Monday, September 30, 2013

Miss Philippines Crowned Miss World 2013 & More About Filipina Beauty

Of course Filipinos are talking about Miss Philippines winning the Miss World 2013 crown. Twenty-three year old Megan Young won the Miss World pageant held in Bali, with Miss France Marine Lorphelin placing second and Miss Ghana Carranzar Naa Okailey Shooter placing third.

It's been a long while since I've followed this kind of news, but why not? It's happy news for a change.

 Megan Young joins a number of other Filipina beauties who have won international beauty contests, including: Gloria Diaz (Miss Universe '69); Margie Moran (Miss Universe '73); Gemma Cruz ('64 Miss International); Aurora Pijuan ('70 Miss International); Melanie Marquez ('79 Miss International); and Precious Quigman ('05 Miss International).

In case you're interested, I'm reprinting an article I'd written - read on:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Running into the Author Noel Alumit at the Frogtown Art Walk in Elysian Valley, Los Angeles

So my family and I are walking around Elysian Valley looking at art studios and listening to the bands when suddenly I see a good-looking Asian guy holding a camera. I'm holding a camera too and my mind is thinking just that, "That cute Asian guy also has a camera." He'd given me a passing look as well, when suddenly, almost at the same time we stop -- because we know each other!

He and I are thinking: It's ----- ah --- the writer --- but what in God's name is his/her name!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Formation of Syrian Rebel Alliance is Exactly What Assad Wants

Recent news that the Syrian rebels formed an Islamist Alliance that calls for sharia or Islamic law to be the sole source of legislation in Syria may isolate war-torn Syria from most of the Western world now.

I understand the Syrians' frustration and  anger at the perceived lack of action by the West regarding the destruction and deaths wrought by the Assad government.  In particular the Chemical attack last August (that killed over a thousand including hundreds of children) disappointed many who had wanted the US to launch a retaliatory missile strike against the Assad military. But this Islamist Alliance will make it even more difficult for Western governments to get support from their own peoples to help the Syrian people.

The formation of the Islamist Alliance is in fact exactly what Assad wants. People in the West perceive him as the lesser of two evils, as there is a great deal of resistance to supporting Al Qaeda elements.

I understand the Syrians' wish to limit outside (i.e. Western) influence in the fate of Syria. But it would seem to me that top priority ought to be to get Assad out of there and end the war.  Afterwards, a democratic process could insure that the various factions are represented in the next government.

Post-War Cebu Life - More Memorabilia photos of Cecilia Brainard

So when I was small, my mother had my sister and me take piano lessons and our teacher was a man named Bokoy.  Once I caught him lying on the couch with his feet up on the piano, and he was actually playing the piano using his toes!

I had a few recitals and I learned to read music but didn't "make it" as a piano player.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Where Have All the Young Men Gone? - Memorabilia photos Cecilia Brainard

Dear Readers,
 I've picked the theme of  "Young Men" in this entry, but it includes a group of young ladies who actually called themselves "The Magnificent Seven" - see picture below; that's me with the bangs. (Hawaiian parties must have been popular!)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Bachelors and Femina Days of Cebu - Memorabilia photos of Cecilia Brainard

Dear Readers,

I'm still scanning some old pictures and here are some more.  The ones where the ladies (me included) are wearing formal Filipina dresses were taken at the Bachelors and Femina ball in Cebu City.  The Bachelors and Femina club was a social group that started in 1919. The group fizzled out in the 1980s but was revived recently. I hear it's not the same. To understand why the original group was special, one has to know Cebu.  There are so-called "Old Families" who can trace their Cebu roots three-or-four-generations back.  Their children were the ones in the original Bachelor and Femina group.

Old Photographs and Memories - Memorabilia photos of Cecilia Brainard

My childhood's home I see again;
And sadden with the view;
And still as memory crowds my brain;
There's pleasure in it too.  ~ Abraham Lincoln
(My old photo album/scrapbook has this quote and attributes it to Abe, but I'm not sure)

My old pictures are fading fast. They've traveled far, the last shreds of memories from a distant time and place. Most weren't great photographs to start with, small-sized black-and-whites that will soon disappear.  I've scanned a few to save a bit of that past. 

Let's see if I have the energy to scan more in the future --- or maybe I'll just surrender the images to the universe.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Is There a Link Between Creativity and Depression?

Is there a link between Creativity and Depression?

After yesterday's blog entry about two writers who committed suicide, I got into an interesting exchange with a friend about whether there is a connection between creativity and depression.  The names of other artists/writers who committed suicide came up, including Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Vincent Van Gogh, and many more. (Here is a Wiki list of Writers who committed suidice. And here's another list of 10 Incredible Writers who Committed Suicide.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Grief for Writers Who Have Taken Their Own Lives

This is about suicide, dear Readers, and it's not pleasant.

Recently, a writer I know took his life. Initially I heard he had simply died, then I heard he had committed suicide; then I learned he had jumped off the roof of his apartment building. My reaction became progressively stronger as I got the updates. Certainly I was sad when I heard he died; I thought he may have died of a heart attack since he hadn't been looking robust the last couple of times I'd seen him. I was shocked/appalled/horrified when I was informed he had taken his own life.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

HOT OFF THE PRESS LITERARY READINGS at Filipino American International Book Festival - October San Francisco

I'm moderating the literary readings "HOT OFF THE PRESS" on October 19, Saturday, from 1:45 - 2:45 p.m; and on October 20, Sunday, from 12:30-1:30 p.m., Latino Community Room. These readings are part of the  Second Filipino American International Book Festival which will be held at the San Francisco Main Public Library, 100 Larkin Street, (at Grove)San Francisco, California this October- see schedule below.

It's such a pleasure and privilege to see and hear so many talented writers in one space - you can't miss this.  Go early because parking may be a challenge and to allow time to find the reading place. We will start promptly. Writers, please be there thirty minutes before to check the mic and for a photo shoot.

Please check back for updates. I've included links to the names of the authors so you can read about these talented writers.

There is a book signing after the Readings, check Philippine Expressions and Arkipelago. You can order signed books from Philippine Expressions as well. 

Writers/Readers - Note you have one extra minute to read- this note added Friday, Oct. 18
2nd note to Sunday Readers - Nick DeOcampo can't join us; you can read for 7+ minutes. - posted Oct. 19

The Readers for HOT OFF THE PRESS Literary Readings:

Saturday - Oct. 19, 1:45-2:45 p.m.
Jon Pineda
Lysley Tenorio
Dawn Mabalon

Benjamin Pimentel
Luisa Igloria
Angela Narciso Torres
Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez

Elenita Strobel

Sunday - Oct. 20, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

M.Evelina Galang
Giovanni Ortega

Nieves Catahan Villamin
Marianne Villanueva

Nick Deocampo  (can't make it/10/19)
Joaquin Jay Gonzalez & Angelo Michael F. Merino 

Kristian Kabuay

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fascinating Faces of the World - travel photos by Cecilia Brainard

"Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth of confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man." ~ by Edward Steichen

I took these pictures of people during my travels - enjoy!

Friday, September 20, 2013

In Solidarity with the Syrian People - Two Revolutionary Poems

IN SOLIDARITY with the Syrian people, and to remind us all that the War in Syria is far from over, I'm reprinting two Syrian Revolutionary Poems. If the translation can be improved, let me know.

from the Syrian Revolution 2011 site

Thursday, September 19, 2013

More New Pictures of Manaus and Salvador, BRAZIL

That's Cecilia enjoying the Hotel Villa Bahia,

Dear Readers,
Here are more pictures from Brazil. These pictures were taken in Manaus and Salvador, Brazil.  They were not in my earlier blog entries about these places.

I'll post more pictures "from the cutting floor" later on.

This is all for now,
(click Read More for more pictures)

Random Pictures of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Here are a few more pictures taken in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The last picture at the bottom is Evita Peron's Family Mausoleum. (click "Read More" below for more pictures)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Back to Novel Writing with Eve La Salle Caram and her group!

Eve Caram's Private Writing Workshop

Seated l-r: Cecilia Brainard, Eve La Salle Caram, Mary Marca; Standing l-r: Susan Ware, Linda Overman, Amy Fulford, and Cherly Lanktree.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Camera Should Cecilia Get? - Email your suggestions!

Dear Readers,
As some of you know, my beloved Canon G12 died in Rio de Janeiro!

I will get that fixed, but I'll be getting another camera.

I'm asking for your opinion about which camera to buy -- seriously, email me, with your comments and suggestions.  No spam, please.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Schools I Attended - Parts 1 & 2 - published in The Freeman &

My blog entries about the schools I attended were published in The Freeman and in two parts.  Here are the links.  The links below are links to my blog entries in three parts, with pictures:If you are having difficulties with the links, go to the original sites in three parts.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Random Travel Pictures - How Great Are Your Works (Psalm 92)

Iguazu, Brazil

It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.
For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O Lord,
how profound your thoughts! ~ Psalm 92
It's good to be away, and good to be back home!
Here are some random shots from our other travels --enjoy!

Amazon, Brazil

(More travel pictures posted)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blue Dollars and Arbolitos in Buenos Aires, Argentina

It's nice to be back in Buenos Aires.  We were here in 2006 and we enjoyed it so much we included it with our Brazilian trip.  We expected Argentina to be chilly since it's the beginning of spring here, but the weather is very pleasant. Last night as we had dinner in Doug's favorite Cafe in the Recoleta, it was quite balmy. 

Here we are, staying in the Melia hotel, No. 1557 on Posadas Street, in the Recoleta area. We did not know it until we saw a writeup in the hotel lobby, but Evita Duarte Peron had lived in this building from 1942-1944.  Colonel Mercante had pulled strings so Evita could have an apartment in this building.  It was Mercante who introduced Evita to Juan Domingo Peron, and Evita and Peron moved to nearby No. 1561 on Posadas Street.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Foz do Iguazu, Mighty Falls of Brazil and Argentina

We are in Iguazu or Foz do Iguazu, one of the greatest falls in the world, located in both Brazil and Argentina. Today, we saw it from the Brazilian side; tomorrow we will see it from the Argentine.

It is awesome, dear Readers!  I saw the Niagara Falls just last month and I have to say that the Iguazu Falls is ten times more breathtaking.  The Iguazu is wider and falls in several levels.  It is surrounded by a National Park, all rainforest and wild.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Falling in Love With RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil!!!

We had arrived Rio de Janeiro in the evening and while I knew we drove from the north to the south, along the coastline, I could not actually see the terrain of Rio.  In our hotel in the Copacabana, the view is nice but it looks something like the beaches of Santa Monica or Venice, or even Malibu.  It wasn't until we had views of Rio from the Sugar Loaf and from Corcovado Mountains that I fully realized what a beautiful city Rio is.  It's geography is stunning, with bays and islands, and the city nestled close to the shoreline, but maintaining green spaces and beach and park areas for public use. Someone had thought of urban planning.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

NBA Star Anderson Varejao in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

We ran into Anderson Varejao & Marcelle Bueri at the Copacabana Palace!

It was raining hard in Ouro Preto yesterday when we left. It was also raining in Rio when we arrived. Thursday's forecast was 60% chance rain, while Friday's forecast was 0% chance of precipitation, so we postponed our day tour to Friday.

Our room in the Porto Bay has a sweeping view of the Copacabana beach, so it was a good time to relax. We had a late breakfast and I was surprised and happy to see atis fruit (custard apple) on the table, a fruit from my youth in the Philippines -- an auspicious sign about Rio I thought.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day of Fasting & Prayer for Syria - September 7

Syria: Pope calls for day of prayer and fasting - Sept. 7

Pope Francis echoes message from Medjugorje... proclaims day of prayer and fasting to bring peace to Syria, Middle East and the world...

Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War, never again! Never again, war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mariana and Ouro Preto - Colonial Towns in Minas Gerais, Brazil

The colonial towns we visited yesterday (Congonhas, Sao Joao del Rei, and Tiradentes) and today (Mariana and Ouro Preto) developed after gold was discovered in the Minas Gerais area of Brazil; the boom towns share similar features (cobblestoned roads, colonial buildings and houses, and numerous baroque churches, sometimes just a stone's throw apart from each other.

Both Ouro Preto and Tiradentes are well preserved and very lovely.  Tiradentes, with a population of 7,000, feels more like a vacation place, while Ouro Preto and the other colonial towns we've seen are lived in by Brazilians.  Ouro Preto, a UNESCO World Heritage site, feels more vibrant than Tiradentes.  Today during lunch in Ouro Preto, some students marched up to our table and asked us where we came from. They proceeded to "interview" Lauren.  Our guide had warned us that some people had never actually met foreigners and would perhaps gawk and/or talk to us. The girls were very charming, as you can see, and all eyes on Lauren.

We also saw some students in the charming boat-shaped theater in Ouro Preto, built in the 1700s, near one of the many churches in town. The students used the stage for a performance; we could not stay but a couple of students got up on the stage and performed. As we were leaving the entire group began to sing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Old Mining Towns of Minas Gerais, Brazil

On our last day in Salvador, the sun appeared, but too late, we had to go to the airport to catch our plane to Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. The airport in Belo Horizonte, like the other airports in Brazil, also had construction in preparation for the World Cup. (All over Brazil, they are improving their infrastructure for the World Cup.)

There, waiting for us like a beacon, was Dioso, our driver who spoke only Portuguese. For most of the two hour drive from Belo Horizonte to Ouro Preto, our conversation was kept to a minimum. My Spanish has been helping me here in Brazil, and when Dioso and I had a brief conversation about our planned activities, I understood him to say that our guide had an accident and had lost his fingers or his hand.  I told Lauren this and so we were prepared to meet a one-handed or fingerless guide.

This morning however, Dioso and Jaero showed up and the latter had his two hands intact.

I had totally misunderstood Dioso!