Monday, January 26, 2015

Socotra Island and its Dragon Blood Trees

Dragon Blood Trees of Socotra Island

Recently, I was reading an article about the Dragon Blood tree from Socotra Island. To my amazement, this is the first time that have heard of the tree and also of the island. I did some Internet search and here are two videos I found with a short description of the island from Wikipedia, Enjoy!

Socotra (Arabic: سُقُطْرَى‎ Suquṭra), also spelled Soqotra, is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean.

The largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95% of the landmass of the archipelago. It lies some 240 kilometres (150 mi) east of the Horn of Africa and 380 kilometres (240 mi) south of the Arabian Peninsula. The island is very isolated and a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet. It has been described as "the most alien-looking place on Earth". The island measures 132 kilometres (82 mi) in length and 49.7 kilometres (30.9 mi) in width.

Socotra is part of Yemen. It had long been a part of the 'Adan Governorate. In 2004 it became attached to the Hadhramaut Governorate, which is much closer to the island than 'Adan (although the nearest governorate was the Al Mahrah Governorate). In 2013, the archipelago became its own governorate.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Philippines Quadrille Dance-Rigodon de Honor

I was talking to my neighbor the other day about dance and music in the Philippines. She asked me if I have heard of the dance Rigodon de Honor. I told her Macrine and I did participate in the dance in 2001. I told her I have written a short article about the dance on my blog that I reposting today.

The Grand Entrance and Parade of Participants- Note my matching Barong to Macrine's Terno! Macrine did not used the matching removable butterfly sleeves bolero, since it was a very warm evening.

About thirteen years ago, Macrine and I had the honor to be invited to participate at the Rigodon De Honor dance at the Grand Ball of the May Flower Festival in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines.
Right in the middle of the Dance Promenade

The Rigodon de Honor is an elegant dance which was brought to the Philippines by the Filipinos who returned from their travels abroad during the Spanish era. This dance takes its name from its opening performances at formal affairs such as the President's Inaugural Ball and other Festivals in Philippines and also in other parts of the world. In Marinduque, members of the provincial government, including the Governor and his wife, legislative officials, and other prominent members of the town are usually invited to participate in the Rigodon. Traditionally, a ballroom waltz dance would follow the Rigodon. This particular dance is a form of quadrille which is a historic dance performed usually by four couples in a square formation.

In Marinduque, it is an honor to be invited to participate in the dance. It meant you belong to the high society of the town and recognized as a leader in the community. Macrine and I were invited to dance at the Grand Ball of the May Flower Festival in Boac in May, 2001. At that time Macrine was the President of Marinduque International Inc-a non-profit worldwide organization based in US and Canada whose main goals is to conduct medical mission to the needy in Marinduque every other year. At that time, I also served as acting Treasurer of the organization. For the whole month of May, we (sixteen couples) practiced almost everyday. Near the end of the dance, a part called the CADENA ( it means chain) had to be performed perfectly, otherwise confusion and mayhem could ruined the dance.

As I mentioned above, to be invited to participate in the Rigodon is considered as the subtle way of "branding" certain members of the community to specific social ranks. Usually performed as a party opener, the Rigodon starts off by calling the names of the participants; first the rich and influential who will compose the cabezera or headline followed by the not so popular and lesser ranking dancers who will then form the costados or sideline. The Cabezera's will start the dance movement and then followed by the costados. What a way to brand and assign social ranks in the community!

The following video as danced by the young men and women of the Philippines is an excellent visual description of the dance, costumes and music. Enjoy

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Romance is in the Air

During the clean-up process of my old files. my wife decided to help. She requested I play in my PC the classical piece titled Romance. Since I know at least 3 pieces with Romance in their tile, I asked which one. She wanted Anton Rubinstein music.

Anton Rubinstein piano rendition of Romance is my wife's favorite, since she studied this piano music when she was in high school. My favorite is Shostakovich Romance from the Gadfly, since this was the first violin music I studied in my music appreciation class in college. The Spanish romance guitar piece is both my wife and my favorite also because it reminded us of our childhood years in the Philippines. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Recent Activities at the David Balleza Katague Household

Parting with My old Suits and other Personal Belongings is Hard

This week after several urgings and reminders from my spouse of 57 years, I decided to donate to a thrift store my old suits, shirts, shoes and ties. I have accumulated more than 2 dozens suits. 200 ties, 50 pairs of shoes and several dozens white shirts that I have not used since my retirement from FDA in 2002.

The donation barely fitted into 4 large suit cases. Along with my clothes Macrine ( my spouse of 57 years) and my son David also donated old shirts,pants and dresses. The suit cases are fairly new, but we have newer ones that we can used in case Macrine is well enough to travel. Along with the clothes we also donated a TV ( still working well and used to be in our bedroom), This TV was replaced by a new 42” slim model, that I got for my Birthday.

It took me almost 13 years of holding on to my suits and ties. To me it was a symbol of my younger days and professional career, thus the emotional attachment. However as part of my New Year resolution to clean -up, I decided to call the thrift shoppe. The thrift shoppe is picking it up today.

Speaking of cleaning up, I started to throw and shred ( manual and automatic electric shredder) all my old files ( receipts, bills etc...) beginning last week. I have files as old as 2004. It will take me at least 2 weeks to finish this job, since I get tired doing it after 1 hour. During this clean-up and shredding process I listened to my favorite piano and violin classical pieces.

Last week had been disastrous financially in our household. Last Sunday, when I woke up, the temperature of the house was a cool 63F. Our heater was blowing cold air instead of hot air. I immediately called the emergency number of our local heating company. In the meantime I requested my son to buy 3 space heaters from Sears.

After waiting an hour the gas furnace technician inspected our 13 year old gas furnace He informed us that the gas furnace has so many things not working and to fix it will cost me about $2000 and he does not guarantee the heater will work more than one year. He recommended we purchase a brand new heater as replacement.

That same day ( Sunday afternoon) a salesman from the Heating company came to our house, give his sale pitch and I had no choice but purchase a new gas heater. Total cost including installation was $4800. The bad part is it will not be installed until Wednesday, that is we will not have central heating for at least 3 days. Luckily the temperature in our area was not that cold ( 40F in early morning to 60F in mid afternoon). With the space heater in our bedrooms, the cold was tolerable but the whole house was not comfortable at all. We went to the mall the whole day to have some heat and comfort. Lessons learned is to have yearly maintenance check up of your heating and air conditioning equipments.

Now to a more pleasant topic. This week, I have been communicating via Facebook, with the daughter of my high school contemporary from Barotac Viejo, Iloilo, Philippines way back in the late 1940's. We met thru the Balleza Clan group in FB. She happened to reside in a city only about 60 miles from us. Her Mom is now 83 years old and vaguely remembers me. I have still a picture of her during our high school days in my album. I promised to give it back to her, if she decide to visit me in the future. I am looking forward for their visit.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Time for Some Classical Music

While cleaning out my old files, I listened to the following classical music. Incidentally, if you are not familiar with the following classical pieces, I suggest you enroll on a music appreciation class as part of your adult education activities. If you do enjoy the following pieces, I salute you. My favorite is #8, Dvorak, The Song that My Mother Taught Me ( at 24.00) because it reminded me of my college years. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Genealogy of the Balleza and K(C)atague Surnames

About a month ago, I joined a group in Facebook called the Balleza clan. It is fun to know that I have hundreds of relatives all over the world who traced their roots from the Balleza clan originally from Barotac Viejo, Iloilo, Philippines where I spent my elementary and high school years. Below is my original blog (written on 1/11/09)about the Balleza( from my mother's ancestry and the K(C)atague surnames (from my father's side) in case you have not read it.

Several years ago, I started a genealogy of my mother's last name- “Balleza”. I was able to trace it back to the 15th century. The name originated from Bilbao, Spain. I then traced it to Mexico, then to US in Texas and then to the Philippines. I was able to locate a town in Mexico named Balleza, in the state of Chihuahua. The town was founded in 1640 and named after Fr. Mariano Balleza ,a Spanish friar. I was able also to communicate with a radio/TV announcer in Houston, Texas whose family name is also Balleza( Bill). I also found several Balleza families in Googles and recently in Face Book. Note that the name is similar to another name in the Philippines “Belleza”, a Spanish word which means beautiful. But “Balleza” and “Belleza” are two different names in the Philippines. I am happy and satisfied with the origin of my mother's last name. When my mother was still alive, she told me that her great grandfather was a Spanish soldier that participated in the Spanish colonization of the Philippines (1565-1898).

Today, I am curious on the genealogy of my father's last name. When my father was still alive, his last named was spelled with a “C” instead of the “K”. He changed it with the “K” when he was in high school. My father has two brothers who also changed it to start with a “ K”. But all of my father other relatives as far as I know has not change it. So there are a lot of “Catague's” in the Philippines, that are my relatives. The famous Catague is a painter named Fernando. His paintings are exhibited in the museum of Iloilo and Manila. My father has informed me that Fernando is a relative and originally was from Antique. In the Philippines, I know there are Katagues in Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Antique, Cavite and in Mindanao. I also found there is a Katague in Brazil from Googles. I just recently meet a niece in Face Book from Vancouver, B.C. She is the daughter of my first cousin from Bacolod, Negros Occidental. There are several Katagues in Face Book, and one in Twitter, but I do not know if we are related. Incidentally, there is a town in Bohol, named “Catague”. I am curious, how the town got its name, but I do not have the time to do research on it. If you know, please let me know. It will be highly appreciated.

There are several variations of the Katague name. These are: Catague, Catage, Catagi, Katagi, Katage, Kataque and Kata Gue ( from Indonesia). I know of a Japanese chemist with surname of Katagi. It may be true that Katague originated from Japan from the surname Katagi or Katague as my father once mentioned. This was recently confirmed by one FACE BOOK member whose last name is Katague but is now residing in Brazil.

So if your last name is any of the above or if you are married to someone with any of the names above, we may beet you on line or in person. We have a group in Face Book-The Katague and Catague Clan. Please join us.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year Superstitions in the Philippines

Twelve kinds of round fruits should be in your table by midnight to bring good luck and prosperity to the Household

When I was growing up in the Philippines, my parents will tell us kids that on New Years Eve and Day, we should do the following for good luck. Doing these things will help insure that the coming year will be a happy and prosperous one. Many of these traditions and superstitions are of Chinese influence, I believe.

1. Turn on all lights so that the coming year will be bright.

2. Make as much noise as you can to scare away evil spirits.

3. Debts must be paid off. Fill you wallet with fresh peso bills.

4. Open all doors, windows, cabinets and drawers to let good fortune in.

5. Scatter coins around the house, on tabletops.... inside drawers...

6. Clean everything including your body by taking a long bath, the closets and the whole house.

7. Wear polka-dots, preferably black and white. Anything round signifies prosperity.

8. Jump twelve times at midnight to increase your height. (Observed by Filipino children.)

There are five things related to food that we must do for good luck as follows:

1. Prepare 12 round fruits, one for each month of the coming new year ( see photo above).

2. Have a very round grape in your mouth at the stroke of midnight.

3. Eat a native delicacy made from sticky rice to make good fortune stick in the new year.

4. Eat long noodles (pancit) for long life ( definitely of Chinese origin). We should eat pancit also during our birthday.

5. Don't eat any chicken or fish. They are associated with the scarcity of food.

Then on New Years Day we should not clean anything, otherwise we might sweep away the good fortune. In addition we should not spend money at all. Our being thrifty that day will help us manage our money very well for the whole year. Do you have any New Years Eve tradition in your family? Please share!

Happy 2015 to All of You, my dear readers and FaceBook Friends!
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