Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sunset Photo taken in Burma by Cecilia Brainard

Good Night! - Sunset Photo taken in Burma by Cecilia Brainard

Isaiah 43:1,2,3 ~ “But now says the Lord that created you, 0 Jacob, and He that formed you 0 Israel. Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned: neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior: I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for you.”

Friday, September 28, 2012


NINA ESTRADA PUYAT - (b 1921? d 1993) was born in Tarlac, Philippines; she was christened Saturnina Estrada although she preferred to be called Nina. When she married Eugenio Puyat, she became known as Nina Estrada Puyat.

She and her sister, Eva, were known as celebrated talented campus beauties. Their second cousin was the hero-martyr Benigno Aquino. Eva became a senator (Senator Eva Estrada Kalaw), while Nina became a well known poet. She was in fact known as the Elizabeth Barrett Browning of the Philippines.

Nina was also short story writer, for which she was a Shelley Memorial Awardee. She also wrote essays; she was a columnist, civic leader, society matron, and "a childless perennial Auntie to the young." (ref: Writeup Saturnina....)

Her collection of fifty sonnets, Heart of Clay, was published by Doubleday as This Love Within. Her political works include a three-act play, The Cripple, which was censored by the Marcos regime. The poem "Elegy" was written on the night of the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, and is said to be the most significant piece of poetry to come out of the People Power era in the Philippines.

Nina was the 1979 Poet Laureate of the Philippine poet Association; she was the first recipient of the special diploma of Master in Literature from the University of Santo Tomas.

I (Cecilia Brainard) knew Nina when she retired and lived part time in the Los Angeles area. We were in several literary events, including this one held at the iconic Midnight Special Bookstore in Santa Monica.
Bottom photo: Nina Estrada Puyat (left, standing) with LA writers at a Reading at Midnight Special Bookstore.
Seated (l to r) are Karen Yamashita, Hisaye Yamamoto, Cecilia Brainard; Standing in the center is Jude Narita

From Heart of Clay, a collection of Love Sonnets
Make me the liquid by your vase contained
Make me the clay that you would shape and mould.
Make me the puppet by your wish ordained,
The shadow and reflection of your world.
Make me the memory of your smile when this
Is fled. The glimmer of your tear before
They fall. The sigh suspended from a kiss
Conceived and born in your heart's inmost core.
Let me be the music that your fingers play.
The instrument beneath your singing hands.
The echo of your voice, the midnight of your day,
The eddy following your soul's respnse.
For, Love, I would be paint beneath your brush:
Distinct and yet united, we two at last.
I shall not yield although he storms my castle.
I shall not kiss him back although I tear
My heart. I shall note let sound of his pestle
Pounding at my soul break through the mask I wear,
Betray the frigid treachery I dare.
I shall not let his seeking hands caress me.
He shall not touch this jet-black hair that is mine.
He shall not see the prayer of eyes misty
With hunger, beggared yet unpleading, nor find
The initiated breasts' pubescent line.
The moon will set, but he and I will never
Know each other. Chained to a vow once made,
In numb despair I shall deny him answer
And turn away: virtuous, pure and . . . dead.


On one another yet we shall in time
Set eyes, and I my sweet revenge shall gain,
For muffled tears that fell like prayer rain
To still the clamor of a bell that chimed
Relentlessly within my haunted mind.
For all the humiliated shame that died
Over my love so ruthlessly denied
By your unfaithful heart of stone, I'll find
A brand to sear your memory, a way
To torture you again with sighs of lips
You well remember and of breasts and hips
Whose feel you knew but lost. I only pray
The vengeance that upon your soul I lay
Will not redound and break this heart of clay.
Writer's bio: Nina Estrada Puyat was born in Tarlac, Philippines. Her collection of fifty sonnets, Heart of Clay (1959), was published by Doubleday as This Love Within. Her political works include a three-act play, The Cripple, which was censored by the Marcos regime. The poem "Elegy" was written on the night of the assassination of Benigno Aquino. This poem is said to be the most significant piece of poetry to come out of the People Power ear in the Philippines. Nina was the 1979 Poet Laureate of the Philippine Poets Association; she is the first recipient of a special diploma of Master in Literature from the University of Santo Tomas, Philippines.
(Poems, pictures, courtesy of C. Brainard)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

LIGAYA VICTORIO FRUTO - Pre-war Filipina Writer and Magazine Editor

LIGAYA VICTORIO FRUTO (b 1914- d 2001) was born and raised in the Philippines. She was trained as a teacher at the Philippine Normal School. While still in her teens, she began teaching and writing stories which were published in leading national publications. "She won several short story awards, one for a story she whipped up while trying out a new typewriter," according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

She taught in Baguio and her early stories were about the people of the mountain region. As a journalist Fruto worked for the pre-war Tribune, forerunner of the Manila Times.

In the 1930s in Manila, she was, as the Honolulu Star Bulletin says, "a rising star in literary and journalistic circles until the war intervened."  During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, despite fear that the Japanese would pick her up, Fruto wrote wartime editorials urging calm until the Americans returned.

She married a newspaper reporter, Ramon Reyes, who died during World War II.

In 1946, she joined the press office of the Philippine President Manuel Roxas. Shortly after, she went to Hawaii to help start the Philippine Consulate there. She married Honolulu Engineer Lorenzo Fruto and lived in Hawaii until her death in 2001.

In Honolulu, she was a feature writer for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin from 1952-1968. 

She was a strong opponent of the Marcos regime and was a key supporter for Cory's presidency.

She and her husband established a scholarship fund for civil engineering students and helped start the Newman Center at the University of Hawaii.

She wrote two books: Yesterday and Other Stories, and One Rainbow for the Duration. Her short story, "The Fan" is part of Fiction by Filipinos in America (New Day , 1993).

She died in 2001 in Redwood City, California, at the age of 87.

Other information re Ligaya Fruto:

Honolulu Star-Bulletin Hawaii News re Fruto's Passing

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Trying on his Fall Outfit" - Dog in North Vietnam, photo by Cecilia Brainard

"Trying on his Fall Outfit" - Dog in North Vietnam, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Monday, September 24, 2012

ESTRELLA D. ALFON - Prolific Filipina Writer from Cebu

ESTRELLA D. ALFON - Prolific Filipina Writer from Cebu (1917-1983)

I'm shining the spotlight on Estrella D. Alfon who was born in Cebu on July 18, 1917.  She was a good friend of another Cebuana writer, Lina Espina-Moore.  Alfon grew up on Espeleta Street near San Nicolas Church, Cebu City. She was only a student when she started getting her fiction published in the Graphic Weekly Magazine, Philippine Magazine, and the Sunday Tribune.

She was in medical school when she was misdiagnosed as having tuberculosis; she left medical school and acquired an AA degree.

When the Alfon family moved to Manila, Estrella became part of the Veronicans, the legendary writers group led by Francisco Arcellana and H.R. Ocampo. She reportedly was the only woman member.

Before World War II, Alfon married Captain Bernardino Rivera; they had five children and ten grandchildren.

Separated from Rivera, Alfon pursued her literary career. She wrote short stories, which Lina Espina-Moore collected -  "Stories of Estrella Alfon" Giraffe, 1994. Her stories won awards: the Arena Theater Play Writing Contest, several Palanca Awards, among others.

She was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at the University of the Philippi8nes; she was a member of the UP Writers Club, and  in 1979, she received the National Fellowship in Fiction post at the U.P. Creative Writing Center.

She died on December 28, 1983 from a heart attack.

Here are links to one of her short stories, "Magnificence"

Feedback from Louie Nacorda:
Louie Nacorda BB, I met her as a boy, as she was a good friend of my mom. I read her works in high school and she was one of those who inspired me to attempt writing. I even interviewed her for our assignment in Literature to feature a Filipino writer in English, and she graceiously answered all the questions I asked. I would place her beside the French writer Guy de Maupassant in terms of describing with full emotions the characters of her stories. I even used her description of Guadalupe river in pre-WW2 times, (O Perfect Day!), in my doctoral dissertation (River Management). In that article, she described how Cebuanos would go to Guadalupe to picnic and bath in the then pristine river, behind the church, which today, is sadly, a biologically dead river. But her Magnificence was what struck me vividly in our high school Literature class. May her soul rest in peace+

I think Tita Esther also published a magazine back in the 60's. I remember my mom bringing home some copies. I think it was called "ESTRELLA's MODES AND MOVIES". I never got to read a copy though.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Frogtown Artwalk 2012, Elysian Vallen, Los Angeles

The Frogtown Artwalk in Elysian Valley last night was quite fun! We walked along the LA River Walk, popped out into a row of studios on the Blake, and visited more studios. Great energy! Young, hep, well-behaved. Many people strolling about. I enjoyed visiting the artists' lofts/studios and admired how creative they are in arranging residence and work space together. Most studios had wine and snacks. A tented area on Blake sold food and there was also a food truck. It felt a bit like Halloween trick-or-treating, going from studio to studio. I'll be ba-a-ac-k next year!


Top - One of the studios 
Next: We saw this sculptor at work as we walked along the LA River Walk
Bottom - the group that went on the Frogtown Artwalk

Friday, September 21, 2012



Today, I'm honoring Gloria F. Rodriguez who is an editor, publisher and founder of Giraffe Books. She was born on November 30, 1928 in Bacolod. She attended schools in the Philippines and in the United States, in hopes of becoming an English teacher. When she returned to the Philippines from the US, she was offered a job at New Day Publishers where she worked for twenty years. Under her directorship, New Day started publishing literary books. Gloria Rodriguez published Bienvenido N. Santos, N.V. M. Gonzalez, Linda Ty Casper, Leonard Casper, Cristina Hidalgo, Paulino Lim, P.C. Morantte, Manuel Viray, Edith Tiempo, Edilberto Tiempo, Lina Espina Moore, and many more.

In 1988, Mrs. Gloria Rodriguez published my first book, Woman With Horns and Other Stories. She also published my collection of essays, Philippine Woman in America, an anthology which I edited Fiction by Filipinos in America, and my first novel which first saw the light of day as Song of Yvonne, later reprinted as When the Rainbow Goddess Wept by.

After retiring from New Day, she went on to found her own publishing house, Giraffe Books. In 1993, after years of publishing other people's books, she published her Humor from the Internet Series and the six-volume Food for Thought Series.

A charismatic person, who is loved by all, Gloria F. Rodriguez received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Manila Critics Circle in 1992.

More information about Gloria F. Rodriguez are in the following sites:

 Photo top- Gloria F. Rodriguez
Photo bottom, l-r: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Gloria F. Rodriguez, Concepcion Cuenco Manguerra, Ralph Rodriguez

Tags: Filipino literature, Filipino writers

Thursday, September 20, 2012

In Honor of Filipino & Filipino American Writers - P.C. MORANTTE

P.C. MORANTTE (b 1909, d 2001) was born in Tanauan, Leyte, Philippines. he attended local schools, the University of Santo Tomas, and the University of Kansas at Lawrence. He migrated to the United States in 1930, arriving in San Francisco, then moving to Los Angeles. He worked as a foreign correspondent of the Manila-based Graphic, and for the Philippine government in-exile in Washington D.C. After World War II, he was Information Officer of the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

A writer, he knew the other Filipino writers in the US, including Carlos Bulosan; Morantte wrote the book, Remembering Carlos Bulosan. Morantte also wrote God is in the Heart.

He lived for many years in Lompoc, California.

On Morantte's book God is in the heart, these are what two writers say: According to Bienvenido N. Santos, Distinguished Resident at Wichita State University, Morantte's "writing is not only eloquent but lyrical. It is not at all sound, however, but meaning of the deepest kind, the truest. Before long, the reader realizes this is truth of the Bible or the truth of the human heart."

N.V.M. Gonzales, English professor at California State University, Hayward, characterized Morantte "as close as one can get these days to a secular contemplative. In this book, he deals with Beauty, Grace and Truth—ideas we have become accustomed to turn away from. P. C. Morantte invites us to pause and let the anxious world burn itself, if it must, as we discover Purpose and renew our faith."

JEAN VENGUA GIER says the following about Morantte (from
"Morantte was truly a pioneer of Filipino writing in the United States. I don’t think he has received proper recognition as a writer, although he wrote plays, poems and fiction, and his memoir of Carlos Bulosan, Carlos Bulosan: His Heart Affair With America, is often consulted by students of Filipino American studies. His obscurity may be due to the fact that much of his output was in the form of non-fiction, reportage, and editorial. During the Depression Era and later, he edited and wrote for many Filipino newspapers and magazines in the U.S.: book reviews, literary commentary, travelogues, and editorials. Later in life he was published by a Philippine publisher: New Day. 

"During the pre-WWII years, Morantte took some rather gutsy positions on writing and writers in various newspapers and magazines; Jose Garcia Villa and Marcelo de Gracia Concepcion both suffered his critical barbs: "Villa may be dead as a short story writer, but he is too spiritually alive in his poetic imagination to admit of intellectual disintegration...[he] tried to be at once imitative, experimental, intellectual and provocatively modern in his stories. This was tragic."; "one cannot help but deplore the fact that [de Gracia Concepcion] fails to follow his initial triumph with productions of a more commanding interest" (Philippine-American Digest, 1941). Even his friend, Carlos Bulosan was not entirely free from criticism, for Morantte wrote that Bulosan’s writing was often tinged with "an overtone of hysteria in his pleadings for justice...always a strain of overdramatizing in his manner of calling attention to social evils and economic ills" (Remembering Carlos Bulosan, 62). Although Morantte appreciated Richard Wright’s Native Son as "a work of art," he felt that the Bigger Thomas character was portrayed too negatively: "too much a sample of moral disintegration and less a symbol of race vigor..." (Philippine-American Digest 1940) 

"Morantte strove to clarify the issues that Filipinos lived with in America, whether they were literary, political or cultural issues. In an essay on "Filipino Life" in the Philippine-American Digest, he noted with seeming despair that "[Filipino] dreams and...aspirations have been influenced so much by the American and Spanish ways that the indigenous substance of their true beings has been crushed or lost." He gave voice to a situation that many Filipinos of that time seemed to experience: " immediately perceives that I do not belong: I am a Filipino, but a creature that has been an offshot [sic] of the strange elements outside the pale of my native is a sort of spiritual or psychological bondage." (1941) 

"In Morantte’s perspective, the microcosmic experience of the Filipino fieldworker or writer in small-town America translated to something larger and more disturbing; he detected patterns that would echo in the experiences of Filipino immigrants into the next century: 

"The City of Los Angeles was teeming with Pinoys, or Filipinos whose lives had become modified for the worse by the harsh realities in the American milieu; they had become split personalities...They loved American bread and butter and they also loved rice and fish...To practically all Pinoys the abundant Philippine life, the Philippine state of free, happy, peaceful and idyllic life which was the dream of their forebears, had now been supplanted in their memory by the charm of American life. But many of them, insofar as their emotional and mental outlook was concerned, were simply floating in the substratum of American society where the muddy currents were sluggishly buoying them up"(Remembering 76). 

"Although this passage was published in 1984, I think that Morantte’s writings reveal that he sensed the psychic "split" that Filipinos were undergoing, even as early as the 1930s. 

"Morantte chose to live out his last years in the small town of Lompoc, California, in an area imbued with the history of Filipino Farmworkers and laborers. From this somewhat remote spot, he kept in touch with his many writer friends, among them the Bulosan brothers, N.V.M. Gonzalez, Bienvenido Santos and Carlos Angeles. In later life, he became interested in questions of philosophy and religion. N.V.M. Gonzalez dubbed him "a secular contemplative." 

"I think that Morantte contributed to a "West-Coast sensibility" in Filipino American writing. Somewhat suspicious of experimental and "art for art’s sake" writing (he wrote of the "puzzling incoherence" of Gertrude Stein), he seemed to value humanistic writing that conveyed meaning with pragmatic clarity. He contributed to Filipino American literature in his quest for meaning and wholeness. We can benefit from his insightful evaluations of Filipino life in America, from his courage to recognize and discuss both the weaknesses and strengths of Filipino writing, and from his recognition of the necessity for Filipinos and Filipino Americans to unite through knowlege disseminated via the written word. 

"Many of the pioneer Filipino writers living in the United States seem to be leaving us now, among them, Stanley Garibay, N.V.M. Gonzalez, Trinidad Rojo, Alex de Leon Fabros Sr., and of course, Jose Garcia Villa. I understand that Morantte died in his 90s, in a hospital in Lompoc, California. Perhaps you are already aware of his death. If not, Morantte is certainly one writer whose passing deserves mention."
Jean N. V. Gier

Photo: l-r: Linda Nietes, P.C. Morantte, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Bienvenido N. Santos

tags: Philippine American history, Philippine American literature, Filipino American writer

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Lina Espina-Moore (b. 1919, d.2000) was born in Toledo, Cebu, the fifth child and second daughter of Yrinea Regner and Gerundio Espina. She attended Cebu Central College, the Cebu Intermediate High School, Southern Colleges and the FEU before becoming a cub reporter for the Manila Times. 

Lina belonged to the post Second World War generation of Filipino writers who contributed much to the vitality of Philippine Literature in English.  She wrote novels, short stories, essays, and poetry in Cebuano and in English.  An outstanding fictionist, her novels and stories written in her native Cebuano have appeared in Bisaya magazine.  She wrote three novels in English: Heart of the Lotus (1970); A Lion in the House (1980), and The Honey, the Locusts (1992).  Her short stories are found in two collections: Cuentos (1985), and Choice (1995). 

Some her stories have been translated into Japanese, Mandarin, Mahasa, German, and Tagalog.  The former Chair Person of the Cebu Chapter of PEN, she edited Cebuano Harvest (1991).  For her distinguished service, she has received many awards, among them the Gawad Pampansang Algad ni Balagtas in 1992 and the SEAWRITE Award in 1989. She also edited the short stories of another Cebuana writer, The Stories of Estrella Alfon.

Lina Espina-Moore was married for 17 years to C.S. (Kip) Moore, an American lumber company executive.  They lived in Mt. Data, Mountain Province, where she wrote extensively on the life an times of the tribal minorities of the Central Cordilleras.  She was widowed in 1976.  She resided in Alabang, Metro Manila, but moved to her hometown Cebu in recent years to be with her son and his family.

The awards she received include: Outstanding Achievement in the Field of English Literature from the Province of Cebu (1975), Pan Pacific Southeast Asian Association Award in the Field of the English Novel (1975), Magsusulat Award for Exemplary Contribution to Literature in Cebuano (1987), and the much-esteemed Thailand Southeast Asian Write Award presented by HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn for her novel Heart of the Lotus in 1989. In 1992 she received both the Women in Travel Award in the Field of Literature and the Literary Award from the Mariano F. Manguerra Foundation. (Other recipients of the Mariano F. Manguerra Award are Marjorie Evasco, Simeon Dumdum, Jr. and Erma Cuizon.

top: Lina Espina Moore

next, l-r: Concepcion Cuenco Manguerra and Lina Espina Moore when Lina received the Mariano F. Manguerra Award;
bottom l-r: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Lina Espina Moore

tags: Filipino writer, Filipino literature, Cebuano writers

Tuesday, September 18, 2012



BIENVENIDO N. SANTOS - Here we have Bienvenido N. Santos, or Ben, as his friends called him, born 1911 and died 1996. Ben was the first Filipino American writer to encourage my creative writing, and he introduced me to the publishing manager (Gloria Rodriguez) of my first publisher, New Day.

Bienvenido N. Santos was a novelist who grew up in Manila's slums and then moved to the United States and wrote about the pain of Filipino exiles there.

Santos, who wrote in English, was a Rockefeller Foundation fellow and Fulbright professor at the University of Iowa and later received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the American Book Award and the Philippine Republic Cultural Heritage Award.

From 1961 to 1966 he was dean and vice president of the University of Nueva Caceres in the Philippines.

In the 1970's, his novel "The Praying Man," about political corruption, was banned by the Government of Ferdinand E. Marcos. Mr. Santos went into voluntary exile in the United States.

He was writer in residence from 1973 to 1982 at Wichita State University and became an American citizen in 1976. He made his first visit home from exile after the lifting of martial law in 1981.

Bottom photo, l-r: Bienvenido N. Santos and Cecilia Brainard. This photo was taken at the book launching of Cecilia's second short story collection, Acapulco at Sunset and Other Stories, shortly before he passed away.

Monday, September 17, 2012

FedEx Truck towed. - photo by Cecilia Brainard

Ooops! I hope that Overnight package arrives on time. - photo by Cecilia Brainard

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sculpture at the Vigeland Park, Norway, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Sculpture at the Vigeland Park, Norway, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cairo, Pre-Arab Spring, photo by Cecilia Brainard

CAIRO, PRE-ARAB SPRING, photo by Cecilia Brainard (Praying hard for peace!)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Egyptians Selling Wares near Aswan Dam, pre-Arab Spring, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Egyptians Selling Wares near Aswan Dam, pre-Arab Spring, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Asking for "Like" for Facebook pages of Cecilia Brainard

Asking all to "like" these pages, thank you:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Photo of the Nile taken before the Arab Spring, by Cecilia Brainard

Cecilia is stunned at events in Libya and Egypt.
Photo of the Nile taken before the Arab Spring, by Cecilia Brainard

Ghirardelli Square at Night, San Francisco, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Ghirardelli Square at Night, San Francisco, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Children's Art, San Miguel Allende" - photo by Cecilia Brainard

"Children's Art, San Miguel Allende" - photo by Cecilia Brainard

Brainard pays homage to Marian devotion sites By Lorenzo Paran III

Brainard pays homage to Marian devotion sites

By Lorenzo Paran III 

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, left, editor of “Magnificat: Mama Mary’s Pilgrim Sites,” and two of the book’s contributors—Philippine Expressions Bookshop owner Linda Nietes, middle, and Lucy Adao McGinley—show copies of the book on Sept. 9, 2012, at the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture in San Pedro, Calif.

Prolific writer and anthologist Cecilia Manguerra Brainard has released another book, and this time the subject is especially close to her heart.

“Magnificat: Mama Mary’s Pilgrim Sites,” edited by Brainard, gathers 24 essays by Filipino writers on the subject of Marian devotion sites.

“I’m a devotee to Our Lady and had been wanting to do a book as my gift to her,” Brainard said in 2011 while she was seeking essays for the collection.

“Magnificat” pays homage to Marian devotion sites around the world. Sites in the Philippines that are featured in the book include the Our Lady of Antipolo in Rizal and Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan. Also featured are the Our Lady of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Black Madonna in Poland, Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, and perhaps the most well known, Our Lady of Lourdes in France.
The essays include those by Philippine Daily Inquirer opinion columnist Ma. Ceres P. Doyo; Jaime C. Laya, former Philippine Minister of Education, Culture and Sports;  San Francisco State University professor Penelope V. Flores;and Filipino-American novelist Brian Ascalon Roley.

Brainard, who as writer and editor has now published 19 books, has previously touched on the subject of religion and her Christian faith.

“Finding God: True Stories of Spiritual Encounters,” which Brainard co-edited with Marily Y. Orosa and published in 2009, features Filipino writers describing life-changing experiences concerning their faith and spirituality.

“Out of Cebu,” Brainard’s collection of personal essays, published in 2012, also briefly touches on the figure of Mary.

Brainard, who lives in Santa Monica, Calif., launched “Magnificat” on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2012, during the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture in San Pedro, Calif.

The significance of the date will not be lost to Marian devotees. Sept. 8 is widely celebrated in the Catholic world as Mary’s birthday.

Philippine Expressions Bookshop hosted a book signing during the two-day festival, held at Point Fermin Park, that featured Brainard, children’s book author Leslie Ryan; muralist Eliseo Art Silva, author of “Filipinos of Greater Philadelphia”; Lucy Adao McGinley, whose essay is featured in “Magnificat”; Albert Mortiz, author of “Beyond San Andreas” and “Oblation: A Revelation of Cultural Awareness and Understanding and Adventures in European Travel”; and this writer.

Philippine Expressions Bookshop owner Linda Nietes also contributed to “Magnificat.”

Brainard’s other anthologies include “Contemporary Fiction by Filipinos in America,” “Journey of 100 Years: Reflections on the Centennial of Philippine Independence” (co-edited with Edmundo F. Litton), “Growing Up Filipino,” “Growing Up Filipino II” and “Behind the Walls: Life of Convent Girls” (co-edited with Marily Y. Orosa).

For more information on “Magnificat,” go to
The book, published by Anvil, is available at Philippine Expressions Bookshop and at bookstores in the Philippines.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Malaysia: Where Enrique of Malacca Came From, by Cecilia Brainard

Malaysia: Where Enrique of Malacca came from
By Cecilia Manguerra Brainard  
published in The Freeman and, Sept. 7, 2012

CEBU, Philippines - Even though I'd read that Malaysia has the third largest economy in the ASEAN countries and is the nineteenth largest in the world, I was flabbergasted to see how developed it actually is; more so than Vietnam or the Philippines, more on par with Singapore and Hong Kong. My husband Lauren, our friend Doug, and I were there last April. Malaysia has all the trappings of a First World country: excellent infrastructure, social services to its people, low crime rate, beautiful sites, all of which have made Malaysia a popular tourist spot.

Our first stop was Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur or KL as it is popularly called.
As our plane approached KL, I could see stretches of land with what looked like coconut trees. Closer, I realized these were palm trees, the incredible number, which was both impressive and disturbing. North, South, East West, as far as your eyes could see, there were palm trees. It made me wonder what sort of environmental repercussions this monocrop could cause. We would later learn that palm oil has helped make Malaysia wealthy and provide its people with a fairly high standard of living. On the other hand, because of palm trees, forests have been shrinking, displacing wild animals from the forests and jungles. Elephants were among those displaced from their natural habitat.

These Oil Palm Trees were planted in the 1960s by the Malaysian government for its edible fats and oil. At the time, rubber and tin had ceased being Malaysia's top-income products, thus the cultivation of these palm trees that originally came from West Africa. Palm oil is one of the top major exports of Malaysia, along with electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied natural gas, wood and wood products, rubber and textiles.
KL is a modern city. What I liked most was the Lake Garden Park, 92 hectares of it, located in the heart of the city and which acts as the green lung to about 4 million people. KL was carved out of a jungle, and fortunately the city planners had not destroyed all of it.
Downtown you have the space needle, twin Petronas Towers, and numerous skyscrapers. Many of the high-rises are new and have bold designs, many of them blending Western and Moghul features. As we toured KL, we realized that it is a sprawling city. The Bintang district, where we stayed, is part of the Golden Triangle, and from there one could walk to many tourist sites; but it was April and very hot, so we opted to take the Hop-On-Hop-Off Self Guided Tours.
We visited the Central Market, which boasts of having been founded in 1888 as a wet market, and which was rebuilt in 1937. We were hoping to find stalls of fruits, flowers, meat, just like a regular wet market, but we found only handicrafts and souvenirs. Gone is the wet market, to our disappointment. I mention this because in fact there is much in Malaysia that has been "cleaned up and modernized" to the point of being somewhat sanitized.

A must-see for tourists is the Merdeka Square; Merdeka means independence, it was there where Malaysia declared its independence from the British in 1957. The Square is a nicely landscaped grassy area surrounded by The Selangor Club, St. Mary's Anglican Church, and other buildings of the British colonial and Indo-Saracenic styles. Nearby are the copper-dome-topped Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the City Gallery.

In fact, the rulers of Malaysia seem to have gone out of their way to share their wealth with its population of 27 million. The minimum wage was recently set at 900 ringgit per month (roughly $297) for workers on the Malaysian Peninsula; 800 ringgit per month (for those in the states of Sabah and Sarawak). The Malaysian government wants to transform the country into a high-income nation by 2020. There does not seem to be a lack of employment in Malaysia. When we later drove out of town, our tour guide commented that the villages have few young people because they are all working in cities.

Other places to see in KL: Chinatown, Little India, the Petronas Towers, the National mosque, National Art Gallery, the Convention Center, the large Crafts Cultural Complex, and the Bintang area had high-end shops and excellent restaurants serving international cuisine. We had a wonderful dinner at La Bodega, which serves Spanish food. We also had Arab food in an open-air restaurant. There are food courts for a quick cheap meal or snack.
* * *
From KL, we took a daytrip to Malacca, which is on the West Coast of Malaysia facing the Straits of Malacca. I was looking forward to visiting Malacca because of its rich history. Founded by a Sumatran prince in around the 15th century, Malacca became an important international trading post, so important in fact that the Portuguese occupied it in the early 1500s, and later the Dutch and English had their turn in occupying the strategic place.

One of those who went to Malacca was the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan. It was in Malacca where he acquired his slave, Enrique De Malacca. Both of them went on the 1519 historic journey from Sevilla, famously known as the "first circumnavigation of the world." In fact, Magellan was killed in Mactan, and Enrique left behind in Cebu. Some historians had suggested that Enrique was originally from Cebu, because he reportedly understood the language of the people when Magellan's ships arrived Cebu. Other historians have disputed this, saying he first understood the language of the people of Mindanao in what is now known as Butuan. Whatever the truth is, Enrique had a link to my native Cebu, and I was curious to see Malacca.

It took around two hours by tour bus to get from KL to Malacca (also called Melaka). Gone were the skyscrapers and glitz of KL; Malacca had one and two-story houses and some old traditional Malay houses made of wood with peaked roofs and intricate border designs. Our first stop was the Strait of Malacca, but because of geographic changes, what is there now is not what had been there during the time of Magellan. The Strait, which is between the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra remains as one of the most important shipping lanes in the worlds, connecting the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Oceans.

Because of its multi-racial population throughout time, Malacca has different communities in the old parts of the city. We drove through the Portuguese quarter, which had churches and Catholic schools (Malaysia is predominantly Muslim). Very little is left of what the Portuguese had built back in the 1500s. In the historic area, we saw the A Famosa Portuguese Fort with a lone surviving gate at the foot of St. Paul’s hill. On top of the hill are the ruins of Saint Paul’s Church. From there, you have a nice view of Malacca and the Strait. The strait, our guide said, is now farther away because of land reclamation. This old section of Malacca is still being developed, and our tour guide told us the Malaysian government is looking forward to cruise ships stopping in Malacca. Malacca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Even though current-day Malacca is different from the Malacca of the 16th century, I was still very interested because this very area was where Ferdinand Magellan and Enrique would have visited. It was the Portuguese settlement from1511 to 1641; some historians say that Magellan acquired Enrique as a slave, in Malacca, most probably in 1511.

A short walk down St Paul Hill revealed old Dutch homes and the charming Dutch Square, with a fountain and red brick buildings around. There were shops for the shoppers and a shady tree with a bench for the hot and weary. We opted to sit and take in the sights. To our right was the administrative building called the Stadhuys, which once housed the quarters of its governors and officers. Straight ahead was the Christ Church. There was a clock tower and more Dutch buildings from the 1600s. The Dutch were in Malacca from 1641-1825, a period of 184 years, the longest time Malacca was under foreign control. From 1825 to 1946, Malacca was under British Rule.
Across the street was the Malacca River that joins the Strait of Malacca, and which had been a passage way for ancient trading ships to warehouses and piers along the river. A small part of the Malacca River has been restored to allow tourists to imagine how it looked in the past.


Across the river was the old Chinatown with Jonker Street at its center. This narrow street has houses dating to the 1600s. Jonker Street became famous for its antiques; now there are other shops and restaurants. Sweltering in the April heat, we took a break in one of the cafes for a cold drink. Afterwards, we strolled along this historic street and peeked into the antique shops and took pictures of temples, mosques and two-story buildings. It was all very colorful and joyful, and finally totally exhausted, we plopped down in our tourist bus, ready for our two-hour drive back to KL.
* * *
Born and raised in Cebu, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the multi-awarded author and editor of over 15 books. Her recent books are: Magnificat: Mama Mary's Pilgrim Sites (Anvil, 2012) and Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose (University of San Carlos Press, 2012). Her website is

tags: travel, tourism, Malaysia, Asia, Malacca, history, Enrique, Ferdinand Magellan

"SPITE FENCE" - photo by Cecilia Brainard, taken in Vietnam

"SPITE FENCE" - photo by Cecilia Brainard, taken in Vietnam

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Book Signing Philippine Expressions at FPAC Festival

 I spent Sunday afternoon at Pt. Fermin where the Filipino American Arts and Culture Festival was held. Philippine Expressions invited me and other authors to sign books. Here are some pictures:
top: l-r: Cecilia Brainard, Linda Nietes, and Lucy McGinley holding up the book, Magnificat: Mama Mary's Pilgrim Sites; the three are contributors to this Marian anthology. Cecilia Brainard edited this book, published by Anvil, 2012.

The picture below shows: Leslie Ryan, Lorenza Paran, Cecilia Brainard, and Lucy McGinley holding up their books.

The next picture shows Lucy McGinley being interviewed.

The bottom picture shows the booth of Philippine Expressions, where you find the best Filipiniana books, <>.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mural on Wall, San Miguel Allende, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Mural on Wall, San Miguel Allende, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fishing Nets in Cochin, India - photo by Cecilia Brainard

Fishing Nets in Cochin, India - photo by Cecilia Brainard

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture - Book Signings

Hi, I'll be signing at the booth of Philippine Expressions at the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture - Sunday, Sept. 9, 1-5 p.m. Point Fermin Park, 807 W. Paseo del mar, San Pedro, CA. Here's the signing schedule of Philippine Expressions for this weekend:

Saturday, September  8, 2012     
1:00pm - 3:00pm
Carina Monica Montoya, AKA Carina Forsythe. Let's Cook Adobo, a juvenile book with illustrations by Eliseo Art Silva; Filipinos in Hollywood; Los Angeles's Historic Filipinotown; and Santa Maria Valley, in collaboration with Santa Maria Valley Historical Society.

Albert Mortiz. Discover the Philippines Cookbook.

Brian Roley. American Son: A Novel. And the following titles where he is a contributor: Magnificat: Mama Mary's Pilgrim Sites; Finding God: True Stories of Spiritual Encounters; California Uncovered: Stories of the 2lst Century; Growing Up Filipino 1 and 2.

Leslie V. Ryan. I Am Flippish. A juvenile book.  (NB: Flippish is a descriptive term which means Filipino and Irish in heritage)

 Jay Wertz. The Pacific: War Stories WWll Firsthand. Volume 1. Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal. (With coverage on the Philippines)

3:00pm - 5:00pm
Jay Wertz. The Pacific: War Stories WWll Firsthand. Volume 1. Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal. (With coverage on the Philippines)

Albert Mortiz. Discover the Philippines Cookbook.
 Sunday, September 9, 2012
1:00noon - 3:00pm   
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. Magdalena: A Novel; Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose; Vigan and Other Stories; Finding God: True Stories of Spiritual Encounters, co-edited with Marily Ysip-Orosa; Magnificat: Mama Mary's Pilgrim Sites, editor;  Angelica's Daughters: a Dugtungan novel written with four other authors; A la Carte: Food and Fiction, co-edited with Marily Ysip-Orosa; Behind the Walls: Life of Convent Girls, co-edted with Marily Ysip-Orosa;

Lucy Adao McGinley. Magnificat: Mama Mary's Pilgrim Sites where she contributed the article Spain: Our Lady of the Pillar. Our Mother's Visit from Zaragoza.

Leslie Ryan.  I Am Flippish. A juvenile book.  (NB: Flippish is a descriptive term which means Filipino and Irish in heritage)

2:00pm - 4:00pm

Eliseo Art Silva. Filipinos of Greater Philadelphia;  Let's Cook Adobo, a juvenile book with illustrations by Eliseo Art Silva;

Lorenzo Paran III. Pinoy in America: The stateside life in tje time of Barack Obama, Facebook and Pacquiao-mania.

4:00pm - 5pm

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. Magdalena: A Novel; Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose; Vigan and Other Stories; Finding God: True Stories of Spiritual Encounters, co-edited with Marily Ysip-Orosa; Magnificat: Mama Mary's Pilgrim Sites, editor;  Angelica's Daughters: a Dugtungan novel written with four other authors; A la Carte: Food and Fiction, co-edited with Marily Ysip-Orosa; Behind the Walls: Life of Convent Girls, co-edted with Marily Ysip-Orosa;

Lucy Adao McGinley. Magnificat: Mama Mary's Pilgrim Sites where she contributed the article Spain: Our Lady of the Pillar. Our Mother's Visit from Zaragoza.

Leslie Ryan.  I Am Flippish. A juvenile book.  (NB: Flippish is a descriptive term which signifies a Filipino and Irish heritage)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sunset in San Miguel Allende, Mexico - photo by Cecilia Brainard

Sunset in San Miguel Allende, Mexico - photo by Cecilia Brainard

"Cheetah in Savannah" - photo by Cecilia Brainard,

"Cheetah in Savannah" - photo by Cecilia Brainard, taken in Kenya

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Photo Little Girls in Vietnam, by Cecilia Brainard

"Leave Us Alone!"
Photo taken by Cecilia Brainard, in Vietnam

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cebuana Trailblazers or Sugbuanang Tag-Una

 Someone told me I'm in this site, page 2, in Cebuana Trailblazers:

Cebuana Trailblazers Sugboanang Tag-una

These first Heritage Cards is a compendium of Cebuana Trailblazers or SUGBOANANG TAG-UNA", crafted to recreate and rekindle a passionate love of our country, our people and culture.
As leading arbiter of culture and development in this part of the country, the Cebu Provincial Government, through the Provincial Women’s Commission, recognizes these women who have made their indelible mark in their respective field of endeavor.
Dr. Resil Mojares from his book KAAGI: “…now, as in the beginning,Cebu is at the very navel (kinapusoran) of processes transforming the nation…and the Cebuano woman is not only a binding influence in the home but also a visible and influential presence in community life…”
Where in 1890, Alfredo Velasco, a Spanish newspaper editor in Cebu, remarked that..taxes and tributes are remitted by the towns of the province with fair regularity, and that there is a little enthusiasm among the men…(thanks, he said, to the women who, in actuality, control much of the island’s trade..)

Continue reading in the site for the bios of the Cebuano women Trailblazers. 

I want to thank Linda Alburo and others who included me in the list. 

Photo taken in Vietnam, by Cecilia Brainard

Photo taken by Cecilia Brainard in Vietnam

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Photo of Bison, by Cecilia Brainard

"I am NOT moving!"
Photo by Cecilia Brainard, taken in Yellowstone, Wyoming

Saturday, September 1, 2012

BABOON PHOTO, taken by Cecilia Brainard in Kenya

"Lower, lower ... to the left .... ah, you got it!"
Photo by C. Brainard, taken in Kenya