Editor's corner/ Over a cup of tea
Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the
Year for the State of
New Year, a new beginning
There is always a reason why people look forward to the coming of a New Year. New Year has
always brought a feeling of freshness, of welcoming a new beginning, of starting over toward a better
life or relationship, or the springing of a new hope about almost anything. We celebrate the New Year
as if the old year should be discarded altogether, left behind and forgotten. We sometimes forget that
our future oftentimes depends on how we take care of our present, and that our present is happening
because of our past. I simply consider all three phases as integral parts of our wholeness, but I
concede that the New Year truly challenges us to do better than the last.
I actually made a brief analysis of my personal feelings about the New Year for every decade of my
life since my youth. For instance, every New Year during the ‘60s brought me extreme feelings of
sadness, joy and anticipation. The first New Year when my father was gone forever was perhaps one
of the saddest moments of my life, but the experience drew me closer to my mother and helped me
focus on what I should be when I grow up. And I grew up fast, amidst the beautiful music of my
favorites, the Beatles! I won a four-year scholarship in college right after graduating from high school,
and my mom left for the U.S. the same year, 1968.
My New Years after that had been very different – away from my mom and siblings. While they
charted their own future in the U.S., I charted mine in the Philippines with a new family of my own. My
New Years during the ‘70s were very happy ones, with my small children and an idealistic husband
who was then fresh from college. I went back to school and started to grow,career wise. Then the
challenging ‘80s came. Every New Year brought new problems to the family as my youngest became
very sickly; my older children entered college (so I'm sure parents would understand why); my husband
learned the ways of the world; and he and I started to drift apart.
The only truly happy and extraordinary New Year I remember that decade was when I visited my mother and siblings in
Illinois (Christmas season 1987) after receiving a foreign grant as a Congressional Fellow in Washington, D.C. I hadn’t seen my
mom for 19 years then, so our reunion was one of the most memorable times in my life. I have to thank the late Corazon Aquino's
administration for making that possible. The ‘90s were the years of my children choosing their own paths. Every New Year had
significant changes in their lives as well as mine. My eldest daughter graduated with a business degree, got married and later
had kids. My second child, a son, became a lawyer and fell in love with another lawyer. My youngest son and I (sans my
husband) migrated to the U.S. where our New Years became winter-cold and quiet. My husband left our family home as well to be
with his new love.
The first decade of the 21st century, in my journal, was my most challenging but also most memorable years in Madison,
Wisconsin. Every New Year gave me new hurdles, new mountains to climb, new problems to solve. But the decade also gave
me Asian Wisconzine (2005), my magazine, my baby, and an achievement of a lifetime. It also gifted me with the most wonderful
and true friends, including my life’s best friend whose good heart extends to the whole community where he lives. A “community
property,” as I fondly call him, Jonathan Gramling is a multi-awarded civil rights leader, whose writings reflect his idealism, and
whose active community involvement in issues closest to the hearts of people of color has endeared him to us all. This past
decade also showed me the generosity and kindness of people who touched my life in Madison, most especially my “dad,” Paul
Kusuda and his wonderful wife, Atsuko! The friendships and support of my Asian Wiz family – Laura Salinger, Jian Ping, Shang
Zuo, WOAA (Sharyl Kato and Lakshmi Shridharan), John Pinto, WWOCN (Agnes Cammer & “mother” Addrena Squires), and loyal
advertisers – are nothing less than remarkably marvelous! Every New Year then was truly an exciting new beginning for Asian
Wisconzine, despite the threats of the Great Recession. And wow, we are entering our seventh year in 2011!!
The last year of this past decade was a turning point in my life because it required me to get back where I truly belonged. I’m
happy, very happy indeed, because I’m home. So while this New Year is certainly uncertain, feeling happy to start it off is a sign
that everything will be fine.
Choo … choo Train
We all dream of progress, and that’s exactly what I am wishing for Wisconsin, my state! I am certain that a high-speed train to
connect Milwaukee and Madison is a major step toward economic progress. And the fact that President Obama had approved
the $810 million grant to make it happen was a blessing. The pain and hardships brought about by the recession would have
been certainly alleviated with more than 5,000 jobs available for Wisconsinites. But incoming Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
has priorities other than progress for all, so he is against building this high-speed rail. In so doing, other states will benefit from
his short-sightedness. Imagine giving away millions of federal money to other states and losing prospective new jobs simply
because the new governor wants more roads and bridges instead that would keep us from saving money and time in the long
run. There’s just one conclusion here, Walker wants Wisconsinites to keep using gas or diesel and its byproducts and therefore,
allow more profits to companies that surely funnel campaign funds to those who don’t care how much oil costs. Woe to us
Wisconsin not a good state for retirees?
I read with dismay Robert Powell's commentary (MarketWatch, Dec. 19, 2010) titled "10 Worst States for Retirees," because it
included Wisconsin. Powell's article was based on TopRetirements.com's John Brady who wrote that "the 10 states earn this
dubious distinction largely because of three factors: fiscal health, taxation, climate." The other nine states on the list were Illinois,
California, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Nevada. Brady's analysis, in turn, was
based on Pew Center Report "Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril," which detailed why the other nine states joined California
in its troubles. Powell highlighted Brady's cautionary message to retirees and would-be retirees to "avoid states in fiscal peril
because these locales might be expected to face decreasing services and increased taxation."
Wisconsin was cited as doubly cursed with high property taxes and cold weather. For someone who considers Wisconsin as
her second home, however, I wanted very much to disagree. I actually thought Wisconsin is a good place to retire and that
Madison, Wisconsin is the best city in the Midwest. I still think that way. If one has a good job in Madison, she won't even care
how much she pays for property taxes. If Wisconsin's government knows its job very well, then it won't have fiscal problems I
suppose. If you have your loving family with you and its members support each other, then the cold weather will definitely be
nothing compared to the warmth of that family's love. If ...
But of course, there have been intervening factors through the years that answered the ifs negatively. To top it all, was the
Great Recession that caused massive unemployment and decreased budgets. Yet, I still consider Wisconsin as my second
home, and it will always be. My fortune is that I have a choice to step back before moving forward again, something not everyone
has in her reach.
I keep Wisconsin in my prayers, though. I pray that it be removed soon from this Top Ten list of worst states to retire.