Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Lower Blood Pressure: Drink Hibiscus or Gumamela Tea

I'm sharing this information about hibiscus tea again because a number of friends missed the information. It's better to take natural treatments if possible, so read on.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

War Story: The Blue-Green Chiffon Dress by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

I've been thinking of War because of current world events.

Here is a short story set in Ubec during the Vietnam War. This war touched our lives in Cebu, Philippines because of the American Base in nearby Mactan Island. In this story, I have fictionalized Cebu to become Ubec, and so this is a "story."

The above picture is a real photo showing three American soldiers who fought in Vietnam. I wonder what has happened to them. 

That's me kneeling, second from the left, with a veil. I was not wearing my blue-green chiffon dress, because I did have such a dress, but the following story could have taken place at around this time. Gemma could have been me; and Peter could have been one of those soldiers.  But remember ---- this is fiction, just story, but with the truthful message of the awfulness of war.

 "The Blue-Green Chiffon Dress" was first published in Focus Philippines, Inc, 1984, and it is part of Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's collection, Woman With Horns and Other Stories (New Day 1988 and Kindle).   ~ Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cooking with Cecilia - Chicken Soup for My Son's Dogs!

My son has two dogs who adore me. They think I'm an angel, and perhaps the reason for this is that I make them chicken soup.  Seriously.  I boil one whole chicken in a large pot topped off with water. Sometimes I put ginger in it. I boil it for around 2-3 hours, and in the last ten or fifteen minutes, I put in one cup of uncooked rice. Once it has cooled, I debone and shred the meat, mix it up with the rice and broth, I place these in plastic containers to give to them when I visit. They absolutely love the chicken soup with rice -- and me.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Thoughts on St. Ignatius and the Middle East

I had read something that St. Ignatius Loyola had written and it had to do with making decisions. It went something like this: If you find yourself in the wrong path, you have to turn back to the point where it was the right path. You have to go back before the fork in the road.

I can't find his exact words, but I'm fairly certain this idea came from St. Ignatius. I had been impressed by the statement's truth and simplicity. And the remarkable thing about it, is that the rule did not just apply to life but also to writing.  When a story makes a wrong turn, you need to go back to the point before things started going wrong.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Syria, Iraq War: Australian Jihadist and Filipina Girlfriend Arrested in Cebu, Philippines

The Philippine islands of Cebu and nearby Mactan have a laid-back style. It's a vacation place to many Koreans, Europeans, Australians, and Americans.  The beaches are great and it's cheap to live there, plus there are a multitude of good looking girls --many of the young men who are there seem to be looking for girlfriends.

So, when I heard that a 29-year old Australian jihadist had been captured in Lapu-Lapu City (which is in Mactan Island, part of the province of Cebu), I was floored. It was the same fellow who had declared in social media that he had arrived Syria in response to the call by ISIS for Muslims worldwide to hurry to Iraq and Syria to man their "caliphate." Musa  Cerantonio or Robert Edward Cerantonio, had used the internet to urge people to join jihad in Iraq and Syria, and he apparently was good at it. One out of four foreign fighters in Syria reportedly followed his now-closed Twitter account.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Philippines: Cebu's Historic District and Cecilia's Suggestions To Make It Better

Cebu's Historic District is located downtown.There one can still see Spanish Colonial and Post-colonial structures -- Fort San Pedro, Plaza Independencia, Santo Nino Basilica, Cathedral, Carbon Market, 1730 Jesuit House, Yap-Sandiego House, Casa Gorordo Museum, Museo Sugbo which used to be the old jail, and many other structures.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Scam Email from Syrian? --- It Used to Be the Nigerians!

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

I heard about a scam email from a "Syrian."  Most of these scam messages used to come from Nigerians, now it's from someone claiming to be Syrian.

Dr. Aymn Bshar Alshamy with telephone # +936344377191 contacted a real estate broker I know:

"I am interested in '______'. Please contact me."

My broker friend responded to Dr. Aymn Bshar Alshamy who then sent this email:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cooking With Cecilia - Pasta with Crab Roe or Aligue

Brace yourselves folks! This blog entry is about crab roe or in Tagalog "taba ng talangka" or "aligue"  The orange crab roe (commonly referred to as crab fat) is high in cholesterol, so beware.

While I was in Daluyon Resort with some writers, I ordered Pasta with Aligue.  The original menu called for crab roe with mayonnaise, and I asked the chef to hold the mayo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Literary Cats Reading "When the Rainbow Goddess Wept" and "Out of Cebu"

This July, my two cats, Che and Tesla, turned three years old!  That wonderful Animal Rescue woman, Karol Kooney, had been walking her dogs when the dogs started sniffing behind a bush. A gray cat was giving birth, and Karol rescued that cat and her kittens. We adopted two of those kittens and named them Che and Tesla (after Che Guevara and Nikolai Tesla).

Now I heard that while I was away, my three-year old cats decided to read my books, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept and Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose. They had been reading Harper Lee, Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Apparently, while I was gone, they discovered that the Woman Who Opens Cans (me) is a writer after all! Even though they had spent a lot of time with me in my office, they never realized that I was actually writing. They thought I was just messing around with emails and Facebook and such.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Haka and The Maori People of New Zealand

 Dear Readers,
I'm back at my desk but am still jet lagged. I'm running this earlier blog entry about a trip to New Zealand. I hope you enjoy it, Cecilia


Our cruise ship (Sapphire Princess) visited Tauranga on Feb. 12, but when we disembarked, we proceeded to Rotorua to a Maori Village which included geysers, and hot springs. We saw Maori traditional homes, food storage houses, meeting house, etc. This was very interesting to me. I had such limited knowledge of the Maori people; the little I knew I picked up from movies like The Whalerider (great movie, by the way). In my ignorance, I even mixed them up with the Aborigines of Australia - since in my ignorance, I couldn't keep Australia and New Zealand apart - they were these English-speaking countries somewhere down South. So there I was, not knowing what to expect.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fiction: Christmas Eve, a Novel Excerpt, by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

I'm back in California, dear Readers, and of course I'm jetlagged, which is why I'm working this early morning.

 I'm sharing a novel excerpt that was published recently in the Tomas Journal, Vol. 2, Issue 3; this is the journal of the UST (University of Santo Tomas) Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies. They'll soon be launching this issue, and unfortunately I'll miss the celebration.

This is part of the third novel I'm working on. I hope you enjoy it!

Christmas Eve, 1908: A Novel Excerpt
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Copyright 2014 by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, all rights reserved

  TIME HAD TAKEN on a rubber quality, stretching here and there, never fixed despite the insistent tick-tocking of the Grandfather clock in their living room. Jose had lost all notion of what day or time it was, and he slept and awoke at strange hours. It was Fernanda who declared that they should “join the world.” Earlier that day she had taken out her pearl jewelry and gold hair comb and she had put on a long skirt and a crisp hand-embroidered blouse of gossamer pineapple fabric. He was surprised by this, her fixing of herself, her declaration that she was ready to relinquish her mourning. For over four months, they had shared a cocoon of darkness and dread, confining themselves to their house, avoiding people, even his parents, sending out their servant, their sole umbilical cord to the world. During that time, they said very little to each other, but they shared a bond that was to some degree like a balm.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cebu, Philippines: A Flurry of Farewells

Some friends have been saying goodbye to me (for now), including Lynley Ocampo who brought me to a restaurant on Lahug Street, Marjo's, that serves the best pochero (beef soup).

One afternoon, Terry Manguerra, Chona Bernad, Roy Adam, and Amelia Kent visited me at my Cebu place. Roy and Amelia are the Australian and American volunteers who have started the non-profit Shepherd's Heart Cafe near Cebu's Heritage Monument.

Friday, July 18, 2014

When I First Arrived in California

Dear Readers, I'm winding down my Philippine visit and remembering the very first trip I made to California.  

I arrived America on March 16, 1969. I had two suitcases with me, the sum total of what I thought would be essential to my life as a student at UCLA. What did I bring? I had some suits and nice dresses that my mother had sewn for me. Did I wear those to my classes at UCLA? How out-of-place I must have looked! And shoes - I know I must have brought a number of high heels with me. And flannel nightgowns - I'm sure my mother had some made for me as well - the long-sleeved, long ones, for winter.

And what did I think? I recall the sense of adventure, that devil-may-care attitude as I went about experiencing life in America. I remember being homesick only when I was physically sick, and hankered for chicken-rice soup (pospas). I tried to cook this once, and it was a disaster, chicken undercooked, the whole thing a mess.

I recall the first brushes with racism, and always from older white women. Never the men, because the older men always had good things to say about the Philippines and Filipinos as they recalled World War II days; and the young men were always flirting.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cebu, Philippines: Updates Typhoon Glenda and Historic District

Thankfully I left Manila before Typhoon Glenda or Ramassun hit the Northern part of the Philippines. While the storm raged in the North, Cebu (which is in the South) had heavy rain and some wind but was relatively unscathed. My friends in Manila said schools and offices were closed on Wednesday when Glenda hit the area. After super typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, Filipinos are jumpy about typhoons.

Now, let me give you a few updates on the historic district of Cebu.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cebu, Philippines: Dinner with the Franco Sisters

l-r: Diana Franco Ledesma, Helen Franco Misa, Tita Franco Huete, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Lucy Franco Garcia

Whenever I'm in Cebu, I almost always see the Franco Sisters. Our connections go way back. Not only did our forefathers know one another when they lived in the Parian in olden days, but my father had been their father's teacher in engineering school. Tita Franco was my classmate from kindergarten on, at St. Theresa's College, Cebu. When we were young ladies, the Franco sisters, my sister, my cousin, and I were tight friends.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Manila Philippines: Visiting Resorts World

l-r: Cecilia Brainard, Tillic Lorayes, Guia Lim

I visited Resorts World in Manila with my friends, Tillic Lorayes and Guia Lim.  Resorts World is a casino resort near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. To get an idea of what the place is like, I have to ask you to imagine Las Vegas.  Resorts World is something like Las Vegas, with gambling, entertainment, shops, restaurants, and a multitude of visitors.  It has the frenetic energy of Las Vegas.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Carnival Queens and Their Daughters- Dinner at Marily Orosa's home

l-r: Cecilia Brainard, Maribel Paras, Marily Orosa

My friend Maribel Alvarez Paras and I had the chance to see Marily Orosa's new place. How nicely Marily has decorated her space! She found a place for her antiques, original paintings, books, and plants.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pictures: Philippine National Artist F. Sionil Jose Collection Turnover to DLSU Libraries

I attended the formal turnover of the F. Sionil Jose Collection to the De La Salle University Libraries last July 11, 2014. I must say, dear Readers, that I was giddy with happiness that afternoon. I was delighted to see Philippine National Artist Frankie Jose, his wife Tessie and his children; and I also saw a lot of friends there.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Palawan, Philippines Pictures #2 - Memory Writers Retreat

Here are more pictures taken in Palawan, Philippines. These are pictures of Daluyon Resort and surroundings mostly, plus photos of the group, and one with Perla Daly, FilAm writer feminist who happened to be in Daluyon with here three sons.  Click on the picture to make it bigger. Thanks for stopping by, and I'll try to post some pictures of Metro Manila soon.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Palawan, Philippine Pictures set 1 - Memory Writers Retreat

Here are some pictures I took in Palawan.  I'll post the other pictures in a separate blog entry when I can. This batch includes pictures taken in Puerto Princesa after we arrived: shopping at LRC Market, dinner, tricycle ride (no taxis in Puerto Princesa, just tricycles!), the van ride to Daluyon Resort in Sabang, and Daluyon Resort images.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Journal Entry from Palawan, Philippines - "Oh Perfect Day"

I'm now in Makati and it seems internet can also be slow here, in the midst of "Modern Metro Manila." It's taking forever to upload pictures to this blog, so I'm sharing a few taken in Palawan.  I'm also posting something I wrote there:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Palawan, Philippines - The Filipina Women Writers Meet Again!

Last year, at around this time, a group of four Filipina writers: Susan Evangelista, Nadine Sarreal, Melissa Ramos, and I, had gone to Sonya's Garden in Tagaytay for a Writers Retreat.  We are doing a retreat again, this time in the island of Palawan.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cecilia Brainard Google+ 2.5 Million Views

Cecilia Brainard
Google+ 2,507,327 Views
I'm not exactly sure what these "Views" mean, but that's a lot of views. Thanks to those who have stopped by my Google+ account or postings.

On my way to the Island of Palawan so this is all for now,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cebu, Philippines: Reading and Critiquing Two Plays

Hendri Go's friends -- actors, writers, film makers-- visited the Dona Filomena Building to read and critique a couple of plays.  It was my first time and I was very interested. I was impressed with the quality of the writing as well as the comments. Most of all, I was impressed at the bravery of the two writers being critiqued. I was also delighted to witness a creative Cebuano group at work.

Here are some pictures. The group included: Hendri Go, Manu Rodrigo Avenido, April Anne Moncada, Chiqui Rama Cartagena Lastierre, Seth Bacalso, Andi Patena, Joanna Vasquez Arong, Andrew Vincent Esplanada.

Cebu, Philippines: Shepherd's Heart Cafe in the Parian

Shepherd's Heart Cafe in the Parian, Cebu City, Philippines
Corner Mabini and Zulueta, Parian, across Heritage Monument

This is a new Cafe in the Parian, the Historic District of Cebu. I'm hoping Cebuanos will support this one-month old establishment, a project by an American Peace Corps Volunteer, Amelia Kent - do drop by! It's at the corner of Mabini and Zulueta, across the Heritage Monument. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cebu, Philippines: Circa 1900, a Heritage House

l-r: Terry Manguerra, Inday Blanco, Chinggay Utzurrum, Cecilia Brainard, Chona Bernad

I HAD DINNER with some friends at a heritage house in Cebu called Circa 1900.  It's an old family home that's been converted into a restaurant-bar. Some members of our party remembered visiting this house when the Lao Family owned it.