Friday, March 13, 2020

Artist Tina Borja on Brainard's Book of Sketches

I am sharing a letter from my artist friend, Tina Borja Heiter about my recent book, Magical Years: Memories & Sketches, a book that collects sketches inspired by my childhood in Cebu.

Tina was my classmate at Maryknoll College and she is is now a resident of Switzerland where she exhibits her art at the Galerie am Schanzenbgraben . Tina holds a degree in Foreign Service majoring in Political Science and History, thus her keen interest in politics. Tina has a website at

I am grateful to Tina, an accomplished artist, for her kind comments about my work. ~ Cecilia Manguerra Brainard


Dear Cecilia,

I love your new book – Magical Years: Memories & Sketches.

I am impressed with your sketches and the way you wove them around the little childhood stories or snippets of your life as a child in her growing up years. As a provinciana, I can relate very much to your experiences as shown in your sketches.

My grandparents had a gazebo, not by the beach but in their garden (I inherited the house and garden) where they held court and served merienda in the afternoon when my parents and other family members who worked for my grandparents gave their reports of the day. They brought their children and so we cousins played in the big garden surrounded with manzanita trees and flowering gumamela (hibiscus) bushes. When the manzanita trees were season, we would climb them against our parents’ wishes, to pick the sweet little cherries (the fruit as we called them). There were geese roaming around tended by a young servant trying to keep them away from us.

My Mom always kept a pig in the back yard too, to be fattened up for a special occasion. We had cats and pet dogs although I did not like them really, but the boys did. We used to play patentero in the streets with the neighboring kids when the sun went down. I played jackstone with my girlfriends, and I was allowed to play with one doll at a time – not a collection of Barbie dolls or toy gadgets the kids have now.

The girl playing the piano could be me. I remember during my first recital, my mother missed my performance because she could not get away from the office early enough. You know what, the piano teacher, a nun, made me play again for my mother, so unfortunately, the audience had to listen to my music twice. If not for your book, many other recollections of my own “magical years” would have been lost because of the hectic lives we have today. I appreciate and thank you for that.

If I were a grandmother, I would give this book to every grandchild of mine so they would know about our “Magical Years” as soon as they learn to read. This is a more sophisticated and modern book compared to what we used to read as our primer: Pepe and Pilar. Let the young people learn that the lives of their grandparents or perhaps their parents as children were much simpler then, but we were happy and contented.

Your sketches are excellent! I almost can’t believe how quickly you have arrived as an artist when you were only toying with the idea the last time I was here -- although Baby C. and I realized how good you were getting to be then.

For me, it was worth the cost of the book not only as a friend and a fan of your novels, but because your Magical Years is really special.

I am always so proud of you,

Tina (Borja Heiter)


MAGICAL YEARS: MEMORIES & SKETCHES by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
(PALH 2020), 37 pages, book size is 8 x 8, hardbound
ISBN 9780971945890
Special Limited Edition -Each book is signed and numbered by the artist/author
43 Sketches in reed and pen and ink by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, (hb) $45.00
Contact for a copy.

Amazon also has copies:

More links re Magical Years: 

tags: sketches, reed drawing, Philippines, Cebu, art

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