eleven from Chapter Three will be posted September 9th.


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