Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Developments in Historic Downtown Cebu City, Philippines

I like to check out changes in Historic downtown Cebu City, and here are some of them. Click on the pictures to make them bigger.

There is a mural on The Shepherd's Heart Cafe across the Heritage Monument, near the Yap-Sandiego Museum and Old Jesuit House.

The Shepherd's Heart Cafe is itself a fairly new establishment started by Peace Corps Volunteer, Amelia Kent. It was closed on Sunday, but I'll visit it next week. The Cafe is a non-profit that trains and helps provide a livelihood to women who havw been exploited. It's a good cause, and the coffee and sandwiches/snacks there are excellent.

The Gigantes (Giants) above are remnants of the recent Sinulog Festival. 

The Cathedral Museum has a nice Cafe with outdoor seating and a touristy board for picture taking.

This white building along the waterfront is the historic Gotiaoco Building that's earmarked to be the Sugbo Chinese Heritage Museum. For a couple of years, there had been no development to the building, but now I see that it's been white-washed, there's a Chinese Gate in front, and some plans are posted along the side of the building. Chinese merchants and traders influenced the history of Cebu, so this museum will play an important role in telling that story.

Near the Sugbu Chinese Heritage Monument is a new little park, the Magellan Park. This extends another relatively new Senior Citizens Park. I will guess that Cebu's Mayor Mike Rama made the Magellan Park happen.  Mayor Rama has been working hard to improve the historic district including improving Plaza Independencia, the Carbon Market (wet market), and others.

Improvements in the Historic area are slow in happening, but thankfully are taking place. The simple fact is that millions of tourists visit Historic downtown Cebu, so it is wise for city officials to continue developing this part of Cebu City.

Read also
Walking Tour of Old Cebu
Pictures of Historic Cebu 1 
Pictures of Historic Cebu 2
Pictures of Historic Cebu 3

Tags: Cebu City, Philippines, Sugbu, museums, travel, tourism, #CebuPhilippines

This is all for now,

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Philippines: Pope Francis's Call Not To Breed Like Rabbits #PopeFrancis

Saturday I went to the two big churches in Cebu: the Cathedral and the Basilica Santo Nino; and perhaps because there are still many tourists (for the Sinulog Festival), there were many beggars. Among them were women in their thirties with three - four children, all of them looking malnourished. There were also many children beggars. (These beggars do not molest tourists; they sit on the sidewalks passively with their hands outstretched, unlike some other beggars I have encountered in other parts of the world.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

In Cebu City, Philippines this January #CebuPhilippines

I'm in Cebu City, Philippines, right now, folks.

Months ago, I checked Expedia and found a relatively inexpensive plane fare to Cebu.  It was, however, a 20+ hour travel flight.  The usual length is around 14-16 hours; and I figured, why not? It was going to save me some $500 dollars.

So .... I traveled for over 20 hours, lost January 22 completely because of time change, and was wiped out the whole next day.  Now, I 'm up at 4 a.m. The sun isn't even up, but my mind is whirring away.

Pope Francis was just in Tacloban and Manila; the Sinulog Festival was just celebrated days ago. Pope-Mania hangs in the air. My cabbie talked of how beautiful it was that there was a storm in Tacloban when the Pope was there, to give him a taste of what Super-typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda had been.

It's 75 degrees in Cebu City, with 50% chance of Precipiation and 87% Humidity.  Right now, it feels cooler than that because of a nice breeze.

As my husband says, this year will be "awesome" so I will look for what is awesome during this trip.

Stay tuned for Philippine updates!

Read also
Old Jesuit House of 1730
Review of Out of Cebu

This is all for now,

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Guest Blogger: Manny Gonzalez writes "Baden-Baden on a Budget, Barely --- #BadenBaden

The following article about Baden-Baden is by Manny Gonzalez. A resident of Whistler, Canada, Manny Gonzalez is a Director/shareholder at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Mactan, Philippines.

Baden-Baden on a Budget, Barely
by Manny Gonzalez

Exactly how I wound up in Baden-Baden, I don’t care to tell you, except that a lot of people go to Baden-Baden for their health.
So there I was, on a kind of operating table, staring at the ceiling while undergoing a certain medical procedure, fully conscious. Around me were two doctors and three medical students (this being the charity ward). Though I couldn’t really see what was going on, one doctor was looking pale, and every few minutes the other doctor made sounds like these:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Guest Blogger: "The Sensual Pleasures of Bordeaux" by Manny Gonzalez #France

Our Guest Blogger today is Manny Gonzalez who writes about Bordeaux, France.

The Sensual Pleasures of Bordeaux
by Manny Gonzalez

One: Drink some wine.
MANILA, Philippines - But not just any wine. These wines.
Look carefully at the picture of a wine bar dispenser, and you will understand the reason Bordeaux is on the map. Those prices are in euros – from left, Off (meaning Sold Out), 15 Euro, 25, Off, 35, Off, 25 and 25. That much money will get you, not a glass, but 1/5 of a glass, or say 1/30 of a bottle (two sips).
That makes the Angelus (second from left) worth 450 euros (that’s P25,000) for the bottle, the Haut-Brion 750 euros, and so on. Though they are not from mature vintages, this dispenser holds five of the best red wines of Bordeaux – Chateaus Haut-Brion, Latour, Lafite, Mouton and Margaux.
Up until about 40 years ago, these were widely accepted as the top five red wines in the world, with Chateaus Ausone and Cheval Blanc close behind. There are even more stratospheric wines from Bordeaux, called Le Pin and Petrus, but they were not in this wine-dispenser, probably because there weren’t enough digits on the LED display.

Remembering the Civil War in El Salvador #ElSalvador

I was talking to Juana who had lived in El Salvador in Central America before immigrating to the US when she was 13. She was there when the civil war was going on. She talked about how her father had to hide because the government and the guerrilas wanted to conscript him. The last time he had to hide, he did not return home but left for the US.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Saigon, Vietnam: The Five Dollar Ransom, #CeciliaBrainard

The following piece is based on a true story.

The Five Dollar Ransom
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

            My friend Cynthia and I are in the Ben Thanh night market in Saigon for dinner and shopping, and afterwards, I talk her into going to the Saigon Saigon Bar at the Caravelle Hotel. “That’s where the Americans hung out during the Vietnam War,” I tell her. This is her first visit to Vietnam, my second, so I’m a bit bossy about where to go, what to do.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Writing Furiously Today!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Need Help Translating French Sign Into English

There is a small mystery that we would like solved.

Two years ago, when we were with friends in Beaune, France, Max, one of our companions bought this placard/sign and gave it to us. He thought it was very funny but refused to translate it into English.

We have used Google Translation and the literal translation of the words are:

Notice to drinkers
Being that flock con
Let it be said

We can't make this out at all.
It seems to be a notice to drinkers, giving them advice about how to become better drinkers, but we are not sure at all.

It's some kind of joke but we don't know what it means.

Can someone let me know what it says?

Email me at

Thank you.
Addendum: Bonnie Melvin wrote: This means something like: Notice for drinkers: Better to be drunk than stupid. It doesn't last as long. Let it be said.

This is all for now,

Friday, January 16, 2015

Guest Blogger Celine Conejos Reviews Hong Kong Hotels and Restaurants #HongKong

My mother and her friends used to go to Hong Kong to shop. She would buy camphor chests, carvings, transistor radios, English chocolates and cookies, and other things. By the time I grew up, Hong Kong was no longer a bargain place, but it continued/s to be a vacation destination for Filipinos.

Today, Celine Conejos shares reviews on some Hong Kong Hotels and restaurants. 

A Philippine Diplomat's wife, Celine Conejos is a permanent resident of Makati, although she currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland. She reviews hotel, restaurant, and attraction sites in TripAdvisor under the name of Coellum. She says this of herself:

"My father was very fond of traveling. He passed on his wanderlust to me. I enjoy traveling and planning for my trips. People close to me benefit from this. My children have many good memories of happy vacations together. At present, I live in Geneva temporarily. Being in the heart of Europe gives me many opportunities to see new places."

 The following reviews first appeared in TripAdvisor and are reprinted with Celine Conejos' permission. I look forward to posting more of her reviews about other places in my blog. Thanks to Celine Conejos for sharing her reviews.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pope Francis in the Philippines #PopeFrancis

Pope Francis is in the Philippines, and Pope Mania has swept over this Catholic country. Here are some pictures. The Papal dolls amuse me; the selfies with the Pope or image of the Pope also caught my attention. The prayerful woman holding the rosary, and with the image of Our Lady and the Pope on the wall touch me.

Catching Up with Filipino American Novelist, Brian Ascalon Roley #PhilippineLiterature

The writer, Brian Ascalon Roley, is in Southern California and he stopped by to visit. We had a lovely lunch at Chez Jay and dessert at home.

Because Brian is also a fiction writer, we never run out of things to talk about, from the craft of writing to getting our works published.

I was delighted to learn that Brian has a short collection that will be released in 2016. We shared some writing tips, like using a notebook or writing down thoughts that come to you on scraps of restaurant napkins. He gave me a thriller by Jana French, In the Woods, which I'm looking forward to reading.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Filipino Cooking: Laing or Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk #FilipinoFood, #FilipinoCooking

LAING is a Filipino native dish from Bicol province, Northern Philippines. Since I was born and raised in Cebu, Southern Philippines, the dish was alien to me until I visited Northern Philippines. Laing is a creamy vegetable dish that reminds me of spinach. It's very flavorful and rich.

Here is a recipe and comments from my friend Maria Ciocon about the making of Laing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's Tuesday, Meals on Wheels Day

It's Tuesday, Meals on Wheels Day.

I planned on blogging after delivering the meals but got caught up with this and that.  I'll pick this up tomorrow, so check back.

In the meantime, here is a picture of the hotel we stayed at in Kumarakom, India, one of my favorite places. It was beautiful and relaxing there.

Tags: Kumarakom, India, travel, picture

This is all for now,

Monday, January 12, 2015

Paris Attack: Unity Rally in Los Angeles, California - #JeSuisCharlie, #JeSuisAhmed, #JeSuisJuif

It was raining last Sunday, but we went downtown to the Unity Rally in front of the City Hall, where a thousand people gathered to show solidarity to the French following the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last week. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Maryknoll Lunch in Santa Monica, California

 l-r: Lorna Cruz, Esther Parker, Meldee Perez, Ollie Yujuico, Cecilia Brainard, (seated) Maria Ciocon, Lucy McGinley 

Despite the rain, a small group of Maryknoll graduates got together at home for lunch. The excuse for the gathering was Meldee Perez's visit to Southern California. The seven ladies chattered away non-stop, and the few husbands who were here sought refuge in the den to watch sports.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Prayer to End Violence and Pictures of Buddhist Monks

Today I am sharing three pictures of Buddhist monks that I took in Burma. I love their aura of peace, serenity and joy.

And following the violence in Paris, I found this Christian Prayer to End Gun Violence, which seems to address the need for healing now. I made a few changes to the original prayer, which can be found in this site

Friday, January 9, 2015

Update Paris Attack - Two Hostage Situations Ongoing

I woke up to the news that there is a third terrorist incident in Paris that is ongoing. First was the Charlie Hebdo attack, followed by the killing of a policewoman. Now hostages are held in a Kosher market.

In the Charlie Hebdo attack, one of the policemen killed was a Muslim, Ahmed Merabet. Merabet was wounded and pleaded for his life, but the terrorists killed him mercilessly.

The ongoing drama in Paris is disconcerting. I am praying for the people there:

Paris Kosher Market Seized

Market Gunman to kill hostages if police storm brothers

Paris Terror Attack: 2 Hostage Situations linked

Paris suspects cornered as second shooting occurs in Paris

Some thoughts after the Terrorist Attack in Paris

Tags: #ParisAttack, hostage, #CharlieHebdo, Paris, France, terrorist, attack

This is all for now,

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Some Thoughts After the Terrorist Attack in Paris - #CharlieHebdo, #JeSuisCharlie

One day after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, here are some thoughts:

1. Free Thought:  I can't get over how much oppressors fear Free Thought. In the Paris attack, Islamist terrorist targeted satirical cartoonists. Not too long ago, North Korea's Kim Jong Un had a fit over the comic film, The Interview. In a similar vein, ISIL issued a new curriculum in Mosul, banning such subjects as natural history, literature, art, and evolution. In Syria and Iraq, Assad and Islamic Extremists have been killing journalists and other media people.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

#JeSuisCharlie - France "We Stand With You"

In solidarity with the French during this difficult time - #JeSuisCharlie

Read also:
BBC - Charles Hebdo Attack
USA Today
Artists Around the World Respond to Attack

Cebu Philippines: The Sensational Elopement of Milagros and Manuel Cuenco

l-r: Manuel Cuenco, Mariano Jesus Cuenco, Archbishop Jose Cuenco, Miguel Cuenco

l-r: Teresita Cuenco Gonzalez, Concepcion Cuenco Manguerra, Milagros Veloso Cuenco

The Sensational Elopement of Milagros and Manuel Cuenco

I learned about the elopement of my uncle and aunt later on life. Before then, I always took them as just another normal couple with six children, part of the landscape of my youth in Cebu. My mother had only one brother, Manuel.

At this point in time, I can probably mention their names. They have both passed on, and their lives have slipped into the realm of story.

The writer, Concepcion G. Briones wrote about the elopement of Manuel Cuenco and Milagros Veloso (circa 1930s) as follows: (source: Life in Old Parian)

Another sensational elopement landed its protagonists on the front-pages of Cebu's newspapers and weeklies. The youngest daughter of one of Cebu's oldest millionaire families and the handsome scion of Cebu's most powerful political families,eloped one day.

The couple had been, in the language of the day, "going steady" for quite a while. But they probably had a falling out when the novio went abroad to pursue further studies. A year or so afterwards, avid society watchers woke up to read an announcement that Cebu City was to see another big and brilliant wedding uniting the lovely herioine and another scion of one of its wealthiest families.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Syria War: Senator John McCain's Statement re Illegal Visit to Syria

Syria's UN Ambassador accused US Senator John McCain and other senior US and French officials of entering Syria illegally on separate occasions saying, "Such actions are a blatant violation of Syria's sovereignty and of the resolutions of the Security Council concerning Syria.

John McCain replied:

"It is sad but unsurprising truth that the Assad regime is less concerned with its massacre of more than 200,000 men, women and children than it is my visit with those brave Syrians fighting for their freedom and dignity. 

. . .

"The fact that the international community has done virtually nothing to bring down this terrible regime despite its atrocities is a stain on our collective moral conscience."

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and the Syrian Revolution 2011

Read also
John McCain Hits the Jackpot with a Syrian Complaint
Syria War: John Kerry's Statements 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Philippine Literature Critic Dr. Leonard Casper

Linda Ty Casper, and I have been emailing each other recently, and she sent me a picture of her husband, Dr. Leonard Casper. I asked permission to post it, and Linda said to go ahead.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The First Time I Got Drunk - #CeciliaBrainard

The first time I got drunk was when I was 19 and a group of us threw a party at home. It was summer. My older sister and cousin had just returned from Spain and Paris where they had pursued post-graduate studies. (I suspect they learned how to party mostly in Europe.) They proceeded to make sangria and rum cokes for our party. I was used to sipping sweet drinks like Pink Lady or Purple Cow, and the sangria and rum cokes quickly went to my head. The rum coke especially, because it tasted like Coca Cola.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pope Francis and His Childhood Girlfriend

Some friends and I were talking about Pope Francis. Hands down, people like him very much. He has displayed tolerance, compassion, and a determination to make the world better.

Someone mentioned that the Pope had a girlfriend when he was twelve, and he reportedly told the girl, "If I don't marry you, I'm going to be a priest." He had drawn for his childhood love the picture of a little white house with a red roof, and and said, "This is what I'll buy when we marry,"

Friday, January 2, 2015

Philippines: Filipina Muslim Princess Tarhata Kiram

When my mother was alive, she used to talk of her friend, Princess Tarhata. She had many stories about Princess Tarhata, how beautiful she was, how smart, how powerful. I was reminded of the Princess because she supposedly owned a huge natural pearl; that point of interest came up because of the next book project I'm trying to cultivate in my head.