Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Life of a Conversation. Soul of a Discussion. Sense in a Debate

I ALWAYS enjoyed talking with “older” people who I must concede, people with longer life's experience than me, and people who are knowledgeable about a certain subject—carpenters, journalists, artists, economists, scientists, engineers, teachers, junkyard artisans, doctors, shamans, farmers, veteran soldiers etc. Meanwhile, I also dig talking with activists who are equipped with insights based on documented facts and historical info and not opinions based on personal advocacy or belief, religion or ideology. There is always sweet resolution in talking with the former—since although I may not agree with the person, for sure I could learn valuable facts and figures that I could use to ponder a more objective worldview. However, spending time with the latter who could only give me intense individual take on a certain matter without supporting it with stuff and things that seem logical or shared by 7 out of 10 at least, only slide to senseless argument.  



       Days ago, I listened to a man I call Absolom, a kind of dude who seemed like someone that you may not spend time with because he keeps a dishevelled house and doesn't seem comfortable with a clean shirt, but quick to say what he wants and doesn't want (“I don't do Facebook!”) This man talked and talked and talked yet those technical/scientific info and historical perspectives that he shared in few minutes equalled 5 hours of wikipedia time—and more credible because he didn't impose on me the veracity of such facts. He just talked and let me figure them out based on my own available knowledge. Take `em or leave `em. 
       I'd like to talk to people who got something to say and not those who got a lot to disagree about. That person could be a Jehovah's Witness, Maoist radical, pagan goddess, confederate flag loyalist, Ananda Marga initiate, Filipino, Cuban, Iranian, or redneck. I don't care. Just talk and give me some facts and scientific/physical equivalent of such a talk. For example, this axiom that says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” which is attributed to the Maimonides and the Chinese sage Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism, and also mentioned in The Bible's Ephesians 4:28 and Matthew 14:15-21... That adage exudes a kind of lecture but it also tells me something that I can find concrete benefit from as a person, no matter what my personal ideology or religion is. Such lines aren't dismissive of one's personal or cultural life. Well, unless one vegetarian reader literally defines “fish” as, well—fish fillet. 
       Moreover, I believe that when people talk about other peoples of the universe, we must know why those people act or behave the way they do before we tell them what they need to do just because we believe we know better. Worse, some people conclude weird stuff just because they don't know. I was once told by an acquaintance that she was convinced that a super-delicious meat dish that she ate in China was so unbelievably awesome that she came to conclusion that the culinary offering was actually human flesh! The Chinese chef didn't reveal how it was cooked so she simply dismissed it as cannibal buffet, LOL! There was also another friend who heard about a boy who fell off a boat in India in one religious river festival and drowned when people failed to rescue him. Immediately she concluded that those people in India didn't care about human lives by virtue of their religion. 
       Of course those are the extremes. Yet we will always encounter stuff and things in other cultures that could be revolting or atrocious to our own personal liking. The world isn't one color, you see... But I wish people take time to know. Let us equip ourselves with knowledge because knowledge offers us a sense of respect with/to the other person who is seemingly different from us. Knowing them means we may also learn how to communicate with them better. And if whatever we share them is universally good, then they may listen—but take time to know them first. 



      The root of many wars is because the discussion on the negotiating table fell apart. People don't agree because one or both desire to be on top of the other, telling the other he/she is wrong or needs to be corrected. If people compromise by exploring the benefits of a union between diverse peoples and accentuate the positive points than the negative points, then we have peace. But we can't go moving about telling people we are Christians or Socialists to those who are not and say they are wrong. We ain't gonna go far from that kind of thinking. Yet in time, maybe they will find such new paradigm good—but not at a time when they got priorities to deal with. Historically, if colonizers first offered silk for yam as a friendly trade and it went good, then they could have carried on to a deeper cultural interface. But if the visitor outrightly tells the tribes to quit the “shadow dance” because the Christian church is more civilized. Then there is war.
      I like Absolom because despite me coming from a different world, there was no question or mention that made me feel like I am not American. He talked to me like I am just like him who knows 70s rock `n roll. Simple. When we meet people with "new" lives and cultures from our own, let us not go teaching them what is best to breathe the air or eat Twinkies correctly. Let them be. Maybe their song is sweet, too.  Focus on stuff that you find mutually cool and not those that you find weird or bizarre. Maybe teach them how to sell their produce via the internet or a new irrigation technique but never admonish them about a certain cultural truth or ritual. Culture creates people's soul. You don't want to mess with people's culture. Just be cool and they will be cool. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

25 Things You Don't Know About Me

I FANTASIZE a lot. Like, I am a Hollywood celebrity or a rock star. So here are some of those little things that a celeb are asked (by showbiz magazines like US and People and Oprah). Just makin' life a bit light, you know.



[1] I wear socks all the time. I have a drawerful of socks, all colors.
[2] I don't like breaded food. I particularly don't like breaded fish.
[3] I don't drink milk at all, it'll turn my stomach upside down.
[4] My extreme phobia? Snakes. I am also slightly claustrophobic. Being kept in a car for hours gives me panic attacks.
[5] I am a huge Bee Gees fan, from the 60s to “Saturday Night Fever” disco days to the last album. Ask me anything about the Gibb brothers, I won't fail you. Really. Seriously.
[6] I collect old, old books. And hats. And cheap shades. And vinyl records.
[7] I am partial to strawberry-flavored food. I am a huge seafoods eater.
[8] I am voraciously following more than 20 TV series.
[9] I am not a very sociable person. Aloof. A contradiction because many know me as events organizer and performer.
[10] I hate driving.
[11] Despite my 101 percent presence on Facebook, I am not a techno geek or electronic nerd. I hate Smartphones and all those apps. I also don't like talking on the phone. But I reluctantly text. I'd rather see people face to face, one on one. I am painfully old-school in so many aspects of life and living.
[12] I like full bodied women. Not turned on by skinny or magazine-profiled women. I am extremely turned on by women who laugh and joke a lot. And deeply bothered and turned off by women who drink too much than they should.
[13] I buy my clothes mostly at Goodwill.
[14] I can't write or work on my desk or whatever until I cleaned the house, even though it doesn't necessarily requires cleaning.
[15] I hate dirty kitchen sinks!
[16] As a child, whenever I got up from bed, I fix it—so I never got up without my bed made up.
[17] I love colorful clothes and shoes etc. I have a closetful of clothes, mostly gifts from friends, relatives and relationships.
[18] I listen to all kinds of music, except rap and hip hop.
[19] I don't watch or listen to talk shows--on TV or radio. But I read a lot of columnists. I read my news on print (local newspaper and New York Times).
[20] My favored snack is ramen noodles.
[21] My two most favorite places on earth: the seafood market and library.
[22] My two most favorite rooms in the house: kitchen and my bedroom.
[23] I like analyzing political matters and economics globally but I am not a follower of any political party, in fact I hate politics. And I suck at budgeting.
[24] The magazines that I mostly read deal with business/economics, politics, showbiz and music.
[25] A US state that I long to visit: Wyoming. I don't know why.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

FAITH in the SYSTEM, FAITH in FAITH (and the discussion about guns)

I AM anti-war, no compromises. But the discussion about guns or stricter gun regulations is an entirely different matter. First of all, I am not totally against guns—as a tool to instill peace and order by law enforcement. I was asked should we arm ourselves in the wake of this series of mass shootings? No. Definitely no. What, engage perpetrators to a gunfight at O.K. Corral like it's the wild, wild west again? Is that the answer? I leave legislators—after community-level forum or citizens plebiscite—how to devise ways and means to impose stricter laws and regulations in the sale and purchase of guns. That's what legislators and leaders are for...


       Meantime, how can we pinpoint a “sick” person when we usually come to such conclusion of one's deadly mental derangement after the fact? A citizen with spot-clean criminal record or a former inmate, a known schizophrenic or a quiet dude with a ready smile in the `hood? Records say that we can never tell who cracks up at the dead of night and start packin' up to mow down humanity with high-powered guns.
       So what could be my proposal, I was asked.
       Increase police presence, hire more cops on patrol in the community, especially in public places—both in uniform and civvies. Improve or upgrade law enforcement surveillance and monitoring. Surely though that proposal may/will invite protest—in the light of a number of complaints about alleged police brutality and abuse of power lately. Hence, a stricter hiring system must also be in place. Which points to exemplary leadership by those who send out orders from the Oval Office down to City Councils.
       But do we still believe in our police force and/or the leadership at hand? That is the problem. Based on what I read and hear, more Americans are disillusioned with the system, in general. According to the latest Gallup Poll, only 8 percent of the citizenry have confidence in Congress, down by 16 points from a long-term average of 24 percent. But there is hope in people's faith in police though, despite recent criticisms. Some 52 percent are confident in the police (57 percent historically). The citizenry offer more confidence in the police than other significant institutions—like the presidency, Supreme Court, banks, big business, organized labor, newspapers, and television news—which are all down. That is the problem right now.
      Loss of faith. The survey didn't state though a graph regarding people's faith in traditional faith or religion. But writings on the wall say many have strayed away from God or the Church. It is an intense issue that I don't intend to discuss here though. Bottomline, people have lost faith in so many things. All we hear are complaints. Meanwhile, the US still ranks as #1 globally in one-person households, not because of circumstance, but by choice. Me myself who was born and raised in a culture that thrives on communal “din,” haven't experienced the kind of loneliness and isolation that I got into in America. It is often not a question of how many people I'd hang out with or how often, it is a more an issue of acceptance in a crowd that sadly rejects and admits based on cliquey requisites. A person's mere choice of food and sexual orientation limit association. This, while people suffice with forums and knowing each other, via social media and all those little e-gadgets.
       Who do we believe? We don't. Hence, to protect us from evil—get a gun? Like it's war time. We don't believe in governance, we don't believe in religion, we don't believe in so many stuff and things yet we always mouth the words “Universal Love” and “Community in Diversity.” Sad. But there is always a way. There is hope. We know it, we just have to see faces and hear voices beyond the four walls of our shell. 

AFTERTHOUGHTS to a SHOOTING

THE latest mass shooting in our midst, the 6th or 7th this year alone, is undeniably mindboggling. Horribly bothersome. More than we allow fear to overcome us—we must be more concerned and then ponder and dig deeper beyond what seems to be a “no-brainer” conclusion by so-called experts. “The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world," President Obama told CBS. Hence, it is time that America looks within its house and see that while “outside forces” (eg global terrorism) is an utmost agenda, a growing swath of mayhem hisses like a dragon's ire right in our belly.


       Is it ideology, misguided “faith,” mental derangement, gun proliferation? Certainly, society will provide answers. We all provide our individual answers. But are these answers enough as “bullet-proof vests” when the next carnage pummels again or are these “professional” analyses suffice in convincing the public that—yes, peace and quiet are still possible as each and everyone pursue their own happiness in this beautiful land of promise, freedom, endowments and dreams?
       I do believe we have lost the human ability to LISTEN and instead we readily provide solutions that we feel could fix trouble areas like we are all machines with generic remedies each time we malfunction. We read and stereotype or box people's sentiments—especially anger—as an acronynmed psychobabble that needs instant response. And the only prescription for healing is a scholarly definition of words. Maybe we should listen more WHY a person is angry or sad, or why he/she keeps to him/herself more often than usual—instead of googling words and automatically consigning one's rage as a mental issue that needs to be addressed like its a cosmic freefall or a computer that just conked out.
       Prior to the San Bernardino massacre, the gunman had an argument with certain people—left and returned with his female partner in a hale of bullets. It seemed that the shooting was pre-planned or well-thought of. Which means, this man—relatively young, born in the US and a 5-year employee with a job designation that calls for steady interaction with people—has been harboring anger which apparently evolved into hatred. A kind of hatred that drove him to waste lives, including his and his partner, in deference of their months-old child that they left. Whether it is a “lone wolf” act by a disgruntled individual on a vendetta or mission to excise pain as message to a society/government that he lost trust in or a terroristic act of much wider proportions, still—these people lost the ability or belief in anything except that they hate. They hate so much that the only way to project it—is through killings and deaths.
       No God in any creed or culture admonishes or motivates its people to nurture and nourish anger and then inflict pain unto others and themselves. I don't believe that Jesus Christ or The Allah inspired their children to take lives in order to solve darkness in this world. These individuals who opted to walk the path of destruction simply lost it. Evil gains entry in unattended anger, a hallow vacuum of freezing cold. An anger that we failed to listen to because it is displeasing, loud, and painful to the ears.
       Anger has its roots, it emanates from something—we must address the source to be able to fix the outcome otherwise we may just be applying temporal or wrong remedies to calm down ire. We cannot just say, “Channel your anger!” or “Go seek counselling.” Those help but we need a more intimate understanding WHY a person loses it, what triggers the volcano in our chest to explode, and what is the best way to deal with it.
       I believe the best and most effective way to deal with anger—before it mutates into hatred—is to LISTEN with an intent to understand than hear with a need to reply. We can't do such a thing via texting or emails or phone calls. We must spend time together, be one as community—irrelevant of what we term as diversity. We must look at our common light and beauty than our differences as human beings. Moreover, we must stop our narcissism and self-righteousness that we can fix others by simply providing the “troubled ones” with cures because that's how we see things. Maybe the person concerned knows how to fix it, it's just that he has to be heard and listened to first, to be able to acquire or receive tools how to rebuild peace within.


       America is not Honduras where more gun violence occurs or Beirut where bombs fall in startling frequency. We must stop the comparisons. Deaths need not be compared at all with other deaths. We just have to try harder to prevent them as they happen in our midst. More so, America should look within and around its backyard and find out the root of what's ailing the homefront—instead of summoning experts with meds to cushion the collective pain—and then we look at other nations and cultures with a goal to correct them. We cannot fix others if we ourselves are broken and need fixing. That humility will offer more understanding and love for a better humanity. Love is not pronounced, it doesn't fall from the sky either—it is a working project, it is practiced than said. It all starts with listening—no matter that the voice roars like thunder or sings like a bird. Stay, sit tight, and listen—not with our ear but with our heart.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

OIL, the Almighty Juice That We All Love to Drink

FIRST, let me say these guys can be “weird, uncool or totally crazy,” right? And you may agree... Vladimir Putin of Russia. The late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. The Leadership of China...
       Now let's look what could be one major reason why these guys misbehave based in how we look at them from our angle. They got power. The number 1 producer of oil globally is Russia. This country produces 10.9 million barrels of crude per day. Fourth in the Top Ten is China, 5th is Iran, 8th is Venezuela, and 10th is Iraq. The leadership of the rest of world powers based on oil: Saudi Arabia (2nd), Canada (6th), United Arab Emirates (7th), and Kuwait (9th)--all friendly to us. The US is #3 producer. Imagine if these bad dudes who we see as enemies of Uncle Sam can only sit down with us and give us more oil based on how much we'd like to buy `em? Since America is the number 1 consumer of oil... Then we are seeing a better world, less wars. Everybody partying! And we will all just be whining why the Kardashians are still on primetime TV.




EXTRACTION or diggings of crude in California and Texas, complemented by the construction of railroads from the east to the west, accentuated the Great American Industrial Revolution, plus acquisition of overseas territories via wars, elevated the US as a world power. The initial railways in the east were jointly built by mostly veteran soldiers of both Union and Confederate armies and “freed” African-American slaves. The west side was put up by generally Mormon workers (from Utah), Chinese immigrants, and Mexican workers. When east and west railways linked up, automobile manufacturing (ie Ford) was on the upswing, rest is history.... Somewhere in President Obama's administration, he utilized oil reserves in the west to lessen oil importation but media hardly took this up. Meantime, China's communism/socialism, based on Mao Zedong, hinged on agriculture than factories (as in USSR then). So when China softened on agrarian matters after the Tiananmen Square Revolt in early 90s and consequently joined WTO (under Bill Clinton's government), and went into manufacturing/factories, they evolved into universal economic powerdome. In industry, oil is god. And where there is Industry, there is Steel. Number one manufacturer of Steel? China. Second is Japan, 4th is India, 5th is South Korea, 6th Russia. United States is 3rd... The dude who owns ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaking company? Lakshmi Niwas Mittal, he is based in the United Kingdom.
       So why can't we get along in the name of progress? I reiterate (and copy-paste what I wrote above), based on historical records, railways linking America from east to west and transport of oil and stuff to and fro in the mainland—accentuated the US' might and power, and better lives to its people then. How did that happen? The railways in the east were jointly built by mostly veteran soldiers of both Union and Confederate armies and “freed” African-American slaves. The west side was put up by generally Mormon workers (from Utah), Chinese immigrants, and Mexican workers. They co-existed for common good. So let us respect people's ways and creed and work as one. And if world powers just hook up, agree with equal exchange of resources and workforce, and chill over beers and tea on breaktime, and quit pissing each other off—then we have a peaceful world and nonstop fun!
       PAUSE of my day's rant and rumination, LOL!

Our Love, Our Focus, Our Humanity: A Universal Heart for The Refugee

WHILE we lavish Mr Trump with super-attention, and while we eActivists squeeze social media blood out of a dead refugee child on a seashore far away—still, thousands of migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan flood through central Europe's borders desperately seeking shelter. Meantime, a vicious tug-of-war between European governments ensues and so border crossings are shut, bridges are blocked and barbed-wire fences are erected in a bid to muffle down the onslaught of distressed humanity. What irony! These are not flesh-hungry zombies, these are human beings...

       What has current US presidentiables gotta say about this? Can America and the Allies say they don't have anything to do with Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan—especially Iraq and Afghanistan? Wasn't it just few years ago when we actually mightily took out their leadership and installed our own “friendly” government and “reconstructed” their fault or faulted economy and society?
       Backgrounder to those who may not know. With its 143.1 billion barrels of proved oil reserves, Iraq ranks second in the world behind Saudi Arabia in the amount of oil reserves. Meantime, Afghanistan is the world's primary producer of opium poppy. Recently, all legal and llegal production of this crop increased considerably, surpassing 5,000 tons in 2002 and reaching 8,600 tons in Afghanistan and 840 tons in the Golden Triangle (Burma, Laos, Thailand) in 2014. Production is expected to increase in 2015 as new, improved seeds have been brought into Afghanistan. The World Health Organization has estimated that current production of opium would need to increase fivefold to account for total global medical need.
       Syria was a major producer of high-grade oil since the late 60s but declined heavily in the late 90s. But then Iran, a known nemesis of the US, is very friendly with Syria. Iran is the world's 5th largest producer of oil. The US is the third-ranked producer but we are also the first in terms of consuming them—yet we don't really want to mess up our environment by digging more oil (yet we emit them as well in gargantuan carbon footprints).
       Just showing you how important Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to us. Anybody wants to drive a block to CVS to get Prozac supply, or two blocks to Walmart for a pack of Trust condoms, or 3 miles to Westville Pub for handcrafted beers? Think Iraqis and Afghanis. Don't think about those lunatic leaders that we love to hate because we can easily take them out anyway. Think about those weeping and shrieking and hungry and cold refugees who were the bodies and souls working their land so that we could have what we need in excess—in exchange for roof over their head and food on the table. Do I even say iPods and iPads, cable TV and Netflix? I don't think these people know what an iPhone app or who the Kardashians are.
       Will those gruesome photos of dead refugees that we post on our Facebook walls matter in the long run? Death happens everyday. From a sidestreet of Detroit or South LA, a child got shot by a wayward driveby shooting, drug-related. In the south of the Philippines, victims of Typhoon Haiyan are still mourning their dead and strengthening nipa huts with bamboo stilts as new typhoons threaten. Bombs are still falling somewhere because somewhere people misbehave and defy the orders of the Masters of the Universe.
       All presidential hopefuls in all Allied countries should talk about what's going on outside their comfortable fences. I mean, Croatia—of all countries, tiny Croatia—just took in 20,000 refugees since Wednesday. The Croatia leadership is yelling for help. What is the European Union and Washington and Beijing and Russia doing? Making sure that the One Percent's business interests don't get ruffled by this grieving humanity?
       And what we the people can do? Well, we can do a lot—but we can start by simply walking or carpooling to Target or Ingles. Or better yet, let's talk about laughter and don't say “No, the mercury gatorade messed up my fridge so I am in a funk!” because you forgot your pills. And if I insist, I'd be the same inane pasckie—arrogant, rude, insensitive jerk who don't care about stuff because I don't drive a car and fine with ramens as dinner.
       I digress. Time for my midday coffee. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Asheville-based poet/artist Pasckie Pascua details life and journey in his book, “Red is the Color of my Night”

ASHEVILLE-based poet Pasckie Pascua, a native Filipino, is a 15-year resident of Asheville. He never had qualms or inhibitions proclaiming, “I am an Ashevellian!” proudly whenever he visits other US cities because he means it from the heart. “Asheville is my home barrio away from my island barrio back in the Philippines.”

       Pasckie published (and edited) the community paper, The Indie, from 2001 to 2011 (on and off in 2013-14). He is also the founding executive director of the Traveling Bonfires, a non-profit “people’s culture” organization that advocates family wisdom and community connectedness via musical concerts, artistic pursuits, and poetry readings. The TBonfires organizes the summertime downtown music convergence, “Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park.”
       He is also a very visible poet in town and elsewhere in the region to as far as Columbia, Charleston, Greenville and Myrtle Beach SC, Athens and Augusta GA, New York City, Baltimore, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and in several spots in Southern California. In Asheville, he has been featured at Malaprop's, Black Mountain Museum of Arts, Altamont Reading Series, West End Reading Series, Wordfest, and Wordplay radio program. His next readings will be at The Crow and Quill in downtown Asheville and City Lights Bookstore in Sylva NC on August 9 and August 20, respectively.
       Published by Loved by the Buffalo Publications, the poems and prose in “Red is the Color of my Night” reflect the often ragged but mostly warm wisdom of a journeyman who witnessed and experienced a life that defies his reserved demeanor and soft-spoken tact. This book is written in blood and delivered with a language that crosses creed and culture, without hesitation or reserve. The poet traverses the rough terrains of his past with piercing honesty and visionary glare. His work bothers and comforts at the same time; it also provokes while it reassures.
     
      Pascua is a veteran journalist and poet who survived a dictatorial regime in his home-country of the Philippines. He went to the University of the Philippines' Institute of Mass Communication, and attended undergrad Film programs at Tisch School of Arts, New York University. He was a journeyman writer even before he reached the age of 30—having worked for print, radio, and TV in various capacities, as well as a community organizer/media specialist in coastal villages and farming barrios in the countrysides since he was 15 years old. He served as member of the media liaison staff for the late president Corazon Aquino’s “good government” commission in early `90s, and consulting team for Philippine presidential candidate Senator (deceased) Raul Roco in the 1990s. In the US, Pasckie edited the Manhattan NY-based Headline Philippines from 1998 to 2001; and headed the Southern California/Los Angeles bureau of Philippine News, the oldest nationally-distributed Filipino/Asian-American newspaper in the US and Canada.
       “Red is the Color of my Night” is available at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in downtown Asheville; City Lights Bookstore in Sylva NC; Avid Bookshop (avidbookshop.com) in Athens GA; Park Road Books (parkroadbooks.com) in Charlotte NC. Also via Amazon. For more info: www.pasckie.com or http://pasckiepascuawords.blogspot.com/ (or find Pasckie Pascua in Facebook)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Pasckie Pascua reads from his book in a show at The Crow and Quill in Asheville, August 9, and talks about his journey at City Lights in Sylva, August 20

ASHEVILLE-based poet Pasckie Pascua will read from his new book of poems and prose, “Red is the Color of my Night,” at The Crow and Quill in downtown Asheville on August 9, Sunday. The Crow and Quill is located at 106 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 (www.thecrowandquill.com), (828) 505-2866. Show starts at 7 PM.
       Special guests are poet Caleb Beissert, singer songwriter Darien Crossley, and jazz singer Katie Kasben. The event is a free but donations are very much appreciated.


       Poet/musician Caleb Beissert spearheads a number of local Asheville poetry events, including the monthly Altamont Poetry Series at North Carolina Stage Company as producer and the weekly Poetry Open Mic at Noble Kava as host. He is also the longtime drummer with The Zealots. His first book, a selection of English-language adaptations of the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca, “Beautiful: Translations from the Spanish,” was published by New Native Press in 2013. Katie Kasben has been in numerous community theatre productions and was the director and producer of “Hair.” She was the VIP coordinator for the HATCH mentoring festival, and helped bring the “48 Hour Film Project” to Asheville. Darien Crossley is a promising young singer-songwriter who's been building a solid following in Asheville's cafe and club scene.
       Published by Loved by the Buffalo Publications, the poems and prose in “Red is the Color of my Night” reflect the often ragged but mostly warm wisdom of a journeyman who witnessed and experienced a life that defies his reserved demeanor and soft-spoken tact. This book is written in blood and delivered with a language that crosses creed and culture, without hesitation or reserve. The poet traverses the rough terrains of his past with piercing honesty and visionary glare. His work bothers and comforts at the same time; it also provokes while it reassures.
       Pascua will also be featured at City Lights Bookstore's “Coffee with the Poet” gathering on August 20, Thursday, 11 AM. City Lights is located at 3 East Jackson Street, Sylva, NC 28779 (828-586-9499), citylightsnc.com
       Pascua is a veteran journalist and poet who survived a dictatorial regime in his home-country of the Philippines. He went to the University of the Philippines' Institute of Mass Communication, and attended undergrad Film programs at Tisch School of Arts, New York University. He was a journeyman writer even before he reached the age of 30—having worked for print, radio, and TV in various capacities, as well as a community organizer/media specialist in coastal villages and farming barrios in the countrysides since he was 15 years old. He served as member of the media liaison staff for the late president Corazon Aquino’s “good government” commission in early `90s, and consulting team for Philippine presidential candidate Senator (deceased) Raul Roco in the 1990s.
       In the US, Pasckie edited the Manhattan NY-based Headline Philippines from 1998 to 2001; and headed the Southern California/Los Angeles bureau of Philippine News, the oldest nationally-distributed Filipino/Asian-American newspaper in the US and Canada.
       In Asheville, Pasckie published (and edited) the community paper, The Indie, from 2001 to 2011. He is also the founding executive director of the Traveling Bonfires, a non-profit “people’s culture” organization that advocates family wisdom and community connectedness. The TBonfires organizes the summertime downtown music convergence, “Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park.”
       For more info: www.pasckie.com or http://pasckiepascuawords.blogspot.com/ (or find Pasckie Pascua in Facebook)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Family Drama and Stuff

I WROTE this few years ago to a friend in Southern California, as response to her email that delved with family issues. Part of her email: “I was trying to help my sister in law figure out how to mend relationships with family members that have been bullying each other for years with drama... If you have any writings on forgetting the negative past and looking towards a positive future... So Pasckie, any words of encouragement you could pass my way would help.”
       First, thank you for thinking that my ramblings may offer some help, that is very sweet of you. I know I've written a number of prose and short posts about forgiveness, acceptance, surrender and redemption. But let me try again...


       It is always hard to move on or carry on with life if we can't or couldn't/wouldn't face up with the past. It's like a huge roadblock on our way to some peace and quiet... It's not just about closure, it's actually about “opening” our hearts up. Let it bleed, let it get squeezed out, and then heal. The best way to cure a wound is to open it up and see where it's coming. We can't heal piecemeal basis, or piece by piece—we heal with open-wide arms that are ushered by a forgiving heart. Since, I don't know details of your family “drama,” I am responding in general, composite-issue angle. First, if there are intermittent issues that keep on poking people up that slide to childish, repetitive arguments—all they gotta do is talk, face to face. My suggestion is, don't make it kinda uptight. Organize a family picnic, basketball or football game for the guys and group texting for the women (just kidding), or initiate collective cooking, activities that loosen up tight fibers and unleash knotted veins. Sweat it out. Let the kids devise some shows, like scrabbles or erecting sculptures out of their junked iPhones maybe—but something that is group work.
       The idea is to create an air of fun and frolic to declog the mind of nagging clouds... At the end of the day, build a bonfire—I mean, some place out because a closed room can add pressure and when it gets intense, he/she can just cry and scream. Let the energy out. Talk, listen... But don't make it like a weekend seminar kind of roundtable chat like, “Okay, Mary Grumpy your turn, you got 2 mins and 17.4 seconds to share us why the hell you are so grumpy!” Don't do that. Let it flow, no time limits—although don't persuade the person to talk for damn 7 hours straight and knock all the others to slumber. Now, how do we maintain/sustain this peace truce?
       Think of common activities on regular basis—backyard barbecue, mahjong sessions, or some artistic/creative project like family heritage scrapbooking. The idea is sustained, continuous interaction but very loose and easy. Problem with most people these days is, we are not hanging out anymore, not really talking—instead, we are sending out cryptic messages in text forms that don't really elaborate anything. These don't solve shit, you know... When people and family communicate and interact, face to face and heart to heart, and laughing together—only good things emerge out of it. Okay. You get the drift, right? I hope this helps, my friend...
       GRACIAS, BUENAS DIAS, un dulce jueves para usted.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Songs and Memories and Friendships

I STARTED my day reminiscing. Bittersweet memories 
as I listened to songs in my CD, songs that I wrote with friends when I was in my 20s to 30s. Very meaningful ones in my progression as a human being, like a chronicle of my journey before I crossed oceans to America... Due to copyright intricacies, I will have to work on legal issues first before I could properly market them though (via the internet). I can't download it on YouTube or Facebook either, but see me—I will hand you a copy. I hand out “friendly copies” for donations (to my community projects) each time there is a chance. Besides the songs that I wrote with my band, Duane's Poetry—I also wrote a lot of songs with my bestfriend Duwi when we were very young, like 13 or 14 years old. Then some more with other friends in so many places—songs that I left on cassette tapes, lead sheets, notebooks (with scribbled music ledgers and stuff), and memories of those who heard them.


     Meantime, when I was in New York, “Awit kay Clarita,” an ode/sonata behind kneading strings and piano solo break about a slain tribal amazon in the Cordilleras back home, was interpreted by an Alvin Ailey dancer/teacher, Elena Colmenares, in an art exhibition opening in Soho's Puffin Gallery. The master copy was co-arranged with my best buddy Rolly Melegrito, Pearlsha Abubakar and the late Mike Basilio (who engineered the recording). I rearranged “Pagano,” a statement vis a vis traditional/conventional religion and tribal faith, into a multi-percussion interplay and choral voices. “Mutya,” inspired by a Filipino poet Romulo Sandoval who died of cancer at 40, about the beauty of poetry in the backdrop of a cruel world, was sung by a Columbia Univ student as “gift” to the late Senator (and presidential hopeful) Raul Roco and his wife upon their visit in Manhattan in 2000. “Yakap” (“Embrace”), written with Pearlsha, was about a mother's endearing, undying love for her child.
     I learned that a very young group in Manila wants to record an old blues-rock broadside that I wrote with Rolly and Kai Conlu-Brondial, “Praise The Lord, I am Cool,” in reference to the Pope's visit in Manila that time. Then there's the old blues howler, “Mama, Don't Let Your Children Grow Up to be Politicians,” a piece that me and Rolly wrote for our little poetry/blues side-project, “Lightning Joe and The Bluesman.” The sad but closure-tinged “Looking for my Comrades” was my send-off song as I prepare to fly to New York City on my 38th birthday, it's about the surreal confusion of party/ideological-line ruin following the fall of the dictatorship, that we were still “fighting” after the so-called revolution. “May Habilin ang Uhay” (“The Rice Sheaves' Message”) was an eligy to the protesting farmers who were shot at and perished in front of the presidential palace in early `90s. “My Daughter is Missing” talks about a summarily-executed or “salvaged” young activist, a desaparecido...
     
Oh, that song, “Ode to the Beauty Queen,” written with Ray Nunez, with the lines, “Now that you have a most desirable body / Sure bet to boost tourism in any country / And as computers check your vital stat / Tabloids scrutinize your most private parts... / Go on fair muse, sell that toothpaste smile / Neon gods whistle as you strut down desolated isles / And what have you got inside that lovely swimsuit / Have you traded your stars to a sequined fruit... / There goes your stairway, stairway to heaven / All you have to do is get a perfect ten.” Oh yes, at that early age, although I always watched beauty pageants with my four sisters and mom and aunts, I never agreed that awesome shapes and beautiful faces define “beauty” in a woman. And my takes on love as a young man, “”Love is a Poison,” is warm song, written with Kai, based on The Little Prince and The Fox. Then a “harana” (serenade) that I'd like to rearrange and record one of these days, composed with Rolly, “Hindi Ito Panaginip” (“This Is Not a Dream,” that love is not idealized—but realized).
     To think that, these are just little fraction of the many songs that I wrote in the past... What about my poems, plays, unproduced screenplays? There are so many to catch up on, retrieve and resurrect, while my little brain keeps on chugging along everyday, every minute, every second—even in my night dreams. It's not over until it is over, you reckon?

Friday, May 8, 2015

ALL THESE WORDS, After All These Years

FOR some deeply personal reasons, I left almost all of my work back home in the Philippines when I flew to New York City on my 38th birthday in 1998. Poems, fiction, essays, newspaper/magazine articles and reviews/criticism and column pieces, TV scripts and sequence treatments, stage plays, grant project drafts, screenplays and storyboards, drawings and illustrations, ad copies and thoughts, art photography, paintings (acrylic and mixed media), publications that I edited/published, organizational brainstorms, comics and graphic novel sketchbooks, political platform germs, songs and lyrics, letters and correspondences, community program proposals designed for legislation, book ideas etc. Boxes and folders of manuscripts, notebooks, wads of bond papers. Mostly written in English although majority of my literary output were in Filipino/Tagalog language (a few in Spanish and Ilocano provincial dialect). I started writing by the time I stepped in First Grade and professionally writing as newspaper reporter at age 14. Then, it was non-stop. When I eventually decided to settle here in the US when I “discovered” Asheville (North Carolina) few years later, I never made an effort to retrieve my past work—I simply continued churning out more words and (creative) work.


       MY past bodies of work (before I "crashlanded" in America) were distributed among friends and ex-relationships, family house closets, file cabinets of organizations that I belonged, media offices, friends in the countryside, even random people that I met while working as journalist, community organizer, concert producer, traveling cultural worker/researcher and artist/musician. Those were the “unplugged/unwired” years. There were IBM computers, floppy discs and tape recorders and 16mm and 35mm movie cameras—but saving or stocking up work in several devices wasn't a general psyche. It's all hard copies and master tapes. Also, I wasn't very conscious about filing up my work or my mind was so busy creating more work and heeding 3 or 4 “day jobs” and loads of community and/or activism commitments so that a consistent, sustained file system didn't have room in my busy, erratic, gungho, cramped up head...


       A GOOD friend from my theater days in Manila, Joey B., mentioned that he kept a copy of my one-act play, “Maputla ang Ulap sa Laot” (“Clouds are Pale Out in the Sea”). I am sure it was about life in tiny fishing villages where I spent time as writer/researcher and grassroots communications teacher when I was in my early 20s or late-teens. A French friend maintains that I left in her care a crate of writings—handwritten and typed (on typewriter) or printed via those “ancient” noisy IBM machines. She reminded me that she has a copy of a collection of poems, “The Rainbow is Bleeding," plus an anthology of essays with an intriguing title, “Not Valid for Public Consumption, and other words that I shouldn't have said or written.” Some friends (and ex'es), who are scattered all over the globe, also informed me that I left them notebooks of doodles and/or verses, sheaves of handwritten words on loose bond papers and musty notebooks, prose on personalized cards, lead sheets on music pads, paintings (acrylic and ink), cassette tapes of demos, words and words on fancy scrapbooks etc etcetera. I also had this practice of writing a few words (poetry, prose) on whatever piece of paper that I could grab and then handing it to whoever was around for keepsake, like a gift. I am glad that some of those beautiful people kept some of those little yarns... I write everyday like it's breathing—I produce work like it's all I do, if I don't do it, I die. So from NYC/summer of 1998 to this very moment, you could imagine the volume of hard copies and megabytes of computer space juices and dirt that I already produced or accumulated—out of my crazy, crazy mind.
       I AM a poor fellow at age 54 with four grown-up kids treading their own paths. I am not sure if I'd be able to leave my kids something on the line of inheritance or trust, in the form of bank accounts and properties/assets—although I am still trying. Maybe a grandfather actually left me a cattle farm somewhere in the Pacific, LOL! Anyhow, all I got are my work. Work that hopefully will amount to many books, movies, projects, stuff and whatever they could be used for.

       MEANTIME, I just want to keep on writing and writing and writing--whether these get published or not. Years ago, I used to pursue most of these while sharing ideas with colleagues, friends and strangers—in small inner city cafes and barrio farm fields or oceansides, or workers picketlines, commuter bus, terminals. My writing process was always part of my steady, sustained interaction with people. Sadly, I don't have that “luxury” anymore, around my circumstances and situation in the US. We are inside this little gizmo called computers and fiddling around in social media circles. I wish it is easy these days to just sit down and discuss a screenplay's progression or a poem's birthing from a coffeecup without sounding rude, condescending, politically-incorrect, provocateur, or just talky and boring. Every word that comes out of our mouths is a target for a kind of in-depth scrutiny for its sense or sensitivity, although this reflex and response happen at a quicksilver pace. Confused. Attached yet detached; connected yet disconnected.
       I CAN always say that it was easier to write and create before because it was easier to be human and alive in those days, almost instinctive—no matter how physically unpleasing or mentally/emotionally harsh the times when I produced volumes of work. More importantly, it was easier to be recognized or validated and confirmed with whatever I wrote—the work is right there on their hands. These days, I can write 15 poems in 3 days, but once I saved that on my hard drive, it's almost forgotten since more words are going to inhabit and crowd my hard drive and thumb drives, anyway, in the next 12 hours--all funneled in the internet well. One post is a blink because I will be posting more in the next minute. But then many years ago, as I loosely and nonchalantly handed out my work to people, or left them somewhere, they kept and treasured them. Hence, my soul is saved, my spirit exists. No Apple app or the most expensive computer gadget could ever do that. The surest depository or undying bank of human thoughts is the human heart. It never forgets. That is the only way how to live forever as a writer--or as a human being. [--Pasckie Pascua, from “My Life as a Greyhound”]

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Who is Watching Who?

EVERYBODY's being watched. Everybody's being monitored. But paranoia isn't going to mess up my dinner. No way... The Eagles sang: “You can check out anytime you like / But you can never leave.” That's how it goes in the Free World. That's how it goes in America. Swipe your credit card, pass by airport security, send out an email, text your lawyer etc—once the machine buzzes, you're counted, you're in. If you're not hiding shit, why worry? Everybody's going to be screened anyways—from the White House chief resident to the homeless dude who logged in at a public library in Juneau, Alaska. Wanna escape from Big Bro's piercing laser eyes? Get off the highway and walk, chuck the plastic card, change your name to Lookipadooki, wear an invisible hoodie, and move up to the Himalayas (where, by the way, Buddhist monks also google stuff. Wanna “friend” them?)


       Am I worried about my privacy? NO. I am worried about other irritants but not some ninja out to steal my hummus sandwich. Give me 1 million more FB “friends,” I'll relish it! Enjoy my words, share my poetry, meet my kids, try this cool recipe, sing along with me, look! the koolcat just brought in a baby dragon! FUN. Those who know me longer, knows that I am a reclusive bat—ask me questions about an ex, expect a rude response. There's limit to what we can share here, but that's a personal decision—what is “private” and what isn't. Know what to give away, know what to keep (at least for the time being). Common sense. It's all in a day's time out there.
       Being online is like hanging out at the park on a Saturday afternoon. Sharing stuff is like talking on the mic in front of a crowd. So is it possible to say: “My name is Pasckie Pascua, my passport name is George Alfredo Pascua, 53 years old next Tuesday, a father of 4, heterosexual, loves the Bee Gees, eats ramens, got the hots for women with hips. Oh BTW, I just hurt my pinkie in the bathroom at 4:13.04 AM, any advice how to ease the pain? Jeez, I realize I need to buy babedawg food. You know, I really hate my neighbor's ex mom in law because she looks like my ex of 65 years ago!
       Now listen, those infos are strictly—and I mean it—STRICTLY for my four chosen friends only. Weebo, Keebo, Feebo and Beebo... (mic feedback, brrrr!)... Damn, I am sorry for that feedback guys, this mic sucks! Sorry, I sound really awful this morning. Allergies, you know... See you in 15 seconds, bye!”

The Immigrant Dreamer, The Self-exiled Seeker

WHEN I see “foreign” hands quietly go through a little gig wherever—diner kitchen, apple orchard, snowy roadside, building rooftop, front lawn, city garage—for few dollars paid, I don't see bent backs or weary eyes, I see hearts and souls. America is the haven of plenty, the promised land—where greener pastures lay gently so freedom could frolic with proud trees, jubilant wind and tall buildings. This is where humanity converge, where a voice in the wilderness could resound beyond the seas, a giant stage where a mere whisper is heard by a throng, and a slight wave of a hand could move a mountain...


       But most immigrants sailed the turbulent oceans and flew the uneasy sky and left behind families, friends and the warm intimacy of their culture of birth—not to wonder over the immaculate grandeur of snowfall, or drown in the euphoric glee of Times Square, or marvel at the flawless magnificence of the Grand Canyon, or bungee jump from atop the mighty Statue of Liberty, or rock `n roll in an almost endless expanse of generous lawns of grass... 
       These wayfarers, pilgrims and voyagers carry a heavy load of dreams tucked in their shallow pockets that are not necessarily measured by dollars paid for hours rendered. That Dream may not exude the scent of apples, instead it could be the Dream of Apples, a dream so abstract and hazy yet so alive and insistent like the incessant rumble of monsoon rains on tin can roofs, or the howl of tempest in the eye of the storm—that never left them, these accompany them as they rest their bodies and pause their minds at the end of a day in the peaceful quiet of a transient room.
      The glorious joy that seep through their veins as they watch families share dinners or Saturdays at the park equal the fleeting happiness of seeing their loved ones stream along, in and out, on a computer screen, or the sweet smile that squeezes out of their eyes when the little child left at home opens a box of blessings sent from America, and then burst into a tearful, happy dance... 
      These adventuring souls not only bring with them a thick notebook of things to buy and places to visit, most of all—they drag with them a long history of pain and new stories of agony that is not easy to comfort or heal. Their loneliness is not the isolated discontent of winter cold or the excruciating alienation of bleeding hearts that can never be pacified by so many open doors ushered by so many generous smiles. Their souls will remain unwelcome, their hearts will stay beating a distant beat that only the sweet songs of summers somewhere so far, so far away, could shelter...