If this is your first time in my site, welcome! Chateau Du Mer is a beach resort with a beach house and conference Hall. The beach house could now accommodate 10 guests, six in the main floor and four in the first floor( air conditioned room). In addition, you can now reserve your vacation dates ahead and pay the rental fees via PayPal. I hope to see you soon in Marinduque- Home of the Morions and Heart of the Philippines. The photo above was taken during our first Garden Wedding ceremony at The Chateau Du Mer Gardens. I have also posted my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes in this site. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own, but I have no intention on the infringement of your copyrights!

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 Marinduque Awaits You

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Dangers of Long term Used of Benzodiazepines

Photo from: treehouserehab.org

My heart and mind was filled with worry after watching Lisa Ling's CNN report on the dangers of long term use of benzodiazepines. Why was I worried? I have a very closed relative suffering from anxiety. I hope she is not taking a benzo drug. I did some Internet search and here's a summary of what I found.

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety, but they also are effective in treating several other conditions. The exact mechanism of action of benzodiazepines is not known, but they appear to work by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain, chemicals that nerves release in order to communicate with other nearby nerves. One of these neurotransmitters is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that suppresses the activity of nerves. Scientists believe that excessive activity of nerves may be the cause of anxiety and other psychological disorders, and benzodiazepines reduce the activity of nerves in the brain and spinal cord by enhancing the effects of GABA.

 Adult men and women use benzodiazepines to treat:

Other uses for benzodiazepines

These medications also are used for:
Benzodiazepine drugs (also called benzos) are habit forming and can lead to addiction. Long-term use also can lead to tolerance, which means that lower doses will become ineffective and patients will need higher doses. These drugs are abused to get 'high' due to their effects on the brain.

What are the side effects of benzodiazepines?

Common side effects include:
Serious side effects include:

Here is a list of examples of brand and generic names of benzodiazepines available in the US.
Xanax, Klonopin and Valium are the most popular brands and widely prescribed.

For details read:


Monday, October 14, 2019

My Most Productive Week of Personal Blogging

First Week of Autumn- Photo from almanac.com
Last week was my most productive week of personal blogging. I wrote  six articles from October 6 to 13. The subjects varied from Dodies' first novel, Cloyne Court ( https://marinduqueawaitsyou.blogspot.com/2019/10/cloyne-court-by-dodie-katague-update.html )to Ditas resemblance to her Grandmother  (https://whyretireinthephilippines.blogspot.com/2019/10/ditas-and-grand-mother-paz-balleza.html).  I usually just write only 2 to 3 articles per week.

I wrote on a variety of subjects:Personal Relationships, Food, Mental Health, Retirement, Books and Family.

1.  A Thoughtful Relative and Neighbor

2. Macrine's Favorite Lunch

Lengua Tacos (Beef Tongue)-One of Macrine's Favorite lunches

3. Seventeen Years after My Retirement from the FDA


4. Coping with Grief- Ditas and Carenna


I am reposting the articles above in case you missed reading them. A  happy autumn day greetings to all my FB friends and relatives all over the world!

Here's Nat King Cole rendition of Autumn Leaves for your listening pleasure:


Topics in my blogs in the next two weeks: antimalarials, Benzo's, SSRI, diabetic and mirtazapine drugs

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Ditas and her Grand Mother Paz Balleza Katague

Is there a resemblance between my youngest daughter ( Ditas Katague) and my mother (Paz Barrido Balleza Katague)?. A few of my relatives think there is. I think Ditas has more resemblance to my younger sister-Agnes or her first cousins Jemma and Krisheil. Judge for your self in the following photos.

Latest two pictures of Ditas

Mama Pacing and My Siblings, 1976

Amor (Knitz) Wedding- Agnes is in front row to the Right, 1976

My Three Sisters-Agnes is in the Middle

Ditas and Carenna, 2016

Mama Pacing and Me, Mid-1980's
Mama Pacing, Baby Agnes and Flocy visit with Igsoon Ceding and Family, San Jose, CA, 1979

Ditas First Cousin, Jemma Katague daughter of Erico( RIP) my younger brother

Ditas First Cousin, Krishiel Katague- daughter of Ruben-my youngest brother

CarennaKT September, 2019

Carenna latest photo, Age 16, Junior in high school- Ditas only daughter

Friday, October 11, 2019

Dealing with the Grieving Process

My heart melts with sadness and compassion, as I read the following paragraph from my daughter's FB page last month.

"With great humbleness in the span of 14 days, CarennaKT and I have had wonderful accomplishments. But to be truthful, it has been bittersweet. To have made the Top 100 list was a huge surprise - and yet the one person I wanted to celebrate with - Nick Thompson - my biggest supporter and cheerleader - wasn't here to celebrate. And thus the emptiness in my heart grows bigger.

And a week later - a huge milestone for our daughter, Carenna - passing her drivers license test (the first try) and no one believed 6 months ago that I would be able to teach her how to drive. And her Dad wasn't there to give her a high five and hug and tell her how proud of her he was.

And then finally this week - my interview on the "Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness" @curiouswithjvn podcast went live. I love the title "Why is the Census So Majorly F**king Important? with Ditas Katague aired and the promo videos - I was told had over 200K views/plays. All of this should fill my heart, but it is empty - because the joy that I should feel is always shadowed with the grief I have been hiding from - and it comes after me like a stealth golden owl hunts it prey in the darkness.

So I walk with my grief, and I realize I cannot bury myself in work or travel or sheer exhaustion. I realize I must sit and feel something I avoid - because if you avoid joy, you can avoid grief? Only if you are numb...being numb, would be easy to lack compassion, to not care, to walk around as the empty shell that I am.

Many may say - gosh it's been 7 years "aren't you over it yet'? I was asked this by a close relative. Actually, it was directed at Carenna just 10 months after her Dad died - I was asked, "aww, isn't she over her Dad dying yet?" Unbelievable. I know we are blessed to have many friends and family who do support us and I don't want to appear ungrateful, but some days after working another 80 hour week, the lack appreciation is real. Enough feeling sorry for myself - back to being numb".

My wife and I felt helpless to alleviate our daughter and grand daughter sadness and grief. However, we want them to know, we are here and if there is anything we can do, just let us know. Here's some wisdom and information I found on how to deal with the grieving process.

How to deal with the grieving process

While grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life, there are ways to help cope with the pain, come to terms with your grief, and eventually, find a way to pick up the pieces and move on with your life.

1.Acknowledge your pain.
2.Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
3.Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
4.Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you.
5.Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
6.Recognize the difference between grief and depression.


Here are some comments from DITAS Facebook friends:

1.Ditas we met just moments after Nick passed. I would never have guessed that you and Carenna had been through that by simply watching you. It was apparent that you both just had your stuff together. You have been honest about these troubles and as I have learned you better my respect for you deepens, both of you. There is no cure for grief. It doesn't end. You don't get the over the loss of such a person. Grief changes shape and color. I have found it helpful to remember the joy of my relationship with the person I've lost. Because grief wouldn't be there without a solid foundation of love and joy. When you mention Nick I hear that. I hear you mention your love and your joy. Thanks for continuing to feel and to express these thoughts.

2. Congratulations on your recent accomplishments Ditas! I fully empathize with your sentiments. It has been six years for me. One learns to live and celebrate again, but the void remains.

3. Lifting you in prayer and Hugs 🙏🏾

4. There will be many many more accomplishments. After all, we're talking about Ditas and Carenna! ✨⭐🌟 Nick is there for all of them. He's always there. Reminding ourselves of this helped us get through losing our dad on earth when we were young kids.

5. Feel what you need to feel! I love you both.

6. First off, congratulations to both of you for all of your accomplishments over the past two weeks, very cool. Thank you for sharing!!! I have been reminded time after time that pain and joy coexist. Your word, "bittersweet" sums it up. I read all of the posts before from your friends and family and they give support and wise advise. Trust that love remains forever, you are strong (and friggin awesome) it's okay to cry, it's okay to laugh, as Amy said, feel what you need to feel. All this to say, it sucks, it's hard and I'm sorry. We will carry it with us until we are reunited on the other side.

7. Thank you for sharing this. He was lucky to be so loved. Sending you a hug. Such important milestones and all so well deserved.

8. Ditas, I follow Martha Jo Atkins. She deals with death and dying and all that goes with it. I’ve found her posts and those who follow her to be insightful and comforting.

9. I love you, Ditas. You bring so much joy and inspiration to everyone who knows you.

10. Hugs and love to you and Carenna! You can always count on me, my dearest cousin! Love you!!! Yu’ve been so incredibly strong and composed... just let go. Don’t be numb. Cry, laugh, cry again. We’re here for you both!

11. Ditas-Thank you for letting us in and sharing your truth. My identical twin sister died 23 years ago and that loss and grief took much of me with it. I understand much of your pain my friend. While the path of grief is yours that you must take you’re surrounded by so many of us who love you and are here for you during this journey. Be brave my warrior and you can and must do this. I’m here for you. ❤️

Here's a short Ted Video about coping with Grief

: http://t.ted.com/SLw0qFU

Thursday, October 10, 2019

SEVENTEEN Years After My Retirement from the FDA

Three of my more than a dozen FDA Awards-Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) award was my most treasured award.
Dr Janet Woodcock presenting my EEO Award Plaque, 1998
However, the award I will never forget is the CASH and Appreciation Award I received for my leadership to alleviate the sufferings of thousands of burnt victims during the terrorist bombing of the Pentagon and World Trade Center, September 11, 2001.


I retired on October 31, 2002 from the FDA. So by the end of this month it will be exactly 17 years after my retirement from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center of New Drugs, Office of New Drug Chemistry, Division of Anti-Infective Drug Products in Silver Spring, MD.

Today, I feel that my mind is not as alert compared to the previous years prior to my retirement. In addition, I also missed my interaction with my fellow workers and my Chemistry reviewers that I had supervised.

While writing this article today, I feel very happy and accomplished as I reminisced my professional life and career.  It is rich and filled with pleasant memories, but not with Gold or Money.

My life is not rich in terms of dollars or pesos, or material possessions( luxurious villas or mansion here or abroad, and expensive cars) but in pleasant memories and accomplishments.


The following are the reasons why I feel very accomplished although not rich in gold, pesos or dollars and how it was attained. How was this attained?

First, I grew up in the 1940's in the midst of the Japanese-American War in the Philippines. My father at that time was a Dental Officer for the Philippine-American Guerrilla Forces in Panay and Romblon Islands. Thus, I did have a lot of contacts with American GI's from all parts of the US. These contacts initiated and triggered my desire and ambition to someday see and visit the US. ( I had no desire or dream to reside in US at that time)


Second, my elementary and high school years were also filled with accomplishments. I graduated with honors in 6th Grade and valedictorian in my high school class. Except for a bullying incident in my freshman year, I had pleasant memories of my elementary and high school years.

Third, my college years at UP, Iloilo and Diliman, Quezon City were also filled with scholastic achievements. I received the Fernando Lopez Scholarship in Iloilo for attaining the highest grade in the whole university. In Diliman, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry missing 0.02 points to graduate CUM LAUDE(with honors).


Fourth, my graduate school years at the University Of Illinois in Chicago were also filled with pleasant memories. Those years were the hardest years of my life. Those years started with seeing my first snow in US, followed by raising three children ( my 4th child was born after my graduate school years) while a graduate and teaching assistant and culminated with my doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in 1964.


Fifth, my professional career working as a chemist for 20 years for three private companies and later for the federal government (FDA) for another 12 years ( as team leader) were unforgettable. My years in FDA were filled with awards and challenges. My 12 years in FDA was the most productive years in my professional career. My superiors informed me that I was the first Filipino-American Chemistry team leader in the Center of New drugs in the history of the US Food and Drug Administration. My Involvement with the United States Pharmacopeia was also one of the professional achievements I will always treasure.


Sixth, Macrine ( my spouse of 62 years) and my involvement with the activities of the Filipino-American Community in the Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Missouri, Modesto and Pinole, California were memories that we will treasure and will never forget as long as we live.

Last, but not least were the civic, social and humanitarian projects that Macrine and I had been involved since the early 1960's here in the Philippines and US. Our involvement with the Marinduque International, Inc medical mission projects since 1996 to the present are memories we will never forget.


Indeed, my wife and I are not rich in GOLD or SILVER, but in MEMORIES, ACCOMPLISHMENTS and relationships(thoughtful relatives and neighbors).


For details of the above accomplishments and activities, visit my blog site at


NOTE: Advance Happy and Safe Halloween to ALL!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Macrine's Favorite Lunch and Other Pinoy Dishes

This is Macrine's Favorite lunch-Fish Taco Garnished with Cactus and Tomatoes salad.

Macrine enjoying her fish taco with cactus/tomato salad and  a dash of  mild Picante sauce

Her second choice of lunch is lengua ( beef tongue)* taco. Both tacos we purchased at our nearby Mexican restaurant- Tres Hermanos. On Tuesday the lengua taco is on sale for only $1.99 each. However, the fish taco is always $2.97 each all week.

There are several good Mexican Restaurants within 10 miles distance from our residence. As a promotion to attract more customers,our Bath lady informed us that on Wednesday, the tacos are only $1 in Elk Grove- about 30 minutes drive from our residence. Tres Hermanos is very popular. On weekdays from 11AM to 1PM, the waiting line to be served is about 15 minutes. The food however is excellent and worth the wait.

* Speaking of beef tongue( lengua), my favorite recipe in the Philippines is lengua Estofado

Lengua Estofado- one of my  favorite Pinoy dishes for special occasion

For the recipe visit :https://recipenijuan.com/lengua-estofado-recipe/

For other Mexican dishes that Macrine and I also enjoy visit this site:


For My Favorite Filipino Dishes read:


For Angela's Dimayuga 10 Essential Pinoy Recipes as Published in the NY Times read:


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Thouhgtful Relative and Neighbor: Starbread-A Discovery

Last Saturday, Macrine's sister, Jean Maeda, visited us and brought with her starbread.  Macrine and I enjoyed it very much, so I started searching in the Internet for the bakery near us. I found that there is a bakery in Natomas and also in Mack Rd in Elk Grove.  Both bakeries are about 30-40 minutes driving distance from our residence. I am wondering if there is one in the Roseville area.

I have heard of this sweet rolls, but this is the first time I have tasted it! Yum, Yum!

The next morning I woke up at 8:30AM and made the coffee. I started reading my FB page until 9AM.   When I walk to the kitchen, I was surprise to see a dozen still warm starbread in our kitchen table.  It was not there at 8:30AM.

I thought my son must have purchased it after his work shift ( he comes home at 1AM after his night shift as TSA officer). I woke him up and she told me, Jean( temporarily staying in Roseville at her daugther residence) drop by the house at 9AM with the starbread and siopao.  I must be so engrossed reading and updating my blogs, I did not hear the doorbell. Anyway, thanks a million again, Jean for the delicious sweet rolls. Your Manang and I enjoyed it very much.

Here's a short paragraph from the website of starbread:

Señorita rolls ( Starbread)were first baked in a humble store in Vallejo California all the way back in 1988 by Auntie Nelly, Uncle Romy Maranan and their five children.  It was not easy for them to raise five children and simultaneously run their bakeshop. However people were continuously drawn to the shop and the baked goods.  Soon everyone in Vallejo was drawn to the sweet little rolls.

For details and locations of Pinoy bakeries near you read this site:


Incidentally the flowers  above  and below were another surprised and unexpected gift from our neighbor, Lina Edison. Last week was full of surprises. Thank you Lord for a thoughtful relative and a neighbor.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Cloyne Court by Dodie Katague-An Update

I was looking for some old books at Amazon.  For some reason, I decided to look at Cloyne Court ( A Creative Memoir)*, my oldest son first novel(published in 2009). I was so surprised that only one used copy of the paper bound book is available and listed for $260.00. It used to sell for only $15.95 new.


Who in this world would buy a paper bound book for $260? I have two(one autographed by the author) copies of this book. May be I could sell one for $200 and makes some money.  Anyway, in case you have not heard of the book here are three ( out of 16)  reviews I found very interesting. 

1. Five Stars out of Five

I googled "Cloyne Court" to find some other news and this book popped up. Intrigued, I bought it. People, I can verify that as unbelievable as Dodie's novelized account may be, stuff just like this ACTUALLY happened.

I lived at Cloyne Court for only one year, the 1965-66 academic year, but I could write a pretty interesting book about that short but potent experience. Lots of sophomoric craziness mixed in with being as serious a student as I could be. Just to give you a taste of daily living at Cloyne,

the following is off the top of my head...

...Motorcycles going up and down the hallway with mostly drunk student waitresses from the women's house down the street aboard the passenger seats at what was billed as a senior graduation dinner. The dinner had degenerated into a monstrous pre-Animal House food fight with tables flipped over for protection and the walls decorated with fragments of baked potato missiles and ketchup halos from what the Co-Op passed off as steak, a special food just for that event. That was a rather typical day from that year variously filled with dinner-time milk drinking contests that made Nathan's events look tame, perpetual poker games, giant vats of green beer brewing on the stove (bottles of which still exist!), sporadic but semi-serious water balloon wars with the fraternity across the street, parties stocked with girls bused in from Mills College who definitely would never return a second time, an incredible array of residents including one who would only walk on the dark tiles in the checkerboard linoleum floor; all this in a house that worked pretty well for what it needed to do. For $60/month I got 3 squares a day every day with unlimited snacks, putting 15 lbs on my terribly skinny frame in 3 months, and a double room with a terrific fella who is still a close friend some 45 years later.

Why did I stay only a year if it was so much fun? The following spring the USCA opened Ridge Project (now known unfortunately as Casa Zimbabwe) down the street from Cloyne, about which there definitely should be a book written. This was AFAIK, the first co-ed university student housing in the US, at least sanctioned by the university. An important note - although Ridge Project had university approval, it was totally STUDENT run with no university oversight, just like Cloyne. All the smart guys from Cloyne (still men-only at that time) moved to Ridge Project. I gather Cloyne went co-ed in 1972, after I graduated, so I have a pretty good idea of what happened at Cloyne in the 70's from my experience a few years earlier at Ridge Project. I could go on, but you had to be there. I'll just say that the experience was so obviously special that many of us who lived at Cloyne and subsequently at Ridge Project in the late 60s still have an annual reunion that draws over 40-50 people each time, and even many more at special times like our 2006 reunion marking the 40th anniversary of the opening of Ridge Project.

The late 60's and into the early 70's was a glorious time to be in college at Berkeley. The academics were perhaps at their peak before the attempted devastation by Governor Reagan, the political atmosphere was still very hot, post-free speech movement as the Viet Nam war raged on, and the SF Bay Area music scene veritably exploded, stoked by Bill Graham. It still stands as the most vibrant 4 years of my life. To some that may make it sound like I led a rather sad life, but Berkeley in the late 60's is just very, very hard to top.

So, I bought this novelized account about a special place in my life. I suppose novelizing what could have been a documentary/biography makes it more palatable and appealing, but to me, a straight telling of the events would be no less rewarding. So far, I have read the first 4 chapters of Dodie's account. It is a well written coming of age story with a solid feel of authenticity. AND I believe every word of it. It is great to see that Dodie appreciated the Cloyne experience as much or more than I did and had the talent to bring it to life in his book.

I'll add more once I finish the book.

After reading Cloyne Court I realized how much fun I could have been having when I was instead working and doing homework! I graduated from a small liberal arts college that did not have student housing opportunities that the author did. I also realized that the generation above me did party and do naughty things, probably even more than I have so far. I guess I have some catching up to do.

One of the things that surprised me about this book is the amount of homophobia presented in the novel. I've grown up in an environment where people I think feel free to be "out" so it was scary to realize how closeted the men had to be just 30 years ago.

When I was done with the book, I remarked to my husband that I won't think about a plate of brownies again in the same way!


I recommend this book for anyone that has gone to college, or plans to go to college, or thought about going to college.

3. Cloyne Court is an interesting memoir by Dodie Katague of his years at Berkeley and his residence at the co-op. He learns to get along with people of all persuasions, and also has his first serious love. Katague discovers sex and all the joys and complications it can bring. Baby boomers especially will love reading this memoir and reminiscing about their own college days. Younger generations will read it and get an eye-opening new insight into their parents and that stodgy old guy in the next cubicle. This book is recommended for memoir readers and those interested in the culture of the 1970's and early 80's.
This novel, which I compare to The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart by Robert Westbrook, follows our hero Derek as he enters UC Berkeley as a freshman until he graduates with less than honors. It¿s no surprise, as he is living at and experiencing life at Cloyne Court, the Sodom and Gomorrah of any college living situation. Sex, Betrayal, Drugs, Rock and Roll, nudist, co-ed showers, and the politics of the house make for a novel that has to be read. I really enjoyed this book.

This novel, which I compare to The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart by Robert Westbrook, follows our hero Derek as he enters UC Berkeley as a freshman until he graduates with less than honors. It¿s no surprise, as he is living at and experiencing life at Cloyne Court, the Sodom and Gomorrah of any college living situation. Sex, Betrayal, Drugs, Rock and Roll, nudist, co-ed showers, and the politics of the house make for a novel that has to be read. I really enjoyed this book.

This novel, which I compare to The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart by Robert Westbrook, follows our hero Derek as he enters UC Berkeley as a freshman until he graduates with less than honors. It¿s no surprise, as he is living at and experiencing life at Cloyne Court, the Sodom and Gomorrah of any college living situation. Sex, Betrayal, Drugs, Rock and Roll, nudist, co-ed showers, and the politics of the house make for a novel that has to be read. I really enjoyed this book.


Dodie Katague lived at Cloyne Court Coop from 1977-79 while he attended the University of California, Berkeley. he graduated in 1981 with a degree in Geography. He graduated from the University of California, Davis, King Hall School of Law in 1985. Since then, he is a prosecutor in Martinez, California.

Dodie is working on his second novel, "Rock Star Planet", a Young Adult science fiction adventure. He is waiting to retire to finish his third novel, "Devil Mountain DA", a fictional account of life in a dysfunctional district attorney's office.


My first book review I wrote in 2014:

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