Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State
of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
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|When change is right for you
For more than 20 years after I got married, raised three children and pursued a career, I never bothered to even think of
changing my life. At the time my children were growing up, my family was my only life, and regardless of challenges that
came my way, my only goal was to keep my family together and help my children become productive members of society.
This, despite my other half’s wandering soul and uncontrollable vices that went with a man’s success.
When each of my children graduated from college and started a family of their own, I simply focused on my career and
remained a faithful wife and mother, ready to help whenever necessary. But change was definitely forthcoming without my
knowing it. The immigrant petition for me and family earlier filed by my mother, an American citizen who lived in Chicago
area since 1968, had been approved and I had to decide to accept it and move to the U.S.
I had to ask myself repeatedly, “Is this the right time for a change?” I had to analyze the pros and cons of leaving my country.
I was about to leave a good job as deputy executive director of Plenary Affairs Bureau in the Philippines’ House of
Representatives. I was earning more than enough to keep a nice home, a car, maids, and many of life’s perks. I would be
away from two of my older children who had married and were over 21 years old at the time. On second thought, I would be
rejoining my mother, would be able to take care of her in her old age, and I would be able to see my four other siblings
again! I thought of how we were separated in our youth (when my mom left for the U.S.) that we never grew up together. This
would be a happy reunion, I told myself. In addition, I thought of starting life anew with my husband, by taking him away from
all the heartbreaking aches and pains of his womanizing, alcohol dependency, and most of all, the corrupt practices of the
agency he had worked for. We could still work, begin a career in the U.S., and live happily ever after, so I thought.
But my husband then didn’t want to change his life, so I ended up changing mine...alone. I went abroad with my youngest
son. My mom was staying with one of my brothers in Glenview, Illinois at the time, while my youngest sister was earning her
master’s degree from UW-Madison. It was my sister who encouraged me to stay with her so my son could enroll at UW.
It was a truly a good decision to stay in Madison, Wisconsin. Here I started a career in journalism. My very first job was
assistant editor of a Black newspaper, whose owner was then the local NAACP president and former CEO of the Urban
League. That job exposed me to the issues that affect communities of color in Wisconsin, and introduced me to outspoken
people in the community, particularly the leaders from the Black, Latino, and Asian communities. It was a learning
experience that I never encountered in my college days. This life’s change was definitely right for me!
It took me more than six years in that job, and thereafter, I decided I was ready to start an Asian American publication, this
one you are reading now. I started it in 2005, and 12 years after, it is still alive. My magazine used to be printed and
simultaneously online, but when recession happened in 2009, another change had to happen. Many publications ended up
closing shop. Fortunately, I was prepared to keep Asian Wisconzine by making it exclusively online. I am thankful I foresaw
the possibility of getting rid of printing in the future...that was 2004; so I studied how to do a website on my own! It took me
two-three months of self-study, every night, until I was ready to publish online. Thus, my first printed magazine was also
online, though it was very rough and elementary, I should say. Succeeding issues were better and I was able to publish
online each page as the months went by. Patience and perseverance paid off. Another life’s change that was right for me!
In Madison, I found my best friend, my soul mate, an extraordinary man who’s loved by the community for his beautiful heart
and love for people of color. And I want to thank him profusely for making me believe that life is beautiful when you serve.
Jonathan Gramling, thank you for all you do for me and our Madison community. You are truly a community person,
committed to service and justice. I also found my second parents, Paul and Atsuko Kusuda. Despite my absence in
Madison, we are keeping in touch regularly, Paul continues to write for Asian Wisconzine online. And most of all, they
support me 100 percent in whatever I do and whatever project I get myself involved in. I named my new home in the
province of Laguna “Casa Kusuda” to express my love and appreciation for the Kusuda couple. They are the parents I never
had. I would be remiss if I don’t mention my “family” in Madison, the Wisconsin Women Of Color Network, Inc. (WWOCN),
especially the people who inspired me to serve and be the best at what I do – Agnes Cammer, Sharyl Kato, Frances
Huntley-Cooper, and Lakshmi Sridharan. Their values, record of community service and life achievements became my
guiding principles as I adapted and adjusted to American way of life.
In 2010, I decided to go back to my original home country. I wouldn’t consider it failure for not amassing wealth in America,
though. I earned a wealth of experience, new knowledge and skills, and lots of good friends. This new chapter in my life
back home has been another right change. I am enjoying the company of my former high school friends and I could see
and visit my children and their families once in a while! I do a lot of ballroom dancing for exercise, gardening in a huge,
beautiful yard in the barrio, and getting to know many of my relatives, too. Recently, I won a beauty pageant titled “The Most
Beautiful Grandma of Laguna 2017” during ANILAG Fest (Laguna Harvest Festival), and on May 14th, I will be the Reyna de
las Flores (Queen of Flowers) at the Flores de Mayo Festivities in Barangay Patimbao, Sta. Cruz. As such, I will lead more
than 30 beautiful women and girls in a colorful parade, all of us wearing beautiful gowns, escorted by handsome men, and
accompanied by local musical bands. Homes will be decorated with flowers and dining tables will be ready for community
visitors. The event will be in honor of Patimbao’s Patron saint. I am happy with these life changes, and I thank our Lord for
such a fruitful, wonderful life. The challenges that came my way as the journey progresses have made me stronger, and
they are miniscule compared to the blessings that were pouring constantly every step of the way.
To me, change is good. The decisions I have so far made in my life have been blessed from above. At my age, I can say
that all I did was to be myself and be a good person in the first place.