Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Excerpts from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

I bought a hardcover edition of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I had a paperback, which I now can't find. The book consists of letters from Screwtape, an older devil who is mentoring his devil nephew Wormwood. It's funny and insightful at the same time. It cleverly reveals how evil seduces people. Here are some excerpts from Screwtape's letters:

- Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily "true" or "false", but as "academic" or "practical", "outworn" or "contemporary", conventional" or ruthless". Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the church.

- Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defense against Christianity. They will definitely encourage him to think about realities he can't touch and see.

- The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether.

- Of course a war is entertaining. The immediate fear and suffering of the humans i a legitimate and pleasing refreshment for our myriads of toiling workers.

- One of our great allies at present is the Church itself.

Etc. etc. - the book is great! Blurb from the back cover, "Screwtape is an experienced devil. His nephew Wormwood is at the beginning of his demonic career and has been assigned to secure the damnation of a young man. Their letters are one of C.S. Lewis's most brilliant imaginative creations."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lucha Libre - Fray Tormenta

The kids watched a movie about a wrestling Mexican priest, and I recalled reading about such a real person who had done that to be able to feed the children in his orphanage. I googled him, and here's something about him:

"Strange and wild it certainly is, but this totally implausible story is, in fact, based on the life of one of Mexico's most beloved grapplers - the legendary Fray Tormenta (Friar Storm). A professional luchador, Tormenta fought for 23 years, until 2005, and survived 4,000 bouts while remaining incognito inside his golden cape, yellow leotard and red-and-yellow mask. But in real life, Fray Tormenta is a real priest who, like the fictional Nacho Libre, donned the leotard in order to feed the children he had found abandoned on the streets of Mexico City. "No one would have taken me seriously as a wrestler had they known I was a priest," explained the wrestler, whose real name is Father Sergio Gutierrez Benitez. "The fans, the impresarios, thought my nom de guerre was a joke, like all the other characters we impersonate in the ring."

If he stopped fighting in 2005, I wonder what he's doing now.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

John Silva's National Museum Tour

From Manila, John Silva sent an email about the tours he gives at the National Museum. Schedule follows:
A National Museum Tour by John Silva
Tour Dates:
July 5, 12, 19, 23, 26, 29, 30
August 2, 10, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27
Tour starts 10- 1
500 pesos - child; 700 pesos - adult
Museum of the People Finance Road, Rizal Park, Manila
Reservations Required- Call/text 0926-729-9029 or 527-5082; or email jsilva79@mac.com
A three-hour lecture tour through 21 galleries in 2 colonial-era buildings, full of the museum's artifacts and works of art.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dinner in Zulueta, Historic Old Cebu, Philippines

There is a small group of die-hard lovers of Old Cebu whom I socialize with when I am Cebu. We will sometimes have dinner in my Zulueta place. It is really quite a fun group that usually ends up talking about Cebuano history, culture. What I love most of all is their passion about wanting to revitalize historic Old Cebu. July 13, we had such a potluck dinner, Cebuano food, was the theme.
Our guests that evening were Dr. and Mrs. Michael Cullinane, assistant director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who is currently in Cebu on a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship. Honorable Arsenio Pacana also graced the group with his presence.
The group photo shows seated l-r: Melva Rodriguez Java, Louella Alix, Louie Nacorda, Margarite Cullinane, standing l-r: Cecilia, Terry Manguerra, Gavin Bagares, Toti Villalon, Councilor Pacana,Joy Gerra, and Michael Cullinane. (Val and Booging Sandiego were supposed to be there but got hung up with an event in their heritage Yap-Sandiego house).
The photo of three shows l-r: The Cullinanes and Toti Villalon.

The food picture shows Louie Nacorda's delicious Balbacua Cebuana

Here's Louie's recipe for the Balbacua Cebuana and note proposing a Spanish themed food the next time we do a Zulueta dinner:
From Louie Nacorda:
The pleasure is mine in sharing my mother's recipe of Balbacua
Cebuana. Here's the recipe:

2kgs ox tail, cut in serving size
1 kg beef kinche, cut in serving size (I don't know what this is called in
English but its on the leg part, used also for pochero)
1/4 kg raw peanuts, shelled and peeled
1 can black salted beans
2 red onion bulbs, peeled and quartered
1 pc fresh duwaw, about 3"long, half inch in diameter (turmeric? Im not
sure of its English name)
2 tablespoon annato oil

Boil ox tail in salt and water for 15mins, then drain;
Boil ox tail again in water and duwaw for about 2-3 hours, or until
Add beef kinche and raw peanuts, continue boiling over slow fire for
another 2-3 hours;
When tail and kinche are almost tender, add the quartered onions, salted
black beans (rinsed once in running water, and quick) and annato oil;
Cook for another 30mins-1 hr.;
Serve with hot steamed rice. Perfect combination is dry pork adobo, or
Ilocano bagnet (boiled in Rufina patis) or bocaue lechon kawali.

Got to check my flicker url for your easy access but I guess when you go
internet explorer and type "Louie Nacorda", it will come out along with the
other cyberspace entries about me.

I did enjoy very much our get-together last night and yes, please, let's do
it again when you get back and have Spanish-themed food. I can hardly wait
to taste Chona's Galantina and Jamonada, and Louella's Pastel de Lengua. No
Paella please as it is a complete dish by itself and must be eaten alone. I
can do Beef Pochero and a mean Leche Flan (that will hold a spoon standing
when you stab into it. More like tocino del cielo actually, but I still
call it Leche Flan because of the heavy syrup and caramelized topping)

Terry, I will try your chicken TIMKEE one of these days, but I will add
duwaw, black mushroom and glass noodles to your Shiao Shing Chinese Wine
and water, and perhaps, a spoon or two of White Horse Chinese Soya Sauce,
because I remember my mom's recipe of it had some black mushroom and
sotanghon on it, and it was rather brownish. Thanks! I just hope I could
buy dressed culled chicken, as I find the butchering and the dressing part
rather tedious and messy.

See you guys again in the near future.

Read also:
Cooking with Cecilia Brainard - Quiche
Cooking with Cecilia Brainard - Linguine with Clams
Cooking Lengua Estofada
Food Essay - Fried Chicken Caribbean-style
How I Learned to Make Leche Flan (or How I Met my Husband)
Cooking with Cecilia - Leche Flan (Vietnamese Style)
Recipe of Balbacua Cebuana from Louie Nacorda 
Easy Filipino Recipes from Maryknollers 
Cooking with Cecilia - Beef Bourguignon
Cooking with Cecilia - Chicken Soup for my Bad Cold 
Cathedral Museum- Where Louella Alix and Terry Manguerra work
Casa Gorordo Museum where Joy Gerra works
Yap Sandiego Heritage House owned by Val and Booging Sandiego
Dr. Michael Cullinane - Fullbright Scholar, more information
Dr. Augusto Villalon, more information
Honorable Councilor Arsenio Pacana

Top Photo l-r

Antonio Pigafetta Statue in Cebu, Philippines

Ciao Cecilia,

I really enjoyed your very informative piece on Ferdinand Magellan, and very much appreciate the photos you took for me of the statue of Antonio Pigafetta in Cebu. Italians everywhere should honored that such a tribute is in the Philippines. However there is a lot of Italian culture that goes unrecognized in that part of the world. Much of it within the Catholic church, and the other is the many Italian surnames, including my own, throughout the Philippines.

If you come to Boston, let me know and I'll treat you to a cappuccino in the North End of Boston.

We seem to be on the same mission, which is to preserve our cultures, and maintain our links to our original countries. America is a great place, but the culture that it offers is for the most part contrived and amalgamated at best - to be engaged with caution. As I mentioned, my daughter grew up on the island of Guam, is part Chamorro but now lives in Italy. She feels quite attached to both cultures.

The real richness of America is the original authenticity of the individual cultures of its immigrants. One can observe such a contrast between the totally contrived Olive Garden at the mall or a small Italian family restaurant in Boston's little Italy.

I greatly admire the culture of the Philippines, and the intellect, determination, dignity, and genuine good nature of its people. I love the food, and have always felt comfortable and welcome in Philippino circles. Also a Spanish dominion, which endured wars and occupations... and liberations; I see many parallels between the Philippines and Southern Italy. And of course there is the Catholic Church.

You're works are quite impressive and it would be interesting to hear your impressions on the importance of maintaining your cultural links. I have been thinking of doing a multicultural piece with just that focus, from different ethnic writers.

Lets keep in touch.

Grazie di nuovo e Maraming salamat po,

Philip Celeste
The Italian-American Magazine
Italo Publishing
48 N. Bennet Street
Boston, MA 02113

Photo shows statue of Antonio Pigafetta near Fort San Pedro, Cebu City

Friday, July 11, 2008

Manila Friends Activities

I don't know if Manila is a place where something is always happening, but when I go there, it seems that way. It is a sprawling busy metropolis, that's for sure, and it seems as if at every time of day, Manila buzzes.

I have many friends in Manila and when I'm there, I see them. During this recent visit, I saw: Guia Lim, Araceli Lorayes, Mila Santillan, Cynthia Posa, and Lourdes Gimenez, Theresian classmates; we had dinner at the Dusit and spent close to five hours getting caught up. Mila, Cynthia and Lourdes had just visited Europe in April, and they recounted their trip to Spain, Central Europe, France and Italy. Guia, Araceli and some other classmates had visited Macau not too long ago, to see if Macau does compare with Las Vegas, since it is now a gambling center in Asia.

On another occasion, Mila, Cynthia and Lourdes Gimenez brought me to Santa Ana church to visit the small chapel of Our Lady of the Abandoned, patroness of this old church. Upstairs, behind the statue of the Our Lady is a small little known chapel where one can see the back of the Virgin (there are mirrors so you can see her face). The chapel is old, with blue and white tiled floor, capiz-shell windows, other 17th century statues, and silver candle holders, painted mural of bible scenes on the ceiling. It is quite a lovely restful place, with piped in religious music.

After that Santa Ana pilgrimage, we had dinner at Nicotina on Roxas Boulevard. The decor of this place is interesting - high ceilings, airy feeling, something native, something Asian in feel, and there's live entertainment as well. I guess this is a supper club, reminiscent of the old-style supper clubs along Roxas Boulevard, but this place isn't dark and it's more of a restaurant than a dancing place.

I also saw some college Maryknoll classmates: Marily Orosa, Meldee Perez, and Ana Marie Sison de Jesus - all of them looking great. We met at the trendy Museum Cafe in Makati, where we talked for a good four hours, capped by Mass at the nearby Greenhills circular Chapel.

Marily Orosa also hosted a lunch for literary folks: Karina Bolasco of Anvil, Felice Sta, Maria, me, and Marily, this time in Felix's in Greenbelt 5, Makati. It was great fun to get caught up on literary news in the Philippines.

Anvil is posting giant posters of their authors in the forthcoming Book Fair (September I believe), and Marily Orosa dragged me to Pacific Star beauty parlor for a serious makeover and photo shoot at Studio 5. It was fun acting like celebrities, although I am amazed at how the camera can capture the most subtle of expressions - a sour look, a haughty expression, eyes half-closed, a fake smile, a tired look, a trying-hard look, double-chin, too much teeth - so really, in balance, despite so many photos taken by the photographer, you end up with just 3 or 4 good ones.

(Top Photo seated l-r: Guia Lim, Lilu Gimenez, Mila Santillan; standing l-r: Cecilia, Araceli Lorayes, Cynthia Posa
Middle photo shows the Santa Ana chapel
Next photo l-r: Marily Orosa, Karina Bolasco, Cecilia, and Felice Sta. Maria
Bottom photo show Cecilia and Marily)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Manila Updates

I took the ferry from Makati to Quiapo to take pictures of Pasig River and to shop in Quiapo. The Makati terminal is in Guadalupe on J.P. Rizal, a very nice, clean terminal. I caught the 10:55 a.m. ferry, and in about 40 minutes I was in Quiapo. I was able to take some pictures. The Pasig River now is nothing like what it had been when I was young. Then it was incredibly polluted, with garbage and plants covering the water surface, meaning there were no fish in the river. Now it's much cleaner and you can see fish frolicking and birds flying over - it's quite amazing how the river has come back to life.

My friend Tillic had taught me how to take this ferry to Quiapo. We had done this six months ago when the weather was good. Now that it's rainy season, the river has risen, flooding Quiapo. The area in front of the stores had knee-high water, and believe me, you don't want to wade in that filthy water! I had to hire a tricycle to drive me a few feet, just to keep me above water level. The stores themselves are above water level but if you step off the store, you're in the flood area. I found some Filipiniana clothes in the shop. The thing with shopping in Quiapo is that it's incredible cheap and fun (for the local color). Consider the Filipino blouse, skirt and panuelo (shawl) for P1,100; the same item sells for around P4,000 in the Makati department store. I also found some nice kimona tops and bakya (wooden clogs).

Next time I'd like to take the ferry to Fort Santiago - that should be fun. When I see the Pasig from the ferry boat, I can imagine what it had been years ago when it had been the main artery for transportation, from Manila de Bay all the way to Laguna de Bay.

Today, met with Maryknollers Marily Orosa, Meldee Perez, and Ana Marie Sison for lunch in the Museum Cafe. We had a lot of catching up to do, and the lunch went on for four hours, capped by Mass in the lovely circular Greenbelt Chapel.

Manila at this time of year is not as hot. It's definitely more pleasant even with the occasional drizzle.

All for now,

(Top photo shows Lambingan Ferry Station; bottom photo shows l-r: Ana Marie Sison, Marily Orosa, Meldee Perez, and Cecilia Brainard)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cebu Updates

Dinner last night at the Casino Espanol with Terry Manguerra, Chinggay Utzurrum, Inday Blanco and Chona Bernad. Conversation included travels done by Ching and others to different parts of the world. Chinggay shared old photos that she had of those attending; some photos were from the 1990s when my brother Jess Manguerra, Lyn Suaco, and Dr. Guimo Blanco were still alive! Terry, Ching, Inday, and Chona have been blessed; they have been members of an informal group for decades.

What else to say about Cebu? Oh, terrible news about the corpses of those who had drowned filling the mortuaries. The Princess of the Stars sank on June 21, 2008, victim of Typhoon #3, Frank. Eight hundred people perished.

The weather in Cebu continues to be pleasant early in the morning, then hot, then in the afternoons and/or evenings, it rains.

Manila tomorrow!

Photo shows, seated l-r: Terry Manguerra, Inday Blanco; standing l-r: Cecilia, Chona Bernad, and Chinggay Utzurrum