Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for October 6th, 2008

Casinos, economics and an epiphany 2

Posted on October 06, 2008 by jimparedes

I took a sabbatical from my column in Philippine Star since I am currently on a California tour with APO. We did our first concert last October 3 at the Sycuan Casino. This coming Saturday, we do the Morongo Casino and on Sunday, we do a show in Oxnard and then head home for Manila the next day.

Sycuan, Morongo, Cache Creek and a few more are the new additions to the casino destinations in the US. These successful temples of chance, all tax free are owned by American Indian tribes and the beneficiaries of these operations are the members of the individual tribes who have set them up. In the case of Sycuan, the interesting thing is that the chiefs and members of the board (all Indians) are married to Filipinas! We have met them since they attended our shows last time around. I hear one of them is an Ilocana!

Last October 3, we had a great show. It was a full house and we got a standing ovation. I liked our performace even if minutes before we came out, I had serious doubts about the condition of my voice and body. I was tired, jet-lagged, and felt heavy. But as the overture began to play, I felt all my energies gather together and work on me enough to do the show successfully. It was amazing. I felt a coming together of body, mind and spirit and an ‘awakening’.

* * *
It’s been more than a year since I was in the US. It’s election season and I feel a polarization especially among Filipinos who are traditionally Republicans. I feel that more and more, many of them this time are turning Democrats this election. The few who remain Republicans seem defensive and feel the need to explain and defend themselves. The fear of job loss, the observable decline in economic activity in malls with less shoppers, and the general anxiety about the economic conditions here has given me the impression that the US these days seems like a less happy place compared to before. People are clearly worried about the future.

In a small reunion with classmates I attended, the conversation was 80 percent about the bail out plan, the elections, and their take on the future of their adopted country which seems mostly bleak.

It wasn’t too long ago when we saw the fall of the Berlin wall and the following disintegration of the once mighty USSR. An economist-writer here has claimed as much and says that the drop in the DOW Jones of a trillion dollars (roughly the entire economy of India) in 15 minutes is comparable to the fall of the Berlin wall and signals the decline of American Capitalism as we know it. Pretty scary stuff. He says that the brand of economics that is decidedly American and has been the model and ideal for decades is now fatally flawed and must be rethought!


It’s sobering to actually see how things can change just like that. Nothing is forever. This is a reality which we seem to understand and accept only conceptually, if we ever do. Coming face to face with the irreverent force of impermanence can be quite disturbing and humbling.

* * *
I am having a epiphany. I am glad to be where I am right now as I write this. I am on the 8th floor of the Pacific Palm Hotel in West Covena ad I have a beautiful view of mountains and homes in between trees. It is a good moment. I feel a kinship to the moment as I write write without thinking at all and just going with the flow. Perhaps it’s because I got good sleep last night which I felt may have finally aligned my body to the time zone I am currently in. Or perhaps it is just one of those rare moments when I am present to and thankful for all that is around me.

I am happy to be where I am and who I am right now. I am unfolding right this second. Words are spilling out of me, and my body is sustained by the spirit that flows through me every second. In a few days, I will be doing two performances with Danny and Boboy singing songs we have made through the years and gifting our audience with our brand of entertainment. As Lionel Ritchie likes to sing, ‘Life is good, wild and sweet. Let the music play on, play on, play on.’

Does it get any better than this? Right now, I don’t think so.

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