Thursday, December 21, 2023

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, from Cecilia Brainard


I wish all my readers the best this holiday season! Blessings to you and your loved ones.

I am sharing with you a poem that appeared in the November 2024 issue of the Philippine Graphic.  I do not always write poetry so this is "rare" if you will. Further, the Graphic, along with Focus Philippines and Mr. & Ms. were some of the magazines that published my early writings, and so this publication of "My Mother's Skirts" is special to me.

You can still get a copy of the November 2023 Graphic from Lazada.  To those abroad, I am sharing this snapshot of the cover and page with my story. 

Tags: Christmas story, Cecilia Brainard poems, Philippine literature,  Cebuano literature 

Monday, December 11, 2023

Interview of Author Cecilia Brainard by Lennie Jean Panugaling


Interview of Cecilia Brainard by Lennie Jean Panugaling from Carcar City College

Language Research Subject “The Heart of Cecilia Manguerra’s Masterpieces”

Stories studied: A Very Short Story, Flying a Kite, My Mother Is Dying

Hello Lennie Jean,

Thank you for the interview. I recommend that you also do research about my work aside from the three short shorts. Recommended links:   (Check out interviews and sources) (On the side are “Cecilia Brainard Fiction” for more stories that you can read, including novel excerpts)  (The Cebuana in the World: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard Writing Out of Cebu. Watch documentary, and please “Like” on Youtube. Thank you.)

Interviewer: Yesterday, our panelists were excited to find out that you responded to me on Facebook, leaving them intrigued about the prevalence of heartbreak in your stories. As you navigate the creative process, what influences or thoughts guide you to infuse your narratives with poignant emotions? Are personal painful memories a significant source of inspiration for you?

Cecilia Brainard:  You have chosen three of my stories referred to as Fast Fiction or Short Shorts, meaning each story is under a thousand words long. Stories this short are written in a precise way, with each word having relevance in the story. In some ways, they are almost like poetry.

Why do my stories deal with poignant emotions? Are personal painful memories a significant source of inspiration for me?

 Two important elements of story telling are “character” and “conflict”. If you analyze good stories, you will find that there is a main character who has some kind of conflict or problem. The story revolves around how the character deals with the conflict. Stories will involve the emotions of the characters. There are other elements in storytelling like plot, dialogue, voice, and so on, but I’m focusing on these two elements in order to answer your question. If you write of a character who doesn’t have conflict, who is perfectly happy for instance, you will not have a story. A character without conflict or a problem will have no challenges; he/she will not be motivated to do anything; your written work will be static or will meander and boring.

            This is why when I work with my characters, when I am figuring out their stories, I have to find out what their conflicts/problems are. And I have to find out how my characters will respond to these conflicts (or stresses). The decisions they make in response to their conflicts constitute what we call plot. Their emotional reactions and changes are called character development (or character arc); and this is what makes the piece feel like a story.

            To answer your second question about whether personal painful memories are a significant source of inspiration for me: I don’t rely solely on my memories for inspiration, but draw from history, from folklore, from personal observation of the people I have come across. For instance, my first novel When the Rainbow Goddess is about World War Two in the Philippines. I used many stories I heard from my parents in this novel. I have many stories that have been inspired by my childhood in Cebu, and these stories integrate memories of the people I knew or had seen and my own personal life.

 Check out the documentary about me The Cebuana in the World: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard Writing Out of Cebu – see link above. The documentary will give you an idea of the various stories I tell and where they come from.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Interview of Author Cecilia Brainard by Cris Al Maglinte Cagoscos


For Cris Al Maglinte Cagoscos & Classmates

Cebu Technology University-Moalboal Campus

“Literary Analysis: Narrative Strategies and Cultural Implications in Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Short Stories”

Re "Flip Gothic" and "Woman with Horns", we would like to ask what inspired and motivated you to write these two stories and how they relate to your past experiences.

Hi, Cris,

Thank you and your classmates for your interest.

I highly recommend that you do some research as well about my work – see links below, and there are more links listed in my official website. 

Recommended Links: - Click on “About” and check out Interviews and Sources

The Cebuana in the World: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard Writing Out of Cebu -

Visit and search “Woman With Horns” and “Flip Gothic” in my blog:

Re Woman with Horns

Woman with Horns was one of my earlier short stories when I was interested in the historical background of Cebu, albeit transformed as Ubec in my imagination. In schools I had been taught that “Magellan discovered the Philippines” which I realized was a fallacy because the Philippines had people way before Magellan showed up. In other words that statement “Magellan discovered the Philippines” was coming from a Eurocentric point of view. I was keenly aware of the Western orientation in the Philippines, by the books we read, the movies that we saw, the music that we danced to, our awe at American or European cultures.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Travel - 15-day Cruise Princess Cruise to Hawaii


I am incredibly behind with my blogging, so I've gone ahead and posted some pictures taken during our 15-day Princess Cruise to Hawaii. I'll try to fill in later on, in the meantime, enjoy the pictures. 

Ports of Call: Los Angeles, Big Island (Hilo), Oahu (Honolulu), Kauai (Kawiliwili Harbor), Big Island (Kona), Ensenada

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Travel - San Miguel De Allende: A Mexican Heritage


For your weekend reading, take a trip to Mexico and read "San Miguel De Allende: A Mexican Heritage Jewel" by Cecilia Brainard, published in Positively Filipino.

Please "like" at the bottom of the

article. Thank you and have a great weekend coming up! 


Tags: Mexico travel, SMA travel, San Miguel travel, holiday, Mexican holiday 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Growing Up Filipino 3 Finalist for 41st National Book Awards


I just learned that the book, GROWING UP FILIPINO 3 is a finalist for the 41st National Book Award (Anthology, English). 
I am grateful to the National Book Development Board – Philippines, Manila Critics Circle, UST Publishing House, and contributors to the anthology:
Gina Apostol, Kannika Pena, Jack Wigley, Veronica Montes, Nikki Alfar, Yvette Fernandez, Danton Remoto, Cecilia Brainard, George Deoso, Patricia Manuel Go, Migs Bravo Dutt, Ian Casocot, James Fajarito, Sarge Lacuesta, Dom Sy, Eileen Tabios, Marianne Villanueva, Marilyn Alquizola, Brian Roley, Patrick Joseph Caoile, Zak Linmark, Linda Ty-Casper, Renee Macalino Rutledge, Noelle De Jesus, and Oscar Penaranda.
The anthology Growing Up Filipino 3 is available from the UST bookstore, Lazada, Shopee, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Look for it at Fully Booked as well.
For Book Reviews about Growing Up Filipino 3 - please click here: 


Tags: Filipino YA books, Filipino YA fiction, FilAm literature, FilAm YA, Filipino teens, Filipino youths, Filipino American youths

Monday, September 25, 2023

Excerpt from THE INVENTOR by Eileen R. Tabios


Following is an excerpt from Eileen R. Tabios' recent book, The Inventor. It is reprinted with her permission. 

Marsh Hawk Press’ Introduction of THE INVENTOR by Eileen R. Tabios:

In 2023, Marsh Hawk Press releases Eileen R. Tabios’ THE INVENTOR, a unique project for providing insights into creating poetic forms against an autobiographical background and part of our “Chapter One” series acclaimed by Publishers Weekly for presenting the writers’ craft in real life. From Eileen R. Tabios: “I wrote THE INVENTOR, not because it’s about my life but, because it’s an autobiography that connects history, language, and poetry in a unique way beyond narratives. I learned English because it became widespread in my birth land, the Philippines, through U.S. colonialism. That caused me, as a young poet, to feel estranged from my raw material: English. My poetry practice, however, would lift me out of politics to meet poetry more directly as its own type of language. Ultimately, my prolonged engagement with poetry enabled me to create poetry inventions that metaphorically disrupts colonialism by generating communities of readers and writers worldwide. These inventions include the hay(na)ku which has spread globally among poets and the “Flooid” whose pre-writing condition precedent of a “good deed” makes poetry live redemptively and beyond the page. In THE INVENTOR, I show how Poetry is not mere words but a proactive approach to improving our relationships with each other and life on our planet.”




Today, I'm honoring Filipino American writer EILEEN R. TABIOS.

Eileen R. Tabios has released over 70 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers headquartered in 10 countries and cyberspace. In 2023 she released the poetry collection Because I Love You, I Become War; an autobiography, The Inventor: A Transcolonial Poet’s Autobiography; and her first flash fiction collection, Getting To One (in collaboration with harry k stammer). Other recent books include a first novel DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times; two French books, PRISES (trans. Fanny Garin) and La Vie erotique de l’art (trans. Samuel Rochery); and a book-length essay Kapwa’s Novels. In 2024, her books include KalapatiLeon, Danton Remoto’s Filipino translation of DoveLion (University of Santo Tomas Press).


Sunday, September 24, 2023

John Hanley - Irish American Friend


We lost a friend, John Hanley. For years, John played golf with my husband, and they had great fun at the course and at the pub afterwards. Guinness was John's favorite.

When we visited Ireland in 2008, John (who was born in Ireland) happened to be there, and he met us for a day. Knowing I was a Marian devotee, he brought us to the Basilica of Our Lady of Knock.  From Knock, we visited his cousin who has a peat-burning stove.  He explained how families were entitled to digging peat for their use. We had tea and talked and had a very lovely time. 

Not too long ago, John got ill and passed away.  We are very sad about this and extend our sincerest condolences to his family and friends. 

Here are some pictures taken in Ireland with John.  







Rest in peace, John Hanley!

 tags: RIP, friendship, Irish American

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Gintong Aklat Finalist - Selected Short Stories by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

 My collection SELECTED SHORT STORIES BY CECILIA MANGUERRA BRAINARD is a Finalist for the Gintong Aklat Award 2022 (fiction in English). The same book won the 40th National Book Award (Short Fiction English).


If you are going to the 44th Manila International Fair, please look for my book at the booth of the publisher University of Santo Tomas Publishing House

In the Philippines look for the book on Lazada and Shopee as well. You can find the book in Amazon, Barnes and Noble for an easy purchase.

Selected Short Stories by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard collects 39 of the Filipina American author’s short fiction. The collection includes some of her best short fiction, including stories that deal with fictional Manila and Mexico, Intramuros and Acapulco, Ubec and Cebu.

Selected Short Stories includes a very long story (one would call it a novella), “Melisande in Paris”, which is about the French seamstress who appears in Cecilia’s third novel, The Newspaper Widow. Melisande is the friend of the protagonist in the literary mystery The Newspaper Widow. Melisande and Ines solve the crime of the dead priest in Ubec’s creek. But Melisande had a whole other story back in Paris before she went to Ubec. “Melisande in Paris” is that story.
For more information about the book, please click on this site:

Tags: Filipino books, Filipino authors, Pinoy books, FilAm books, Philippine literature, Filipino book awards

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Fil Am Writers Gather in Santa Monica, CA


A group of us had lunch at my home with the writer Brian Ascalon Roley (author American Son) who's visiting Santa Monica, CA. Present were: Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal, Brian Roley, Marilyn Alquizola (America is in the Heart: a Personal History revised), Jaime Geaga, Noel Alumit (author Letters to Montgomery Clift), and me.
We had such great fun talking about literature, politics, being Filipino/Fil-am, and other topics.
We are planning another get together when Brian returns, and that will be in Historic Filipino Town, LA.


I'm sharing photos that we took. The selfie shows, l-r: Noel, Jaime, Cecilia (in red) , Brian, Joselyn (in yellow), and Marilyn.
We missed Herminia Menez Coben,  Paulino and Barbara Lim.




Tags: Filipino American writers, FilAm writers, FilAm literature

Magnificat - Mary's House in Ephesus, Turkey

The ferocious wildfires in Maui have destroyed most of Lahaina, but miraculously, the Maria Lanakila Church remains standing. This event reminds me of how Mary's House was spared during a 2006 fire  in Ephesus that wiped out 1,200 hectares of forest but stopped just meters away from Mary's House. 

I'm sharing my writeup as a testament of Mary's greatness. This is part of MAGNIFICAT: MAMA MARY'S PILGRIM SITES, a book I edited. The publisher Anvil has some copies online, and you can also find it in ebook form (Kindle). 

Mother Mary, pray for us!


Cecilia Manguerra Brainard


            IN 2006, my husband and I were on a cruise to the Baltic. We had a one-day stop in the port of Kusadasi, Turkey and we took a day tour to Ephesus, where we saw the ruins of this great Roman city. We also visited the Basilica of St. John, where the traditional tomb of St. John’s was located under the central dome. Although now in ruins, the Basilica made me understand that this site was where John the Beloved and Mother Mary had settled, after Christ’s Crucifixion. I recalled how Christ had entrusted Mary to John, and John to Mary, with His words: “Behold your mother. Woman behold your son.”

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Magnificat - Lahaina's Maria Lanakila Catholic Church Survived Maui Fires


Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina remains standing following horrific wildfires. Some are calling its saving an "act of God."  from New York Post

I am happy to share the news that Lahaina's Maria Lanakila Catholic Church, Maui, Hawaii seems to have survived the recent wildfires.  
Maria Lanakila is a Marian Site featured in the book I edited, MAGNIFICAT: MAMA MARY'S PILGRIM SITES (Anvil 2012; copies available in Anvil's online site, and also via Kindle), which has an imprimatur by then Archibishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle.  I am sharing the article by Millicent Dypiangco about Maria Lanakila, indeed a place where prayers are heard and answered.  



Millicent Dypiangco 

THE IMPACT of my visit to the Marian site of Maria Lanakila did not occur in one instance. There were no apparitions of the Virgin that appeared to me, nor were there dramatic changes within me at any given moment during our visit. Rather, I would call the influence of this site as prompting a perpetual transformation that continues to exert its power over me to this day.

My first visit to Maria Lanakila was in January 2001. It was actually my very first visit to Hawai’i, to the island of Maui, taken on a family trip with my husband and his parents and youngest brother. It would be the first of many future family trips taken with the Dypiangco clan. I say “clan” because we have now grown to be a family of sixteen…who make it a point to go on a family vacation every other year…together…thanks to Mom and Dad. Prompted by the idea to finally visit what many call “paradise,” I for one was very excited to visit Hawai’i, and to finally go on the real honeymoon that Joe and I never went on after our wedding eleven years prior…complete with my husband’s parents at that!

As I do on my vacations, I try not to have any expectations of the place so that I may be pleasantly surprised at each turn. Pleasantly surprised was exactly what I was at each spot we visited. I experienced the peace and serenity of Hawai’i, particularly the island of Maui, which swept me right off my feet and made me want to linger, savor, and soak in every single experience.

From the very first greeting of Aloha, something stirred in me and I knew that this place was going to be special. I think that the first impression of this place for me was its simplicity, and how for me, felt as if I had finally gotten what I have been craving for so many years. The simplicity and purity of the island melted away all the stress from my body. I felt it from that first day, that first meal of kalua pork, as I sat gazing at the blue Pacific from the shores of Lahaina Village. I think that the only thing that broke that pattern was the row of hotels that lined Kanapali where we opted to stay. However, it only acted as our home base as we explored everything else that Maui had to offer.

Of course, we could not go on a vacation without spending time at mass on Sunday. And it was our practice to attend mass that led us to Maria Lanakila. Maria Lanakila stood in its simplicity in the residential area of Lahaina. Its architecture reflected the ease and purity of what surrounded it. It drew me in.

Upon entering this little church, I immediately felt at peace. My frame of mind had totally changed. My mind was quieted as I sat in the pew and reflected before, during, and after the mass. The hectic life that I lived in Los Angeles was forgotten and I gave thanks. Thanks for the opportunity to finally be here in “paradise,” thanks for the family who had accompanied me, thanks for my health, my home, my livelihood. I was grateful for many things and I made sure that I said those prayers of gratitude. Most especially, I prayed for the one thing that weighed very heavily in my heart. I prayed for a child. Despite all the blessings that I have received, I knew that there remained an emptiness in me. And that emptiness was to bear a child, to become a mother, and to love like I have not loved before.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Old Photographs 4 - Cecilia Brainard - 6-7 Years Old


 My childhood seemed to have stretched out longer than human time. Those childhood memories have a dreamlike quality.  I have memories of the time when I was perhaps three, perhaps younger. I even have an infant memory, although I am not sure if this is a true memory, of me laying on the bed and a big dog entering the room and everyone getting excited. I remember being with my Yaya Yvonne in the second floor of our house in Capitolio and looking down at a group of carolers singing outside our gate. My Yaya Yvonne was the one who taught me to eat green onions.  Yaya Yvonne got into trouble for stealing and I was told she ended up in jail - a point that my older sister used to rib me about -- "Your yaya ended up in jail."


Monday, July 31, 2023

Old Photographs 3 - Cecilia Brainard 5-6 years old


Here are more old photos. I was around 5 or 6 years old in these pictures. I just acquired the color photo from a nephew. I think this was taken near Manila de Bay. During our summer vacations, we used to visit Manila, stay in our place in Georgia Street, Malate, and from there, we kids used to walk to the Bay. We used to actually swim in the water; you can see people swimming in this photo. The water was pristine then. I learned how to float on my back for the first time in that Bay. I remember my brother holding me up as I lay on the water, and then he let go and I was surprised that I was still floating.


The second photo shows me playing the piano at a recital. Even though my mother was an accomplished pianist, she never taught us. It was a young man named Bokoy who gave us lessons. Papa used to drop us off at his home, in the Parian Old Cebu, if I recall right. I was not really good at it, nor was I interested, so I only remember one recital -- this one --- in which I played Skating on the Lake and Volga Boat Song. I can imagine my mother, who was playing piano from the time she was a child, listening to us and thinking, "Oh, dear, this is not for them."


The third photo shows me and my sister in our St. Theresa's College uniform. Our skirt was navy blue; our long-sleeved blouse was white. We had a blue ribbon and we should have had a badge (pin) in the middle of the bow. I don't know why we didn't have the badges on. We are posing in front of some of my mother's orchids. She had a collection that hung on a walkway arbor.

This is all for now. Stay tuned for more old photographs.

Read also

Old Photographs 4 - Cecilia Brainard 7 years old 

Tags: old photographs, old photos, vintage photos 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Guest Blogger: Paulino Lim Jr ~ Memory of a Lost Friend

 My Guest Blogger is Dr. Paulino Lim Jr (left in the picture; Lupo Grageda is beside him). 

Paulino Lim Jr. is a professor emeritus of English at California State University, Long Beach.

He is a recipient of the 2016 Presidential Award for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas—for his fiction and scholarly essays that are constructive criticisms of the political, social, and religious problems in the Philippines. Also in 2016, his alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas, conferred upon him a lifetime achievement honor—the Parangal Hagbong Award—for significant contributions to Philippine literature. His latest book, Spots of Time: A Memoir of a Mind, was nominated for the Best Book of Nonfiction Prose in English, 38th Philippine National Book Awards (2018).

He is the author of a scholarly monograph on Byron, dramas, three anthologies, a quartet of political novels, and the novel Death of the English Zen Professor.

He shares with us his personal essay "Memory of a Lost Friend" which appears in his blog:


How do you relate to someone who is no longer with us – as the saying goes – but whose voice we still hear and whose face we still see in our dreams? Was the person a dear friend, a lover you broke up with, or a spouse you divorced?

Old Photographs 2 - Cecilia Brainard - Happy Days by the Sea


As I mentioned, I just have a handful of photos from when I was a baby and child. This was during the time when people used real cameras, with real film, that had to be developed and printed.  The paper used were not necessarily archival and the pictures disintegrated; and most of the time, the rolled up negatives got lost or were destroyed. 

Here is one photo I found of me at around 4 years old. I'm with my mother, father, and older sibling. We are bathing in the sea, and this could have been in Talisay or Liloan beaches which we frequented on Sundays.  I suspect this photo may have been taken in Liloan because there is land in the background. I don't recall Talisay beach looked like this.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Old Photographs 1 - Baby Pictures of Cecilia Brainard


I thought I would post pictures of me through the years, starting with my baby pictures -- 2 of them, that's all I have.
One shows me on the bed; this photo is in very poor condition (it looks almost like some kind of art). The other shows my siblings and me the baby. L-R: Vicky holding me, Ana holding a doll, and Junior or Jess holding a Brownie camera. In the back, you can catch a glimpse of my father's Buick.  
This photo was taken in 1947 (yes, so long ago!), and the Philippines was still recovering from World War II. My parents and three siblings were in Mindanao for most of the war years; Papa was in the guerrilla movement. When war ended, and because Manila was almost totally destroyed, my father's house included, they decided to rebuild in Cebu, where Mama's family comes from. In this photo, we were still staying in a temporary house in Talisay and Papa must have been building our house near the Capitolio.

Stay tuned for more pictures!


Read also

 Old Photographs 4 - Cecilia Brainard 7 years old 

Tags: vintage photos, old photos, family photographs