Friday, July 10, 2020

Filipinos #CopingWithCovid -- Brian Ascalon Roley, Ohio USA

The following is part of my series, Filipinos Coping with Covid.

Responding to my interview questions, Brian Ascalon Roley describes life  in Ohio, USA, during the time of coronavirus. This was written on May 24, 2020.

Update July 10, 2020 by Brian Roley: "Since I first answered these questions, the lockdown ended, but now there’s been a surge in my county and masks are required again. Not much has changed in terms of my work patterns. But I am preparing my two undergraduate classes this fall classes online. 

Brian Ascalon Roley has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, the University of Cambridge, Cornell University, the Ohio Arts Council, the Association of Asian American Studies, the Djerassi Foundation, Ragdale, the VCCA, and others. An English Professor at Miami University of Ohio, his books include the widely taught AMERICAN SON (W.W. Norton), a New York Times Notable Book, and THE LAST MISTRESS OF JOSE RIZAL AND OTHER STORIES (Northwestern University Press). More at:


Interview of Brian Ascalon Roley by Cecilia Brainard

Copyright 2020 by Cecilia Brainard ~ Cecilia Brainard

CECILIA BRAINARDAre you still in lockdown? Are you alone or with others? Do you see other people, and do you practice social distancing if so?

BRIAN ASCALON ROLEY:  Here in Ohio we are still sort of in lockdown. That is, it’s now called something different, stores have partially opened up, and even restaurants are permitted to serve with conditions, though most are still tentative, mostly closed. My habit of getting out of the house with a laptop over coffee is sorely missed. A friend of mine joked that she’d never thought she’d miss Starbucks. So I keep to home, with my wife and two boys. My oldest son’s graduation was a ceremony of one; we followed him with a video camera.

CB:      Are you working? If yes, are you working from your home or do you have to go to your place of work?

BR: I write and teach. My university classes were abruptly made remote; we never had a chance to say goodbye in person. What made it most painful was that the in person rapport was especially good this semester. They never had a graduation. Some had jobs, now gone. I feel bad for them, feel their shock. I’ve camped out in my home office, with laptop, learned to make videos and hold remote meetings. My RSI has flared up from all the computer work.

CB: Were you affected financially by the pandemic? Did you lose your job? Did you get assistance?

BR: I didn’t lose a job, but I lost a leave. That was painful. I felt a book slip away.

CB: Do you go out? To take walks? To see relatives or friends? For exercise?

BR: Fortunately we’ve been able to go outside. My youngest son is learning to drive, so I’ve had him drive me to hiking. That’s been great time together. I know it wouldn’t have been possible in some other states. One painful thing is not being able to take our trips to see my elderly parents and in-laws in California. We don’t want to catch germs on a plane and give it to them, even now that flights are permitted. Precious together-time has been lost. Still is.

CB: Do you wear a face mask? Do you practice social distancing?

I wear a mask to the stores and distance whenever outside the house. But mostly life has been a quarantine of four.

CB: Please describe in a few sentences your daily routine.

BR: In the morning: I retreat with coffee to my room above the garage, and write or read for inspiration. Currently it’s a novel-in-verse, Ludlow, by David Mason about a 1914 massacre in Colorado. I do yoga. Afternoons, I hike.

CB: Do you go buy your own groceries? What precautions do you take?

BR: We go to Kroger, Whole Foods. Everyone wears masks, and we do too. Whole Foods gives them away, so people pretend not to have one.

CBDo you order food to go? What precautions do you take?

BR: We tried in-car pickup from a restaurant. We waited thirty minutes in a hot, clicking car past the time it was supposed to be ready. That happened once. We eat in.

CBDo you shop online or do you go out to stores that are open?

BR: Online, mostly. 

Filipinos #CopingWith Covid - Barbara Ann Velasco Jacala, San Diego, CA, USA

The following is part of my series, Filipinos Coping with Covid.

Responding to my interview questions, Barbara Ann Velasco Jacala describes life for her in San Diego, USA, during the time of coronavirus. She and her husband Jack have been quarantining with their youngest daughter and her family. 

This was written on May 24, 2020.  Update. as of July 10, 2020, the coronavirus cases and deaths have soared in the US. Copyright 2020 by Cecilia Brainard ~ Cecilia Brainard

Life in San Diego, USA during Covid 19
By Barbara Ann Velasco

Dear Cecilia,

My husband Jack and I are quarantining in San Diego with our youngest daughter and her family. We're taking the lockdown as an opportunity to be hands-on with  our three grandkids (5, 3, and 1).

I am retured and fully helping with family at home. My daughtrer and son-in-law are working remotelh. The eldest grandchild is now homeschooling and the younger ones are home from daycare. When my husband and I come in from errands, out kisses and hugs are held off until we wash up. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Travel Challenge - Vietnam

My own Travel challenge - to post a favorite travel photo daily, to send out something beautiful to this world.
This was taken in Vietnam.

Tags: #travel #Travelpictures #Vietnam #Asia #photographs #photos 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Travel Challenge, Inle Lake, Burma

My own Travel challenge - to post a favorite travel photo daily, to send out something beautiful to this world.
(I don't know how PC this picture is, but the Long Neck Karen women did not mind being the attraction in a shop in Inle Lake, Burma.)

Tags: travel, Burma, Myanmar, photos 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Travel Challenge, Burma

My own Travel challenge - to post a favorite travel photo daily, to send out something beautiful to this world.
I took this photo in Burma 

I should add that this photo was used in an ad by a non-profit:

Tags: Burma, Myanmar, travel, photographs, picture, photo

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Travel Challenge: Paris Mont Saint Michel

My own Travel challenge - to post a favorite travel photo daily, to send out something beautiful to this world.
It looks like it'll be a while before I can visit Paris again, especially given the Eu banned US travelers due to America's unchecked coronavirus situation.

Tags: travel, Paris, Mont Saint Michel, #travelban #Covid19

Monday, June 29, 2020

Old Photographs Tony Cuenco of Cebu, Philippines

Cuenco Famiy: I am sharing what I believe are early pictures of my cousin TONY CUENCO who recently passed away. The picture of three, shows my grandmother Filomena Alesna Cuenco with Tony (the older boy) and another grandson.

The group picture features my grandfather and grandmother, Senator Mariano Cuenco and his wife Filomena with their family. Standing l‑r: Carmen Cuenco, Milagros Veloso Cuenco carrying Baby Tony, behind them is possibly my mother Concepcion Cuenco Manguerra carrying Baby Victoria, Consuelo Cuenco, back is Manuel Cuenco, Archbishop Jose Ma. Cuenco, Miguel Cuenco, Lourdes Cuenco.

My oldest sister Victoria was a bit older than Tony. They were the first grandchildren of Mariano and Filomena and reportedly were “spoiled.” They are both gone now. Victoria passed away two years ago from heart complications, and recently Tony succumbed to Covid. May they rest in peace.

Read also: 84-year-old Tony Cuenco dies from new coronavirus

Tags: Cuenco, Cebu, politics, society, Philippines #TonyCuenco

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Filipinos #CopingWithCovid --- Linda Ty-Casper, USA

The following is part of my series, Filipinos Coping with Covid.

Linda Ty-Casper is a multi-award Filipina novelist noted for her historical fiction set in the Philippines. She is the author of over 16 books and has been awarded the SEA WRITE Award, Rockefeller (Bellagio), Radcliffe Fellowship, among others.

Responding to my interview questions, Linda describes life for her in Massachusetts, USA, during the time of coronavirus. This was written on May 24, 2020. Copyright 2020 by Cecilia Brainard ~ Cecilia Brainard

Life in Massachusets, USA during Covid 19
By Linda Ty-Casper

Dear Cecilia,

We're still in lockdown and I have been in for over two months now. I'm in the house by myself but neighbors look after me, bring me take outs, include me in their grocery deliveries. A friend's daughter asks for my grocery list when she shops for her mother. I get help with the computer and, once, checking the fuse box for the refrigerator.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Cecilia Brainard #Covid Articles in Positively Filipino

Cecilia Brainard

Please read my articles in Positively Filipino:

Coronavirus: The Beginning 

"When I visited Manila last January 20 the air was thick with smoggy haze from the ash fall of Taal Volcano. Taal had erupted on January 12-13 and destroyed people’s homes and farms and killed livestock. People in Luzon were busy helping the displaced people and cleaning up the ash fall.

Still reeling from this disaster, people discovered the news shifting to the deadly virus in Wuhan, China. The symptoms of coronavirus sounded like a very bad flu: fever, cough, muscle pain, pneumonia; but unlike the flu, coronavirus could not be checked with a vaccine, and it was deadly. Defying Chinese authorities, some doctors from Wuhan posted online horrific reports about coronavirus.  The novel virus was highly contagious; it was spreading like wildfire; it was killing huge numbers of people..."  please continue reading in Positively Filipino. 


How Filipinos Are Coping With Covid-19, Part One: Canada, Singapore, UK, Italy

"Filipinos all over the world have been grappling with the coronavirus pandemic’s disastrous effects ever since it broke out in February: travel bans; deaths on cruise ships; lockdowns or shelter-at-home or self-isolation. Filipino medical care workers have been thrust into the limelight, trying to save people from dying from Covid-19. Coronavirus recalls the monumental pandemics of the 1918 Spanish flu and the Black Death of the 14th century.

How have Filipinos all over the globe coped with the disruptions caused by coronavirus?

Despite varied government lockdown rules, most of those I interviewed have stayed at home and limited their contact with others. They wear face masks, practice social distancing, and sanitize their hands, surfaces, groceries, mail and packages -- careful about not infecting themselves and others,

Part One of this series features Filipinos from Canada, Singapore, UK and Italy..." please continue reading in Positively Filipino.

How Filipinos Are Coping With Covid-19, Part Two: Germany, Switzerland, Spain, France

"The Filipinos I interviewed for this article shared some of the precautions they take to survive the coronavirus pandemic. All wear face masks (some wear gloves while shopping), practice social distancing, wash their hands, and sanitize mail and packages. Some wash fruit, vegetables and sanitize cans and food boxes. Many remove their shoes at the doorway. All limit their contact with other people; and in some cases do not have close contact with their children nor grandchildren. In many households, one person is designated as the buyer of groceries and necessities; the rest stay home. Many cook their food; those who order takeout do so via contactless delivery. Some order online items and food...." please continue reading in Positively Filipino.


Please read also her interviews of Filipinos about how they are #CopingwithCovid.

Lia Feraren, Germany
Teresa Concepcion, Canada
 Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi, France
Reine Marie Bonnie Melvin, France
 New Zealand: Jay Montilla & Monika Tawngdee


tags: #coronavirus #covid19 #Philippines #Filipinos #CopingwithCovid

Designer Face Masks by Cecilia

I made some face masks, lined with cotton and flannel, with pockets for filter.

People have asked me if they can buy these and I’m making them available as a fund raiser for PALH (Philippine American Literary House).

I have six right now (June 12). one size small (the blue solid with batik trim); the rest are size medium — $30 for each one, and US shipping is $10. I will pick up US shipping for orders of three. Email me at and I can send you a paypal invoice.

I wash these in warm water and while they can tolerate the dryer, it is better to hang dry them. I also run an iron over them to make the pleats more crisp although they look all right if unironed.

For filters, I use coffee filter with nonwoven gauze sandwiched in between.

You can also change the loops so they tie in back of your head. You will have to use your own cord or ribbon. In some cases, you use one long cord so the bottom cord is continuous.

tags: #covid19 #coronavirus #pandemic #facemasks #designerfacemasks

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Filipinos #CopingWithCovid - New Zealand: Jay Montilla & Monika Tawngdee

On June 7, 2020, New Zealand declared it had eliminated Coronavirus. Its last new case was in May and New Zealand hospitals have no Covid-19 cases (as of June 9, 2020).  Lead by Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, the country implemented strict quarantine, travel restrictions and widespread testing. Here are the interviews of two Filipinos (my nephew and niece, in fact) who live in New Zealand, Jay Montilla and Monika Tawngdee. The interviews were done on May 29, 2020.  ~ Cecilia Brainard 


I live in Wellington, New Zealand where we are currently at Alert Level 2. I live alone but do see other people on a daily basis, and as prescribed by the government guidelines. We all have to practice social distancing: 2 meters in public and in retail stores, like supermarkets and clothes shops; 1 meter in most other places such as workplaces, cafes, restaurants, and gyms.

Due to travel restrictions under Alert Levels 4 and 3, movement between suburbs was restricted, thus limiting any additional income. However people who were receiving unemployment, disability, and retirement benefits were granted a winter heating allowance as well as an increase on all benefits.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Filipinos #CopingWithCovid -- Reine Marie Bonnie Melvin, France

The following interview is part of my series, Filipinos Coping with Covid.

Reine Marie Bonnie Melvin (Bonnie) was born in Manila and has lived in Paris France for many years. She is the award-winning author of A Normal Life and Other Stories and the novel The Betrayed. ~ Cecilia Brainard

Cecilia Brainard Interviews Reine Marie Bonnie Melvin
Interview conducted via email on May 25, 2020
Copyright 2020 By Cecilia Brainard

Cecilia Brainard: Are you still in lockdown? Are you alone or with others? Do you see other people, and do you practice social distancing if so?
Bonnie Melvin: France went into lockdown on March 16, and began to ease out of it on May 11. For the first two months, there were very strict restrictions on movement. People were asked to work from home whenever possible, and we could go out only with a certificate stating the reason for our movement – grocery shopping, urgent medical visits, work (for essential workers), an hour of exercise (but only within a kilometer from home). Parisians still lined up to buy their baguettes and cigarettes, of course.

Filipinos #CopingWithCovid -- Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi, France

Marc and Ofelia Tequi

The following is part of my series, Filipinos Coping with Covid.
Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi was born in Iloilo and has lived with her husband Marc in France for many years. Ofelia is a modern and comptemporary artist as well as a printmaker.
Responding to my interview questions, Ofelia describes life for her and her husband Marc in Limeuil, France, during the time of coronavirus. This was written on May 28, 2020.~ Cecilia Brainard

Life in Limeuil, France during Covid 19
By Ofelia Gelvezon Tequi

Dear Cecilia,

Marc and I are both in our seventies.  He started his education in the classic path - Latin, Greek, history but switched to banking when he realised he couldn't raise a family well on a teacher's pay.  This was still the time when banks welcomed people who had training outside of business schools.  We met in Manila as he was sent to UP as a "coopérant".  The Cooperation being the French program of sending young men to teach/cooperate abroad based on their educational background instead of doing their obligatory military service.  I was also teaching Humanities, Art History and Printmaking in the UP.  But he was my teacher at the Alliance Française where I was already in the fourth and last year.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Filipinos Coping with Covid: Teresa Concepcion, Canada

Teresa Concepcion

The following interview is part of my series, FILIPINOS COPING WITH COVID.

Teresa Concepcion from Toronto, Ontario, Canada is featured. She was e
ducated at Maryknoll College, Philippines, AB BA 1968, and University of the Philippines, MBA 1972. She's has over 30 years in investment management and corporate finance in the Philippines and in Canada. Teresa has been a small business entrepreneur for the last 15 years in property management and real estate development. – Cecilia Brainard 

Cecilia Brainard Interviews Teresa Concepcion
Interview conducted via email on May 25, 2020,
Copyright 2020 by Cecilia Brainard

Cecilia Brainard: Are you still in lockdown? Are you alone or with others? Do you see other people, and you do you practices social distancing if so?

Teresa Concepcion: Canada has different lockdown periods depending on the province. In Ontario our lockdown will be until the first week of June. There are essential services that were always open, and some of the business establishments and public places have started to be opened last week. Example, parks, beaches, are now open in Ontario. There is still physical distancing that are required, masks are recommended, and no more than 5 people can congregate at any point in time, unless that is the size of the family unit.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Filipinos Coping with Covid - Lia Feraren, Germany

Lia Feraren

I've interviewed a number of Filipinos from all over the world about how they are dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. These interviews will be integrated in a series "How Filipinos Are Coping with Covid 19" which will appear in the online magazine Positively Filipino. Please look for it.

My official and travel blogs will feature the complete interviews. 

The following features Lia Feraren (46) who was born and raised in Manila and Cebu, Lia moved to Europe when she was 22 and is now a naturalized German citizen. She is a trauma therapist and lives in Munich with her two daughters. ~ Cecilia Brainard

Interview conducted via email on May 24, 2020
Copyright 2020 by Cecilia Brainard

Cecilia Brainard: Are you still in lockdown? Are you alone or with others? Do you see other people, and do you practice social distancing if so?
Lia Feraren: Measures were relaxed in the state of Bavaria on May 5. Before that, only "essential stores" like grocery stores and pharmacies were open. Initially, flower shops and book stores under 300 sqm could open with masks required for everyone entering the store as well as a limit on the number of people within the store dependent on its size. Social distancing is required.

I live with my two children. I am separated from their father and visitation rights were a "legitimate reason to leave the house" even at the strictest part of the lockdown. This was not the case in Austria, for example.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Five Years North - Documentary Guatemalan Immigrant

Last Friday, we had a very interesting Zoom Question and Answer session with the filmmakers of the documentary FIVE YEARS NORTH. The film follows a few years of the life of an undocumented teenage Guatemalan immigrant, Luis.

It's a moving documentary that tells of the difficulties, danger, as well as joy and hope that Luis experiences in New York as he pursues the American Dream.
The filmmakers are noted for their first film, LIVING ON ONE DOLLAR. Look up @ChrisTemple and @ZachIngrasci, and their films.

Tags: #documentaryfilm #immigrantfilm #Guatemala #Livngonadollar #fiveyearsnorth #documentary #movie #film #christemple #zachingrasci

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Framed Art by Cecilia Brainard

I framed (for the first time) one of my art work, 9 x 12, ink "Vase and Bottles" . It's the one on the right beside an original by Manuel Rodriguez, the Father of Philippine Printmaking.

Also published in Cecilia Brainard's Official site:

tags: #ceciliaBrainard #art #Philippine #Cebu #writerswhopaint #writerswhodoart

Saturday, May 16, 2020

RIP Peque Gallaga - Bacolod Days

Following the passing of the filmmaker Peque Gallaga, my friend Gee Vee S sent me some pictures taken in Bacolod in the late 1960s, at the Gallaga home. My sister and I had spent an unforgettable summer with the Gallagas in their home. Tita Conchita and Tito Ric, the Gallaga kids (Peque, Chita, Ricky, Mike) were very welcoming not just to us but to all the local kids who hung around their home from morning until night. I recall we had canasta games with Tita Conchita, and Peque and Chita organized all sorts of activities and games, most of them very creative and different.

One game stands out in my memory: a "mind concentration" game where the teenage kids gathered around one of us and with just one finger (all of us though) we concentrated to lift up the person from the ground. There were hide and seek games, some dozen kids scampering throughout their house. Peque and Chita had a summer theater program for the Bacolod kids and we visiting Cebuanos enjoyed observing how that progressed. We visited fabulous haciendas too, which looked like those featured in Peque's famous movie, ORO, PLATA, MATA.

The movie, by the way, is offered by Amazon so you can watch and enjoy it still even though Peque has left us and those Bacolod are now just memories. Enjoy the pictures, and thank you GV and Chita for the pictures.

Tags: #PequeGallaga #Bacolod #NegrosPhilippines #Philippines #Cebu #Ceciliabrainard

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Assisted Living for Retirees in Plantation Bay

I heard from my cousin, Manny Gonzalez, that Plantation Bay in Mactan, Philippines, is expanding their services to include assisted living for retirees. This new service responds to world changes because of Coronavirus. People looking to evade the next round of lockdowns can consider sheltering in this fabulous five-star resort. Lockdowns are inevitable since a second wave of Covid 19 is expected in the Fall.

Imagine, calling Plantation Bay Resort your home!

Instead of being cooped up in a small city place, one could shelter in a more stress-free place. The resort is beautifully laid out next to the sea, and with extensive lagoons, mature shade trees, sandy beaches. It has restaurants, shops. It’s near the Mactan-Cebu International airport and hospitals. It offers in-house dental service. There are so many other services and information in the following link.

It’s a great idea! Check it out:

Tags: #coronavirus #Covid19 #lockdown #shelterinplace #Mactan #Philippines #plantationbay

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

My Cat During Coronavirus Days

During these Coronavirus days my cats, Che and Tesla, are following strict stay-at-home rules.
Stay safe, everyone!

Also published in my official's site's blog:

tags: #coronavirus #covid19 #pets #cats #graycats #stayathome

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Marissa Tay Praises Brainard's Magical Years: Memories & Sketches

During these days of Coronavirus, I was particularly happy to hear from my college friend, Marissa Tay, who sent me her feedback about my book, Magical Years: Memories & Sketches. This book collects sketches inspired by my childhood in Cebu. Marissa was my classmate at Maryknoll College. She is a collector of Philippine weavings and she herself does weavings and artistic works using fabric. Thank you for your kind comments, Marissa.

I was happy that my book of sketches touched her as it did other Maryknollers: Maribel Paras, Tina Borja Heiter, Edna Del Rosario, Loreta Castro, Angeles De Leon, Miriam Durban Tagamolila, Lina David Ong, among others.

From Marissa Tay:

"got your wonderful book a few days ago. Thank you so much. I was so busy unpacking my house, I forgot to acknowledge receiving it. But I read it na. I could relate to some of your memories. In Davao when I was growing up, we played the same fun games. My parents brought us on pasyals on weekends; we made trips to local library to borrow books, visited nearby ice-cream shops and bibingkahan ... slow, easy, uncomplicated life in the province.

The one thing we didn’t have in Mindanao, specifically Davao, were the old Spanish architectural churches and plazas that Cebu, Vigan, and Bacolod have to this day. When Spain colonized the Philippines, they did not touch Mindanao, thus the resettlement programs of Quezon and all the presidents after him.

Thanks again. How special - signed and numbered edition. When you’re in the East Coast, you know to call me

MAGICAL YEARS: MEMORIES & SKETCHES by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
(PALH 2020), 37 pages, book size is 8 x 8, hardbound
ISBN 9780971945890
Special Limited Edition - Each book is signed and numbered by the artist/author
43 Sketches in reed and pen and ink by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, (hb) $45.00
Contact for a copy.

Amazon also has copies for $55 plus shipping;

Or email or, for the same book for $45, plus US shipping of $10.00.

Tags: reed sketches, bamboo sketches, pen and ink, art, Philippines, Cebu, #CeciliaBrainard

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Midnight Visitor: Sketch from the Pink Grandma

I'm sharing a drawing I made for my grandchildren.  Enjoy.  ~ Cecilia Brainard

The Midnight Visitor
copyright 2020 by Cecila Brainard

Hello Grandchildren,

Grandpa has the Ring app which allows him to see who's outside our house via video. He discovered that we have visitors that enter the courtyard late at night. There's a large orange cat and another strange looking creature that come around. They sniff around the courtyard and leave. Once I had leftover cat food out there and the strange looking one ate it all.

Here's a drawing of him or her. He or she is as big as a cat and has gray and white fur. He has a very long snout, and he's not really very cute, frankly, because he has patchy fur and a naked tail. He lumbers when he moves.

He or she is an opossum, which is different from a possum. This animal is a marsupial just like the kangaroo. They are not aggressive animals and are famous for playing dead if they are attacked. That's where the term "playing possum" came from. They can pretend they are dead for up to six hours.

Here's a link if you want to learn more about him or her.


The Pink Grandma, Lola, or Grandma

tags: #sketch #drawing #penandink #writersthatloveart #writersthatdoart #art

Sunday, April 19, 2020

"Che Sleeping" - Sketches from the Pink Grandma

I'm sharing a drawing I made for my grandchildren. My accompanying letter reads:
Hello Grandchildren,

Grandpa and Grandma have to stay home because of Coronavirus. Have your parents talked to you about that? All of us have to be careful to avoid getting sick. You have to wash your hands with soap and water for twenty seconds, and you have to stay home for now, and while it's sad, you can't see your friends and even us for now. And don't forget to eat vegetables and fruit to stay strong.

But while we are away from each other, I thought I'd do some drawings for you.

Here is one.

Do you remember who this is? And what sounds he makes? Who is his companion?


The Pink Grandma or Lola or Grandma (aka Cecilia Brainard)

Also published in Cecila Brainard's official website's blog:

#coronavirusart #cat #pencil drawng #drawng #sketch #sketching

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Batik Face Masks by Cecilia

Message from Cecilia Brainard:

I made some batik face masks, lined with cotton and flannel, with pockets for filter.

People have asked me if they can buy these and I’m making them available as a fund raiser for PALH (Philippine American Literary House).

I have two colors, blue or pink. I have three sizes, small, medium, and large. Each one is $30; if you get two, you get a third one as a gift. US shipping is $10. Email me at and I can send you a paypal invoice.

I wash these in warm water and while they can tolerate the dryer, it is better to hang dry them. I also run an iron over them to make the pleats more crisp although they don’t look bad if unironed.

For filters, I use coffee filter with nonwoven gauze sandwiched in between.

You can also change the loops so they tie in the back of your head. You will have to use your own cord or ribbon. In some cases, you use 2 long cord so the bottom cord is continuous.

#covid19facemasks #coronavirus #facemasks

Friday, March 27, 2020

Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Ann Quirino's Beef Nilaga Short Ribs & Vegetables Stew

My Guest Blogger is Elizabeth Ann Quirino who shares with us one of her recipes, a favorite Filipino comfort food, Nilagang Baka - Beef Nilaga Short Ribs and Vegetables Stew.

Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino, based in New Jersey, is a journalist, and a multi-award-winner of the Plaridel Writing Awards and has been a recipient of the Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Food Writing Awards. She is the author of three cookbooks Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Food in a Multicooker Pot; My Mother’s Philippine Recipes and How To Cook Philippine Desserts, Cakes and Snacks. She has co-edited the history book Statesman and Survivor: Elpidio Quirino, 6th President of the Philippines; and illustrated/created the food coloring book Color and Cook. All her books are sold on Amazon. She is a correspondent for Positively Filipino online magazine; and blogs about Filipino home cooking on her site

Betty Ann, as she is fondly called, was born in the Philippines and raised in Tarlac province where her way of life was molded early on by her parents’ farming and agricultural business. From the time she was a little girl, Betty Ann learned how to cook traditional Philippine dishes from her mother and has transformed these culinary skills to modern day Filipino cooking in her American kitchen. Betty Ann is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP-New York); the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance; the Association of Culinary Historians of the Philippines. She is also on the board of advisers of the President Elpidio Quirino Foundation.


Nilagang Baka - Beef Nilaga Short Ribs and Vegetables Stew:
Instant Pot + Stove-top

By Elizabeth Ann Quirino

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Guest Blogger: Diona Filipino Poetry by Ralph Semino Galán

Ralpah Semino Galán

I am happy to feature Ralph Semino Galán as my Guest Blogger. He shares with us his work on a unique form of Filipino poetry called "diona" which has been labeled Pinoy Haiku. The poems are in Tagalog and are about coronavirus. This is part of his larger writing project on the subject matter. ~ Cecilia Brainard

Ralph Semino Galán, poet, literary and cultural critic, translator and editor, is the Assistant Director of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies. He is an Associate Professor of Literature, the Humanities and Creative Writing in the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters and the UST Graduate School. He has a B.A. in English (Major in Literature), magna cum laude, from the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, and an M.A. in English Studies (Major in Creative Writing) from UP Diliman. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Literature in the UST Graduate School. His poems in English and Filipino have won prizes in the national poetry contests. His works, both creative and critical, have been published in numerous national and international literary anthologies and critical journals.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Guest Blogger: Poetry by Elmer Omar Pizo

In this difficult time of Coronavirus, I am happy to feature poetry by Elmer Omar Pizo, a Filipino who now resides in Hawaii. May his poetry contribute to the healing that we need during this uncertain time. Thank you Elmer for being my guest blogger. ~ Cecilia Brainard



Rice birds

on the ground
in front of your house---
every now and then,
matched by their heads
up and down---
looking for scraps
from Grazia
and her month-old puppies' breakfast
of fried rice
and fish pinangat.

the overcast sky's clearing up.
From time to time,
as they continue
in their search for bits
of food---
but sweet, pleasing chirps
escape from their beaks.

In my silence,
they fill my half-deaf ears
with joy so difficult
for me
to explain,
to resist.


“Madame Maria Christina.

in every practical sense,

believe me,
cannot live
by scraps alone.

They need to pick up

tiny stones
to crush and grind
the seeds
they have packed inside
their gizzards
before they can get
the nourishment
by their tiny bodies.”

Maria Christina A. Calachan
Pozorrubio, Pangasinan
March 12, 2020

elmer omar bascos pizo
old ewa, ewa beach, hawai’i

BIO of Elmer Omar Pizo

He came from a family of farmers, teachers, soldiers, and religious leaders in the Ilocos, La Union and Pangasinan, the Philippines. He entered the Anglican St. Andrew's Theological Seminary after high school. On his second year in the seminary, he left of Benguet State University where he earned a B.S. Agriculture Science degree in 1981.

He raised eggplants, goats, chickens, and ducks in Pangasinan for a time before he taught Poultry Production at a National High School in a neighboring town. Not long after, he went to Saudi Arabia to work as a Greenhouse Agriculturist. Problems cropped up when their monthly salaries and working conditions were not met. He led the fight for what was due him and his co-workers. He was hauled to the Kalabooz, whipped every Friday for more than three months, then sent back home as an undesirable worker.

A resident of Ewa Beach for the last 22 years, he now works as a handyman after working as an Outreach Worker for the Hawaii Department of Health's Tuberculosis Program and as an Inspector for its Vector Control Program for almost 16 years.

He was a Poetry Fellow at the Vermont Studio Center in February 2006. Prior to this, he was also a Poetry Fellow at the 2000 Silliman National Writers Workshop in the Philippines.

His poems have been published (print and online) in the US and in the Philippines, including Bamboo Ridge Press, Hawaii Review, Maganda Magazine, Tayo Literary Magazine, Crate Literary Magazine, Mutual Publishing, PAWA, Inc., Likhaan Online University of the Philippines-Diliman Creative Writing Center, Our Own Voice Online Literary Journal, and Philippine Free Press.

His debut collection of poems, Leaving Our Shadows Behind Us, was released by the Bamboo Ridge Press, Hawai’i’s most respected literary journal, in April of 2019.

This is also published in Cecilia's blog in her official website:

pictures courtesy of Elmer Omar Pizo and wikimedia

Tags: Philippines, Filipino, poetry, poet, poems, Hawaii, Filipino American

The Quiet Voice

Now and then I will hear in my heart a tiny voice that is not my own. The voice, the thoughts it creates, come and go quickly, in my mind.

The quiet voice came the other night. We sent you many warnings: white bison and other albino animals, but you continued poisoning the bees and destroying the mighty Amazon. You hunted elephants, rhinos, pangolins, and other rare and beautiful creatures. Ripped up the earth. Sullied the waters. Polluted the air. We sent you hurricanes, supertyphoons, earthquakes. We warned you with SARs MERS, Ebola, and now Coronavirus -- all these to let you know that you are going down the path of total destruction.

#Covid19 #Coronavirus #Sars #Mers #ebola

Friday, March 20, 2020

Mary Is With Us: Our Lady of Lourdes, France

During this difficult time of Coronavirus, I will be sharing excerpts from the book, Magnificat: Mama Mary’s Pilgrim Sites, a collection of 24 testimonies by people whose lives were changed by Mama Mary. I hope that these articles remind us that Mary is with us during this difficult time. May you find solace in these personal testimonials. ~ Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, editor of Magnificat.


Our Lady of Lourdes

FRANCE – The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

In 1858 the Virgin Mary appeared to sickly 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous at a wooded grotto near the Gave River. In 1872 the neo-Golthic Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was built above the grotto, which itself is a lovely shrine. Since then, many more places of worship were built, including the Rosary Basilica and the underground Basilica of St. Pius X. Not to be missed: the sanctuary's nightly candlelight procession led by a statute of the Virgin Mary carried by white-robed priests. Holy spring water said to have healing effects flow from rows of spigots near the shrine and pilgrims come to bathe in its waters.



Brian Ascalon Roley

The Little Boy

WHEN IT became clear that my little boy could not walk unassisted, my mother began to suggest that we bring him to Lourdes for a cure.

“I don’t know,” my wife said, when I related to her the idea. “Europe’s hilly and the streets and buildings are old. It isn’t so easy to travel with a disabled child.”

“My mother and father would help. I’d carry him.”

“And you believe in that stuff?”