Page Title
Editor's corner/ Over a cup of tea
Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the
Year for the State of
Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)

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Family, music, and love for both
I rarely watch a movie nowadays, probably because I have been so busy with many things aside
from family, particularly my garden and my volunteer work for our recent 50th High School Grand
Reunion as editor of our Class '68 Souvenir Program. But one night, while taking care of my
youngest grandson, I happened to open a movie downloaded  previously by my son Dennis on
his computer. The animated film "Coco" caught my attention, not only because I have heard
some good reviews about it, but mostly because it is about family and tradition, a very familiar
theme in Filipino life and society.

The film talks about
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and how it is celebrated by Latinos,
but more importantly, it focuses on the meaning of the occasion to both the living and the dead.
It also highlights the importance of family and "inherited talent" such as ability to create music.  
The theme resonates so well in me. I thought about our Filipino tradition of
Araw ng mga Patay
(Day of the Dead), where families visit the cemetery to pay respect for their departed loved ones,
pray for the eternal repose of their souls, and celebrate their lives and legacies. In addition,
many Filipinos play their guitars and sing at their loved ones' graves to profess their love and
affection to their dear departed.

What glued me most to the film is the fact that the protagonist, the boy Miguel, truly has music in
his veins. It is a common belief among Filipinos that intelligence and talent are handed down from one generation to the
next generation or the generation thereafter, although one cannot predict who among family members in any particular
generation would inherit such personal traits or assets. In Coco, Miguel initially didn't know that his great great
grandfather was a musician. He simply loves music, so he made his own guitar and learned how to play it just by
watching an old video of a late popular performer. The words "Seize the moment," uttered by the late singer stuck and
never left Miguel, despite the disapproval of his family, who wanted the boy not to engage in anything that has to do with
music. The film featured the Land of the Dead where Miguel discovered his real great great grandfather, a songwriter
and composer killed by the popular performer/singer adored by this boy. This was also where Miguel met in person
members of his family who had left, but were always remembered by those still alive. The song "Remember Me" sang a
number of times at important scenes made me cry. It was truly a reminder that we the living should not forget our
departed loved ones because without them, we would not be here in the first place. Their blood runs in our veins, the
roots of the family we now have.

I thought of my beloved late mother who taught me many things in life, including her love for music. My mother was a
coloratura soprano and she played the piano. She introduced me to a world where one can be free, happy and
expressive. Music may be taught, but the talent and love for it were definitely something inherent in my family. I was the
only one who underwent formal training in piano, but it is amazing that all my four younger siblings are also musicians in
their own way. My younger brothers can sing well; and one of them can both play the guitar and the piano on a
professional level; and my younger sisters can do both, as well. One of my sisters also composes her songs and plays
the guitar and keyboard. Four of us can perform onstage with confidence, not only because we feel as if our late mother
were there with us at the backstage!

Thus, the movie Coco reminded me of my family, that love exists in our hearts and will never go away, regardless of
whether anyone of us has left. Love of family in
Dias de los Muertos is the centerpiece of this tradition that must be
preserved regardless of time and place.  Filipinos are like Latinos in this way. We both love our elders, most importantly
those who left us lasting legacies that make up who we are today.

I'd dare to say therefore, that if there is one important legacy left by Spain to her colonized countries in the old days, it is
Dias de los Muertos and the meaning behind it.
Filipinos and Music

I am very sure that Filipinos love music so much! Regardless of whether the trait is inherited or not, and regardless of
whether or not one has the talent for it, Filipinos just love music. We love to sing, play a musical instrument, and dance!
Our television shows feature singing competitions that produce world-class performers.

Most recently, I watched recorded performances of a very young woman from Mindanao who's short and truly brown, KZ
xxxx. She won the local X Factor competition a few years ago and now, she's making waves in China. This girl, who came
from a very poor family, has become a singing celebrity in Asia. She has overcome barriers such as the perceived
preference for performers who are tall with fair skin and nose like their Caucasian colonists of the past. Simply stated,
this great singing sensation is truly a native
Filipina in looks. But her talent is amazing
and her vocal chords truly a gift from heaven
that only a few in the world probably caught
when God decided to offer some to His

Music has given KZ and her family the rare
opportunity to leave poverty and taste the best
of everything in life, including good education
for her siblings. Like KZ, many Filipino singer
and musicians have attained considerable
success and wealth because of their talent in

Music, for me, is a gift from heaven, and
Filipinos inherit the talent for it, basically
because of their faith and their love for
something worth making life a bit easier and

We love music so much because it is the
single gift that makes us smile the way only
Filipinos do.