Friday, November 29, 2013

Fiction by Guest Blogger, LINDA TY-CASPER, "In Place of Trees"

Dear Readers,
For a change of pace, I have a Guest Blogger, the highly-acclaimed Filipina author, Linda Ty-CasperHer numerous books are generally historical fiction, including The PeninsularsThe Three-Cornered Sun, Ten Thousand SeedsDread Empire, Hazards of Distance, Fortress in the Plaza, Awaiting Trespass, Wings of Stone, A Small Party in a Garden, and DreamEden. Linda shares with us "In Place of Trees," a short story set in the Philippines, immediately after World War II.  
~ Cecilia

Linda Ty-Casper
Copyright 2013 by Linda Ty-Casper, all rights reserved

He came out of the sun, onto the porch, with the shadows white on his dark face. "Where's your father, Boy," he asked, without telling me who he was, not making way for the woman who stood behind him on the lower step, a large man's watch on her right arm.
            "He's not here," I answered, staring at him, challenging him to know my name.
            "Your mother?"

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day - A Time to Catch Our Breath

Thanksgiving Day is a big holiday in the US and Canada. In the US it's celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, in Canada on the second Monday in October.

This November 28 my nuclear family will join other members of my husband's family to share in a big meal with turkey, ham, lamb, assorted vegetable and salad dishes. There will be pumpkin pie, pecan pie, leche flan, and other desserts. The children will race about; the grownups will eat and drink and talk and laugh. Someone will organize the gift exchange for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013



by Luisa A. Igloria

Ghazal for the Dead: In Tacloban

Processed but not identified: scattered by wind,
splintered, battered where the flood left them in Tacloban.

The dark is a cave is the mouth of God or the unfathomable—
O for sleep without such helpless waking in Tacloban.

How many baubles and stolen billions will bring lives back? Ask
the former First Lady, who attended Holy Infant Academy in Tacloban.

The mayor was lashed to a coconut tree. The mayor was the coconut in the tree.
The tree was in a ballroom. This is not about the oral tradition in Tacloban.

In the midst of calamity, would you have time to worry about your shoes?
Through the waters, a typhoon victim bore a general on his back in Tacloban.

Why were the military first on the scene? Why did it take so long for relief
to arrive? The dead are past blame, the dead are past games in Tacloban.

The actors and actresses turned politicians flash smiles at the camera
while the living vomit with grief, hunger, dysentery, in Tacloban.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: "How Is it Possible to Think of Literature in Times of Calamity?" by Luisa A. Igloria, Guest Blogger

Our Guest Blogger is Luisa A. Igloria, Professor of Creative Writing and English, and Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University. She is the author of Night Willow (Prose Poems), forthcoming from Phoenicia Publishing (Montreal, Canada: spring 2014); The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013)Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, university of Notre Dame Press)Trill & Mordent (WordTech Editions, 2005), and 8 other books. Since November 20, 2010, she has been writing (at least) a poem a day, archived at Dave Bonta’s Via Negativa site.

Not just about Haiyan:
How is it possible to think of literature in times of calamity?
Alongside the massive outpouring of support from various emergency organizations worldwide, several poets and writers began publicizing calls for contributions to disaster-themed anthology or book projects. Most stated they would donate all publication profits to relief and rehabilitation efforts; others announced they were simply interested in providing venues for "expression and healing."

But why even consider/make/include literature or art when there is the painful and more urgent work of rebuilding among those who have lost family members, homes, livelihoods, the very sense of any purpose and optimism for a future which seems to have no other shape but dread?

Creative Writing: Your Writing Work Space (In My Case, Where My Cats Hang Out)

Writing Work Space is important. Think of it as the place where you meet your Muse. This is where your creative juices percolate or where you allow the right side of your brain (the creative side) to flow.

Different people have different work spaces. J.K. Rowling wrote in coffee shops; E.B. White worked in his living room. While in Havana, Ernest Hemingway preferred standing up in the bedroom of his house.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Creative Writing: Journal Writing and My Pink Lock and Key Diary

 At a young age, I started writing diaries primarily for self-expression.Diary writing or journaling allowed me to practice my writing; it taught me how to "flow." It was non-judgmental, which meant I could write about anything freely. It was a place where I could "think things through."

To those interested in keeping a journal, my suggestion is not to use expensive notebooks because these can intimidate you and keep you from writing freely.  The other thing is that people around you should respect your journals and not read them.  

There's one more thing: There is no "correct" way to journal. You can write about anything at all. Some people like to keep a faithful account of what they did that day, including their shopping lists. Others like to write about their feelings, why they are depressed perhaps.

Typhoon Haiyan: Volunteerism Strong Despite Disruptions by Government Agencies by Guest Blogger Melissa Salva

There's another controversy brewing in Manila after typhoon Haiyan -- a turf war that disrupted a wonderful volunteer effort in assisting Haiyan refugees who arrived Manila.
Melissa Salva, a writer in Manila whom I know, had emailed of the volunteerism she and others in Manila did: 
"Jeric and I have been volunteering since Sunday. My last trip was yesterday morning when I drove a family of six (one of the four kids was a nine-day-old infant) to Batangas. The operation was going very well, with the system fine-tuned everyday to make it safer and more secure for all. That is, until some kibitzer stepped in and put a stop to the volunteering effort."
The Los Angeles Times had written about this wonderful volunteer effort yesterday, an article written before the disruptions.  Read Philippine Typhoon survivors get a warm, even festive welcome
Here is our Guest Blogger, Melissa Salva, who comments on this "turf war." Read also her article in Coconuts Manila.
I took the picture of Melissa at our writers' retreat in the Philippines last July.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Los Angeles, California: Storytelling at the Historic West Adams area

The City of Los Angeles is large and sprawling, with different districts and neighborhoods: downtown Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, the Westside, and so on. Since I live near the Westside, I haven't explored all the districts.

Creative Writing: The Importance of Sensual Writing

For over a month now, I've focused on the disasters that struck Central Philippines: the 7.1 Magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu, Philippines, last October 15; and super typhoon Haiyan that devastated a wider portion of Central Philippines, including the islands of Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Capiz, and others, last November 8.

This morning I'm going to take a break and  look at an aspect of Creative Writing -- "Sensual Writing." I'm not talking about sex, dear Readers, rather I'm referring to writing that engages the readers via the five senses. The writer allows the readers to see, smell, hear, feel, taste.

Sensual Writing ties in with a Rule in Creative Writing which is: Show, Don't tell. The writer is giving details so that the Readers can more actively participate in the "fictive world" of the writer.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Philippines Typhoon Haiyan - Aftermath Update as of November 20, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath Update:
1. President Aquino - Having incurred the wrath of many Filipinos following the inaction of the government after Haiyan struck, Aquino declared he was personally taking charge of all relief efforts. He set up camp in battered Tacloban and he has also visited other hard-hit areas in Leyte and Samar islands;

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

TYPHOON HAIYAN: Jews in the Philippines - 1940 and 2013

A BABY BOY NAMED ISRAEL was born two hours after the Israeli Rescue Mission became functional in Northern Cebu, Philippines, last November 15, 2013. The parents, Emylou and Audrin Antiqua, said they named their baby Israel "out of gratitude."

One week after super typhoon Haiyan devasted large parts of Central Philippines, 150 medical members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) set up a field hospital in Bogo, Northern Cebu, an area badly hit by Haiyan though largely ignored.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: International Aid in the Philippines - Pictures

The destruction wrought by Haiyan has seared our hearts and minds with incredible sadness. But there's some beauty in this darkness when I see how people all over the world have stepped forward to help Filipinos. Here are some pictures showing the worldwide response to the crisis in the Philippines.

Thank you - Salamat to those who have helped the Filipino people!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: Northern Cebu Still Needs Help & Israeli Medical Mission in Bogo

While international attention has focused on the islands of Leyte and Samar, the Northern part of Cebu, which was also in the path of Haiyan and equally devastated, has been largely ignored.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: Filipino Filmmaker Peque Gallaga Rants against Government Officials

I'm posting an essay written by Philippine filmmaker, Peque Gallaga, who expresses his outrage at Philippine government officials.  He verbalizes what many Filipinos have been thinking and feeling as they watched the survivors of Haiyan  fend for themselves in the harshest of conditions. His essay was meant for his close friends, but it went viral. ~ Cecilia


NOT SINCE Marcos have we as a people been so polarized. As far as our hearts and minds are concerned it's like we're in the edge of a civil war. We are forced to take a hard look at ourselves and what we value.

Typhoon Haiyan: United Nations Death toll at 4,460

Nov. 15, 2013 - "The United Nations has put the latest death toll in the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines at 4,460 -- almost double the last official number given...The Philippines government, however, say the disaster has risen by three to 2,360..." ~ from  The Telegraph

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: The Anderson Cooper, Korina Sanchez, President Aquino Debacle

Regarding the Haiyan Aftermath, there are a couple of controversies going on:

1. Korina Sanchez, the wife of DILG Secretary Mar Roxas (who is one of the Cabinet members in charge of the relief operations in the Philippines) has picked a fight with CNN Anchorman Anderson Cooper, saying publicly in her morning radio show that Cooper's reports were "mali-mali" which is Tagalog meaning "wrong." She went on to say in Tagalog, "It seems he does not know what he is saying."

 Korina Sanchez reportedly got flak from netizens.

Fiction: TYPHOON (1912) Novel Excerpt by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

My heart and mind are focused on the victims of the super typhoon, Haiyan, that recently devastated the Philippines.

I'm sharing with you an excerpt from my novel, Magdalena, entitled Typhoon (1912). This is a work of fiction.

I'm also sharing my article that appeared in, Childhood in the Path of Typhoons.

Please include the victims of Haiyan in your prayers.



TYPHOON (1912)
It was still dark when the sound of shattering glass cut through his deep sleep. Nestor held his breath at the sharp, splintering crash, and he turned his head toward the bedroom door and listened through the rain and wind for more noise. There were footsteps then the muffled voices of people. He wondered about the commotion and speculated these had something to do with last night’s events.
Last night, the storm had not raged as violently as it now did. The wind had not howled as loudly through the pines and coconut trees. It had been different last night. Things had been all right yesterday, unlike this cold, dark, early morning. He could sense the change, smell the moisture in the air, feel the prickling tension as people padded back and forth and the house strained against the wind and lashing rain that fell in hard rapping sounds on the rooftiles. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan - Fundraisers for the Victims of Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda

I'm passing on this information regarding some benefits/fundraisers for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda. I will continue to add to this list, so check back:


The editor/producer of Opinion invited me to write an article related to the Haiyan tragedy.  I wrote "Childhood in the Path of Typhoons" - now in CNN Opinion.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: Thanks to the International Community for helping Philippine Victims

From CBSNews

  • Canada: $5 million; a promise to match donations from Canadians; 35 to 50 members of the Disaster Assistance Response Team 
  • UN: $25 million US  from the UN's emergency relief fund.
  • U.S.: $20 million in immediate aid; USS George Washington on its way; Officials from U.S. Agency for International Develoopment deployed.

Bayanihan: Cebuanos Helping Philippine Victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan

BAYAHINAN is a Filipino word that refers to the spirit of community or team work. Right now, the Bayanihan spirit is alive and well, as those who survived super typhoon Haiyan help the victims of Northern Cebu, which was badly hit by Haiyan, with 95% left homeless.

Monday, November 11, 2013

How to Help Philippine Victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan - and Lamentation of Grief

News about the super typhoon Haiyan, its landfall and the destruction it left behind has been coming in bits and pieces. Initial reports said hundreds died, then one thousand, then ten thousand. Today, Reuters reports there is an estimated 10,000 dead in Tacloban, Leyte, another 2,000 missing in Basey, Samar, and there are more areas that have not yet even been reached because roads are impassable.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Update: Super Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda dead now at 10,000 and more expected

To those checking on me: my family and close friends are all right, except for one. Father Desuyo's church was badly damaged; this is the church of Our Lady of Remedies in Odlot, Northern Cebu.  Almost all of his 6,000 parishioners lost their homes.

Some friends in the island of Cebu drove north to Odlot with food, water, medicines, and shared these pictures.  They saw destruction all along the coastal places.

The Philippines has many islands, and there are many small villages along the coast. I'm afraid the death toll will go higher than the current estimate of 10,000.

The power of super typhoon Haiyan was far greater than Filipinos expected. It was not enough for people in coastal villages to stay inside homes, gymnasiums, churches, because even the big structures were heavily damaged and some collapsed, killing the very people who sought refuge inside.

Filipinos are grieving.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Update - Destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in Central Philippines

Reports are now coming in about the deaths and destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in the Philippine.  The seaside town of Odlot  in Cebu, whose parish priest Father Romeo Desuyo is a good friend of mine, suffered a lot.  Ninety-five percent of the people lost their homes; Father Desuyo's church was badly damaged. Here are some pictures, courtesy of Bibi Delos Reyes, Airworks Aviation Academy, and Mark Anthony Gaviola.

Odlot is in the Bantayan-Daan Bantayan area, in Northern Cebu.

Tacloban, Leyte was badly hit, with 1,200 dead. People do not have food nor water. Apparently there is ransacking because people are hungry.

Living with Typhoons in Manila and Cebu, Philippines

The historic landfall of  ferocious Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in the Philippines shook up Filipinos and those with relatives in the Philippines. I was relieved to hear from family and friends there that they are fine. They had basically hunkered down in their homes with food, water, candles and matches, prepared for the worst. Fortunately Yolanda whipped through very fast so that the damage was not as bad as it could have been. When typhoons hover in a place, there is more rain, which causes flooding, landslides, and more havoc.  Still, as of today, Haiyan claimed more than 1,000 lives mostly from Tacloban, click here for an update.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fiction by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard: TALKING ABOUT THE WOMAN IN CHOLON

Dear Readers,
For your weekend reading, I'm sharing a chapter from my novel, Magdalena -- "Talking About the Woman in Cholon."

Magdalena is my second novel, and when I started writing it, I thought it would unfold as my first novel, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept did, that is in a more linear fashion.  When the Rainbow Goddess starts at the beginning of World War II and ends when that war ends.

When I insisted on writing Magdalena in a linear fashion, it got boring; even I got sleepy while working on it!  At some point I gave up and decided I didn't have a novel, and I tried to salvage parts of the manuscript by turning them into short stories.  After I had several of these "short stories" I realized these could be chapters of a novel after all --- and thus did the novel Magdalena come about.

Update Supertyphoon rushing towards Philippines - Request for Prayers


MANILA: The world’s most powerful typhoon this year gained strength on Thursday as it swirled towards the Philippines, forcing mass evacuations across a vast swathe of the disaster-weary nation.
Authorities warned more than 12 million people were at risk from Typhoon  Haiyan, which was generating wind gusts exceeding 330 kilometres (200 miles) an
hour and set to hit on Friday morning.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Talk to Carol Kimbrough's students at Cal State Fullerton "Asian American Creative Expressions"

Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough invited me and writer Noel Alumit to talk to her students at Cal State Fullerton.  Carol is teaching "Asian American Creative Expressions there.

Noel talked about his Filipino American experience, tying this in with his novels.  Carol asked me to talk about creative writing and the dugtungan (connecting story) process. The students had read the dugtungan or connecting novel, Angelica's Daughters, which I co-authored.

Carol's 44 students were very attentive. Carol is a very nurturing teacher who provides a lot of opportunities to her students, as in asking writers and performers to come talk to them.

There was a lovely lunch reception, and outside the campus there was a shaman -- Damien is his name -- next to the Day of the Dead display. Damien very generously did a cleansing ritual on each of us: he used the smoke of sage to pass over us, and he said prayers.  Thank you, Damien. It felt very relaxing, very freeing.

The picture above shows l-r: Carol Kimbrough, Noel Alumit, and Cecilia Brainard
Below, there's Dom Kawili, with Carol and staff;
Followed by more pictures of staff and the students, and you can figure out which one is Damien.


I received this REQUEST FOR PRAYERS:

REQUEST for Prayers from Cebu - please pray: A supertyphoon looms in the horizon. It is expected to hit sometime early Thursday morning. Very strong winds and torrential rains. It is expected to ravage the quake-hit areas. Please pray for us!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fiction - NEW TRICKS, Dugtungan/Connecting Story by Brainard, Cantor, De Jesus, Evangelista, Montes, Sarreal

Tomorrow I'll be giving a talk to Carol Kimbrough's students at Cal State Fullerton about the literary style called Dugtungan, or Connecting Story.  This collaborative style of writing was popular in the Philippines in the 1920 - 1930s, a style that my writing group tried to do.

 Six of us, all women writers, connected via internet and critiqued one another's writing.  This went on for years, and at some point, we decided to try writing a Dugtungan piece. How it went was that one person would write a paragraph or two, and then pass it on the story to the next person, and so on, until the story ended. We edited the work, and like magic, we came up with this comic piece "New Tricks."  Nadine Sarreal submitted it to a Call for Submission for an anthology with the theme of "heartbreak."  We coined a pseudonym from our names, coming up with Celinosan Montreal.  If you look at it carefully, you will note that this name includes Cecilia, Libay, Noelle, Susan, Montes, and Sarreal - parts of our names.  The short fiction was accepted for publication in SAWI's heartbreak anthology.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Friendship: An Afternoon with Maryknoll classmate, Ludy Mendoza Zoeller

I spent Sunday afternoon with my Maryknoll college friend, Ludy Mendoza Zoeller. We were both Communication Arts majors at Maryknoll. Ludy is also a graduate of St. Theresa's College, Quezon City; while I graduated from St. Theresa's College, San Marcelino.

We walked along the world famousVenice Boardwalk and saw a kid doing a Michael Jackson routine, some rollerbladers, a woman walking her pet pig, lots of promenaders, -- whoo, smelled some pot! We had lunch there and did some shopping. Later we had homemade ginger tea (salabat) and chocolates at my home. We also did a quick driving tour of Santa Monica City before she hopped on her plane to go North.

Great seeing you, Ludy!

Read also:
Friendship: Thanks for all the laughs, Marily!
The Schools I attended - St. Theresa's College 
The Schools I attended - UP & Maryknoll
The Schools I attended - UCLA

All for now,

tags: Maryknoll College, Philippines, Philippine, Filipina, writers, authors, books, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Ludy Zoeller, Maryknollers, friendship, Miriam, STC, St. Theresa's College

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Horror of the War in Syria to the Civilian Population

 I tried to find links that would show how difficult the war in Syria is to the civilians, and I came up with these.  It may sound like a cliche but civilians are the ones who suffer the brunt of the war -- my heart goes out to them especially the children.

FIRST, THE FILM, Syria: The Horror of Homs, a City of War, won the Emmy last October 2, 2013. This film, done by the French photojournalist Mani, is very touching. I was particularly moved by the people singing the Revolutionary Song, "Get Out, Bashar!" by Ibrahim Qashoush who was reportedly assassinated because of this song.

The journalist, Marie Colvin, who was killed alongside the French photographer, Remi Ochlik, during the siege of Homs, had said, "I think the sickening thing is the complete merciless nature. They're hitting civilian buildings mercilessly and without caring. The scale of it is just shocking.

Syria: The Horror of Homs, a city at war


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Reflecting on Barbie Turning 50!

This blog entry is very late, because Barbie turned 50 years old in 2009, but I only came across the "Barbie turning 50" cartoons now.

When Barbie dolls appeared back in oh... fifty-four years ago.... they were very popular and many girls bought her doll plus her boyfriend Ken's doll and their accessories. There were people who loved Barbie and people who disliked Barbie. Enough young girls liked her obviously because they're still making Barbie dolls even now. But I recall feminists attacking the image of Barbie for being too, well, plastic. It was not uncommon to use the word "Barbie" in an insulting way, as when referring to a vacuous pretty woman - "She's like a Barbie!"

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ancient Rock Art - Petroglyphs and Pictographs from the Southwest

I've seen ancient Rock Art in Alaska and Egypt, but the American Southwest has the most.

I'm showing pictures I took of petroglyphs (engraving or carving on rock) and pictographs (paintings on rock) in the Southwest.

It's amazing to think that these petroglyphs and pictographs are 10,000 years old if not older. It's fascinating to speculate on what the purpose of these rock art was: some say they were used for astronomy or by shamans or to mark territorial boundaries or symbolic communication.