Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pelourinho Historic District of Salvador, Brazil

Dear Readers,
Salvador is not giving us sunshine at all!

At 7:30 this morning, I went to Mass at St. Francis.  Because of the bad weather, there were only six walk-ins; ten choir and church people; and two priests to concelebrate the Mass.

It's been raining, and today all we could do was walk around the historic district (Pelourinho) for a bit, visit the Cathedral, the Museum of the writer, Jorge Amado, and the Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (the church built by the slaves).  The name "Pelourinho" refers to the pillar that used to stand in the square (in front of the Amado museum).  In the past, slaves were publicly flogged at this pillar. The pillar is gone.

While the Pelourinho district isn't very large, there are a number of churches and museums around, plus there's an artisan market at the bottom of the elevator. There are many bars, shops, and restaurants. (Last night we had a wonderful dinner at Lafiga - filet mignon with gorgonzola, and lobster. I believe the place abounds with lobster and other seafood because the Atlantic Ocean is right there!)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Salvador, Brazil - the Center of Bahian Culture

~~~~~ Some Facts about Brazil~~~~~

- It covers half of South America;
- Brazil is the world's fifth most populous country in the world;
- Brazilian economy is counted among the world's ten largest;
- It is the birthplace of writers Jorge Amado and Paulo Coelho;
- It is where the Bossa Nova and Zamba originated;
- Brazil has produced soccer greats: Leonidas da Silva, Garrincha, Pele, Socrates, Romario, and Ronaldo;
- It has produced the tiniest bikini and has lent it's name to Brazilian "bikini cut" waxing.

~~ We are now in Salvador, the third largest city in Brazil, with a population of around 3 million. It was founded by the Portuguese in 1549 on the protective Bay of All Saints (Baia de Todos os Santos). We got in late last night and checked into the very charming Villa Bahai, a hotel built on two buildings dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. It is in the heart of historic Salvador, and from our window I can see the St. Francis church to the left and the Cathedral to the right.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Where the Waters Meet - Manaus, Brazil 2

Day 2  in Brazil
The Eco Lodge reminds me of the lodge we stayed at in Taman Negara, Malaysia – it is on the river shore and is thick with tropical plants. Unlike the Taman Negara however he have not seen exotic animals in the premises. (In Malaysia we had seen wild tapirs and an angry wild elephant in the lodge area. The angry elephant incident has lapsed into lore since nothing bad actually happened, but one night, coming back to our cottages, we ran into an irate elephant who was uprooting palms trees and bushes; staff people gathered a group of us and hid us in a building. Peering out a window, we saw this pissed-off elephant having a rampage.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Link to the Amazon - Manaus, Brazil -1

After traveling for over 13 hours, we made it to Manaus, which is the capital city of the Amazonas Region of Brazil.  The discovery by Europeans of rubber in the Amazons made Manaus a very wealthy city from 1888 to 1912. Some 42 Rubber Barons ran the place, and to turn this river port place into a mini-European place, they built an elegant market place (designed by Gustave Eiffel himself); a theater (Teatro Amazonas), Palacette Provincial, Palacio Rio Negro, Alfandego, and other European-style buildings, most of them crumbling, although there's a rush to clean up Manaus for the 2014 World Cup scheduled here.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Coming up - Brazil!!! by Cecilia Brainard


I wonder about the Copacabana
Ipanema too
if the boy is still tall and tan
and handsome
tiny string bikinis
wrapping around
sandy bodies
Christ on the mount
reaching out

Some Summer Pictures, by Cecilia Brainard

Some Summer Pictures, by Cecilia Brainard

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Review of Angelica's Daughters: A Dugtungan Novel, review by Michaela Keck, Germany

l-r: Susan Evangelista, Cecilia Brainard, Nadine Sarreal

Book Review by Michaela Keck - Carl von Ossietszky University, Germany
Filipina American collaborative writing, art form, and collective experience.
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Erma Cuizon, Susan Evangelista, Veronica Montes, and Nadine Sarreal, 2010. Manila: Anvil Publishing. 201pp.
WITH their collaborative romance, Angelica’s Daughters: A Dugtungan Novel, the five Filipina writers—Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Erma Cuizon, Susan Evangelista, Veronica Montes, and Nadine Sarreal—have realized a remarkable project. Remarkable, because the romance combines the epistolary novel with traces of the tradition of the female “talk-story.”1 The book therefore constitutes the collective artistic form and expression as well as cultural experience of a community of Filipina women of several generations. It is a remarkable work, also, because by choosing the unique style of collaborative writing that originated in the Philippines in the early twentieth century, the writers have revived dugtungan writing via the Internet and have brought together Filipina writers from both sides of the globe. As the authors themselves explain in their foreword, dugtungan writing means that “one writer ... work[s] on one portion of the novel, then pass[es] this on to the next writer, and so on, until the novel [is] completed” (2010, p. vi). What began as a transnational writing workshop and weekly meetings in cyberspace soon turned into serious writing. So far, the publication of the short story “New Tricks” (2007)2 and Angelica’s Daughters (2010) are certainly impressive results.

In addition to indicating its unique Philippine artistic form and heritage, the title 
immediately invokes a female genealogy, which has the novel join the ranks of the body of Asian (American) women’s writing that, since the feminist projects of the 1960s, seeks to “preserve memory and establish a matrilineal tradition” (Wong & Santa Ana 1999, p. 195). While Angelica’s Daughters partly continues the 1960s Asian (American) feminist literature, whose aim has been to remedy and counteract racist and sexist stereotypes by turning to strong, heroic female ancestors, the novel also moves on—albeit at times rather tentatively—to such sensitive issues as failed marriages, sexual affairs with married men, as well the perpetual taboo of women having considerably younger lovers.

The story revolves around Tess, a young Filipina whose family emigrates to the United States when she was nine years old. Although Tess grows up in America, marries there and lives close to her father’s family, her childhood memories from Manila and her mother’s family are not lost to her. Indeed, these memories resurge strongest in times of crisis. Pressured by the paternal family’s and the couple’s own (internalized) expectations of becoming parents, Tess and her husband Tonio have grown apart. But while Tonio finds comfort and salvation in a love relationship with what appears to Tess a younger version of herself, Tess appears to be left to face the failure of her marriage without any resources to cope. Too absorbed in being the wife of Tonio, Tess has unlearned her ability to develop or nurture her self-identity. It is at this point that the legendary forebear, Angelica, resurfaces from Tess’s childhood recollections, which come alive during her visit to Manila and the ancestral home. Angelica’s letters, as well as Tess’s grandmother’s (Lola Josefina) stories add to a multilayered plot that interweaves past and present, individual and collective experiences which evoke a rich and colourful female heritage
that provides Tess with the sought for resources to live through her crisis.

At first, still shrouded in Lola Josefina’s romantic tales, in the course of events the mythical female ancestor Angelica emerges as a headstrong woman whose fascination lies as much in her stamina to follow her own desires as in her whims and weaknesses. Rather than a towering mythical persona who is “in control of her life at all times” (p. 13), Angelica increasingly turns out to be a character of flesh and blood whose growth from young girl into a woman and mother includes both the struggle against her own foibles as well as the adversities of the Tagalog War once she gets involved with the painter and illustrator Teban. Reconnecting to her female Philippines ancestors and their wisdom through Angelica’s letters helps Tess recover her inner voice and compass—in short, her soul. Needless to say, this soul is decidedly Filipino, notwithstanding the obvious Spanish and American influences that surround her (and her ancestor Angelica) in Manila.

Tess’s full embrace and affirmation of her Filipino origins and identity are mirrored in an intriguing episode between her female forebear Angelica and the American consul and stepfather-to-be. In her letters to Tia Elena, Angelica depicts the consul as the quintessential colonizer who, while utterly unconscious of his blundering and ignorance, is firmly convinced of his own moral righteousness and humane mission: “Once, as he expounded (he loved to expound!) on the future of Asia, he swung his right arm and knocked over the Meissen vase. It broke into a million pieces! Mama saved the shards, hoping to put them together again, but that project is doomed. The poor vase was pulverized” (p. 31). Apparently unaware of his own presumption and convinced of the liberating and progressive spirit of his mission to spread democracy throughout Asia, whenever the consul gets into one of his “expounding” moods, he manages to drive even the present colonizers into the corner: “people back off and let him have his say, even the Spaniards” (p. 34). To Angelica, the American consul is a “magician” who both“charm[s] and mesmerize[s]” (p. 35), but also an“idiot” (p. 34) and “blunderbuss” (p. 33). The authors are at their best in their ironic enhancement of the consul’s colonial personality through the analogy of Perico, his parrot, a bird “meaner than sin” (p. 31). Against the advice of Angelica’s mother and convinced of his magnanimity, the consul nurses the half-dead parrot back to life, only to have Perico terrorize the rightful inhabitants of the household, “ Papa’s three aging parrots” (p. 31).What is more, “[t]he nasty bird is master of the place, defecating wherever he pleases and pecking at the mahogany furniture” (p. 32).

 When Angelica writes about the consul’s gaze at her budding sexuality and relates that he looks at her “in a peculiar way” (p. 42), the classical patterns of colonial and patriarchal appropriation seem to be complete. However, neither in the life of Angelica nor in the life of Tess does appropriation by a non-Philippine culture take hold; neither of their stories is an example of assimilation. Quite the contrary, both women actually get closer to their Philippine identity in the course of events, even though their life stories are separated by more than a hundred years. In spite of the overbearing behavior of the consul—and his parrot—Angelica takes on the American challenge: driven by her hatred, a hatred that is shot through with her own (sexual) attraction to and curiosity about this male Other, as she admits, Angelica’s deceitful “romancing” of the American consul ends in expelling the intruding foreigner for good with the unexpected retreat by the consul himself. Here, the novel re-writes and responds to the tradition of the popular historical romance that Amy Kaplan has identified as being complicit in the American national-imperial project in two ways. First, it provides a counter-narrative to the traditional assimilation and incorporation of imperial subjects. Second, it shifts the focus away from the “spectacle of American manhood” (Kaplan 1990, p. 667) and onto Filipina womanhood. But in doing so, the novel deviates from the traditional pattern of flawless, heroic characters, aware of the fact that the production of a mere counter-narrative necessarily remains entangled within the troubling discourse of empire and nationhood. Instead of a shining heroine that would qualify for a “spectacle of womanhood” within a national project, Angelica is exposed as “selfish and short-sighted” (p. 59), a flawed fictional character and a woman who openly acknowledges her faults and dark sides. As she writes in her letter to Tia Elena: “I will try not to exaggerate, nor twist things in my favour” (p. 41).

photo old Philippine church, by Cecilia Brainard -could be a scene from Angelica's Daughters

Similarly intriguing are the situations two other female characters find themselves in: Lola Josefina’s relationship with her considerably younger dancing instructor, and Tess’s second cousin Dina’s affair with a married man and father. While I applaud the authors to include the unusual love story of Tess’s grandmother with the 43-year-old Dante, I find it unfortunate that her point of view is excluded from the narrative focalization. Except for the fact that Lola Josefina feels like a teenager in love and that Dante behaves as a handsome lover and graceful dance instructor should—courteous and respectful—in their relationship the two characters remain shadowy and underdeveloped.

In contrast, Dina is allowed her own focalization and her story opens up yet another angle at Filipina womanhood, love, and sexuality. Dina’s obsession with Mike is quickly smothered by her own bad conscience and an angry outburst by Tess, which brings Dina’s secret affair into the open. The older women scold and wail, and once Dina’s father finds out about her affair with a married man, “the house seemed to shake down to its foundation” (p. 138). It seems that much of the parental disapproval of Dina’s “foolishness” (p. 139) derives from cultural and social expectations in which female morality plays a central role. Both Dina’s bad conscience and her preoccupation with the nuns, as well as the older generation’s rage, reflect the ideal of a young Filipina who knows how to restrain her sexual appetites and make the “right” choice—that is, not to have an affair with a married man. Sociologist Yen Le Espiritu (2001) has discerned a similar “‘ideal’ Filipina” in immigrant communities whose “sexual virtuosity” (p. 427) and family dedication often pose severe restrictions for the younger female generation. However, contrary to the parental strictures, Tess’s first harsh reaction to Dina’s transgression derives neither from a misdirected sense of morality nor from an insistence on limiting traditional values. Instead, through Dina she relives the anger and disappointment about her own failed marriage. In their later reconciliation Tess apologizes to Dina: “I’m ... sorry Dina. I had no right to tell your family. It was a terrible thing for me to do” (p. 166). All in all, the female descendants of Angelica show an extraordinary openness toward matters of sexuality and passion, no matter what their age.

Throughout the novel, female sensuality is further underscored by the increasing, and increasingly mouthwatering, omnipresence of Philippine food and cooking. While all these issues show the authors at their very best, a number of scenes display a sentimentality and stock inventory of romance that may disappoint the sophisticated readers, in particular when it comes to the male lovers Luis and Teban who remain truly sentimental men. This may, however, be perfectly satisfactory to those who read Angelica’s Daughters as what it is intended—namely, as “a relatively light romance” (p. vii). This definitely pertains to the erotic encounters between Tess and Luis, as well as Angelica and Teban. Their lovemaking is filled with romantic clichés and hackneyed phrases. For example, in one of her letters Angelica relates her first moments of bliss with Teban:

We stayed locked together for a long time. I rested my head on his
chest and his heart thumped against my cheek. “I have to leave today,”
he said.

“I know,” I replied.

He stared deep into my eyes, and he ran his fingers over my forehead,
my nose, my cheeks, my chin, and then he held me closer to him. “Are
you real?” he murmured. “Perhaps you really are an angel sent from
heaven and you will vanish at any moment.” He kissed me, and I
kissed him back. And he wrapped me tight against him, and continued,
“What will I do without my angel? ...”
(p. 89)

Likewise, when at the end of the book Tess finally finds in Luis the
wished-for significant Other, a scene unfolds that sounds all too familiar:

Tess turned to find Luis standing just a few feet away. “What are you
...?” she said. And then, “You’re here.” Without any forethought, she
found herself moving quickly towards him. He opened his arms to her
as if he had been doing it for years.

“Paolo told me I would find you here,” he said. He held Tess to
him for a few moments, and when she lifted her head to look at him, he
said, “We don’t have much time right now. Just tell me, Tess. Tell me you
feel the way I do.”

Suddenly, all the trepidation she had felt about Luis, all the fear of
commitment, of being hurt again, were gone; all she knew was how safe she felt in his arms. In answer, Tess had done what she’d wanted to do from the first moment she saw Luis: she kissed him deeply. (pp. 158-159)

While I consider Angelica’s Daughters most impressive in its ambiguous and puzzling moments than in its major romantic figure constellations (Tess and Luis; Angelica and Teban), I definitely recommend the book to readers to make up their own minds about such matters of taste. Tess’s ultimate—and predictable—fulfilment of true love, however, leads to a question on which the authors remain conspicuously silent throughout the novel: where does Tess stand concerning her other “home,” the United States? Does it still qualify to be called “home”? Let me return once again to the titular emphasis on the making of the novel and the process of dugtungan writing. Indeed, if one did not know otherwise, one would suspect that the book was the result of a single author, since Angelica’s Daughters proves a surprisingly even narration. In fact, the success of any dugtungan writing may stand or fall by being too uneven, or not uneven enough. The result may be a texture stitched together so poorly that it falls apart completely or degenerates into “tasteless pap” (considering all the traditional and delicious-sounding food and recipes in the book this comparison comes naturally). If successful, however, it may produce an excitingly diverse texture whose individual patches generate fascinating, fresh meanings and a life of their own. But apparently the published version of Angelica’s Daughters is the result of the authors’ efforts of rewriting their initially submitted manuscript. The final novel is thus heavily revised and reworked in answer to the “scathing” review by a critic from Anvil Publishing who had panned the novel’s “lack of unity” (Lim 2010). One cannot help but wonder whether the writers, in their tour-de-force revisions, did not do too much of a good thing erasing all the bumps and crags of their original product, since it is often the rough edges that make the most endearing characteristics of artistic expression. But since any predilections for or against such criteria obviously depend on the eye of the beholder, or rather the respective reviewer, it is moot to speculate whether the original unevenness would have added spice to this romance in a positive sense. Hence, after this first publication, we eagerly await the next dugtungan novel, which, hopefully, will gratify a less conventional critic and be bolder, and prouder, of its idiosyncrasies and experimental nature.

Michaela Keck

Institute of English and American Studies

Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg,


1 The element of the “talking story” is surely no coincidence. Not only is it a common
“female practice of telling stories, often from one generation to the next” (Grice 2004, p.
182) among Asian American women writers, but it has already defined the form of
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard’s novel, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept (1991).

2 The short story was published in Sawi: Funny Essays, Stories and Poems on All Kinds of Heartbreaks, edited by A. J. Loredo, B. J. A. Patino, and R. Bolipata-Santos (New Manila, Quezon City: Milflores Publishing, 2007).

Espiritu, Y. L. (2001). ‘We don’t sleep around like white girls do’: Family, culture, and gender in Filipina American lives. Signs, 26 (2), 415-440.

Grice, H. (2004). Artistic creativity, form, and fictional experimentation in Filipina American fiction. Melus, 29 (1), 181-198.

Kaplan, A. (1990). Romancing the empire: The embodiment of American masculinity in the popular historical novel of the 1890s. American Literary History, 2, 659-690.

Lim, R. S. (2010). Novel train. The Manila Bulletin, September 24. Retrieved from http://

Wong, S. C., & J. J. Santa Ana. (1999). Gender and sexuality in Asian American literature. Signs, 25 (1), 171-226.

Above - l-r: Susan Evangelista, Cecilia Brainard, Nadine Sarreal
Next - Veronica Montes
Next - Old Church in the Philippines
Next - Erma Cuizon
tags: Philippines, Philippines, Philippine American, literature, fiction, novel, dugtungan, women, writing, author, writers, romance, love story

Syrian Revolutionary Poem #2 - "They Wanted Freedom"

Dear Readers,
Like the rest of the world, I'm following the news in Syria and praying for the Syrian people.

Here is another Syrian Revolutionary Poem that I found in The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook site. I'm sharing it in Arabic, then in English by the Google Translation Site, followed by my interpretation.

I do not read Arabic and could be off in my interpretation, and if you know better, please email me at, or leave a comment in this blog.

In short we are working on this Syrian Revolutionary Poem together. In the Philippine literary tradition, this collaborative effort is called "dugtungan" or "connecting." And oh, lovely news, as I searched for a definition of "dugtungan" in the internet, I came across a review of a novel which I co-authored; this is in another blog entry today.

Dugtungan is a Tagalog word which means connecting or making something grow by adding to it. There was a literary tradition in the Philippines in the 1920s for authors to write novels collaboratively, in the dugtungan manner.

The Arabic Version of The Syrian Revolutionary Poem:  

أرادوا الحرية ... أتتهم رصاصات الموت
أرداوا الحرية ... فصار خبزهم دماً
أرادوا الحرية ... فسقط أطفالهم كبراعم شجرة تسقطها الريح
أرادوا الحرية ... فشردوا وجاعوا وماتوا
أرداوا الحرية ... فنالوا حصة من الظلام
أرادوا الحرية والحياة والزهور والياسمين
أرادوا لأطفالهم مستقبلاً أفضل
أرادوا أن يكونوا
فقتلهم جنون الإنسان
الأجساد تقتل والحقيقة تعيش
هي الأرض التي تجمعنا فلتسقط اللعنة على ظلامكم وغبائكم وظلمكم!
(نص ر.ب. اللوحة للفنانة ديالا برصلي: انا الشهيد)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Assad Used Chemical Warfare in Syria - 1,300 dead in Ghouta

 photo posted by Araby Free in The Syrian Revolution 2011

I'm seeing this muddling of facts in Syria right now.  For starters, there was the matter of the song writer, Ibrahim Qashoush, who was assassinated and found dead with his throat cut out. Quickly there were news reports saying Qashoush didn't really author the popular protest song, "Get Out, Bashar!"

Yesterday, it seems the Facebook site of The Syrian Revolution 2011, which is an important source of information to the international media, has been shut down again.

More important is the matter of the chemical attack in eastern Damascus last Wednesday, August 21, referred to by The Independent as "Syria's darkest day" (the government also bombed the same area on Thursday morning). The New York Times says:

Grape Juice and President Ramon Magsaysay

Cecilia is front right; and that's President Magsaysay behind her

Grape Juice and President Ramon Magsaysay

When I'm sick, I hanker for grape juice. The brand is very specific -- it must be Welch's.

When I was around six, my father was hospitalized for several days in Manila.  I know nothing about the details of why he was there. Now I can guess that it had to do with his rheumatism; for as long as I can remember Papa needed a cane to walk.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cooking with Cecilia - Chicken Soup for my Bad Cold

Cooking with Cecilia - Chicken Soup for my Bad Cold

I have a bad cold. The other night I started wheezing, and I thought I had an allergic reaction to something. I took care of the asthma, but then my throat started feeling raw and swollen and I have this deep ugly cough. I have no fever so this couldn't be the flu. I've been going through my mind where I might have picked up this cold, but I can't come up with any suspect. I've been in so many stores and in the post office, so there's simply no telling who gave this to me.

So here I sit, feeling lousy and thinking of ways to get rid of this cold. I'm doing the salt water rinse; I've slathered Vicks VapoRub on my temples, neck, and chest. I'm drinking a lot of fluids. Aside from my asthma medicine, I haven't taken any medicine.

I'm thinking of cooking chicken soup, more specifically Arroz Caldo, also known as Congee. When I was a child, this was something given to me when I was sick. Even the thought of this rice soup is comforting.

Before I leave my computer for my kitchen, I'm sharing the recipe. Wish me a speedy recovery!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tropical Storm Trami (or Maring) Causes Havoc in the Philippines - Call for donations to Red Cross

 There's a call (from a reliable source) for donations of clothes, blankets, etc - read below

Please bring your donations to the nearest Red Cross Chapter or Branch.
Clothes, blankets, drinking water, mosquito nets, medicine, rice, canned goods, noodles, bread.

Rizal Chapter - Shaw Blvd. In front of Capital Commons, near Kapitolyo (635-09-22)
San Juan Branch - Santolan. Near Ortigas Ave.
Marikina Branch - J.P. Rizal St. In front of Shoe Museum.
Las Pinas Branch - Bernabe Compound, Pulang Lupa (0916-687-4329, 0927-541-7063)
Pasay City Branch - 2345 CAA Compound, Aurora Blvd. (0917-815-1179)
Quezon City Branch - Quezon City Hall Compound, Kalayaan Ave.,


For more information about the storm:

Tropical Storm Trami and Monsoon Rains Causing Flooding in the Philippines
Tropical Storm Trami Threatens Taiwan, China as the Philippines Floods
Timeline of Philippines' worst typhoon disasters
Torrential rains shut down Philippine capital 

 tags: Philippines, typhoon, storm, Maring, Trami, flooding, Manila, tropical storm, Red Cross

Two Organizations helping the Children of Syria - re War of Syria

There is a global campaign to raise awareness about the current situation of Syrian's children.

For more information:


Save the Children in London is also helping the Syrian children.  Following is a testimony that  is part of Save the Children's publication based on interviews of Syrian refugees, Untold Atrocities: The Stories of Syria's Children:

Monday, August 19, 2013

October 19-20 2nd Filipino American International Book Festival in San Francisco

Hi, I'm hosting the reading program, Hot Off the Press. If you are a Filipino or Filipino American author and had your book published this year or last, please consider participating in the Hot off the Press Reading.  Contact  The Hot off the Press Reading at the 1st Filipino American International Book Festival was very popular and gathered a large audience.

Filbookfest II
Bulletin #1
Save The Date: October 19-20, 2013 for
The 2nd Filipino American International Book Festival

Cooking with Cecilia - Beef Bourguignon - SO GOOD, the nuns are talking about it!!!

Nuns talking about Cecilia's Beef Bourguignon Recipe!!

Cooking with Cecilia - Beef Bourguignon
(This recipe writeup also appeared in Positively Filipino: )

This is one of my favorite recipes. I like to fix this for a large crowd. I can prepare it ahead of time and warm it up before the guests arrive. I serve it with rice, salad, and perhaps a ham or salmon as well.  The recipe below serves 6 or so, and when I fix for a larger group, I have to triple the recipe.

Instead of sirloin, I've used the stewing beef cut into chunks from Costco, and as long as I use a well-covered casserole oven pan, it turns out tender and just as good as sirloin.

Instead of butter, I've used olive oil, and it turns out fine.

My recipe for beef bourguignon uses a Secret Ingredient.  Email me at if you are seriously following my recipe. Otherwise, the recipe works without my Secret Ingredient. (My SI, gives it a bit of oomph!)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Papa, a personal essay by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Good morning, dear Readers! I'm sharing a personal essay about my dealing with my father's death. I hope it's not too sad for this beautiful Sunday! ~ Cecilia

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

     I don’t remember if I said goodbye to my father before he left for Hong Kong, before he died.  It was October when he, my mother, their friend Dingding, my oldest sister and brother left.  This happened a long time ago, in 1957, and through the years, I've rearranged scenes in my mind, mixed things up so that I'm uncertain as to what is real and what is fantasy.  I see the child that I was playing outside in the huge yard, climbing up the starapple tree, daydreaming as I often did of imaginary places. I liked to travel far to a magical land with dark forests and princesses and enchanted beings, and a huge pearl called the mutya resting deep in the heart of a banana flower. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Jesuit Priest, Paolo Dall'Oglio - Another Casualty of Syrian War

Father Paolo Dall'Oglio killed by Al-Qaeda-linked rebels
 photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
(Note 1/13/14: Since this blog entry was written, there has been news that Father Paolo may be alive.)

The news report is stark: "Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria have killed an Italian Jesuit priest who disappeared in the east of the country late last month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said."

O, Egypt, Does not Spring bring growth and life? - photos of Egypt before the Arab Spring

O, Egypt,
Does not Spring bring growth and life?
Why has the Arab Spring brought
Bountiful tears
And wailing mothers?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Onward to South America? Japan? Safari in Tanzania? Abangan!!!

Now, really the vacation I had with my school mates is definitely over.Yesterday Guia Lim left Las Vegas for  Manila.  For some reason, while she continued her holiday and even though I'm back home myself, I still felt I was on vacation. We four had talked to one another nonstop, and when we left Canada we kept up the email correspondence, but then it petered off.

It is a bit sad.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

American Peace Corps Volunteer to Azerbaijan and the Philippines - Elaine Sweet

American Peace Corps Volunteer - Elaine Sweet

Peace Corps Volunteers Elaine Sweet (right) with Susan Brooks (left)

Dear Readers,
Yesterday's blog entry featured Peace Corps Volunteer Susan Brooks from Cleveland Ohio; today, Elaine Sweet from New York is featured. Both of them are now teachers in Bago, Negros, Philippines. Elaine had served as a volunteer in Azerbaijan -- one of the few people I know who's served in the 'Stans.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Interview of American Peace Corps Volunteer in Bago Philippines -- Susan Brooks

 Susan Brooks, Peace Corps Volunteer

 Interview of American Peace Corps Volunteer, Susan Brooks
by Cecilia Brainard
 Last April, I received an invitation from an American Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in the Philippines to participate in a Writers Conference. The Conference was part of a five-day Creative Writing Workshop for the students of Ramon Torres National High School in Bago, Negros, Philippines, where Susan Brooks taught. In May I talked to the students via Skype -- the first time I used Skype -- and that went well.
 In June, Susan and Elaine Sweet (another PCV from Bago) visited me in Cebu for the June 24 fiesta in the Parian of Historic Cebu which I attend annually. Finally I met the two women, whom I found lively, intelligent, and very curious about Filipino life.  They were game about everything -- touring old Cebu on foot, joining the fiesta procession, staying up late in the plaza to watch a folklore program. They had fun, I believe, and the three of us bonded.
I was curious about their experiences as Volunteers in the Philippines, and I sent them some questions. I actually planned/plan to use the information for another article, but their answers are complete and interesting. It gives one an insight into what American women (plucked out of modern America) feel and think as they negotiate their lives as teachers in a developing country.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Poet and Song Writer, Ibrahim Qashoush, Victim of Syrian War


(This one enrages me and brings to my mind the awful killings that went on in the Philippines during the Marcos Regime and in Argentina during the Dirty War)

I'm adding one more person who was killed for expressing his thoughts, the poet and song writer, Ibrahim Qashoush, whose protest song, Get Out Bashar! became popular. Shortly after the song was released, he was found dead in a river in Hama City, with his throat cut and his vocal chords ripped out.

The 42-year father of three led thousands of people in the protest song, "Get out, Bashar! Freedom is at the door!"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Philippine Women: Five Generations of Filipinas -- from Juana to Cecilia

I'm reposting a blog entry about my Women Ancestors and me -- these pictures show five generations of women.

GREAT-GREAT-GRANDMOTHER - Juana Lopez Diosomito from Naic, Cavite; born circa 1850, businesswoman; married a Spaniard (father of Remedios and Concepcion), then a second time to Domingo Veloso from Leyte (father of Feodor and Domingo Veloso); an aunt said she "loved to dance." I have a legal document that says that in 1896, "Dona Juana Lopez Diosomito of Baybay, Leyte, purchased (for 3,000 pesos, pacto de retro) two houses in Cebu City, one in mamposteria and solar on calle de Prim, facing the Plaza de General Lono, and the other of calle de Prim, in the barrio of Maloco, from Don Prudencio Sanson Camara, negociante, married, natural and vecino of Cebu City (Cebu Protocolos, Doc 11, 1/27/1896/1411:74-77)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Writers and the War in Syria, by Cecilia Brainard

by Cecilia Brainard
This Saturday morning, I am thinking of what Gandhi said:

"God is Truth, but God is many other things also. That is why I say Truth is God…. Only remember that Truth is not one of the many qualities that we name. It is the living embodiment of God..."

I recall the many writers and journalists who were killed during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines.They held up the Truth for the world to see. In time, the Marcos government did fall, and this writing of the Truth played a large part in the end of the repressive Marcos regime.

Right now, journalists and writers in Syria are endangered because they are holding up the Truth about the War in Syria for the world to witness.

 Remi Ochlik, Photographer who died during Syrian Civil War

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Father's Picture in Tau Alpha Fraternity, UP

 I got this message from Chris Doctor in response to my blog entry, The Schools I Attended - Part 2, UP & Maryknoll.  I was very happy to see the picture of my father, front, seated, fifth from right, in a dark suit.

Because World War II destroyed many pictures of my parents, I saw only one other picture of my father before the War, so this is very special. Thank you Chris Doctor and regards to Tau Alpha Frat
~ Cecilia
Dear Cecilia,
Prof. Mariano Manguerra was Tau Alpha's first faculty adviser. He was a professor in civil engineering.

We have photo of him on our Tau Alpha Facebook Page.

Go to the bottom of the page and click on the photo.

Chris Doctor
Calgary, AB
August 8, 2013 at 9:47 PM

How to Write a Novel #2 - Focus on Character, by Cecilia Brainard

How to Write a Novel #2 - Character

I myself have wondered where my characters have come from. I have written not only about girls and women, but about friars, soldiers, other men. Some of these characters were inspired by my life or by people I have known or met. But some of them seemed to have come from the Muse directly, as the General did in my short story, "The Black Man in the Forest."  I recall I was working on another story, "Woman With Horns," and I was writing the funeral part of the older woman, when suddenly, in my imagination, the following happened:

Fiction - The Black Man in the Forest, by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

This is my short story that's part of my first collection, Woman With Horns and Other Stories. "The Black Man in the Forest" was first published in Amerasia Journal, UCLA, Vol 12, No.1. 
Copyright 2013 by Cecilia Brainard, all rights reserved 
Philippines, 1901
            By mid-day, the old general and his men stumbled into that part of the forest where they felt they could stop and make camp. The stronger men immediately searched for food; some dug for roots, others set traps for lizards and sparrows. The skin-and-bones ones collapsed in heaps under the bushes.
            General Gregorio studied his men then did something he instructed them never to do - he left the scraggly group of soldiers and walked to the river. He drank some water and sat on a boulder to contemplate his situation. He had seven men, three guns, ten bullets, and eight rusty machetes. They had no food nor medicines. Even before this point of desperation, they had relied on saliva, herbs, and faith to heal their wounded who eventually died and were buried in unmarked graves as his army was driven back into the mountains by the Americans.