Saturday, May 31, 2014

Raquel's Message of Thanks After her Kidney Transplant

My friend Raquel Balagtas, who had put out an appeal for a kidney donation last March, 2014 was fortunate enough to have had a kidney transplant last week. She wrote this letter about the recent events in her life. I'm reprinting it here, with her permissison. 

From Raquel Balagtas:

These are 4 of our 5 sons:  Jet, Yuri (he lives in the Phil. with his wife Amor and their 4 sons!), Gamby and Rallee.

George and I call them our "Very fine sons." 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Fiction: Cecilia Brainard's "Remembering Che Guevara"

Dear Readers,
I'm a fan of Che Guevara and was once inspired to write a short story about him. I'm sharing my story, "Remembering Che Guevara" for your enjoyment.  It's part of my third short story collection, Vigan and Other Stories (published by Anvil, and also available in Kindle and Nook).

 I've included a few pictures from a trip to Peru.


Copyright 2011 by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, all rights reserved
 I WAS NINETEEN when I met Che Guevara. This happened in Cuzco long before he was known as Che, long before he was killed in Bolivia. It was 1952; he was twenty-three; I was nineteen. I was in Cuzco with my cousin Tita. Cuzco had not been my first choice for a vacation. I had wanted to see Miami, or Barcelona, or Madrid, or Mexico City, places I couldn’t afford but instead of some glitz, I got a sleepy town in a valley, an arid cold place riddled with Inca ruins, some 3,500 meters above sea level. 

Philippines: Rice Terraces, Chocolate Hills, Old Churches

Village in midst of Rice Terraces, Northern Luzon, Philippines

I have to confess that I have a couple of boxes with old pictures. which are in disarray. I've ignored them for years, totally intimidated about how to sort them out.

Today I pulled out this packet with a disc on a trip to the Philippines a while back. Here are some pictures of that trip to Bohol in Southern Philippines, followed by Vigan and Bontoc in Northern Philippines.  I'm certain these places still look the same today as they did then.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Miracle for Raquel Balagtas!

Do you remember this appeal for a kidney for Raquel Balagtas, my high school classmate?

Well, miracles do happen -- Raquel Balagtas had a kidney transplant last Saturday, May 24, and she is recuperating nicely.  Please continue to pray for her though as she is still healing.

From her son's blog, I quote:

Cat Pictures: Two Shadowy Faces Peering Out at the World

I was outside the yard and looked up to see my cats spying on me. I took the top picture outside, pointing the camera at a window.  The second pictures was taken inside.

There are coyotes, cars, and poison out there!

Therefore my cats will just have to be resigned to peering out at the world.

Read also
My Non-Ninja Cats and this Southern California Heat Wave
My "Boys" - Che and Tesla

tags: cats, pictures

This is all for now,

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Killing in the Name of Religion

I saw the TV show, "The Labyrinth," a story about the Cathars. In all honesty, I had to look up this word and only then did I realize the Cathars were the Albingensians. The latter is not a common word either, but from a religion class in the past, I recalled that the Albingensians were heretics. They believed in two gods, one good, the other evil.

The movie, The Labyrinth, was set in Carcasonne, France, a place I've visited, so it was nice to remember the lovely mountaintop medieval place.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Looking Back: Writeup of Bachelors and Femina Rigodon, Excerpt by Jaime Picornell

l-r: Chickie Reyes, Cecilia Manguerra, Ana Manguerra, Paching Victorino

My friend, Lyn Ocampo, sent this excerpt of an article by Jaime Picornell that appeared in Cebu Daily news. It mentions my sister, me, cousins and other relatives and friends; and in particular a Bachelors and Femina Rigodon Social event in Cebu City.

I've added my Bachelors and Femina pictures from my file to Jaime's excerpt.

Enjoy a trip down Memory Lane, dear Readers!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pictures: May 24 Philippine Expressions' Anniversary Celebration

l-r: Paulino Lim, Jr., Carlene Bonnivier, Linda Nietes, Cecilia Brainard, Giovanni Ortega

We had our panel discussion on The Filipino, as a Writer in America, last night at the 30th Anniversary celebration of Philippine Expressions Bookshop.  Linda Nietes, owner of the bookshop, invited me to moderate the discussion, with authors Carlene Sobrino Bonnivier, Paulino Lim Jr, and Giovanni Ortega. 

Cecilia and Lauren Brainard with T'nalak Weavings

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Brass Deco Frame and My Ancestral Wall

On top of the piano in the house where I grew up in was a framed picture of my mother as a young beauty queen. The frame was an elaborate brass standing one.  I happened to find one similar to that frame in an antique shop, and I bought it. The one I now have is bigger but I was able to make a copy of my mother's picture and I've framed it. It's very charming.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Joseph Conrad, ESL Novelist (English as a Second Language)

This is a picture of Joseph Conrad or Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, author of "Lord Jim", "The Heart of Darkness" and other fiction.

English was his second language, although his writings are in English. (His first tongue was Polish.) Considered one of the greatest novelist in English, he did not learn how to speak the language until he was in his twenties, and he always had an accent.

From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

"But his initial reputation as a masterful teller of colourful adventures of the sea masked his fascination with the individual when faced with nature’s invariable unconcern, man’s frequent malevolence, and his inner battles with good and evil. To Conrad, the sea meant above all the tragedy of loneliness. A writer of complex skill and striking insight, but above all of an intensely personal vision, he has been increasingly regarded as one of the greatest English novelists."

It's interesting, his father was part of a committee that directed the Polish insurrection against Russian rule in 1863. Hmmmm ... it seems Russia is still doing the same sort of thing with Ukraine now.

The reason, I've brought up Joseph Conrad is that one of my students is from another country and was apologetic about her English. I told the person about famous writers who wrote in English even though it was their second language -- Joseph Conrad is always mentioned, and Vladmir Nabokov (author of "Lolita"), among many. 

The photo is courtesy of Wikipedia

Read also:

  • Creative Writing: The Importance of Sensual Writing

  • Creative Writing: Journal Writing and my Pink Lock and Key Diary
  • Creative Writing: Your Writing Work Space (In My Case, Where My Cats Hang Out)
  • Creative Writing: Two Important Rules
  • Creative Writing: Explosion and Drawing as Writing Exercises
  • How to Write a Novel #1
  • How to Write a Novel #2

  • This is all for now,

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

    Cat Pictures: Cats Reading "To Kill a Mockingbird"

    I caught my cat, Tesla, reading the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Look at him turn away in disappointment. He thought the book would teach him how to kill birds!

    Wednesday, May 21, 2014

    Filipino American Authors at TUKLAS Exhibit, May 24, San Pedro, California

    The panel I'm moderating includes Carlene Sobrino Bonnivier, Giovanni Jose, Paulino Lim, Jr. - join us for a lively discusion.





    Tuesday, May 20, 2014

    Champagne Brunch on Santa Monica Rooftop Deck

    Now and then, I like to have a champagne brunch on our upstairs deck.

    It's very interesting how this deck came about. Many years ago, we added a second-story room to our house, and the contractor was about to place roof tiles on the part where the deck is now.  Fortunately, he pointed out that we could opt to have a deck with some view of the city and the ocean.  

    Monday, May 19, 2014

    The Filipino, As a Writer in America - Authors' Panel Discussion, May 24,2014, San Pedro, CA

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

    Hi, I'm moderating an Authors' Panel Discussion "The Filipino, As a Writer in America" on Saturday, May 24, 2015, at 5 p.m. as part of the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Philippine Expressions, a bookshop owned by Linda Nietes.

    Sunday, May 18, 2014

    Cafe 50s Restaurant in Venice, California

    Now and then we eat at Cafe 50s, a 1950's style family diner. It serves cheeseburgers, other sandwiches, salads, 24-hour breakfast, soups, chocolate malts, and so on.  It has a large jukebox belting out oldies music; the booths have small jukeboxes which no longer work. The walls are plastered with old posters and pictures of famous personalities from that era: Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Bobby Darin, Burt Lancaster, and there's a provocative one of Gina Lollobrigida with her very low neckline.

    Saturday, May 17, 2014

    INVITATION: June 12 Writers' Program Publication Party, UCLA Extension

    The Staff of the Writers' Program, UCLA Extension, throws the best Publication Party! Not only is there a great literary reading, there's food and drink afterwards. The writers who participate have great work and are good readers, and the audience are avid and enthusiastic.

    I would like to invite you to the the 21st Publication Party of UCLA Extension's Writers' Program, on Thursday, June 12, 2014, from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 North Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, California.

    Friday, May 16, 2014

    My Non-Ninja Cats and this Southern California Heat Wave

    First let me show the picture of the heroic cat, named Tara, also dubbed the Ninja Cat, who saved the four-year-old boy from a dog. Watch the video clip; it's the best, you must see it! 

    Next, let me show you my non-Ninja Cats, Che and Tesla. Che almost looks like Tara; they're both mackerel tabbies, gray, with those lovely tiger stripes and the "M" on their foreheads. 

    The big difference is that my cats are not attack cats. In fact, they can be quite cowardly, although I did see them take on a puppy once. 

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

    Cooking: Quiche Night in Sweltering Southern California

    We're having a heat wave in Southern California, with temperatures reaching triple digits in some places. There are wild fires and outages.  Here in Santa Monica, because we're near the ocean, it's a bit cooler, but it's definitely hotter than usual. It's only May, dear Readers, Spring - why are we having this terrific heat?

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    Syria War: A Layperson's View of Assad's Comeback

    Assad's Victory- reprinted from the Facebook site of Dr. Faisal Alkasim

    Dear Readers,
    I've been hemming and hawing about writing this because I'm not an expert, but the situation in Syria cannot be ignored. An estimated 150,000 have died, millions have been displaced, and the rest of the Syrian people are suffering from the Syrian war.

    I thought I'd share my thoughts about how the Assad government made a comeback.

    Cooking: Wendy's Famous Kale Salad

     My sister-in-law, Wendy Bergquist Curran, makes the best Kale Salad.  Kale is also known as borecole and is a nutritional powerhouse.

    Monday, May 12, 2014

    The Burnt Chocolate Chip Cookies of Mother's Day

    I promised to bring dessert for the Mother's Day Celebration at my in-law's place (Wendy and Billie Rae Curran), and I had in mind making leche flan. However, I ran out of time, and late Saturday I declared we'd buy dessert on our way to Eliso Viejo where they live.

    Sunday morning, I had a change of heart and decided to bake chocolate chip cookies. I did, but I burned the bottoms of quite a lot of them. They weren't so bad and so I buried those in the tin can in which I packed the cookies.

    Early afternoon, off we went on the trip down crowded 405 Freeway. I suppose other folks were driving to be with their families.

    In the Philippines, my family didn't celebrate Mother's Day in a big way. I remember getting flowers in school to give to our mothers on Mother's Day, but there was no rabid commercialism about that day.

    Sunday, May 11, 2014

    Mother's Day - I'm a Mom, I'm Resting!

    Mother's Day, I'm a Mom, so I'm resting.

    Saturday, May 10, 2014

    Lunch with Southern Writer, Eve La Salle Caram

    I had a lovely lunch with the writer, Eve La Salle Caram, at El Caserio in Silverlake.
    Eve is the author of five novels, including those in TRIO, A Corpus Christi Trilogy and the interconnected duo of The Blue Geography and Wintershine.

    Friday, May 9, 2014

    Mother's Day Coming Up: My Mother, Concepcion Cuenco Manguerra

    Mother's Day is coming soon and I'm remembering my mother, Concepcion Cuenco Manguerra, who was born in 1912, and died in 2002.

    It's difficult for me to describe her accurately because I only saw one side of her. I remember her as high strung and dramatic. She was widowed at 47 with 4 children, which may have accounted for some of her volatility, although I suspect my mother was always prone to high drama. I was not aware of how beautiful she was either, although I heard from other people that she was so, and that she had a been a beauty queen.

    Thursday, May 8, 2014

    Leading Aspiring Writers Down the Road to Creativity

    When I'm conducting a Creative Writing Workshop, I feel as if I'm leading my students down a path toward Creativity. At first many are scared or uncertain; for some the workshop is the first they've taken. But as they understand how the creative process works, and as they are given the opportunities to allow their creative part to flow, they blossom. It is remarkable to see the leaps in my students' development; it is gratifying. This is what makes teaching fun for me.

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    Santa Monica, California: Volunteering for Meals on Wheels West

    Meals on Wheels West is a nutrition program that delivers meals to home-bound people. My husband Lauren is a volunteer. Volunteerism runs in his blood. He had been a Peace Corps Volunteer, which was how we met. His mother had, for many years, run a nutrition program in Pasadena. Lauren continues the tradition.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

    Pictures of Beautiful and Serene Churches

     Dear Readers,
    After the hurly-burly of Las Vegas, I need the serenity of churches. I'm sharing some pictures of churches that I've taken. The top photo was taken in Taos, New Mexico.

    Monday, May 5, 2014

    Las Vegas, Nevada: Paris, Venice, New York Rolled into One

     One afternoon, a group of us played tourist in Las Vegas, starting with an Italian lunch at the Buca di Beppo (l-r: Sita Yan, Marieke Samonte, Lauren Brainard, Cecilia Brainard, Marily Orosa, Nini Arzadon - click on the other pictures to make larger).

    Sunday, May 4, 2014

    What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas!

    A friend said she didn't understand "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."
    I think it means that Las Vegas pulls out one's "wild" side, therefore what happens there ought not to be reported elsewhere.

    Friday, May 2, 2014

    Las Vegas, Nevada: Book Launch "Reverie" plus Ka-Ching!

    I'm in Las Vegas for the book launch of REVERIE, and for a bit of traditional "ka-ching gambling." Please click on the link for information about this wonderful collection of 31 stories by graduates of St. Theresa's College, Quezon City.