Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chapter from Re-imagining Language and Literature of the 21st Century (paper on When the Rainbow Goddess Wept) - #CeciliaBrainard

I found this article in the net and I would like to critique this paper, written by Hope Sabanpan-Yu, a short story writer/poet from Cebu City Philippines, with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of the Philippines, and now connected with the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, Philippines.

This paper was written for the XXII International Congress of FILLM held at Assumption University, and is part of a book, Re-imagining Language and Literature for the 21st Century, published in 2005.

Dr. Yu has made me and another Filipina American novelist, Jessica Hagedorn, her subject matter, focusing on my novel When the Rainbow Goddess Wept and Hagedorn’s novel, Dogeaters.

Dr. Yu’s paper sets out to answer questions of whether an immigrant, such as Hagedorn and myself, can speak on behalf of the Filipino people. She questions whether we can depict an authentic Philippines, “after years and years of being away.” Further she questions whether I – “a highly-educated woman from an upper-class Philippine family” know anything about the situation of the Filipino people. Dr. Yu concludes that Hagedorn and I “cannot know enough to represent the common Filipino.”

Quoting an online critic (Balce-Cortes) of Hagedorn and me, Yu goes on to say, “Their works (Hagedorn’s and mine) have been perceived by Filipino critics as “a racist and fetishistic” exoticizing project to gain “acceptance into the U.S. Literary mainstream.” Dr. Yu fails to mention these Filipino critics, however, relying solely on a statement by Balce-Cortes which Dr. Yu found in the internet.

Dr. Yu continues with her sweeping statements, without documentation, as when she says, “Many critics take offense at Brainard’s portrayal of the Philippines.” Dr. Yu does not mention these critics; she does not quote them. She does quote one other critic, Hidalgo. Basically Dr. Yu has used two Filipina critics as her sources, despite the number of critical studies made on When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, including a well-lauded essay by Leonard Casper and numerous book reviews by Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and many more.

While Dr. Yu has lumped Hagedorn and me together as guilty of orientalising and being fetishistic, she takes a position that Hagedorn is “seldom accused of being unfair to the Filipinos, “ but “Brainard is lambasted… because she fails to make a balanced representation.” Again, this position is not supported by any sound research. Who has lambasted me? Who has accused me of being unfair to the Filipinos? Are these Dr. Yu’s personal conclusions? And based on what? She does not know me. Her statement that I have been away for “years and years” from the Philippines is incorrect; I visit the Philippines regularly, sometimes twice a year. It is unfortunate that Dr. Yu did not bother emailing me, and she might have learned that I am very much in touch with Philippine-matters.

While Dr. Yu does mention some interesting ideas by Faoucalt and Bhabha about authorship and immigrant writers, Dr. Yu’s paper comes across as one that has been cut-and-pasted by someone who did not do proper research and who had to resort to sweeping statements and conclusions based on meager and false information. Aside from using unreliable sources, Dr. Yu clearly lacks knowledge of fiction writing. And indeed her bio in Wikipedia mentions some three publications for her poems, nothing for her fiction. Someone who knows fiction writing would understand that the fiction writers’ responsibility is to write a good story, not to represent all 90 million Filipinos, nor solve all the ills of Philippine culture and society. Someone so knowledgeable would know about fiction elements such as “voice” and “point of view” – points carefully discussed by noted critic, Leonard Casper in his critical essay about Song of Yvonne also known as When the Rainbow Goddess Wept (see Jan. 1 blog entry).

In any case, I would like to thank Dr. Yu and the editors for continuing the dialogue about When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, me, my work, and Philippine literature in general.
-end comments by Brainard-
Article by Hope Saban-pan Yu begins:
Representation in Philippine American Women Writers:
Between Authenticity and Orientalism

By Hope Saban-pan Yu, University of Calgary, Canada
(From the book, Re-imagining Language and Literature for the 21st Century, edited by Suthira Duangsamosorn (et al), published by International Federation for Modern Languages)

Can an American know the heart of a Filipino? Can a writer speak on behalf of her people? For whom does she speak? This question of representation besets immigrant writers the world over. Whenever they write, they are believed to be representing someone. Toni Morrison in “Paradise Found” for instance, talks of having to answer sociological and political questions during book reading, instead of queries that address literary concerns (Gray 65). What should the roles of writers be given their positions of power and responsibility?

Filipino writers who have made America their home like Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Jessica Hagedorn are faced with the same questions. Should they depict the Philippines the way they see it now, after years and years of being away? Can they speak on behalf of the Filipinos? Occupying such controversial positions, these writers are read by Filipinos and Americans alike and are judged on the basis of how well they represent the Philippines. While one is praised for sympathetically portraying her subject, the other is condemned for criticizing the Philippines. A closer study though, reveals that neither Brainard nor Hagedorn, nor any Filipino immigrant writer writes from a purely Philippine perspective. They fail to come up to the immigrants’ expectation of representation.

Having been observed and analyzed by the Spaniards then the Americans, the rest of the world has read and heard their views. Filtered through their eyes, the Philippines became a country “nearly a successful replica of the United States-except that its citizens are mostly dark-skinned, poor, ostensibly ‘Roman Catholic’ in faith” (San Juan 5-6). The Filipinos were thought friendly and hospitable, but not necessarily ambitious. Masterpieces like the Banaue Rice Terraces are praised for their uniqueness but for all the agricultural accomplishment, the Philippines is still perceived as a backward country. Occasionally on television, men are seen coming home from fishing and counting out the day’s meagre earnings. They smile, the only positive bent in which the Filipino is perceived. The Philippines, famed pearl of the Orient, rich in natural resources, home of friendship and hospitality, is today a land of corruption, mail-order brides and domestic helpers. Like the sultry woman in a Tanduay rum advertisement, the Philippines has found itself perpetually objectified. Tentative impressions have often led to racial stereotypes that encourage misrepresentations of the Filipino. So when a writer like Brainard or Hagedorn writes, and is heard, she breaks through the gaze and the silence. She is no longer object but subject. She defines herself as she writes her story.

The complication emerges when the audience assumes that the writer is also writing their story in her story. In many critical readings the writer is assumed to be the spokesperson of a group. Although it is not difficult to understand how writers are tasked with representation, the idea becomes problematic. Questions like whose Philippines - hers or theirs – should she represent, come up. Should it be the Philippines she knows, even if it is not the Philippines of the masses? Since this is an opportunity, maybe she should focus on deorientalizing the Philippines. But critics argue that the task of deorientalizing the Philippines can only be achieved if the author knows the Philippines “as it really is” and not as the exotic paradise the colonizers have shown it to be. It is at this point that the writers come under very close inspection. Can Brainard represent the real Philippines when she hails from a Western tradition of writing? Since kindergarten “she had been educated in English, not her native Cebuano, and taught from a mostly Eurocentric perspective. At the same time she grew up surrounded by American culture – watching Hollywood movies, reading American books and magazines” (Huebler 100). How can this highly-educated woman from an upper-class Philippine family, living “in a Spanish-style villa, tended by servants and surrounded by gardens of orchids” (Huebler 98), know anything about the situations of the masses? Powerful political kinship ties have accorded Brainard special status in the community. She cannot know enough to represent the common Filipino. The same goes for Jessica Hagedorn. Essentially, both writers are criticized for not representing the Philippines authentically. Their works have been perceived by Filipino critics as “a racist and fetishistic” exoticizing project to gain “acceptance into the U.S. literary mainstream” (Balce-Cortes online).

Before we can discuss authenticity, we should be able to understand what orientalism is. Edward Said defines orientalism as “a system of knowledge about the Orient, an accepted grid for filtering through the Orient into Western consciousness” (Said 6). Orientalism is how the West makes sense of the Wast. On a very basic level, it is a set of stereotypes that when applied to new observations, provide an easy and convenient way to analyse the subject. For example, once Orientalism perceives the Filipino as indolent, all actions will be studied within the parameters of such perceived indolence. The body of generalizations that will evolve remain unchallenged and uncontested. But this is not to say the “Orient,” which is a construct, does not exist in reality. We cannot just dismiss it as “a structure of lies or of myths which, were the truth about them to be told, would simply blow away” (Said 6). Said explains that the orientalising efforts of the colonizing era have given birth to

a body of ideas, beliefs, clichés, or learning about the East, and other schools of thought at large in the culture. Now one of the important developments in nineteenth-century Orientalism was the distillation of essential ideas about the Orient – it’s sensuality, its tendency to despotism, its aberrant mentality, its habits of inaccuracy, its backwardness – into a separate and unchallenged coherence. (Said 205)

Susan Montepio, a critic of Brainard’s works, claims the sense of continuity of When the Rainbow Goddess Wept is sacrificed in the retelling of epic stories in the novel. I believe that this fragmented sense of continuity is a result of the author’s subconsciously subscribing to Orientalism. Inspite her good intentions to capture “the essence of Filipino culture by weaving in folklore and epic songs” (Huebler 101), many of her observations are informed with Western perspective, with

(page missing)

When I was twelve, I begged my parents to allow me to travel with Inuk. I cried for days until my mother accompanied me to the singer to inquire if I could be his apprentice. I sang to him the epic fragments which I had learned from a villager. He made a face, saying I had a lot to learn, but he took me in. We travelled from village to village for weddings, funerals, all sorts of celebrations, and Inuk would sing these beautiful songs, about the maiden in the skyworld, and the gentle goddess Meybuyan. (45)

But ironically, all the while that Brainard gets blamed for orientalising, she seems perfectly aware of this phenomenon of orientalism. Her characters understand the disparity between the world’s understanding of the East and the actual East. Time and again we see this sort of understanding filtering through the beliefs and behavior of Max, one of her characters. Max has lived so long in America that he thinks and behaves like an American. He is “frightened of a lot of things – animal innards, blood soup” (46) but he is not afraid of eating “his fee, bloody. ‘Rare’ he calls it” (46). This is not the only instance of orientalism laid bare. Just as much as Max stereotypes the Orient, believing the ways of all who lived here are primitive and unhygienic, Brainard shows that the Philippines is a fertile hunting ground for libidinous American males like Martin Lewis:

He often attended barrio fiestas to pick out young beauty queens – seventeen year-old girls wearing lipstick, high heels, and long gowns for the first time – and talk the girls’ parents into letting him take them to Ubec to ‘train them to be radio announcers.’ The only kind of announcing they did was the moaning and groaning executed on Lewis’ circular bed. When he grew tired of them, he dispatched them back to their barrio with fifty pesos in their purses – hymen fee. (161)

Many critics take offense at Brainard’s portrayal of the Philippines. She reinforces the West’s patriarchal attitude toward the East. As the West always suspected, Brainard’s Philippines, the backward impoverished country, cannot fight its own war. It needs intervention from the Americans: “William Cushing, an American guerilla leader in Mindanao, found a place for us in the mountains” (43). This stereotype of the helpless Filipino waiting for the aid of benevolent Americans provide a vehicle for American patriarchy.

Hidalgo implies that Brainard fails to seize the “opportunity to explore the problem” (99) and instead retreats into the banal. Brainard completely de-individualizes herself:

One waits in vain for any insight on what the customs, practices and beliefs signify besides being material for memories of an idyllic time. The author is silent on what they might reveal of the culture she purports to be explaining. In fact, there are no explanations. (98)

One can assert that this de-individualization makes the novel the product of what Foucault terms “author function” (107). Instead of Brainard, the individual author, the voice in the novel would represent different socially determined roles. Brainard’s words reflect a number of forces acting upon her like the hegemonic ideas of postcolonialism and the immigrant culture of the United States. Her works reflect not what Brainard thinks, but rather, what her times think.

Foucault states that we are accustomed to defining the author as “the genial creator of a work in which he deposits, with infinite wealth and generosity, an inexhaustible world of signification” (118). However the truth is “the author is an ideological product” (119). By bringing the author down to the level of a “product,” Foucault underscores the forces around the author that “create” them as much as they are “creating” their characters. He shifts the focus from author being the creator of all signifiers, to his or her conditions being the author’s creators. In the world of fiction, the author is not the prime mover, but the environment. Foucault would say that Brainard does not produce wholly independent ideas – no one does. Rather, she serves as the vehicle for the ideas of her times. For Foucault the question would be, not “What kind of person created these fictional works?” but rather “What kind of times and situations created this author?” Foucault would argue that Brainard has internalized some Orientalism, but he would continue that she has also internalized her experience of living in the Philippines, of immigrating and of assimilating to the United States. Hers is a blend of all these different perspectives, all these different lives. When she thinks of faith healing, for example, she cannot possibly think of it in a way unbiased by Western thought. Her views on Philippine issues are far more complex than the critics would have it. In the novel, for instance, note the depiction of faith healing as a fraudulent business:

“Asin, suca / get-teng, luya / bawang, lasona’ … ‘Salt, vinergar / scissors, ginger garlic, onion’ … An invocation against death, to protect her unborn child” (13) There is just the incantation but not physical cutting up of the body.

But even Hagedorn, an advocate of matters Filipino, gives in to the established ideal. She provides evidence of Said’s argument that the idea of the Orient is weighted with backwardness. Lola Narcisa and the servants she portrays in Dogeaters weep without shame listening to a radio serial entitled “Love Letters:”

Without fail, someone dies on Love Letters. There’s always a lesson to learned, and its always a painful one… pure love, blood debts, luscious revenge, the wisdom of mothers, and the enduring sorrow of Our Blessed Virgin Barbara Villanueva.” (12)

Despite such Orientalism in her work, Hagedorn is seldom accused of being unfair to the Filipinos. Just as one does with Brainard, one could easily argue, for instance, that by making these stereotypical portrayals of Filipinos, Hagedorn is perpetuating the Oriental myth. One could say that the Philippines still struggles to free herself of the notions of backwardness and widespread low-brow sensibilities that she presents in Dogeaters. But Hagedorn is usually praised for creating characters that reveal “the complex nature of the Filipino” (Davis 124).

Finally, all criticism whether positive or negative, intersect at the juncture at which the author is perceived as having successfully represented the people who she believes she speaks for. When Brainard is lambasted, it is because she fails to make a balanced representation. When Hagedorn is lauded, it is because she depicts the Philippines as it really is. Evidently, even some authors like Ninotchka Rosca are convinced that the purpose of literature is utilitarian: “to represent this self in fiction, the writer assumes part of the responsibility for defining it even as he or she reflects it” (Rosca 242).

As we have seen earlier, the problem with this attitude is manifold. After having been born in one world and relocated to live in another world, which “self” does a writer recreate? The backward self or the modern self? Can these two be ever untied from the other? In her article on Brainard, Hidalgo argues that the author presents both sides at the same time. Hidalgo further asserts that Brainard projects her own privileged position of power and influence upon her exoticized Filipino subjects.
There is certainly some cause to Hidalgo’s complaint but one can also argue that anyone who finds herself at the intersection of two cultures must recreate her world, must redefine her culture. Similarly, all immigrants are in some stage of integration. As Hagedorn writes in Dogeaters, one does not know when “reality will diminish the grandeur of [the] childhood image of home” (245). And this is true for all things and all people, not just immigrants.

Modernization invades Filipino places one person at a time. Our fellowmen continue to modernize while our memories are locked and sealed tight. Or worse, the places of the past alter in our memories – into idyllic edens that resemble neither past nor modern. Homi Bhabha calls this idealism “the fatality of thinking of ‘local’ cultures as uncontaminated or self-contained” (Bhabha 54). Instead of being pure, they are, as Brainard’s and Hagedorn’s novels show, in flux. They are always being contaminated.

Immigration hastens the process of change. Bhabha states “the people who have taken with them only a part of the total culture…the culture which develops on the new soil must therefore be bafflingly alike, and different from the parent culture” (54). These authors write about this new culture from their new perspective. Their views can be held to be neither Filipino nor American. They represent, if anything, the inner dialogue in which the individual writer engages, about the duality of the lives she has known. Bhabha quotes Mikhail Bakhtin:

The…hybrid is not only double-voiced and double-accented…but is also double-languaged; for in it there are not only (and not eve so much) two individual consciousness, two voices, two accents, as there are [doublings of] socio-linguistic, consciousnesses, two epochs…that come together and consciously fight it out on the territory of the utterance…It is the collision between the different points of view on the world that are embedded in these forms…such unconscious hybrids have been at the same time profoundly productive historically: they are pregnant with potential for new world views, with new ‘internal forms’ for perceiving the world in words. (58)

Instead of lamenting an untraditional perspective, Bakhtin celebrates the conception of new worlds. He sees these worlds in not only the author’s perspectives but also in their words. He provides the postcolonial reader with a new way to read and appreciate this outlook. His is a concept where there is a venue for faith healer/doctor, backward/modern and Filipino/American.

Update Fund Raiser for Growing Up Filipino II

As some of you know, I'm raising funds to help defray the cost of publishing the book, Growing Up Filipino II; donors will be acknowledged in the book. The first
Growing Up Filipino volume was quite successful and ended up in numerous
American libraries, and was also used by educators; there is also a Philippine
edition of the first volume. We plan a Philippine edition of the second volume
as well.

Thus far, the following have pledged $100 each:

John & Elizabeth Allen
Christopher Brainard Law Offices –
Emmanuel Gonzalez
Barbara Lim
In memory of Arcadio, Maria, Sylvestre, and Celerina
Marily Y. Orosa -
Remy’s on Temple Art Gallery –
Tony Robles –
Studio 5

Thanks for considering and happy New Year,
Cecilia Brainard
In 2003, PALH or Philippine American Literary House published Growing Up
Filipino: Stories for Young Adults, a book that received favorable mainstream
reviews in the United States and is used by many educators.About Growing Up
Filipino, Booklist states:

"In this fine short-story collection, 29 Filipino American writers explore the
universal challenges of adolescence from the unique perspectives of teens in the
Philippines or the U.S…The stories are delightful!"

It was the success of the earlier volume, Growing Up Filipino, that prompted me
to collect for publication Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young
Adults. Of this collection, Professor Rocio G. Davis of the University of
Navarre says, "Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's second volume of Growing Up Filipino
expands and deepens the paradigms presented in the frist book…This new
collection retakes the first volume's constutive strategy and many of the themes
but, importantly, extends some of the concerns…"

The 27 contributors to this forthcoming second volume are: Amalia B. Bueno,
Leslieann Hobayan, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Paulino Lim,Jr., Dean Francis Alfar,
Marianne Villanueva, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Jonathan Jimena Siason,
Charlson Ong, Brian Ascalan Roley, Veronica Montes, Edgar Poma, Tony Robles,
Oscar Peñaranda, Max Guttierez, Geronimo G. Tagatac, Kannika Claudine D. Peña, Aileen Suzara, Jaime L. An Lim, Elsa Orejudos Valmidiano,
Erwin Cabucos, Dolores De Manuel, Maria Victoria Beltran, M.G. Bertulfo, Rebecca
Mabanglo-Mayor, Katrina Ramos Atienza, and Marily Y. Orosa.

Unfortunately, the economic situation right now is particularly bad in publishing. I have therefore decided to seek financial assistance from sponsors whose names will be acknowledged in Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, which is expected to be released in 2009.

Donations of $100 or more will help defray the publishing cost of this
anthology. Donors will be listed in a Sponsors List in the book.

For clarification, I mention that PALH is not a 501(C)3 nonprofit organization,
and unfortunately these donations are not tax-deductible. However, I assure
you, that every penny will be used in the publishing of this book.
As many of you know there is a scarcity of Filipino and Filipino American
books. I hope you can help publish this worthwhile book. You may send your
$100 or more, made out to PALH, to:

PO Box 5099
Santa Monica, CA 90409.
Since we are currently in production, I need the names for the Sponsors List by
January 6, and you may email me at to give me the name/names. These
may be personal names or business names, even websites, which will be printed for
posterity in the book.

Thanking you,
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Publisher and Editor of PALH (Philippine Am erican Literary House)
PO Box 5099
SM, CA 90409
Tel/fax: 310-452-1195

Philippine American Democrats Inauguration Watch Party

Joselyn Geaga writes:
Join the Philippine American Democrats celebrate! Pass the word. Please click
on link to get details.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Anthology A Taste of Home

I received my contributor's copies of the anthology A Taste of Home, edited by Edgar Maranan and Len Maranan-Goldstein. It's a handsome collection of some 40 essays written by Filipinos in diaspora about food.

Published by Anvil, one may order the book from Anvil, directly. Anvil carries most of my other titles as well. Visit the url below:

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Here are some pictures taken 2008

Photos (top to bottom): Australia, Egypt, Robert's baptism, Ireland, Manila Book Fair

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fund Raiser for Growing Up Filipino II

The following is a fund raiser for the anthology Growing Up Filipino II - businesses, writers, academics, and others may want to be listed in the Sponsors List which will be published in the book. Let me know, at, Cecilia
In 2003, PALH or Philippine American Literary House published Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults, a book that received favorable mainstream reviews in the United States and is used by many educators. Booklist states:
"In this fine short-story collection, 29 Filipino American writers explore the universal challenges of adolescence from the unique perspectives of teens in the Philippines or the U.S…The stories are delightful!"

It was the success of the earlier volume, Growing Up Filipino, that prompted me to collect for publication Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults. Of this collection, Professor Rocio G. Davis of the University of Navarre says, "Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's second volume of Growing Up Filipino expands and deepens the paradigms presented in the frist book…This new collection retakes the first volume's constutive strategy and many of the themes but, importantly, extends some of the concerns…"

The 28 contributors to this forthcoming second volume are: Amalia B. Bueno, Leslieann Hobayan, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Paulino Lim,Jr., Dean Francis Alfar, Marianne Villanueva, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Jonathan Jimena Siason, Charlson Ong, Brian Ascalan Roley, Veronica Montes, Edgar Poma, Tony Robles, Oscar Peñaranda, Max Guttierez, Geronimo G. Tagatac, Kannika Claudine D. Peña, Dean Francis Alfar, Aileen Suzara, Jaime L. An Lim, Elsa Orejudos Valmidiano, Erwin Cabucos, Dolores De Manuel, Maria Victoria Beltran, M.G. Bertul fo, Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor, Katrina Ramos Atienza, and Marily Y. Orosa.

Unfortunately, the economic situation right now is particular bad in publishing. I have therefore decided to seek financial assistance from sponsors whose names will be acknowledged in Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, which is expected to be released in 2009.

Donations of $100 or more will help defray the publishing cost of this anthology. Donors will be listed in a Sponsors List in the book.
For clarification, I mention that PALH is not a 501(C)3 nonprofit organization, and unfortunately t hese donations are not tax-deductible. However, I assure you, that every penny will be used in the publishing of this book.

As many of you know there is a scarcity of Filipino and Filipino American books. I hope you can help publish this worthwhile book. You may send your $100 or more, made out to PALH, to:
PO Box 5099
Santa Monica, CA 90409.

Since we are currently in production, I need the names for the Sponsors List by January 6, and you may email me at to give me the name/names. These may be personal names or business names, even websites, which will be printed for posterity in the book.

Thanking you,

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Publisher and Editor of PALH (Philippine American Literary House)
PO Box 5099
SM, CA 90409
Tel/fax: 310-452-1195

Google Alert - Growing Up Filipino

This is another Google Alert on Christmas morning. It feels good to know that the young Filipino Americans appreciate this book.

BakitWhy Reading Series: Growing Up Filipino

Posted Mon, 12/22/2008 - 16:17 by janice Add new comment

Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults (edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard) is an anthology filled with Pilipina/o and Pilipina/o American short stories that addresses the complexity of growing up Filipino from many different perspectives. As a daughter of Pilipino immigrants, this book helped me understand parts of myself that I thought would seldom be addressed in school, with my friend or in my family. The book itself is split up into five sections: family, angst, friendship, love and home. Each of these sections exist as testaments to parts of my life that I thought were ineffable experiences. Each writer paints the fabric of Pilipina/o America with their words by connecting historical moments with personal narratives and forming a collective story with their own. This book deftly describes symbols of their process to learn about who they are and recaptures moments for a growing audience.

I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I took a chance on this book and its title during a point in my high school years when I was researching Pilipina/o American identity. I needed books that my high school library lacked. Thanks to, that search was simplified but it still continues today. There was something missing from Chicken Soup for the Soul books that just didn't quite address more pertinent cultural issues such as language barriers, the thirst for ancestral knowledge, generation gaps and familial intergenerational strain or struggles regarding identity. It was and still is a hardship to locate Pilipina/o American literature in most major retail stores and public libraries. After purchasing this book, I learned to find comfort in knowing others' stories and strived to write my own.

If you're looking for a good, calm read on your individual quest to constructing and learning about your Pil/Am identity, then this is a good place to start. If you're looking to get acquainted with Pil/Am writers or seeking inspiration, then you have to get this book. If you want to get away from your academic reads, but don't know how to choose non-required reading, well, then please believe me on this one. If you've read my other articles and have begun to trust our blogger-to-reader relationship, then you will only value and cherish our friendship even more. Lastly, if you're looking for a (last-minute) gift for the inquiring and developing Pilipina/o young mind, then I'm sure you can expedite your book delivery. The decision to buy this book shouldn't be entirely based on conditional terms - this book has a story for all ages. Stories take place in the Philippines and in the United States and across certain periods of time while providing personalized backgrounds and reactions to social structures and phenomena.

Authors and writers of Growing Up Filipino are prominent figures in the Pilipina/o American community who contribute to the growing body of literature for and by Pilipina/o Americans. Some of my favorite short stories from this anthology include "San Prancisco" by Joel Barraquiel Tan (about a queer Pinoy and the "coming out" process), "In Place of Trees" by Linda Ty-Casper (about a post-WWII moment in the Philippines), and "Her Wild American Self" by M. Evelina Galang (which is the title of one of her books that I also strongly recommend for Pinays and Pinoys, but most especially for Pinays).

Enjoy the holiday season and curl up with a good book! You can find excerpts of the book here via GoogleBooks.

Christmas Eve 2008

For a quarter of century we have been getting together with family and friends on Christmas Eve. The celebration starts with Christmas Eve Mass at St. Monica's church in Santa Monica. St. Monica's always does beautiful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services with lovely decorations and singing.

Yesterday, we attended the 4 p.m. Mass. There were only three of us this year. Usually there are some eight of us who attend this Mass. After Mass, we gathered at our home for dinner, followed by a white elephant exchange gift, and followed by Christmas caroling. The gifts are silly and the singing loud and bad.

Here are pictures of the group last night.

Merry Christmas to all! And stay tuned, dear Readers, stay tuned!

Those who attended, in random order: Elizabeth, John, Dan, Heather Allen; Pat and Sarah Zavateros, Mike, Linda Ross; Allan, Christy Lin; Lauren, Alex, Andrew, Robert Brainard, Joana Campos, Doug Noble, Margie and Chris Sowers, and Moi. Some were missing, opting to be in France or Hawaii instead of rainy Santa Monica. I must not forget dear Kiki the Cat who miraculously presented herself last night. Usually she stays away especially when there are children around. As much as I love the cat, she is somewhat bitchy and detests children; it's their unpredictable movements that she fears.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A La Carte mentioned in Philippine Daily Inquirer

Another Google Alert: (To those who don't know, Google has a feature wherein they alert you if your name is mentioned in the internet - that would be publications,news, blogs, etc.)

Country Cooking
Quietly promoting Filipino cooking

By Micky Fenix
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 16:15:00 12/24/2008

Filed Under: Lifestyle & Leisure, Food

IT was also her matter-of-fact manner of doing her daily cooking chore that taught me to do what I’m supposed to do the best way I can, but quietly.

This column may be regarded as not really a quiet way to accomplish my advocacy—to make the cooking of our country known to compatriots as well as to the world in general. But it is working quietly in the sense that the effort is done with countless others but isn’t organized. All of us go about the task in our own way whether in writing or in cooking.

Some of those like-minded people were at the launch of the book “Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine.” In the program they were cited for promoting Filipino cooking, many of them at their restaurants, proving that serving our dishes is a viable business.

Among those was Nora Villanueva Daza, acknowledged to be the first multimedia culinary personality (print, TV, radio) and the first restaurateur to bring our cooking to Europe.

Aux Iles Philippines was established by Nora Daza in Paris in the early 1970s. That is a wonder considering how Asian ingredients weren’t available everywhere as they are now. And it was a fine dining place, not a carinderia or turo-turo which was the way restaurants serving Filipino food was always presented during that time and even up to the 1990s.

Daza likes to point out the restaurant had an indoor garden which was very unusual for a Paris restaurant at the time. Her food also merited high honors in the French Michelin Guide as well as in the Gault-Millau Le Guide de Paris.

Among her accomplishments, Daza seemed proudest of Aux Iles Philippines as she told her guests at the party celebrating her 80th birthday attended by many of her friends and relatives who shared their experiences about her as neighbor, workmate, mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, ninang.

Many of us who work to have our food known don’t have such a grand operation as Aux Iles Philippines. Yet little by little we let the world sit up and take notice. Thanks to Gourmand World Cookbook Award winners like Felice Sta. Maria’s “The Governor General’s Kitchen,” Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Marily Orosa’s “A la Carte: Food and Fiction,” and a book I’m proud to be a part of, “Foodlore and Flavours: Inside the Southeast Asian Kitchen” edited by Tan Su Lyn.

Thanks also to “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan that won the prestigious Grigson Award, the most coveted prize at the International Association of Culinary Professionals convention.

Little by little the efforts to promote our cooking are bearing fruit. Take a look at the December issue of Saveur, one of the best culinary magazines in the United States, where Christmas in Pampanga was a feature story. This was written by Robin Eckhardt who tapped her friend Marc Medina to show her the holiday feasting and simple pleasures at his family’s Mt. Arayat home.

Street food

My piece on street food produced e-mails that complained about my using the word “dirty” for local ice cream. One said that for someone who promoted local cooking, the term was derogatory to the industry.

I forgot that not all readers are of my generation, a group that isn’t classified alphabetically (as in X, Y, Z) but can be described in polite terms as “of a certain age.”

And one reader reminded me that the Internet version of this column is read also by non-Filipinos who might take the “dirty” description literally.

So let me put “dirty” in context. The women of my generation who studied in Catholic schools regard the word with some fondness because it reminds us of our colegiala years when the nuns’ pronouncements were infallible.

“Dirty” was how the nuns called ice cream produced by small outfits, some just home-based, because they presumed that the process may not be as hygienic as those produced by big corporations.

But “dirty” couldn’t kill my love for local ice cream. I never pass up the chance of buying whenever a cart is encountered.

There was an unforgettable incident where I was admonished by my mother, a colegiala herself, about buying from the ice-cream man outside the house. She said something bad would happen.

I presumed she meant a bum stomach or something like that. I laughed that off and bought two cones as my husband also loves the stuff.

On the first lick the earth shook. It was the earthquake that destroyed much of Baguio. I couldn’t believe that my mother was right again.

Thank you readers for reminding me how I have to think and write for a global audience.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Zee Quarterly & my article on Parian

This was also a google alert. It mistakenly says I come from San Francisco instead of Santa Monica.

Zee Lifestyle on luxury living
Updated November 23, 2008 12:00 AM

Zee Lifestyle Cebu, the only glossy magazine outside Metro Manila, dedicates its November issue to luxury. What better way to send off 2008 than with an issue that celebrates all the best that life has to offer?

This year, Zee Lifestyle’s luxury issue has an all-white theme. There are stories on white truffles, vintage champagne, white catamarans, and white jewelry. Also in the November pages are features on the old world luxury of the Parian, Cebu’s premier address of yore, by San Francisco-based writer and part-time resident of the area Cecilia Brainard; the minimally decadent appointments in the newly-opened rooms of Abaca Boutique Resort; and the relative luxury offered by the call center industry photographed at architect Alex Medalle’s supremely modern Blue Blade Call Center. This issue’s home feature is also indicative of luxury. See how an ‘80s-era house was revamped to cater to a family’s dynamic, contemporary lifestyle, channeling the owner’s European roots mixed with island style. Cebu power couple Joanna and Michael Lhuillier grace the cover, epitomizing luxury that is elegantly laidback.

Grab your copy of Zee Lifestyle’s November Luxury Issue at National Bookstore, Powerbooks and Fully Booked branches.

Conference Paper re When the Rainbow Goddess Wept

I received the following Google Alert:

An abstract of a conference paper citing When the Rainbow Goddess Wept:
Maxwell, T. "“Let the Dead Bury the Dead”: Remembering the Unspeakable during the American and Japanese Occupations" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association . 2008-12-11 from

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Why do certain traumatic memories become part of public memory while others are forgotten? In protesting a particularly vicious campaign in the town of Calendaria during the Philippine-American War in 1901, four Filipinas testified of rape and molestation by American soldiers. In total, seventy women of Calendaria complained of abuses, yet the commanding officer Captain Boughton discounted their testimonies. Though hardly isolated incidences, these war atrocities were virtually erased from Filipino and American public memory. The women of Calendaria decided not to testify, claiming that it was better “to let the dead bury the dead.” My project explores what it would mean to honor these women’s voices. Recovering these testimonies from official archives such as the military records of the Philippine-American War at the National Archive in Washington, D.C., this paper examines how the elision of sexual trauma and rape in the history of the Philippine-American War signals imperial trauma. Although feminist scholars such as Anne McClintock point out the connection between sexual trauma and war, such violence has not been explicitly investigated in the United States’ military conquest and the Philippine-American War specifically. This study debunks the image of the good old American soldier by showing how acts of American conquest and empire were tied to acts of violence against women.

In contrast to the elision of American war atrocities against women during the Philippine-American War, the sexual atrocities committed against Filipinas during World War II by Japanese soldiers elicited public outrage. Called “comfort women,” these women were held as slaves to be raped and tortured. Recently, these lolas or grandmothers have spoken out and demanded reparations from the Japanese government. Why has this trauma become part of public discourse while the raping of Filipina women by U.S. soldiers remains nearly invisible? This paper analyzes both layers of trauma, how the prevalence of Japanese war atrocities in collective memory serves as a touchstone for earlier war crimes during the Philippine-American War. Examining the story of the Japanese war atrocities in Cecilia Brainard’s novel When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, I argue that the war crimes against women during the Philippine-American War haunt the narrative of World War II atrocities, and that the figure of the Japanese soldier stands in for the American soldier. My reading shows how imperial trauma shapes collective and cultural memory through historical layering. By juxtaposing women’s testimonies of Philippine-American war atrocities next to Brainard’s novel, my project interrogates the construction of the archive while simultaneously contesting imperial trauma.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I just finished our Christmas cards and have told some to visit my blog for updates on our travels and more.

So, to get to the travel writeups, use the Search feature of blogspot, on the upper left, and pop in the key word (one at a time): Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Israel, and Ireland, which we visited this year. Have fun reading!

To our family and friends, we wish you peace and joy! Merry Christmas and a very happy New year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some of My Clients

Aside from writing and teaching I run a small business that sells books, antiques, and collectibles. I sell rosaries - antique, vintage, new, heirloom. I also make high-end rosaries of genuine elephant ivory and coral with sterling silver. I like to say that Mary taught me because I'm self-taught. I also fix broken rosaries. (I am multi-talented!)

An old man contacted me recently about fixing a broken rosary. It was in terrible condition - missing the Cross, beads, broken in 4 pieces. I had to find another rosary with beads that matched and I was able to fix it. So I called Joe and told him what I'd done and told him he could pick up his rosary. I had not met Joe and didn't know what to expect. He had sent a card that indicated he's the president of some big food company, so even though his voice sounded old, I thought maybe he was younger.

So today at the appointed time, a Mercedes Benz drove up to our house. In it were two guys. The driver was younger and built like a bodybuilder. The passenger was a 91-year old man - Joe. The younger guy was his chauffeur and I suspect he was also Joe's bodyguard.

Joe moved slowly but his mind was sharp. He told me the broken rosary had belonged to his father - and since Joe himself was 91, that meant the rosary was quite old. Joe was very happy that the rosary was restrung; his father had prayed on it so often that the Cross was worn. He said he would give the rosary to his oldest son. He thanked me profusely for fixing this beloved family heirloom.

And then there was the 11 year old girl who came over with her Au pair. She wanted to buy a mother of pearl rosary and holder for her mother. The story went that her mother had received a mother of pearl rosary as a First Communion gift; she had been told by her parents not to bring it to school, but she did,and she lost it. So this eleven year old was buying her a replacement mother of pearl rosary which she would give to her on Christmas.

A few years ago there was a World War II marine who had tracked down his Filipina sweetheart. They had been engaged but something happened and they split up. Time passed and he returned to the U.S. got married to someone else, had children, grandchildren; and likewise, she married a Filipino, had children, grandchildren, then immigrated to the U.S. They were in their late 70s and married to other partners when he found her via the internet.

It was Christmastime, when this guy bought an expensive tamborine rosary necklace from my e-shop for her. The story continued because this guy emailed me a few years later. They stayed married to their spouses, but they would talk on the phone now and then, and once he had even visited her sick brother in a hospital - and she was there! He sent me pictures of them young and old. This was real drama here, not some cheap soap opera.

My fourth story is about the man who called many years ago about buying a diamond ring. I believe his name was also Joe! I made sure my husband and son were here when Joe came over to look at the ring. When I opened the door, I was taken aback because Joe was terribly unkempt. He looked homeless frankly and when I peeked out the window I saw his car was a big old Cadillac, crammed with stuff - another thing that made me wonder if he was homeless. He made me think of Howard Hughes - long, dirty nails, hair matted, beard, sweatsuit that needed washing - get the picture? But Joe spoke politely and he was clearly an educated man. He talked about living in Palos Verdes next to the Oppenheimers. He had horses and he had met another horse-woman in some horse show and she was stopping by LA on the way to Hawaii, and he would be seeing her on her stopover, and he wanted to give her the diamond ring. Sure, I thought.

He wanted the ring, and he ran out to get cash. I thought that would be the last I'd see of him, but before long, he returned with the money. He paid and I thought that was the end of it. I got a bit nervous when Joe called to get my advice about the appropriateness of the ring as a gift to this woman - a question I couldn't really answer. My husband said maybe I should have advised him to take a shower and have a hair cut, but I didn't think that was my business either. I don't know how this story ended, if Joe did give that woman the ring, and what happened after that.

I have many other stories about my clients, but I'll leave you with those four. (There are stories everywhere, material for my writing at every turn!)

To those interested my business url is (antiques, rosaries)

Filipino Obama

My friend, Baby Ciocon sent me this picture - a Filipino Obama!!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008


I'm down with something, and it's not nice. It's either the flu or a cold. It started last Thursday night. I could feel a tickle in my throat,which I tried to ignore. That night I felt muscle pain and the tickle had developed into a cough. The next day the muscle pain especially in the joints worsened, and I felt weak and tired. The second day I felt the same - same muscle pain and tiredness, and let's not forget the runny nose, coughing, sneezing. Third day, it actually worsened. I had the worst head cold and my one ear became clogged.

I'm still not sure if I have the flu or a cold. I had a flu shot, so maybe this toned down the flu.

I hope I get well soon because I have a lot of preparation for Christmas. So let's see, this is day 4.

Ho-ho-ho, to all. Stay healthy. Health indeed is wealth.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Brain Malfunctions and Taoism

I saw something on the Science channel that reminded me of something I learned a long time ago - a Taoist quote about a man dreaming he was a butterfly.

That memory was triggered by a documentary I saw about brain malfunctions. The documentary talked about: confabulations, hallucinations, the Capra Syndrome, and the Charles Bonnet Syndrome. The program featured patients who had these problems. One man had confabulations, false memories where he remembered walking with dinosaurs. Another man with brain damage could not name simple objects such as apples, bananas, giraffes, dogs, etc. He couldn't even identify himself when shown his picture. A woman believed her husband and children were substitutes and treated her husband like a stranger. A man losing his eyesight experienced wild hallucinations of floating heads and gigantic horses.

To these people, what they saw or experienced felt real to them. The woman firmly believed her husband and children had been abducted and some other people had taken their place. The man who was losing his eyesight "saw" the fearsome images. The other man had vivid memories of walking with dinosaurs.

I found all of this fascinating. I for one can be very bull headed and believe that I am right about certain things. Well, this program made me pause - these people believed they were right. What I realize is that people's perception of things can vary. We are never really certain of what is REAL.

On the one hand, this is a bit creepy - the idea that I'm not even 100% sure that things around me are real, that the life I'm living is real - for all I know this is just something made up, a dream by some other being. Remember the movie Matrix, where the man is just sitting on a chair but is being mentally stimulated into another reality?

For all we know, we experience our life, only to realize that life is just someone's dream.

As Chuang Tzu said,

"Once upon a time, I, Chuang Tzu, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of following my fancies as a butterfly, and was unconscious of my individuality as a man. Suddenly, I awoke, and there I lay, myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming that I am now a man."

More on Old Cebu - from Louie Nacorda


I just got this email from Louie Nacorda:

Yes, a lot of cultural movements are happening in Old Cebu, one of which is
the gradual revival of the grand feast of the Immaculate Conception in the
Metropolitan Cathedral, of which I am the Official Chamberlain to Our Lady
(read: Grand Financier for yearly new vestments; fresh flowers for 9 days;
flowers and lighting for all 4 carrozas; band and drum and bugle
arrangement and provisions; order of the procession; banderitas in the
patio; fireworks before during and after the procession; various school
invitations and press releases), officially appointed by the Cardinal since
2001. I am neither complaining nor bragging for I truly enjoy being in Her
Majesty's service. I am just too happy and honored to serve in the
Cathedral and share with Our Lady's devotees the abundance of blessings I
receive yearly from Her Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Ave Maria!

I believe Louie is also one of those honored to dress and care for the beloved Santo Nino Child Jesus statue of Cebu.

(Photo was taken at last year's Parian fiesta honoring St. John the Baptist. L-R: Guest, Cecilia, Louie, Pepit Revilles, Chinggay Utzurrum)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Australia & Dreamtime

We saw the movie, Australia, a 2:55 hour epic-style movie that focuses on the period 1939 til the outbreak of World War II. The first part had some attempts at being comic, which was flat, but fortunately the movie picked up and was engaging all the way to the end.

The movie got me thinking about Aboriginal Dreamtime. We were in Australia earlier this year and I'd read Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan who went on a walkabout with the Aborigines, and she talked about Dreamtime. In Sydney we also saw an exhibit of Aborignal art with many references to Dreamtime.

Initially I thought Dreamtime had something to do with a separate reality, one that runs parallel to the actual reality; this is not correct. After a bit of research I think I finally got it. The Aborigines believe in spirits or Ancestor Beings. These being were supposed to have surfaced from beneath the earth and they took on the forms of humans, animals, rocks, plants, etc. The journey of these Ancestral Beings who created the natural world is called Dreaming or Dreamtime.

I am sure it is more complicated than that, but at least my mind has caught the gist of this fascinating term.

I still have to understand what the walkabout is. It seems to be a rite of passage, a spiritual journey, but I haven't found details about this. The walkabout book I read by Morgan was fantastic, talking about caves with thousand-year old pictographs depicting the history of the world. I recall that an Aborigine we met in Sydney said Morgan's book is offensive. Likewise the book is not treated seriously by scholars. I wish I could find a good book on the walkabout.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Menu, Thanksgiving Dinner

We had our pre-Thanksgiving dinner last night. It is not low-cal. Menu follows:


Relish Dish – Green Onions, Stuffed Olives, Hot Chili Pepper, Celery Sticks

Main Dish – Turkey with mashed potatoes AND gravy
Green bean Casserole
Corn bread with honey butter

Dessert – Pecan pie with or without whipped cream
Homemade fruit cake

Drinks - Champagne, Sparkling Cider, Beer, Coke, tea
After Dinner drinks – Chambord, Limoncello

Friday, November 14, 2008


Thought #1:
I watched Greta Van Susteren's interview of Sarah Palin last Monday. It was part 1 of 2; I didn't watch the second part. I was surprised at how Van Susteren handled this interview. She was obsequious and simply allowed Palin to prattle on as she wished to whitewash matters such as the $150,000+ clothes and jewelry she and her family had spent during the campaign.

I recall when Greta Van Susteren was a reporter for CNN, along with Wolf Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour. I thought these reporters (and the other CNN reporters) were great; they seemed fearless in wading through dangerous situations to give the audience a good idea of what was going on in the hot spots of the world. This Monday interview was nothing like those CNN shows; this was such a silly interview,if it could be called an interview at all. Greta Van Susteren would say something like, "I checked with one of the McCain campaign people and this person assured me that you never said Africa is a country - what do you have to say about this?" At which Palin did her Palin-monologue to promote herself. (She whitewashed all the negative-stuff that happened during the McCain campaign, and there was this unrealistic bit where Palin prepared Moose-dogs.) This was solely Palin infomercial (as my husband put it). The only thing lacking was for Greta Van Susteren to wipe Palin's shoes. It was the dumbest interview I've ever seen. It seems it wasn't just McCain who sold his soul, but Greta Van Susteren as well. She had created an intelligent image of herself in CNN, now in Fox, she's proven herself lightweight.

Thought #2:
When Obama won, I realized I'd gotten old. He's younger than me, and a younger generation had voted him in. This younger generation is now running the show. The Clinton and Bush years had gone by quickly and suddenly I opened my eyes and I'd gotten old.

Thought #3:
Isn't my cat the cutest? She's lying right in front of my 2 monitors, partly on the keyboard - the purr-fect Muse! (The 2-monitor setup is the brain-child of my engineer son who thinks it can allow me to multi-task - pretty hard to do with a demanding cat batting my fingers every time I type something!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


While I was in Ireland, I received this from my sister-in-law, Terry Escano Manguerra. She is talking about more development in Old Cebu - the Parian. Exciting news. The gentrification of this area has been faster than we anticipated.

"Last night was a wonderful experience with Val Sandiego's (dance) group called Taytayan. We started with a painting exhibit in the Cathedral Museum. The paintings were all churches painted by Tony Alcoseba and they were all in water color which is very hard to do. Then we went on to Val's house and had dinner and the show right on the street in front of the house. Its a good thing that the weather cooperated. Cardinal Vidal and Ace Durano, the tourism secretary were present the whole time. Although the program had a few kinks, as Val said they were not able to rehearse all together, still it was quite spectacular. I'm sure it will be better next time... I did not see L___ there although he said he would, but there were so many people so he must have been part of the crowd.

"I think we will be getting our wish of having a walking area in Parian, sooner than we think with the presence of government officials yesterday.

"Also I have some good news for you. Do you remember Odette Jereza the lady who brought us around the Rizal Museum? She has been tasked by the City to (do) research on the Cebu Beauty Queens and maybe to revive the tradition. I told her to go to your website to seem Mama's picture and she is very inspired. She loved her clothes and even her throne and I think will use your pictures as a way of inspiring our officials to revive the carnival and the Cebu Queens. She is hoping to do something on Jan. 17 and hopes we will be present for whatever plans they will be having. I said yes and that you will be around. Also there are now moves to do something about the Old Carreta cementery as suddenly some people are coming in to study the place. Jobers Bersales, who is the curator of the Old Provincial Jail Museum visited the place and he hopes that something can be done. I will be encouraging him to try his best to encourage Gwen and maybe our church officials to make some moves as soon as possible. That will be like making Parian and the port area the center of old Cebu."

Monday, November 10, 2008


I have a lot of catching up to do. I got caught up with US politics, then went to Ireland, then got caught up with US politics again. I'm teaching a creative writing class at UCLA Extensio, and have a couple of deadlines to finish before Christmas.
So...I may be quiet for a spell, but then again, maybe not. We don't know what'll happen...stay tuned dear Readers, stay tuned.


Thursday, November 6, 2008


I know I should get on with my life, but I can't help smiling at how the McCain aides are now smearing Sarah Palin. First, I am fully aware that some Republicans are meeting to discuss the future of the GOP; this is why the McCain aides, who are pissed at Palin, have flooded the news with negative press about Sarah. They say:

1. She lacks knowledgeability - Not only does she think Russia is directly behind her house, she thought Africa was a separate country, not a continent; she didn't know that Canada, the US, and Mexico were in the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA); and we know the old-stuff that had been revealed in the Couric and Gibson interviews;

2. She is a Wasilla hillbilly looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast - a reference to the over $150,000 that Palin spent on clothes, luggage, and jewelry, courtesy of the Republican Campaign (apparently spending around $30K for the First Dude). A Republican Party lawyer will reportedly be dispatched to Alaska to inventory and retrieve items still in her possession;

3. She is a diva and an electoral liability - she apparently had tantrums over negative press reports about her; she was upset over the disastrous Couric interview but she never prepared for it;

4. She went rogue - she criticized the McCain campaign publicly, and she didn't inform the McCain campaign when the person whom she thought was French President Sarkozy arranged to talk to her by phone. (It was a prank call.)

5. She wanted to give a concession speech before McCain, and two McCain aides had to tell her this was not appropriate.

I believe there are more complaints circulating, including a story that she sailed into a room with 2 male McCain aides wearing nothing but a towel.

I have to ask myself why I find all of this amusing. I suppose it's because I already had a sense of what kind of person she is, and I think I've already written something that likened her to Imelda Marcos.

I've had to ask myself why it is that some people engender good feelings, like Barack obama for instance; you connect with their humanity and find yourself rooting for them, wishing the best for them. And then there's someone like Palin who must reflect some dark, icky side of myself because I can't stand her and I cannot say that I wish her the best. I look at her and see a greedy, opportunistic person who uses her sexuality to get what she wants. And it annoys me that she does get what she wants. I realize that this is my problem. I do not know her personally, and obviously have been projecting some dark side on her.

Well, I should really wish that poor woman the best as she struggles on in the political world, handicapped if you will, with a lack of education and intelligence.
There's even a part of me that wishes the Republicans will make her their presidential candidate in 2012 because she's a woman that many people like to hate.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Even though the polls and pundits suggested Barack Obama would win, I never really believed mainly because I was afraid to believe. I kept wondering what tricks the Republicans would have.I still remembered Gore's loss in 2000. Put simply the presidency had been stolen from Gore; the Republicans had caused many votes to be disregarded. The Republicans had even used the Supreme Court to their favor (a Supreme Court stacked with Republican-appointees).

These past eight years I've been feeling the United States is actually run by some kind of politburo, a bunch of people controlling the country with a front man. With Bush in power for eight years, everything seemed to be unraveling - the wars, military torture in Guantanamo, the housing bubble, the economic meltdown. I watched the dollar sink in value against foreign monies; I watched foreigners treat America with less and less respect. Sometimes, when foreigners talked about America's policies in a negative way, all I could say was, "I didn't vote for Bush."

In 2004, I too got caught up with the 9/11 matter, and didn't fully mourn Kerry's loss of the presidency. I understood that Bush was a wartime president and wartime presidents usually stay in power. There was talk that there was cheating during that election as well; but I suspect there are always complaints of cheating in any election. The feeling then was FEAR of Bin Laden and the Al Queda, so much so that our brains were muddled and we failed to question why America attacked Iraq as a reaction to Bin Laden.

That's one thing I learned about Bush - he likes to pressure the American people to get what he wants. Take the 700 billion dollar bailout that he proposed in September. Many people say the bailout was necessary; but the way I look at it, the economy had/has to run its course. The quick fix, Bush promised didn't happen. And meantime the housing bubble had burst, and people were losing their jobs and their pensions.

With all of this as backdrop the presidential campaign took place - like an epic play with characters strutting across the stage - the drama was something else! It was painful to see Hillary Clinton lose; it was insulting to see Sarah Palin introduced into the stage as "Hillary's replacement." It was mind boggling to see John McCain (the angry old man) stop his campaign to run off to Washington to "solve" the financial meltdown, which he didn't solve. It was nerve wracking to watch the presidential and vice-presidential debates. It was amusing to watch the Palin interviews with Katie Couric and Charles Gibson, and to watch Tina Fey in Saturday Night Live as Palin - and in some cases Fey just repeated Palin's inane words verbatim. And it boggled my mind to think Americans really liked Palin. I doubted the wisdom of all Americans. I thought about the political candidates I had supported and who lost (my mind, I had decided, is differently wired from the average American.) I worried that my rooting for Obama would jinx him. I had made the transition from Hillary to Obama, thanks in large part to my reading Obama's fine book, Dreams From My Father, which gave me a glimmer of the intelligence and goodness of this man.

Every day I found myself googling "political news, political polls" and spending hours reading about every political twist and turn. I was even watching YouTube political clips; I must have watched the Palin-Couric interview 6 times! (I wasn't alone; some other friends were just as obsessed as I was.) I watched when the McCain campaign brought up Obama's supposed association with Ayres; I watched how, within the day, the Obama campaign posted YouTube clips of McCain's involvement in the Keating scandal. I watched when the McCain campaign brought up the video reportedly showing Obama in the dinner for Palestinian Rashid Khalidi; and I watched how the Obama campaign quickly released information that McCain had headed a group that donated some 800 million dollars to Khalidi's group. It was remarkable how prepared Obama's campaign was to handle every dirt that the McCain campaign brought up. McCain's campaign members were the same people in Bush's campaign - Karl Rove, Steve Schmidt, Mike McDonald, Mike DuHaime and many more which I've listed in a blog entry "Who Are the People Running the McCain Campaign?" To me, they are part of the politburo that has been running the US for 8 years.

It was all a roller coaster ride.

And to my shock and delight, yesterday the American people spoke. In an orderly way a revolution occurred. Guns were not fired in this revolution, but in a loud way, people made it known that they want Obama to be their 44th president. Voter turnout was exceptionally large with voters waiting for hours. My husband and I waited 40 minutes, and I made sure the markings on my ballot were really there; I even held up my ballot and scrutinized it to make sure there were no smears, no strange markings. I didn't want any "hanging chad" to invalidate my vote. And the people roared; Obama did not win by a slim margin but by a landslide -349 electoral votes for Obama vs. 174 for McCain, with a couple more States to go. No need to quarrel over the results; no need to turn the matter over to a biased Supreme Court.

On TV last night I saw someone hold up a placard that said, "Bush You're Fired." And I saw a young African American woman, a student I surmised, on her knees, doubled-over, weeping for a long time. Many people wept; and while I grew teary, I had already wept the night before when I finally digested the notion that this man with the strange name, this son of a Kenyan student, had a good shot at being president of the United States.

The American people have spoken. The eight dark years of war and torture and fattening-up of Bush's cronies will be over. A new beginning is here for all Americans, and dare I say, for the rest of the world.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I got the following from TimesOnline:

10 Worst Presidents:
James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Martin Van Buren, William Harrison, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, Warren Harding, James Garfield, Millard Fillmore

10 Best Presidents:
Abraham Lincoln,George Washington, Franklin d. Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt,Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan,James Polk, Woodrow Wilson

Here are some thoughts running through my head today. This election is the most important I've ever participated in. The US is and has been in a terrible situation for years now. Even the perception of the rest of the world toward the US has been very negative. I don't know what the election outcome will be; polls indicate Obama will win and I pray that he does, but it has occurred to me that the people who had voted Bush into power, TWICE, owe the rest of us an apology. After all Bush and the damage he has caused the US and world happened because of their support for him.

Monday, November 3, 2008

YOUTUBE VIDEOS - Election theme and More

To tell the truth I'm so tense about tomorrow (Election Day), so instead of filling my brain with more political stuff, I found these interesting YouTube videos:

Obama Girl's I Got a Crush on Obama -

You Can Vote However You Like -

Yes We Can -

McCain's YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare -

Nora the Cat that plays the Piano -

Nora: The Sequel -

Otters Holding hands -

Sunday, November 2, 2008


This has been one of the most nerve-wracking and at the same time, interesting presidential campaign. My brain is overflowing with so much political news and polls and YouTube clips, I'm relieved there's an end to this. I hope that people everywhere will pray that the American people will vote wisely. It's an important election, and indeed time for great reflection. In this blog, I am not going to push for any candidate but just encourage all Americans to vote.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Education - Political candidates

The following information is interesting. I knew Obama and Biden were highly educated but I didn't know that McCain was at the bottom of his Naval Academy class; and that Palin attended 4 colleges to get her BA Journalism; I'm actually surprised she has a degree at all; she can't say a complete sentence with subject-predicate-object.

Barack Obama: Columbia University 1983 - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations; Harvard University 1991 - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden: University of Delaware 1965 - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science. Syracuse University College of Law 1968 - Juris Doctor (J.D.) vs.

John McCain: United States Naval Academy 1958 - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin: Hawaii Pacific University 1982 - 1 semester North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester University of Idaho - 3 semesters 1987 - B.A. in Journalism

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Happy halloween! Enjoy the pictures!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


What will I remember about Ireland?

I will remember the green fields with stone walls, in the western part of Ireland;
I will remember the 5,000 year old tomb, Newgrange, in the Boyne Valley in the Eastern part of Ireland;
I will remember the strange rock formations of Giant's Causeway, in Northern Ireland;
I will remember the tall high crosses which we saw in Kells and Rock of Cashel;
I will remember the peat bogs and turf and undulating Cliffs of Moher and our rainy journey through the Ring of Kerry;
I will remember the Irish breakfast of egg, bacon (ham), sausage, tomato, black and white pudding;
I will remember some nervous moments as we drove on the wrong side of the road;
I will remember the numerous sheep and cattle;
I will remember the ceaseless news of the elderly protesting the proposed cancellation of the medical card of the over-seventies.
I will remember the kindness and friendliness of the Irish people;
I will remember the rain that can be soft, lashing, desperate, or plain awful.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Re A La Carte - National Book Award Finalist

My friend and co-editor of A La Carte, Marily Orosa, informed me that A La Carte is a finalist for the National Book Award in Anthology:

According to the Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board, these are the finalists for the National Book Awards for books published in 2007:

ANTHOLOGY:A La Carte, edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Marily Ysip Orosa; At Home in Unhomeliness, edited by J. Neil C. Garcia; Best Filipino Stories, edited by Gemino H. Abad and Gregorio C. Brillantes; Cordillera in June, edited by B. P. Tapang; Ang Dagling Tagalog, 1903-1936, edited by Rolando B. Tolentino and Aristotle Atienza; Mga Piling Dulang Mindanao, edited by Arthur P. Casanova; Very Short Stories for Harried Readers, edited by Vicente Garcia Groyon.

Marily and I are delighted and amused that A La Carte is still attracting literary attention. The book won the prestigious Gourmand Award 2008 as the Best Food Literature Book from the Philippines. It also won third in the International Gourmand Award in London. Here are the book's blurbs:

"A menu of stories to suit your every craving! That’s A la Carte: Food & Fiction. This book fills a hunger in Philippine literature for fantasy, hyper-reality, romance, mystery … but with a good measure of culinary flavoring mixed in."
Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, culinary heritage advocate and writer

"Here is a book guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating taste, but also to make readers hungry for more stories, characters, insights, and recipes. Fact, fiction, fantasy, and food mix in a feast for the mind, the heart, the palate, and the soul. There are many well-known writers in the anthology, but it is not so much who writes as what is written that makes this book a must-read, just as it is not so much the chef or the cook that makes a recipe to die for, but the dish itself. Enjoy the 25-course banquet."
Isagani R. Cruz, The Philippine Star

"Books on food are quite popular these days and we are glad that recent
publications have gone beyond mere recipes to evoke what Proust called a
‘remembrance of things past.’ "
Ambeth R. Ocampo
Chairman, National Commission for Culture and the Arts
Chairman, National Historical Institute

Saturday, October 25, 2008


When I was growing up in the Philippines, there were many Irish priests and nuns, and so I knew that Ireland was this Catholic country that sent many of their sons and daughters to far corners of the world to serve as missionaries. In our recent trip to Ireland, I had this in mind, and I looked for the "Catholicism" in this small country - the Emerald Isle it is aptly called because indeed the grass that grows there is vibrant green, fields and fields of startling green grass with sheep and cattle grazing on it.

There are many things going on in Ireland, and one could go there on a Catholic pilgrimage for instance, or perhaps focus on politics, or on a woo-woo New Age theme; Ireland has a long history dating back to thousands of years. Our journey did not have a specific theme, and we tried to see what we could as we drove around this country that is smaller than California but which offers a variety experiences. We were simply "skimming" and so what I write will be first impressions of a visitor who breezed through the entire island in two weeks.

As far as "Catholic Ireland" was concerned, there was much to see and consider. Think about this: Before St. Patrick prosletized in Ireland around 433 a.d., there were already Christians in Ireland. But it was St. Patrick who converted thousands and began building churches all over Ireland. The ruins of these abbeys and churches are still there. The Rock of Cashel comes to my mind because St. Patrick baptized King Aengus there; Aengus was Ireland's first Christian ruler.

We also visited Kells where the Columban monks created the Book of Kells, (bible) which is on display in the library of Trinity College in Dublin. But the most interesting monastery was on Skellig Michaels, which we unfortunately could not visit because of bad weather (it rains a lot in Ireland). In 588 some 12 ascetic monks had occupied a small rocky island west of County Kerry, Ireland. In this stark environment, the monks had built stairs along the steep cliffs and beehive-looking homes from rocks. They built water cisterns and lived off what the sea and this rocky island provided.

A few years ago, I took a History of Christianity class and I recall the teacher saying that while the rest of Europe was in the dark ages, Ireland preserved Christianity. I had this in mind while I was in Ireland.

Interestingly, while some 80% of Irish are Catholics, the religion lacks a vibrancy that's apparent in other Catholic places. It is there, but subdued, and I suspect that the protestant English domination of Ireland for centuries has a lot to do with this. Let me make myself clear, Ireland is predominantly Catholic, but I missed the electric energy of places like Rome or Latin American countries - I am referring in particular to Knock where Our Lady had appeared in 1879. There were not too many people in Knock, which surprised me. In the Philippines people are almost fanatical about appearances of Our Lady; and certainly places like Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugurje have numerous pilgrims. When I visited Lourdes a few years ago, I recall the great number of people in wheelchairs and other devotees crowding the place. Not so, in Knock.

(more in another blog entry)