Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween from San Miguel Allende, Mexico

Happy Halloween from San Miguel Allende, Mexico!

There are a number of Halloween events going on, including a parade of children in costumes. Here are pictures of some of the children and grownups in costume at the Jardine in front of the Parroquia San Miguel Arcangel.  The church was lit up and looked glorious with the moon above. There were families with their children in costume; some mothers were also in costume. It was festive with teenagers dancing in the plaza grand stand, and families with their costumed children promenading in the park. People were very generous in allowing me to take pictures of them and/or their children.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chocolate Mexicano at San Agustin Cafe #SanMiguelAllende, #Mexico

When we are in San Miguel Allende, we must visit some favorite places, one of which is the San Agustin Cafe. This famous cafe, which is dominated by an irreverent painting of St. Agustin, serves a variety of chocolate drinks - Spanish style, French style, and Mexican style. During a past visit to the San Agustin Cafe, we had taste-tested the three kinds and decided the Spanish chocolate was too bitter, the French too sweet, and the Mexican just right. (But better than the Chocolate Mexicano is Chocolate Filipino -- the chocolate from Batanes, Philippines mixed with Mexican is the best combination -- in my opinion.)

In front of the St. Agustin painting with naked cherub, we had churros and Mexican chocolate --- what a treat!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Casa Zazula in San Miguel de Allende -#Travel, #SanMiguelAllende, #Mexico

Hello, dear Readers, I'm in San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico, a UNESCO Heritage Town with well-preserved Spanish-Colonial houses. We're staying in a 300-year old structure now reincarnated as the Casa Zazula. Owned by Kathy and David Zazula, the house has an indoor courtyard, and a fantastic rooftop room and garden with a view of the Parroquia of San Miguel Arcangel. The details in the house are incredible, with antique baptismal fonts now used as wash basins, and a 300-year old fountain gracing the indoor courtyard.  The house is featured in the coffee table book,Casa San Miguel

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Travel: Coming Up - MEXICO!

Stay tuned dear Readers for reports from Mexico!

Ignore ISIL Propaganda, KOBANI Remains Strong & Motivated! #Kobani, #Kobane, #Rajava, #ISIL, #Syria

Defenders of Kobani are as strong and as motivated as ever. Ignore desperate ISIL propaganda by a hostage who's fighting for his life.


Email your US Legislators to help Kobane. 

My thoughts and prayers are with Kobani, its defenders and residents!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Berlin Germany: Counting Time by the Minute -#BerlinGermany

In Berlin, our train for Frankfurt was delayed. All throughout my recent trip to Europe, I've had to deal with: first, a train strike in Paris, followed by a train and airplane strike in Berlin, and now our train was late. I laughed at the matter, but Berliners were stressed-out as they rescheduled their train rides.There were many sour and long faces, and one man came along and yelled that there were no seats available, and so on.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Review of DOMA's Musical Young Frankenstein

We saw DOMA's musical production of Young Frankenstein, which has received excellent reviews, and I have to agree that the production was very entertaining.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Supreme Court Decision Reached on Bikini Girls of STC Cebu -#CebuPhilippines

The Winner

In April 2012, I wrote about the five senior students of St. Theresa's College (STC), Cebu, whose pictures in Facebook showed them scantily clad. Photos of the students drinking and smoking in a bar had also been posted. When the officials at the exclusive Catholic school, where the girls attended, learned about the pictures, they barred the students from attending graduation rites. The whole matter was quite a drama - read my earlier account - and resulted in the parents suing STC all the way to the Supreme Court.

Berlin, Germany: Spotlight on Historic Checkpoint Charlie - #Berlin, #ColdWar

In Berlin, I visited Checkpoint Charlie, or Checkpoint C, part of the Berlin Wall that was a crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. I found this interesting because I remember news reports and had read spy thriller books about East Germans escaping to the West, with Checkpoint Charlie being part of the stories. (John le Carre's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, James Bond's Octopussy, Len Deighton's Funeral in Berlin, and many others feature Checkpoint Charlie.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Bridges of Love in Paris - #ParisFrance, #lovelocks

Walking along the Seine, I spotted a bridge with what looked like a million locks clamped on the sides. The next day I stumbled on still another bridge with padlocks. I saw couples holding padlocks and searching for their special place on the bridge on which to attach their locks.  The custom is for lovers to lock padlocks on the bridge and throw away the key. This symbolizes their undying love.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Cuenco Cousins in Paris #Cuenco, #CebuPhilippines, #ParisFrance

 It was strange that the four of us cousins would be together in Paris. While we had been close as children, we became absorbed in our own lives and didn't see much of one another. Then suddenly there we were, enjoying Paris in October.

It was Celine Gonzalez Conejos who learned I was in Paris and arranged a meeting at Les Deux Magots for dinner.

My cousins in Paris were: Manny Gonzalez and his sister Celine, and Chickie Reyes Feraren.  Our mothers were sisters, daughters of Mariano Jesus Cuenco and Filomena Alesna.  The black and white confirmation picture shows Chickie in the center holding a little boy who's Manny. I'm the girl on the far right. Our mothers are in the back row. Chickie's Mom is third from the left, and Manny and Celine's Mom is fourth from the left; my mother is fifth from the left. (Celine was not yet born.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Southern California: JOHN ALLEN, Candidate for Water Replenishment District 3

As many of you know, California has been suffering from a serious drought for years, and water conservation is of paramount importance.

Our Guest Blogger is John Allen, Long Beach Water Commissioner, who's a candidate for Water Replenishment District, Division 3.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Germany: Heidelberg, Jose Rizal, and A Las Flores de Heidelberg

 Cecilia within the Castle of Heidelberg grounds

I visited Heidelberg, Germany on October 18, 2014, knowing that the place had influenced the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. From the time I was a child, Jose Rizal was held up as the epitome of what the Good Filipino could be. Called a Renaissance man, he was a doctor, writer, sculptor, painter, educator, historian, and nationalist, who was martyred by the Spanish colonizers.

Gate within the Castle of Heidelberg grounds

Thoughts on Turkey and Kobani, #Kobani, #Kobane #Turkey #IS

The government of Turkey has disappointed me greatly.

Turkey forced a righteous US vice-president to apologize for a truth he said, this despite the fact that foreign jihadists themselves say they have used Turkey as their entry point. Further, Jihadists have established a market for stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil in Turkey

Pretending to be neutral in the matter of Kobani, Turkey has been supporting IS by blocking off the only corridor left for the defenders and people of Kobani. There are many eye witnesses who state that IS jihadists have free entry and find refuge in Turkey, including an American-Lebanese woman media person who reported on this matter and mysteriously died after being accused of spying and threatened. In plain view of the media, Turks maltreated Kurds who have been desperate in trying to save Kobani.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Frankfurt, Germany: Dinner with Dr. Michaela Keck

 In Frankfurt, Germany, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Michaela Keck, from the Institute of English and American Studies at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany.

Michaela and I had never met before, but we had such an easy time together and ended up talking for hours, until the cafe closed in fact.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Flying Back to California!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Berlin, Germany: Book Launch "Freundschafy" on German-Filipino Friendship

l-r: Marily Orosa, Cecilia Brainard, Dr. Isagani Cruz, Medy Cruz

Cecilia Brainard with Senator Serge Osmena

My friend, Marily Orosa, launched a coffee table book (Freundshaft) in Berlin, Germany. Edited by Isagani Cruz, this beautiful book celebrates 60 years of Philippine-German friendship. Contact Marily Orosa at for more information about the book.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Train and Airplane Strike in Germany! - Cecilia's Update #2, #BerlinGermany

No, no,no!  This can't be happening! When I arrived Paris, there was a train strike. Now that I'm in Berlin, there's a train AND airplane strike.

I'm stunned and don't quite know what to think. We're supposed to take the train to Frankfurt and fly home in a few days.  Hmmm.....

Travel: Berlin, Germany- Cecilia's Update #1

Check Point Charlie

I'm in Berlin, Germany, dear Readers having arrived from Paris yesterday.

The place is full of history, and I have lots of pictures so I'm going do several entries about this city. Today was a nice day in Berlin -- no rain, clear sky, but the city has a certain "gray" quality. The Philippine Embassy Attache, Ms. Nelma Jose-Casas, talked of how some personnel at the Philippine Embassy get depressed in Berlin.  I thought that was interesting.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Travel: Eiffel Tower Madness! #ParisFrance

To me the Eiffel Tower is very photogenic. Every time I visit Paris, I go crazy and take many pictures of this cultural icon of France.  Here are a few pictures. 

I love how the intricate metal work gives a lace effect. I love that this structure had been new and that some had reviled it in 1889, but that the French integrated it with their old structures, saying to the effect that one day it too would get old.  They said they same thing aboaut the pyramid in the Louvre.  

Travel: Goodbye Paris for Now #ParisFrance

Dear Readers,
It was a full day today, my last day in Paris. We visited the Arc de Triomph, and afterwards, walked along Champs Elysees. From there we went to the Eiffel Tower and went up for a last view of all of Paris. It was a perfect October fall day to do so -- no rain, a bit brisk but very pleasant.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Paris Flea Market - Marche Aux Puces Saint-Ouen

Paris was rainy and gray last Sunday, the day my cousins and I went shopping at the Marche Aux Puces Saint-Ouen. This famous Paris landmark clams to be the largest flea market in the world. Established in 1870, it consists of 2,500 stalls in various buildings over a sprawling area east of Paris.

October Saturday in Paris - #ParisFrance

I had a very busy Saturday in Paris which started with a some sightseeing with Marily Orosa and Medy Cruz. After checking out the Notre Dame and surroundings, we went to Les Editeurs (4 Carrefour de L'Odeon, 75006) where we had lunch with the writer Bonnie Arcache Melvin. Les Editeurs is a favorite hangout for Paris publishers and other literary people. The restaurant has bookshelves filled with books given to the restaurant by their literary patrons.  The downstairs area feels like most other Cafes in Paris, but the second story has a cozy feeling like a study.  That's where we had our lovely lunch.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Paris: Dinner at Les Deux Magots with Cuenco Cousins

My first cousins, Chickie Feraren, Manny Gonzalez, and Celine Conejos, happened to be vacationing in Paris, and we had a wonderful reunion. We had dinner at Les Deux Magots, famous for having been the hangout of Ernest Hemingwary, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Albert Camus and other intellectuals. 


Friday, October 10, 2014

Notre Dame Madness! #ParisFrance

Today's blog entry shows pictures of one of the most famous Gothic Cathedrals in the world: Notre Dame de Paris, built in the 12th century, with subsequent additions. 

The Notre Dame is very photogenic. Like the Eiffel Tower, I can never get enough pictures of it. Here are some pictures showing it in different angles. Note the details like the gargoyles, flying buttresses, spires, saints, and so on. The cathedral sits on one end of an island in the middle of the Seine. It is simply gorgeous.

Click on the picture to make it big.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Arrondissements and More About Paris - #ParisFrance

Dear Readers,
I accidentally deleted my most recent blog entry. I'll try to recreate it now.

I was talking about how in my past visits to Paris I usually took the metro which is fast, efficient, economical and easy to figure out.  My complaint about the metro is that I don't see the landmarks of Paris.  I go down, ride the metro, and surface near my destination, like a pop-up mole.

Train Strike in Paris - Day 1 in #ParisFrance

 I made it to Paris, dear Readers, and am recuperating in my hotel room. First there was a 5-plus-hour flight from LAX to Montreal, followed by a 6-hour flight from Montreal to Paris. There was a harrowing moment when the plane in Montreal was delayed docking or parking because of something or other. When the plane finally opened its doors, a whole group of connecting passengers flew out of there. It wasn't just a matter of going to another gate either because you had to go through some kind of border control, which added to the delay. Fortunately, my connecting plane waited for us.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Coming Up: Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg, Wilhemsfeld #Travel

Dear Readers,
I'll be visiting Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg, and Wilhemsfeld, and I hope to blog about those places. If I have difficulty uploading to this blog, I'll post in my FaceBook site:

Cecilia Brainard -

In Paris, on Thursday night, October 9, I plan to be at the Open Mic reading at Culture Rapide, 103 Rue Julien Lacroix, 75020, around 8 p.m.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

With Friends like Turkey, Who Needs Enemies? #Kobani #NATO #Turkey

"Turkish Inaction on ISIS Advance Dismays the U.S." - The New York Times

"This isn't how a NATO ally acts while hell is 

 unfolding a stone's throw from their border," 

said the official...."

 Two Kurdish women who fought against ISIL in Kobani and who died bravely.

Kurdish mother Nasreen, left 2 children behind and died fighting against ISIS in Kobane.
  Arin Mirkin, a Kurdish female fighter suicide bomber attacks IS in Kobane

Read also
Battle between ISIS and Syrian Kurds for Kobani sparks unrest in Turkey

Turkish police clash with demonstrators near border with Kobani

UN Envoy on Kobani: Don't let another city fall to ISIS

Check updates by Jenan Moussa on twitter

This is all for now,

Monday, October 6, 2014

The World Supports KOBANI, Syria! #Kobani

From by Jenan Moussa Twitter #Kobane:
Kurdish activist Mustafa Bali inside tells me: Reports ISIS inside city are false. I am still in Kobane; YPG as motivated as ever.

There is worldwide support for Kobani:

 London at Trafalgar Square
New York City, Union Square

Santa Monica, California: Great Eggs Benedict at Spitfire Grill Restaurant

My husband is an eggs benedict aficionado and is constantly looking for restaurants that serve good eggs benedict.  He swears the Moonstone Grill in Cambria serves the best egg benedict.

We recently had brunch at the Spitfire Grill in Santa Monica and he enjoyed their eggs benedict, although I think he still rates Moonstone Grill on top. I had crab cake benedict, and I enjoyed it. There were two thick "crabby" cakes with eggs and rich hollandaise sauce on top.

The Spitfire Grill is located within the Santa Monica airport complex. We were there on Sunday and there were many people having brunch/lunch there.

 Read also

Tags: Spitfire Grill, restaurant, cafe, food, airport, Santa Monica, California, Southern California, Westside
This is all for now,