Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day Weekend in Cambria, California

For perhaps the seventh time, Lauren and I attended the Pinedorado Parade in Cambria, California. It was held yesterday, Saturday, this Labor Day Weekend. Our friend Doug is visiting and the three of us parked our chairs along the parade route with other viewers. To me the parade is quintessentially Americana - with everyone in town involved, from the nursery school children to pets, from the Grand Marshall to the Foreign Exchange Student, who is this year's Honorary Mayor.

This year there was a Trojan on a horse - was he really a USC representative? The Santa Monica Band was there, as usual; this consists of a dozen people who I'm guessing are all related. We always clap and cheer when they march by because of the Santa Monica connection. This year, Mozzi's Saloon had a lively float with a live band and saloon gals; Mozzi's has just opened. It used to be Camozzi's Saloon (open since the 1800s) but then the business closed and has now reopened as Mozzi's.

In past parades, a group of older ladies called the Daffodillies, clad in tights and frilly outfits used to do a dance routine, but after a couple of years they stopped. I've always wondered what happened to them.

Anyway, after all of that plus the Shriners and vintage cars, there is a carnival in the Veteran's Hall grounds. There are little kid rides and booths, and food like corn, pies, and barbecue with beans. The corn is usually very sweet and buttery. The barbecue lunch is piled on a paper plate and it looks messy and unappetizing.

They used to have a gambling parlor booth, but some men (including Lauren) started playing serious poker and the authorities got rid of the booth.

Labor Day Weekend and Thanksgiving weekends are times when Cambria is full of visitors and is in a festive mood.

I love Cambria. It has a population 5,000 and has great restaurants and shops. It has a slogan: Cambria, where the pines meet the sea.

Yesterday we saw 4 does sitting under some pines. And today, we saw a doe cross a street and go to some shrubs to eat the leaves. It wasn't even afraid of us.

I'm getting incoherent and will stop now. It must be because of the sea air and food and wine.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Interivew of Cecilia Manguerra Brainard by Luis Diores

Interview of Cecilia Manguerra Brainard by Luis Diores for the book project of the Cebuano Studies Center:

1. Being a Filipino writer in America, what would you say is the biggest hindrance or obstacle in writing about our rapidly evolving culture?

The biggest hindrance or obstacle is that it’s difficult to publish. It's difficult for all writers, but if you are a Filipino writer in the United States there is a more limited market and so it is harder to find a publisher in the U.S. It is probably easier for a Filipino writer to find a publisher in the Philippines because the readership would be wider.
2. Who are major influences in your writing?

The Cebuana writer, Lina Espina Moore, who was my mentor and who became a friend, influenced my writing a lot. When I started writing I had difficulty with the Filipino voice. I had read so much Euro-centric material, beginning with Dick and Jane in Kindergarten and so on. Lina wrote about Cebuano topics in both Cebuano and English. I'd read her novels and short stories and studied how she was able to express Cebuano culture and Filipino culture using English. She was able to give me encouragement and ideas about how to write in English about our Filipino culture. She used to say, "Write like you talk." Writing is not exactly like that, but I understood what she meant.
3. You are gifted in three large areas of literature – writing, editing, and teaching. Which area do you enjoy and dwell on the most?

The three of them intertwine. Writing came first and then teaching and then editing. I enjoy them all; they use different energies from me. If I’m tired doing one thing, I can do another activity and it refreshes me. For instance writing and editing are solitary activities, and so when I teach and I'm in contact with students, that’s another kind of energy . I’m with people and I’m relating with them instead of being alone in my dreamworld.
4. What message would you like to send to many Filipinos who are clamoring to get out of the country?
The Philippines is very beautiful and there are very many opportunities here. I think that the people who leave the Philippines find out that they could have used their talents in this country as well. I know that our population is very large and therefore our resources are limited, and I know that in some other countries it is easy to find work and to acquire material things like cars, homes, and so on, but many of our retired Filipinos come back. Many of them return to the Philippines because no matter how far you are, you still feel an attachment to your home.
5. What do you find is the prevailing theme in everything you write?
I tend to explore Filipino and Filipino-American history and culture. You'll find that in many of my writings. I have also been told that I write about Filipino women a lot. This is not a conscious thing I do, but people come back to me and tell me this. So I think that those are the two - Filipino/Filipino-American themes and women.
6. Do you use different writing processes when you write different forms of literature such as fiction and essays?

To me, writing essays and writing fiction are different. Fiction is organic to me. I cannot really outline it. I may have a little plan, but that can easily change. I generally follow character and character development in fiction writing. Essays are a more intellectual process and so I can outline these. I can follow the English composition style in terms of writing the essays, but definitely not for fiction. They are different.
7. How does your Philippine education influence you as a writer?

Philippine education, or Philippine culture, or my Philippine background mean a lot in terms of my writing. These have given me my point of view, my unique perspective in terms of seeing the world and dealing with my fictional characters. It is from the Philippine or Philippine-American point of view that I deal with them as opposed to a Euro-centric or American-centric point of view.
8. This is a little cliché, but as an aspiring writer, I ask what advice you can give to those young men and women who want to be in your place someday?

I have given this advice many times. You have to be persistent, that is to stick with it. You have to read a lot because reading and writing go hand in hand. Read the kind of writing that you would like to do, that is if you want to be a poet, read poetry, if you want to be a novelist, read novels. It helps a lot if you belong to a workshop, if you are with other writers. If you are working alone, it’s difficult because you need feedback for your work. Further, if you’re with other writers, you can encourage one another other.
9. What aspects of American and Philippine culture do you incorporate in your writing? Do you try to balance both?
I've lived in the United States ever since I went there to go to graduate school. I've had to deal with two cultures ever since - Philippine culture as well as American culture. And perhaps I've had to deal with a third culture - Philippine American culture, because Filipinos in America have developed their own style or culture if you will. I don't know about balancing these cultures. I am who I am, and I explore topics that interest me. I know that history is interesting to me. I have explored Philippine as well as Philippine American history in my writings. I've written about Cebu, although I've turned it into a fictional place called Ubec.
10. If there is a conflict between expressing an idea and violating a grammatical rule, what would you choose?

Grammar is a tool, so you can break grammatical rules. It’s the artistic thing that must be followed first. But you need to understand that when you break rules there is a price. For instance, breaking a particular grammatical rule might make your writing confusing. You need to be aware of that, and you need to weigh the consequences: Do I still want to break this grammaticul rule, even if doing so makes my work confusing? It's best to get your writing workshopped. That way people can come back and say, “This was very confusing; it needs more work.” Or “Yes, this is something new, refreshing.”
11. So you were part of a workshop?
Yes, in the United States. The workshops were very helpful. The process is invaluable. I suppose some people can write on their own but the problem is that at a certain point you can’t see your work anymore. You lose objectivity. Having other people point out the strengths and weaknesses of your writing helps. It's like a mirror reflecting your work back to you. It doesn't mean you change your work according to what people say; you are the author you make the final decisions. But the feedback allows you to better assess your work.
12. What I love so much about your work is its richness in Philippine culture, do you write about it because of your love for the country or because you miss it so much? Or both?

This is all I have to offer, you see. I know some writers who belong to a particular culture, for instance an African American writer who writes about White protagonists and White themes. When you read his work, you would think it was written by a White person. That is not how I wish to write. I have chosen to write about what is closest to my heart. I can only explore what I am, that is what I try to look at, is this Filipino-ness and this Filipino-America-ness.
13. These days, where do you draw all your inspiration from?

It's important to professionals to have deadlines. Inspiration can only do so much; it can come, it can go. I have deadlines. I have projects that are ongoing. I’m working with a co-editor on a book, an anthology called, “Finding God”. So we have a deadline for that one. I have my own creative writing which I don’tlike to discuss for superstitious reasons. There is a saying that goes, if you can talk about it, why write it.

I have a lot of things going on.

I get ideas. My co-editor and I finished two book projects. The last one won an International Gourmand Award and so we talked and said, “Why don’t we do this?” and we decided to do Finding god. I’m not exactly sure where it comes from but when it’s there the energy is strong and that’s what will make it happen.
14. After all your years of writing, what work do you particularly love and are proud of?
It’s a little bit hard to say because each book project is like a child. I love each book I have done; each book had its own demands on me and required something from me. I have a very strong affection for my first novel which was published in the Philippines as “Song of Yvonne” and in the United States as “When the Rainbow Goddess Wept.” That one was not easy to do. It’s fiction but I used the stories that my parents told me about World War II. It's used in schools both in the Philippines and the U.S. It was recently translated into Turkish.
15. Most of your stories are set in the Philippines rather than the U.S., why is this so?
When I was growing up a lot of the history taught to me was from a Euro-centric point of view, things like, "Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines in 1521." The truth is that Magellan did not discover the Philippines. The islands and people already existed long before he showed up. As I became older and read more I realized a lot of the things we know or think we know and perceive is from a Euro-centric point of view. What I tried/try to do is see things from the Filipino or Filipino-American point of view. For instance I could be working on a turn-of-the-century story. I'll have a lot of fun imagining how things actually were at that time: what the streets and lampposts looked like, what the houses looked like, what clothes people wore, how people thought, what events affected their lives. Take a look at the American-coined word, "Insurgents" about the Filipino rebels of the turn of the century. That word is loaded with negativity; the correct word should be "Nationalists." This is another example of how a Euro-centric point of view can change reality.
16. Some may accuse you of exoticizing the Philippines, how do you respond to these comments?

Well, I don’t know about exoticizing the Philippines. My only comment is let these accusers try it - let them write and publish the stories, essays, novels that I have; let them edit the books that I have. Let them try to get the awards that I have received. You know, it’s very easy to sit and criticize. Usually what I find is that the people who criticize me most are the ones who haven’t written a single novel, so I invite them to write and publish their first novel and then come back to me and make all the comments they want about my work.

The stories and books coming out of me are all I can offer. That’s the best I can give. If they're not good enough for some people, then too bad.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The feast day of the beheading of St. John the Baptist is August 29. (June 24 is his other feast day.) I'm a member of the Cofradia of St. John in Cebu, and they're doing tridium prayers. Click here for a comprehensive article about St. John the Baptist or go to (

Here's a perpetual novena that I found on the intenet:

A Perpetual Novena to St. John The Baptist

O Martyr invincible, who, for the honor of God and the salvation of souls, didst with firmness and constancy withstand the impiety of Herod even at the cost of thine own life, and didst rebuke him openly for his wicked and dissolute life; by thy prayers obtain for us a heart, brave and generous, in order that we may overcome all human respect and openly profess our faith in loyal obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ, our divine Master.

Say an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.

Pray for us, Saint John the Baptist, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, who hast made this day to be honorable in our eyes by the Nativity or commemoration of blessed John, grant unto Thy people the grace of spiritual joy, direct the minds of all Thy faithful into the way of everlasting salvation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


My youngest son Andrew was over for Filipino breakfast. He enjoys rice and fried eggs with spam, corned beef or Chinese sausage. It's all high-cholesterol, but he only has it when he visits. He also likes Chocolate-e or Jasmine tea.

While eating breakfast, he said he told his friend Shariff about the time I spilled milk in San Francisco and cried. I've forgotten the thread of our conversation which led to his mentioning this. He likes to talk to me about family matters, my "past" if you will. Being the youngest of three boys, his childhood was different from the childhood of his oldest brother Chris. Perhaps Andrew finds this difference intriguing or amusing. His own childhood was more prosperous, unlike the childhood of Chris who had to put up with parents starting out.

His mention of spilled milk brought back the incident as if the years had not passed. I was 22 years old, a young mother, and my husband, infant child and I lived in the Mission District in San Francisco. We were poor - there is no other word to describe our condition. My husband had just finished law school and was studying for the bar; we had an infant son; we lived in a low-rent one-bedroom apartment right across the Levi Strauss factory in the Mission District. My husband worked in the post office at night, while he studied for the bar in the daytime. I worked for temporary agencies, doing secretarial, clerical jobs.

The thing is that even though we didn't have a lot of money, we actually didn't feel poor. It was (as I told Andrew) an adventure; it was temporary; it was not a dead end situation; we knew things would get better. I told Andrew it was actually fun to budget, to count money and not overspend for food - $25 a week was our grocery bill. Bread was only 18 cents a loaf; rent was $125 a month; I earned $425 a month - it sounds so long ago, now that I write this.

Before this "adventure" in San Francisco, I had been a UCLA student with money coming in from my mother, and I didn't think twice about shopping daily in Westwood Village for clothes, purses, shoes, whatever I wanted.

Obviously things changed when I married a law student and we had an infant son and had to make ends meet. The spilled milk incident happened one day after shopping in the supermarket and I got back to the apartment with several bags of groceries. As I was unlocking the main door to the apartment building, one of the bags fell, and down fell the carton of milk. The carton broke and milk ran all over the ground. I remembered staring at the white liquid trickling down the gutter. Suddenly it was all just too much - our poverty, the penny-pinching, and here was this milk wasted, wasted, wasted; and I just broke into tears.

I don't remember what happened afterward. I probably recovered, picked up the bags of groceries, brought them up to our apartment, and carried on. But the incident was remembered because of the saying, "Don't cry over spilled milk," which I did. At least for a short while, I did.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cebuana Trailblazers "Sugboanang Tag-una"

I've been in touch with Professor Linda Alburo, Director of the Cebuano Studies Center in the University of San Carlos. While I was in Cebu last month, the University of San Carlos arranged to have me interviewed and videotaped for a book project. I also learned that the Cebu Provincial Government through the Provincial Women's Commission included me in their Cebuana Trailblazers (Sugnoanang Tag-Una). The 60 chosen women are featured in Heritage Cards, available from the Cebuano Studies Center in Cebu. The women include educators, politicians, scientists, sports stars, international artists, activists, and others, but I feel particularly honored to be in the company of two Cebuano writers, Concepcion Briones and my mentor Lina Espina Moore.

Quote in the back of Heritage cards follows:
"As a leading arbiter of culture and development... the Cebu Provincial Government, through the Provincial Women's Commission, honors these women who have made their indelible mark in their respective fields of endeavor...
This compendium hopes to regain the women's rightful place in Cebu's Heritage to inspire present and future Cebuanos

Thanks to the Search Committee for honoring me - Linda Alburo, Dolores Alino, Matrilena dela Cerna, Sofia Logarta, Fe Reyes, Marietta de Egurrola, Liza D. Corro, Miraflore Diongzon, and Lorry D. Fernandez.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mother Teresa's Dark Night of the Soul

I finished reading the book "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light" (Doubleday 2007). The book collects her letters and some letters to her; these reveal the 55-year-long spiritual condition of Mother Teresa called "dark night of soul." Soon after she received her "call within a call" to found the Missionaries of Charity, she felt abandoned by God, alone, rejected, worthless. Early on, she wrote:

"Please pray for me, that it may please God to lift this darkness from my soul for only a few days. For sometimes the agony of desolation is so great and at the same time the longing for the Absent One so deep, that the only prayer which I can still say is - Sacred Hear of Jesus I trust in Thee - I will satiate Thy thirst for souls."

When these feelings first came she was puzzled, but she never wavered in loving Christ, even when she felt rejected by Him. She did not mind her "feelings" and focused on her work, anchored herself in firm faith in Jesus. Not feeling connected with Jesus made her connect in a deeper way with the poor, the sick, the hungry, the rejected, the abandoned in whom she saw Christ. They were not just "like Christ;" they were Christ.

Some of her spiritual confessors had suggested to her that her dark night of the soul was her intimate sharing of Christ's Passion. He too felt abandoned, rejected - "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me."

Edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk who was one of her champions for her sainthood, the book is a fascinating look at this woman who suffered much interiorly, but never showed her sufferings to the rest of the world, and she never wavered in her love and commitment to God. This was a woman who had visions of Jesus and Mary, who conversed with them, but who remained practical and grounded, as to allow her to found an order and make it grow. She gave God all the credit; but certainly God availed of Mother Teresa's common sense, intellect, passion, and unwavering love and commitment to the poorest of the poor.

She had a grand life - a love story featuring her love for Jesus and the poorest of the poor (whom she saw as Christ disguised).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More of Lectio Divina

Yesterday's reading was: Matthew 15, 1-2, 10-14. In this reading, Christ teaches his disciples that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles, but what comes out of the mouth. He explains saying what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and these are evil thoughts. I read and reread but didn't get any insight beyond Jesus chiding the Pharisees who criticized his disciples for breaking tradition by not washing their hands. Jesus is saying that is not important; what is important is what is in your hearts.

Today's reading is: Matthew 17, 1-9, about Christ's transfiguration. He takes Peter, James and John to the mountain where He is transfigured and Moses and Elijah appear and talk to Him. The bible account does not elaborate, but this scene must have taken the apostles' breath away - Jesus shines like the sun, Moses and Elijah appear and talk to Jesus. And after this shocking scene when the others are no doubt dumbfounded, Peter manages to talk. Peter talks a lot, and he says, "If You wish, let us make here three tabernacles ..." And then a cloud comes over them and a voice is heard, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"

Jesus shining like the sun was strange enough; Moses and Elijah appearing is stranger still, and now the voice - too much! They fall and cower from fear. Then this is what Jesus does: He touches them and says, "Arise and do not be afraid." When they open their eyes, they see Jesus. As they descend the mountain, Jesus tells them to tell no one until the "Son of Man is risen from the dead."

The word that attracted me was "touch" - Jesus touched the apostles. He not only said, "Do not be afraid," but he touched them. There are many references to "touching" in the bible - the sick who touch Jesus or touch the hem of his clothes, Jesus touching them to heal them. And Jesus saying, Touch me not, when He was risen.

Jesus was very human. Yes, He shone like the sun and conversed with Moses and Elijah, but He was/is not distant from man. He is someone who "touches" man in order to drive away his fears, in order to heal him; that is, He addresses man's physicality. He fed the multitude of people at the Mount; He broke bread and gave this to His disciples. He drank wine and ate and attended wedding feasts and visited his friends in Bethany (Lazarus, Martha, and Mary). There is a scene after His crucifixion, where Jesus prepared breakfast for His disciples on the shore of Galilee. He was and is very aware of our humanity: our pains, our hunger, our anxieties; and He ministers to these. He gave His disciples the power to heal.

The religion that Jesus established was/is meant to be a down-to-earth one that ministers to people in basic ways. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was being Christ-like when she ministered to the dying and the poorest of the poor. We, in turn, should be the hands and feet and body of Christ and attend to people's physical needs - hunger, thirst, miseries, etc.


From Cecilia to Percival:
I should correct you: Juana was my great-greatgrandmother; Remedios was my great-grandmother. If your Lola Concepcion was your grandmother, there is a generational gap so to speak, and I believe this is because Concepcion married twice and you're from the second marriage. I also suspect Concepcion was older than Remedios, which would explain why Juana brought her to the Visayas and not Concepcion who may have been married to the first husband. Speculation lang.

Do you know who the parents of Juana were? Here's a bit of tidbit, my granduncle, Archbishop Cuenco had mentioned a sister of Juana named Blanca. That is all I know. Maybe she's the one who ran off with the Spanish friar? What do you think of what my aunts had said that Juana had been with a Spanish Admiral, that said Admiral was the father of Remedios and Concepcion - true or false, in your opinion?
From Percival to Cecilia

The plot thickens . . .

Juana had a sister, according to my mother, and she too "ran away" with a Spanish friar. What's with those Spanish friars?

Juana's daughter, Concepcion, my Lola Cion, led a busy life in Manila while her mom, Juana, and sister, Remedios led a new life in Cebu or Leyte. They were both originally from Manila (Naic and Tondo).

Lola Cion had two husbands. I presume, the first one died of a natural cause. With a certain Ocampo (I don't have his first name) he had three sons --- Luis (who lived in Sta Ana, Manila by the Pasig River), Raymundo and Tayo (Cayetano?), who both lived in Tondo. Raymundo had a fleet of jeepneys that plied the Divisoria-San Nicolas route. If it was a green-colored jeepney, it belonged to my Tio (we called him Kaka) Mundo.

She was remarried to my grandfather, Damaso Fojas, also of Naic, Cavite. I believe, he was a Katipunero (but this I have to document). The marriage produced only two siblings -- Patrocinio, my mother; and Pacita, my aunt. My mother was the younger of the two.

I remember all my uncles, their wives and family members. But I have very little recollection of Lola Cion. My knowledge of her is based on what my mother had told me. Perhaps, my elder brothers and sisters would have a better recollection or some.

However, I still have a mental picture of Lola Cion's final days - she occupied a large bed that filled the living room of the house in Sta Ana, and the relatives kept coming and going to see her. It was a big house made of nipa, common during those days. There were wooden carved furniture and lamps all around that we now call antique. I was, probably, 4 or 5 years old at that time.

She was laid to rest in the Sta Ana cemetery.
From Cecilia to Percival, commenting on the husband/partner of Juana"
I heard it was a Spanish Admiral, and I never got it straight if she and the guy were actually married. So it would have been a priest, Spanish frayle probably. yes, correct about the second husband, a Veloso from Baybay. I wonder if your Lola Concepcion was older than Remedios. Maybe Concepcion was married when Juana brought young Remedios to the Visayas. Definitely Juana had properties in Cebu; my blog includes a document. I have heard of Menggoy Veloso and I believe he is from the Baybay Veloso side; my Mother knew him. I do not know if he was a Congressman.
Photo shows Juana Lopez

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I was thrilled to have heard from a relative, Percival Cruz, who emailed the following. FYI Juana Diosomito Lopez was my great-great grandmother; Remedios Diosomito Cuenco was my great-grandmother. Following are important genealogical info re the Diosomito, Lopez, Cuenco, Manguerra, Reyes, Gonzales, Borromeo families of Cebu:
Dear Cecilia,

It has been a while since I last wrote you. Rest assured though that I have not forgotten; I visited your websites and assimilated the wealth of information you have put together about you and the Cuenco family.

My mom, Patrocinio Diosomito Lopez Fojas Cruz, passed away in 1986. Whatever information I have about the Lopez family I had heard from her.

Remedios, your great grandmother, was the sister of my grandmother, Concepcion (Lola Cion).

Their mother, Juana Diosomito was married to a Lopez. The Diosomitos and the Lopezes were and still are natives of Naic, Cavite. Juana's first husband was a Spanish priest (or ex-priest, maybe). Again, this is the story of my mother and something that I have not documented. Juana's 2nd husband was a Veloso from Baybay, Leyte.

My Lola Cion owned and rented out houses and apartments in Tondo. She may have inherited these properties from mother Juana. Juana may have owned properties in Naic and Tondo, as well as, in Leyte and Cebu.

My Lola Cion never left Luzon Island. On the other hand, her sister, Remedios, migrated to Cebu.

Did mother Juana who got remarried to a Visayan from Leyte, a guy named Veloso, migrate to Cebu and take along daughter Remedios; while daughter Concepcion remained in Naic and Tondo? Very possible.

My mother used to tell me that her grandmother (Juana) owned lands in Leyte and Cebu. My mother also introduced us to the idea that we had relatives in the Visayas, which I found weird at that time. No one in the family spoke Cebuano nor talked to any.

I am among the youngest in a family of 10. I did not have a chance to interact with my Visayan relatives. Our eldest brother, Berting, worked in a boat that sailed regularly between Manila-Leyte-Cebu; he met Tio Menggoy (Domingo Veloso), who was either part owner or manager of the boat. One other elder brother, Feodor, met Archbishop Jose when I was in elementary (1956). He entered the San Vicente Ferrer seminary in Iloilo under the sponsorship of your uncle Jose. I remember my parents accompanied Feodor on this trip to Iloilo. A younger brother and sister made it, too; but I was left behind at home and did not have a chance to meet the Archbishop. My sister, Judith, worked as a secretary at the office of Tio Menggoy (did he become a congressman?). And my other elder brother, Walfrido, worked at the Congress at the behest of Senator Cuenco. In fact, my father worked also at the Senate and I would like to believe that it was your grandfather who made it possible. I also overheard my father that the good senator worked out an appointment for him to be a judge in Cotabato but my father declined. Had my father accepted that job, maybe I would have become a general in the Abu Sayaff army. While I was in U.P., I heard about Tony Cuenco. He was my senior. I did not have a chance to associate with him, though. My mother used to go to the senator's house somewhere near Sto Domingo Church to see your grandpa.

Concepcion Lopez who got stuck in Luzon was a good businesswoman. I remember my mother telling me that she owned houses in Tondo. My mom got her education at an exclusive all-girl school called Instituto de Mujeres, took up piano lessons and became a town beauty queen during her heydays. My father was a poet and novelist (he was a contemporary of Amado V. Hernandez). My father and mother met in one of those beauty queen coronations. My father recited a poem for my mother, they fell in love, and then they went on their happy way for 70 years. By the way, it might interest you to know that my father's collection of novels was published by the Ateneo and it is being used to this day as a textbook in college.

Concepcion Lopez may also had had a part in a "calesa" business; she had a sister-in-law or cousin (now I am not sure which) who became well-known for owning a fleet of "calesas"; she was Rosa Fojas who became known as the "Reyna ng mga Cochero" ("Queen of the Coachmen").

Remedios and Concepcion were both very enterprising, strong women. Remedios produced a congressman, a governor, a senator and an archbishop. Had Uncle Jose lived longer, he would have become a cardinal, too. That Remedios also became the first woman publisher -- wow!--
her accomplishments are really mind-boggling! I'm sure her genes rubbed off on you.

Other famous Lopezes, Fojases from Naic, who I'm sure are also our relatives --
Rosario Lopez - the former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Dr. Marcos Fojas - the eye surgeon
Gen. Nazareno - PNP head during Cory Aquino's term
Judge Noel Diosomito
Felix Fojas - poet, writer

Good Friday is the traditional reunion day for the Lopezes/Fojases. The clan gathers in Naic, Cavite and fulfills the vow of having the 2-day "Pabasa" and "Prusisyon" in honor of Jesus. The family has an antique heirloom --- a black Nazarene lying in state ("Santo Intierro").

I have a famly tree -- just did it at -- if you're interested, I can give you the link.

So long for now, I'm proud to have you as a relative.

Burbank, California
Photo shows Remedios Diosomito Cuenco with her family

Maryknoll Class 1968 California Mini-reunion

A small group of Maryknoll graduates got together at Baby Navarro Ciocon's house in Upland. Aside from Baby and myself, Med Villanueva and Lucy McGinley were there. We did a lot of catching up and reminiscing, especially since we hadn't seen Lucy since graduation. Lucy, Baby, and I were Communication Arts majors so we have fun talking about the classes and teachers we had, including Dr. Harting, Dra. Patron, Pepe Pimentel, Mr. Magsaysay, Mrs. Franco, etc.

Med is in aqua-colored pants; Lucy is wearing a dress; Baby is in white pants, and I'm the one with the wild hair.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lectio Divina - A way of Praying

Here is what a Carmelite site says about Lectio Divina:
"Lectio Divina", a Latin term, means "divine reading" and describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. In the 12th century, a Carthusian monk called Guigo, described the stages which he saw as essential to the practice of Lectio Divina. There are various ways of practicing Lectio Divina either individually or in groups but Guigo's description remains fundamental.

He said that the first stage is lectio (reading) where we read the Word of God, slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into us. Any passage of Scripture can be used for this way of prayer but the passage should not be too long.

The second stage is meditatio (reflection) where we think about the text we have chosen and ruminate upon it so that we take from it what God wants to give us.

The third stage is oratio (response) where we leave our thinking aside and simply let our hearts speak to God. This response is inspired by our reflection on the Word of God.

The final stage of Lectio Divina is contemplatio (rest) where we let go not only of our own ideas, plans and meditations but also of our holy words and thoughts. We simply rest in the Word of God. We listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks within us with a still small voice. As we listen, we are gradually transformed from within. Obviously this transformation will have a profound effect on the way we actually live and the way we live is the test of the authenticity of our prayer. We must take what we read in the Word of God into our daily lives.
Today's Bible reading (from the Carmelite Calendar)is Matthew 14, 22-36, about the apostles in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. The winds turn rough and the boat is tossed about. The apostles,some of them fishermen, become fearful; perhaps the boat is filling with water. The fishermen among them know how boats can capsize, how even the best swimmers have difficulties battling rough waves. Jesus, who had been alone in a mountain to pray, walks on the Sea of Galilee toward the boat. The apostles see the figure on the water and become afraid. Christ tells them, "It is I, do not be afraid." They do not believe Him immediately, and Peter steps forward and challenges Him, saying if it's You, then let me walk on water too. Jesus calls him, "Come," and Peter walks on water, but the wild waves frighten him and he starts to sink. He calls out to Jesus, "Save me," and Jesus holds out His hand to save him. Now this is interesting, because Jesus does scold him for doubting Him. When they are in the boat, the winds cease.

What I got out of this reading (you have to read the selection many times, and slowly, listening "with your heart") is that it is easy to lose your composure, to be afraid when the winds are turbulent and you think your boat will sink, but that Jesus is always with you, and that you are to trust Him 100%. "It is I, do not be afraid."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mysterious Deaths, Microbiologists, DNA Experts, Scientists

The August 1 news about the suicide of scientist (Bruce Ivins) connected with the anthrax case, made me dig up existing sites that list numerous microbiologists who have died under mysterious circumstances. Check Steve Quayle's site out or read on. I've also posted Links at the bottom of the article; they are from alternative news sources, but are very interesting, especially the last link about 100 Dead Biologists. What's up with these deaths?

Chronology of Dead Scientists

#1-5: Five Unnamed Microbiologists. Died: October 4, 2001 Four of Five unnamed microbiologists on a plane that was brought down by a missile near the Black sea on the Russian border. Traveling from Israel to Russia; business not disclosed. Three scientists were experts in medical research or public health. The plane is believed by many in Israel to have had as many as four or five passengers who were microbiologists. Both Israel and Novosibirsk are homes for cutting-edge microbiological research. Novosibirsk is known as the scientific capital of Siberia. There are over 50 research facilities there, and 13 full universities for a population of only 2.5 million people.

#6: Dr. Benito Que, Age: 52. Found Comatose: November 12, 2001. Died later in hospital. Found in the street near the laboratory where he worked at the University of Miami Medical School. He was a cell biologist, involved in research on aids, oncology research in the hematology department.

#7-#9: Avishai Berkman, Amiramp Eldor and Yaacov Matzner Died: November 24, 2001 Another airplane crash kills 3 scientists. At about the time of the Black Sea crash, Israeli journalists had been sounding the alarm that two Israeli microbiologists had been murdered, allegedly by terrorists; including the head of the Hematology department at Israel's Ichilov Hospital, as well as directors of the Tel Aviv Public Health Department and Hebrew University School of Medicine. Five microbiologists in this list of the first eight people that died mysteriously in airplane crashes worked on cutting edge microbiology research. Four of the five were doing virtually identical research - research that has global political and financial significance.

#10: Dr. David Schwartz, Age: 57. Died: December 10, 2001. Murdered by stabbing in rural home Loudon County, Virginia. He was extremely well respected in biophysics, and regarded as an authority on DNA sequencing. Three teens who were into the occult were charged with murder in the slashing death.

#11: Dr. Set Van Nguyen, Died: December 14, 2001. Found dead in the airlock entrance to the walk-in refrigerator in the laboratory he worked at in Victoria State, Australia. The room was full of deadly gas which had leaked from a liquid nitrogen cooling system. Room was vented. Working on a vaccine to protect against biological weapons, or a weapon itself. In January, 2001, the magazine Nature published information that two scientists, Dr. Ron Jackson and Dr. Ian Ramshaw, using genetic manipulation and DNA sequencing, had created an incredibly virulent form of mousepox, a cousin of smallpox and Dr. Nguyen had worked for 15 years at the same Australian facility.

#12: Dr. Don Wiley Age: 57, Vanished December 16, 2001. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard University, top Deadly Contagious Virus expert, vanished; abandoned rental car was found on the Hernando de Soto Bridge outside Memphis, TN. He was heavily involved in research on DNA sequencing, and was last seen at around midnight on November 16, leaving the St. Jude's Children's Research Advisory Dinner at The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN. Associates attending the dinner said he showed no signs of intoxication, and no one has admitted to drinking with him.

#13: Dr. Vladimer Pasechnik Age: 64, Found Dead: December 23, 2001. Found dead in Wiltshire, England, a village near his home. He had defected from Russia to UK. He had been the #1 scientist in the FSU's bioweapons program. It was thought he was involved with exhuming the bodies of the 10 London victims of the 1919 Type A flu epidemic. Pasechnik died six weeks after the planned exhumations were announced. On November 23, 2001, Pasechnik's death was reported in the New York Times as having occurred two days earlier. Pasechnik's death was made in the United States by Dr. Christopher Davis of Virginia, who stated that the cause of death was a stroke. Dr. Davis was the member of British intelligence who de-briefed Dr. Pasechnik at the time of his defection. Pasechnik was heavily involved in DNA sequencing research. He had just founded a company like three other microbiologists working to provide powerful alternatives to antibiotics. Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik was the boss of William C. Patrick III who holds five patents on the militarized anthrax used by the United States. Patrick is now a private biowarfare consultant to the military and CIA. Patrick developed the process by which anthrax spores could be concentrated at the level of one trillion spores per gram. No other country has been able to get concentrations above 500 billion per gram. The anthrax that was sent around the eastern United States last fall was concentrated at one trillion spores per gram.


#14: Dr. Alexi Brushlinski. Died: January 2002. Russian Microbiologist. Murdered, and Brushlinski was killed in Moscow. Well known around the world and members of the Russian Academy of Science.

#15: Dr. Ivan Glebov. Died: January 2002 Russian Microbiologist. Glebov died as the result of a bandit attack. Well known around the world and members of the Russian Academy of Science.

#16: Dr. Vladamir Korshunov Age: 56. Died: February 9, 2002. Found dead on a Moscow street. Head was bashed in. Korshunov was head of the microbiology sub-facility at the Russian State Medical University. He was found dead in the entrance to his home with a head injury. On Feb. 9 the Russian newspaper Pravda reported that Korshunov had probably invented either a vaccine to protect against biological weapons, or a weapon itself.

#17: Dr. Ian Langford Age: 40, Died: February 12, 2002. A Russian who was a Senior Research Associate in CSERGE, UK. He was a leading university research scientist working on Global Environment, specializing in links between human health and the environment risk, was found dead at his blood-spattered and apparently ransacked home. Specialist in leukemia and infections.

#18: Tanya Holzmayer 46, Died: February 28, 2002: Two dead microbiologists in San Francisco: While taking delivery of a pizza, Tanya Holzmayer was shot and killed by a colleague, Guyang Huang, 38, who then apparently shot himself. Holzmayer moved to the US from Russia in 1989. Her research focused on the part of the human molecular structure that could be affected best by medicine. Holzmayer was focusing on helping create new drugs that interfere with replication of the virus that causes AIDS. One year earlier, Holzmayer obeyed senior management orders to fire Huang.

#19: Dr. David Wynn-Williams Age: 55 Died: March 24, 2002. Hit by a car while jogging near his home in Cambridge, England. He was an astrobiologist with the Antarctic Astrobiology Project and the NASA Ames Research Center. He was studying the capability of microbes to adapt to environmental extremes, including the bombardment of ultraviolet rays and global warming.

#20: Steven Mostow, Age: 63, Died: March 25, 2002. One of the country's leading infectious disease and bioterrorism experts and was associate dean at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He died in a plane crash near Centennial Airport. He was known as "Dr. Flu" for his expertise in treating influenza, and expertise on bioterrorism. Mostow was one of the country's leading infectious disease experts.

#21: Roman Kuzmin 24-year-old Russian surgeon studying in Connecticut was fatally struck by a car as he fled a store with three stolen rolls of film, police said. He was studying to be an orthopedic surgeon.


NOTE: More than 310 Iraqi scientists are thought to have perished at the hands of Israeli secret agents in Iraq since fall of Baghdad to US troops in April 2003.

#22: Dr. Leland Rickman, Age: 47. Died June 24, 2003. UC San Diego expert on infectious diseases and, since Sept. 11, 2001 a consultant on bioterrorism. He was 47. Rickman died while on a teaching assignment in Lesotho, a small country bordered on all sides by South Africa. He had complained of a headache, but the cause of death was not immediately known. The physician had been working in Lesotho with Dr. Chris Mathews, director of the UC San Diego Medical Center's Owen Clinic, teaching African medical personnel about the prevention and treatment of AIDS. Rickman, the incoming president of the Infectious Disease Assn. of California, was a multidisciplinary professor and practitioner with expertise in infectious diseases, internal medicine, epidemiology, microbiology and antibiotic utilization

#23: David Kelly, Died: July 18, 2003. British biological weapons expert, was said to have slashed his own wrists while walking near his home. Kelly was the Ministry of Defence's chief scientific officer and senior adviser to the proliferation and arms control secretariat, and to the Foreign Office's non-proliferation department. The senior adviser on biological weapons to the UN biological weapons inspections teams (Unscom) from 1994 to 1999, he was also, in the opinion of his peers, pre-eminent in his field, not only in this country, but in the world.

#24: Michael Perich, Age: 46. Died: October 11, 2003. Died in one-vehicle car accident. The LSU West Nile research scientist was wearing his seat belt and drowned. He was LSU professor who helped fight the spread of the West Nile virus.

#25: Robert Leslie Burghoff Age: 45. Died November 20, 2003. Scientist. Killed by a hit and run driver that jumped the kerb and ploughed into him in the 1600 block of South Braeswood, Texas. He was studying the virus plaguing cruise ships. April 2004: Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly, a distinguished Iraqi chemistry professor dies in American custody from a sudden hit to the back of his head caused by blunt trauma. It was uncertain exactly how he died, but someone had hit him from behind, possibly with a bar or a pistol. His battered corpse turned up at Baghdad's morgue and the cause of death was initially recorded as "brainstem compression". It was discovered that US doctors had made a 20cm incision in his skull.


#26: Robert Shope, Age: 74, Died: January 23, 2004. Virus Expert Who Warned of Epidemics, Dies died of lung transplant complications. Later purported to have died of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis which can be caused by either environmental stimulus or a VIRUS. Dr. Shope led the group of scientists who had an 11 MILLION dollar fed grant to ensure the new lab would keep in the nasty bugs. Dr. Shope also met with and worked with Dr. Mike Kiley on the UTMB Galveston lab upgrade to BSL 4. When the upgrade would be complete the lab will host the most hazardous pathogens known to man especially tropical and emerging diseases as well as bioweapons.

#27: Dr. Michael Patrick Kiley, Age: 62. Died: January 24, 2004. Expert on Mad Cow and Ebola. He had a good heart, but it ‘gave out’ and death ruled heart failure.

#28: Vadake Srinivasan Died: March 13, 2004. Microbiologist crashed car into guard rail and ruled a stroke.

#29 Unnamed. Age: Unknown. Died: May 5, 2004: A Russian scientist at a former Soviet biological weapons laboratory in Siberia died after an accident with a needle laced with ebola. Scientists and officials said the accident had raised concerns about safety and secrecy at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, known as Vector, which in Soviet times specialized in turning deadly viruses into biological weapons. Vector has been a leading recipient of aid in an American programme.

#30: William T. McGuire , Age: 39 Body Found May 5, 2004, last seen late April 2004. Body found in 3 Suitcases floating in Chesapeake Bay. Was NJ University Professor and Senior programmer analyst and adjunct professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

#31: Dr. Eugene Mallove, Age: 56. Died: May 14, 2004. Murdered in attack at end of his driveway. Alt. Energy Expert who was working on viable energy alternative program and announcement. Norwich Free Academy graduate. Beaten to death during an alleged robbery. Mallove was well respected for his knowledge of cold fusion. He had just published an “open letter” outlining the results of and reasons for his last 15 years in the field of “new energy research.” Dr. Mallove was convinced it was only a matter of months before the world would actually see a free energy device.

#32: Antonina Presnyakova Died: May 25, 2004. Former Soviet biological weapons laboratory in Siberia has died after accidentally sticking herself with a needle laced with Ebola Russian scientist dies in Ebola accident at former weapons lab.

#33: Thomas Gold. Died: June 22, 2004. Austrian born Thomas Gold famous over the years for a variety of bold theories that flout conventional wisdom died of heart failure. Gold’s theory of the deep hot biosphere holds important ramifications for the possibility of life on other planets, including seemingly inhospitable planets within our own solar system. He was Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at Cornell University and was the founder (and for 20 years director) of Cornell Center for Radiophysics and Space Research. He was also involved in air accident investigation.

#34: Dr. Assefa Tulu, Age: 45. Died: June 24, 2004. Found dead in his office. Dallas County Epidemiologist.

#35 Dr Paul Norman, Age: 52. Died: June 27, 2004. Of Salisbury Wiltshire. Killed when the single-engine Cessna 206 he was piloting crashed in Devon. Expert in chemical and biological weapons. He traveled the world lecturing on defending against the scourge of weapons of mass destruction. He was married with a 14-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter, and was the chief scientist for chemical and biological defence at the Ministry of Defence’s laboratory at Porton Down, Wiltshire. The crash site was examined by officials from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the wreckage of the aircraft was removed from the site to the AAIB base at Farnborough.

#36: John Mullen Age: 67. Died: June 29, 2004. A Nuclear physicist poisoned with a huge dose of arsenic. A nuclear research scientist with McDonnell Douglas dies from a huge dose of poisonous arsenic. Police investigating will not say how Mullen was exposed to the arsenic or where it came from. At the time of his death he was doing contract work for Boeing.

#37: Dr Bassem al-Mudares. Died July 21, 2004. Mutilated body was found in the city of Samarra, Iraq*. He was a Ph.D. chemist and had been tortured before being killed.

#38: Dr. John Badwey, Age 54. Died: July 21, 2004. Scientist and accidental politician when he opposed disposal of sewage waste program of exposing humans to sludge. Suddenly developed pneumonia like symptoms then died in two weeks. Biochemist at Harvard Medical School specializing in infectious diseases.

#39: Professor John Clark, Age: 52, Died: August 12, 2004. Found hanged in his holiday home. An expert in animal science and biotechnology where he developed techniques for the genetic modification of livestock; this work paved the way for the birth, in 1996, of Dolly the sheep, the first animal to have been cloned from an adult. Head of the science lab which created Dolly the sheep. Prof Clark led the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, one of the world’s leading animal biotechnology research centres. He played a crucial role in creating the transgenic sheep that earned the institute worldwide fame. Prof Clark also founded three spin-out firms from Roslin - PPL Therapeutics, Rosgen and Roslin BioMed.

#40: Mohammed Toki Hussein al-Talakani Died: September 5, 2004: Iraqi nuclear scientist* was shot dead in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad. He was a practising nuclear physicist since 1984.

#41: Matthew Allison Age: 32. Died: October 13, 2004. Fatal explosion of a car parked at an Osceola County, Fla., Wal-Mart store was no accident, Local 6 News has learned. Found inside a burned car. Witnesses said the man left the store at about 11 p.m. and entered his Ford Taurus car when it exploded. Investigators said they found a Duraflame log and propane canisters on the front passenger's seat.

#42: John R. La Montagne, Died: November 2, 2004. Died while in Mexico, no cause stated. Ph.D., Head of US Infectious Diseases unit under Tommie Thompson. Was NIAID Deputy Director.

#43: Taleb Ibrahim al-Daher Died: December 21, 2004: Iraqi nuclear scientist was shot dead north of Baghdad by unknown gunmen. He was on his way to work at Diyala University when armed men opened fire on his car as it was crossing a bridge in Baqouba, 57 km northeast of Baghdad. The vehicle swerved off the bridge and fell into the Khrisan river. Al-Daher, who was a professor at the local university, was removed from the submerged car and rushed to Baqouba hospital where he was pronounced dead.

#44 and 45: Tom Thorne and Beth Williams Died: December 29, 2004 Two wild life scientists, Husband-and-wife wildlife veterinarians who were nationally prominent experts on chronic wasting disease and brucellosis were killed in a snowy-weather crash on U.S. 287 in northern Colorado.


#46: Jeong H. Im Age: 72. Died: January 7, 2005. Korean Jeong H. Im, retired research assistant professor at the University of Missouri - Columbia and primarily a protein chemist, died of multiple stab wounds to the chest before firefighters found in his body in the trunk of a burning car on the third level of the Maryland Avenue Garage. MUPD with the assistance of the Columbia Police Department and Columbia Fire Department are conducting a death investigation of the incident. A person of interest described as a male 6’ – 6’2” wearing some type of mask possible a painters mask or drywall type mask was seen in the area of the Maryland Avenue Garage. Researcher, retired protein chemist, was found in the burning trunk of his car with stab wounds to the chest.

More about Dead Microbiologists from -
Master List from
Mysterious Deaths -
Aftermath News -
100 Dead Biologists -