Friday, June 23, 2006


It will be this painful to leave my family for 5 weeks to head to the Philippines. In case you are wondering, this is a penitant during Holy Week, in Pangasinan, getting crucified.
We didnt receive enough money for our entire family to travel to the Philippines this summer (mahal nga! it's expensive--$10,000). But we did receive enough for one person--me-- to go. So, it is with great sorrow that I will leave my wonderful two little children....Mark on the other hand, after 15 years of marriage, 5 weeks is no big deal, ha-ha. OF COURSE I will miss him, but these little ones grow up DAILY; Mark & I just get older and fatter, 'di ba?
Here is the plan: I will leave July 13 until August 25. PBS did not raise the money needed for them to accompany us this summer, so they are not coming. That doesnt mean that the documentary plans are over, just delayed. I will be going over on a tour package, the Philippine Ambassador & Consulate General's Annual Tour, guests of the Dept of Tourism & Foreign Affairs. This will be nice since I will be arriving alone; I will be with them for the four day tour (staying at Makati ShangriLa), and then all of us are on our own. I will probably stay at Malate Pensionne. For all of you in the Philippines, I need to figure out what my cellphone # will be so that we can be in communication via text...but in the meantime, just email me. So much to do in so little time. This blogspot will be the place where I communicate. Come back soon! Mabuhay.

some Lady Artists

This is in remembrance of Inday, leaning on my shoulder, who won't be there when I return to the Philippines. She's with Jesus, showing him how to paint.

7,100 Islands

OK, this is the norm for the Philippines. Idyllic, coconut groved beaches and vistas. The Philippines is totally paradise on earth, be it not for sinful creatures, those of us made in God's image. And don't forget that all of my photographs are copyrighted.

Going to the Philippines

As I made my travel plans today, the US Government warned me in their official posting that they are issuing a HIGH ALERT travelers warning for terrorist attacks in the Philippines. Simultaneously, I ran across this satirical, yet real, photo of me with one of the summer college students that I had when I was leading summer college teams in the late 80's-early 90's. No, I don't smoke, but I remember how incredible that cigarette (shoved in my mouth by a soldier) felt---I smoked the whole thing! The story: I took the students for a trip to "The Palace in the Sky", and little did we know that it had been taken over by soldiers to brace for an attempted coup attack. Because it was a remote area, we were under severe threat (from the soldiers) because I had a truck load of good looking college students. Think fast! To avoid rape or kidnap for ransom, I began joking with the soldiers in my limited Tagalog. Since members of the Peace Corp were being held for ransom at that time on a different island, I told the soldiers that we needed extra spending money...perhaps we should stage a mock kidnapping, take pictures of them holding us hostage (which it seemed a few of them were thinking of already!!), and we'll send photos to the parents and split the money with them. Hey, I figure you might as well face the fear and name it out loud. The leader thought about it seriously, and realized it might backfire, and didnt want to be seen in the photographs. Instead, he had all of us "model" with the firearms while they rolled around in laughter, and insisted that our driver go out and buy them a couple of crates of beer and some cigarettes. Now normally we wouldnt use "God's money" to buy beer and cigarettes. But when it's to appease soldiers who might turn on you, the answer is an easy YES SIR.

Monday, June 19, 2006

PBS Documentary

WXEL Palm Beach, is a PBS/NPR station. Here they are at the CCDF cottage in Fort Lauderdale, doing a feature for their "South Florida Today" program, which aired this year. They would like to do a full length documentary on CCDF's ministry in the sex trade industry, via the arts. We would like to leave this summer, and they will accompany us to the Philippines as a family, doing follow-up stories on some of the women who have transformed their lives. However, we are still waiting on God to supply the adequate funding. Your prayers for this are appreciated. Did you know that Oprah did a feature on June 16, "Child Sex Slaves"? This was her first time to broach this subject, and fortunately will create greater awareness and interest in this issue. Pray for our funding and God's protection during this documentary making.

Sheyla & Robert

Sheyla and Robert are volunteering thru CCDF to minister to the poor and homeless in downtown Fort Lauderdale. They are helping out with our friend's ministry, "His Walk", which is just down the street from us. Sheyla and Robert attend Calvary Chapel and have been a great blessing.

A Cottage Meal

Patricia Green & Robin Merrill, having a meal in the cottage, during Patricia's visit to South Florida in April 2006. New Zealander's are fine guests.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Banaue Ladies

This is a photo I took of women in Banaue, the rice terrace region on the island of Luzon, Philippines. Today I was looking at some of their fabric, a woven skirt, that I have hanging in the cottage as a room divider. I was curious about the current status of the steady decline in new generations giving up the garb.....everyone wants to wear tshirts and jeans now. So homogenized, all these remote tribal groups have lost centuries of traditional weaving, to the more comfortable and western tshirt and shorts.


Hidden Valley, Philippines, one of my favorite places in the world to go to. The resort has many fresh water pools, some of the water you can drink! It tastes like Calistoga water. Seen here is a painting I did on site, of the large elephant ear leaf. Mark and I did many paintings there, and sold many of them as well. We bartered some paintings with the owners of this resort, to get future stays. In this rain forest, there are some trees so large, that you have to climb over their roots.

Uncle Ed

This is my late Uncle Eddie in Detroit. He was a union boss (treasurer), sprinkler fitters union and he got my dad a job that he kept for his entire working life. Uncle Eddie used the N-word a lot. He hated them with a passion. I suppose he had his reasons. I didnt share his views, but I loved my Uncle Eddie. I lived with him and his family while I was in art school in Detroit. When I got the job at the television station for the wacky preaching show, this family--good Catholics--freaked out! But they watched every night, to hear me commentate, and when I would come home at 11:00 at night, they would pester me with inquiries about the bizarre things that they witnessed. Everything that they thought was fake healings, I would have to tell them the inside scoop. Eventually, since we knew that Uncle Ed was watching, I would have dear sweet Cleta, in her southern drawl, dedicate a song to "Brother Ed". That would make his hair curl, but I think deep down he appreciated it, even though his family would ridicule him in an uproar.

Bobby Chalk

Lately I've been thinking about a superb former co-worker of mine, Bobby Chalk. Bobby played the electric organ during the tv show and the church services. He was such a classic performer, stirring up emotion right when needed, accentuating the proper emphasis of the preacher with those organ squeals, so dramatic. I wonder where Bobby Chalk is now. He was so good at what he did, and a real good "team player". Perhaps I've been thinking about Bobby Chalk because Bobby Jones is coming to town, to build a huge black gospel music center right here in Fort Lauderdale. We'll hear a lot of that type of organ music then.
When I found this photo recently, I was reminded of something I had forgotten: this photo was taken by another crew member (shown in the other posted photo) on the front lawn of my relatives house, where I lived in the east side of Detroit. We were shooting a commercial at the time, inside our house, using the kitchen sink because it was an ad for a water purifier. Later, I got into so much trouble. My aunt said the neighbors could see me with black people that I brought on the yard and in the house. Boy, was I in trouble! It just never occured to me that this was an issue. Actually, it wasn't so much that my relatives were prejudiced, but that they were caught up in an entire prejudiced society.

Cory Aquino & Robin

Cory Aquino is one of my heroes.
She may not have been one of the greatest presidents, and she did make some crucial mistakes.
But it took incredible courage to do what she did.
One thing I learned from her, is that Christian principles don't always cross over into politics. She tried to run the government from a Christian perspective, and occassionally that turned out to be a disaster. I learned that the Kingdom of God is completely different than the Kingdom of this world....we need to wait until Christ returns for some of the more utopian principles of Christianity to be applied widespread. In the meantime though, we ARE COMMANDED to live it out ourselves, even if we are relegated to our own counter-cultures.

Strange fact: her nephew hunted me down after meeting me in a sporting goods store (he was buying a new concealed weapons holster, I was buying a snorkel). He aggressively tried to court me, and what a tale that is. I dont think I have the photos to back it up, but i should write it down someday, it's a crazy story.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Faith for Miracles!

This is the "Faith for Miracles" crew, minus me (I'm taking the picture). When I was in college, at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, I worked for a local Christian television show. This was the days before cable- we were UHF!! Channel 62. Notice the red velvet chairs. Much of what I know (& practice) today as a Christian had formation during that short time on the set of a faith healing enterprise. I went in as a stone cold cynic. I THOUGHT I was applying for a job as a sound tech at the local jazz station, WJZZ. But it turned out to be this television show, and when I saw the set with the king and queen chairs, I tried to back out of the whole thing, but THE REV went aside and prayed, and came back and said that God had told him to hire me, even though he was not expecting or wanting to hire a woman for the position. So, in one of the scariest moments I've experienced, my first week on the job I went on as a LIVE sound technician, and eventually the live announcer as well. "LIVE....FROM DETROIT.......IT'S THE HAPPIEST COUPLE ON TELEVISION....RICHARD AND CLETA BROOKES!!!"

My Sister

This is my sister. She is OLDER NOW, but the same attitude. Mike too.

My Brother

My brother now, as "New Genre" artist.

Happy Birthday

I just turned 45, and my mother sent me this photo of myself and my father.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


This will be our new blog for family and personal stuff.
I hope you join us for the journey!