Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Politics VS Good Manners, Maryknoll College Graduates bickering over politics again!

What happened to the old etiquette rule about not discussing politics and religion with friends? It seems my college classmates, who graduated from the exclusive convent school of Maryknoll College, Quezon City, where the nuns did their best to teach us not only academics but proper bearing, have forgotten this simple rule.

It's happened again. My classmates at Maryknoll College are bickering once again over US politics. The first time this happened was last year, during the heart of election season when someone posted an email about Obama being a Muslim and therefore dangerous and evil. The email quarreling started, Republicans versus Democrats. It got quite ugly with name-calling and insults hurled into cyberspace. The email fighting went on for weeks, and lifelong friendships hung on the balance (a cliche, forgive me).

Now, another one of those who was involved in that ugly fracas "innocently" sent an email to 67 of her email addresses something about a Tea Party/Tax Revolt (anti-Obama). Well, here, let me post those emails, without names. I will continue to air this quarrel on this blog until the person who started this political row has the commonsense to delete me from her email list:
Email #1: FW Tea Party/Tax Revolt
I will be attending so if anyone wants to join me, let me know.

Here is the info on the Tea Party/Tax Revolt. Please make plans to attend. It is time to stand up and be heard. We must stop letting the lazy, worthless low life's dictate how us hard working tax paying CITIZENS will live and spend OUR money.

Please try to round up some more sane people and make this a gargantuan event.
Go to the web site below for more details.
God bless you patriots, now lets kick some ass!!!
Email #2:
I'm sorry you all (whom I love and cherish.) But this is a croc of _____. Obama's plan is to fund health care - mostly for the working poor, to refurbish education for our youth - our collective future and to develop alternative fuel - for our global future. Why didn't you all throw a tea party when "W" racked up the biggest deficit in our history and spent our taxes on wars that haven't made us any safer?
Email #3:
This is now beyond partisanship or politics. Decisions being made today involve amounts of money many of us never heard of even in the recent past. A trillion has 12 zeroes!!! What this administration wants to spend is now getting closer to 4 trillion, and compounded with interests, experts say will run up to 10 trillion before it's paid - who knows when, and at what real cost in human sacrifices (ours, mind you, not the ones who signed these bills). They're supposed to be stimulating the economy which is hanging on a string. The urgency here and the approval from tax payers rest on that assumption alone - stimulate the economy so people can go back to work!!!

Other good causes (to be sure) such as education, health care, etc. should go through the usual debates and discussions for their allocations to make sure every penny is spent wisely (these are our pennies!) not bamboozled down our throats as if schools and hospitals will close overnight if billions of $'s were not approved for them today - pronto!! What a cheap liberal tactic to ride on the miseries of honest, hard working people who are losing their jobs by the thousands on a daily basis. He (Obama), it seems to me, at least by his rhetoric, expects and wants all these people to be permanently out of job, on welfare and dependent on the government for health care and food stamps as long as they live!

For all the controversies behind the war in Iraq, the fact remains that there were no further successful attacks on US soil after 9/11 in the last 8 years (do you realize how scary it would have been if a similar attack got through again?) I think we can all agree that our enemies kept trying every single day to do it again, and again -- until we're ruined because that is their single-minded aim.

We went through difficult times the last 8 years, yes, but our economy and democratic way of life survived. The houseing market got out of hand, yes - but those who follow the reasons behind it know that there's enough blame to go around and it cannot be blamed only on the past President - in fact records show that he tried to steer the direction the other way, but opposing parties have so successfully smeared his name and honor, no one listened to him or his party. Indeed, 4-5 years ago, if you predicted what's going on now, you would've gotton rotten tomatoes thrown at you!! Well, we don't need Alqaida attacking us now --- all they need to do is watch us destroy our society morally and economically all by ourselves.

But some of us won't let that happen. We're going to a Tea Party!!!! Pleeese --- be heard and be counted. Political campaigns are OVER. We're talking real problems and real life situations. They're stacking us with debts we do not want, fund projects even they did not read "line by line" (music to everybody's ears when promised by Obama during his campaign) and as icing on this rotten cake, they're going to higher our taxes too! Can we be that stupid???
Email #4:
It looks like I've stirred up some passion again which I didn't mean to. I thought the tea party would be a good way to let our politicians know to quit their reckless spending that will hurt all of us eventually. I did not agree with Bush runaway spending either nor what our California governor is doing to California. Our politicians are spending too much no matter what affiliation you belong to. We are in the trouble we're in because of Bush runaway spending and Obama is following in the same path. We can't spend ourselves out of our problems. That money they are spending has to come somewhere. That is just basic accounting or economics.

Lets keep a healthy discussion. If we don't agree, then lets agree to dissagree. Our friendship is too valuable. Like you, I hope and pray Obama can solve the health care problems of our country. I don't think our schools are broken. They can tighten their belts like everybody else are doing nowadays. We have to make some sacrifices now for the future of our children. No more runaway spending and no more higher taxes! Give us some real stimulus, cut taxes!
Email #5:
As I’ve requested in the past, I would appreciate it if you would just send emails pertaining to personal news or upcoming social events.

Religion and Politics are two topics that most people would rather not discuss. That said, I hope this will be the last time I’d get emails of this nature.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I found this recent article about a River/Creek Cleanup Drive in Cebu City! I am very excited to see something is being done about the filth in Cebu City's rivers and creeks! HOPE!!!!

Coastline management board to launch cleanup drives in different barangays
From Sun Star, March 21, 2009

IN hopes of getting people to stop throwing garbage into rivers and creeks, the Cebu Coastline Management Board (CMB) will launch a coastal and urban cleanup drive today in different barangays in Cebu City.

“While it is impossible to clean up the rivers in just one cleanup, the intention of the activity is to make people aware that it is important to start. Grabe na gyud ang condition sa atong mga rivers (Our rivers are in critical condition),” said Atanacio Almosera of the CMB.

At least 53 of 80 barangays in the city will participate in the event, simultaneously cleaning up rivers and creeks in their communities.

“All the barangays with rivers and creeks will be actively participating in the event,” said Cebu City Councilor Edwin Jagmoc, vice chairman of the CMB.

“And we hope that those people who live along the rivers and riverbanks will see the clean-up and will start cleaning up the rivers themselves,” he added.

Schools, parishes, barangay officials, residents and different non-government organizations are expected to join the activity.

“This will educate our volunteers on the real state of the rivers and hopefully this will also educate those who live nearby,”
said Jagmoc.

The CMB stressed it was important that everybody start taking better care of rivers and creeks in their barangays.

“I cannot describe to you how bad it already is. Let’s just put it this way, if you imagine a garbage dump in a river, there’s already more garbage than there is water,” said Almosera.

However, he clarified it was not because of poor solid waste management programs in the barangays, but just the accumulation of trash over several years.

Some riverbank households share part of the blame.

“Instead of disposing of the garbage at the designated pick-up points for garbage collection, they throw garbage into the rivers instead,” said Department of Public Services Chief Dionisio Gualiza.

“We just cannot allow the garbage to flow into the sea and affect life there,” Jagmoc said. (EPB)

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I've asked myself why I care that a 36-year-old wife of a former investment banker isn't satisfied with a 43 million divorce settlement. Apparently she spends, each week, $1,000 for hair and skin treatments, not to mention $700 for limo service, $1,500 for restaurants and entertainment, $8,000 for travel, and $4,500 for clothes. Those are weekly expenses so the 43 million isn't be enough; she needs $53,000 each week - each 7-day week.

This is happening now, during an economic depression - let us not kid ourselves by calling this a recession. Reading about her and the AIG bonuses have made me realize that somewhere along the line, the gap between the wealthy and the middle-class have widened tremendously. I think the difference started to become apparent when the dot.coms started to make money; the financial people followed. I remember when a million dollars was a lot of money - and it still is, in my eyes; but to this segment of people, a million dollars is loose change. They talk in terms of billions.

The ire of the people over the AIG bonuses reminded me of the French Revolution (1789-1799). The people had probably heard of the excesses of the French royalty and had had enough. "Off with their heads," they thought and did. I am feeling the same ire directed at the 400 AIG executive bonus-recipients.

During this terrible economic times when people are losing jobs and their homes, it seems sinful for people to flaunt their wealth and greed. It's time to tone down, to develop a conscience, to share with others. And the gap between the haves and have-nots, something had better be done about this,or else the spirit of revolution might come to life again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Another writer contacted me saying she received the same emails from "fans" asking for her autograph - the exact messages I got. This is a hoax; I don't know what they are after exactly, and why they are targeting writers (of young adult books?) - but I'm posting this blog to warn other writers not to treat such email requests seriously.
As of March 23, I've received more of these emails which I've posted, and I will continue to post them as I receive them.


My name is Piotr Haase. I am 33 years old. I live in a little village in Poland,together with my wife Kate and two sons Albert and Adrian. We are happy and we lead quiet live. I have been Cecilia Manguerra Brainard fan since many years.

I really admire you and I think you are very good in that what you do.I was wandering if you could. Send me yours autograph.

I would be grateful.
Thank you in advance.

Your sincelery

Piotr Haase

Hallo Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Ich bitte um zwei Autogramme.
Sage vielen Dank und wünsche Ihnen viel Erfolg.
Would you please send me two Autograph and Signature.
Thank you.

Monika Förster
Esmarchstr. 8
42283 Wuppertal

BEDBURG 18,03,2009

Dear Mrs.Cecilia Manguerra Brainard!>>>The Best<<<

Please send me 3 Originally signed Photos of Yurself.
Best wishes for your future and many Thanks.
Yours sincerely and 10 Fans from Germany,
from Mrs, Cecilia Manguerra brainard.

Lorenz u.Eleonore Schop
And Friends
Postfach 2227
D-50181 Bedburg/Germany
Dear Mrs. Manguerra
I am a very great admirer of yours.
Please send me 3 original autographs of yours.
Many thanks in advance for your trouble and help.
The best wishes to you and your family for the future
and may all your dreams come true.
I am looking forward to your early reply.
Yours sincerely
Elke Stachowiak & Sandra & Britta & Detlef
Bergstrasse 82a
44339 Dortmund

Dear Cecilia!!!

I´m a very big fan of You!!!

I ask You for three handwritten autograph-cards.

Thank You very much in advance!

I wish You a great success for the future and all the best for You and Your family!!!

With friendly regards
-Your Fan-

Stephan Lindner
Hauptstr. 15
D-67808 Bayerfeld

I´m a great Fan and admirerer of you. I would there be very happy if you could send me 2 handwritten pictures of you.

I would be very pleased if you could fulfill my wishes. Many thanks in advance for your kindness.

I wish you all the best for the future.

My Adress : Darius Romanek
Lärchenweg 3
D -90530 Wendelstein
Yours sincerely,
dear cecilia
Just a short e-mail to say that i am a great admirer of your work.
It is with much interest that i would like to know your favourite leisure interests.
Would you please consider sending me your autograph, it would be much appreciated. My snail mail address is:-
WV10 8DT

Many Thanks
Graydon Wall

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I'm ashamed, dear readers, at the long lapses of non-entries in my blog, and by way of explanation, I'm sharing you with you information about some book projects of mine. (What I am saying is that I'm quite busy!). Two are forthcoming this year by Anvil, a how-to-write book (Fundamentals of Creative Writing), which Anvil hopes to release before the Philippine school year begins in June 2009; and another book which I will not discuss out of sheer superstition. Here are the back cover blurbs of Fundamentals. Be sure and tell teachers of Creative Writing in the Philippines about my Fundamentals of Creative Writing (Anvil, forthcoming):

Fundamentals of Creative Writing is a powerful resource to encourage students and/or aspiring writers to strive for excellence in their writing skills. Not only does it guide readers through the basics of setting the scene, character, conflict, dialogue, plot, point of view, voice, style , theme and tone but it also provides useful activities that challenges the writer to get their creative juices flowing. I would highly recommend this excellent book to anyone who wants to improve and enhance their creative writing skills.
Jacqueline Gullas-Weckman
Vice-President, Academic Affairs
University of the Visayas

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard has written a wonderful resource for students of creative writing. This book, Fundamentals in Creative Writing, provides students with practical steps that truly work. The strategies presented in this book are a product of the authors 15 years of teaching creative writing. She is also a prolific writer who has written numerous short stories, novels, and non-fiction books.

Edmundo F. Litton, Ed.D.
Associate Professor of Education
Loyola Marymount University

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I am not allowed to mention names, but I had to bring someone to Kaiser's emergency late one night. The person had a horrific nose bleed, and it didn't seem to be your regular run-of-the-mill nose bleed, so at around midnight I drove wildly down the freeway. I didn't know if the person beside me would faint or what; the person's nose was bleeding profusely. Fortunately there is little traffic at that ungodly hour, and so we arrived emergency quickly.

You know those television movies showing White female nurses? Those images aren't accurate. There were several Filipina nurses in ER and my companion's nurse was a White male.

My companion was triaged and the person categorized low priority, which augured well but which meant a substantial wait. The waiting room had a smattering of sick children and adults. After midnight, I suspect that only the really sick ones show up in ER; those who can wait for morning do so. A young homeless man came in to watch TV, get warm for a bit I suspect, use the toilet, and get eyed by the security guard before vanishing.

After prodding the nurses a bit, my companion got a room. Leo took care of the person. "I'm the nurse," Leo said, "not the doctor." Growing up, I only had female nurses around so I spent some time observing Leo. He was competent and caring enough. When the woman next door starting crying," Jesus, help me, help me now, Jesus help me!" Leo went over and calmed her down.

My companion was treated by a young female Asian American doctor. (My companion asked her, "Are you Chinese or Korean?" The doctor replied acidly: American.) As a precaution my companion had to hang around ER for a spell to make sure the person was all right. It was 3 a.m. when I drove home, more calmly this time.

What a bit of heaven it is to leave hospitals and know that there's nothing seriously wrong with you or the person you've accompanied! Thank God!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Holy Land

THE HOLY LAND Cecilia Manguerra Brainard First published in LA Pinoy (Feb/March, 2009) 


 Last year in April, my husband and I visited the Holy Land. Our families and friends warned us of the tense political situation between Israel and Palestine, but we had heard that Israel goes through great lengths to protect their tourists. Born and raised a Roman Catholic, I was very excited about visiting the very place that Jesus had walked on.
We stayed in the Jerusalem Hotel, which is right outside the ancient walled city of Jerusalem. It was Good Friday, and right after throwing our bags into our room, we hurried to the walled city of Jerusalem to find the Via Dolorosa, the path that Jesus had taken during His Passion to His Crucifixion. The winding streets were narrow and crowded that afternoon. A large part of the walled city is like a marketplace, and both sides of the streets had lively bazaars selling clothes, spices, food, souvenirs, and other things. In fact, the Via Dolorosa was such a busy street, crammed with vendors and pilgrims. One had to realize that Jerusalem has changed through the centuries; its walls for instance have moved, and so what had been outside the walled city are now inside it, which is what they say about the Via Dolorosa – it used to be outside the city walls during the time of Christ. 

 We did the Stations of the Cross, pausing at the various sites where Jesus had been flogged, crowned with thorns, and so on. There were markers along the way, although it was tricky to get to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where tradition says Christ’s crucifixion and burial sites are located. The number of people in the Church was horrendous, and while I managed to climb up the narrow stairs to the place of Crucifixion, I could not get inside Christ’s tomb. I tried two other times but the lines remained extremely long. I had to contend with praying alongside the tomb, pressing the rosaries I had bought on the walls surrounding His tomb. There is a site in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that is highly revered, and it is the Stone of Unction on which the body of Christ reportedly lay. There is liquid on this slab of stone, which people sop up with cloth – shawls, bandages, every bit of cloth that they have - people save this fluid to keep or give away as something holy and miraculous.

My other favorite place in Jerusalem is the Mount of Olives, which are rolling hills riddled with olive trees, just outside the walled city. We exited the Gate of St. Stephen (where St. Stephen had been stoned to death) to the Mount of Olives. Near the Church of All Nations is an ancient olive garden of Gethsemane, and some of these olive trees are said to have been witnesses of Christ’s Passion. Nearby is another church which has a cave wherein Jesus and His Disciples used to rest. Not far away is an ancient Roman cemetery. It is all so peaceful and calm; one can understand why Jesus liked to spend time in this place.

The Dome of the Rock, whose golden dome dominates pictures of Jerusalem, makes one reflect on the Jewish Temple, which had stood there, before the Romans tore it down. This was where the Child Jesus had gotten lost and was found discussing with the elders. Jerusalem is riddled with biblical places such as these, and in fact there are usually two or more churches or sites claiming to be the place where the Last Supper was held, or where Mary was born, or where Mary was buried. These contradictions did not bother me. It was not so important to be accurate about where some event took place; it was enough to know that indeed somewhere in this place this event did happen.

We also drove outside of Jerusalem, to the River Jordan, which was another peaceful and beautiful place. The river was green and clear and a church allowed baptized people to swim in the river. Clothed in white robes, they bobbed up and down the green waters of the Jordan. Now there are eucalyptus trees along the riverbanks, but during Jesus’ time there were no eucalyptus trees.
The town of Capernaum is now in ruins, but you can still see the ruins of the synagogue where Jesus had preached; and you can also see the foundations of Peter’s house, where Jesus had healed his mother. 

 There is a place along the Sea of Galilee where Christ was said to have given His Sermon of the Mount. And the huge Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth houses the Grotto of the Annunciation, where Mary said her simple and courageous, “Be it done to me according to thy word.” In Cana, two churches – one Catholic and one Orthodox – claim to be site where Jesus turned water into wine, His first miracle in response to His mother’s plea, “They have no wine.” 

 The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem awakens such a feeling of awe as you stare at the spot where Christ was said to have been born. Bethlehem, located in the Palestinian side, was clearly depressed, and I found myself wondering why the Palestinian souvenir stores in Bethlehem were closed, why the Palestinians were treated like second-hand citizens, why Palestinians born in Israel, did not hold Israeli passports. These are political questions; but then, even during Jesus’ time, political questions were asked. There is a mental phenomenon called the Jerusalem Syndrome, where some Jerusalem-visitors exhibit strange behavior, such as thinking they are Mary Magdalene, or feeling compelled to shout verses or psalms from the bible. I could see how that could happen to someone overwhelmed by all the history and palpable energy in these biblical sites. There is something powerful in the Holy Land. How humbling and awesome to see where Our Lord was born, where He grew up, where He had worshipped, where He had walked, where He had died. How enriching to look at the terrain of Galilee and note that it was greener than Judea which is an arid desert. Or to look at the vastness of the Sea of Galilee and imagine Jesus and His Apostles on fishing boats on that same sea.


This was what the visit to the Holy Land did to me: it made the bible come to life. I can now imagine Jesus preaching, healing, walking with his disciples from place to place. I now have an inkling of the distance from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, or Nazareth to Jerusalem. I now have an idea of the multicultural society that had existed during the time of Christ, and which continues to this day in Jerusalem – Jews, Christians, and Muslims, live side by side, not always in harmony, but the three venerate many of the same sites in the Holy Land, and all worship the God of Abraham.

Tags: #holyland #Catholicsites #Jerusalem 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Dear Diary,
Sometimes I feel I have a cold heart. I know that the Man and Woman, and their Sons do their best to please me, but I generally look at them with contempt, except of course when I am hungry and have to suck up to them. But in general I use them. It's a fair trade: they feed me, and I'm cute.

I didn't always belong to the Man and Woman, but belonged to their oldest Son. I heard them talking once that I was the runt in my family, and the Son got me when I was very young and weak. He bottle fed me. Life was all right then although it was boring because he'd leave me at home all day. Then one day, he whisked me up and put me in a box and brought me to the Man and Woman's house. I was to stay there. It didn't seem too bad of a place - they had the room, they had a garden, and they even had a cat door so I could come and go. The problem was that they had this old dour white cat who hated me. I simply could not understand how she could be so mean to me; she should have mothered me. I was so cute. Then I understood that she was jealous of me - it was as simple as that. She hissed when I was near her, and she whacked me with her paws. In the beginning she frightened me very much and I used to cower under the chairs and tables. The Woman would pick me up and console me, and better yet, she would spank the white cat for being mean to me.

Later I realized that the white cat was old and slow. I learned to come up behind her and quick hit her with my right paw, then run fast so she didn't even know what hit her. I got my revenge this way.

This white cat was my nemesis. It gave me pleasure to see her punished for being cruel to me. Then one day they brought her to the cat-doctor and she had to have her ears cut. She had growths or something. And the worse part was that the Man and Woman moved her to their upstairs bedroom and I was forbidden to go up there. This was the lowest point of my life. I learned about bitterness and anger and my heart turned so icy and brittle I thought it'd crack.

I snubbed them. I went out all day. I found neighbors to feed me. They thought I was abandoned, and they gave me food and water and I could even sleep in their patio. But in the evening I returned to remind the Man and Woman that I was still alive and that I hated them. On several occasions I pissed on the carpet, but the Man caught me and rubbed my nose on the pee-stain and threw me out of the house - so I decided that wasn't the best tactic.

It was really best to be cool and calculating, to use them and never to kowtow to them. That's how I acquired my cold heart.

Remembering all this is upsetting to me so this is all I'll say about this matter. Oh - the white cat, she died one day and things got better for me, but I still feel resentment now and then.


Monday, March 2, 2009


Dear Readers, look what I discovered hidden under the kitchen cabinet - my Tuxedo cat's diary. Let's see what she wrote today:
Monday, March 2, 2009

At 6 a.m. I was hungry and as much I detest begging, I had to go to the upstairs bedroom of the Man and Woman. I jumped up their bed - let me say that again - I clawed up their bed. I have some arthritis now and it's not so easy to leap and jump, but I can dig my claws into their comforter and drag myself up. Then, right away, she grabbed me and hugged me close to her. Frankly I can't stand all that closeness; the claustrophobia gets to me, but I try to be patient and let her hold me tight. In five minutes, she has to change position in bed, and she relaxes her hold on me, and I slip away. The Man does not grab me, and I much prefer sitting on his lap or on his chest, but this morning he's fast asleep. She's awake though and is my only hope for getting fed this early. I proceed to lick my fur, fuss-fuss-lick-lick, so she knows I'm hungry. By 7, she finally drags herself down to the kitchen. I race downstairs, leading the way in fact. I made a zigzag going down, and raced to my plates and sat there, staring at yesterday's old food. Dear God, I prayed, don't let her mix new food with that. Fortunately, she picked up my food plate and she washed it. Then she scrutinized the array of food she has for me: Fancy Feast, Friskies Classic Pate, Friskie's Slice, and Chicken by the Sea tuna. The latter is for people, but she likes to give this to me now and then. Sometimes she mixes the people-tuna with the canned food, and sometimes she doesn't. She does funny things with my food. Sometimes she puts a raw egg in it; often she pours a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in it; and she also puts some Immugen and Glucosamine in the food. Sometimes, the taste is God-awful, but sometimes I'm just so hungry that I go ahead and eat the food she seves.

This morning it's Fancy Feast with raw egg and Olive Oil -yuck, double-yuck, triple-yuck, but I ate some of it anyway just because I was starving. For that awful breakfast though I swore I'd snub her the entire day.

It was a cloudy day but I sat outside on the steps. It's nice to sit here especially when it's a sunny day. I can lay around and lick myself and nap. There's a spiral staircase outside and right on the fourth or fifth step is where I like to rest. When the sun is up, the wrought iron staircase gets nice and warm and it's heavenly laying out there. This morning it was chilly but to punish her, I lay outside anyway - I don't mind Fancy Feast, but to ruin the flavor with raw egg is criminal.

At noontime, it started to drizzle and I had no choice but to go in. I had to be extra quiet and I lay on the Man's chair in the den, hoping she wouldn't notice, otherwise she'd grab me again to squeeze and stroke me. I don't mind a bit of this lovey-dovey stuff, but too much makes me want to barf.