Tuesday, June 30, 2009


The prisoners in Cebu have been mourning Michael Jackson's passing. View this, and be sure to view their original rendtion of "Thriller." It's a scream. Take a look at their "Hustle" and "Macarena" as well.

I think I will have to see them perform this coming January.

They practice 4 hours and day and don't have time to be mad, according to the prison officer.

http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=115660972779&h=4Lmig&u=ofFC4&ref=nf - This original has 27.6 million YouTube hits as we talk.

And here's their preparation for their tribute to Michael Jackson. Click here

I guess I should confess I'm Cebuana,which is why I'm so amused at all this.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The Parian district of historic old Cebu just celebrated the fiesta of its patron, St. John the Baptist. I am waiting to hear how it turned out, but here's an early quick report from Atty. Lynley Ocampo who attended the event with the Osmena Canoys (mother and daughter). I'll continue to paste reports as they come in. The old pictures show the Parian triangle and Parian church as these once appeared. The old church was torn down and there is a small chapel that stands in its place. Now under the care of the Cofradia de San Juan Batista, the chapel was where tridium prayers and the fiesta Mass were held. Cardinal Vidal said the Mass. Knowing the Cofradia people, headed by Louie Nacorda, the chapel was decorated nicely, and the antique statues of San Juan, Jesus, and Angel held court in there.

More as news comes in.

From Lynley Ocampo:
Thank you very much for the invitation. We had a very lovely evening. It
was also very interesting to see Ng Titang Diola for the very first time.
It was a different experience for me. The Canoys also give their thanks.

During the short program, Louie told us that he petitioned San Juan if he
could please stop the rain - or not make it rain from 9am to 9pm since it
had been raining for two days already. When Louie realized that the
program started late, he asked for an extension of one hour. It hasn't
rained even up to this morning. We were unable to join the procession and
went straight to dinner. Am looking forward to next year's festivities.

From Louie Nacorda:
...we had the most grandiose feast ever yesterday! The Mass and procession were well attended; we had three carrozas, three bands, and Casa Gorordo was full house, up to the balcony! The weather was cool and dry. St. John the Baptist must have been very happy. Even the Gorordo ghosts made manifestations to some people in the azotea!

Viva SeƱor San Juan Bautista!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Evolution of a Book Cover - Finding God (Anvil)- w/ addendum by Marily

I've been working on 3 book projects. I thought I'd share a bit of the process of the evolution of the book cover of Finding God: True Stories of Spiritual Encounters. First, I'd like to mention that my coeditor is Marily Y. Orosa and the contributors to this anthology are: Mila Aguilar, Evelyn Seno, M.G. Bertulfo, Tony Robles, Edgar Poma, Aileen Ibardaloza, Paulino Lim, Jr., Evelina Galang, Raquel Balagtas, Brian Roley, Marlinda Tan, Lisa Martinez, Felice Sta. Maria, C. Sophia Ibardaloza, Susan Evangelista, & Reme Grefalda. Marily and I also have essays in the book.

The book cover came about this way: Marily has an original painting of a forest scene, which we decided to use for the cover. Since Marily has her own publishing house, we have an agreement with Anvil that Marily's publishing house will design the cover, even while Anvil designs the inside pages and does the final printing. Marily's artist took the artwork and designed a first draft. Marily and I gave him feedback and he came up with a slightly different version. Since we have more comments, he'll tweak the cover some more. Once the artist gets our final approval, the cover will be forwarded to Anvil who will finalize the whole thing: inside pages and cover, after which, the files will be sent to the printer's.

Book making is a slow, tedious process, from getting the contents in order, to making the book beautiful. Even the choice of paper matters. Every part of a book must be given thought.

I couldn't upload the colored pdf file so I switched it to jpg, which came out black and white. This is the second draft, so the final cover will have minor changes. And of course it will be in color - greens, and golds, very rich and florid.

The articles in this anthology are quite strong and I can't wait to see the book itself.

Here's more from Marily Ysip Orosa about the cover (Joe is Marily's husband who unfortunately passed away last January):

"The cover is an original watercolor painting by Dante Divina, my former art director now turned painter. It is a secret passage to Mt. Everest. Joe during his illness encouraged Dante to prepare for an exhibit, his first, which Joe would fully sponsor. For the next 8 months, Joe whether he was in the USA, Singapore or the phils would clip nice scenic images for Dante to paint. The cover of our book was Joe's favorite and was used as the theme painting for the exhibit held April 2008. It is entitled SECRET PLACE, and hangs in Joe's office room."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Updates Finding God, Growing Up Filipino II, and Fundamentals of Creative Writing

Here are some updates on the 3 books I'm working on, which will hopefully be released in 2009:

1. Finding God - coedited by Cecilia Brainard & Marily Orosa, Anvil Publisher
The cover is finished; it uses a lovely painting of a trail in a green quiet forest. Studio 5 Designs is doing the cover, even though Anvil is publishing the book. My co-editor informs me that the back cover will have the blurbs, and will show our picture with this beautiful scripture reading:

"For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

2. Growing Up Filipino II (ed Brainard)- With the help of Tony Robles, I finally corrected the manuscript for the nth time. I shared the manuscript with the contributors and there were still mistakes. Paulino Lim's "papayas" ended up as "Loloyas," for instance. How that happened, I'll never know.

3. Fundamentals of Creative Writing (by Brainard)- Since I proofed it, I haven't heard back from Anvil, my publisher so I'm assuming the book has gone ahead with production and will be released by August if not sooner. I think Anvil was trying to catch the beginning of the school year, June.

These are all the updates for now. I've been busy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


(My cat Kiki asked me to post the following letter to Sundance. Sundance is a young cat that befriended Kiki on Facebook. Here is a picture of Sundance, and you can look her up in Facebook under Sundance Knows - Cecilia)

Dear Sundance,
I've decided to mentor you. You are young and innocent and there is much to learn to be able to survive in this world.

Perhaps the most important advice I can give you is TO BE CUTE AT ALL TIMES. This is vital to your existence. By "cute" I am referring to both external and internal cuteness.

The external is obvious. When we cats are born, we are normally cute: small, furry, fluffy, with heart-rending cries that tug at the hearts Feeders. But that kittenish cuteness does not last. Do not think that for a moment, otherwise you will be doomed!

No, we cats have to learn to groom ourselves constantly. My mother taught me that. Lick your fur, wipe your face, especially around your eyes and mouth. I do not have to mention your privates - that is obvious. And chew some grass to clean your teeth and breath. Fleas can be a problem, especially in the summer, but hopefully your Feeder uses Vantage or Frontline once a month. It's a bummer getting treated; I myself get queasy for a couple of days, but in the long run,it's worth it. You don't want fleas on you. Fleas can cause worms, and that's a whole other problem altogether, very un-cute to say the least, to have wiggly worms in your poop. Your Feeder will NOT find that endearing.

Don't forget to clean your ears, otherwise you might get ear mites,and Feeders also find that disgusting.

The other kind of cuteness I want to address has to do with making a real effort to win the heart of your Feeder - totally and completely so that he or she belongs to you for the rest of your life. Even when you become old like me, he/she will still think you are a delightful kitten.

Look at me, I'm 17, very old for a cat, but the Woman-who-opens-cans thinks I'm incredibly cute. She takes pictures of me, checks on me constantly, makes sure I have my favorite food (including people tuna, salmon, and bits of steak - really, anything I want). She is at my beck and call. This is because I won her heart completely when I was young.

I saw the picture of you on the shoulder of your Feeder. That's good. That's a start. You have to learn to climb on her lap or get into bed with her and snuggle up close. You have to purr, even when you're not in the mood. For some reason Feeders think purring is very cute. You should also bat their faces with your paws. And don't forget to lick their faces; they also think that's cute. You have to be constantly visible to them. When they walk into the room, there you are laying on the bed, softly snoring; when they walk into the kitchen,there you are looking straight into their eyes, meowing; when they are working at the desk or in the garden, there you are sidling up against their legs; when they are watching TV, there you are on their laps. It is the constant contact that makes you become so much a part of their lives that they come to believe they could never exist without you.

Once this happens, you can have anything you want. You can just about do anything you want. I say "anything" not "everything" in this case because while Feeders can forgive occasional outbursts of temper from us cats (I myself have scratched the Woman-who-opens-cats when she pissed me off), they will NOT tolerate peeing or pooping around their house. That can get you in serious trouble; in fact, that could be a death sentence.

I will close for now Sundance because I have to run to the rose garden while the sun is up. It was cloudy where I live this morning but now the sun is up and I just love laying around our rose garden.

I am attaching a picture of me on a bed, to prove my point about getting what you want when you play it right.

Yours truly,

Monday, June 8, 2009

Excerpt from my cat Kiki's Memoirs!

(I found this excerpt of my cat Kiki's Memoirs. I knew she was working on a novel, but didn't know about her memoirs. - Cecilia)

When I think of my mother,I recall her soft belly which I loved kneading. A memory comes to me of a sunny afternoon and Mother and the six of us in the wicker basket near the kitchen door. The door was partly open and sunlight angled in, warming our basket, warming us. I was kneading the belly of my mother and she was licking me all over so that by the time I was suckling on her teat, I was damp all over. The memory of it sends shivers up my spine. Mother was white, pure white and she always smelled of milk. I don't remember a lot of details about her because we were together for only seven weeks. I know that she had long lashes because they used to tickle when she licked me. Her pink tongue felt raspy as she licked me all over and the feel of that sand-papery tongue against my tender skin was heaven. She was meticulous about keeping the six of us clean. I believe this is where I got my own meticulousness; I can spend hours grooming myself.

Mother was just a year old when she had us. She had a flighty Feeder, a student who forgot to bring her to the vet to have her fixed, and since my mother was a gad-about who enjoyed staying up late in back alleys, she quickly became pregnant. I do not know my father, but I assume he was one of those late-night encounters behind some garbage cans under the moonlight. He was no doubt a tuxedo cat like me and two of my siblings. The other three had white fur, like Mother.

Thinking of that distant past fills me with conflicting feelings of happiness and sadness. While my mother seemed to be the perfect mom - feeding us, grooming us constantly, she had a marshmallow personality. She didn't know how to handle the intense sibling rivalry that went on: the white furred ones against the tuxedo ones. Unprovoked the white ones constantly nudged us away from Mom's teats. The other two males fought back, and got their share of Mother's milk. But not me. This saddens me even now, because Mother could have done something. Certainly a little nip to the ears of those wicked siblings would have done the trick. But no, she lay there, smiling, looking content, as if we were in paradise when in fact hellish fighting went on right under her nose.

I became the runt of the litter. I looked like someone from the third world with kwashiorker, and truly,I could have died, if the student hadn't given me away to another student. I was not yet weaned and this Boy-who-opened-the-cans had to bottle feed me. In fact, he didn't do it; his girlfriend did. Bless her. By the time she was out of the picture, I was fortunately big enough to eat regular cat food, which the Boy-who-opened-the-cans used to leave before he left for school. He would be gone all day and I used to get terribly bored in his apartment, so I took to chewing and ripping apart whatever clothes and papers I could find. And I didn't always use the cat box, just to get a rise from him when he got in at night. Once I peed into his leather boot, and shortly after that, he turned me over to the Woman-who-opens-cans. At that time she had another cat, a white one whose appearance reminded me of my mother, except that this cat absolutely hated me...

(And here the excerpt ends. I'll have to hunt around to find more pages. Kiki hides them in the most unlikely places: under the sink, under the bed in the guest room, etc.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Working for Freedom - Violence vs. Nonviolence

I've been thinking about Che Guevara (again) and how he chose to pick up the gun. I've been comparing him to people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Burma's Aung San San Kyi who have chosen nonviolence. I am not sure which is the more effective way. One wants to say that nonviolence is the way, but I wonder how many people have chosen this path and died and were never even heard of. I wonder if in some cases revolution is more effective in wresting freedom from the ones holding it.

I'm thinking about those empires in Egypt and in Turkey that swept in and replaced old empires; these did not happen peacefully. Alexander the Great, the Ottomans, and others had armies; they fought and conquered.

I agree that the more noble activity is to change the heart and mind, the actual chemistry of a human being - and this is what Gandhi, King, and Kyi have/are doing. But I think this works only with the help of the media.

When the media is repressed as in China and Burma, the world barely knows of the struggles for freedom within those countries. People die in those countries for their causes, and we don't even know of them.

Does change still happen even in these cases?

I'd read about how the anger of the oppressor is diminished when the oppressed does not fight back, but takes it. Theoretically, the oppressor runs out of anger.

Could this be true?

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Letter from my Cat Kiki

I found the following letter from my cat, Kiki:

Dear Woman-who-opens-cans,
I understand you have been writing about me and posting my pictures in cyperspace. I trust you realize you have done so without my permission. Is it true that you ridiculed a recent hunting expedition of mine? And I also understand you have been talking about my recent illness, bandying it about for the entire world to know. I do not mind so much when you say I've lost weight,but I take offense when you describe my fur as being "three-toned." I don't know if you've looked in the mirror carefully, at your own hair - "three-toned" suits you better. I have long-forgotten the original color of your hair. And talk of weight, I wish I could say that you've lost weight. Au contraire I detect some puffiness around the middle, probably from all the lokum sweets you stuffed yourself with in Turkey. Shame on you.

I will, for now, let this matter go, but I give you fair warning that I may not be so patient the next time it happens and will take proper legal action.

Truly Yours,

Thursday, June 4, 2009


The answer to yesterday's Jack Pot Question:

1. The Revolutionary Post is in the middle, in the back, leaning against the headboard.

2. Her name is Mila D. Aguilar, click here for more information about her

And more about Mila, click here.

3. The 4 women were being silly.

All for tonight.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I shouldn't be happy, I know it. The bird certainly isn't, if the poor thing survived at all. But I actually feel elated that my 16 or 17 year old cat, Kiki, caught a bird! It was a real bird, not a featherless one that fell out of its nest. This one had brown feathers and was almost adult-sized. A sparrow. I was working in my office when I heard a loud yowl from Ms. Kiki. I turned and saw her by the doorway. She had on her bratty expression, and I thought maybe she was asking for food again, or complaining about her food. It took me a split second to see the little sparrow scurrying away from her and hiding near a pile of books. I picked up Ms. Kiki and locked her up in the bathroom; she wasn't happy about that.

I opened the sliding doors wide so the bird could see the sunshine, the outdoors; usually, they fly out that way. Not this dummy. It remained huddled near the books. I poked it with a ruler and it flew the opposite way. And hid. This went on several times, until I had to move furniture away, and using a paper towel I gingerly picked it up and brought it to our thick bougainvillea bush that houses half the bird population in Santa Monica. The bird probably came from that bush in the first place. The bird didn't fight me when I picked it up. It looked dazed. I didn't see any blood. It's feathers were damp, probably from the gumming of my old cat. I placed the bird on a branch and told it to hide. It hopped away from me, vanishing into the bougainvillea, and I left it there. I waited a while before I released Ms. Kiki from the bathroom. Boy was she pissed! She yowled, louder this time, and sprinted out of my office, to show me her disgust.

I know she was showing off when she had brought the bird into my office. I know it took a lot of effort for the cat to have caught that bird. Kiki almost died in April! She had a serious allergy attack and she started ripping out her fur and lost so much weight. After treating her with antihistamine, Immugen, and using the Elizabethan collar on her, she got better. Not completely well, but better. Some days are better than others. Some days she looks like death warmed over; other days she looks almost normal.

But even during her good days, she looks ghastly. Her black fur has turned three-toned:a reddish-brown where she'd licked excessively, a lighter black, and a deeper black where the new growth has sprung up. To make matters worse in April I'd cut off some of her long fur when she had been yanking her fur out; every day is a bad hair day for her: she has long fur, short fur, and a black fuzz.

But she's alive!

And she's just proven she can still catch a bird!

The Answer to yesterday's Jack Pot question is: Back row, 6th from the left.
And here's tonight's Jack Pot Question: Where's the Revolutionary Poet in this picture? And what's her name? And what are these four women doing in bed with Eddie Quirino in that enormous four-poster bed in Vigan? (click on the picture to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More on Facebook

I'm flexing my mind here; I feel Facebooked-out. I've put in photos, links and notes in my Facebook site, and I've learned to respond to other Facebookers' comments, but I haven't learned to come up with cute comments to post so everyone will a) Comment back; or b) click "like." Facebook another medium, entirely. Many writers like it, and I think its for networking opportunities or for simply huddling together - birds-of-a-feather.

Facebook is allowing me to connect with my in-laws, classmates, with my ex-lawyer, with writers and teachers. Even people from Cebu.

My Facebook account is "Public" so I have to mind what I post. I could make it private, but what's the fun in that? Even though I've semi-complained about it, the din is entertaining. There are the serious ones with their causes; there are the ones that diligently answer the question "What's on your mind?" which is posted right above your Profile or Home Page.

In the beginning, I took that seriously and posted things like, "I'm trying to figure out this Facebook thing." Surprisingly a number of people stepped forward to help me. Then there's the matter of posting photos, after uploading, you're prompted to publish, and I thought that meant to publish in the photo section, and I kept clicking this, after uploading pictures of our trip to Turkey, other travel trips, pictures of Filipino and FilAm writers - click, click, click...until I realized that every time I clicked, this was broadcasted and announced to all my Facebook Friends. My God, they were polite! No one complained about all those pictures. In fact, I had some positive comments and some "likes." I guess that's what friends are for. These friends, or some of them, are not old friends, but contacts, sometimes friends of friends. I've made it a point to include in my Friend List people who are in the Friend list of someone I know. But the fact remains that strangers can access this Facebook site. It's like this Blog, anyone can access it. But there hasn't been a glut of visitors, so I shouldn't worry too much about my Facebook account being public, I suppose.

Enough monologuing for now. I'm making quiche and have to check it. We're having that with still-warm French bread. Yum!
Click here to visit my Facebook site.
Jack Pot Question - Where's Cecilia in this picture? (click on the picture to enlarge it)- And don't you think the nun looks like Pat Boone?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Call for Submission from Choosingamerica.com

The Choosing America Project

America is a nation of immigrants. Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Greta Garbo, Martina Navratilova, Hans Bethe, Madeleine Albright, Gloria Estefan, Michael J. Fox ,Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carlos Santana, Sammy Sosa, Hakeem Olajuwon.
None of them was born in America. All chose America. Like you.

Whether you came from Germany, England, Italy or the Czech Republic, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, or Cuba, whether you immigrated to America as a child, a young adult, or with your own children, whether it was your decision or your parents', whether you immigrated in the 20's, 50s' the 80s' or just yesterday, you must have one special story to tell. And we want to hear it!

The Choosing America Project

We are looking for authentic dramatic anecdotes, short stories (1500-4000 words) that epitomize your experience as immigrants who CHOSE to live in America.
Think of something that has happened to you as an immigrant - We are looking for those special moments, encounters, surprises, experiences, disappointments, which vividly convey what it's like to be an immigrant in America. The good, the bad, the sad, the miraculous, the joyful— every anecdote is welcome as long as it's authentic and well told.


The goal of our project is to turn some of these stories into short films that will be shown in the movies and broadcast on TV.

So think carefully of that special story that is worth telling the world, and share it with us.
Send your story to: stories@choosingamerica.com

We'll be glad to answer any further questions you might have.
For more details go to: www.choosingamerica.com

The answer to the May 29 Jack Pot Question is - Salman Rushdie