Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Asian Journal on 2017 Pinay Gathering at Philippine Expressions

Here's a writeup in The Asian Journal about the 2017 Pinay Gathering hosted by Philippine Expressions. Thanks to Linda Nietes of Philippine Expressions for inviting me.  Thanks also to Supervisor Hahn for the Commendation that the writers received.

Here's a correction: My novel, Magdalena was not reissued by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House in Tagalog, but in English.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

California Poppies in Bloom!

The California poppies have been in bloom for around a week. They will be in bloom for just a few weeks, then like the Tibetan mandala will be no more. We visited Antelope Valley with the poppy reserve, but the flowers also grow outside of the reserve, along the side of the road for instance. So lovely!

Here's information about the California Poppy from Wikipedia:

Eschscholzia californica (California poppyCalifornian poppy, golden poppyCalifornia sunlightcup of gold) is a species of flowering plant in the Papaveraceae familynative to the United States and Mexico. It is an ornamental plant and it is used medicinally and in cooking, and it became the official state flower of California in 1903.

If you want to visit the reserve, do it soon, because the flowers will be gone in 3 weeks or so.

Tags: Antelope Valley  #flowers #garden #California

Read also:
House and Garden the San Miguel Allende Way
Garden Update: How My Orchids and Cannibal Plants Are Doing
Pictures of Gardens and Water Elements

This is all for now,

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lucy Urgello Miller's Glimpses of Old Cebu

One of the writers honored at Philippine Expressions' 2017 Pinay Gathering was Lucy Urgello Miller who authored the coffee table book, Glimpses of Old Cebu.  Her book collects vintage postcards, and one of the postcards is that of my mother, Concepcion Cuenco when she was a young Carnival Queen.

Here are some pictures and an excerpt of a Freeman Article about Lucy's book.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

2017 Pinay Gathering at Philippine Expressions Bookshop #Philippines #literature

Linda Nietes of Philippine Expressions Bookshop, gathered Filipina writers and honored them last Saturday, March 25, 2017 at the Philippine Expressions Bookshop at 479 W 6th Street #105,  San Pedro, California 90731; tel: 310-514-9139.

The writers also received a Commendation from Supervisor Janice Hahn of the Los Angeles County. The writers are (not in alphabetical order): Leslie Ryan, Ludy Ongkeko, Carlene Bonnivier, Rose Ibanez, Lucy Urgello Miller, Carmen Davino, Herminia Menez, and Cecilia Brainard.

I'm sharing the program and some pictures.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Women and My Writing by Cecilia Brainard #literature #Philippines #CebuLitFest

I wrote this in 2014 ~ Cecilia Brainard

Women and My Writing

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

I’ve been writing and publishing for many years now. It wasn’t easy navigating this road then as well as now. I was never sure if the difficulties were because I’m a woman and a “minority” working in California, but it’s always been a struggle. It’s a challenge to write a good story, it’s another hurdle to get that published, and still another to get good reviews. I’m not complaining because I’ve realized that I could not have done something else; writing is my gift. In fact I feel fortunate that I have this ability as well as the opportunities to get my work published. It’s also gratifying to have earned the respect of my communities.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Guest Blogger: Poems by Manuel Joseph Ponce #Philippines #Literature

I am happy to feature poems by my Guest Blogger, Manuel Joseph Ponce. ~ Cecilia Brainard


By: Manuel Joseph Ponce

Paint the sky as we rise from a dream.
The fog perches over the mountaintop
And makes the light breathe through its wings

Winds will come and weave lines
That can calm the most invasive minds
Feathers will motion the breaking of colors
Into blankets of a million eyes

Paint the sky as it remembers its dream
Of granting life with whispers
Dipped in the first tears of spring

I'll keep my gaze rested on the land.
Crafted from thoughts weathered by time
In them are covenants parted by veils
And pigments that no longer rhyme


Monday, March 20, 2017

Introduction of the Anthology A La Carte Food & Fiction, Ed Brainard and Orosa

Introduction of A La Carte Food and Fiction


Collected and Edited by

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Marily Ysip Orosa

Kindle Ebook published by PALH

A La Carte is the winner of the prestigious Gourmand Award
2008 as the Best Food Literature Book from the

Cecilia M. Brainard

            In some places in the Philippines, people greet you by asking if you have eaten: not Good morning, or Good evening but  — Kumain ka na? — Have you eaten?  And even if you have, they will serve you food anyway, and it would be considered an insult if you did not eat. 
Even when I was young, I had an inkling about the special relationship Filipinos have with food.  At home my mother was constantly prodding people to eat more— a habit I have picked up, sometimes to the embarrassment and annoyance of my American sons. 
Another thing that annoys them and my American husband is my difficulty to throw food away, so much so that my refrigerator is filled with bowls of forgotten dishes, some of them with very interesting multicolored mold on them. I had a son threaten to use one of those forgotten containers for a Science project!
            I had to explain to them that the inability to waste food came from my mother, who with the family spent the World War Two years in Mindanao, and who, like many other Filipinos during those War years, experienced hunger and deprivation.  But I suspect the reluctance to throw food away runs deeper than that; perhaps to Filipinos, it is clear that food is life, and life should not be thrown away or treated with disrespect. 
            Indeed the connection Filipinos have with food is almost religious. Eating is the time when the family gathers, when the community is one, and is something of a sacred time. In the home I grew up in, the entire family sat down for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Lunch and supper were elaborate, with soup, and fish, and meat, and rice, and vegetables, followed by a variety of fruit and/or some sweet for dessert. I believe there are still many Filipino households that have meals like this.  Others, because of their modern hectic lives, have simplified their daily meals, but when it comes to parties, Filipinos still go the full length to have a grand spread. 
            It was this deep connection that Filipinos have for food that prompted Marily Orosa and me to edit this collection of Philippine stories and recipes. Marily and I have shared a love for fiction primarily because stories reflect the soul or culture of people. So does food and we thought combining stories and recipes in one book would reveal Filipino culture in a unique manner and would invite lovers of both stories and food to take a look at our delectable collection.
Soon after the release of the other book Marily Orosa and I co-edited (Behind the Walls: Life of Convent Girls, Anvil, 2004) we publicized a search for this collection. Initially, we anticipated we’d get light stories, possibly comic ones. When the stories started coming in, we were surprised to see that the topic of food had triggered some serious stories. We quickly realized that food and eating bring back memories of families and friends, and relationships are always complex. The stories we finally selected were by writers from America, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, France, and Germany. The majority of the contributors are published writers who are well-known in the literary and academic communities. 
An inspiration to this book is Laura Esquiviel’s novel, Like Water for Chocolate. Each chapter in Esquiviel’s book is introduced by a recipe so that the chapters flow out of those recipes. Likewise, the 25 stories in our collection are preceded by related recipes. Following the food theme, we arranged the book like a menu, and so we have categories of Breads, Appetizers, Salads; Soup; Rice; Main Dishes; and Dessert, with the recipes and stories falling under the appropriate sections. 
The recipes included in the book are: Aragula in Blue Cheese Sauce; Shrimps on Leeks; Tokwa’t Baboy; Banana Turon; Pan de Sal; Ensaymada;  Green Mango Relish; Feta Cheese with Greens, Artichokes, and Crabfat; Shanghai Fried Rice; Garlic Fried Rice; Pork Adobo; Manok Inasal; Paella/Arroz; Kare-Kare; Lumpia, Laing, Sinanglay na Karpa; Pork Sinigang; Filipino-Korean Lumpia; Rellenong Bangus; Humba; Escabeche; Binagoongang Baboy; Cascaron; and Halo-Halo. They have not been taste-tested and we suggest that those who wish to try the recipes do so in the spirit of experimentation and adventure.
Some stories in the collection are light-hearted. Edna Weisser’s “Merienda Alemania” is an  autobiographical piece about a Filipina and her husband in Germany who have invited their friends over for merienda, but this time with the German touch. The stories of Dean Francis Alfar and Ian Rosales Casocot, combine magic-realism and slapstick. Alfar’s “Sabados Con Fray Villalobos” relates the Spanish friar’s attempts to win the hearts of Filipino Indios although some Indios have other ideas. Casocot’s “Pedro and the Chickens” is about the blossoming of a romance in the town of Dumaguete and the accompanying strange events that happen to the town’s chickens. The story “Wok Man” (by Jose Dalisay) is about the kinship of a short-order cook and his employer who both find joy in cooking. “Hanging Rice” by Carlos Cortes is a short-short about a Visayan eating Cebu’s common street meal; what’s uncommon about it is how the rice is wrapped in a work of weaver’s art. 
The other stories have a more serious style. “In Bread”  (by Ma. Romina Gonzalez) a 26-year old woman prepares bread as her mother had taught her and recalls the time her father left her mother. “Ensaymada” (by Corinna Arcellana Nuqui) is about a homesick Filipina in the U.S. who in the act of baking visits her past. Margarita Marfori’s “Mango Seasons” is a first-person piece focusing on the narrator’s memories of a special summer, brought on by the cutting down of an ancient mango tree. Alfred Yuson’s “Romance and Faith on Mount Banahaw” is a surreal piece accompanied by the salad recipe (in poetry form) of “Feta cheese, with Greens, Artichokes, and Crabfat.” 
Linda Ty-Casper’s story, “Visit to Myself,” is about a 15-year old girl and a 94-year old woman, and how they, one hurrying to the future and the other living in the past, recognize one another. My story (Cecilia Manguerra Brainard), “Romeo,” focuses on the narrator’s mother, now old and whose sole companion is the dog, Romeo, who had once belonged to the narrator. Janet Villa’s “Close Open” and Joel Tan’s “Sinanglay na Karpa” look at people trapped in relationships that they cannot escape. Marie Aubrey Villaceran’s story, “Sinigang” is about a girl, who while cooking, recalls the funeral of a half-brother and it is also during this time that she comes to terms with her relationship with her father. 
Shirley Mae Mamaril Choe’s “Kitchen Secrets” is about a young girl who struggles to reveal a terrible family secret. Through her weekly cooking lessons, she develops a strong relationship with her mother which enables her to finally share her burden. Reine Arcache Melvin’s “The Fish” is about complex relationships among members of a household that come to head during the gutting of a fish caught after a shipwreck. Erma Cuizon’s “Secret Scent” is nostalgic piece about a woman who yearns for the old life that is gone forever.  “Two Drifters” by Veronica Montes is about a young woman who has to cope with the addiction and brokenness of her family members. Brian Ascalon Roley’s semi-autobiographical piece, “In Memory,” remembers a menacing encounter at summer camp in the ‘70s, involving his Filipina mother and white father. 
Edgar Poma’s “Desperata” is set in Hawaii, about a struggling writer’s break when a firefighter managed to find an editor’s note to have his work published. The firefighter’s visit to Hawaii makes the writer realize that his mother needs more than phone calls, but that, as the firefighter said: “You gotta see her every chance you get while you still can and you gotta hold her in your arms."  Oscar Penaranda’s story, “Mango Lady,” recounts a Filipino American’s visit to the Philippines after an absence of 19 years and his search of the fruit vendor who a part of the memories of his youth.  The accompanying recipe is a favorite dessert, Halo-Halo.
The stories in this book are a mixed bag of joyful stories as well as more somber ones; all of them explore the dynamics of human relationships.  The editors of this book sincerely hope the reader will find enjoyment in them. 

Review of Journey of 100 Years, ed Brainard and Litton

Edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard & Edmundo F. Litton
PAWWA (1999), $17.95, 260 pages

by Roger J. Jiang Bresnahan
As in most colonies in the nineteenth century, the grievances of Filipinos were many and resistance became more frequent, resulting in 1896 in the first phase of the Philippine Revolution. After its suppression, its leaders were paroled to Hong Kong. Two years later, the United States declared war on Spain, ostensibly on behalf of Cuba. With American help, Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader of the exiles in Hong Kong, was returned to the Philippines with a mandate to complete the revolution. In 1898, he inaugurated the Republic of the Philippines but eventually ran afoul of the Americans who opted for imperialism. Thus, the fledgling republic was short-circuited and the Philippines subjected to a harsher colonial rule than after Spain, involving a level of cultural and linguistic co-optation and economic domination that prevails even today.

The present volume has resulted from a conference held at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in 1998. Like the conference, the book is a collaborative effort of many participants brought together by Edmundo F. Litton, a faculty member of Loyola Marymount University, and Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, a respected author, writing teacher, and proponent of Filipino American literary activities. What comes through all seventeen of the "reflections" in this volume is their intensely personal character. In the first essay, for example, Brainard offers a sustained meditation on Enrique, Magellan's Sumatran slave, who became the first person to circumnaviate the globe. Enrique comes alive for Brainard because "he spoke the same language as the people of Cebu," where Brainard herself was born, thus becoming her "kababayan," [countryman], she comments exultingly (5). Drawing from extant written sources, Brainard re-reads the history of the voyage from the contrary perspectives of the natives.

The first section focuses on Philippine history over the past hundred years. Damon Woods introduces us to Los Agraviados [the oppressed], a peasant-based, sometimes millenialist force operating in northern Luzon, antithetical to both the Spanish and the mainline revolutionaries. Elizabeth A. Pastores-Palffy recapitulates a large number of sources to show that a consequence of American rule was the cleavage between the political cultures of the elits and the masses that doggedly persists even today. Santiago Sia optimistically hopes that the legacy of Spanish Christianity can restore human dignity in the face of "poverty, oppression, and exploitation" (64). In the final essay in this historical section, John L. Silva compares present realities to photographs of the Philippines a century ago, finding economic and ecological degradation unimaginable at the time of the Revolution.

The second section, on education, begins with Litton's essay, "The Marriage of Maria Clara and Uncle Sam: Colonialism and the Education of Filipinos." The title alludes to a young woman in Jose Rizal's anti-colonialist novel, Noli Me Tangere, who is both the embodiment of the Spanish colonial ideal of Philippine womanhood and a victim of the Spanish friars. Its power as a symbol of miseducation under Spain is self-evident, but Litton shows that Uncle Sam's educational system equally served colonial objectives, with the result that Filipinos came "to see their culture as second rate" (91). Rosita C. Galang enumerates the languages policies, successively, of Spanish, American, Japanese, and Filipino rule, as well the continuing debate over the usefulness of English Felice Prudente Sta. Maria describes historical sites as "culture-scapes" to reveal "a history of national character" (124). Her assertion that "whatever in a space might break its believability - the integrity of its values-laden story - is played down or removed" (125) smacks of paternalism.

The third section, on the Filipino experience in America, opens with an essay by the literary and cultural critic, Epifanio San Juan, Jr., who provides a contrarian perspective, faulting Filipinos in the U.S. for an insufficiently critical attitude toward American racial politics. Rejecting the premise of pan-Asian ethnicity, he points out the "the chief distinction of Filipinos from other Asians residing in the United States was that their country of origin was the object of violent colonization and unmitigated subjugation of monopoly capital" (152). San Juan is followed by Susan Evangelista's guide to recent literature about early Filipino laborers in the U.S. A similar nostalgia is presented by Valorie Slaughter Bejarano's recollection of Filipino immigrant life in Los Angeles in the 1950s. The section closes with Susan N. Montepio's description of how elderly Filipino immigrants, typically living with their upwardly mobile children, have used folklore, foodways, ritual, and symbolic behavior to validate themselves.

The final section, on literature, opens with a provocative essay by Herminia Meñez, that elucidates a ballad of the Tausug, an Islamic people of the Southern Philippines, wherein a mother and daughter muong a jihad against a Spanish garrison to avenge the daughter's defilement by a Spanish soldier. Meñez demonstrates how this ballad "encapsulates crucial themes in Philippine history" (190), including race, gender, and colonialism. Ruel S. De Vera untangles the complexities of newspaper publishing, with particular emphasis on the period of martial law. Paulino Lim, Jr., one of the most distinguished Filipino writers today, reflects on finding one's voice as a bilingual writer, grappling with the legacy of colonialism that has privileged English. Nadine Sarreal extends Lim's reflections, writing of herself as one who "straddles two cultures" and thus "will always write from a place of discomfort and unease" (232). The closing essay by Luisa A Igloria focuses on images of women in Philippine literature. Finding the image of the suffering woman ubiquitous, even in the alternate national anthem Bayan Ko, she concludes that "Pieta-like figures ... run the risk of collaborating with the very forces that have worked to simplify the position of women ..." (247).

As with any anthology, the contributions to this volume are calculated to appeal to a broad spectrum of interests. It is to the credit of Litton and Brainard that, as editors, they did not flinch from controversial perspectives, including that of San Juan. His trenchant observations are bolstered by the contributions of Litton himself, who catalogues the (mostly) deleterious effects of colonialism that persist today, particularly among those living in the U.S. The essays of Igloria and Meñez highlight unexamined biases against women in Philippine history. Pastores-Palffy delineates the diametrically opposed political cultures of the elites and the masses and shows the effects of that dichotomy that persist today. Damon Woods begins to do the same for the radical movement that he studies, but stops short of explaining whether it has relevance for the present.

Evangelista does well to highlight recent work of Al Robles, Prisco Tabios, and Oscar Peñaranda about those first known as the Pinoys, then the Manongs, and finally the Old Timers. Ultimately, though, she disappoints. As a lifetime student of the writings of Carlos Bulosan, Evangelista knows we cannot merely congratulate those whome Ben Santos called "the hurt men." San Juan provides the proper corrective to this nostalgia by explicating the widespread embarrassment of Filipinos in response to the Cunanan affair: "the life of Andrew Cunanan and the situation of thousands of Filipinos who lived and grew up in the shadow of the U.S. Navy presents a challenge that can unravel the most crucial questions of racism, class divisions, homophobia, deception, chicanery in high society, and so on" (144). In its combative style, this essay is vintage San Juan, as he challenges readers to engage in "critical self-examination" in order "to reveal why our subltern plight has worsened under the guise of self-help amerlioration ..." (143)

The introduction of the volume speaks of two audacious events of recent Philippine history - the martyrdom of Benigno Aquino, Jr. at the Manila airport in 1983 and the destruction of the American naval and air bases by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. In the first instance, "the Filipino people declared 'Tama na! - Enough!'" In the other, nature intervened " - ending years of America's presence in the Philippines" (vii-viii). This audacious book, a centennial stock-taking on an independence that never was, constructed as a journey to a goal yet to be realized, is in all of its parts, an interrogation of the colonial condition. In spite of profoundly divergent viewpoints, it strikes a resounding echo: Tama na!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cebu as Inspiration to My Writings by Cecilia Brainard #CebuLitFest #Philippines #literature

I gave the following talk at the Cebu Literary Festival in 2014 (produced by Hendri Go).

Cebu As Inspiration to My Writings:

Talk Given at the Cebu Literary Festival 2014

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

 I’d like to start by talking about my Cebuano background, because understanding this will allow you to see where some of my writings came from.

My mother and her political family, the Cuencos, are Cebuanos who have lived in Cebu for generations. I was born in Cebu City after World War II, the youngest of four children. I grew up in my parents’ home in Andres Abellana. I attended grade school in St. Theresa’s College, where the nuns at the time wore layered white clothing with batman headdresses.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Merwyn Bergquist "Daughter of Pasadena, California" - video

I made a video from my Power Point Presentation about my mother-in-law, Merwyn Bergquist, which you can view on YouTube. Click on the link below.

Here are some slides from that Power Point Presentation. Click on the slide to make it larger.

Monday, March 13, 2017

#CebuLitFest Articles About Launch of Brainard's Magdalena

I'm sharing an article written by Kristalle Garcia-Kekert about the Cebu Launch of my novel, Magdalena. Thank you Cricri! Please click on the link below.

I'm also including another article about the launch that appeared in The Manila Times.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Obituary Merwyn McKay Berquist #Pasadena

Here's the obituary of my mother-in-law Merwyn McKay Bergquist, a long-time resident of Pasadena, California:

Read also
The Trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico #Travel
Photos Pasadena Daughter: Children of Merwyn McKay Bergquist
Pasadena Daughter: Merwyn McKay Bergquist

Tags: #California #Pasadena #MerwynBergquist family, women, Californian

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico #Travel

 I've been remembering our trip to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. My mother-in-law, who passed away recently, was very happy there.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Personal Essay: The Piano Lessons by Cecilia Brainard #Cebu

The Piano Lessons

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

            I imagine my parents sitting on the porch swing, catching the late afternoon breeze while the gardener swept the lawn. My sister and I played on the teeter totter, tipping back and forth, bickering and giggling, still in our blue and white school uniforms. I was six; she was ten. Our two older siblings are not in this picture; they were off with their friends or in their rooms. My father’s mind was probably on the construction of our house that he was completing. My mother could have been thinking of the new piano situated in the room at the foot of the stairs, adjacent to the living room. Mama had been a music major at the University of the Philippines where she met my father, an engineering professor who played the violin.