Monday, November 30, 2009

LISTED IN AMAZON.COM GROWING UP FILIPINO II: More Stories for Young Adults now lists the hardcover of Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, click on this site:


DISTRIBUTED BY: Ingram, Baker & Taylor,, Barnes and Noble, among others
P. O. Box 5099
S.M., CA 90409
Tel/fax: 310-452-1195;;;

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults is the second volume of the Growing Up Filipino series by PALH. In this collection of 27 short stories, Filipino and Filipino American writers explore the universal challenges and experiences of Filipino teens after the historic events of 9/11. The modern demands do not hinder Filipino youth from dealing with the universal concerns of growing up: family, friends, love, home, budding sexuality, leaving home. The delightful stories are written by well known as well as emerging writers. While the target audience of this fine anthology is young adults, the stories can be enjoyed by adult readers as well. There is a scarcity of Filipino American literature and this book is a welcome addition.
CONTRIBUTORS: Dean Francis Alfar, Katrina Ramos Atienza, Maria Victoria Beltran, M.G. Bertulfo, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Amalia B. Bueno, Max Gutierrez, Leslieann Hobayan, Jaime An Lim, Paulino Lim Jr., Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor, Dolores de Manuel, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Veronica Montes, Charlson Ong, Marily Ysip Orosa, Kannika Claudine D. Peña, Oscar Peñaranda, Edgar Poma, Tony Robles, Brian Ascalon Roley, Jonathan Jimena Siason, Aileen Suzara, Geronimo G. Tagatac, Marianne Villanueva

BIO OF EDITOR: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the award-winning author and editor of over a dozen books, including the internationally-acclaimed novel, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, Magdalena and Acapulco at Sunset and Other Stories. She edited Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults, Fiction by Filipinos in America, and Contemporary Fiction by Filipinos in America, and co-edited four other books. Cecilia also wrote Fundamentals of Creative Writing (2009) for classroom use. She teaches at UCLA-Extension’s Writers Program.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Book Review - Finding God: True Stories of Spriritual Encounters

Book review of "Finding God" BY ALLEN GABORRO (Philippine News, November 20, 2009)
TITLE: Finding God: True Stories of Spiritual Encounters
Edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Marily Ysip Orosa
PUBLISHER: Anvil Publishing (Manila)
158 pages
Distributed in the US by, email
“Finding God: True Stories of Spiritual Encounters” is a righteous anthology of works that focus on the mark that God has made on the book‘s writers. A total of 18 pieces have been contributed to “Finding God” which was put together and edited by author Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and book publisher Marily Ysip Orosa.

Their publication is timely, depending of course on how you would identify yourself as either a religious person, an agnostic, or as a non-believer. The book attempts to fill the void between Christian ideals and the confounding reality of our modern, secular existence by trying to inspire its reading audience into realizing a closer, more personal relationship with God. And in a time when Filipinos and Filipino Americans are ever-mindful of the pressing demands of the temporal world, “Finding God” seeks to rebrand humanity with God’s fullness and grace.

At the risk of sounding evangelistic, Brainard and Orosa have touted their anthology as nothing less than “God’s book” and that they were “His tools” in the creation of that book. A little melodramatic perhaps, but that is not to say that the true believing reader will not feel God’s presence throughout the pages of “Finding God.” In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that the editors have indisputably attributed the conception and the production of the book to God himself.

“Finding God” finds unity in diversity as it respects the authors’ individualism and the awareness that they share something in common that is very sublime and transcendent. That something is their Christian faith and it is the glue that holds all of the book’s contributors together. Brainard and Orosa apply that faith to create a consensus of spirituality out of a collection of people who, judging from the multiplicity of their backgrounds, may not agree at all on other issues.

Foremost among the stories in “Finding God” is the anthology’s very first one, titled “Losing God” by Mila D. Aguilar. To understand Aguilar’s essay, one need look no further than her life both as a young girl and then later, as a political revolutionary. As a young girl, Aguilar determined that God did not exist, that “there was no God, that he was but a figment of man’s imagination.” Her first-hand look at poverty in the Philippines caused Aguilar to conflate the deprivation she saw with the nonexistence of God. Consequently, her mindset acknowledged no other philosophy other than atheism and communism “as the ultimate solution to social inequality.”

The images of Aguilar’s arrest and incarceration in 1984 by Ferdinand Marcos’s security forces are filled with tension, drama, and danger. Surviving her imprisonment becomes tenuous at one point, as one of her interrogators implies that her days on earth are numbered. Ironically it is at this point that Aguilar, the atheistic revolutionary, refers her fate to a divinity in her moment of impending doom: “If that is what God wills…I was as ready to die or be butchered.” Aguilar eventually finds her way to God after her release from prison following the downfall of the Marcos regime.

A spiritual being can easily find divine inspiration in the collection’s narratives for “Finding God” reverently depicts the vital spirituality that colors its assortment of stories. However, a principally secular humanist and rationalist—there are far more of them among Filipinos and Filipino Americans than one might think—would take issue with this. The book is to the Filipino Christian faithful what a prayer meeting is to a gathering of devoted attendees. “Finding God” conveys a message that is totally commensurate with the Christian worldview and ethos, but one that is also at variance with any model of critical discussion. In this sense, Brainard’s and Orosa’s publication is a microcosm of Christianity’s immutable version of compassionate conservatism and pathos.

With seemingly intricate candor, “Finding God” tries to do justice to the completeness of God by posing an interchange between the spiritual lives and faith of its contributors and those who choose to closely consider the moral and historical contradictions that surround the Christian religion. By doing so, the book’s editors deliver a spiritually sobering yet uplifting message of faith that some readers will embrace and others will take with a grain of salt.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

News Coverage of Finding God Book Launchings

My friend Chinggay Utzurrum send some news articles about the book launchings of the book Finding God: True Stories of Spiritual Experiences, which Marily Orosa and I coedited (click on the image to get a bigger view). The pictures show: Karina Bolasco, Mayen Tan, Isagani Cruz, Marily Orosa, Evelyn Seno, Raquel Balagtas, Mila Aguilar, Evelyn Ramirez, Maribel Paraz, Brenda Arroyo,Mila Santillan, Joy Uytioco, Nina Yuson, Edna del Rosario,Carlos Cortes, Louie Nacorda, Gavin Bagares, Bobit Avila, Honey Loop, Carlos Cortes, and more :

The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Freeman Article "Writers Pay Homage to the Queen City"

I have an essay in this anthology. I'm sorry I can't attend the book launching scheduled Nov. 27 in Cebu.
Cebu Lifestyle
Writers pay homage to the Queen City
(The Freeman) Updated November 21, 2009 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - Anvil Publishing releases the third in a collection of books on cities with Cebu We Know, which will be launched on November 27, 4pm in Powerbooks Cebu at the SM Cebu North Wing. The book features essays by well-known Cebuano writers compiled by fictionist and columnist Erma Cuizon.

Located at the ‘very navel’ of the Philippine archipelago, Cebu is a center of trade and culture whose history is older than most cities in the country. As a layover to many people from Visayas and Mindanao, the island draws tourists and migrants who eventually call it home. Cebu is shown in its many facets and moods by the book’s contributors like Resil Mojares, Simeon Dumdum Jr. and Renato Madrid who write about its history and legends. Its coastline and beaches are the subject of essays by Erlinda Alburo, Charmaine Carreon and Hope Yu. Cebu is written of fondly by those who have left like Charmaine Fajardo and Cecilia Brainard.

Non- Cebuano writers also pay homage to this friendly city. In his foreword, Isagani Cruz writes, “From this book, I learned that writers can be inspired by almost anything on the island, such as horses, songs, cab drivers, stinginess, trees, seafood, corals, weeds, roast pig, coffee and schools. From what they experienced in Cebu, the writers in this book have weaved words of wonder, turning reality into literature”.

Re When the Rainbow Goddess Wept

I got this email this morning; it makes my day.

Dear Ms. Brainard:
I am a student in Ms. Eve Caram's English 28 class, at LACC. I have had the pleasure of reading your novel, When The Rainbow Goddess Wept, and being an avid reader, I would like to let you know how much I truly enjoyed your book. I am looking forward to reading more of your books, as I am taking English 101 in the Spring. Ms. Caram speaks highly of you, and I am honored to be in her class. Thank you for your time and God bless you and your family. Happy Holidays!!

A real fan,
________________ (I've deleted the person's name for her privacy)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

WHERE THE DAYDREAMING CAME FROM, by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Click on Reprint with many pictures

(I'm sharing this personal essay to my readers. Copyright 2009 by Cecilia Brainard)

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
(part of the anthology Cebu We Know (Anvil 2009, Ed. Cuizon)

I have always been prone to daydreaming, traits which sometimes got me into trouble. “Pay attention, Cecilia!” the nuns used to tell me. The upside to the daydreaming is that the active fantasy world led to storytelling, which led me into writing.
But let me trace my beginnings to see where this daydreaming came from.

I was born and raised in the island of Cebu where my mother’s people came from. My father and his people came from another part of the Philippines – the North, Laguna specifically, where people spoke another dialect and ate meat and vegetable dishes with strong flavors. Laguna used to fascinate me for the simple fact that my father was born and raised there. Otherwise, it looked like any other provincial town, with a city hall, old church, and Spanish colonial stone and wood houses. I never lived there and only heard secondhand stories about my father’s family, about how, for instance, they had owned huge tracks of land which my grandfather gambled away. Laguna was a kind of mythic place which I didn’t really know.

It is Cebu I know. The very first breath I took was in Cebu. My first words were those spoken by Cebuanos. Even though I’d gone on to live in other places in the world, it is as if I carry a part of it within me always and likewise I feel as if Cebu has a place for me always.

My mother was in the nearby island of Opon for the fiesta of the Birhen sa Regla (Virgin of the Rule), patroness of the place, when her birth pains came. This was in 1947, two and a half years after Liberation. She had to catch the ferry to hurry to St. Anthony’s Maternity Clinic in Cebu City. It was Doctora Ramona Fernandez who assisted her. She had to be summoned when the waves of pain came in the early morning. On November 21, at 8:30 a.m. I was born, the fifth child of my mother, although one had died during wartime and so I grew up with three siblings. I was a large baby, almost 10 lbs, but with beriberi, a disease caused by thiamine deficiency and characterized by edema, weakness, irritability, and more serious problems such as heart problems. My mother suffered from lingering effects of World War II when she carried me in her womb. She was malnourished, which meant I too was malnourished. The lack of Vitamin B1 caused the beri-beri and I almost died.

My mother turned to the Santo Niño de Cebu, the Child Jesus patron of Cebu, famous for being miraculous. She danced her prayers just like the women you can still see shuffling their prayer-dances in front of the old stone church that houses the beloved Child Jesus. For the rest of her life, my mother always reminded me of my debt to the Santo Niño. “You owe your life to him,” she said, as she dragged us to hear Mass in the Santo Niño church. There I watched women dance their prayers and walk on their knees down the center aisle, and I smelled incense and burning candles, and looked in awe at the small-sized Niño clothed in red robes, while waiting for the interminable Mass to end. I continue to make it a point to visit the Santo Niño when I’m in Cebu.

Back in 1947 - from the clinic, I was brought to the house my family lived in, in Talisay. It was a temporary dwelling, a place my parents and their three children stayed in after the war ended. When they first got married, my parents lived in Manila but when World War II broke out, they evacuated to Mindanao, traveling by outrigger boats, with their two young children and some servants. My father joined the guerrilla movement in Mindanao, and there they had to move and hide from the Japanese soldiers. It was there where my mother gave birth to her third child behind some bushes with a Japanese patrol walking nearby; it was there where she lost her fourth child, a boy, whom we never discussed but who had taught my mother about the fragility of babies and life in general. The beri-beri had frightened her and when I was a girl she made sure I got my Vi-Dalin vitamins daily, and I had to drink milk every morning with breakfast. In the evening she made me take one raw egg – the whole slimy thing. She was constantly prodding me to eat, giving me choice morsels from the dining table, chicken gizzard and liver for instance. I recall a supper episode when I had to eat some dreaded vegetables, and finally to silence my mother I pretended to chew the veggies, only to secretly spit them into my hands and give them to one of our Police dogs.

That first house in Talisay belonged to my mother’s brother. The house was made of wood, on stilts, like a big nipa hut. It was situated near the sea and so early on I slept and awoke to the sound of waves lapping the shore and to fishermen shouting as they beached their outriggers. I was used to taking in the sea breeze and to having salt on my skin and in my hair. I was carried through coconut groves to the sandy beaches where I wondered at all the living things scampering on the gray sand, and where barefoot women sold fried bananas skewered together, and dripping with caramelized sugar. I ate rice, fish, pork, chicken, seaweed, mallungay, sweets made from coconut and sugarcane, and other simple straightforward foods still eaten by Cebuanos. Even now I will hanker for inununan, fish cooked in vinegar with crushed garlic, salt, and pepper.

My father worked as a District Engineer. He had done other things before the war but I’d only heard bits and pieces that he’d been to Thailand, that he’d worked for some bureau, and that he’d even worked in Indiana where he’d gone to engineering school. By the time I was born, he has 59 and had already led a full life. But I think that the more memorable things that my father did was teaching at the engineering department of the University of the Philippines, fighting as a guerrillero during World War II, and constructing roads and buildings, many of them still existing. I do not think I picked up my daydreaming from him because he was a very logical, methodical person.

I am not sure I got it from my mother either, who had a keen business mind, although she was more helter-skelter than my father. My mother said she was malnourished when she was carrying me within her because she would sometimes forget to eat. She and her lifelong friend, Mercedes Rodriguez, had a buy-and-sell business, and they sold things like army surplus goods and fire wood, and just about anything they could get their hands on. Later on, they went on occasional trips to Hong Kong to shop for merchandise to sell. All her life, my mother was busy with her business ventures. I’m sure that in Talisay, we children were left in the care of servants. My sisters talk of how my mother’s sisters looked down on us children because we smelled of fish or were not dressed nicely. This was possible since my mother came from a political family with some pretensions, and the kind of down-home style of living we had in Talisay was probably too “country” for my aunts who carried some ancient sibling rivalry with my mother. My mother’s sisters also questioned why my siblings attended the local public school instead of a private convent school. And why were we living in a glorified nipa hut as if it were still wartime and we were in the hinterlands of Mindanao?

It was probably my father, with his logical, methodical mind who decided we had to move to better quarters sooner or later. The event that may have precipitated our departure from the place was the horrific typhoon that blew into Cebu. The heavy rains caused waist-high floods and the violent sea rose and roiled up the local cemetery so that corpses floated about on the flooded streets. There were stories, which I can picture in my head as if they were my own experiences, of my siblings swimming through flooded streets to get home from school. Shortly after this, my parents finally talked about building their home in the city.

My mother’s brother helped my parents acquire the land in Cebu City, where they finally built our home, across some corn fields, near a river and the foothills, an area that was sparsely populated and remote. My father drew the plans and hired workers to construct the house. It was a Spanish-style house, with balconies, marble floors and crystal chandeliers. The surrounding grounds were spacious and my mother did most of the landscaping – fruit trees mostly – jack fruit, star apple, guava - flowering shrubs and low flowering plants. There was a teeter-totter and canopied swings so that even grownups could sit on the swings in the late afternoon to enjoy the cool breeze and supervise the gardener as he swept dry leaves and branches and burned them. We believed the smoke drove away mosquitoes and other insects. There was the main house with the kitchen, living room, dining room, bedrooms, bathrooms, veranda and balconies. There was another structure for the servants and for the cooking on the open hearth. There was a water tank and way in the back of the property was a garage, storage building, a place that I rarely visited because rats and monitor lizards lived in there, and more importantly, the nearby jack fruit tree had an agta, an enchanted black giant living in it. Needless to say there were endless stories about the agta, how the servants, even my brother had seen him one night when the moon was full. There were some other creepy happenings in our house: a maid became possessed and had to be exorcised by the Redemptorist priests; on Lent strange happenings would occur and all credited to the encantados that lurked around the area.

Indeed living in that house stimulated my daydreaming abilities because there were endless supernatural stories, as well as down-to-earth stories like love affairs and out-of-wedlock pregnancies. The radio soap operas in the early evening were also good primers in make-believe, because most evenings the servants listened to the convoluted plots dealing with love, revenge, and other deep human passions, all interlaced with conflict. I would sit and listen with them, in the outside kitchen with the open hearth, where I watched live chickens being decapitated for that night’s supper.

After a few years, the trees my mother had planted grew tall. I loved to climb the tall star apple trees with slender branches. There I indulged in fantasies about enchanted forests and magical giant pearls found in the heart of a banana fruit – the mutya. Sometimes I would get utterly lost in my dream world and would miss the call for lunch. Grumbling, my sister would have to threaten me in order for me to come down from those beloved trees.

When I was four my mother enrolled me in St. Theresa’s College. This ended the unhindered daydreaming I had in that house. My life became more regimented: up at 6 a.m., shower, don on the starched blue-and-white uniform, eat breakfast, leave for school by 7:15; first class at 8 a.m. I learned about rules and homework and sitting still with my hands folded together. This was the time I started to get scolded for daydreaming, that is for “not paying attention.” However the nuns did allow daydreaming when it came to theatrical plays and theme writing, which I loved. But I would say this was the time when I learned about discipline more than daydreaming.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Monday, November 16, 2009

Gold and Ancient Cebu, Philippines

Excerpt from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts - article by Prof. Felipe de Leon, Jr., Oct. 6, 2003:

"The answer to this is Pigafetta's account, at the time when the Magellan expedition sailed into Cebu harbor on April 7, 1521 when a large settlement of people hugging the shore greeted the Spanish. Sugbu was strung out four to five miles along the shore with a population estimated to number several thousands.

A narrow channel separated the settlement from the small flat island of Mactan, Cebu which was then ruled by a Rajah who was called Humabon--the title obviously appropriated from Malay. Pigafetta noted down the word Raja for King. He also mentioned two Siamese junks in Cebu with a cargo of gold and slaves.

Raja Humabon, Pigafetta further describes, "was seated on the ground on a mat of palms, with many people. He was quite naked, except for a cloth covering his private parts."

"Round his head was a very loose cloth, embroidered with silk. Round his neck was a very heavy rich chain, and in his ears were two gold rings hung with precious stones. He was a short man, and fat, and had his face painted with fire in diverse patterns. He ate on the ground from another palm mat, and then he was eating turtle eggs on two porcelain dishes, and he had four jars full of palm wine, which he drank with reed pipes."

It can also be mentioned that "barter rings" (large rings of pure gold) were used as currency--the size were as big as doughnuts, which traders carried and used in transacting business. Ancient Filipino gold, according to Ramon Villegas, was known as "Tumbaga" or red gold.

Jewelry making in Cebu, and other areas in the Philippines, could be one of the oldest in the world. The craftsmanship and artistry of early goldsmiths rival the finest that have come out of ancient jewelry centers like Bactria, India, and the Middle East, and Majapahit, Indonesia.

The unique characteristic of producing droplets of the granulated gold beads, each perfectly round, is a feat matching the early Etruscan's. Copper ring was found beside a copper tweezer-like object in Cebu similar to what was later found in Butuan, suggesting goldsmith or jewelry-making in Cebu. The copper tweezers were probably used to pick up minute gold granules or gold filigree.

In Naga, Cebu, 22 kilometers south, a burial site yielded an adze used for boat-making, native pottery shards, shell bracelets, beads and iron points.

From the artifacts unearthed in the three excavation sites in Cebu City, Dr. Rosa Tenazas and Carl Hutterer, a team of anthropologists from the University of San Carlos point to Cebu as a fishing village that evolved into a trading center, a manufacturing center that produced metal craft, jewelry, boats and cotton cloth.

It was also a trading center where nearby islanders could exchange forest products and food crops with finished goods or imported commodities. It was this concentration of technological skills and its strategic location that must have drawn people in ancient times to flock to old Sugbu..."

Gold found in Boljoon, Cebu, from SEAArch, April 2009:
" Gold jewelry was unearthed, again, at the archaeological dig located within the Patrocinio de Maria parish compound in Boljoon town, south of Cebu.

A 14 karat to 18 karat gold necklace measuring 1.1 meter long and weighing 34.1 grams was found in a burial ground along with the remains of a female.

They were unearthed by Capitol heritage consultant Jose Eleazar “Jobers” Bersales and a team from the University of San Carlos (USC) Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

The monetary value of the necklace, based on current exchange rate, is P22,650 but the historical significance and archaeological value, according to Bersales are “immeasurable.”"

Gold death masks - click here June 2009

The University of San Carlos, located in Cebu, is hosting an exhibit of rare finds, the Cebu Daily News reports.

Archaeologists from the institution's department of sociology and anthropology uncovered the pieces, which include a gold burial face mask.

It was found at Cebu's Plaza Independencia during a project that concluded last month, the news source noted.

Also on show is a gold necklace measuring over one metre in length and weighing more than 34 grams, which was uncovered at a burial site in Boljoon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Buddhist Self Mummification

I saw an interesting documentary on The Mystery of the Tibetan Monk, and started reading about self-mummification by Buddhist monks. Here's a comprehensive article; ignore the grammatical errors and mistakes; it has a lot of interesting information about Buddhist mummification:

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Secret Hall of Angels

(This article first appeared in Zee Lifestyle, April-May 2009. The magazine article includes a lot of pictures of Aula Angelorum.)

By Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Tucked away in Cebu in an unknown address is a private religious gallery called Aula Angelorum, latin for Hall of Angels, a name given by a priest after seeing the numerous oil paintings, wooden and ivory sculptures of Archangels that grace the gallery. In fact, the gallery also has paintings and sculptures of saints, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ. This collection of religious icons has been exhibited in the Santo Niño Exhibit at the Folk Arts Theater, the Ayala Mall, the Santo Niño Exhibit at SM Cebu City, and have participated in numerous religious processions. But despite their wide exposure, these statues and paintings return home to a secret place in Cebu, a dazzling whitewashed place that also houses 1950s vintage furniture, Ming dynasty plates, contemporary Chinese porcelain figures, and rare Filipiniana books. Walking into Aula Angelorum feels like stepping into bygone days, a place of Old World opulence and serenity, for indeed a prayerful feeling saturates the place, perhaps from the Masses and prayers regularly offered in here.

While the public is forbidden to know the location of Aula Angelorum, they are allowed to know the name of the owner - Louie Nacorda, who is well known in the corporate world as well as in the worlds of art and culture. Louie does not refer to his collection as material objects but speaks of them as if they are family members. “The child John the Baptist and Jesus Christ – these Baroque-like sculptures hold a very special place in my heart because I am a devotee of St. John the Baptism, and seeing him as a boy already dressed in camel pelt reminds me that John lived an ascetic life even in his youth,” he says.

He has also been heard to say, “I tell them if there is an earthquake they will fall; if there is a fire they will burn, so they better take care of themselves.” Indeed Louie has a quality of trusting in God completely, a trait that can discerned in his calm and gentlemanly manner.

Louie grew up in a religious family, surrounded from infancy by what he calls a “plethora of images – the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Joseph, St. Roch, St. Rita, and so on.” His family was the type that did the Lenten Passion chanting (Pabasa) and owned private chapels in their residences. Picking up on his family religiosity, Louie co-founded the Cofradia de San Juan de Bautista de Cebu (with Pepit Gorordo Revilles). He was appointed by Cardinal Vidal as the chamberlain or camarero of the image of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the unofficial patroness of the Cathedral of Cebu. The position involves making sure the image and carriage are properly adorned for the yearly celebration; he also coordinates with the Church authorities on the celebration and the procession. He was also assigned overall chairman of the 4th centennial celebration of the arrival of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo from Mexico. He has been appointed as chairman of so many church-based projects, he can’t recall them all.

It followed that Louie and his sisters would carry on the family tradition of collecting religious icons. Louie’s first acquisition was a wooden crucifix which he found in Quiapo in the 1960s, an item which he had picked up for P40. By 1977, he started collecting in earnest, first Philippine furniture, then Chinese porcelain, and finally religious paintings and statues. His archangel paintings are from Peru and are done in the Escuela Cuzqueña style – the Cuzco School of Painting – which merge Spanish colonial and Peruvian indigenous elements of art. One of his favorites in his collection is the oil painting of St. Raphael Archangel, his first Peruvian acquisition. He was sick at the time and since Raphael means the Healing of God, he prayed for his intercession, prayer that was answered.

He has an oil painting of St. Michael, showing the archangel triumphantly smothering the devil with his flaming sword. This particular painting shows the archangel with flamboyant helmet with three feathers, graceful body and androgynous facial features, showing that angels are neither male nor female.

Another Peruvian favorite is the oil painting of Our Lady of Candelaria, which reveals Incan elements in the cloth with multicolored feathers that wraps the Baby Jesus. The Virgin Mary has a black headdress; her clothing is red and her face reveals Inca Indian features.

His recent acquisitions include a hardwood image of Our Lady as a young and innocent pre-teen child (La Nina Maria), which he found in a corner of an antique shop in Ermita and which he found irresistible. The other is that of a young St. Vincent Ferrer, plump and smiling, instead of having the usual stern expression. There is also a life size wooden statue of Christ that used to be on a Cross but which Louie had remade so that Christ’s twisted arms are by his side and Christ now lies on a bed.

Louie says his acquisitions happen by chance. The first attraction is the uniqueness of the piece – uniqueness in style, material, color scheme, and so on; but more important is how he relates to the subject matter. Collecting is addictive, he says, but it’s not about greed or monetary value but the sheer satisfaction of being able to be close to a thing of beauty. At the same time, he continues, it brings you closer to God. The purpose of art in religion is to concretize what otherwise is an abstraction of the divine. Religious paintings and images, as well as architecture is man’s limited way of expressing the limitless, the infinite and so, art really serves its purpose in man. Louie says that when his images are exposed publicly, he can feel the devotion of the viewers surging, their piety intensifying, because of the visual experience they have had.

Louie’s advice to his readers is this: “If you are interested in art, any form of art, just set your heart on it and it will come your way. Do not even think of the logistics (How? How much? Where? When?) Positive desires have a way of becoming self-fulfilling.

In the meantime Louie’s private collection of religious images fill the secret Hall of Angels and cast their blessings far and wide in Cebu.
Top picture shows Louie Nacorda, standing, in a red shirt.
Next picture shows Louie Nacorda in the brown shirt. Both pictures were taken at the Aula Angelorum.

Read also
Life in Parian Now
Cebu's 1730 Jesuit House 
The Secret Hall of Angels 
A Story of Hope
Finding Jose Rizal in Cebu
Lola Remedios and her Sayas
Lunch with F. Sionil Jose

tags: Cebu, Philippines, Parian, history, religious, santos collection, Sugbo