Monday, September 25, 2023

Excerpt from THE INVENTOR by Eileen R. Tabios


Following is an excerpt from Eileen R. Tabios' recent book, The Inventor. It is reprinted with her permission. 

Marsh Hawk Press’ Introduction of THE INVENTOR by Eileen R. Tabios:

In 2023, Marsh Hawk Press releases Eileen R. Tabios’ THE INVENTOR, a unique project for providing insights into creating poetic forms against an autobiographical background and part of our “Chapter One” series acclaimed by Publishers Weekly for presenting the writers’ craft in real life. From Eileen R. Tabios: “I wrote THE INVENTOR, not because it’s about my life but, because it’s an autobiography that connects history, language, and poetry in a unique way beyond narratives. I learned English because it became widespread in my birth land, the Philippines, through U.S. colonialism. That caused me, as a young poet, to feel estranged from my raw material: English. My poetry practice, however, would lift me out of politics to meet poetry more directly as its own type of language. Ultimately, my prolonged engagement with poetry enabled me to create poetry inventions that metaphorically disrupts colonialism by generating communities of readers and writers worldwide. These inventions include the hay(na)ku which has spread globally among poets and the “Flooid” whose pre-writing condition precedent of a “good deed” makes poetry live redemptively and beyond the page. In THE INVENTOR, I show how Poetry is not mere words but a proactive approach to improving our relationships with each other and life on our planet.”




Today, I'm honoring Filipino American writer EILEEN R. TABIOS.

Eileen R. Tabios has released over 70 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers headquartered in 10 countries and cyberspace. In 2023 she released the poetry collection Because I Love You, I Become War; an autobiography, The Inventor: A Transcolonial Poet’s Autobiography; and her first flash fiction collection, Getting To One (in collaboration with harry k stammer). Other recent books include a first novel DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times; two French books, PRISES (trans. Fanny Garin) and La Vie erotique de l’art (trans. Samuel Rochery); and a book-length essay Kapwa’s Novels. In 2024, her books include KalapatiLeon, Danton Remoto’s Filipino translation of DoveLion (University of Santo Tomas Press).


Sunday, September 24, 2023

John Hanley - Irish American Friend


We lost a friend, John Hanley. For years, John played golf with my husband, and they had great fun at the course and at the pub afterwards. Guinness was John's favorite.

When we visited Ireland in 2008, John (who was born in Ireland) happened to be there, and he met us for a day. Knowing I was a Marian devotee, he brought us to the Basilica of Our Lady of Knock.  From Knock, we visited his cousin who has a peat-burning stove.  He explained how families were entitled to digging peat for their use. We had tea and talked and had a very lovely time. 

Not too long ago, John got ill and passed away.  We are very sad about this and extend our sincerest condolences to his family and friends. 

Here are some pictures taken in Ireland with John.  







Rest in peace, John Hanley!

 tags: RIP, friendship, Irish American

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Gintong Aklat Finalist - Selected Short Stories by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

 My collection SELECTED SHORT STORIES BY CECILIA MANGUERRA BRAINARD is a Finalist for the Gintong Aklat Award 2022 (fiction in English). The same book won the 40th National Book Award (Short Fiction English).


If you are going to the 44th Manila International Fair, please look for my book at the booth of the publisher University of Santo Tomas Publishing House

In the Philippines look for the book on Lazada and Shopee as well. You can find the book in Amazon, Barnes and Noble for an easy purchase.

Selected Short Stories by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard collects 39 of the Filipina American author’s short fiction. The collection includes some of her best short fiction, including stories that deal with fictional Manila and Mexico, Intramuros and Acapulco, Ubec and Cebu.

Selected Short Stories includes a very long story (one would call it a novella), “Melisande in Paris”, which is about the French seamstress who appears in Cecilia’s third novel, The Newspaper Widow. Melisande is the friend of the protagonist in the literary mystery The Newspaper Widow. Melisande and Ines solve the crime of the dead priest in Ubec’s creek. But Melisande had a whole other story back in Paris before she went to Ubec. “Melisande in Paris” is that story.
For more information about the book, please click on this site:

Tags: Filipino books, Filipino authors, Pinoy books, FilAm books, Philippine literature, Filipino book awards

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Fil Am Writers Gather in Santa Monica, CA


A group of us had lunch at my home with the writer Brian Ascalon Roley (author American Son) who's visiting Santa Monica, CA. Present were: Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal, Brian Roley, Marilyn Alquizola (America is in the Heart: a Personal History revised), Jaime Geaga, Noel Alumit (author Letters to Montgomery Clift), and me.
We had such great fun talking about literature, politics, being Filipino/Fil-am, and other topics.
We are planning another get together when Brian returns, and that will be in Historic Filipino Town, LA.


I'm sharing photos that we took. The selfie shows, l-r: Noel, Jaime, Cecilia (in red) , Brian, Joselyn (in yellow), and Marilyn.
We missed Herminia Menez Coben,  Paulino and Barbara Lim.




Tags: Filipino American writers, FilAm writers, FilAm literature

Magnificat - Mary's House in Ephesus, Turkey

The ferocious wildfires in Maui have destroyed most of Lahaina, but miraculously, the Maria Lanakila Church remains standing. This event reminds me of how Mary's House was spared during a 2006 fire  in Ephesus that wiped out 1,200 hectares of forest but stopped just meters away from Mary's House. 

I'm sharing my writeup as a testament of Mary's greatness. This is part of MAGNIFICAT: MAMA MARY'S PILGRIM SITES, a book I edited. The publisher Anvil has some copies online, and you can also find it in ebook form (Kindle). 

Mother Mary, pray for us!


Cecilia Manguerra Brainard


            IN 2006, my husband and I were on a cruise to the Baltic. We had a one-day stop in the port of Kusadasi, Turkey and we took a day tour to Ephesus, where we saw the ruins of this great Roman city. We also visited the Basilica of St. John, where the traditional tomb of St. John’s was located under the central dome. Although now in ruins, the Basilica made me understand that this site was where John the Beloved and Mother Mary had settled, after Christ’s Crucifixion. I recalled how Christ had entrusted Mary to John, and John to Mary, with His words: “Behold your mother. Woman behold your son.”

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Magnificat - Lahaina's Maria Lanakila Catholic Church Survived Maui Fires


Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina remains standing following horrific wildfires. Some are calling its saving an "act of God."  from New York Post

I am happy to share the news that Lahaina's Maria Lanakila Catholic Church, Maui, Hawaii seems to have survived the recent wildfires.  
Maria Lanakila is a Marian Site featured in the book I edited, MAGNIFICAT: MAMA MARY'S PILGRIM SITES (Anvil 2012; copies available in Anvil's online site, and also via Kindle), which has an imprimatur by then Archibishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle.  I am sharing the article by Millicent Dypiangco about Maria Lanakila, indeed a place where prayers are heard and answered.  



Millicent Dypiangco 

THE IMPACT of my visit to the Marian site of Maria Lanakila did not occur in one instance. There were no apparitions of the Virgin that appeared to me, nor were there dramatic changes within me at any given moment during our visit. Rather, I would call the influence of this site as prompting a perpetual transformation that continues to exert its power over me to this day.

My first visit to Maria Lanakila was in January 2001. It was actually my very first visit to Hawai’i, to the island of Maui, taken on a family trip with my husband and his parents and youngest brother. It would be the first of many future family trips taken with the Dypiangco clan. I say “clan” because we have now grown to be a family of sixteen…who make it a point to go on a family vacation every other year…together…thanks to Mom and Dad. Prompted by the idea to finally visit what many call “paradise,” I for one was very excited to visit Hawai’i, and to finally go on the real honeymoon that Joe and I never went on after our wedding eleven years prior…complete with my husband’s parents at that!

As I do on my vacations, I try not to have any expectations of the place so that I may be pleasantly surprised at each turn. Pleasantly surprised was exactly what I was at each spot we visited. I experienced the peace and serenity of Hawai’i, particularly the island of Maui, which swept me right off my feet and made me want to linger, savor, and soak in every single experience.

From the very first greeting of Aloha, something stirred in me and I knew that this place was going to be special. I think that the first impression of this place for me was its simplicity, and how for me, felt as if I had finally gotten what I have been craving for so many years. The simplicity and purity of the island melted away all the stress from my body. I felt it from that first day, that first meal of kalua pork, as I sat gazing at the blue Pacific from the shores of Lahaina Village. I think that the only thing that broke that pattern was the row of hotels that lined Kanapali where we opted to stay. However, it only acted as our home base as we explored everything else that Maui had to offer.

Of course, we could not go on a vacation without spending time at mass on Sunday. And it was our practice to attend mass that led us to Maria Lanakila. Maria Lanakila stood in its simplicity in the residential area of Lahaina. Its architecture reflected the ease and purity of what surrounded it. It drew me in.

Upon entering this little church, I immediately felt at peace. My frame of mind had totally changed. My mind was quieted as I sat in the pew and reflected before, during, and after the mass. The hectic life that I lived in Los Angeles was forgotten and I gave thanks. Thanks for the opportunity to finally be here in “paradise,” thanks for the family who had accompanied me, thanks for my health, my home, my livelihood. I was grateful for many things and I made sure that I said those prayers of gratitude. Most especially, I prayed for the one thing that weighed very heavily in my heart. I prayed for a child. Despite all the blessings that I have received, I knew that there remained an emptiness in me. And that emptiness was to bear a child, to become a mother, and to love like I have not loved before.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Old Photographs 4 - Cecilia Brainard - 6-7 Years Old


 My childhood seemed to have stretched out longer than human time. Those childhood memories have a dreamlike quality.  I have memories of the time when I was perhaps three, perhaps younger. I even have an infant memory, although I am not sure if this is a true memory, of me laying on the bed and a big dog entering the room and everyone getting excited. I remember being with my Yaya Yvonne in the second floor of our house in Capitolio and looking down at a group of carolers singing outside our gate. My Yaya Yvonne was the one who taught me to eat green onions.  Yaya Yvonne got into trouble for stealing and I was told she ended up in jail - a point that my older sister used to rib me about -- "Your yaya ended up in jail."


Monday, July 31, 2023

Old Photographs 3 - Cecilia Brainard 5-6 years old


Here are more old photos. I was around 5 or 6 years old in these pictures. I just acquired the color photo from a nephew. I think this was taken near Manila de Bay. During our summer vacations, we used to visit Manila, stay in our place in Georgia Street, Malate, and from there, we kids used to walk to the Bay. We used to actually swim in the water; you can see people swimming in this photo. The water was pristine then. I learned how to float on my back for the first time in that Bay. I remember my brother holding me up as I lay on the water, and then he let go and I was surprised that I was still floating.


The second photo shows me playing the piano at a recital. Even though my mother was an accomplished pianist, she never taught us. It was a young man named Bokoy who gave us lessons. Papa used to drop us off at his home, in the Parian Old Cebu, if I recall right. I was not really good at it, nor was I interested, so I only remember one recital -- this one --- in which I played Skating on the Lake and Volga Boat Song. I can imagine my mother, who was playing piano from the time she was a child, listening to us and thinking, "Oh, dear, this is not for them."


The third photo shows me and my sister in our St. Theresa's College uniform. Our skirt was navy blue; our long-sleeved blouse was white. We had a blue ribbon and we should have had a badge (pin) in the middle of the bow. I don't know why we didn't have the badges on. We are posing in front of some of my mother's orchids. She had a collection that hung on a walkway arbor.

This is all for now. Stay tuned for more old photographs.

Read also

Old Photographs 4 - Cecilia Brainard 7 years old 

Tags: old photographs, old photos, vintage photos 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Guest Blogger: Paulino Lim Jr ~ Memory of a Lost Friend

 My Guest Blogger is Dr. Paulino Lim Jr (left in the picture; Lupo Grageda is beside him). 

Paulino Lim Jr. is a professor emeritus of English at California State University, Long Beach.

He is a recipient of the 2016 Presidential Award for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas—for his fiction and scholarly essays that are constructive criticisms of the political, social, and religious problems in the Philippines. Also in 2016, his alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas, conferred upon him a lifetime achievement honor—the Parangal Hagbong Award—for significant contributions to Philippine literature. His latest book, Spots of Time: A Memoir of a Mind, was nominated for the Best Book of Nonfiction Prose in English, 38th Philippine National Book Awards (2018).

He is the author of a scholarly monograph on Byron, dramas, three anthologies, a quartet of political novels, and the novel Death of the English Zen Professor.

He shares with us his personal essay "Memory of a Lost Friend" which appears in his blog:


How do you relate to someone who is no longer with us – as the saying goes – but whose voice we still hear and whose face we still see in our dreams? Was the person a dear friend, a lover you broke up with, or a spouse you divorced?

Old Photographs 2 - Cecilia Brainard - Happy Days by the Sea


As I mentioned, I just have a handful of photos from when I was a baby and child. This was during the time when people used real cameras, with real film, that had to be developed and printed.  The paper used were not necessarily archival and the pictures disintegrated; and most of the time, the rolled up negatives got lost or were destroyed. 

Here is one photo I found of me at around 4 years old. I'm with my mother, father, and older sibling. We are bathing in the sea, and this could have been in Talisay or Liloan beaches which we frequented on Sundays.  I suspect this photo may have been taken in Liloan because there is land in the background. I don't recall Talisay beach looked like this.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Old Photographs 1 - Baby Pictures of Cecilia Brainard


I thought I would post pictures of me through the years, starting with my baby pictures -- 2 of them, that's all I have.
One shows me on the bed; this photo is in very poor condition (it looks almost like some kind of art). The other shows my siblings and me the baby. L-R: Vicky holding me, Ana holding a doll, and Junior or Jess holding a Brownie camera. In the back, you can catch a glimpse of my father's Buick.  
This photo was taken in 1947 (yes, so long ago!), and the Philippines was still recovering from World War II. My parents and three siblings were in Mindanao for most of the war years; Papa was in the guerrilla movement. When war ended, and because Manila was almost totally destroyed, my father's house included, they decided to rebuild in Cebu, where Mama's family comes from. In this photo, we were still staying in a temporary house in Talisay and Papa must have been building our house near the Capitolio.

Stay tuned for more pictures!


Read also

 Old Photographs 4 - Cecilia Brainard 7 years old 

Tags: vintage photos, old photos, family photographs 


Friday, July 21, 2023

In Honor of Filipino American Writer, Ligaya Victorio Fruto


In Honor of Filipino American Writer, Ligaya Victorio Fruto who forged the way for other Filipino and Filam writers:


LIGAYA VICTORIO FRUTO, whose story "The Fan" is part of the classic collection FICTION BY FILIPINOS IN AMERICA
BORN AND raised in the Philippines, Ligaya Victorio Fruto was trained as a teacher at the Philippine Normal School. While still in her teens, she began teaching and at the same time wrote stories which were published in leading national publications. Because she taught in Baguio, her early stories were mostly about the people of the mountain region.
Ligaya later worked for the pre-war Tribune, forerunner of the Manila Times. Of her contemporaries, Ligaya is one of the few who have not deviated from writing as her main profession. She has covered the field of journalism and creative writing in the Philippines and her adopted country, the U.S., in a range so wide it would be hard to contest. She has written two books, Yesterday and Other Stories and One Rainbow for the Duration, proceeds of which were donated to Philippine charities.
She was married early but was widowed during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. She worked for the Philippine Foreign Service; it was in Honolulu that she met and married Larry Fruto, a Filipino, who, as a very young man, went to Hawaii on his own and finished his engineering education there. Her only son by her first marriage, Ramon V. Reyes, lives in the U.S. with his wife and children. Ligaya lived in Honolulu.

Read also:

Philippine Literature: Filipino and Filipino American Writers 

Bienvenido N. Santos - Cecilia Brainard Remembers

N.V.M. Gonzalez - In Honor of Filipino American Writer

Linda Ty-Casper - In Honor of Filipino Writer

Paulino Lim Jr - In Honor of Filipino American Writer

Gloria F. Rodriguez - Editor, Publisher 

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

To Leonard Ralph Casper from Bienvenido N. Santos

 July 6 is the 100th Birthday anniversary of Leonard Ralph Casper!



Letters from Bienvenido N. Santos --
Dear Len:
I’m grateful to you for your letter, that “reverend” portion which…about time someone like you opened my eyes to the truth: I have been luckier than most…

Did I say anything about the National Artist Award? I do not WANT it, Len. Not from that couple…if offered to me, I will turn it down…You are right, what more do I need?

I’m not going to teach anymore after June 10…you can be sure, I’m going to write my heart out…because it is the only way…I know you will be busy but please, for my own selfish reasons, write to me… I’ll be in the Philippines not later than Nov 1...the priority in my life is my health. I spent two days in the hospital week, the usual emergency treatment for chest pains…fortunately everything turned out well…O, Len, you don’t know how helpful you have been. Thank you, dear friend. As ever, Ben. May 24, 1983.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Leonard Ralph Casper Centennial Birthday Celebration

The Centennial birthday of LEONARD RALPH CASPER is this July 6. Please read this writeup "REMEMBERING LEONARD RALPH CASPER" based on interviews of his wife, award-winning Filipina novelist Linda Ty-Casper.

The collection of his letters, (which his wife calls his Memoirs) WILL YOU HAPPEN, PAST THE SILENCE, THROUGH THE DARK is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, among others.

tags: Philippine literature, Filipino literature, Pinoyreads, pinoylit, Filipino books

Read also;

Monday, June 26, 2023

Interview of Cecilia Brainard by Venice Rian Ong


Photo taken at literary event hosted by Cebuano Studies Center last Feb. 2023

Venice Rian Ong, 12th grader from Saint Lorenzo Ruiz school in Cebu interviewed me recently.  I am sharing his questions and my answers.

1.       When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

While I’d been writing since I was around 9 or 10 years old, I didn’t fully realize I wanted or was meant to be a writer until I was a grown woman with three young children.

Let me elaborate: After my father died when I was nine, I began writing him letters to update him of my life. These were my early writings. When I was a teenager I began diary writing. I always enjoyed writing, but after high school I thought I wanted to be an engineer. Later I thought I wanted to be a film maker. It was this interest in film making that led me to California where I went to film school at UCLA. I discovered that film making is an expensive and highly collaborative venture. I did not pursue this career.

            By this time I was a young wife and mother and focused on taking care of my family. It was during this time when stories would come into my head and I had to write them down. I later took Creative Writing Classes at UCLA-Extension’s Writers Program to learn the craft and business. Bit by bit I started to get stories published. But it wasn’t until the children were in school and I looked for work and found work as a fund raiser when I realized that I couldn’t work, take care of the family, and write. I talked to my husband about this and he told me to do what I wanted to do. I told the office that was ready to hire me that I couldn’t take the job, and I decided then to be a writer and take care of my family. 


Saturday, June 24, 2023

My Book Donations to Philippine Libraries via Christian Acevedo



I donated books for Philippine Libraries via Christian George Acevedo, librarian/teacher/scholar at the Capiz Philippines Main Library.  He distributed them to other librarians.  Thank you, Christian, and best wishes to Philippine librarians.

The books I sent included most of my titles and more.  Please visit my official site, for information about my books.  

#filipinobooks #filipinoliterature #filipinolibraries #capizlibraries