Monday, June 30, 2014

Syria, Iraq: The Middle East Explained

Up to the Minute "Handy" Map of the Middle East * Could Change any Minute

This is circulating in the internet among my American friends.

I want to state that I'm getting cranky reading Arabic blogs that blame the US for the problems in the Middle East. The destructive forces that have risen in the Middle East did not originate in America. The out-of-this-world killing, destruction, disregard for human rights, lack of unity, duplicity sprung from that dessert.

Newton's Law has been proven true: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction" -- ISIS is that reaction.

The following is not meant to offend anyone, but illustrates just how confused people are at the complexity of the Middle East situation.

I continue to pray for peace in the Middle East.

The Middle East Explained
Let me Explain

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cebu, Philippines: Language, Hendri, Larry, April on a Sunday Afternoon

This visit to Cebu has made me realize that the saying "Language is a living thing" is true.

Case No. 1:  I shopped in a supermarket and at the checkout decided to ask the cashier to break a one thousand peso bill.  I told her, "Day, hatagi ug 'change'." She had a blank look so I tried again, "Hatagi ug cambio."  -- which translates into, "Miss, give me change."  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jet Lag: Dawn in Cebu Philippines Picture

Arrgh... Still jet lagged!!!! (Ignore the date on the picture, it's now June 29, and I'm still up at dawn!)

Read also
Talking About Jet Lag
Cebu Literary Festival

Tags: travel, tourism, Cebu, Philippines, picture, photograph,

This is all for now,

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cebu Literary Festival: A Love Affair between the Speakers and Audience

l-r: Shivaji Das Sinagporean Writer, Hendri Go, Cecilia, Ian Casocot

I felt trepidation when I heard the Cebu Literary Festival would be held in the middle of Ayala Center, a mall with shops around and people coming and going. And when I arrived and listened to the panel of speakers, I could hear a bit of echoing, and my heart sank.  I've had my share of readings in noisy places where it was impossible to be heard, and if heard, impossible to hold the audience's attention.

Cecilia Brainard giving her talk "Cebu As Inspiration to My Writings" - photo courtesy of Hope Yu

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Philippines: CUENCO FAMILY - "Remembrance of Things Awry, The Families of Old Cebu"

 I get a lot of queries about my mother's family, the Cuenco Family of Cebu.  The following site has good information about the Cuenco family; I've taken the liberty of reprinting a substantial excerpt from this article. The author, Antonio C. Cuyegkeng is descended from the line of Miguel Cuenco. I'm descended from the line of Mariano Jesus Cuenco (my maternal grandfather).
CUENCO.  (by Antonio C. Cuyegkeng)  
Mariano Albao Cuenco was born on December 8, 1861 in Kalibo, Capiz.  During this period, Aklan was part of the political-military province of Capiz established on May 31, 1837.  Nothing is known about the ancestry of Mariano Albao Cuenco.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2014 Fiesta of San Juan Batista in Parian, Cebu, Philippines

The Cofradia of San Juan Batista (St. John the Baptist) celebrated it's tenth year this 2014. While our devotion to St. John the Precursor carries through the entire year, we celebrate St. John the Baptist's nativity (June 24) and death (August 29). Louie Nacorda, Val Sandiego and other members keep this lay religious group alive and thriving. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hendri Go, The Man Behind the Cebu Literary Festival


Monday, I had tea with Hendri Go, who along with Hope Sabanpan Yu cooked up the idea for Cebu's Literary Festival. A year ago, they had broached the idea of having a literary event in Cebu and had asked me to participate. I told them I usually visit Cebu in June for the fiesta in the historic district. It turned out two other Fil-Am Cebuano writers, Linda Faigao-Hall and Lawrence Ypil, also visit Cebu in June. With lighting speed, the 2014 Cebu Lit Fest started falling in place.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Woman With Horns at the Cebu Literary Festival, June 27

I am delighted to be part of the upcoming Cebu Literary Festival on June 27, 2014. I am not always in my birthplace of Cebu, and so it’s a privilege for me to have the chance to share my work with my fellow Cebuanos. The fact is that Cebu has been a great inspiration to my fiction, where Cebu appears as Ubec. I have also written about Cebu in my non-fiction, some of which have been collected in the book, Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose. I plan to talk and do readings about this topic at the #cebuLitFest on June 27. 

Some of you will remember my story, Woman with Horns, one of my earlier stories. This was inspired by a woman in Cebu who reportedly had horns.  As a child, I used to look at the two bumps on her forehead and imagine the horns underneath her hair. I eventually wrote Woman With Horns about a flirtatious Ubecan widow and an American doctor, Dr. Gerald McAllister.  This story became popular, with students making video clips based on it - click here.  Readers who enjoyed Woman with Horns will be interested to know that I've used the same characters in my novel-in-progress, and I'll be sharing an excerpt about Agustina and Dr. McAllister, 8 years later.

I have other ideas for my presentation on June 27, dear Readers. It will be fun, so join us if you happen to be in Cebu: Ayala Center, 4:30 p.m.  See you! 

Bio: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard was born and raised in Cebu, Philippines. She is the author and editor of 19 books, including the novels, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept and Magdalena, which are set in Ubec (or Cebu backwards). She will be talking about “Cebu As Inspiration to My Writings” at the Cebu Literary Festival on June 27, 4:30 p.m. Ayala Center.

Tags: literature, Cebu, Philippines, author, writer, novelist, Filipina, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

This is all for now,

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cebu, Philippines - The Young Man with the Animal Shoes

Here I am in Philippines!
I'll try to share something interesting with you every day.
Here in Cebu, Philippines, are pictures of Dexter, the young man with funky animal shoes.  He stitched these shoes by himself! One shoe looks like a Tiger, the other looks like a Cheetah.

Architecture: Pictures of Doors and Entrances

Here are some interesting pictures of doorways and entrances. I took these pictures in Mexico, Egypt, Brazil, and Burma.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Interview of Cecilia Manguerra Brainard by Allison Hunter

I'm reprinting Allison Hunter's interview, ("Allison's Bookbag") of me recently. Ms. Hunter does book reviews for children, and did this interview of her school district's multicultural library committee.
Allison Hunter's blog sites are:

Thanks, Allison Hunter for the interview.

If you're open to an interview, here are my questions:

* How does life in the Philippines differ from that in the United States?
There are many differences between the Philippines and the US, and I'll talk about a few.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Guest Blogger: Marianne Villanueva's Short Fiction

Our Guest Blogger is 

MARIANNE VILLANUEVA was born and raised in the Philippines, but now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Her stories have appeared in a wide range of publications, veering from science fiction to prose poetry. She is the author of three short story collections:  Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila; Mayor of the Roses; and The Lost Language; as well as a novella, Jenalyn, that was published last year and made the shortlist to "Best Novella of 2013," given by the Saboteur Awards.

Marianne shares two short shorts. Thank you, Marianne Villanueva!


Hot Chocolate Drinks: Chocolate-Eh, Chocolate-Mexicano, Chocolate-Filipino

The above picture shows Doug Noble and Lauren Brainard at the Cafe San Agustin in San Miguel Allende, famous for their Chocolate drinks. Every time I visit San Miguel Allende, I have hot chocolate there. I've tried their Spanish, French, as well as Mexican chocolate hot drinks.

Like many Filipinos, I'm a chocolate drinker. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Northern Philippines: The Trip to Sagada

THE first time I visited Sagada, which is in the Cordillera Central Mountains of Northern Luzon, was with my friend Elizabeth. After years of telling her back-home stories, she finally went with me to the Philippines. We were determined to see out-of-the way places. I must mention that even though Elizabeth was born in New York, she spent two years in Guatamela, on a Peace Corps stint, and her tolerance for provincial life is quite high.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Descriptions of the Philippine Woman in Literature

By the time I was a teenager, the Philippines had been a colony of Spain and the United States for a combined time of some four centuries. The dominating concept of beauty was Western; “white” was beautiful, “brown” ugly. When Gemma Cruz came around and won the Miss Universe contest of 1964, she changed the idea of beauty in the Philippines. Before her, all other Filipina beauty queens sent to international contests were mestizas, very European-looking. Her victory marked the decline of the colonial idea that fair was beautiful, and dark evil. Even Disney images showed blonde Snow Whites and Cinderellas, and dark-haired wicked stepmothers and witches.

Unknown to many, there were several foreign visitors to the Philippines who wrote about the beauty of the Filipina. I’ve put together here some excerpts of those writings.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cat Pictures: My Literary Cat Reading "One Hundred Years of Solitude"

What?  Now my cat, Che, is reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez!

Che is interested in this line from that novel:

"Madly in love after so many years of sterile complicity, they enjoyed the miracle of living each other as much at the table as in bed, and they grew to be so happy that even when they were two worn-out people they kept on blooming like little children and playing together like dogs.” "  

Read also:
Cat Pictures: My Literary Cat Reading William Shakespeare
Cat Pictures: My Literary Cat Reading "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
Cat Pictures: Cats Reading "To Kill a Mockingbird"
My Cats Make Me Laugh Everyday

Tags: cats, pets, animals, feline, pictures, photos, kittens, family, literature

This is all for now,

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cat Pictures: My Literary Cat Reading William Shakespeare

Now my cat, Che, has moved on to reading Shakespeare!

He is quite horrified at Shakespeare's line in Othello:

"Drown thyself? Drown cats and blind puppies."

Happy Father's Day!

Read also:
Cat Pictures: My Literary Cat Reading "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
Cat Pictures: Cats Reading "To Kill a Mockingbird"
My Cats Make Me Laugh Everyday

Tags: cats, pets, animals, feline, pictures, photos, kittens, family, literature

This is all for now,

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cooking with Cecilia: Grilled Tri-Tip for Father's Day

It's Father's Day this Sunday, June 15!

In my family, I have meat-eaters, non-meat-eaters, and vegetarians, so this Father's Day I'll have tri-tip meat, salmon, and vegetarian dishes.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Some Fun and Disastrous Literary Readings that I've Done

Last night's Publication Party at the Writers' Program, UCLA Extension, went very well. There were 18 readers, and each was given 5 minutes, which doesn't seem long, but in fact with 18 readers, the program ended up  around 1 1/2 hours long -- the limit of the audience.  The participants were instructors at the Writers program, professionals who understood what literary readings are about.  In other words, they knew how to excerpt their work so as to present something lively and cohesive. I enjoyed last night's reading in particular. We had fiction, non-fiction, and poetry; the evening flew. I must say that the teachers at the Writers' Program are really very talented -- as writers, readers, and teachers. UCLA's Writers Program is one of the finest in this country. And before I forget, the staff did an excellent job with preparations as always - thanks to Linda Venis and the staff once again.

I thought I would talk a bit about literary readings, dear Readers.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cat Pictures: My Literary Cat Reading "For Whom the Bell Tolls"

Suddenly, after discovering To Kill a Mockingbird, my two cats turned into literary cats, and they've been reading the books from my bookshelf.  I caught Che, reading Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls!

Che (named after Che Guevara, mind you) said his favorite line from the novel is:

"No animal has more liberty than the cat, but it buries the mess it makes. The cat is the best anarchist." ~ from For Whom the Bell Tolls

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cooking with Cecilia - Short Bread Cookies and Friar Tuck in my Kitchen!

Do you remember my San Pasqual statue in my kitchen? He's the patron saint of the kitchen and cooks, and I was very happy to have found him in Beaune, France. (That's him to the right, holding a bottle of wine and a dead goose.)

I found a companion for him -- Friar Tuck, a vintage cookie jar. They don't sit side by side, but they're both in the kitchen. They are both adorable.

I imagine they'll have conversations late at night when we are asleep. Maybe they'll talk about philosophy or politics. They look like they come from different religious orders, so they could talk about which order is better.  Or maybe they'll discuss what the best way is to get to heaven. Or maybe they'll talk about food, because they both look like they love food. Or -- dread the thought -- they'll criticize my cooking.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cecilia Brainard Will Give a Talk About "Cebu As Inspiration to My Writings", June 27

hashtag #cebuLitFest
Hi, I don't always have the opportunity to give a talk and do a literary reading in my birth city of Cebu, Philippines, but this June 27, I will do that. My topic is "Cebu As Inspiration to My Writings" and I'll share how Cebu became Ubec in my writings, and I'll also be reading excerpts from my writings that feature Ubec.

The event is on Friday, June 27, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. at the Ayala Activity Center, in Ayala Center, Cebu City.  At 5:30 p.m. I'm part of a panel discussion on "Writing In Diaspora."

The event is free. I'm looking forward to seeing my Cebuano friends there.
Here's the more information with the schedule:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Guest Blogger: Makeup by Swapna: Peachy-Orange Look for Summer

Easy Day to Night Peachy-Orange Look for Summer

This look is ideal for day or night, especially in the Summer. It can be achieved in just about 10 minutes. The idea is to create a soft and elegant look. The products are applied in a very light fashion to combat the sweltering summer heat. Bobbi Brown's Calypso Coral Pot Rouge is used both on the lips and cheeks to create a fresh, peachy look. The eyes are simple but bright -- a perfect complement to the orange hues. Skip the concealer for an even lighter look, especially if you don't have any blemishes or under-eye darkness to worry about. With twelve simple steps, even a beginner can achieve the look in 10 minutes or less. There are so many Summer looks out there but this one is by far my favorite this season. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Health: Visualizing Bible Scenes for Physical Healing

I recently talked to a friend about Visualization to help this friend's physical healing. I thought I would share what I said in case someone can benefit from it. This kind of prayer is accepted in the Catholic tradition.

To clarify, this friend is undergoing medical treatment; therefore the use of Visualization is complementary to this person's treatment.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Food Pictures: Eating Black Bugs from Vietnam and More

The strangest food I've eaten were black bugs in the highlands of Vietnam. We had toured the farm that raised the creatures in baskets, and the highlight of the tour was tasting the deep fried bugs. They looked like cockroaches. Even with the red tomato wedges adorning the plate they looked disgusting. But we were in a group and there was some competition as to who could or couldn't eat the bugs.  I did.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bashar Assad, Syrian Elections, and Lutong Macau

When we were children in the Philippines, we used the term, "Lutong Macau" when someone rigged a game to cheat us. "Lutong Macau!" we used to exclaim. By saying that, we not only called the person a cheater, but we also ridiculed him or her. The term "Lutong Macau" has a strong undertone of derision.

I had not used that term for decades and I was surprised when the words, "Lutong Macao" whipped through my mind after reading that Bashar al-Assad's won the presidential elections in Syria by an 88% landslide.

The Filipino as a Writer in America - Cecilia Brainard's Notes

When I give a talk, I usually prepare notes or a short writeup.  Here's a writeup, which was the basis of the brief talk I gave at the Tuklas event not too long ago. This is not a full article, but are more like "talking points" for me. 
The picture above was taken at the event. 
l-r: Paulino Lim Jr., Carlene Bonnivier, Linda Nietes, Cecilia Brainard, Giovanni Ortega

“The Filipino, as a Writer in America” by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Filipino or Filipino American Writers in America have unique challenges. There are issues that we deal with such as language, voice, subject matter, readership, publishers, and others. I’ll be talking about some of these issues.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Long Beach, California: Beauty Queens, Parkers' Lighthouse, Queen Mary, MOLAA

Quite a number of Filipinas have won international beauty queen titles, among them Gloria Diaz (Miss Universe 1969), Margarita Moran (Miss Universe 1973), Gemma Cruz (Miss International 1964); Aurora Pijuan (Miss International 1970), Melanie Marquez (Miss International 1979),Lara Quigaman (Miss International 2005),  Bea Santiago (Miss International 2013), Megan Young (Miss World 2013), and many more.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Garden: The Case of My Movable Trees

I have some potted plants in the side of our house, a forgotten section that's not really visible.  I have a row of ficus and until recently, a pine tree.

The pine tree was one of four that I had acquired 20 years ago. Three were planted in our vacation place. I stuck the extra tree in a pot, where it managed to grow under dire conditions.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Almost Summer in Santa Monica, California

It's not yet summer, but it's been warm in Santa Monica, and people are now in a summer mode. Last weekend, in the evening, Santa Monica pier was packed with visitors. There were people in their bathing suits, even though it was almost eight in the evening. The street scene was unlike any I'd seen. There were macaws, snakes, clowns, tourists as well as locals -- incredible.

The pictures include one of Lauren and me and Mike and Linda after dinner at Chez Jay (currently in my Favorite Restaurant list), and the street scenes. There's also a shot of the famous Santa Monica Pier sign at sunset, and a couple of pictures of another favorite restaurant of mine, The Lobster, which has excellent food and ocean view. You can also see how quickly the sun set in a matter of minutes (sunset was at 8 p.m.).

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Creative Writing: Guided Imagery for Creativity, Health, Success - The Secret Cave

In my writing workshops, I will sometimes use Guided Imagery, which is a technique that allows one to direct the imagination. Writers, artists, athletes, among many, use guided imagery.  People who are sick can also  use guided imagery to help in their healing, so for instance, they can envision the part of their body that needs healing as glowing with bright light.