Tuesday, July 13, 2010



The second round of my "spring cleaning" is being done in the middle of summer. All on orders of the mother of my children, and my supreme care and direction-giver. Last week, rummaging through the "dispendables, throwables, and absolutely overstaying junk in my study," my woeful travails and painfully revolting dusting of books and clippings, et alia (of agonizing which ones to trash and which to keep longer to my dying days, I hope) were assuaged somewhat by discovering a long-lost treasure: my son Albert Beau Casuga's first attempts at writing poetry, lovingly bound in a thin, brown-with-age, libretto.

I have been looking for these for some time now. They would make good material for this blog. The poetry of the "apple that might not have fallen far from the tree." Although these were his first and last forays into writing poetry, I have a feeling that he could still pick up from their energies should he see them again. Hence, this post.

The collection was hidden between books and testpapers when I found them. Albert Beau was in high school then. I took the poems with me to my office, typeset them, and pasted them together to resemble a book. He never looked for them, though. He never asked for them. I felt they have always been his way of creating that link, that vinculum caritatis, a son's unspoken reassurance that the genes have not been altered a lot. A poet's son must also be a poet. And all that genetic magic or maybe mumbo jumbo.

I thought I would publish them now, or they will forever perish in the limbo of other interests my progeny have gone into. All my five children are reasonably literate and immensely expressive of their opinions (on everything from pebbles to diverse Weltanschauung), but none of them ventured into creative writing in their adult years. Wisdom and empathy for my creative agony (rarely ecstasy) must have taught them to steer away from this pain-in-the-you-know-what artsy fartsy urgencies that would ultimately not amount to a pound of beans. Good thinkers, these kids.

But once upon a lifetime, I ached to see one of them improve on my chosen art, and write the best yet seen in the realms of poetry, the queen of the literary arts. Maybe in another life. But for the nonce, here is Albert Beau's poetry. I learned much from them. Even felt pangs of guilt and missed moments of knowing him as he grew up. I hope it is not too late.

(Please click on the images to zoom in on the text.)

(Click on image to zoom in on text.)

The tenth and final poem in the collection is my favorite. "The Man at the Hill", I suspect was about me, addressed to me, and I should have been more attentive to his plea: "O man who is at the hill,/ Please come down and remember me..." I recall the one time Albert Beau and I sat on a slope near his school's track and field at T.L.Kennedy High School In Central Mississauga. I must have been lost in the maze of onrushing thoughts about the magazine I was editing for the Metroland Publishing's leisure and entertainment periodical, SMILE. He sat silently, impassively, ahead of me on the mound, preoccupied with his own thoughts (he never really talked to me about them. He kept them to himself when he was sixteen. He still does at 43. I wonder if I really knew my son, then. Do I really know him now? I wonder if my own father, the late Francisco F. Casuga, ever asked that same question, too, when he wondered why I wrote what I wrote when I was in high school myself. As editor of the school paper, The La Uinon TAB, I did sneak a poem into the tabloid's literary pages (monopolized the column inches, I realise in hindsight). But I concede, without reservation, that upon re-reading my son's poems when he was 15 or 16, that he wrote better ones than I did at the same age --- I could understand his poems, I could not decipher mine. Even at this point, I still think that I write poems which I know I understand when I have just written them, only to realize that a few years thereafter, only God or his counterpart in Hades, might be patient enough to put a peg on what in blazes I am being lyrical about!



Thursday, July 1, 2010



Did Toronto citizens deserve the destructive mayhem wrought by protest activities which media and police monitors theorized were introduced by anarchist group Black Bloc and other violent protesters demonstrating against G-8 and G-20 Summiteers? Certainly, the issues against poverty and market globalisation are stark, and must be focused on. But at whose expense?

Who is helping this child-worker to express his protest (more like a prayer. See picture below). Who is protecting his right to a decent life that must frown on abject child-labour slavery?

Will the Black Bloc be there, too? Will the Canadian Civil Liberties Association lend its "rage" to call attention to police brutality like those in the photograph? Of course, there is a difference between Bangladesh and the constitutionally-protected Canadian societies, eh?

Maybe one country's police action may be "more benign" than the other, Eh? What is wrong with these pictures? Eh?
(Click on image and text to zoom in.)

(Photo courtesy of AFP/Getty Images by Munir Uz Zaman as reproduced in The Toronto Star, July 1, 2010)

Last June 26, protesters against the G-8 and G-20 Summits held in Canada battled police in the streets of Toronto. Police manning the conference security responded by restraining demonstators and attempted to confine them in "secured areas". While they did, some protesters burned a couple of police cars, bashed the shield-and-baton-wielding constables with bowling balls and bricks, and shattered the display windows of some 50 stores along the demonstration routes.
Caught flatfooted by the sudden violence, police used force to arrest some 900 protesters, detained some, charged them, and freed some after as long as 12-hour detentions. Job done, the police were the object of critical rage in subsequent days. Police brutality was alleged by media and protest spokesmen.
In its executive summary of "A Breach of the Peace," the Canadian Civil Liberties Association released its report on June 30 decrying:
"It is the opinion of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association that police conduct during the G20 summit was, at times, disproportionate, arbitrary, and excessive. . . .June 26 represents a turning point. Widespread property damage was committed by a cohort of vandals in the downtown of Toronto on that day. We condemn this criminal activity and acknowledge that it warranted a response by police. The response which police provided, however, was unprecedented, disproportionate and, at times, unconstitutional."
Police must use kid gloves, must be kinder, must be "nicer" to vandals in Toronto streets. Is that it CCLA?
The proverbial civil rights devotees roamed the streets thereafter and condemned police action. Today, Canada Day, the "less violent demonstrators" staged sporadic street-corner demonstrations and demanded the release of all arrested protesters.

Meanwhile, last June 28, "protesting garment workers in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka were fired upon by police with tear gas and water cannons at the workers who sew for some of the top labels in clothing. The protests were over poor wages and working conditions." (The Toronto Star, July 1, Pg. 17. See accompanying AFP/Getty Image shot by Munir Uz Zaman.)
G-8 and G-20 issues are larger issues; they trump the poor's wages and working conditions. No one this side of the world has barked at the Bangladeshi government. Yet.
Will there be some who will realise that if society cannot defend the democratic rights of this child-worker, no amount of summits or civil rights demonstrations could?

The police were there, but no G-8 or G-20 leaders were around to take the cudgels for the "exploited garment workers" who include children as young as six years old, part of the "child slave labour" civil libertarians should be storming parliaments and govenrments for until the abomination ends.

So, what is the difference between these two photographs of street mayhem with police at both ends of violence?

(Click on the image to zoom in on text and picture.)

What's wrong with these pictures?

Vive la difference? Eh?

Happy Canada Day, in any case.