Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Filipino Cooking: Recipe for Carol's Cornbread Bibingka

 Recipe for Carol's Cornbread Bibingka

Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough shares with us her recipe for Bibingka Galapong, a favorite Filipino "cake."
Carol says she arrived at this recipe by trial and error, by playing with different recipes until she got the taste and texture just the way she likes.




Monday, August 18, 2014

Garden: Cuttings from my Pitcher Cannibal Plant



Finally I did it. I made cuttings from one of my Pitcher Cannibal plant (or Nepenthes). Here's how I did it.  Take a look at the picture above. There are two cannibal plants. And both of them are starting to have vines. I took the plant on the right side with two vines, and I cut off one vine. I felt sad doing this because the vine had a lot of lovely pitchers, but it seemed time to propagate.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

PRAY for Peace in Iraq and Syria!!!

Pope Francis has appealed to the Church throughout the world to join in prayerful solidarity for the Holy Spirit to send the gift of peace to Iraq. The Iraqi people have been subject to horrific violence in recent months and Christians in Iraq have been mercilessly persecuted.

U.S. Catholics have been invited by the Bishops to unite in prayer on Sunday, August 17. The following prayer was written by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako:

Lord,
The plight of our country is deep and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord to spare our lives, and to grant us patience, and courage to continue our witness of Christian values with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us to live with each other without fear and anxiety, and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.
Amen.
- See more at: http://www.pacatholic.org/day-of-prayer-for-iraq-on-sunday-august-17/#sthash.lNePtkA9.dpuf
Pope Francis has appealed to the Church throughout the world to join in prayerful solidarity for the Holy Spirit to send the gift of peace to Iraq. The Iraqi people have been subject to horrific violence in recent months and Christians in Iraq have been mercilessly persecuted.

U.S. Catholics have been invited by the Bishops to unite in prayer on Sunday, August 17. The following prayer was written by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako:

Lord,
The plight of our country is deep and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord to spare our lives, and to grant us patience, and courage to continue our witness of Christian values with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us to live with each other without fear and anxiety, and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.
Amen.
- See more at: http://www.pacatholic.org/day-of-prayer-for-iraq-on-sunday-august-17/#sthash.lNePtkA9.dpuf
Lord,
The plight of our country is deep and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord to spare our lives, and to grant us patience, and courage to continue our witness of Christian values with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us to live with each other without fear and anxiety, and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.
Amen. - See more at: http://www.pacatholic.org/day-of-prayer-for-iraq-on-sunday-august-17/#sthash.lNePtkA9.dpuf


Sunday, August 17 is the Day of Prayer for Iraq and Syria in the US;
Monday, August 18 is the Day of Prayer for Iraq and Syria in the Philippines

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tea with Writers Brian Ascalon Roley and Marilyn Alquizola





Brian Ascalon Roley, who was visiting the Los Angeles area, stopped by for tea and Marilyn Alquizola joined us. We had a lovely time talking about literature, writers, and our current book projects. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Santa Monica, California: Coyotes in My Neighborhood!


I saw this sign in my neighborhood. It's a warning that a coyote or coyotes have been spotted in the area and have been preying on small animals.

Coyote picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Iraq, Syria War: Muslims Condemn ISIS (IS or ISIL)


 I will admit, dear Readers, that the persecution of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, has kept me awake at night.

The actions of ISIS (or IS or ISIL) are repugnant to many people. Civilized people do not engage in beheading, stoning, raping of women, killing of innocent children, committing genocide --- the list goes on. And to say these actions are done in the name of God is breathtaking, because I cannot imagine a God who condones such violence and hatred.

Sunday August 17 - DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE IN IRAQ AND SYRIA

US DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE IS SUNDAY, AUGUST 17

PHILIPPINE DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE IS MONDAY, AUGUST 18



Responding to the persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria, Pope Francis requests prayers for peace in Iraq and Syrian.  This specific appeal was generated in the Philippines, and the date for the Day of Prayer there is on Monday, August 18. In the US, the Day of Prayer is on Sunday, August 17, Our Holy Father, Pope Francis request people of all faiths to pray. Please join us in praying.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Syria War: What Happened to the Syrian Revolution



This is a good analysis of the situation in Syria. The article by Bassillios Zeino is titled, "How the Syrian Revolution Was Beheaded" and published by Al-Monitor.  I'm posting excerpts from the article. 

 "The absence of self-criticism, censure and immediate accountability, as well as the Syrian intellectuals' and politicians' betrayal of their historical role, are factors that have served to symbolically decapitate the Syrian Revolution before truly being decapitated by the armed jihadist battalions. ...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kerala, India - Vasco de Gama, Syrian Church, River Cruise




 Recent news about Chaldean Christians who have been persecuted by ISIS in Iraq, made me pause. (The Chaldean Christians, which are part of the Catholic Church, had broken off from the Assyrian Church of the East.) I recalled visiting a Syrian Church in Kerala in India, but it turns out that the the members of the Syrian churches in Kerala are different from the Chaldean Christians. I quote from Wikipedia:


"The Chaldean Syrian Church is an Indian Christian church that is currently an archbishopric of the Assyrian Church of the East. Its members are part of the St. Thomas Christian community, who trace their origins to the evangelical activities of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. They are almost exclusively based in the state of Kerala, with the church's cathedral located in Thrissur. Despite carrying the "Chaldean" title in its name, the church is distinct from the Chaldean Catholic Church of the Middle East, an Eastern Catholic church in communion with the Pope." ~ from Wikipedia

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Creative Writing: Exercise for Sensual Writing Using Pictures



Here are pictures to use as writing prompts. Choose one picture, imagine that you are in that picture. Feel the temperature, sniff the air, put your hands out and touch, discover what you can taste, listen to what's around you, look at all the details, the light, the shadows, shapes. Use your five senses. Now write, without thinking too much. Try not to correct yourself. Just write.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Philippines, Marcos Dictatorship: Guest Blogger Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough's "Salvaged Love"


Carol Ojeda with son, circa 1980s

Our Guest Blogger, Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough, shares with us her personal history during the turbulent Marcos years in the Philippines.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Carol moved to the US in 1975 with her six-month old son to escape the Marcos dictatorship. Her son's father was killed in 1976, summarily executed by the military in a process called "salvaging." His body was never found.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nonfiction: The Truth About Filipino Old Timers by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard



 The following nonfiction piece is part of the anthology Filipinotown: Voices from Los Angeles, edited by Carlene Sobrino Bonnivier, Gerald C. Gubatan, and Gregory Villanueva. This collection of essays about Los Angeles in California was released earlier this year and is now in its second edition (with teachers' guide). Thanks to the editors for including my work. The book is available at Amazon.com. 


The Truth About Filipino Old Timers

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

            The very first O.T. (Filipino Old Timer) I heard about was the man who returned to Cebu to marry my mother’s friend, a spinster advanced in years. During afternoon meriendas, I overheard the development of this alliance.
            A crusty lady set in her ways, my mother’s friend refused to migrate to America and the newlyweds lived in her seaside town. It was a poor place which relied only on the sea’s yield and he quickly grew sick of eating fish and rice. He longed for steaks, broccoli, and asparagus; he wanted them both to go to the United States. She adamantly said no and finally he returned to America alone. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Movie Review: A Bottle in the Gaza Sea


I have been looking for a good movie and I found one.

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea was released in 2011, but it feels like it was just released given it's about Israel and Gaza and the political situation in these places have not changed. It's remarkable --- the movie was probably filmed five years ago but the movie deals with suicide bombings, retaliatory bombings, in other words, the same events that are going on right now in Gaza and Israel are shown in the movie. At times, A Bottle in the Gaza Sea felt like a documentary film in it's depiction of the life in Gaza and Israel.

The film's premise is this: a young French-Israeli girl throws a bottle into the sea with a message asking for an explanation to a bomb attack on a local cafe in Jerusalem. A young Palestinian man answers her. An email friendship follows between these two unlikely characters. (I will add here that the film is not depressing.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Maryknoll College, Quezon City: Lunch for Meldee Lopez in Southern California


Some Maryknollers from Southern California got together to have lunch at the Tokyo Cafe in Orange for Meldee Perez Lopez who's visiting the area.  The picture above shows standing l-r: Chona Preston, Lorna Cruz, Maria Ciocon, Natie Mendoza, Cecilia Brainard, Meldee Lopez; seated l-r: Ollie Yujuico and Lucy McGinley.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Movie Review of the Irish Film "Calvary"


















My husband suggested seeing a movie and asked me to choose from three movies:

Boyhood, which was based on the premise of what would happen if a movie followed a family over a decade;

Calvary, which is described by The New York Times as a "mordantly funny murder mystery;


and A Most Wanted Man, a John le Carre espionage-thriller, in which actor Philip Seymour Hoffman starred in his last major role.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Is Peace in Sight for Muslim Philippines?




The Philippines has a 5% Muslim minority population of around 4.3 million. Before the Spanish colonization, the area north of Indonesia (which the Spaniards named Las Islas Filipinas) had a growing Muslim influence, with established populations in Mindanao and Sulu and outposts in Cebu and Luzon. The Spaniards Christianized the archipelago, although the southern part of the country remained Muslim. It remained so during the American occupation at the turn of the century. There is a story that the Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol was created by the Americans as a weapon against the Filipino Moros or Muslims.


Even after World War II and Philippine independence, southern Philippines (southern and western Mindanao, southern Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago) continued to have a large Muslim population. This situation remains up to now.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Garden Update: How My Cannibal Pitcher Plants Are Doing



Do you remember my Cannibal Pitcher Plants, the Nepenthes Ampullaria, which I've named the Sirens?

I am pleased to report they are doing just fine. Their pitchers have turned bright red, and they have vines that are growing out from the top.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Lower Blood Pressure: Drink Hibiscus or Gumamela Tea




I'm sharing this information about hibiscus tea again because a number of friends missed the information. It's better to take natural treatments if possible, so read on.


I've been recommending hibiscus tea to lower high blood pressure.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

War Story: The Blue-Green Chiffon Dress by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard





I've been thinking of War because of current world events.

Here is a short story set in Ubec during the Vietnam War. This war touched our lives in Cebu, Philippines because of the American Base in nearby Mactan Island. In this story, I have fictionalized Cebu to become Ubec, and so this is a "story."

The above picture is a real photo showing three American soldiers who fought in Vietnam. I wonder what has happened to them. 

That's me kneeling, second from the left, with a veil. I was not wearing my blue-green chiffon dress, because I did have such a dress, but the following story could have taken place at around this time. Gemma could have been me; and Peter could have been one of those soldiers.  But remember ---- this is fiction, just story, but with the truthful message of the awfulness of war.

 "The Blue-Green Chiffon Dress" was first published in Focus Philippines, Inc, 1984, and it is part of Cecilia Manguerra Brainard's collection, Woman With Horns and Other Stories (New Day 1988 and Kindle).   ~ Cecilia Manguerra Brainard


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cooking with Cecilia - Chicken Soup for My Son's Dogs!



My son has two dogs who adore me. They think I'm an angel, and perhaps the reason for this is that I make them chicken soup.  Seriously.  I boil one whole chicken in a large pot topped off with water. Sometimes I put ginger in it. I boil it for around 2-3 hours, and in the last ten or fifteen minutes, I put in one cup of uncooked rice. Once it has cooled, I debone and shred the meat, mix it up with the rice and broth, I place these in plastic containers to give to them when I visit. They absolutely love the chicken soup with rice -- and me.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Thoughts on St. Ignatius and the Middle East



I had read something that St. Ignatius Loyola had written and it had to do with making decisions. It went something like this: If you find yourself in the wrong path, you have to turn back to the point where it was the right path. You have to go back before the fork in the road.

I can't find his exact words, but I'm fairly certain this idea came from St. Ignatius. I had been impressed by the statement's truth and simplicity. And the remarkable thing about it, is that the rule did not just apply to life but also to writing.  When a story makes a wrong turn, you need to go back to the point before things started going wrong.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Syria, Iraq War: Australian Jihadist and Filipina Girlfriend Arrested in Cebu, Philippines




The Philippine islands of Cebu and nearby Mactan have a laid-back style. It's a vacation place to many Koreans, Europeans, Australians, and Americans.  The beaches are great and it's cheap to live there, plus there are a multitude of good looking girls --many of the young men who are there seem to be looking for girlfriends.

So, when I heard that a 29-year old Australian jihadist had been captured in Lapu-Lapu City (which is in Mactan Island, part of the province of Cebu), I was floored. It was the same fellow who had declared in social media that he had arrived Syria in response to the call by ISIS for Muslims worldwide to hurry to Iraq and Syria to man their "caliphate." Musa  Cerantonio or Robert Edward Cerantonio, had used the internet to urge people to join jihad in Iraq and Syria, and he apparently was good at it. One out of four foreign fighters in Syria reportedly followed his now-closed Twitter account.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Philippines: Cebu's Historic District and Cecilia's Suggestions To Make It Better



Cebu's Historic District is located downtown.There one can still see Spanish Colonial and Post-colonial structures -- Fort San Pedro, Plaza Independencia, Santo Nino Basilica, Cathedral, Carbon Market, 1730 Jesuit House, Yap-Sandiego House, Casa Gorordo Museum, Museo Sugbo which used to be the old jail, and many other structures.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Scam Email from Syrian? --- It Used to Be the Nigerians!




Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

I heard about a scam email from a "Syrian."  Most of these scam messages used to come from Nigerians, now it's from someone claiming to be Syrian.

Dr. Aymn Bshar Alshamy with telephone # +936344377191 contacted a real estate broker I know:

"I am interested in '______'. Please contact me."

My broker friend responded to Dr. Aymn Bshar Alshamy who then sent this email:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cooking With Cecilia - Pasta with Crab Roe or Aligue


Brace yourselves folks! This blog entry is about crab roe or in Tagalog "taba ng talangka" or "aligue"  The orange crab roe (commonly referred to as crab fat) is high in cholesterol, so beware.

While I was in Daluyon Resort with some writers, I ordered Pasta with Aligue.  The original menu called for crab roe with mayonnaise, and I asked the chef to hold the mayo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Literary Cats Reading "When the Rainbow Goddess Wept" and "Out of Cebu"



This July, my two cats, Che and Tesla, turned three years old!  That wonderful Animal Rescue woman, Karol Kooney, had been walking her dogs when the dogs started sniffing behind a bush. A gray cat was giving birth, and Karol rescued that cat and her kittens. We adopted two of those kittens and named them Che and Tesla (after Che Guevara and Nikolai Tesla).



Now I heard that while I was away, my three-year old cats decided to read my books, When the Rainbow Goddess Wept and Out of Cebu: Essays and Personal Prose. They had been reading Harper Lee, Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Apparently, while I was gone, they discovered that the Woman Who Opens Cans (me) is a writer after all! Even though they had spent a lot of time with me in my office, they never realized that I was actually writing. They thought I was just messing around with emails and Facebook and such.