OH, THE THINGS I SAW TODAY ON MARKET STREET! In downtown San Francisco, a man blindfolded himself and faced pedestrians with hungry, open arms. A sign next to him said, “Hug Me? I Trust You.”

I also saw two men sweeping the streets in perfect synchrony. A cable was attached to their brooms, plugged into a speaker. You hear the rhythm of the brooms in full volume, sweeping the pavement back and forth. Behind them were two musicians and two children controlling the sound.

A little Japanese boy and his father sat on a bench that kept turning, a merry-go-round…


Ten Things I Know About My Great Grandparents and Philippine history.

1. Apolonio Otanes Pascual (1887–1971) was from Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur, a narrow strip of land in the northwestern coast of the Philippines. During the time of the Spaniards, his family was among many who left the town to escape the forced labor reconstruction of the earthquake-damaged cathedral. They journeyed down south and settled in the wilderness of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija.

2. He was the eldest of six brothers. His father, Mateo Pascual, had two wives and raised both families in different villages in Cuyapo. …


Photo by Wilfredo Pascual

In 2006 I took the Greyhound bus in winter and traveled from California to New York. One of my stops was to visit a friend in Indiana. I wanted to see the cornfields. My friend told me that it was winter so there was nothing to see. We went anyway to see the barns. We ended up in Franklin. The vast, empty fields extended far and wide there were no vehicles on the road, except for a strange red car that kept following us wherever we went in that desolate landscape.

When we stopped to take a picture of one…


Ang larawang ito ay kuha sa Isabela noong August 23, 2005, ilang buwan bago ako lumipad ng Amerika. Tinupad ko ang pangako ko sa aking sarili noong 19 ako na maglakbay at marating ang Palanan. Mahabang salaysayin kung bakit naging mahalaga para sa akin na marating ang makasaysayang lugar na ito. Maraming nagsabi sa akin na delikado at mahirap marating ang Palanan pero linakasan ko ang loob ko.

Maraming bayan at lalawigan ang dinaanan ko. Ilang bus ang sinakyan, ilang tricycle. Sumakay ng kabayo. Umakyat ng bundok. Naglakad nang naglakad.

Ilang araw bago ko marating ang Palanan ay napadpad ako…


I collect old photos from all over the world. I bought this 1978 photo in one of my trips back to the Philippines in the late 90s. I found it in a memorabilia store. The man holding the dead child is Dolphy, the late Filipino King of Comedy. I posted the photo on Flickr in June 2006. A year later, a man emailed me and introduced himself. His name is Alejandro Tagle. “I am the child in that photo,” he wrote.


Woody Allen ended his film Blue Jasmine with the camera closing in on Cate Blanchett in South Park, San Francisco. The background was a little out of focus but I recognized the exact spot right away when I read the sign behind Cate Blanchett. That’s Gran Oriente Filipino, I whispered to Jack. On January 3, 2010, we went to this place to take a photo of this historic building. I doubt if Woody Allen knew the story behind the place but if he did it was a smart location choice.

Blue Jasmine isn’t Allen’s strongest work but people will be…


Bernal Hill. Photo by Wilfredo Pascual. All rights reserved.

Bernal Hill was created 150 million years ago when the Pacific plate and the North American plate collided and converged. Today, this hilltop is home to a remarkable urban ecosystem, including native wildflowers, raccoons, opossums, skunks, hawks, owls, and, at times, at least one coyote in the past. You also get a 360 degree view of San Francisco from here. In one place, I could show friends and point to areas where I work, where I live, go to play, be quiet, and where I came from.


Behn in the middle, with Lino Brocka, seated.

During the relaunch of ABS-CBN in the late 80s, Ricky Lee opened doors for young writers to work with Behn Cervantes in a TV drama set in a sugar plantation. There were ten of us who wrote for Angkan, includingRichard Reynante, Boots SA Pastor, Ralston Jover, and Segundo Matias. We learned a lot working with Behn. We had to. To begin with, very few of us writers had any direct knowledge of the milieu’s feudal history and so it was up to Behn to explain everything.

I can’t remember much other than being told to picture Barbara Perez, the haciendera…


Artwork by Wilfredo Pascual, gouache

When I was eleven, a Franciscan nun shared in our class a startling insight that altered one of my most fundamental beliefs.

One day, Sister Mercedes Nicolas, the principal of Saint Joseph’s School, interrupted our class to “share a secret.” In a very gentle manner, almost confessional, she told us that heaven is not a place. Nope, she said, no pearly gates, no angels with trumpets. It jolted me. WTF was she talking about?! No white robes and haloes??? I grew up in a Catholic school and up until that day, I held on to that promise of every sacrament, every prayer and good deed. …


Nagbakasyon ako last year sa Nueva Ecija at sa gitna ng mabilis na pagbabago sa bayan ng San Jose, naaalala ko pa rin ang mundong ginalawan ko noong bata ako. Lumaki ako sa tapat ng palengke at ito ang aking mga kapitbahay noong Dekada 70:

1. Ang Apartment Namin

Ang gamit naming address noon ay National Road. Nakatira kami sa hilera ng mga two-storey buildings sa highway, sa kanto ng National Road at Rizal street. Karamihan sa mga nakatira dito ay merong negosyo sa first floor at tulad namin ay naninirahan ang pamilyang may-ari sa second floor. Kung anu-ano ang…

Wilfredo Pascual

MOSTLY PERSONAL ESSAYS AND IMAGES. All rights reserved.

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