Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Halloween decorations up; candies are ready for the trick or treaters, although in recent years we've been getting fewer trick or treaters. I do love seeing the children in their costumes. 

I hope we get some kids tonight!

     This is all for now,

Travel: Blogging Soon about Our Trip to Germany, Austria, and Hungary

I'll be blogging about our trip to Germany, Austria, and Hungary, including my thoughts about our Viking cruise and the Refugee Crisis in Europe.

Wi-fi was terribly slow in the cruise ship and simply couldn't post.  Here are a few pictures I was able to post in Facebook - from top to bottom the Royal Palace in Budapest, Hungary; the Marriage of Figaro Performance in Vienna; Klimt at the Belvedere in Vienna.

Stay tuned!

   This is all for now,

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Internet is Painfully Slow, Check Back!

Internet on the Viking is painfully slow, so please check back! You can also check my Facebook account

I'll be posting pictures taken at Regensburg, another World Heritage Site, and Weltenburg Abbey and the Danube Narrows.

Read also
     Tags: travel, Europe, Germany, Danube, cruise
     This is all for now,

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Travel: Cruising the Danube on Viking Tor - Nuremberg

Salzburg is an entry point of the Syrian and other refugees to get into Germany, and because of border control, we could not buy our train tickets ahead of time. We were told to show up on the day of our departure, which was Friday. That morning, the hotel receptionist told us a train scheduled from Salzburg to Munich was cancelled but we could catch the 10:15 a.m. train. We hurried to the train station and bought our tickets. Before boarding, some officials checked our passports with a declaration of, “No passports, no train.”  A group of three, who could have been refugees, did not have passports and the train doors were closed on them.  Later, they were allowed on board, and I assume they had the necessary transit papers.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Travel: Old Town and the Hohensalzburg Castle in Salzburg, Austria


Old Town in Salzburg is compact and the place seems small, however it's packed full of many sites to see.  Here are some of the tour sites that we saw today, on foot:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Travel: In Salzburg, Austria Where the Sound of Music Still Reigns

We are in Salzburg, Austria, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and where the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. This was where the Sound of Music was filmed, so you can imagine the Alpine mountains around and rushing river at the edge of the Old Town.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Haunting Scenes of Refugees in Munich, Germany #refugeecrisis, #Syrian, #middleeast, #munich, #syrianwar

We are in Munich, Germany during the refugee crisis -- referring to the rush of Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, and others fleeing conflict areas to find asylum in this city of 1.4 million. In September, the refugees were met by locals with enthusiasm, which quickly dampened with fears of a clash between the newcomers and Oktoberfest revellers. The borders between Germany and other countries were closed, slowing down the entry of refugees.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Zum Augustiner and Schweinhaxen in Munich #Germany #travel #food

My friend, Tina Heiter, who lives in Switzerland, alerted me that Munich's specialty food is pork shank cooked like crispy pata in the Philippines.  It's called schweinhaxen in German.
Crispy pata is something sinful - pork roasted so the skin turns brown and crispy. I couldn't wait to try schweinhaxen. 

Paying for Tap Water in German Restaurants #travel #Germany

In the US, it is customary to tip from 15-20% in restaurants. Another American custom is that water is served liberally, for free. 

In Germany, we learned that the customary tip is from 5-10% in restaurants, and tap water is not free. Aside from ordering drinks, we have been asking for glasses of water, and waiters seemed puzzled at our request, although eventually they did give us our glasses of water. Last night, at the Sheraton where we stayed and had dinner, the waitress also appeared confused when we requested glasses of water . She did give us an entire pitcher of iced cold water and, to our surprise, charged us Eu 4 for “wasser.” We paid but I was planning on asking the hotel desk people about what I considered an unnecessary charge. Before I did, I fortunately checked the internet and stumbled upon a lot of discussion about the matter. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Travel Nuremberg Castle or Kaiserburg #Travel #Germany

 Today we visited the ancient Imperial Castle of Nuremberg, (Kaiserburg) recorded as existing as early as 1105. Located in the northern end of the walled city of Nuremberg, the Castle sits atop a hill and is said to be one of the best fortified medieval fortification.

I love travelling because those names that I'd learned in my history books become real as I see evidence of their existence. This castle, for instance, had been occupied by the Hohenstaufens, Hohensollers, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, and the Habsburgs.

What I found most interesting was that early on there had been a system of selecting the emperor by seven kings. I was also reminded that the Lutheran religion became dominant around 1521 - I should not have forgotten since I'd written a paper in high school on Martin Luther, one quite supportive of Luther, for which I earned an A.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Travel City Center Nuremberg, #Germany

We made it to Nuremberg, Germany. Travel time was 11 hours from LAX to Frankfurt, plus another 2 hours for layover and flight to Nuremberg.  It's gray and chilly here, but thankfully dry.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Coming Up -- Germany!

I'm leaving behind 73 degree sunny weather and going to 44 degrees with clouds and high probability of rain. I've got my boots and London Fog and I've rolled up my clothes as tightly as possible in my suitcase. I'm trying hard to travel light.

I'm ready for my next adventure, so stay tuned dear Readers for reports from Germany!

Read also
Burma: Moving Forward
Malaysia: Where Enrique of Malacca Came From
Brainard Kenya Safari - YouTube

Tags: travel, holiday, vacation, Europe, Germany, Bavaria

This is all for now,

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Banksy Video Clip of Girl with Balloon #WithSyria

The war in Syria has been going on for over four years. The conflict has become very convoluted, with Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah, and Cubans on Syrian ground, and an exodus of Syrians of epic proportion. The civilians are the ones who suffer most. 

Watch this video clip and reflect:

Published on Mar 12, 2014
On the third anniversary of conflict, let us stand #WithSyria

Film narrated by Idris Elba with exclusive music from Elbow

Read also

Tags: Syria, Syrian, war, Assad, conflict, Middle East, Damascus, Homs, Aleppo

This is all for now,

Research Sources and Links re Cecilia Manguerra Brainard #Philippines Literature

Some students have asked for help regarding their research.  Here are sources and links about Cecilia Manguerra Brainard or Cecilia Brainard, official website

Wikipedia site on Cecilia Brainard

Other Sources about Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

* Abao, Jane Frances P. 2001. "Retelling the Stories, Rewriting the Bildungsroman: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's When the Rainbow Goddess Wept ." Humanities Diliman (January-June)

* Adler, Les. 1996. "Acapulco at Sunset and Other Stories: A Review." Pilipinas 26 (Spring)

* Aubry, Erin. "A Child's Vision of Life During Wartime." Los Angeles Times. November 15, 1994, E-8.

* Beltran, Marie G. "Woman With Horns and Other Concerns." Filipinas (May 1995_: 29, 56.

* Casper, Leonard. "BACK-AZIMUTH Filipino Writers Abroad." Kinaadman XXVII (2005): 69-82.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Kindness of the French, by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard #Paris essay

The following personal essay is part of the anthology, Portal: Gateway to Adventure (Studio5, 2015) edited by Marily Orosa. This book was just released and is available from Studio 5 or email

The Kindness of the French


Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Copyright 2015 by Cecilia Brainard

           IN THE SPRING  of 2013, something happened to me in Paris — it had to do with my perception of that city, of my husband, and of myself.
            May 2013, my husband, Lauren, and I flew to Paris with the intention of spending three nights there. One evening was set aside to have dinner with our friends Max and Christine who come from Lyon but would be in Paris just to see us. After our short visit to Paris, we’d rent a car and drive north to Belgium and Normandy. Lauren had it all mapped out: flight, hotels, rental car. He loved planning trips. We enjoyed travelling, although visiting France made me a bit wary. During my prior visits there, I found that the clich├ęs said about the French being rude, arrogant and condescending seemed true. Parisians answered in French even when I spoke to them in English. In addition, I had discovered that some vendors and taxi drivers had been dishonest with me, all petty matters, but annoying.

Proud to be with Esteemed Honorees at Starblazers and Top Hats Awards Gala 2015

Seated: far left is Edna Consing Concepcion, Chris Cate, William D. Gore, , honoree, Mona Pasquil, Melissa Deleon, honoree
Standing second row --  Marily Orosa is 5th from left and Cecilia Brainard is 7th from left wearing purple
Standing third row - Sean D. Reyes, Karl Thomas, Paz Gomez, Butch Montano

I feel proud to have received this plaque and certificate and to have shared the stage with these esteemed people last Saturday in San Diego!

I'll be posting more pictures taken at the event, so please check back!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Some Filipino and Filipino American Books and Journal to Read

Here are some books on my Reading Pile:

Front l-r:  

Jaime Alonso Yrastorza's From Fire to Freedom: Childhood in Colonial Philippines to Post-WWII Adulthood in America, Tate Publishing, 2015:

"From Fire to Freedom narrates an insight into the tapestry of the life of Dr. Jaime Alonso Yrastorza. His weave of reminiscences begins in his idyllic upbringing in the Philippines. He reflects on the legacies that centuries of turbulent Spanish and American colonial overlords had influenced the mores and traditions of the present-day Filipinos..."

Lisa Suguitan Melnick's #30 Collantes Street, Carayan Press, 2015: 

"In #30 Collantes Street, author Lisa Suguitan Melnick experiences unexpected takes on both the foreign and the familiar of her ancestral roots. The stories reflect astute observations and discoveries and experiences in Cebu, Negros, Mindanao, Palawan, and Bohol. Melnick's pieces also represent rites of passage gently evocative of the author's childhood...."

Filipino American StarBlazers & Top Hats Event, San Diego

Cecilia says - I'll be at the Starblazers & Top Hats Event this Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015! Thanks for choosing me as an honoree.

Guess Who?!
An award winning author, an attorney general, a doctor, a businessman,  
a captain of a ship (no need to guess that – but wait…we have two), a lawyer,
an educator, a congressman, a banker and a candlestick maker.

Come celebrate with us in honoring them!! 
This Saturday, the 10th of October 6:00 P.M.
  Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Interview: Cecilia Brainard's Novel "Magdalena" Revealed

The protagonist in my second novel is a woman who defies Philippine society and takes on a lover. Following is a student interview regarding my novel, Magdalena.

Interview Questions from Shiela Mae P. Abas, BA Literature IIIA:

When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer? 
Did someone push you to become one, or was it your will as it was your dream since you were young? 
Are there authors who influenced your work particularly Magdalena? Who are they? 
What/who inspired you to write the book, Magdalena
Could you give us an insight into your main character? What does she do that is so special? 
Did you use real-life facts based on true stories? 
Who is your target reader? 
As a literature student myself, what is your advise for young writers like us? What motivates you to write?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Picture: Tai Chi at San Francisco's Civic Center

Tai Chi at San Francisco's Civic Center

When you see excellence, you should try to surpass it.
When you see the opposite, examine yourself.
-   Lao Tzu

Read also 

Tags: health, medicine, natural treatment, exercise, alternative medicine, #health

This is all for now,

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Recap 3rd Filipino American International Book Festival in San Francisco

Lisa Suguitan Melnick at the mic, and Edwin Lozada behind her

THE 3rd Filipino American International Book Festival was held in San Francisco last October 2-4, 2015. It was presented by PAWA (Philippine American Writers and Artists), the San Francisco Public Library, the Filipino American Center (SFPL), in partnership with the Consulate General of the Philippines in San Francisco and other community organizations.

l-r: Nikki Alfar, Dean Francis Alfar, Penelope Flores, Veronica Montes, Cecilia Brainard, Lisa Suguitan Melnick

Leave Me Alone, I'm Only Speaking to My Cat Today

On Grove Street, in San Francisco, I saw man wearing this sweatshirt and it's now on my "To Buy" List:



I want it!

Read also

     Tags: pets, cats, kittens, animals, t-shirts, sweatshirt. #leavemealone

      I'm still recuperating from the San Francisco trip so this is all for now,

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hitting the Road to Go South - (Writeup of the FilAm Fest forthcoming)

Monday morning and I'm going to hit the road with my traveling companion to go South.

I'll be posting more pictures and do a writeup about the 3rd Filipino American International Book Festival, so stay tuned!

The picture above shows the writer Nikki Alfar and me striking a pose to show off our sister-boots. This was taken at the 3rd Filipino American Book Festival in San Francisco.

Read also

    Tags: driving, Cecilia Brainard,Nikki Alfar

     This is all for now,

Saturday, October 3, 2015

More Pictures: Filipino American International Book Festival in San Francisco

L-r: Staff members left four, Edwin Lozada, Cecilia Brainard, Eileen Tabios, Luis Francia, Barbara Jane Reyes, Erin Entrada Kelly, Nikki Alfar, Lisa Suguitan Melnick, Dean Francis Alfar

Here are a few more pictures taken at the Filipino American International Book Festival in San Francisco.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pictures: Filipino American International Book Festival

l-r: Penelope Flores, Nikki Alfar, Dean Francis Alfar, Veronica Montes, Cecilia Brainard, Lisa Suguitan Melnick, Marie Romero

The Third Filipino American International Book Festival had a reception and program on Friday night, October 2, 2015.  I was delighted to see literary folk I know as shown in these pictures. 

l-r: Veronica Montes, Luis Francia, Cecilia Brainard

On my Way to the Filipino American Book Festival in San Francisco


I'll be taking off soon on my trusty steed to San Francisco for the THIRD FILIPINO AMERICAN BOOK FESTIVAL, Oct. 2-4, 2015!

I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of talented and interesting people.

I'll be moderating the Filipino American Literature in the 21st Century Panel with Barbara Jane Reyes, Luis Francia, Eileen Tabios, and Erin Entrada Kelly. This will be on Saturday, October 3, 11 a.m. at the Koret Auditorum, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, Civic Center, San Francisco, CA 94102.

And I'll also be moderating two literary readings as follows.  Hot Off the Press Literary Readings are very popular. These will also be at the Koret Auditorium.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pet Pictures: Two Cats at My Desk!!!