My photo
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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Are you happy? The double-edged question can only lead to a constant resolve: I resolve to be happy, this year, and the many years hereafter.

Here are some of the reasons:

Happy just being happy, Louie asks: Are you Happy?

Have a happy happy hug! Are you happy?

Happy on Parliament Hill. The future PM?

Happy with their own paddles. On the wrong boat though.

Happy emptying the lake on the shore. Eat your heart out, St. Augustine!

Happy on the lake. On high tide, you would see him walking on the water!

"Lola, are you happy?”

Louis Martin, the littlest one of the nine grandchildren we dote on, has this failsafe question to ask his grandmother when she as much as raises her voice to keep him from executing his daily mayhem --- throwing the toys all over the kitchen, clambering on a table he invariably falls from to suffer a tell-tale welt on his forehead, terrorizing his sister, Chloe, by grabbing toys she manages to play with without her brother claiming the toy in her hands is his --- (“Mine! Mine!” --- Remonstrating, the abuela urges: “Louie, share! You have to share! Want a Time Out? (The riot act.) See Lola’s face? Lola is not happy. “(Argumentum ad misericordiam), and the like.

Are you happy? A double-edged question, if there was one. If you are not, there is trouble. If you are, then there will be more mayhem. Right? But to Louie, it means the world to have a happy abuela right next to him, to shield him from harm, from all quarters, man-made or all and sundry (including the disciplinarians called Mama and Papa. And don’t forget the fearsome Big-Bad-Wolf abuelo who would not brook foolishness during lunch and Do-Do-time – naptime to you, cher ami.

Are you happy? This, however, is the one question most humans are afraid to ask themselves, fearful that one’s response would expose a swept-under-the-rug disappointment, a searing hurt, a cankering injurious memory…

Are you happy? To answer this would, nevertheless, force one to reach deep down into one’s soul. If one were not happy, why would existence be of any value?

There are myriad ways and probably strategies to be happy, but one must be happy, somehow, somewhat. Otherwise, why would one struggle to stay alive?

It should probably be one’s business then to find out if one is happy. If one is not, then every effort should be channelled to making that happen. Be happy. Strive to be happy. Learn to be happy.

This is, after all, the ultimate desideratum of a life worth living. Are you happy?

What does it mean to be happy?

Now, that is the more difficult question. When one finds out, it ought to be shared with the rest of mankind. For too long now, since we lost our primordial Paradise, we have not been happy. Testaments to this are our interminable wars, terrorism, prejudice, Holocausts, apartheids, genocides, ad nauseam.

One, therefore, must resolve, for yet another year in our inexorable calendars of dolours and fearsome anxieties, to know that one can be happy, strive to be happy, learn to be happy, and stay happy.

Look into the eyes of every Louie on earth and find there---with God’s grace---that the answer to the question is as simple as: Love is what makes us all happy. Are you happy?.

“Even if I throw another potentially-accident-causing toy truck in the kitchen where you are cooking, Lola?”

What I’d give to hear him say this in a wickedly innocent-sounding Anglais and French soon enough, and her unwitting Lola would still be reassuring the be-dimpled garcon that she is absolutely happy, indeed.

"I am happy, Louie. Merci."

* * *

One strategy for a happy day that works for me is reading through Gimundo: Good News, Served Daily on The papers thrive on bad news daily; why cultivate a milieu of great dolour? Whose life is it, anyway?

And the happy pictures of happy times? Those albums should help. Vita brevis.

For all the years: Be Happy.

1 comment:

Alfie said...

Here's to another year of happiness, without the need for validation from material possessions or comparison to others. Happy New Year, Daddy! Thanks for being such a great Dad & Lolo.