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ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Monday, August 9, 2010



A good thing to note: The Philippine print media thrive well in Las Vegas, as they do in Toronto. Here are some of the newspapers one can pick up free in any of those myriad Filipino restaurants and grocery stores. (Chow King, Seafood City, and Jolibee on Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas City, Nevada).

Saw paisanos there, read Philippine events while eating favorite Philippine victual, and talked to some of them who would no longer want to go back. "Um, maybe for a visit, a brief vacation at some Philippine resorts. Nah, it's good in the States."

(Click on image to zoom in on text.)

The week of sweltering heat (108F is normal), reminded us of a modern Sodom and Gomorrah in a desert city that could well be man's idea of happiness bought with the almighty dollar. Sensitive to the suffering of the rest of the starving world? Do not go to Las Vegas.

But "heaven is the vision of fulfilled desire/ and hell the shadow of a soul on fire." You can get both in Las Vegas. City of lights and overbearing and profligate use of energy. Oil spills in Louisiana, the gulf of Mexico, and China notwithstanding.

This time around, we went to visit the new Westgate Planet Hollywood where we bought vacation time, to escape Disney in Florida and the Caribbean cruises now and then. What's new? A huge wall-to-all screen covering the picture window that doubles as a ridiculously gigantic television. The grandchildren loved it. But if I spent a week watching the idiot box, I really did not have to leave home, did I?
(Oh, they've got everything in the buidling: a resort-like pool and cabanas, spas, a mile-long maze of boutiques, restaurants, theatres, peepshows, strip joints, name-it-they've-got-it-you-need-not-burn-yourself-under-that-infernal-sun traversing the Las Vegas Strip.)
Beats curling with a book under a shadetree in the beaches of San Fabian, Boracay, Pagudpud, Bauang, Palawan, Bohol, all paradises in the Philippines?

I can sleep better at home. But for retired senior citizens, the gambling casino is where one finds the Filipino nonagenarian staring blankly at a slotmachine hoping to be jolted by the cacophonic charivari of a jackpot on these one-armed bandits. Beats trying to sleep when one just could not -- TV or boring book to boot. Hope springs eternal? Nah, beats waiting in a dark room to die.

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