Friday, January 30, 2015

Philippines: The Forty-four Elite Commandos who Fell in Mindanao

Philippines: Friday, January 30, was declared a National Day of Mourning for the forty-four elite Special Armed Force commandos who went to Mindanao to arrest two high target terrorists: Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan,and Abdul Basit Usman, both explosives experts. The US FBI has a $5 million bounty for Marwan, a member of Al Qaeda's Asian cell. Usman, who reportedly trained in explosives in Pakistan and Afganistan, has a $1 million bounty.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cebu Philippines: Funeral Traditions in the Philippines and E Burol

l-r: Monina Blanco, Cecilia Brainard, Chinggay Utzurrum, Terry Manguerra, Tina Agustines, Chona Bernad, Cecilia Picornell, Jaime Picornell, Marilu Chiongbian

THE LAST novena prayer for Inday Blanco was said on Thursday, and following tradition, family and friends gathered to eat and celebrate.

I thought I would talk a bit about the funeral practices in the Philippines because it is very eleborate and ritualistic. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sunset Pictures of Historic Sites in Cebu, Philippines

Here are a few pictures of Cebu Historic sites taken at sunsest.

The photo above was taken in the Plaza Independencia. It focuses on a gazebo in the middle of the park. The Plaza Independencia is a sprawling park in front of Fort San Pedro. The site had been used, not only by the Spaniards and Americans, but by pre-colonial people. Quite a lot of artifacts have been found in the site, some of which can be seen at the Museo Sugbo.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cebu, Philippines: Thanks for the Joy and Laughter Inday Blanco!

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

A dear friend has died, Inday Esperanza Briones Blanco. She was fine on her December birthday; she had surgery on January 16; she died on January 20.  Family and friends are still reeling.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Old Fashioned Shopping in Carbon Market #CebuPhilippines

Cebu City, Philippines:  When I was a little girl, my mother and the cook used to shop in wet markets. If they wanted seafood, they went to Pasil; if they wanted dried fish, Tabo-an; the regular marketing was done at Carbon Market.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Developments in Historic Downtown Cebu City, Philippines

I like to check out changes in Historic downtown Cebu City, and here are some of them. Click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Philippines: Pope Francis's Call Not To Breed Like Rabbits

Saturday I went to the two big churches in Cebu: the Cathedral and the Basilica Santo Nino; and perhaps because there are still many tourists (for the Sinulog Festival), there were many beggars. Among them were women in their thirties with three - four children, all of them looking malnourished. There were also many children beggars. (These beggars do not molest tourists; they sit on the sidewalks passively with their hands outstretched, unlike some other beggars I have encountered in other parts of the world.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

In Cebu City, Philippines this January #CebuPhilippines

I'm in Cebu City, Philippines, right now, folks.

Months ago, I checked Expedia and found a relatively inexpensive plane fare to Cebu.  It was, however, a 20+ hour travel flight.  The usual length is around 14-16 hours; and I figured, why not? It was going to save me some $500 dollars.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Guest Blogger: Manny Gonzalez writes "Baden-Baden on a Budget, Barely --- #BadenBaden

The following article about Baden-Baden is by Manny Gonzalez. A resident of Whistler, Canada, Manny Gonzalez is a Director/shareholder at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Mactan, Philippines.

Baden-Baden on a Budget, Barely
by Manny Gonzalez

Exactly how I wound up in Baden-Baden, I don’t care to tell you, except that a lot of people go to Baden-Baden for their health.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Guest Blogger: "The Sensual Pleasures of Bordeaux" by Manny Gonzalez #France

Our Guest Blogger today is Manny Gonzalez who writes about Bordeaux, France.

The Sensual Pleasures of Bordeaux
by Manny Gonzalez

One: Drink some wine.
MANILA, Philippines - But not just any wine. These wines.
Look carefully at the picture of a wine bar dispenser, and you will understand the reason Bordeaux is on the map. Those prices are in euros – from left, Off (meaning Sold Out), 15 Euro, 25, Off, 35, Off, 25 and 25. That much money will get you, not a glass, but 1/5 of a glass, or say 1/30 of a bottle (two sips).

Remembering the Civil War in El Salvador #ElSalvador

I was talking to Juana who had lived in El Salvador in Central America before immigrating to the US when she was 13. She was there when the civil war was going on. She talked about how her father had to hide because the government and the guerrilas wanted to conscript him. The last time he had to hide, he did not return home but left for the US.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Saigon, Vietnam: The Five Dollar Ransom, #CeciliaBrainard

The following piece is based on a true story.

The Five Dollar Ransom
Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

            My friend Cynthia and I are in the Ben Thanh night market in Saigon for dinner and shopping, and afterwards, I talk her into going to the Saigon Saigon Bar at the Caravelle Hotel. “That’s where the Americans hung out during the Vietnam War,” I tell her. This is her first visit to Vietnam, my second, so I’m a bit bossy about where to go, what to do.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Writing Furiously Today!

Writing furiously today!

Check Back.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Need Help Translating French Sign Into English

There is a small mystery that we would like solved.

Two years ago, when we were with friends in Beaune, France, Max, one of our companions bought this placard/sign and gave it to us. He thought it was very funny but refused to translate it into English.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Guest Blogger Celine Conejos Reviews Hong Kong Hotels and Restaurants #HongKong

My mother and her friends used to go to Hong Kong to shop. She would buy camphor chests, carvings, transistor radios, English chocolates and cookies, and other things. By the time I grew up, Hong Kong was no longer a bargain place, but it continued/s to be a vacation destination for Filipinos.

Today, Celine Conejos shares reviews on some Hong Kong Hotels and restaurants. 

A Philippine Diplomat's wife, Celine Conejos is a permanent resident of Makati, although she currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland. She reviews hotel, restaurant, and attraction sites in TripAdvisor under the name of Coellum. She says this of herself:

"My father was very fond of traveling. He passed on his wanderlust to me. I enjoy traveling and planning for my trips. People close to me benefit from this. My children have many good memories of happy vacations together. At present, I live in Geneva temporarily. Being in the heart of Europe gives me many opportunities to see new places."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pope Francis in the Philippines

Pope Francis is in the Philippines, and Pope Mania has swept over this Catholic country. Here are some pictures. The Papal dolls amuse me; the selfies with the Pope or image of the Pope also caught my attention. The prayerful woman holding the rosary, and with the image of Our Lady and the Pope on the wall touch me.

Catching Up with Filipino American Novelist, Brian Ascalon Roley #PhilippineLiterature

The writer, Brian Ascalon Roley, is in Southern California and he stopped by to visit. We had a lovely lunch at Chez Jay and dessert at home.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Filipino Cooking: Laing or Taro Leaves in Coconut Milk #FilipinoFood, #FilipinoCooking

LAING is a Filipino native dish from Bicol province, Northern Philippines. Since I was born and raised in Cebu, Southern Philippines, the dish was alien to me until I visited Northern Philippines. Laing is a creamy vegetable dish that reminds me of spinach. It's very flavorful and rich.

Here is a recipe and comments from my friend Maria Ciocon about the making of Laing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's Tuesday, Meals on Wheels Day

It's Tuesday, Meals on Wheels Day.

I planned on blogging after delivering the meals but got caught up with this and that.  I'll pick this up tomorrow, so check back.

In the meantime, here is a picture of the hotel we stayed at in Kumarakom, India, one of my favorite places. It was beautiful and relaxing there.

Tags: Kumarakom, India, travel, picture

This is all for now,

Monday, January 12, 2015

Paris Attack: Unity Rally in Los Angeles, California

It was raining last Sunday, but we went downtown to the Unity Rally in front of the City Hall, where a thousand people gathered to show solidarity to the French following the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last week. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Maryknoll Lunch in Santa Monica, California

 l-r: Lorna Cruz, Esther Parker, Meldee Perez, Ollie Yujuico, Cecilia Brainard, (seated) Maria Ciocon, Lucy McGinley 

Despite the rain, a small group of Maryknoll graduates got together at home for lunch. The excuse for the gathering was Meldee Perez's visit to Southern California. The seven ladies chattered away non-stop, and the few husbands who were here sought refuge in the den to watch sports.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Prayer to End Violence and Pictures of Buddhist Monks

Today I am sharing three pictures of Buddhist monks that I took in Burma. I love their aura of peace, serenity and joy.

And following the violence in Paris, I found this Christian Prayer to End Gun Violence, which seems to address the need for healing now. I made a few changes to the original prayer, which can be found in this site

Friday, January 9, 2015

Update Paris Attack - Two Hostage Situations Ongoing

I woke up to the news that there is a third terrorist incident in Paris that is ongoing. First was the Charlie Hebdo attack, followed by the killing of a policewoman. Now hostages are held in a Kosher market.

In the Charlie Hebdo attack, one of the policemen killed was a Muslim, Ahmed Merabet. Merabet was wounded and pleaded for his life, but the terrorists killed him mercilessly.

The ongoing drama in Paris is disconcerting. I am praying for the people there:

Paris Kosher Market Seized

Market Gunman to kill hostages if police storm brothers

Paris Terror Attack: 2 Hostage Situations linked

Paris suspects cornered as second shooting occurs in Paris

Some thoughts after the Terrorist Attack in Paris

Tags: #ParisAttack, hostage, #CharlieHebdo, Paris, France, terrorist, attack

This is all for now,

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Some Thoughts After the Terrorist Attack in Paris - #CharlieHebdo, #JeSuisCharlie

One day after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, here are some thoughts:

1. Free Thought:  I can't get over how much oppressors fear Free Thought. In the Paris attack, Islamist terrorist targeted satirical cartoonists. Not too long ago, North Korea's Kim Jong Un had a fit over the comic film, The Interview. In a similar vein, ISIL issued a new curriculum in Mosul, banning such subjects as natural history, literature, art, and evolution. In Syria and Iraq, Assad and Islamic Extremists have been killing journalists and other media people.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

#JeSuisCharlie - France "We Stand With You"

In solidarity with the French during this difficult time - #JeSuisCharlie

Read also:
BBC - Charles Hebdo Attack
USA Today
Artists Around the World Respond to Attack

Cebu Philippines: The Sensational Elopement of Milagros and Manuel Cuenco

Milagros and Manuel Cuenco, circa 1935

The Sensational Elopement of Milagros and Manuel Cuenco

I learned about the elopement of my uncle and aunt later on life. Before then, I always took them as just another normal couple with six children, part of the landscape of my youth in Cebu. My mother had only one brother, Manuel.

At this point in time, I can probably mention their names. They have both passed on, and their lives have slipped into the realm of story.

The writer, Concepcion G. Briones wrote about the elopement of Manuel Cuenco and Milagros Veloso (circa 1930s) as follows: (source: Life in Old Parian)

Another sensational elopement landed its protagonists on the front-pages of Cebu's newspapers and weeklies. The youngest daughter of one of Cebu's oldest millionaire families and the handsome scion of Cebu's most powerful political families,eloped one day.

The couple had been, in the language of the day, "going steady" for quite a while. But they probably had a falling out when the novio went abroad to pursue further studies. A year or so afterwards, avid society watchers woke up to read an announcement that Cebu City was to see another big and brilliant wedding uniting the lovely herioine and another scion of one of its wealthiest families.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Syria War: Senator John McCain's Statement re Illegal Visit to Syria

Syria's UN Ambassador accused US Senator John McCain and other senior US and French officials of entering Syria illegally on separate occasions saying, "Such actions are a blatant violation of Syria's sovereignty and of the resolutions of the Security Council concerning Syria.

John McCain replied:

"It is sad but unsurprising truth that the Assad regime is less concerned with its massacre of more than 200,000 men, women and children than it is my visit with those brave Syrians fighting for their freedom and dignity. 

. . .

"The fact that the international community has done virtually nothing to bring down this terrible regime despite its atrocities is a stain on our collective moral conscience."

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and the Syrian Revolution 2011

Read also
John McCain Hits the Jackpot with a Syrian Complaint
Syria War: John Kerry's Statements 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Philippine Literature Critic Dr. Leonard Casper

Linda Ty Casper, and I have been emailing each other recently, and she sent me a picture of her husband, Dr. Leonard Casper. I asked permission to post it, and Linda said to go ahead.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The First Time I Got Drunk - #CeciliaBrainard

The first time I got drunk was when I was 19 and a group of us threw a party at home. It was summer. My older sister and cousin had just returned from Spain and Paris where they had pursued post-graduate studies. (I suspect they learned how to party mostly in Europe.) They proceeded to make sangria and rum cokes for our party. I was used to sipping sweet drinks like Pink Lady or Purple Cow, and the sangria and rum cokes quickly went to my head. The rum coke especially, because it tasted like Coca Cola.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pope Francis and His Childhood Girlfriend

Some friends and I were talking about Pope Francis. Hands down, people like him very much. He has displayed tolerance, compassion, and a determination to make the world better.

Someone mentioned that the Pope had a girlfriend when he was twelve, and he reportedly told the girl, "If I don't marry you, I'm going to be a priest." He had drawn for his childhood love the picture of a little white house with a red roof, and and said, "This is what I'll buy when we marry,"

Friday, January 2, 2015

Philippines: Filipina Muslim Princess Tarhata Kiram

When my mother was alive, she used to talk of her friend, Princess Tarhata. She had many stories about Princess Tarhata, how beautiful she was, how smart, how powerful. I was reminded of the Princess because she supposedly owned a huge natural pearl; that point of interest came up because of the next book project I'm trying to cultivate in my head.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 New Year's Resolutions of Some Friends (and me!) -#NewYearResolutions

Here are New Year's Resolutions of some friends:
(The group pictures below show friends singing Auld Lang Syne to welcome 2015.)