Monday, March 31, 2008


INTERVIEW OF CECILIA MANGUERRA BRAINARD by Demy Din of Jeepney Books now on YouTube(

Hi, this is the edited version of the video interview of me by Jeepney Books. You can view the 15-minute version on - on their One on One section, on the rightside of the front page.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Kemerait
Sent: Sat, 29 Mar 2008 3:21 pm
Subject: Rainbow Goddess

Dear Ms. Brainard:

I have recently purchased and read your novel "When the Rainbow Goddess Wept".
I found this to be a very satisfying and thought-provoking book- one that fed my
passion for the Philippines and the history of the Philippines. I most enjoyed
the integration of traditional stories and likely your family's memories of the
war years into the story.

The only distractions I had were on what I perceive (from my studies of the
period) to be occasional historical inaccuracies. For example, I do not know of
any instance where Japanese soldiers mutilated an American nurse; in fact, for
whatever reason,American nurses captured by the Japanese in the Philippines were
not violated physically (as many Filipinas and Asian women in other countries
were). Secondly, I do not believe that American forces bombed Filipino towns or
villages in their retreat during 1942. Quite the contrary, Manila was left as
an "open city" by Americans to avoid unnecessary loss of civilian life. Upon
return to Manila in 1944, the Japanese soldiers remaining in Manila would not
vacate, and thus a blood bath ensued where approximately 100,000 civilians were
killed in the cross-fire that destroyed the city. Also- I do not know of the
American guerilla who caused such misery late in the story, but of course such
is certainly possible and such behavior has tragically, been vented upon the Filipinos by other Americans throughout our 100-year relationship.

Again, thanks for such a wonderful work to share with my Fil-Am children and
Pinay bride. I believe I will purchase your novel "Magdalena" next.

Bob Kemerait

Cecilia's Reply:
Dear Bob,
Thank you for your email.

Re your comments:
1) the American nurse who was mutilated - I can no longer find my source, but this is historically accurate;
2) the Americans bombing - yes, this happened - Manila and Cebu were bombed - I think part of the reasoning was so as not leave behind anything the enemy could use - airports, roads, buildings, resources, etc. and thus thwart the enemy.

I have posted some sites below about World War II, but there are more.

The American character is fictional.
When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, University of Michigan's Ann Arbor Press - here's a little tidbit about the cover - it shows the turn-of-the-century photo of the Cuenco family, which you may have seen in my other blog entries.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


A followup letter from my friend with the miraculous healing:

"I continue to improve and continue to give my thanks--to Mary, Joseph, and Brother Andre. And also to you!

You certainly have my permission to post my letter. Although I am not completely pain free, walking continues to be a great deal easier than it was for me--and the first improvement came on the first morning after I visited with you and used the water and the oil. I have noticed even more improvement since then. Warm, dry weather undoubtedly helps, as does the swimming I've been able to do in the past week, but I credit the water from Lourdes and Brother Andre's oil for the greatest results. A miracle is what I do believe I have to call it!

Love to you,"

Friday, March 28, 2008


It was my son, Alex, who called my attention to the fact that a Filipino was chosen as lead singer in the American rockband, Journey, the band that was formed in San Francisco in the 1970s by the Santanas.

Alex showed me some YouTube performances of Arnel Pineda. I thought maybe Arnel was Filipino American, but my son insisted he was from Quezon City. The reason I asked was that I heard no accent whatsoever in his singing.

He's been singing for some 25 years now. The legend goes that Journey discovered Arnel Pineda in YouTube and hired him as their lead singer to replace Jeff Scott Soto. The reviews of his singing are excellent. Indeed Arnel has a lot of energy and he's cute - which I'm sure helps in Show Biz.

It was refreshing to hear this news. My son was very proud that a Filipino made it "big" in the mainstream.

So, congratulations, Arnel Pineda. You have no idea how many millions of Filipinos all over the world watch you with pride and bated breath.

For More Information, click below:
YouTube - Journey Faithfully
Journey (Band) - Wikipedia

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Given the political events in Tibet, I've been reading about this place. I found some interesting facts:

- "Chinese researchers have discovered massive new gas and oil deposits totaling an estimated 4 billion to 5.4 billion tons in Tibet in southwestern China, the newspaper China Daily reported." - September 5, 2001 Global Policy Forum;

- "Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was recognized at age six by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as one of Tibet's most important religious leaders. Determined to control religion in Tibet, the Chinese authorities kidnapped this young boy and his family on May 17, 1995 just days after he was recognised as the 11th Panchen Lama.

Despite repeated appeals to gain access to him, no international agency or human rights organization has been granted contact with the young Panchen Lama or his family. To date, their well-being and whereabouts remain unconfirmed."

-"Tibet’s living Buddhas have been banned from reincarnation without permission from China’s atheist leaders. The ban is included in new rules intended to assert Beijing’s authority over Tibet’s restive and deeply Buddhist people.

“The so-called reincarnated living Buddha without government approval is illegal and invalid,” according to the order, which comes into effect on September 1.

The 14-part regulation issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs is aimed at limiting the influence of Tibet’s exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama, and at preventing the re-incarnation of the 72-year-old monk without approval from Beijing." The Times, Aug. 4, 2007

-The VOA News 8 January 2002 Sarnath -- Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has reaffirmed his intention not to be reincarnated in Tibet or any other territory under Chinese rule.
In an address in Sarnath, northern India, Tuesday, the Dalai Lama said if Tibet is not free when he dies, he will be reincarnated in some free country elsewhere.

Observers say the Dalai Lama's statement is meant to discourage Chinese authorities from choosing his successor once he dies."

Interesting article on The Thirteen Previous Dalai Lamas - click here
Article Where Is the Panchen Lama?
Article on History of Tibet
From Birth to Exile


I couldn't believe how tired I've been and I think it was from all the running around for Easter. It was worth it; just seeing the little kids hunting for eggs was great fun. But yesterday and today, all I could do were a few chores and watch rented movies: I Am Legend, Mongolian Pingpong, and The Final Inquiry.

So, let me comment on the movies.

I Am Legend - Do not waste your money renting this; it's a bad film. It's a cross between futuristic and horror - a virus hits New York and turns people and dogs into zombies. A military scientist sticks it out in New York to try and find an antidote. He is killed by zombies, but not before he turnsover an important blood sample to another survivor. This summary sounds better than the movie.

Mongolia Pingpong - I didn't see this movie in its entirety but what I saw I enjoyed. It's set in undeveloped Mongolia. Some children find a pingpong, which is a mystery to them and which fascinates them. Meantime, we get glimmers of Mongolian living: a traveling salesman trades his wares for lamb; the father of the family cools his beer in the river; the children roam the barren land on their horses and motorcyle, and so on. I missed the part where the children go to China with the pingpong ball. This is a quiet film which gives you an idea of life in this remote part of the world.

The Final Inquiry - This is an Easter film. The premise is better than the execution, but its' watchable. The Roman Caesar orders a Roman Tribune to go to Jerusalem to investigate the missing body of Christ. As the Roman does his investigation, we meet familiar bible characters: Pontius Pilate, Mary, Magdalene, Peter, Saul, Stephen, Tabitha, etc. The main problem is that the acting isn't great, and the dialogue is stilted.

All for now.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Here's a followup letter from my writer friend about her healing:~~~~~
Hi Cecilia,

The bottle of water from Lourdes, along with the prayer to Mary, arrived,
late Friday evening (uncanny timing!) and I used some of it then and again
yesterday and today. I'm really touched by your caring enough to do this for
me--the total experience has been both emotionally and (literally)
physically uplifting.

My legs are unquestionably better and to Mary, Joseph, Brother Andre (et
all) I continue to say my thanksgivings. Many thanks to you too, Cecilia.
What an Easter gift!

I went swimming yesterday and spent some of today at Forest Lawn where my
mother's ashes are interred. Lots of kids there, flowers, balloons.
Positively festive. I hope your day was happy for all of you and that a good
week lies ahead. I know you have another wonderful trip just ahead of you
and I look forward to hearing all about it when I see you in May.

Much love,

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Here are a couple of pictures of the kids after their Easter Egg Hunt.

Top picture, the children, foreground l-r: Luke, Dylan, Noemi, Jessica holding Axle; back row: Colby holding Robert, Nathan, Loren
Bottom picture: l-r: Dylan, Luke, Colby, Robert

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I was delighted to receive the following email. I've been interested in my family genealogy and have done a fairly good job going back 4-5 generations on my mother's side. But the farther back you go, the more it sounds like the bible, "So-and-so begot so-and-so." I knew that Juana Lopez from Naic, Cavite begot Remedios Lopez who married Mariano Albao Cuenco. They begot Mariano Jesus Cuenco, my maternal grandfather who married Filomena Alesna; they begot Concepcion Cuenco who married Mariano Flores Manguerra; they begot me.

Remedios Lopez fascinated me because she was the first woman publisher in the Philippines. This happened by default when her husband died, leaving her his publishing business. With the help of her sons: Jose Maria, Mariano, and Miguel, this young widow of 38 years successfully ran Imprenta Rosario. (I think by this time, her oldest son Jose Maria had become a priest, so he wouldn't have been around a lot, although he published his religious periodicals).

I heard she had a sister, Blanca. And there's documentation that suggests Juana Lopez had been a resident of then-fashionable Tondo, although I always heard she was from Naic, Cavite. Juana bought properties in Cebu - I have some documentation of that. She married a Veloso from Baybay, Leyte.

So when I got this email from Percival Cruz today, I learned that Juana Lopez had another daughter, Concepcion, and that they were indeed from Naic, Cavite.

To answer Percival's questions below: Archbishop Jose Maria Cuenco was my grand-uncle; he was the brother of my maternal grandfather. Senator Mariano Cuenco was my grandfather, my mother's father.

From: Percival Cruz

I just ran across your name and your blog as I was googling Arch. Jose Cuenco and Sen Mariano Cuenco. They were my uncles.

My grandmother was Concepcion Lopez of Naic, Cavite. Her sister, Remedios Lopez was the mother of the two illustrious Cuencos.

So, our family tree developed a branch in Cavite and another branch in Cebu. I belong to the branch that got rooted in Luzon.

Do I understand it that the archbishop was your uncle? Then we may be related somehow.

The good archbishop sponsored my brother, Feodor, in the priesthood - first in Jaro, then in U.S.T. and then in Rome. He was to be ordained in Rome.

I've been in the Los Angeles area since 1984. I now live in Burbank.

It's good to know you.
Percival Cruz

The picture above shows Remedios Lopez, Mariano Albao Cuenco with their children, Jose Maria (boy, left), Mariano Jesus (boy, right), Jaime (boy, foreground) and Dolores;
The bottom picture shows Remedios Lopez with her husband, standing left, and one of her sons, Jose Maria (left) and Mariano Jesus Cuenco, and perhaps one of the little girls is Dolores.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Last night I made homemade potato salad and remembered that my mother used to make mayonnaise. Usually this was done when my parents had a big party and Mama made potato salad. in the 1950s in the Philippines, jarred mayonnaise wasn't easily available. As I write this I find this hard to believe since we are so used to just unscrewing a jar of Best Foods or Kraft mayonnaise. It's possible that jarred mayonnaise was available but that my mother just wanted to do it homemade. In any case, I remember that egg yolks were used, and Wesson Oil. My mother always used Wesson oil. She added some vinegar to the eggs yolks and Wesson Oil and lemoncito, and the mixture had to be whisked until it solidified.

I found some recipes for homemade Mayonnaise on the net and it includes adding dry mustard. We didn't have dry mustard in the Philippines so my mother used egg yolks, Wesson Oil, vinegar and lemoncito. Her potato salad was always good.

For a long while I wasn't making homemade potato salad because of the hassle of boiling the potatoes and eggs, peeling, cutting, and mixing in relish, onions, mayonnaise, horse radish, etc. I was buying potato salad that was already made from markets. I always had leftovers.

A few months ago, I had some potatoes that had to be used and I made potato salad. The homemade potato salad was so much better than the store-bought version. My family ate the whole thing. Ever since, I've decided that this dish can be a nice addition to a buffet meal.

I don't have a written recipe for potato salad, but basically I boil potatoes (I've just been using baking potatoes). I also boil eggs. I peel the potatoes and cut them up - big chunks are fine. I do the same with the eggs. I chop up onions. I add relish; I add a bit of horse radish for zing. I add dollops of mayonnaise and mix. If I have plain yogurt, I'll use it, and minimize the mayonnaise - this to minimize the calories. If I have the liquid of sweet pickles (vinegar and sugar), I'll add that. I find that if I leave this in the refrigerator overnight, it'll dry up, so I'll give it another small dollop of mayonnaise before serving.

You can see, dear Readers, that my mind is still filled with food as I prepare for Easter.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I gave a writer friend, who has been needing a cane to walk, some water from Lourdes, France and Brother Andre's Oil (from St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal). This is her email to me. We are claiming this MIRACLE in the name of Jesus Christ!
Hi Cecilia,

It was great to see you last week. I enjoyed our visit so much! Also the
great lunch. And thanks so much for your gifts. Or should I say blessings?
(I did leave feeling quite literally blessed.)

When I got home, after a bath, I used the Lourdes water you gave me on my
knees, and then the oil. And said my thanksgivings....

It gives me a strange feeling to even write this--but the next morning when
I got up my knees were more flexible (I could stand right away, something
that usually takes me ten minutes or more to do) and the pain had lessened.
Because it was a morning filled with moisture--some showers on the way & a
lot of chilly wind--I couldn't attribute this benefit to the weather. Of
course I didn't know if the improvement would last, but I walked much
better, and without a cane, all that day and throughout most of the weekend.

And I have continued to walk with much more ease and with minimal pain. I do
thank whatever powers might be! And can only hope that they will stay with
me. The water is, of course, gone--but I still have the oil (I gave a little
of it to a neighbor who has a sore ear.)

Wow! I really appreciate your gifts, Cecilia (and Brother Andre's and St.
Joseph's.) And I always get a lift from your company. Hope you and Loren
had a relaxing weekend away.

Thanks again. We are both so busy, but I hope we can stay in touch.

Happy Easter to you and to Loren and to all your family.

Here are sites about Blessed Brother Andre and Our Lady of Lourdes
Blessed Brother Andre Bessette, C.S.C. - The Holy Cross Brothers
Brother Andre His Life and Times
Official Site St. Joseph Oratory
Our Lady of Lourdes

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Last Thursday, I heard over the radio the story about two pygmy whales (a female and her calf) who had beached in New Zealand. A sandbar had confused them, and people worked for 1 1/2 hours to save them but they kept swimming back to shore. Just when they were about to give up, a bottlenosed dolphin appeared, communicated with the whales, and led them to the open sea. The dolphin is called Moko and is known to play with swimmers.

I thought this was a heart warming story.

That is until I heard the story about the toddler who was hit by a van. The toddler was with her mom and another brother. The mom was doing the laundry. Apparently the toddler tripped, then ran, and was swiped by a van.

That story sent me into a mild depression. I felt sorry for the child, for the mother, for the man who had accidentally killed her.

Feeling sober, I read (or tried to read) The New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. I enjoyed his Seven Storey Mountain, but I've been struggling with this one. I found a Thomas Merton site where people talked about what made them read Thomas Merton, and most entries lauded Merton, except for one that went on about Merton abandoning a woman and his out-of-wedlock child, and how he later had a liason with a young nurse. To those who don't know Merton was a Trappist monk and one of the great Christian thinkers.

I'd heard about the woman and child; this is mentioned in the Introduction of the Seven Storey Mountain. The business of the nurse is mentioned briefly in another Merton-related book. When I first learned about this second liason, I did feel disappointed but I do realize he was just a flawed man after all, one of God's broken vessels. Well ... like the rest of us.

Still in a somber mood, I rented Black Orpheus, the 1959 Brazilian film based on the Orpheus-Eurydice myth. I also have Into Great Silence, Philip Groning's documentary about the Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse in the French Alps. The latter is the perfect Holy Week movie - serene, quiet, spiritual, contemplative.

I found these movies, as I found The Last Wave, at Vidiot on Pico Blvd, Santa Monica. I forgot to report on The Last Wave - I enjoyed it more than the first time I had seen it. There were certain aspects of the film which I had missed the first time. For instance, the matter of the mask. I understood that the implication was that people who looked like the Richard Chamberlain character had been in Australia long ago, but that their kind had vanished. The prediction of the wall painting was that the second wave would happen, wiping out the second wave of white people.

And meantime, I've colored 60 eggs - yellow and red only, because those are the only food dyes I have.
P.S. I found several articles about dolphins including Petitions to Stop Their Slaughter - read below:

Dolphin Saves Man from Shark Attack

Dolphins Save Swimmer from Shark

Dolphin Saves Boy's Life

Dolphin Saves Stranded Whales

YouTube - The Superhero Dophin Who Helps Save Lives

Stop the Dolphin and Whale Killings in Taiji

End Dolphin Slaughter in Japan


I have rewritten the Call to clarify that the editors realize people's spiritual journeys are unique, and such journeys may be rocky or smooth. The editors respect individuals' experiences. The guidelines in the Call are simply to give Contributors ideas. The editors will also read shorter pieces.

This is a call for submissions of creative nonfiction for an anthology tentatively titled, FINDING GOD. The book will be co-edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Marily Ysip Orosa and published in the Philippines by Anvil. Contributors will receive copies of the book as compensation for the use of their work.

The manuscript should be approximately 7-10 pages long, typed, double-spaced (approximately 1,750 - 2,500 words) and should include your contact information on the first page. We will look at shorter pieces. This can be emailed to or to

You may also send it by air mail to:
Cecilia Brainard
c/o PALH
PO Box 5099
Santa Monica, CA 90409

Our vision is to collect essays (creative nonfiction) that describe one’s spiritual journey towards God. The editors realize that people’s spiritual journeys are unique and they are open to individuals’ experiences. The following guidelines are simply to give contributors ideas.

The essays could focus on a specific incident that made the writer “find God” or that drew the writer closest to God. We have a preference toward a writing style that uses elements as scene and dialogue. The editors are looking for articles that are lively, specific and visual – articles that may address questions such as:
o Have you ever felt abandoned by God or felt your life in shambles, then realized that God was there all along?
o Did you ever have a close encounter with God? How? What circumstances surrounded such an encounter? Describe how such an encounter happened, in specific terms – where, when, how old were you, how did you feel before the encounter, and how did you feel after the encounter? How has your life changed from such an encounter?
o What specific situation was it that made you realize there is a God and that He is close to you?
o Take us on that journey: make us see you and those around you; make us feel what you had felt when you felt abandoned; make us feel what you felt when you discovered God; and make us see how your life has changed after finding God.

Deadline for submission is July 15, 2008. Early submissions are welcome. Please include your bio (approx. 150 words) in people-friendly narrative form, and all contact information (email address, mailing address, telephone number).
ABOUT THE EDITORS: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the author/editor of 14 books; Marily Ysip Orosa is the publisher of historical coffee table books. Both Cecilia and Marily have won numerous awards for their literary work. They have collaborated on two other anthologies: Behind the Walls: Life of Convent Girls, and the award-winning A La Carte: Food & Fiction, both published by Anvil.

Cecilia has a blog at
Marily has a blog at

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


After getting back from a quick visit to Cambria, I've had to run around to prepare for Easter. Foremost in my mind is food, dear Readers, because some 45 people will be over on Easter. I'm fixing ham and beef bourgignon; the others will be bringing appetizers, salad, dessert. But regardless, I always make sure I have cheese and crackers and relish dishes, and a cake.

Lest you think, dear Readers, that that is all I know how to fix, let me inform you that I can fix exotic dishes like lengua and paella and so on, but I find ham and beef bourgignon are popular with this Easter crowd. Further, I can cook the beef bourgignon beforehand. We will also have an egg hunt for the children, dear Readers, which means, I have to boil and color some 80 eggs.

And then there's the house, dear Readers, which needs to be spruced up some.

So, for the rest of this Holy Week, you know what I'll be doing.

We got a new toy - an Irobot Roomba. It's a robot vacuum cleaner, recommended to us by the Oleys. Costco sells the model 550, and I like to buy things from Costco because of their good return policy. We opened the box; everything looked pretty simple, and the Roomba already went to work in our room. I cannot believe the amount of lint and dirt the Roomba picked up! It's a wonderful gadget.

So, the Roomba, like me, will be working this week to prepare for Easter!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


We're in Cambria, Central Coast California, near Hearst Castle. Cambria has a population of around 5,000. It's located on the coast and its slogan is appropriately: Cambra, Where the Pines Meet the Sea. It reminds me a little of Carmel, although I suspect Cambria is smaller than Carmel. Nice coastline with otters, seals, nice rolling hills with pines and there are deer, wild turkeys, other wild life roaming in the more rustic parts.

Cambria is a tourist place which boasts of nice shops and restaurants. My favorite restaurants are: Main Street Grill, where I usually order ribs, cheeseburgers, salmon sandwich, and veggie avocado sandwich. Sow's Ear Restaurant has nice Chicken Fried Steak; Brambles is for prime rib and other beef dishes; Linn's Binn has excellent olalieberry pie and their chicken pot pies are also good. Moonstone Beach has great Sunday Champagne brunch. Lauren likes their Eggs Benedict; I love Hangtown Fry with fried oysters. Another breakfast place is Creekside Garden.

Cambria is a great place for resting, taking walks, and it's also a nice base for fieldtrips to other parts of the Central Coast such as Montana de Oro near Los Osos, and San Luis Obispo which is 40 minutes away. Morro Bay is around 30 minutes away.

In the summer, Cambria is a favorite for surfers, swimmers and sun bathers. A favorite pasttime is to walk along Moonstone beach searching for moonstones, the opalescent milky white gemstones which are all over the place.

Fridays, Cambria has a farmer's market where you can buy fruit, vegetables, flowers, cheese, bread, dried fruit, etc.

No matter what time of year, I find it's always chilly at night, so bring a jacket.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Jeepney books' interview of me is now up in their site, in the One-on-One section, on the right-hand site of the main page -click here . There are also interviews of Ed Lim, Eleanor Castillo, and Carina Montoya. This site is informative and fun at the same time! I've asked permission from Jeepney books to use the video of me, and if I can figure it out will pop it into You Tube. I will mention in my blog if I am successful.

My second news tonight is this: Marily Orosa and I have started our third book project together. We're going to edit an anthology of non-fiction tentatively titled, "Finding God." Yes, it will be about one's spiritual journey - and no snickering please. We do not plan to include goodie-goodie articles, but down-to-earth life experiences of when people felt closest to God. We are very excited and have all sorts of ideas for this book. The Call for Submission follows:

This is a call for submissions of creative nonfiction for an anthology tentatively titled, FINDING GOD. The book will be co-edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Marily Ysip Orosa and published in the Philippines by Anvil. Contributors will receive copies of the book as compensation for the use of their work.

The manuscript should be approximately 10 pages long, typed, double-spaced (approximately 2,500 words) and should include your contact information on the first page. This can be emailed to or to

You may also send it by air mail to:
Cecilia Brainard
c/o PALH
PO Box 5099
Santa Monica, CA 90409

Our vision is to collect essays (creative nonfiction) that describe one’s spiritual journey towards God. We envision the essays to focus on a specific incident that made the writer “find God” or that drew the writer closest to God. We have a preference toward a writing style that uses elements as scene and dialogue. The editors are looking for articles that are lively, specific and visual – articles that address questions such as:
o Have you ever felt abandoned by God or felt your life in shambles, then realized that God was there all along?
o Did you ever have a close encounter with God? How? What circumstances surrounded such an encounter? Describe how such an encounter happened, in specific terms – where, when, how old were you, how did you feel before the encounter, and how did you feel after the encounter? How has your life changed from such an encounter?
o What specific situation was it that made you realize there is a God and that He is close to you?
o Take us on that journey: make us see you and those around you; make us feel what you had felt when you felt abandoned; make us feel what you felt when you discovered God; and make us see how your life has changed after finding God.

Deadline for submission is July 15, 2008. Early submissions are welcome. Please include your bio (approx. 150 words) in people-friendly narrative form, and all contact information.

ABOUT THE EDITORS: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the author/editor of 14 books; Marily Ysip Orosa is the publisher of historical coffee table books. Both Cecilia and Marily have won numerous awards for their literary work. They have collaborated on two other anthologies: Behind the Walls: Life of Convent Girls, and the award-winning A La Carte: Food & Fiction, both published by Anvil. Cecilia has a blog at Marily has a blog at

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


In the late 1970s I saw Peter Wier's The Last Wave, set in Australia. The only thing I remember is the scene of a man standing on the beach and a huge tsunami-like wave curls upward behind him. I also recall there were aborigines in this film.

Well since we have just visited Australia, I had a hankering to rent this film. It wasn't available at Blockbuster, but I did find it in Vidiot on Pico, Santa Monica. I have it in VHS and can't wait to see it.

I love films - good films, I mean. I generally do not like plot-driven films; I find them predictable, formulaic. Quite a lot of American films are plot-driven and I'll watch them and enjoy watching them because the conflict is strong and it's like eating cotton candy, just easy and pleasurable. But the next day I can barely remember the film. The bad guys, good guys, and plot lines merge and I have to work hard to differentiate one film from another.

I prefer films that are character-driven. I can still delight in remembering Raise the Red Lantern for instance, or the early Ingmar Bergman films - Wild Strawberries especially. The Story of the Weeping Camel was also quite good. I've discovered that there are some good Chinese and Indian films. Sometimes, even if the movie isn't well done, if the setting is different and interesting to look at, I'll be entertained.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see The Last Wave again, especially since I've seen some of Australia. I've found that if I've been to a place, like China or India, I have a better appreciation of their movies.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Hi Ms. Brainard and PALH,
My name is Kris Anne Alcantara, a final-year Media and Communications (Journalism) student at Sydney University and a Manila-born Filipina raised in Australia and America. I have recently completed a six-week internship working at The Philippine Daily Inquirer, the leading broadsheet paper in the Philippines, after winning a journalism scholarship sponsored by Myer and the Australia-Korea Foundation, during which I had numerous articles published, including a front-page article with a picture of my mother and I, on the EDSA 1 Revolution ( ).

The reason I am writing is because I recently received a copy of 'Growing Up Filipino' while on my trip to the Philippines. After finishing the entire book in one (long) sitting, I want to salute you, PALH, Susan Montepio and the PAWWA, for compiling such wonderful Filipino youth literature and having it published. This makes me so proud to be a young Filipina, and a writer. You mentioned in the preface the scarcity of Filipino-American (and Australian, I might add) literature and Filipino young-adult books, and how you grew up reading Nancy Drew and novels with Anglo-Saxon protagonists. While I also enjoyed these books, I craved for Filipina and Filipino heroes and heroines, role models that I could relate to, that looked like me and shared my cultural values and background. By having these young, talented authors published, you provide a great springboard for more writers (like me), as well as inspire young Filipinos to get their work out there.

I long to see more Filipino writers on bookshelves all over the world; we need more journalists, newscasters, global media figures and novelists. I firmly believe Filipinos are some of the most talented and driven people in the world; so many of us possess not only passion but such strong work ethic - we simply need more avenues to express ourselves, more role models to emulate. So thank you for 'Growing Up Filipino.'

I also write to offer my services and writing skills if needed. I have had extensive experience writing fiction and non-fiction (journalistic) pieces, as well as opinion. I recently completed a guest editorial for The Philippine Times newspaper (Australia) in Dec 2007, and am in the process of completing a feature comparing Filipino and Australian youth culture for the paper. I am also currently a feature writer for Star Central magazine (leading lifestyle and entertainment magazine for Australian-Filipinos). Furthermore, my opinion article published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Feb 9 2008, 'Final Piece of a Puzzle,' has now been circulated via email and blog sites to Filipinos all over the globe

I have many short stories lying around, based on experiences I have had as a young Filoz/Am growing up and my experience of coming "back home" to the Philippines in my adulthood. If you are planning to publish another anthology, I would love to contribute some of my work.

Again, I thank you for 'Growing Up Filipino' and 'Fiction by Filipinos in America,' they provide young writers like me with inspiration and hope, and most importantly - people to look up to.

Krisanne Alcantara | Communications Specialist
The University of Sydney

Monday, March 10, 2008


A couple of members of my husband's family have had strokes, and so I've been thinking a lot about health matters. The first thing I learned is that having low cholesterol does not guarantee one will not have a stroke. The media blitz says that those with high cholesterol are most likely to have cardiovascular or heart disease; and those with low cholesterol will not. This is what ads, news articles, doctors, everybody say.

Now I've realized that cholesterol is only one factor. There are other factors including: high blood pressure (hypertension), stress, diet, diabetes, weight, smoking, lack of exercise, heredity, gender, age, hormones, birth control pills, and alcohol. Addressing these various factors is the best way to minimize one's risk to suffering cardiovascular or heart disease.

I'd read about these things and took them for granted even though my own brother suffered from a fatal heart attack at the age of 53. There are direct correlations among the above factors. My sister-in-law was taking too much estrogen and she had a stroke, and it was specifically the estrogen that was pretty much blamed for this. Fortunately she has recovered nicely and now she is vigilant in taking care of herself. No more hormone shots; she's seeing an acupuncturist. She takes lipitor to lower her cholesterol. She takes a lot of medicines and supplements including fish oil and flax seed oil.

My mother used to give me God-awful cod liver oil. It was truly ghastly - a tablespoon every night, along with my Vidaylin vitamins. Now and then I've bought cod liver oil and fish oil pills (a little easier to take), but I always slacked off because of that fishy aftertaste. (Even my cat hates it; I've tried mixing the oil in her food!). I suppose there was also a reluctance on my part to increase the medicines and supplements I'm taking.

(Aside: I've noticed that older people start to get touchy about medicines. They start boasting that they aren't taking medicines. I know a woman who has high cholesterol and has osteoporosis and osteoarthritis and she refuses to take medicine. Another woman has osteoporosis and she does not take medicine either. They say they'll handle these problems naturally - walking and diet. Both of them have curved spines and one has coccyndinia -tail bone pain- and can barely move her hands and wrists.)

Anyway, I decided to give Fish oil another try. I bought the premium kind and I also picked up sprouted Flax seed. Both Fish oil and Flax Seed have Omega-3 oils. I've also decided to watch our salt intake, because salt and high blood pressure are directly related; high blood pressure and strokes are also directly connected.

The benefits of Fish oil are reportedly: cardiovascular health, protection from strokes and heart attack, better brain function, less depression, prevents breast, colon and prostate cancers.

The benefits of Flax seed oil are: cardiovascular health, reduce cancer risk including breast, colon, prostrate, and skin cancers, relieves constipation, hemorroids and diverticular disease, lessens inflammation associated with lupus and gout, and many more.

My sister-in-law and I were talking about our willingness to take medicines offered by modern science. True, medicines have benefits and dangers, but the fact is that now people are living longer and are healthier for more years than say 50 years ago. Here's another thing - I came from a developing country and I had beri-beri when I was an infant, which almost killed me. Fortunately medical science had medicine to heal my beri-beri. Until my body or instinct tells me otherwise, I will be open to what science now offers.

Here are some links to sites about:
Fish oil
Flax seed oil
Heart attack

Sunday, March 9, 2008


There's some flurry of publicity in the Philippines, in response to A La Carte's winning the Gourmand Award in the Philippines, and vying for the Best in the World Gourmand Award. My co-editor of the anthology, A La Carte Food & Fiction (Anvil, 2007)asked me to answer some interview questions for Mellon. I sent in my draft, and Marily will add and edit our responses to this magazine (I'm assuming Mellon is a Magazine). Here are my unedited answers to the questions:

1. What inspired you and your co-editor to collect a compilation of short stories about food?
see our book, p. vi Introduction - "It was this deep connection that Filipinos have for food that prompted Marily Orosa and me to edit this collection of Philippine and recipes. Marily and I share a love for fiction primarily because we believe that stories reflect the soul or culture of a people. So does food, and we thought that combining stories and recipes in one book would reveal Filipino culture in a unique manner, and would invite lovers of both stories and food to take a look at our delectable collection."

2. How did you choose which stories to include in the anthology? How about the recipes?
We put out a search for short stories related to food. We let other writers know about our project; we used the internet primarily to put the word out.
When the stories came in, we chose what we thought were the strongest works of fiction that were food-related. In most cases, the authors provided recipes that connected with their stories. In some cases, we helped the authors find recipes that would work with their piece.

3.Aside from the obvious theme of food, is there any other running theme that connects all the stories in the book?
Relationships - is a strong theme in the stories.

4. Were there any problems you encountered during the process of creating the book? How did you overcome these obstacles?
It was work finding stories that were good and with the right food-theme. We had to make a lot of effort to track down writers all over the world.

5. Your book was recently shortlisted for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2007. How do you feel about that? What do you think makes A La Carte different from other fiction books or books about food?
We are delighted and amused that the book won the Philippine Gourmand Cookbook Award, and is shortlisted for the Best in the World award. The stories included in this anthology are strong; they are character-driven stories, and as such reveal much about Filipinos, their relationships with families and others, and also about Filipino culture. We are amused primarily because we (Marily and Cecilia) did this book project because of our friendship from college days. Finding ourselves in the same literary world, we had talked for years about doing a book project together. We have edited two books, Behind the Walls (full title), and A La Carte Food & Fiction, to fulfill this promise.

6. What important insights did you learn during the whole course of making the book which you wish to impart on your readers?

Insights: Creativity and Fun go together - we had fun doing this book; it was meant to be a fun project, and the book also turned out to be a fine literary book;
Our stories (that is stories about Filipinos) and our books can be just as interesting and captivating as any other in the world, as evidenced by the attention the Gourmand people have given it. The Gourmand Awards are coveted by huge mainstream publishers worldwide and two books by Anvil are in the top three, vying for the international awards.

Note: Marily Orosa is the publisher of Studio 5, which has published numerous award-winning coffee table books about Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and others.
Picture above shows Marily, me, and Lauren;
Next picture shows Marily and me at book launching of Behind the Walls. I'm the one in the extreme left, and Marily is wearing red; she's behind Linda Panlilio. Miss International, Gemma Cruz Aramet, whose piece is part of the anthology Behind the Walls, is on the far right;

Friday, March 7, 2008


Many years ago it entered my husband's head to order a car kit from Florida, a copy of James Dean's Porsche Spyder. He recruited his mechanic/basketball buddy, Mario, to work on it. It was bright red and looked like a real Porsche sportscar, but the engine was a Volkswagen. Mario worked on it only when he had time and it took sometime before the thing actually ran. When it was functioning, my husband would take it out for an occasional spin, but then he started complaining that he was too tall for the car. More and more it sat in the garage, covered with canvas for protection.

Now, around this time, Santa Monica park was being cleaned up, and apparently the rats there scattered throughout the neighborhood. We had a rat epidemic. I started to hear scurrying sounds in my office ceiling. I also heard little noises in the second story crawl space. My sons heard the sounds, and so did our cat who jumped nervously when she heard soft squeaking noises. My husband kept insisting he heard nothing, and nothing was wrong. Period. End of story. The rest of us finally kept quiet, even though we KNEW there were live things moving around.

One day, after not checking his Porsche for months, he decided to take his car for a drive. I was with him in the garage when he flipped open the canvas cover and went, "What's that smell? And what're those black pellets in the back? Rats? Rats? Rats! We have rats!"

That same day, he went to Home Depot and bought an arsenal of rat poison and rat traps which he scattered throughout the house and garage. He spent a fortune getting his Porsche Replica (which by this time I called the "Whore") thoroughly cleaned off the rat turds and pee smell.

There is no need here to elaborate on the gory sights of rats caught in traps and the awful smell that started to seep out of the upstairs crawl space. We got rid of the rats.

What remained was my husband's realization that the car was sitting unused in the garage. He tried to sell it, but the best offer he got was $5,000, less than half what he'd pumped into the car. Before he did any thing foolish, I told him I could sell it. My book business had an Ebay Store, and I figured if I could sell books, I could sell a car.

I posted it right around Christmas. I took nice pictures of the car, shining bright red, just gorgeous. My ad mentioned it was a replica of James Dean's famous car, Porsche 550 Spyder; and after describing it I talked about how the original car had been the one which crashed on State Route 66, killing him.

The Ebay listing was for 10 days - enough time for people to notice the car. For the first few days, nothing happened. On the third day, I got an email from a irate man who basically said, "You fool, he didn't die in a Porsche 550 Spyder, it was a Porsche 356 Speedster."

Embarrassed, I did an addendum, saying something like, "Someone has just informed me that Jimmy Dean died in a Porsche 356 Speedster, not in a Porsche 550 Spyder. I apologize for this mistake."

The next day, another guy emailed and said, basically: "You fool, you were correct in the first place. He did die in the Porsche 550 Spyder."

I corrected myself once again.

On and on this went, with people emailing me comments about James Dean; it was quite fun getting up in the morning and opening my email and reading some new tidbit about James Dean. I swear quite a lot of James Dean fans were watching that particular Ebay auction.

Needless to say, a car collector bought the car. It was the quickest transaction ever. The guy wired his payment and the very same day had the car picked up by a huge truck/van. The new owner was absolutely delighted with the car because he wasn't tall and would fit it nicely.

You see - one man's trash IS another man's treasure!
Picture shows Lauren, not with the Porsche Replica, but with Mercedes Benz

Read also
The Schools I attended, Part 1, St.Theresa's College
The Schools I attended, Part 2, UP & Maryknoll
The Schools I attended, Part 3, UCLA

Saying Goodbye to Papa
Where the Daydreaming Came From 
Death of a Carnival Queen

Cooking with Cecilia - Chicken Soup for my Bad Cold
Cooking Lengua Estofada for the Maryknollers
Food Essay - Fried Chicken Caribbean-Style
How I Learned to Make Leche Flan (Or How I Met My Husband)

tags: James Dean, Porsche, cars, actor, Spyder, sportscar, car crash

All for now,

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I just remembered that I arrived in this country on March 16 - and I can't believe this was four decades ago. I've been in the United States twice as long as when I lived in the Philippines. Such a long time!

I came to this country with two suitcases, the sum total of what I thought would be essential in my life as a student at UCLA. What did I bring? I had some suits and nice dresses that my mother had sewn for me. Did I wear those to my classes at UCLA? How out-of-place I must have looked! And shoes - I know I must have brought a number of high heels with me. And flannel nightgowns - I'm sure my mother had some made for me as well - the long-sleeved, long ones, for winter.

And what did I think? I recall the sense of adventure, that devil-may-care attitude as I went about experiencing life in America. I remember being homesick only when I was physically sick, and hankered for chicken-rice soup (pospas). I tried to cook this once, and it was a disaster, chicken undercooked, the whole thing a mess.

I recall the first brushes with racism, and always from older white women. Never the men, because the older men always had good things to say about the Philippines and Filipinos as they recalled World War II days; and the young men were always flirting.

I remember my first Easter in this country, which was spent at UCLA's International House. There was an afternoon meal served to the students by dutiful volunteers, all of whom felt sorry for us because we had no families in America. We students didn't care at all since we didn't know a thing about American holidays.

I remember being overwhelmed by UCLA since I was used to the small Catholic colleges. I couldn't get over the huge classes and the anonymity and the impersonal treatment of the professors.

I recall the kindness of so many people.

In balance this country has been very, very generous to me!

picture shows what I looked like when I first arrived America - ha! could be my daugher!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

When the Rainbow Goddess Wept - published in Turkey

Apparently the Turkish version of When the Rainbow Goddess Wept is valid. My US publisher failed to inform me that the Turkish rights were sold to this publisher in Istanbul. Imagine how I felt, dear Readers, when a person from the University of Michigan Press told me this! I don't know what year it was published in Turkey, and if it is still in print at all. I don't even a copy! I am still waiting for further explanation from the University of Michigan Press.

Let me clarify that my contract with the University of Michigan Press allowed them to sell the rights - and we split the advances and royalties according to the contract. So they did nothing wrong in selling Turkish rights, but well, it would have nice if they let me know, however. It's not every day one's work is translated and published in Turkish.

I told the person I could have mentioned that in my resume! I was in Turkey once, and am planning to go to Turkey again - I could have, or could contact the publisher to arrange for a book signing.

Well, let us wait and see, dear Readers.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


I don't know what's going on, but today I stumbled upon a site mentioning a Turkish edition of my first novel, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept. This is a mystery to me because I never gave any publisher permission to translate this novel into Turkish and to publish it in Istanbul. I'm checking with University of Michigan Press, my publisher of this novel, to see if they know what's going on.

This concerns me, of course. A couple of years ago, I discovered a hardbound edition of Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults, put out by Sagebrush Press, without my permission. Sagebrush had done the same for other best-selling books by small presses, and complaints were made. I wrote to inform them that Sagebrush did not have the rights to do a hardbound edition. I note that now, lists a "School and Library Edition" by Tandem Library. Again, Tandem does not have my permission to reprint Growing Up Filipino.

This is all quite disconcerting and I will have to followup to protect my rights to these books.

See the sites below: Gökkuşaǧı tanrıçası aǧladıǧında ; [İngilizce'den çeviren]: Füsun Talay.
by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard; Füsun Talay
Type: Book
Language: Turkish
Publisher: İstanbul : Bilge kültür sanat, 2001.
ISBN: 975850908X 9789758509089
OCLC: 66532569

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Grandpa, Grandma, Where Did You Go?

Grandpa and Grandma went far away, to the opposite side of the Earth, to a country called Australia.

There we saw many animals.

We saw sheep get shorn.

We saw sheepdogs that herded sheep.

We saw Tasmanian devils whose ears turned red when they got angry.

We saw a skink that looked like a little snake.

We saw Koalas with soft gray fur.
We saw kangaroos.

We saw patty melons in the wild; they look like kangaroos.

It was a good thing we did not see sharks!