Welcome and Mabuhay

If you love Marinduque and want to contribute articles to this site, please do so. My contact information is in my profile. The above photo was taken from the balcony of The Chateau Du Mer Beach House, Boac, Marindque, Philippines. I love sunsets. How about you? Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news in the right side bar of this blog. If you enjoy this site, then help support it by also clicking on the ads below. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing your copyrights. Thank you and Cheers!

Tres Reyes Island view of the Marinduque Mainland

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Patience, Perseverance and Papers on my Application for Home Refinancing On-Line

This article(http://chateaudumer.hubpages.com/hub/My-Personal-Experience-on-my-Application-for-Home-Refinancing) was my first article or hub published on Hubpages* on August 17, 2014. I am proud to announce that it made Editor Choice. According to Hubpages, Editor's Choice Hubs are exceptional featured Hubs that represent the very best of HubPages. Each Editor's Choice Hub is selected based on its individual merits. These Hubs receive additional exposure and are showcased on the HubPages.com domain rather than on individual subdomains.

Last June 27, I decided I will apply for a refinancing loan for the mortgage of my primary residence. After talking to numerous lenders ( 4 mortgage lenders and 3 major banks) looking for the lowest rate and the lowest or zero closing cost, I decided on the major bank where I have currently my checking account. They quoted me the lowest interest rate and almost zero closing cost ( a flat fee of only $150) and an upfront but refundable fee of $465, for the home appraisal and my wife and my credit reports.

I could have opted for a much lower interest rates( less than 4%) but with closing costs in the neighborhood of $3000.

With the interest rate (4.125%)/(4.108 APR) that I have signed for at 20 years fixed conventional loan, I will be saving around $150 per month based on my current mortgage payment ( 5% at 30 years fixed Conventional Loan). I am not eligible for a HARP loan because the ratio of equity in my home and my mortgage debts is more than 20%

I was dealing with a mortgage specialist,(SO) of the Bank Headquarters in the East Coast- a 3 hour time difference, so I do all my e-mailing and talking in the phone in the morning here in the West Coast. The documents required in this initial application were: copies of my sources of income( 1099 for my SS and pension funds income), copy of my house hazard insurance, a copy of my current bill from my current mortgage lender, a copy of my and my wife's credit reports, and a copy of my bank current statement both my money market and savings account. Since I am currently banking with my new prospective lender the mortgage specialist save me some time by his accessing my bank statement in their files.

June 30: SO informed that my application was sent to the bank branch in the West Coast who will underwrite my application. The next day, I received a call from a loan specialist(DB) in the West Coast, asking for confirmation of all the important facts that I gave during the phone conversation and e-mailing process. I was asked if I have a preference for a Title Company. I answered the negative. The loan specialist informed me he will take care of it. He informed me that it appears that my application package will not encounter any problems and a tentative closing date in the next 35 to 45 days is his goal. The interest rate quoted is locked up to 8/26/14.

July 2: I received an e-mail from a title company requesting a copy of my signed borrowers authorization. This will allow the title company to make credit and payoff inquiries needed for my loan application.

In the meantime the DB in the West Coast branch, informed me to expect a welcome package by mail which will include the Good (but Inflated) Faith Estimate and seven other loan documents that both my wife and I will have to sign. We have to call SO, the Specialist in the East Coast to help us run through the Loan Documents as soon as it arrives.

July 7: I received a letter and a call from title company, verifying the details of my living trust and also talking to my current lender the pay off and balance of my mortgage account and the next due date. My next payment is not due until September 1st. It appears the title company is doing its job on time. I received the welcome package on July 3..

July 8:: I submitted my loan package signed application via mail. The loan officer(SO) help me run through the signing process and the procedures was painless. I was told to wait for at least 4 working days and the next step would be a Home Appraisal.

July 10: I received a call from my loan officer(DB) that my application had been pre-approved. However before we can proceed to the final approval, he needs a copy of my IRA distribution income, the latest bank statement where I have my money market account, a clearer copy of my civil service annuity statement and a letter from my other pension fund stating that my monthly income will continue until I die. I have to call my financial adviser to get a copy of my IRA distribution. In ten minutes she gave me a copy via email. The next step I had to do was call my pension provider. They will send me a letter via post office mail stating my monthly income and stating that I will be receiving this for life. This will take at least 4 working days.

The other requirement that my loan officer(DB)requested that irked me was to provide a letter of explanation why we have two addresses here in California. The first address was the house that we rented for one year prior to our purchasing our current home. I felt this is not a necessary requirement, but I have to comply to it. I am feeling a little bit disappointed and harassed on the loan process and its requirements. However, I am telling myself just to be patient. We have another month to squander and wait!

July 14: An official home appraisal was conducted by the bank underwriting personnel of my loan application. The next day the appraisal report showed that my house was 20K less in value as originally reported by Zillow. com and real estate property Comparables in our subdivision. I was disappointed but DB said this will not affect the interest rate in my application.

July 18: I received a copy of my Home Appraisal report and an e-mail that the underwriters still need a two-month statement from my money market account and a letter from Office of Personnel Management (OPM) of at least three years of continuance of my Federal pension, although this pension is for life.. I have to wait for my next monthly statement for my money market account and I have to call OPM for that letter. Again, I felt this is not necessary, but I have to comply with the bank requirements. At this point, I felt like withdrawing my application. However if I do, I will lost $465 the amount I prepaid for the home appraisal and credit reports.

July 25: 10 AM -I received the letter of verification of my annuity from OPM. I immediately scanned and e-mailed it to DB along with two months statement from the bank who has my money market account.

1:30 PM: I received a thank you note from DB acknowledging receipt of the above two documents. Now I am just waiting for the final approval.

July 28: I got a personal call from DB informing me he has submitted all the documents required by the funding department. He expect approval in 3 to 4 working days, that is July 31 or August 1. He will be on vacation afterwards, so in case approval is delayed my files will be assign to another agent. If this happens he will let me know the person assign to my case. He also gave me the name of his supervisor(HB).

July 30: I received a call from DB informing me he had scheduled the closing and signing off ceremonies for the loan for August 1 at 11 AM here at our residence. Once my wife and I signed it, the loan is approved and our next payment will start on October 1, since my next payment for my current mortgage lender is not due September 1.

August 1, 11:45 AM: No one showed up for the signing. I called my loan agent supervisor(HB) and also sent him an email.

The supervisor of my agent informed me that my agent did not send my papers to the closing department before his vacation, He said he will send my files to the closing department today and most probably it will be Monday before we can close the loan.

August 2: I received a letter from the bank that they will fund my loan, but they have retained an independent contractor to provide specific processing, underwriting, and certain related services on the bank's behalf in connection with my loan application.

Here's what is on my-online application as of August 4, 12 Noon

1. Verify funds to close from the Borrower on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement do not exceed $ ------

2. Obtain evidence that the following lien is paid prior to or at funding: Borrower(s) Creditor Acct # Balance Payment ------------ ------------ ---------------- ----------

3. Obtain the final Settlement Statement (HUD-1) to verify any incidental cash back to the borrower does not exceed the lesser of $2,000 or 2% of the loan amount. Any incidental cash back as a result of excess premium pricing must be applied as a principal curtailment. Incidental cash back is not allowed for owner-occupied properties located in the State of Texas.

4 Bank of ------- reserves the right to re-evaluate the conditional approval of your loan request in the event Fannie Mae (FNMA), Freddie Mac (FHLMC), Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA), Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and/or Veteran Affairs (VA) guidelines are changed prior to the expiration date of this conditional approval letter. This means the loan may be further conditioned, may be subject to change in terms or the program may no longer be available to you.

5.Verification of applicant(s) identity to comply with Bank of------- customer identification process and the USA Patriot Act**.

6. State- or government-issued picture identification (for example: valid driver's license, passport, etc.)

7. If necessary, certified funds (for example: certified check or cashier's check) are required to complete your transaction. Please contact your Title Company/Closing Agent for further instructions.

August 5: 9:00 AM: I received an e-mail from SO, my loan officer from the East Coast, asking me to choose either August 7 or 8 for the closing either at our home or in the local branch of the bank. I selected August 7 ( Thursday)10 AM at our home.

August 5; 1:48 PM: I received a call from JP, the representative and notary public of the local title company confirming the closing date for Thursday. She asked me if we have an ID such as a drivers license. I said I have a driver's license but my wife does not drive and has her senior ID. She said the senior ID of my wife is OK. She promised to call me to confirm whether she is coming at 9:00 or 10:00. I asked her how long will the signing and closing process. She said from 30 to 40 minutes depending whether she has to explain everything that we are signing or if we do not agree with the terms of the loan, we can still refuse to sign. I am hoping this will not happen.

August 6: 3:30 PM: I got a call from the closing specialist of my bank lender (PB) based on the West Coast, asking if I could postponed the closing sign off at 1 PM instead of the 10 AM. The reason is that she is still working on the HUD-1 documents. PB promise to call me at 9:00 AM for updates on August 7.

August 7: Final Closing Discussions and Signing Off:


9;30 AM: I had about 30 minutes conversation with PB.the bank's closing specialist. She explained in detail the itemized costs in the HUD-1. I have a question on the $465 upfront fee. PB said it is included in the credits I will received and counting all the credits I will get, I will need to issue only a personal check to the title company of only 486.89 which is mostly interest accrued on my old loan based on the final closing date of 8/19/14. The actual closing date is scheduled for August 12, so there is a 7 day difference. My pay off balance accrues interest of about $31 per day,thus I will be expecting around $217 refund.. Again my next payment on my new loan is not due until October 1, 2014.

1:00 - 2:30 PM: Signing:

The Notary Public from the Title company was right on time. As soon as we have our preliminary greetings, she immediately asked for our ID's or driver's license and took photographs. She was very professional but easy to talk to. She explained what we were signing for. There were 175 pages of paper documents and I think my wife and I have signed our names over 25 times. It took 1-1/2 hours of signing and notarization of our signatures. We got a copy of the 175 pages of documentation. With the exception of the HUD-1 settlement, my copies were almost not readable. There will be a 3-day cooling off period before the funds are disbursed and the loan completed. We were offered an automatic deduction for my monthly payment from my checking account. I refused because I want to pay on-line using the bank bill pay system. All in all the procedure went smoothly but was long and my hands got tired from the signing process. However, I feel happy of the HUD-1 settlement funding. The bank gave me over $2000 of credits for the closing cost expenses. Again, all I had to pay by personal check was $486.89. Most of this is for interest on my old loan.

August 12: I checked the status of my application on-line. It says, Congratulations your loan has been successfully closed. To pay on line please sign in or enroll in our bill pay program.

August 14: I received a congratulation and thank you e-mail from SO, the loan specialist from the East Coast. In the e-mail he alluded that I might received a survey from the bank.

Conclusion: You need the 3 P's, Patience, Perseverance and Papers for a successful home refinancing mortgage loan from this bank. However, I recommend this bank for your refinancing needs with caution. .Caution in the sense that you need to do your homework, ask questions about the closing costs, points and other small print in your loan application. If you want to know the name of the bank and the loan officers and their contact numbers, please let me know. Finally beware of lenders who promised you the moon and approval in 3-4 weeks.

One mistake I made during this process was published my interest in the Internet on either refinancing my home or getting a reverse mortgage. Until now I an still getting calls and e-mails from loan sharks and personnel from several minor mortgage lenders who wants my business. Yesterday a persistent loan officer was still trying to convince me to do business with him even after I told him I have just closed my loan and no longer interested in home refinancing. He said he can give me a much better deal than what major banks can. He would not quit talking so I slammed the telephone on him. There are so many lenders in the web that wants your business, so beware and be careful in choosing the right lender. Good lenders does not promise you the moon,the stars and the heavens and approval in three weeks.

Is it really possible to have approval in this short period of time? If you are in the mortgage loan business and reading this, I will like to hear of your opinion. Is the rate and closing costs I got really a good deal? I have talked to a loan specialist in the bank where I have my money market account and he said I got a real good deal in my refinancing mortgage loan as discussed above. I hope you find this posting worth your time..

** Discussion: Can you explain to me what is the relevance of the US Patriot Act in my application for Home Refinancing?. Was this to insure that I am not involved in any terrorist activities, money laundering etc...Do other lenders also require this before loan approval?
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

*HubPages is an online publishing site. You write article online, they got reviewed and published and read. You create videos, upload them to the site and get viewed. For those views, the site use a revenue sharing program; the revenue from on page and in-video advertisements are shared between site owner and writers. Each article is called a hub; each writer is a hubber. On December 7, 2013, the website published data that showed that the website consisted of 910,106 "Hubs", 73,969 published users, and 2,498,967 forum posts. It was founded in 2006 and based in San Francisco, California.

I was delighted to see the following message from the Editor of Hubpages, when I double click on the phrase Editors Choice.
Congratulations! Your Hub has been selected as an Editor's Choice! Your Hub was selected by the Editors and will be promoted by HubPages and shown on HubPages.com. Our hats are off to you; only a small percentage of Hubs are chosen!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Is this True about Bellarocca Resort and Spa?



My post in one of my blogs on the recent news about air plane services from Manila to Marinduque and back received several comments from my readers and Facebook friends. One of the most interesting but sad comment was about the current status of the Bellarocca Resort and Spa in Buenavista. I am reposting this comment for your information.

"Hahaha!!. Are you serious about BellaRoca? I personally visited it in Feb. 2014, thanks to a guest pass from Gov. Carmencita Reyes and its NO RESORT by any stretch of the imagination nor standards. The place is completely rundown! The main "resort" swimming pool was disgusting and filthy; not a single guest would dare enter the pool and who could blame them and the suite pools were covered deep in algae. The place is in dire need of renovation and overhaul; potential visitors ought not be deceived. While Marinduque is a gem of an island to visit - it would be grand to fly in to an airport versus ferry in to the island. The ferry service leaves much to be desired. Dirty, gross and infested with vermin, cockroaches and "basura" (garbage). So indeed yes, it would be lovely to have an airport again, the island of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and tourist venues have their work cut out for them before GENUINE CHANGE takes place. You can pray all you want to your favorite and beloved patron saints but until the Marinduquenos affect change personally, its all just falling upon deaf ears".

Here's my response:

Hi Anonymous: I am saddened to hear of the current condition of Bellarocca as you described. When we stayed there a couple of years ago, it was at its best and our stay was memorable and magical. I hope with the opening of the airport more tourist will patronize the resort and restore the resort to its status as a five star resort in Marinduque. I do appreciate your comment.

Is the above true? Comments will be appreciated!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Things to Do and See in Marinduque, Philippines

With the recent news that air plane services will now be available from Manila to Marinduque and back in the near immediate future, it is high time that I repost this article from my blogs. This article was posted in 2010, but is it is timely and there is no need for an update. Again, may I comment that with the availability of air transportation services to the Island in the near future, Marinduquenos all over the world can now say that the transportation infrastructure in the island is no longer in the Middle Ages but in the 21st century.



Here's a 5.5 minutes video from marinduquegov.blogspot.com summarizing what you can see and do during your visit to Marinduque-my island Paradise. If you have additional questions feel free to call me or send me an email. I hope you enjoy this video. Cheers!



Stay with us when you visit Marinduque, but be sure to give us plenty of warning.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Squidoo will be Acquired by Hubpages-Tips for New Bloggers


When I opened my Squidoo account the other day, I was not surprised of the announcement that the writing site will no longer be in existence by October 1. It will be acquired by Hubpages, another writing site. Thus if you are just beginning to write or blog, you will have less places to submit your articles. However, I suggest you create your own site by either writing a blog at blogspot.com or wordpress.com. Both sites are free. The following is my article listing three reasons why people blog and a few tips for beginners posted in 2009. Enjoy!

I was just scanning an article by Susan Gunelius ( About.com) on tips for new bloggers. But before I discussed some of her tips, I know there are three main reasons why people blog.

1. You want to inform and be an expert in your field and perhaps earned income via ads in your blog
2. You want to promote a business. By blogging you will attract clients as well as developed social networks
3. You blog just for the fun of it. You want to share your ideas and opinions. In doing so, you improved your writing style and have fun sharing your ideas and joining discussions on topics you like.

I know there are other reasons why people blog. I will be happy if you share your reasons for blogging. For me my reasons are a combination of #2 and #3. I have no expectations to earn with ads in my blog and website.

Now let me discuss some of the tips for beginner bloggers:

1. Be yourself. Your blog is an extension of your self, your brand or niche!
2. Be inviting. Joined social networks ( twitter, face book etc...) to increase traffic
3. Be risky. Try new things like plug ins or sponsor a contest

Speaking of sponsoring a contest, I have published in my blog, a two-nights free stay at my beach house in Marinduque worth $100, for the first person to comment and guess the setting of the two photographs taken at night in the beach house. So far, I have not received any reply. So, to make it easier for everybody, I change the contest. All you have to do is write an essay in not more than 250 words, why you want to visit Marinduque. Conditions for redeeming the prize remain the same.

Last, but not least,

4. Be persistent. Try to update your blog as often as you could. If you run out of ideas, recycle your old blogs. Remember readers do not read at the end of your blog. It is not a book.

There were several other tips in the articles . But the above 4, I consider the basic tips, one must practice to be a good blogger for whatever reason(s).

Please let me know of other reasons why people blog and also if you have other tips for new bloggers that I have not mentioned above. Cheers!

Note: I have my first article on Hubpages published today on my experience on refinancing my home here in Northern California, www.chateaudumer.hubpages.com

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Continuing Saga in Cashing Out My Wife's Retirement Fund

This is a continuation of the process I have experienced in cashing out a small amount of my wife's retirement benefit.

My wife has Parkinson's Disease and has a hard time communicating via telephone. As her primary care giver I am responsible not only for her physical needs but also her financial obligations and investments specifically her retirement benefits as a retired visiting Nurse here in Northern California.

This article chronicles my experience in trying to cash out a small amount of her retirement funds from a well-known visiting nurse organization here in Northern California. For the sake of security I will not mentioned the actual name of this organization, but just called it ST. ST does not have a local office that one can personally submit the paper work required for my wife's cash distribution.

On middle of June, I received a note from my wife's investment company (FI) asking for additional information and an update of our address etc.... This triggers my wife's memory that she had a small amount of retirement fund (a little more than $500) left from her former employer (AB) when she retired in 1994. AB no longer exists because it was acquired by ST several years ago. Thus ST should have all the paper work that I will need to cash out this small amount that my wife has almost completely forgotten.

Last July 15, I called ST ( human resources and the retirement section) for the initial inquiry regarding my wife's account. The person (PA) in the benefits section asked for my wife's employee number and I said she has retired a few years ago from AB . PA asked me to hold while she searched in their data base for my wife's name. She was not able to locate it. Then she asked for my wife's SS and again my wife according to their data base does not exists. I requested to talk to PA supervisor She refused to let me talk to her supervisor until she talks to my wife. Luckily my wife was besides me and she was able to talk to PA. PA then let me talk to her supervisor (JA). I told JA perhaps my wife's file could be under the investment company (FI). After about 5 minutes of holding, supervisor JA found my wife's file. There was minimum amount of information, but my wife's starting and termination date was on file and there was Plan number assigned but there is no employee number. JA said there is nothing that ST can do right now, but I should called the investment company FI. This was about 4PM, so I decided not to call FI that day.

The next day I called FI and after talking to a representative, he refused to talk to me unless he can talk to my wife first. My wife at this time was not feeling well, so I told him I will call tomorrow. The next day I called FI and a more understanding representative ( WW) entertained my request when I informed him of my wife's problem talking to the telephone. However, he was satisfied when I gave him the plan number, date of hire and termination from AB and my wife's SS. WW requested me to hold while he checked what form and procedure will be needed for the cash distribution of an account that was so old, it was almost lost in the paper work fiasco. After 10 minutes WW informed he found the right form and he will mail it to me. I should receive the form in 4 to 5 working days.

July 18th:, I receive the four-page form with a self-addressed envelop with a note that ST should approved this before I return it to FI. I called ST and behold the person I talk to again can not find my wife's account. I requested to talk to supervisor JA, but she is gone for the day. I was told to call the next day.

July 22: I called ST and another person answered me( NA). The first few minutes I was asked for my employee number. I said I have none since I( my wife) retired in 1994. The usual question of asking my wife's name and her SS started again. After a few minutes NA found my wife's file and asked me of how she can helped. I told her I have received the form from FI but there is an item that ST has to approved it. She said I could FAX the properly filled form or send it via E-mail as an attachment after I scan it. Since I have a scanner I decided to send it via e-mail. I asked for ST E-mail. The E-mail address sXXXXLLL@ST.org. XXXX are four numbers and LLL are letters. I asked if there is a person I could send as ATTENTION of, but NA said no.

I waited for a couple of days to call ST
. When I talked to a representative from ST named DE, I found out I sent it to the wrong e-mail, so ST has not received the cash distribution form from FI investment. DE gave me the correct e-mail and for my additional security gave me a FAX number. I resend the form that same day.

The next day I received a call from ST from a person named SE. SE informed they got the form and need a copy of my wife's driver license to verify her signature. I told her my wife no longer drives and has no driver license but has her senior ID card. SE said the senior card will suffice.

July 24, I called ST today. The person who answered my call is again a new person.( AP). I requested to be connected to either SE or JA who seemed to have no trouble finding my wife's file. Neither SE or JA is available, so AP asked me if she can help. Again the same standard routine, my wife's name her SS, her plan number, her employee number. I asked AP that all I want to know is if ST has received my wife's Senior ID card. After a few minutes AP said they have. So I asked the obvious question when will I hear from ST or FI. She said perhaps another 10 working days. ST will take care of sending the form to FI.

I will be anxiously waiting the next 10 working days for the check. Is this trouble worth the $1000 I will be expecting in the mail. Indeed as a retiree with a fixed income, any amount coming is welcome.

Note I can not believe that a large organization such as ST, does not have an office that one can submit in person paper work related to retirement benefits for its thousands of employees here in Norther California. I was told there are no local offices for personnel activities because all personnel activities are now centralized, so all business is done on line.

August 1: I called ST asking for an update. I talked to a personnel representative who again was not able to find my wife's name in their current data base but was able to find it in the old data base. He said ST has not processed the paper work and I should call around August 5 or 6 for an update.

August 6: 3;15 PM. I called ST and talked to JA the same person who had found my wife's name in the old data base during my first inquiry on July 15. JA informed me that ST has faxed all the forms to FI the pension company yesterday. She suggests I called FI by Friday August 8 and see if they have processed my wife's cash distribution request.

August 8: 9;00AM: I called FI. I talked to a representative. He checked the files and informed me they have received the FAX from ST but has not processed it. He told me to call back on Monday, August 11 to check.

August 11: I received a letter from FI that my wife and my signature have to be notarized. I spent about 2 hours looking for a local notary public. I found one not far from our residence. At 2:00 PM Macrine and I went to his office to have our signature notarized, then we faxed the form to FI. We paid $20 for the notarization including the faxing and confirmation.

August 12: I called FI and asked for the status of my cash distribution application. A representative informed me, it was approved yesterday and the check will be mailed today. He said in 5 to 7 working days, I should received the check. If I do not received it after 10 working days, I should not hesitate to call them. Alleluia, the End is finally near! Thanks the Lord for little favors! Amen, Amen!

August 16: I received the check yesterday. With 10% withhold for Federal tax and 1% for the State tax, the net amount of the check is barely enough to pay for repair of our driveway in Marinduque. Our driveway was damaged by the widening of the road in front of our house as shown in the photo below.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chateau Du Mer Logo, Brochures, Letter head, Post and Calling Cards

Chateau Du Mer Logo

Brochure 1 page 1

Brochure 1 page 2

Brochure 2 page 1

Brochure 2 page 2

Marinduque Brochure, page 1

Marinduque Brochure, page 2

CDM Brochure 3, page 1

CDM Brochure 3 page 2

CDM Letter Head, Calling and Post Cards

CDM postcards

CDM Calling and Postcards

Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams and Parkinson Disease

photo from smh.com.au
The recent death and suicide of actor and comedian Robin Williams had touched the hearts of millions of his fans, all over the world. I am one of his admirer and his death has also left me heart broken. Yesterday news about his early Parkinson disease reminded me of an article I posted in my blogs about this malady that has also a personal meaning and effect in my daily life presently. Here's the article in case of you have not read it. It was posted on April 13, 2013.

Six months ago, my beloved wife of 56 years( Macrine) was diagnosed to have first stage Parkinson disease, commonly called PD. She has been experiencing typical symptoms of the malady with involuntary hand tremors, slow body movement ( walking), unbalanced gait, softer voice, difficulty swallowing and had a couple of falls during the previous year. We have to purchase a cane, to prevent another fall. Our doctor prescribed her Sinemet ( 25/100 carbidopa/levodopa) to be taken twice a day. Her first two weeks after taking the drug, she suffered nausea, vomiting, hallucinations and disturbed sleep, but her hand tremors stopped. As of today she is taking the drug twice a day and the nausea had stopped and the hand tremors controlled. She still walks very slow and her voice is very low and have a hard time swallowing. She needs my assistance in changing clothes, bathing and slicing her food into small pieces. She easily gets tired and from what I read in the Internet, there will be a time when the drug will no longer be effective. In the future as the disease progressed she will need palliative care and home nursing assistance. My wife's PD has a genetic component. Her father had PD and one of her aunts on her maternal side had also PD during their senior years.

Today, I called my Federal Insurance provider Blue Cross-Blue Shield-Anthem of California. The benefits coordinator informed me that home care visits are limited to only 2 hours per day and 25 visits for the calendar year. It has to be authorized by a licensed physician. I have a deductible of $350 per year with the insurance paying only 65% of the cost.

Currently, I am reading two books on PD which I found useful as follows:1). I have Parkinson: What Should I do? By Ann Andrews, Basic Health Publishing, 2011 and 2). Ask the Doctor about Parkinson Disease by Michael S. Okun and Hubert H Fernandez, Demos Health, 2010.

The following information from the National Parkinson's Foundation, I found very informative .

In the United States, 50,000-60,000 new cases of PD are diagnosed each year, adding to the one million people who currently have PD. The Center for Disease control rated complications from Parkinson’s disease as the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. Worldwide, it is estimated that four to six million people suffer from the condition. There is hope, however, as scientists work towards a cure and make progress in identifying the best treatment options for patients.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly in most people. What this means is that individuals with PD will be living with PD for twenty years or more from the time of diagnosis. Parkinson’s disease itself is not fatal, but complications could occur and can cause death. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s; however, investigations on animal models, gene therapy and stem cells research are undergoing so those with PD can have a good quality of life.

Treatment approaches include medication and surgical therapy. Other treatment approaches include general lifestyle modifications (rest and exercise), physical therapy, support groups, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Recent studies have indicated that a treatment is better than no treatment. In other words, medications and therapies may modify the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Michael Fox and Muhamed Ali are the two world famous personalities known to be suffering with PD.
Michael Fox and Mohamed Ali

Do you have a relative with PD? Were you the primary caregiver? Could you share your experiences as a caregiver?
Reference: www.parkinson.org ( National Parkinson Foundation)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I can only Read my Comcast E-mails using the Google Chrome Browser


For the last couple of years, my favorite Internet Browser was Mozilla FireFox (FF). I did not have any problem reading my E-mail in Comcast. Before that I used Microsoft Internet Explorer(IE).However two days ago I can not read my e-mails with FF and only partially with IE. So, today I started using Google Chrome (GC), and I am beginning to like it. In the Philippines, I used Google Chrome or Firefox as both seemed to be trouble free and faster that IE.

I used GC today, because it is the only browser that allowed me to open my e-mail with my Comcast.net E-mail account. I do not know what is going on with Comcast, since prior to two days ago, I had no problem opening my e-mail with the FF browser.

Yesterday, I called the Help desk of Comcast informing them of my problem as well as frequent and irritating pop ups in my PC. I talked to a representative (Lyle) from Seattle, WA. He suggested I erased all the previous cookies in my PC and making sure the pop up item was checked in my PC. I did it but the problem was not solved. He reset his modem and as I did mine, but it did not solved my problem. I stopped our conversation since I have to go out, so I had an open ticket that the problem was not solved. However, Lyle will send me an updated modem in the mail and I should be receiving it soon. I did received the new modem late this afternoon.

Yesterday, I received a call from the Help desk based in Denver, Colorado from a representative named Layla. She suggested I installed Google Chrome in my PC. I have to stop our conversation, since it was time for Macrine and I to go to the Casino and have some fun. I made an appointment for someone to call me at 10 AM.( 8/13).

After our Casino Outing, I installed Google Chrome in my PC. Lo and behold I was able to read my E-mails.

At 9;30 AM yesterday, I received a call from the Comcast Help desk. She started asking me about my problem and she is just following the open ticket in my account. Based on her accent, I was 100% sure she is a Filipina, When I asked her where she is located, she answered that they are not allowed to answer that question. Being a Filipino-American, I have no doubts that the Comcast Help Center that is helping me is located in the Philippines. With the time difference here in the West coast it must be past midnight in the Philippines/ She was professional and tries to be very helpful. However, since my problem had already been solved, I was not interested in what she was telling me. I told her my problem was solved when I installed GC in my PC and she can report to close the open ticket in my account. She gave me an 877 number and option 3 in case I encounter more problems in the future.

My experience with the Help Desk of Comcast in the Philippines have been pleasant. I hope COMCAST and other US based companies continue to employ thousands of Filipinos in their Calling Centers. For some of my readers who do not know what a browser is, here's a short info from Wikipedia.

A web browser (commonly referred to as a browser) is a software application for retrieving, presenting and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. An information resource is identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI/URL) and may be a web page, image, video or other piece of content. Hyperlinks present in resources enable users easily to navigate their browsers to related resources.

Although browsers are primarily intended to use the World Wide Web, they can also be used to access information provided by web servers in private networks or files in file systems.

The major web browsers are Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, and Safari.

This is the first time I heard of Opera. I have not used Safari but my son used Safari and he seemed to like it. Anyone have used Opera? Do You know there more than a dozen other minor browsers? Can you name some of them?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sunset and Twilight Time at the Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort

My favorite time of the day in Marinduque is at sunset and at twilight. During this time and up to 5 AM( before sunrise) I could show case my more than 50 solar lights of various types around the resort. Besides the solar lights, I have installed spot lights in all of the statuary's and garden sculptures near the Conference Hall and also in the Main House. The three photos( taken at twilight) below focused on the bridge lighting (red and white). The bridge is the focal point of the landscaping design of the beach house. The lights are my practical application for the basic principles of feng shui in landscaping design.




Solar Lights as viewed from the Conference Hall









The creek under the bridge is filled with native fish, crabs and snails during the summer season. Two years ago, I seeded the creek with tilapias in November. By May, it was already about 3 to 5 lbs. I feed the tilapias twice a day with commercial fish food. I told Edwin, my caretaker to harvest them before the rainy season, otherwise they will be flushed into the ocean, when the monsoon rains start around July-August. Edwin was able to harvest more than a dozen for his table. A couple of tilapias that remained in the creek were flushed into the ocean by August.

The third photo from top is one of my favorite sunset picture taken from the balcony of the beach house. Macrine and I hope to see you soon in Marinduque-our island Paradise.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Ten Favorite Quotes on Aging



The following 10 quotes about aging from famous names and personalities of the world are my favorites. These quotes, I believe should be an inspiration to all senior citizens of the world. If you are a senior citizen, I hope that you are aging gracefully. Do you have a favorite quote in this list? Mine is number 5, since I will turn 80 at the end of this year. Cheers to all you "Tandang ager".

1.“I had to wait 110 years to become famous. I wanted to enjoy it as long as possible.” Jeanne Louise Calment (1875-1997) – This French woman is the oldest documented living human.

2.“You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.” Woody Allen (1935- )

3“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” Coco Chanel (1983-1971) The fashion icon.

4.“Do not try to live forever, you will not succeed.” George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

5.“By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.” George Burns (1896-1996)



6.“He who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition, youth and age are equally a burden.” Plato (427-346 B.C.)

7.“At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” Ann Landers (1918-2002)

8.“Because I could not stop for death – He kindly stopped for me.” Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

9.“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.” Robert Browning (1812-1889)

10.“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan (1921-2006)

Source: seniorhealthmemos.com
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