Friday, November 30, 2012

Violence Against Women Martyrs - Stang, Gorrosteita, and Malala

by Cecilia Brainard

I'm thinking of some of the women who have been killed for defending what they believed was right.

Sister Dorothy Stang, an American nun, was murdered in Anapu, in Brazil, for her efforts in protecting the poor and the environment. She had received death threats from loggers and land owners, and was gunned down on February 12, 2005.  There is a documentary, They Killed Sister Dorothy, about her death and her brother's efforts to find justice. Unfortunately the rancher suspected of ordering the killing, even though convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 30 years in prison, was granted a Habeas Corpus by the Brazilian Supreme Court and freed in 2012.

For more information, click here: 

A few days ago, Mexican Mayor Dr. Maria Santos Gorrostieta became still another victim of the Mexican drug cartel.  She had survived two assassination attempts, but the third attack left her beaten, burned, tortured and dumped by a roadside. She had been driving her child to school at 8:30 in the morning when she was ambushed in the city of Morelia. In front of witnesses, she was physically assaulted; she had begged for her child to be spared; they took her away, leaving the child wailing. This happened on November 12, 2012.

For more information, click here:

There are many other instances of violence against women who have stood up to what they believe is right, including the young Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafrai, who was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban, simply because Malala spoke up for women's education. She survived and is recovering in London with her parents.

For more information, click here:

When will this violence end?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ROOTS - Pictures of my Mother and More

I found some sites with pictures of my mother, Concepcion Cuenco Manguerra:

1) Carnival Queens site, including Concepcion Cuenco - scroll down:

2) Southeast Asia Digital Library (Northern Illinois University Libraries - Southeast Asia Digital Library ( Jose Ma. Cuenco and Family, the girl seated on the far right is Concepcion Cuenco; the woman seated, second from left is Filomena Alesna Cuenco (my grandmother; Concepcion's mother)

3) PALH's Mariano Cuenco Website

The little girl on the left, holding a doll and leaning against an older woman is Concepcion Cuenco, my mother. The woman standing behind her (left) is Filomena Alesna (my grandmother); the older woman seated left is Juana Lopez (my great-great grandmother), and the woman seated right is Remedios Diosomito Lopez Cuenco (my great-grandmother).

tags: Cebu, Philippines, Mariano Cuento, Jose Ma. Cuenco, Concepcion Cuenco, Cecilia Brainard

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What kind of bees are these? - photos by Cecilia Brainard

BEES? - In Zion National Park, Utah, we saw these pollinators. Are they bees?  they don't look like your regular honey or bumble bees; they're bigger than regular bees and their bodies are flat.  They were buzzing all over the place.

Here's a list of bees that I found in the internet; the ones in the pictures come from Utah.

  • Alkali Bee - Sweat Bee - - (Nomia melanderi) - black and yellow bee on Rocky Mtn. Bee Plant, Ant. Island
  • Bumble Bee "Mountain Bumble Bee" - (Bombus appositus) - in the hills above Strawberry Res., Wasatch Cnty. UT
  • Bumble Bee - (Bombus - species unknown) - at the Jordanelle Wetlands
  • Bumble Bee "Golden Northern Bumble Bee"  - (Bombus ~) - in Southern Utah, photographer Dori Williams
  • Bumble Bee - (Bombus huntii ) - yellow bumble bee with orange at the Jordanelle Wetlands
  • Bumble Bee - (Bombus centralis) - yellow, black and orange bee at the Jordanelle Wetlands
  • Bumble Bee - (Bombus morrisoni) - mostly yellow bumble bee with black markings
  • Bumble Bee "Sonoran Bumble Bee" - (Bombus sonorus) -  at Tonaquint Nature Park in St. George, UT
  • Cellophane Bee - (Colletes) - on Antelope Island
  • Cuckoo Bee - (Nomadinae) -  black and yellow wasp-like bee at Pineview Reservoir
  • Cuckoo Bee - (Epeolus) - gray and black striped bee on Antelope Island
  • Cuckoo Bee - (genus Nomada) - orange parasitic bee at the Jordanelle wetlands
  • Digger Bee with Oil Beetle larvae - at Strawberry Reservoir
  • Digger Bee   - (Diadasia enavata ) - gorgeous large brown bee at Promontory Point
  • Digger Bee - (Anthophora urbana ) - hairy little bee on Antelope Island
  • Honey Bee - (Apis mellifera) - golden honey bees in Utah
  • Leaf-cutting Bees
    • Leaf-cutting Bee - (Megachile parallela ) - small cute bee at Red Butte Gardens, SLC, UT
    • Leaf-cutting Bee - (Megachile inermis) - black and white bee with a big head in Wasatch County
  • Long-horned Bee - (Eucerini) - bee on Antelope Island, Davis County, UT
  • Mason Bee - genus Osmia - blue-black, stocky bee with a gold diamond on its forehead - Red Butte Gardens, SLC
  • Metallic Green Bee - (genus Agapostemon) - four photos at Taylorsville, Bear River and Antelope Island
  • Mining Bees
    • Mining Bee - (genus Andrena) - furry cool-weather pollinators on Antelope Island
    • Mining Bee - (Andrena prunorum) - hairy yellow and black bee on Antelope Island
    • Mining Bee - (Andrena pronorum) - small colorful bee with long slender wings on Ant. Island
    • Mining Bee - (Andrena transnigra) - attractive solitary bee sporting a boa in Brighton, Utah
  • Resin Bee - (Dianthidium) - 2 photos of resin bees and a pebble nest

  • Sweat Bees
    • Sweat Bee - Dieunomia nevadensis arizonensis - oranged and black bee on Antelope Island
    • Sweat Bee - (subgenus Halictus sensu lato) - small striped black bee at Red Butte Gardens
    • Sweat Bee - 3 photos - two of Halictus ligatus and one of Lasioglossum
    • Sweat Bee - possibly Lasioglossum zephyrum - tiny ant-like bee in Taylorsville, Utah
    • Sweat Bee - Alkali Bee - (Nomia melanderi) - black and yellow bee on Rocky Mtn. Bee Plant, Ant. Island

 - photos by Cecilia Brainard  

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's all up to you - Jane Goodall quote

You get to choose: do you want to use your life to try to make the world a better place for humans and animals and the environment? Or not?" It's all up to you. ~Jane Goodall

Antique postcards of Cebu's Creeks - Save Cebu's Rivers!

I'm still thinking of the sad condition of Cebu's creeks now. Save Cebu's Rivers!

Here are old postcards with images of Cebu's creeks, courtesy of Dr. Linda Alburo. The notes re the postcards (courtesy of Dr. Linda Alburo) indicate these creeks/esteros/canals already smelled foul, but they didn't have the sea of debris that one can see now.

Top photo #1 - from a postcard dated May 26, 

1911, with the ff. note: "This canal is a beastly, filthy mud gutter, though you 

would never think it from the picture." There's a pencilled note at the back as 

well that the librarian may have written: "prob. estero de Parian in Tinago." On 

the photo itself you can read: "Canal, Cebu, P.I. 
Middle photo #2 - no note at the back, but 

on the right lower corner you can read "Tres de Abril St., Cebu." 
Bottom photo #3 - from a postcard without date or notes, but on the photo itself, upper left of center 

you can read: "Old Spanish Bridge, Cebu, P.I." This may be Zulueta bridge near 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dirty Rivers in Cebu Equals Dirty Sea - Save Cebu's Rivers!

Another blog article by Jing Lavilles de Egurrola, this one about the filth being disgorged by Cebu Rivers into the open sea. Hello Cebu - are you listening. Save Our Rivers!

River in Ireland, photo by Cecilia Brainard

River in Ireland, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Save the Rivers in Cebu and the rest of the Philippines!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cleanup Seven Rivers. Creeks, Esteros in Central Visayas, Philippines

 I was happy to read the following article. I wish they'd clean up the creeks in downtown Cebu, in the tourist belt area.

8 firms sign pact with DENR to clean rivers, creeks, esteros

CEBU, Philippines - Eight private companies and corporations recently signed a memorandum of agreement to cleanup seven rivers, creeks and esteros in Central Visayas in support of the “adopt-an estero or  waterbody” program of the Department of  Environment and Natural Resources-7.

  Isabelo R. Montejo, DENR-7 executive director, said that with the support of the private sector, DENR intends to institutionalize proper waste management practices such as waste minimization and resource recovery among  the estero communities.

  The new collaborators that signed the partnership are Aquilini Mactan Renewable Energy Inc., Atlas Fertilizer Corporation, Carmen Copper Corporation, Tsuneishi Heavy Industries Inc., Global Business Power, San Miguel Brewery Inc., Monde Nissin Corporation  and the Cebu Industrial Park Developer Inc.
  Among the rivers and creeks that are up for restoration and rehabilitation are Butuanon, Tipolo, Buanoy, Arpili, Sapangdaku, Cantabaco Bay, and Luray.

 The Linis Estero program of the DENR aims to mobilize adjacent communities and industries to stop illegal dumping of wastes. It also hopes to maintain proper sanitation to minimize threats to public health and safety.
 Montejo also encouraged the public to participate and to take part in cleaning up their nearby river, canal or esteros, in collaboration with their local government officials and partner stakeholders to maintain a clean and pollution free water bodies in the region.

  With the reported flooding during heavy rains in some urban areas, Montejo added these organizations together with the communities themselves could initiate declogging of trash and other litters on our waterways to ensure unimpeded flow of water and reduce pollution loading to the rivers.

  As of November 21 this year, the list of partners or adoptors moved up to 22 or an increase of  22 percent of this year’s target of 18. (FREEMAN)

Blog articles re Lahug Creek in Cebu and Pasig River - Save Our Rivers, Philippines!

 As part of my Save the Rivers in the Philippines efforts, I'm sharing these articles:  

More on Rivers, 

here's a blog article by Jing Lavilles de Egurrola about the Lahug Creek in Cebu -

And here's an article on the Pasig River by Prosy Delacruz

I love Wedgwood China and Sterling Flatware

I love Wedgwood China and Sterling Flatware!

Copenhagen, Denmark, photo by Cecilia Brainard

I'm posting a picture of Copenhagen, Denmark, to show that urban rivers should be kept clean and healthy. Hello Cebu and the rest of the Philippines, Save Our Rivers! ~ Cecilia Brainard

Friday, November 23, 2012

Nile River, photos by Cecilia Brainard

I took these pictures of the Nile River, Egypt. In general the Nile was clean, although there were parts that were dirty. Ancient Egyptian texts show how the deceased must deny polluting or damming the Nile. (In other words, to pollute or dam the Nile were sins.)

Cebu, and the rest of the Philippines - are you listening?  Save Our Rivers!
~Cecilia Brainard

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Malacca River (or Melaka), Malaysia - photo by Cecilia Brainard

Malacca River (or Melaka), Malaysia - photo by Cecilia Brainard
I'm posting still another picture of an urban river to encourage Cebu and the rest of the Philippines to Save their Rivers. Let's start by imposing a strict No Littering Ordinance!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Avon River, Christchurch, New Zealand, photos by Cecilia Brainard

Avon River, Christchurch, New Zealand, photos by Cecilia Brainard

I'm posting pictures of rivers and creeks to show their incredible beauty. The Avon River flows through the center of the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Bosphorus River, Istanbul, Turkey - Photos by Cecilia Brainard

Bosphorus River, Istanbul, Turkey - Photos by Cecilia Brainard

We took a river cruise on the Bosphorus and this part shows nice homes along the riverfront.  I'm showing these pictures as part of my "SAVE THE RIVERS IN THE PHILIPPINES" effort,  to show that rivers are desirable places, and people should keep them clean and beautiful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Beautiful Animas River in Durango City, Colorado

I took these pictures in Durango City, Colorado, where the Animas River flows through the center of the city. There are walkways and parks on either side of the river. All along the banks, children play, people walk their dogs, fishermen fish in the river, painters try to capture the golden beauty of the cottonwoods.

My dream is that one day the rivers and creeks in the Philippines will be as pristeen and beautiful as the Animas River.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Today, I'm honoring the writer N.V.M. Gonzalez, whom I had the privilege of knowing. I first met him with Bienvenido N. Santos at a literary event sponsored by Linda Nietes' Philippine Expressions. Like Mr. Santos, Mr. Gonzalez encouraged my literary efforts; he generously wrote blurbs for my book projects or contributed stories for anthologies which I edited.

N.V.M. Gonzalez was born on September 8, 1915 in Rombon, Philippines, although he grew up in Mindoro, later the setting of much of his fiction, such as the stories in Seven Hills Away, Children of the Ash-Covered Loam, and Look, Stranger on This Island Now. His father was a teacher and school supervisor.

N.V.M. played the violin and reportedly earned his first peso by playing the violin at a Chinese funeral in Romblon. He attended Mindoro High School, and later the National University although he was unable to complete his undergraduate degree. In Manila he wrote for the Philippine Graphic, the Evening News Magazine, and the Manila Chronicle. He was a member of the Board of Advisors of Likhaan: the University of the Philippines Creative Writing Center, and he was also the founding editor the Diliman Review. He was the first president of the Philippine Writers Association.

In the US, he attended creative writing classes at Stanford University. He later taught at the University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, the Philippine Women's University, University of California Santa Barbara, UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington, and the California State University at Hayward.

He won many honors, including the Republic Award of Merit, the Republic Cultural Heritage Award, the Jose Rizal Pro-Patria Award. In 1987, the University of the Philippines awarded him honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters. In 1997, he was proclaimed National Artist of the Philippines.

He died on November 28, 1997 in Quezon at 84. As a National Artist, he was honored with a state funearl at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
External Link:

Photo below shows N.V.M. Gonzalez and Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, photo by Cecilia Brainard

PSALM 122:6

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Friday, November 16, 2012

Photo of Gethsemani, Jerusalem, by Cecilia Brainard

Genesis 28:15  ~ “And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in all places where you go, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you about.”

Photo of Gethsemane, Jerusalem, by Cecilia Brainard

Huge Rock Sculpture, India, photo 2 by Cecilia Brainard

Huge Rock Sculpture, India, photo 2 by Cecilia Brainard
I posted a closer angle of the same site yesterday. Some people asked why the cat is standing (under the elephant's tusk). Perhaps this bigger picture can solve this mystery. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Huge Rock Carvings, India, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Huge Rock Carvings, India, photo by Cecilia Brainard
Note standing cat, left, under elephant tusk.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winning Hearts and Minds, by Cecilia Brainard

Hi, I'm sharing a chapter from my novel, MAGDALENA. Recent news re Petraus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen made me pull this out.  Enjoy the story!  ~ Cecilia Brainard

(A chapter from Brainard's novel, MAGDLENA, available from Kindle and Nook)

copyright 2012 by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

During a visit to Nakhon Panom Air Base in Thailand, Colonel March Adams heard that Major Ron O’Connor had been shot down during a strike near the Plain of Jars, in Laos. When he returned to Mactan Air Force Base, which he commanded, he told his men about O’Connor, how he had been a member of the reputed 602nd Special Operations Squadron, which was primarily a search-and-rescue (SAR) outfit, responsible for all of Laos and parts of Cambodia. Known as the Sandy Mission, the 602nd also conducted strikes in Northern Laos and made sorties against the Vietcong enemy truck and troop convoys along Ho Chi Minh Trail; but they were famous for their rescue efforts. O’Connor and his wingman, Captain Jose Cass, had been on a rescue mission to save a gunned-down pilot when the enemy got their plane. The pilot whom they had tried to save in the first place, survived; but Major O’Connor “bought the farm,” as the colonel called it.

He said this matter-of-factly. This was his second war, and he had learned to look at war in terms of winnings and losses, as if it were a giant chess game with pawns and horses sacrificed for the more important chess pieces.

His men, however, were young; and they assumed a somber tone. “I knew Ron,” someone said, “he’s got a wife and two kids.”

Another spoke: “Once I went with Ron to Francois Restaurant. He had heard that Francois was the best French restaurant in Vietnam. Only problem was, Francois was in VC territory. No problem, Ron said, the VC left Francois’ clients alone. So one Friday, a group of us went, three jeeps, and guys holding machine guns all the way through VC territory to Francois. We picked a table that backed up against a wall and guys continued taking turns with the machine guns throughout the entire meal. We ate and had a lot of laughs. Oh, man, I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Thinking to console them, the colonel added, “His commanding officer recommended he be listed as MIA (missing in action) instead of KIA-NBR (killed in action, no body recovered) so his widow will continue collecting 20 grand a year. If he’s KIA-NBR, she’ll get a lump-sum settlement and less than half the continued compensation.”

The airmen proceeded to talk about their preferred listing if something did happen to them in Southeast Asia. Some men agreed that KIA-NBR was a better deal for their families; others thought the psychological anguish would be torture on them. The overall tone of the conversation turned so grim that all of them jumped at the suggestion to go to St. Moritz Bar.


The owner of the bar was an expatriate German named Karl, a loud, effusive man, whose life centered on his bar. “We have some new girls,” Karl said with a thick German accent. He gestured toward the stage in the center of the bar where half a dozen Go-Go girls were dancing. “Some clubs have goldfish, I have beautiful girls.” He sat beside the Colonel and ordered a bottle of Scotch for the Americans. “Look at that. Just look at that, their bikinis are no larger than postage stamps,” he said with a wink.

The airmen laughed and hooted. The colonel relaxed, glad that the fiery memory of O’Connor was receding from his men’s minds.

“They come to me, begging for work,” Karl continued. “I take good care of them. Why some of them have married my clients! Last month, a dancer stopped by with her New Yorker husband -- and a three-carat diamond ring. Not too bad for someone from a barrio. I am the one who picks them, each and everyone of them. I go to small barrios; I pick the prettiest. Sometimes I pick some ugly ones, like that one over there who looks like King Kong. Believe it or not, some men like ugly girls. But this girl with the ring, she was beautiful. And obedient. What else can a man want? Her husband must be very happy.” He slapped his thigh and guffawed.

The colonel glanced at the smiling dancers who were furiously gyrating; and for some reason, he remembered his wife, two children, and their Golden Retriever back in Charlston, South Carolina. It had been five months since he met his wife in Honolulu for a brief R&R; and he wondered how she was.

“So, Colonel, how is your war coming along? News is always about Vietnam. Last week there was a picture in Time of a village burning. And inside, a story about more American bombings. The North, the South, they don’t get along. It is a mess, ja? Well, here in St. Moritz, everybody get along. Have more whiskey, Colonel.”

Before the colonel could answer, the German left. The colonel was relieved. The German’s accent grated on his nerves.

The whiskey loosened the knots in his shoulders. He closed his eyes and pictured the airy houses in Charleston. He imagined himself walking along the city walls, looking across the sea at Fort Sumter. He recalled his grade school teacher, Miss Hill, a passionate Southerner, proudly relate the story of how Charlestonians had bombarded the fort, thus starting the Civil War. As a little boy, he used to recreate famous battles like the Battle of Gettysburg, using small toy metal soldiers. He wondered what happened to the toy soldiers. The last time he had seen them, they were in a box in his mother’s attic.

A girl spoke, startling him. “Maybe you find it one day.”

He raised an eyebrow at the girl who had sat beside him.

“What you are looking for,” she continued. “A while ago, you said, ‘I need to find them.’”

Embarrassed that he had voiced his foolish thoughts, he said, “It was nothing.”

“Do you want more Scotch? Sir says to take care of you.” She pointed at the German who was now at the other end of the room.

“I’m sorry. I have to leave.”

“If you go, he’ll think I’m no good. He’s watching me because I’m new here. I’m a singer. I started work last Wednesday. Were you here last week?” she asked.

The colonel shook his head. “No, I was in Pleiku.”

“What’s ‘Pleiku’? A beach or something?”

“No, not a beach.”

“Here in Philippines? Or someplace else?”

“In Vietnam,” he said, irritated at her persistence.

“Ah, yes, Vietnam. Is there fighting in Pleiku?”

“It’s a place in Vietnam, that’s all.” He didn’t add that as he was driving toward Pleiku, he had seen graves on either side of the highway. Markers, as far as the eyes could see, 150,000 of them, an endless stretch of worn, gray-white markers. An ocean of grave markers. Thousands of these were graves of French soldiers who had died at Dien Bien Phu. For the rest of his life, he would never forget the sight of those markers.

“You have to be happy like others. Sir likes everyone happy. Want to dance?” She gestured toward the pulsating dance floor.

The colonel shook his head.

She hesitated, but said: “Maybe you want a good time? Bar-fee is twenty dollars, but the boss says to go with you, no problem. He wants you to have a good time. He likes Americans here. Lots of dollars. I can give you a good time. Two hours, three hours, even four, forget the sad times; be happy. But not all night. I go home before morning.”

She was wearing tight black pants and a sparkly red top. Although her lips were bright red, her face looked young, like a fourteen-year old playing grownup. Her hand was resting hear his, and her skin looked soft. For a moment, the colonel imagined the feel of human skin against his, and how comforting that would be; and he was tempted. No one would care; and his wife wouldn’t know. He could take her to the hotel down the street; they could be together for a couple of hours. He would feel her body, taste her lips, find release; he would forget O’Connor, Pleiku, the war. One hundred twenty-minutes, that was all; and there the matter would end.

But quickly lust gave way to anger at his weakness; and later, anger at the corruptness in Asia, how women like their politicians sold themselves, just like that. Here there was a price for everything. And here, in this far-off, God-forsaken place, men like O’Connor were dying. What for? What were they sacrificing their lives for? If he died, would he have died for his country, or for Asia? And what in hell were they doing in Asia in the first place, a place he didn’t even like, peopled by people he couldn’t even understand; peopled by people who didn’t even like Americans? What was it all about? Americans would bleed to death as the French had in Dien Bien Phu until it fell in 1954. That was the fate of Americans in Vietnam. This war was a waste of time, a waste of money, a waste of American lives.
He got up, ramrod, and headed for the door.

Unfazed, the girl shouted after him, “I’ll tell Sir you have a wife back home.”

Saturday, the colonel did a double-take when Captain Nathan Spencer reminded him what his afternoon schedule was.

“A child care what?” the colonel shouted.

“Its inauguration, Sir. A child care center, in Ubec. You’d okayed giving them old medical and dental equipment, Colonel, and the women had invited you to give a talk. You said yes.”

“I don’t care about the equipment; they’ve had it. But what is this about a talk? I’m here to fight a war, not to give goddamn lectures.”

“You accepted their invitation, Colonel, Sir. You agreed it may be a good way to win the hearts and minds of the people. I understand the center is for children of prostitutes, Colonel, and apparently a lot of the kids are half-Americans. The women organizing the event wanted to make sure you’re aware the archbishop and mayor will be speaking along with you, Colonel.”

“The church and state will be there, so by gum, the US government must be represented.”

“Something like that, Colonel.”

“Well, then, you come along, Captain.”

Before serving in Asia, Colonel Adams had been part of the mission at the North American Air Defense Command in Colorado and he had taught part-time at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs where he had met Captain Nathan Spencer and struck a friendship with him. He liked the young man and gave him what he considered fatherly advice.

On the way to the city, the captain said, “I can’t help wondering, Colonel, about the poverty here. I understand there are a lot of resources, gold, silver, copper; the land is rich. I’ve flown over acres and acres of green rice paddies; clearly the land is fertile. Yet I’ve heard babies die from disease and hunger. It’s fascinating, Colonel, the contrast between the beauty and poverty here. I can’t figure it out.”

“Corruption, Spencer. There’s corruption on every level of society. You can’t get anything done without paying someone. We’re doing our best for them, trying to establish a democracy in these countries, but sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it.”

“And there’s the question of democracy, Colonel. I’ve read the Vietnamese government is repressive. And we’re supporting them, Sir. I should be simply doing my job, I know that Colonel; but I saw that picture in Time, a Vietnamese village, Sir, in flames, with a child bleeding, and other people around. And Colonel, well, when we’re up in the air, we don’t see the faces of these people. The navigator locates the target; the bombardier pushes the button; and we return to the base. I guess what I’m saying Colonel, was that it felt strange to see that picture, to realize we were responsible for all that.”

“Let me give you sound advice, Captain. Don’t do drugs; avoid the women; do your job in the best way you can, and you’ll get out of here alive.” It had sounded so simple; surely Ron O’Connor had followed that advice, but Ron was dead. The colonel wondered what else was needed to survive this war.


Erlinda Sabados and Josie Martinez, president and vice-president respectively of the Catholic Women of the Virgin Mary Most Pure, greeted the men. "Colonel Adams, Captain Spencer," Erlinda began in a sing-song voice, "how nice of you to join us. We are happy, so very happy that you are here with us." She was a large woman, a spinster, in her mid-fifties.

"So happy, Colonel," said Josie who was a younger, smaller version of Erlinda (Erlinda's shadow, Ubecans called her).

"You have fifteen minutes, Colonel. You come after Archbishop Montalban and the mayor. You're with two very important figures in Ubec, so you see Colonel, how much we consider American support an honor." Erlinda stood on tiptoe and draped a sampaguita lei over Colonel Adam's neck and another over Captain Spencer's neck.

"An honor," Josie echoed.

"Some GROs will be present Colonel. The women. The mothers of the unfortunate children. Out of delicadeza, we call them GROs,” Erlinda whispered.

"Guest Relation Officers," explained Josie.

"Even before Kaugma-an was finished, twenty children signed up, Colonel. Somehow, the GROs heard about the center and begged that we take their children in. Because they are out all night, they sleep in the daytime, leaving the children totally unattended. No Catholic training whatsoever, none. Those poor children grow up like heathens. A place like this is a haven to them. The GROs have been particularly busy, Colonel, as you know. Since you Americans expanded your base, there are quite a lot of soldiers around our city.

“I’ll be frank, Colonel, when I first introduced the idea of a child care center, there was great resistance from members. They accused me of avoiding the real issue, prostitution. They insisted prostitution is immoral, corrupt, not to mention unhealthy; and that prostitution needs to be stopped once and for all. I agreed with them; but the question was how to stop prostitution. How do you stop the oldest profession? Do you have the answer, Colonel? I didn’t. We thought that since GROs were in the business for money, we could start a training center to teach them some other trade - sewing perhaps, or cooking, or some other small cottage industry. The idea was shot down by a GRO herself who said it would take a week of stitching rag-dolls to earn what she made in one night as a prostitute. And of course your Base, these Americans on R&R with their dollars to spend - well, it was an issue of economics, pure and simple, and eventually the others supported my proposed child care center project, hoping to save these children since we can do nothing more for the mothers.”

This was a matter that the colonel had never even remotely considered, and he became curious. He asked if the center’s name, Kaugma-an, meant anything; and he nodded approvingly when Erlinda said it meant tomorrow. He observed the three rooms that served as classrooms, the kitchen, the nursery, and the clinic with the American equipment. He was glad that he had had the wisdom to give them the old equipment.

The women led them to some chairs near the podium in one of the larger classrooms, and they left to test the mike and gather everyone for the program.
The mayor and archbishop, who were already seated, were discussing the Catholic Women.

“These women are the backbone of Ubec society,” the archbishop expounded. “Good and pure. They do not let their wealth get in their way. They see everything in clear perspective. They fixed up the old Spanish fort; now they are taking care of these unfortunate children. They use their own money; they beg, they borrow, they virtually steal, to get these worthy projects done. But they get them done. God bless them.”

The mayor spoke: “Monsignor, let’s not forget the city donated the building. It’s old, that’s true, but it’s rent-free. And of course Monsignor, our good American friends here have donated medical and dental equipment. You cannot imagine, Colonel, how very much appreciated these things are. The doctors, all volunteers by the way, had nothing more than stethoscopes - I exaggerate - but seriously, they had little else. But now, they have these fancy American equipment, why these are better than the equipment at Ubec General Hospital.”

The colonel felt embarrassed; he had simply been junking the equipment. Helping these children, these people, had been the last thing in his mind.

Erlinda and Josie returned with soft drinks and plates of food, which they set in a low table in front of the men, and then Erlinda started the program.
She spoke for a long time, and the solitary electric fan could not dispel the heat that sprang from the cement floor. The colonel took his handkerchief from his pocket and mopped his brow. He glanced at his watch, and noted that it was already mid-afternoon. Tomorrow, he had to fly to Vietnam for a meeting with General Westmoreland.

The program plodded along.

Erlinda introduced another member of the Catholic Women, who in turn introduced a priest, who in turn introduced Archbishop Montalban. The archbishop congratulated the Catholic Women on the completion of the child care center; he praised their vision in responding to "what was happening in Ubec in the face of the expansion of the nearby military facility." He touched, very delicately, on the unfortunate reality that GROs could not afford to acquire respectable jobs; and he talked at great length about the children of these women, the innocent children, who fortunately would be in a proper Catholic environment within this child care center.

Erlinda returned to introduce the mayor who kicked off his talk by reading an excerpt from "The Hound of Heaven." Nobody got the connection between the poem and the center, but the mayor was an eloquent orator, and he segued nicely into a detailed account of how the Catholic Women had asked him for the city's support, how delighted he had been that he could provide assistance, and he assured everyone he would continue to help them as long as he remained in office.

It was the colonel’s turn. Erlinda introduced him. Colonel Adams had planned on speaking for no more than five minutes. He surprised himself when words flowed. He sidestepped the issue of prostitution and the question of the children’s paternity and started to talk about how pleased the American people were to provide assistance to Filipinos and other Asians. He found himself elaborating on how Americans wanted nothing better than to win the hearts and minds of the people. When he sat down, he thought he had sounded more like a USAID officer than an Air Force Colonel.

There were more speeches from various officers of the Catholic Women, from the doctors who volunteered at the clinic, from the woman who made lunch and snacks, from the restaurateur who donated food, and then, to the colonel’s great surprise, a familiar-looking woman took the mike. It was the singer at St. Moritz Bar. The memory flustered him. He hoped she would not recognize him.

Her eyes paused ever slightly at the Colonel, but her face showed no sign of recognition. “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am a singer,” she began, “I sing at night, at St. Moritz. Some people say it is a bad place, but they pay and I am able to buy food and clothes for my child. I have a little boy. At night he is with my mother, but in the daytime, he comes here. He can now make the sign of the Cross; and he can say ‘Jesus.’ One day he will have a better life than me; and it will be because of you. Kaugma-an -- Tomorrow -- he will do better than me. Thank you. Now I will sing.”

She sang a plaintive rendition of "We Shall Overcome" followed by a rowdier "Boots Were Made for Walking." A ripple of tension swept through the audience when the singer marched provocatively around the room, but vanished when the archbishop himself cocked his head to one side, and started snapping his fingers in time to the music.

Later, the singer brought the children to the middle of the room. The older children giggled and pushed one another. The younger children clung to the woman’s legs. The colonel wondered which one was her son. When they were in position, the woman whispered something to the children that made them smile and relax. Eyes riveted on them, she lifted a finger and led the children to sing a playful Ubecan song about a local fisherman, Filemon, catching a tambasakan fish. After, they sang a couple of medleys that involved audience participation.

There was a final dance number by the younger members of the Catholic Women who did a bamboo dance. Clad in colorful native costume, they hopped and glided over bamboo poles that were rhythmically banged together; and finally the program ended.

Colonel Adams and Captain Spencer got up and said goodbye to the mayor and the archbishop, who suddenly exclaimed to people’s bewilderment, “Yes, Sinatra! The daughter sang the song!”

Erlinda and Josie escorted them to the main door. There, waiting by the side was the singer, with a little boy in her arms.

“Sir,” she called, addressing the colonel, to the surprise of everyone. They paused. “This is my boy,” she continued.

The colonel looked at the child.

“I come home to him every night, after work. Every night,” the singer said.

“He’s a nice-looking boy.”

“Do you think so? Sometimes he is naughty.”

“A strong will, that is all. He has strong jaws. A strong will is good.”

“I want him to do better than me.”

“I believe he will. He’ll do all right.”

The singer beamed. “Thank you, Sir. Goodbye.”

The colonel nodded and he and the captain continued to the doorway. They said goodbye to Erlinda and Josie who appeared puzzled at the exchange.

When they were in their car, the captain said, “That was a good speech, Colonel.”

“I overdid it, Captain. I’m a soldier, not anything else.”

“Oh, no, Colonel, I believe your speech won their hearts and minds.”

The colonel looked out the window and saw shanties along the road and piles of garbage. Young children, no older than the bigger children at the child care center, were rummaging through the garbage. Sticks in their hands, they poked through incredible filth to find empty bottles and newspapers, little treasures which they could later sell. He must have seen them before; but this was the first time the colonel noticed these children. How peculiar Asia was, he thought, with all its different facets.

He paused and said, “And I’m afraid, Captain, they have won ours.”


Copyright 2012 by Cecilia M. Brainard; all rights reserved.

Read also:
Flip Gothic
Manila Without Verna
Winning Hearts and Minds 
The Black Man in the Forest
The Old Mansion near the Plaza
The Blue-Green Chiffon Dress

tags: Philippines, literature, novel, fiction, Vietnam War, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Cecilia and Champa ruins, photo taken in Vietnam

Cecilia and Champa ruins in Mysor, photo taken in Vietnam

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Blue Horns" - India, photo by Cecilia Brainard

"Blue Horns" - India, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Monday, November 12, 2012

Temple, Chennai, India - Photo by Cecilia Brainard

Temple, Chennai, India - Photo by Cecilia Brainard

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tulips in Istanbul, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Tulips in Istanbul, photo by Cecilia Brainard

Friday, November 9, 2012

Istanbul in the Fall. Photo by Cecilia Brainard

Istanbul in the Fall. Photo by Cecilia Brainard

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NOW AVAILABLE - Linda Ty-Casper's A SMALL PARTY IN A GARDEN - Kindle & Nook

Award-winning Filipina author's novel, A SMALL PARTY IN A GARDEN, is now available in Kindle ( and Nook (Barnes and Noble). The novel is set in the Philippines during Martial Law, and is about a privileged woman who is Imelda's right-hand-person, and who learns first-hand the brutality of Martial Law.
 Here's the Kindle link:
BIO of Linda Ty-Casper:
Linda Ty-Casper is a highly-acclaimed Filipino writer. She was born as Belinda Ty in Malabon, Philippines in 1931. Her father worked in the Philippine National Railways; her mother was a school teacher. It was her grandmother who told her stories about the Philippine struggle for independence, a topic she picked up in her novels. She has law degrees from the University of the Philippines and Harvard. However, erroneous and biased statements in books at Widener Library converted her into an advocate, through faithfully researched historical fiction, of Filipino's right to self-definition/determination.
Her numerous books are generally historical fiction. The Peninsulares centers on eighteenth-century Manila; The Three-Cornered Sun written on a Radcliffe Institute grant, deals with the 1896 Revolution; and Ten Thousand Seeds, the start of the Philippine American War. Contemporary events, including martial law years, appear in Dread Empire, Hazards of Distance, Fortress in the Plaza, Awaiting Trespass, Wings of Stone, A Small Party in a Garden, and DreamEden.
Her stories, collected in Transparent Sun, The Secret Runner, and Common Continent, originally appeared in magazines such as Antioch Review, The Asia Magazine, Windsor Review, Hawaii Review, and Triquarterly. One short story was included in The Best American Short Stories of 1987 Honor Roll.
She has held grants from the Djerassi Foundation, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Wheatland Foundation. She and her husband, (literary critic and professor emeritus of Boston College) Leonard Casper, reside in Massachusetts. They have two daughters.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'M VOTING FOR OBAMA, and re CA State Measures

I've been keeping quiet with regard to political matters because the fighting and bickering have been offensive. But as Malala of Pakistan said, "If you don't speak up now, when will you speak up?" So now I'm letting people know that I'm voting for OBAMA. I believe strongly that this is the right path for this country.

While I'm at it: for the State Measures, I'm voting: 30- YES (one should ask why the big wigs in AZ opposing this proposition refuse to reveal themselves): 31- no; 32-no; 33- no; 34- yes; 35-no; 36-yes; 37-no; 38-no; 39-yes; 40-yes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

PRE-COLONIAL GOLD IN CEBU, by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

My article about Pre-Colonial Gold in the Philippines came out in The Freeman and, Oct. 14, 2012

Pre-colonial gold in Cebu
By Cecilia Manguerra Brainard (The Freeman) Updated October 14, 2012 12:00 AM  View comments

CEBU, Philippines - In 2008, while construction of the Cebu subway tunnel went on in the Plaza Independencia area, gold jewelry started appearing in the antique collector's black market. Pre-Hispanic gold jewelry was being offered to collectors; it was a collector himself who blew the whistle and before long the Plaza Independencia was secured from robbers and turned into an archeological digging site. Enter Dr. Jobers Bersales from the University of San Carlos Sociology and Anthropology, and Cebu's version of Indiana Jones. Dr. Bersales supervised the diggings that unearthed Pre-Hispanic ceramics and gold jewelry, including gold death coverings.

I was interested in the gold findings for two reasons. First, the idea of having Pre-Hispanic people wearing these gold necklaces, diadems, belts, arm and wristbands suggested a more sophisticated culture than that promulgated by the Spanish who had arrived the Philippines in 1521. Second, I had seen gold death masks in Lima, Peru and in Egypt, and I wondered how ancient peoples, separated by a great distance, ended up making similar items such as this.

I tried to see the Cebu gold findings, but since the diggings were ongoing, could not. However I did have the chance to see the Ayala Museum gold collection, a fabulous exhibit of over one thousand gold items found in the Philippines, and yes, some of these came from Cebu. The Ayala displayed numerous gold earrings, necklaces, sashes, pectorals, diadems, finger rings, anklets, bowls, cups, death coverings and masks, and a fabulous bird-woman figure.   
 Looking at all these gold findings, I understood that Cebu's ancient people had a social hierarchy, the wealthy wearing the extravagant pieces some of which weighed a remarkable four kilos in gold. They had enough wealth so that artisans could work on gold pieces to decorate their people and homes. They had religious beliefs that called for them to treat their dead with respect and love so much so that eyes, nose, mouths of the dead were covered by gold pieces. In some cases, the death mask consisted of one piece that looked like a small face, with etchings made to look like eyebrows, eyes, nose, and mouth. This gold piece covered the face of the dead. In other cases, pieces of gold were shaped and decorated to look like eyes, nose and mouth pieces; and these too were used to cover the face of the dead.

It wasn't until 2011 when I finally had the chance to see some of the diggings from the Plaza Independencia in Cebu. By this time, the findings had been catalogued by the National Museum of the Philippines, and some were on display in the newly opened Museo Sugbo. There they were, ceramic ware and some gold findings, including necklaces. The gold findings were sparse compared to the Ayala Gold collection, but what interested me most was encased in glass: it was a skull, found in the Plaza Independencia, with the gold death facial pieces that had covered it.

Talking about the actual digging of this skull, Jobers Bersales said, he had a hunch when he told the men to dig in a particular spot. They found what looked like candy wrapper, a bit of gold foil, which turned out to be one of the gold death pieces. There apparently was a very large plate covering the skull.

A year later, I visited the Boljoon Museum, a small sitio museum that housed some findings from archeological diggings in front of the Boljoon church. There were a few pieces of pottery and jewelry, but the sparse display consisted mostly of pictures.

It was the Banco Central, where my friend Marily Orosa brought me, which had an extensive collection of pre-Colonial pieces, breathtaking in fact because of the quantity and artistry of the work. There were numerous display cases of gold findings, the same type of artifacts displayed at the Ayala gold collection (gold earrings, necklaces, sashes, pectorals, diadems, finger rings, anklets, bowls, cups, death coverings and masks) - but much more.

At some point I had asked historian Ambeth Ocampo why the Spaniards had not treated the people in the Philippines in the same way they had treated the people in Peru or Mexico - that is, the Spaniards had systematically removed as much gold and silver as they could from these places, destroying the social structure and cultures of both countries in the process. Peruvian history relates that the Spaniards had captured the Inca Emperor, Atahualpa, and had demanded a ransom in gold, the amount of which had to fill a room said to be 17 feet wide by 22 feet long, by 9 feet high. The Incas threw in silver that filled a smaller room, and the weight of the ransom came up to 13,400 pounds of gold and 26,000 pounds of gold.

I believe Ambeth Ocampo's answer was that the Philippines did not have as much gold and silver as the New World did.

The gold in the Philippines did not originate just from the Philippines, but from other places, as part of the trading that went on.
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
Pre-Colonial Gold in Cebu 
tags: Cebu, Philippines, Sugbo, history, gold, pre-colonial