Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State
of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
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|Things, Places, & People I miss
“There are places I remember, all my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better, some have gone and some remain,
All these places have their moments, with lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living,
In my life, I’ve loved them all...”—The Beatles
The above lines of a beautiful song by my ever favorite band, The Beatles, resonate strong in our lives, I am sure. And I have to thank my
number one best friend in this world, Jon Gramling, for introducing this particular song to me a long time ago. I paid no particular attention to
this song when I was younger, maybe because I was more into the band’s disco and rock and roll pieces t
Things I Miss
*Traditions are important in every culture. As a Filipino, I grew up in a Christian household where respect for the elders is paramount. We use
“po” and “opo” when we address older people. There is no English translation for such words of respect and courtesy. We greet our elders
with a “Mano po” gesture, reaching for the elder’s right hand and placing it on our forehead while saying, “Mano po.” While some young people
still do this, I don’t see it often. Hugs and handshakes are now more accepted, replacing what I consider a beautiful Filipino tradition. I guess
the West has conquered many aspects of our colonized selves.
*Music is a tradition in our family. My late mother was a soprano coloratura, and all of us, her children, either sing or play a musical instrument.
I miss those days when we siblings get together and create music. The happiness of those moments is irreplaceable. We now live away from
each other, and getting together sometimes seems remotely possible.
*I miss get-togethers with my own family when my children were growing up. They’re just not the same as nowadays when my kids are older
and they have their own families to take care of. The innocence of childhood is completely gone, and the ugly shadows of sibling rivalries lurk
in the backdrop, most times too obvious that I don’t even want to be there.
*Working in the legislatures of the Philippines and the USA had its perks, indeed. I miss the attention, the good pay, and the free travels that
went with it. Those days were definitely happy career days!
*When I immigrated to the USA in the late 1990s, I became a media person and was exposed to communities of color. I miss the challenges
of being a journalist in a foreign land where color of the skin determines where one is or ought to be placed in society. While they’re gone now,
I realize I miss the company of true friends I used to work with.
*I miss the love of someone who really cares. Well, we just can’t have everything.
*Cailles Street, Sta. Cruz, Laguna — this is where I grew up. My mom sold this property when she broke up with my dad in the early ‘60s. I miss
the simple beauty and the loving caress of this home by the river. Whenever I pass by this home now, it feels strange. It is not what it used to be.
*College, Los Banos, Laguna — my first taste of college life, having been granted a four-year full scholarship by the University of the
Philippines. My freshman year was beautiful! I was the star of the batch, being in the Dean’s List for two semesters and the first recipient of a
top Philippine scholarship in that college.
*Caloocan City, Metro Manila — Bagong Barrio in Caloocan City used to be a squatters’ district, and I was one of its residents for more than 20
years. This was the area where I landed after getting married and losing my college scholarship as a result. People were poor, but they were
close friends and neighbors who cared. I raised my three children here while I struggled to complete my college education in the big city. I
really miss the closeness of my neighbors and the beauty of their hearts.
*Madison, Wisconsin, USA — Twelve years of my life spent in a foreign land I consider my second home. Perhaps had no recession happened
in 2008 and years thereafter, I would have stayed. I loved the community work and service as a journalist of color in Madison. I miss the people
I worked with and the community friendships I successfully built through the years.
*I truly miss Jon Gramling, my best friend and soul mate. He has always been there for me through thick and thin, when I was adjusting in
Madison as an immigrant, a journalist, and someone away from family. There has been no other best friend like him. The Madison community
is truly blessed having Jon as its number one writer of relevant news and features, and top analyst on main issues of the day. He taught me
what a good writer really is, someone not there for the money, but someone who works for others, especially the needy, the underrepresented
and the downgraded. While we communicate often through emails, I miss his personal touch and care.
*I miss Paul Kusuda, my “father in Madison” and number one supporter of Asian Wisconzine. When he passed away in November last year, I
felt as though I lost my real father. I cried for days, something I never did, even when some closest relatives died. Paul did great things for me,
personally and professionally. He taught me values through his example, his life, and way of thinking. I miss the kind of activism he was well
known for, and I am pretty sure Asian Americans in the Madison area who know him well miss him, too. We lost a strong voice in our
community, one that doesn’t bend to please others, one that speaks truth and genuine feelings, one that participates in no passive way to add
color to our city’s outstanding issues.
*I miss Lang Kenneth Haynes, or simply ‘Brother Ken’, a
giant of mind and spirit, whose writing under his column
“Simple Things” made me think of complicated matters
that pose challenges to our lives. I miss his kind of
poetry, for I always have to read the verses many times
before I fully understand the meaning thereof. How he
played with words simply amazed me no end. Brother
Ken is surely missed big time.
*Lastly, I miss my late mother and late aunt Onor. They
were the two strongest women I have ever known in my
whole life. They influenced my being and they shaped my
life the way I am today.
In my life, there are important things, places and people I
will always remember. I know that you, too, feel the same
way I do.