Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Horse Racing: A Day at the Santa Anita Race Track

We went to the Santa Anita race track located in Arcadia, California. Built in 1904, the track offers horse racing events during the winter and spring.  In past years, before online betting, the track used to be very crowded. I noticed it wasn't that crowded during our recent visit. It was actually more comfortable that way although I can't help but wonder if the establishment is losing money.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Book Review of Cecilia Brainard's novel, MAGDALENA, by Eileen Tabios

I found this book review of my novel, Magdalena by Eileen Tabios in The Halo-Halo Review
This second novel of mine was first published by Plain View Press in 2002. The University of Santo Tomas Press (UST Press) will be publishing a Philippine edition of Magdalena.

Book Review, Magdalena, novel written by Cecilia Brainard
by Eileen R. Tabios
(Plain View Press, Austin, TX 2002; UST Press. forthcoming)
Review first published in "Babaylan Speaks" column sponsored by Meritage Press; the review is now in The Halo-Halo Review,

Whenever I hear the phrase "war novel," I expect a huge tome. War, after all, is a huge topic. Cecilia Brainard's latest novel, Magdalena, is a war novel, but a slim book (relative to many Russian or the James Michener type of approaches). However, Cecilia's more minimalistic - and "poetic" - approach is as effective as books that might be double the size of her 162 pages. For her style of writing makes war reverberate profoundly by engaging the reader to fill in the gaps of what are not explicitly stated -- in the same way that a reader reads the distilled text of a poem

Magdalena presents the stories of three generations of women in the Philippines against the backdrops of the Philippine American War, World War II, and the Vietnam War. So, this isn't even a war novel but a three-war novel. But Cecilia doesn't spoonfeed extensively-drawn out narratives about the horrors of those wars. She relies instead on offering intimate personal profiles of individual characters. I call Cecilia's approach "poetic" partly in how she links her characters to the war backdrops through implication and resonance rather than the more blunt approach of traditional story-telling.

I found this structure to the novel's primary strength. A reader can go to the encyclopedia to learn more (technical) details about the war. But a reader only can feel the effects of war through the intimate details from the lives of the people populating this novel -- Juana, Magdalena, Luisa, Estrella and others. Fortunately, Cecilia writes character profiles with a compassionate eye; in doing so, she compels the readers to respond with similar compassion.

Another way to describe the novel's structure is "fragmentary" in the sense that each chapter often works as a stand-alone shard. If these shards are to be glued together to form a whole pictures, it is the reader who must do so by engaging proactively in the reading of this story. Cecilia's approach even can be seen metaphorically through the very effective use of black and white images interspersed throughout the book as well as on the cover. The photos offer a welcome dimension to how the reader might engage with the story. The black-and-white images are snippets, in the same way that the chapters are, from a larger tale. And yet the gaps that result from such snippets only emphasize the losses that are ultimately the subject of Magdalena.

I keep focusing on the novel's form because I think it is a difficult one to pull off.  Ultimately, I think Cecilia's writing structure succeeds due to how she created a sense of sadness that -- and this critical -- never slips throughout her 162 pages. It is a sensibility engendered by the slow tango of loss with desire, and desire with loss. The consistency of this mood hangs like a gauzy veil across each page -- one reads through this gauze, transparent but still a veil. Ultimately, this mood, if felt by the open-minded reader, becomes the source for the glue that will hold the novel together and prevents it from falling apart.

I always enjoy seeing how artists continue to develop. Having read many of Cecilia's earlier works, I know -- and admire -- how this already experienced writer clearly pushed herself and her craft to create this book. As a result, Magdalena also makes me look forward to what next -- and how next -- Cecilia will write. 

Eileen R. Tabios loves books and has released about 40 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. Her most recent are THE CONNOISSEUR OF ALLEYS (Marsh Hawk Press, 2016) and INVENT(ST)ORY: Selected Catalog Poems and New 1996-1915 (Dos Madres Press, 2015). More information is available at http://eileenrtabios.com


Tags: Philippines, Philippine, Filipino, literature, review, book, fiction, writer, war, Vietnam, author, Cecilia Brainard, Magdalena, novel, story, Philippine American, Spanish American, WWII

This is all for now,

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Say What? $2,498.91 for Brainard's When the Rainbow Goddess Wept!

On Amazon.com, my novel, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, for sale at $2,498.91 for a paperback!!!???

Those of you with the hardcover edition, hang on to it!!!

Read also:

World War II Novel, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept - Book Reviews, papers, etc.
When the Rainbow Goddess Wept - Discussions

Tags: World War II, World War Two, novels, books, fiction, Philippines, Philippine, Filipino, Pacific, literature, Cecilia Brainard

This is all for now,

Monday, May 23, 2016

Movie Review: Little England from Greece

I am still sorting out my feelings and thoughts about the Greek film, Little England. The movie is not perfect; it can be slow; and it makes leaps in story-telling that can be a bit confusing; but the film is rich and complex, and I have to admit this is a very good film.

Little England is set in the Greek Island of Andros in the 1930s through the early 1950s. (The title refers to the affluence of the island, famous for the shipping business.) Most of the men in Andros are seafarers. They are on ships for months at a time and return to Andros only for short spells. Andros' society is dominated by women who, for the most part, fend for themselves, and whose lives revolve around the seasonal comings-and-goings of their men. The women form a kind of sorority to support one another, including those who have lost their men to the sea. The people in Andros are tight-knit; it's a place where everyone is involved in other people's lives.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

UST Varsitarian Article re Cecilia Manguerra Brainard - #philippines

I just discovered an article about me in The Varsitarian, the official student publication of the University of Santo Tomas (UST).

The text of the article by Cedric Allen P. Sta. Cruz follows. Thank you for the writeup.

Fil-Am Author Traces Inspiration to Childhood in Cebu
by Cedric Allen P. Sta. Cruz

“It was a time after the war, and when I looked back at it was magical. Maybe in a lot of ways my imagination was my companion,” Brainard said during her lecture last Feb. 9 at the Tanghalang

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cat Pictures: Che and Tesla as Yin and Yang

Every day my two cats make me laugh or smile. Today I caught them napping, curled up this way, looking like the Yin and Yang Symbol.

From Wikipedia: "In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another."

The image of the symbol is courtesy of Wikipedia.

Read also
Pet Therapy: The Healing and Creative Powers of Cat Purring
My "Boys" - Che and Tesla
My Non-Ninja Cats and this Southern California heat wave
My literary cat reading "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
Cats reading "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Tags: cats, pets, picture, photos, yin-yang, forces, yin and yang, Chinese philosopy

This is all for now,

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Are Online Reviews Reliable? (Or Understanding Astroturfing)

My article, Are Online Reviews Reliable? (Or Understanding Astrotufing)  is in Huffington Post -click below:



Before booking a hotel room or trying out a new restaurant, I used to check online reviews. Yelp was a favorite site, but I consulted other online review sites as well. I read feedback in Amazon very carefully before buying a new facial cream or shoes or just about anything. I pored over Tripadvisor reviews before travelling.

I trusted those online reviews.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

An Explanation of the Popularity of Trump and Duterte

The president-elect of the Philippines is a man referred to as the "Trump of the East."  Rodrigo Duterte earned this name because of his shooting-off-the-cuff and tough-guy persona. Duterte reportedly called Pope France, the "son of a whore." He also joked about an Australian lay missionary, a rape victim, saying, "She was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first, what a waste."

After the recent May election, he talked of killing criminals, cracking down on smoking, drinking, and staying out late, and amending the Philippine Constitution -- sending shivers up the spine of civil rights watchdogs in the Philippines.

Duterte won by a landslide -- more than 9 million votes, or 40% of  the 54 million registered Filipino voters.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

World War II Novel, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept - Book Reviews and Papers

For students and researchers, here are various editions of my World War II novel, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept.

It was first published as Song of Yvonne in the Philippines (New Day, 1991).  Dutton/Penguin did hardcover (1994)  and softcover (Plume, 1995) editions under the title of When the Rainbow Goddess Wept. A Turkish publisher (Bilge Kultur Sanat, 2001) did a Turkish translation. The University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, 1999) did a softcover version, which remains in print.

Here are some reviews of When the Rainbow Goddess Wept:

Publishing: PALH or Philippine American Literary House

PALH or Philippine American Literary House

From the site http://palhbooks-press.blogspot.com, here's information about this press:

PALH also known as Philippine American Literary House is a small press that publishes high quality fiction and creative non-fiction by Filipino Americans and other Filipinos.

PALH's beginnings connect with PAWWA (Philippine American Women Writers and Artists), an award-winning group that supported other Filipina writers and artists and provided community service.  PAWWA recognized the lack of Filipino and Filipino American books in the United States and encouraged PAWWA co-founders Cecilia Brainard and Susan Montepio to start PALH.   PALH continues under the leadership of Cecilia Brainard with the help of an Advisory Board.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Huffington Post: Mother's Day "Death of a Carnival Queen" #women, #Philippines

Huffington Post reprinted my article on my mother, "Death of a Carnival Queen."  I hope you enjoy it and please don't forget to "Like" the article on Huffington --- top right, underneath the Title:


Here are pictures of my mother that are included in the article.

Here are two sites about Cebu Carnival Queens, updated by Cecilia Brainard in 2022:

Saturday, May 7, 2016

First Communion Memories #Catholic

We attended the First Communion of Robert and Jeffrey and the sight of the well-behaved boys and girls dressed to the hilt in the magnificent Catholic church brought back memories of my own childhood with nuns and churches and rituals. I was reminded of the discipline that Catholic schools are good at wielding, although I mean this kindly because discipline was what I needed when I was young -- that and the structure that the nuns and lay teachers imposed on my young life.  

Here are some family pictures.

Even though we've had spotty rain in Southern California, we had good weather for the First Communion and luncheon afterwards. 

A lovely and blessed day!

Happy Mother's Day, dear Readers.  Be sure and greet your Mothers tomorrow!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Arianna Huffington Tweet RE Brainard's The Kindness of French

Arianna Huffington was kind enough to tweet about my writing, The Kindness of the French!


Read also

Tags: Arianna Huffington, Huffington blog, post, French, travel, France, Paris, kindness, Cecilia Brainard, Clinique Blomet, Greek-American woman, tweet, twitter

This is all for now,

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pets: Being an Angel on a Blue Chariot to Two Dogs

These two dogs think I'm an angel who visits them regularly.  They think I arrive in a blue chariot, the sight of which (it's just my blue car) makes them hysterically ecstatic.

Look at their eager faces. They are thinking of the boiled chicken I fix for them, with some rice, so it's like congee (oh, lucky dogs!).  

One chicken makes two meals. The day before, I boil the chicken, add rice, remove the bones, and place the chicken, rice, and broth in four containers.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

Travel: "The Kindness of the French" in Huffington Post #travel #France

Huffington Post ran my personal essay "The Kindness of the French" in their Travel Blog section - click here:


Here are the pictures included with the article:

Book Trailer for A RIVER, ONE WOMAN DEEP by Linda Ty-Casper

Here's a first take of a book trailer for PALH's book project, Linda Ty-Casper's  A River, One Woman Deep.

Here are some stills used in the book trailer.

Here's the YouTube site with the book trailer of Linda Ty-Casper's forthcoming book:

Here's Linda Ty-Casper's bio:

Bio of Linda Ty-Casper:
Linda Ty-Casper was born in Manila and grew up  in Malabon, and has lived in the United States since 1956.

Writing is her way of coming home to visit, of being home; the way not changing citizenship gives continuity to her life. 

Her short stories have appeared in three collections; in anthologies and literary magazines of several countries.

Her eight novels trace the movements of distant and recent history from the 1750s (The Peninsulars) to the 1980s (DreamEden).

She has degrees from the University of the Philippines and Harvard; is a member of Boston Authors, UP Writers, Society of Radcliffe Fellows, Restoring Sight International, Birthright.

This is all for now, stay tuned, dear Readers!

Read also