Monday, June 22, 2009

The History and Story of Traveling Bonfires, sort of...







Rock Journeys and Sublime Madnesses

[1] Waiting for Winter

The TRAVELING BONFIRES is the continually evolving brainchild of Pasckie Pascua—journeyman journalist/editor, poet, and events organizer/producer.
The Bonfires’ seminal brainstorm took root in a mining town in the ragged Cordillera mountains, far north of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon—where Pascua spent a considerable amount of his childhood.
“Bonfire nights were like Disneyland rides, but you don’t see neons up there—instead, we danced with fireflies under a bothered sky adorned with uneasy stars. For some reason, in a child’s world, those were the only moments of fun and frolic. And the people up there, tribal kids and folks, they’re family, real family to me. I didn’t even know that our playground was actually a river of mining refuse or cyanide wastes,” Pascua wrote in his semi-autobiographical novel, “Waiting for Winter.”
In early 80s, Pascua climbed up the hills again—this time, as news correspondent for a Manila-based newspaper and a UK-based news dispatch, and community organizer (teaching grassroots media). It was also the time of ceasefire (or peace) negotiations between the government and Communist insurgents.
“At a time when bombs and gunfire from all fronts—government troops, Communist rebels, paramilitary combatants—coexisted with thunderstorms and cold, cold nights of fearsome dark, bonfires were comfort zones. Bonfires got people together. We shared songs, poetry, funny stories and gags, and food. It was random, very spontaneous. Come one, come all.” Pasckie rambled on in “My Life as a Greyhound.”
From late 80s to early 90s, Pascua organized and produced “gigs” in urban areas, especially in Manila, under the Playwrights Mobile. The group advocated issues ie, human rights, streetchildren’s causes, women issues, workers, peasants, youth, environment, peace—all the while maintaining a “humane/concerned citizen” persona than ideological/radical stance.
Those shows were anchored by a band called Duane’s Poetry—which Pascua and friend, Rolly Melegrito—formed. At that juncture, Playwrights Mobile was renamed Traveling Bonfires, and has made the rounds of the capital city’s major rock clubs and poetry reading venues, as well as campuses.
Meanwhile, Pascua maintained that his organization wasn’t “political, but humanitarian” although he was very visible in activist gatherings that were sympathetic to Left-wing causes.

WHEN PASCUA moved to New York City in the summer of 1998, he brought with him the spirit and vision of Traveling Bonfires. That was also the time that The Bonfires saw a physical semblance of “organizational clarity.”
Pascua went on to recruit the nucleus of the Traveling Bonfires (and the publication, The Indie-NY) in 2000-2001. The first staff was composed mainly of young, newly-grad intellectuals from Cornell Univ, Harvard, New York Univ, and Columbia Univ, with “a mix of streetbred New Yorkers and young Filipino writers, artists and musicians who grew up in the Philippines.” In this group were the few Filipinos (and Fil-Ams) that Pascua maintained as close friends through the years, to date: Ruben Austria, Jason Baquilod, Gino Inocentes, Dinna Daproza-Rich, and Renrick Pascual.
“Pasckie wasn’t very comfortable within and around the Filipino community here in the US,” observes The Bonfires’ associate producer and Pasckie’s longest-serving assistant and friend Marta Osborne, a native of West Virginia’s backwoods whom Pasckie met in Asheville in 2003. “He always told me that he misses his friends in Manila, but not most of his kababayans here—that’s except when he talks about Ruben and the few others. I can even tell you who these friends are.”
In 2000, The Bonfires' mother organization, The Philippine Independent Communication, Inc. (The Indie) was formed—that was right after he severed ties with the Left-wing Philippine Forum (he was the organization’s volunteer grant writer and events organizer). The organization was officially established in New York City and registered as a nonprofit organization in Albany NY on that same year.
Speculations and accusations—mostly hurled against him—spread following his departure from the organization. His feelings could be summed up, in a way, in a song, “Looking for my Comrades,” that he wrote with Duane’s Poetry a few months before he left Manila for New York.

“I’m leaving my suitcase
Bursting with books of different shapes
But I have to unload excess baggages
They have become heavy to carry—
I’m leaving this shattered city
With my guitar and poetry
Going to start anew, but before I go—
I’ll pass by the café
Where my friends used to gather
Before there was a revolution
We’re on passionate discussion—
My friends are all gone now
They are all gone now.”

“As far as I know, Pasckie joined Philippine Forum as a friend, not as bonafide member of the organized Left,” ex-girlfriend Greer Kupka wrote in her blog, “Bonfire Grrl of Westchester Ghetto” in 2007. “Pasckie wasn’t part of the political or ideological war when he formed The Bonfires. I never thought that this guy was an ideologue although he can rant and rave all that Engels and Mao shit all night, man. The dude is a journalist and a poet—that’s all.”
(Kupka’s father once covered Manila as an Associated Press correspondent in late 70s. She also visited Cebu City and parts of Manila as part of her college thesis in 2006, as a cultural anthropology student at UC in Berkeley.)
In a way, Pascua admitted those observations of him, especially in his marathon radio interviews with Indie founding member Jason Baquilod in his “Pinoy Radyo” shows in Elizabeth, New Jersey in and around 2003.
“It wasn’t a good parting. It’s like spirit-brothers going on different, opposite directions because presumably formidable forces like political ideologies got in the way,” Pascua reminisced in a radio interview in Asheville, North Carolina in 2005, right after he was given community citation as a “Peace Warrior” by the Western North Carolina Peace Coalition for his work with “Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park” and publication of The Indie.
“Technically, the first incarnation, in the US that is, of Traveling Bonfires, happened in New York—The Indie’s writers were all, or mostly, musicians,” added Kupka, herself a bassist for a Brooklyn-based blues band called The Jenny Fubar Band. Hence, The Bonfires—as a loose group of poets, musicians, and performers—functioned or existed as the advocacy/fundraise subproject of The Indie.
The group actively moved around NYC from 2000 until the latter part of 2002. Apart from publishing the fortnightly The Philippine Independent (later renamed The New York City Indie Rockzine; finally, The Indie), the organization also conducted weekly discussions with like-minded Filipino youth organizations in New York, organized film showings—aside from the usual poetry readings and rock concerts.
However, funding said projects was already the main bottleneck. The main source of the organization’s funding mainly came from the membership’s individual contributions and the small amount that it earns through the “benefit gigs” and concerts. So to complement media work and subsequently raise fund to sustain its existence, The Bonfires continually produced and organized ensemble, multi-band concerts in Manhattan—including gigs and shows (mostly collaborations with other organizations) in the Lower East Side, especially at the famed punk dive CBGB, Bowery Ballroom, Acme Underground, The Knitting Factory, C-Note, and in campuses like Queens College and Columbia University—until 2001.

LOOKING BACK, the “American mainland brainstorm” came into being when Pascua attended a national gathering of Filipino-American students in Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999—as a volunteer staff for Philippine Forum.
After a week-long assimilation in the conference, he came up with a theoretical premise for ethnic minority/community organizing: The need to consolidate the growing population of ethnic Filipino youths in the US into a unified collective that addresses relevant sociocultural issues in the mainland and in the Philippines. At that time, he was also a Correspondent (arts/culture) for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the largest daily newspaper in the Philippines; and was co-editing a mainstream Filipino newspaper in Manhattan, the Headline Philippines.
The Bonfires and The Indie’s main objective or vision/mission revolves around consolidation of the huge but largely fragmented Filipino-American community in metropolitan New York and North Jersey. Central focus was the youth sector (35 and downwards). Among others, it also helped provide educational resources and opening up venues to assist progressive Filipino-American community and cultural workers in expanding and deepening their cultural and historical knowledge and analytical perspective of the sociopolitical-cultural situation in the Philippines.
Moreover, the organization sponsored (and co-sponsored) and/or initiated events and productions that offer a diverse array of cultural expressions through music, poetry, and film. The Bonfires and The Indie sponsored film showings on Philippine situationers in various campuses, in example, the US premier of “Batas Militar,” a documentary about the military rule under the late Ferdinand Marcos, at Columbia University’s Barnard College.
As a publication, The Indie started out as a youth-based community tabloid-styled newsmagazine. Main focus of readership was the young Filipino population in both US coasts, emanating from New York City.

FOLLOWING the unfortunate event that shook New York City in Sept 11, 2001, Pascua relocated the Traveling Bonfires to western North Carolina, using the mountain “artists/free spirit” city of Asheville, as base of operation. The sorry situation in NY and NJ cast a dark cloud of uncertainty on most of the membership; some lost day jobs, some moved to other states. More importantly, the emotional and economic chaos at that time cast a huge shadow of doubt concerning The Bonfires’ future in the Big Apple.
In North Carolina, Pascua reformatted The Bonfires/The Indie as a community arts/culture organization and publication, catering not only to Filipinos and other ethnic groupings in America, but more importantly, it now serves a wider “all-peoples” readership/audience.
From 2001 to 2007, The Bonfires built and sustained persistent but consistent activity in Asheville, and neighboring towns and cities. The organization relentlessly booked local, struggling acts and bands in Asheville’s diverse, actively artistic/musical community; Bonfires gigs happened at an average of 5 or 6 shows a month, or more.
In 2004, the organization organized and produced an unprecedented 16-weekends spring to end of fall “Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park” concerts in downtown Asheville—converging close to a hundred bands, performers, poets from all over NC and from as far as New York City, Boston, and Texas. The program also attracted performers from Haiti, Congo, Japan, and France.
In between, Pascua and Osborne collaborated in publishing two other publications by the latter part of 2006—Wander, (a literary reading) and Blue Sky Asheville, under Loved by the Buffalo Publications.
In Oct 2 2004, a 7-band “Bonfires for Peace” was also held in Baltimore’s sprawling Leakin Park. This spring/summer/fall program carried on until 2007, when Pascua left North Carolina for Southern California.
In the fall of 2008, Pascua—with Osborne and local peace activist Leonard Baric—organized the first “Bonfires for Peace” in the West Coast. Co-sponsored by the Long Beach Peace Network, the event, held at state park of Huntington Beach, had the support of local chapters of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, and ANSWER (Act Now To Stop War & End Racism).
Meanwhile, Pascua—as expected, “resurrected his spirits” in his new neighborhood, 4th street in Long Beach, Los Angeles County. The Bonfires’ two “small-venue gigs”—Vagrant Wind and Wander Women—are mostly held at Viento y Agua Café & Gallery (which, easily exudes the same aura of Asheville coffeeshops). The Indie has also been reborn as Wander.


[2] A LIFE AS GREYHOUND:
Asheville, and elsewhere on the road


AFTER A few months (to almost a year) of hiatus in the backwoods of Weaverville (20 mins north of downtown Asheville) and Wilmington (coastal city, 8 hrs beyond) and quiet interface with Asheville’s aesthetically/artistically-diverse but dominantly white middle class downtown community, plus a number of travels—Pascua finally decided to republish The Indie as a “Western North Carolina rag with choice outlets in major US cities” in July 2002.
The Indie’s relocation to the South was not an impulsive decision. Even during the “relatively quieter” times when Pascua stayed mostly cloistered and secluded in Weaverville, The New York City Indie Rockzine was still being printed (in Asheville) and distributed in a number of outlets in downtown Manhattan. This, while he regularly submitted articles to at least two WNC/Asheville-based magazines, Rapid River and Adventure of the Smokies. He remembered engaging The River’s publisher Dennis Ray in long conversations during those days.
At that same span of time, Pascua kept his usual maddeningly relentless pace. He was flying to and from New York City (and elsewhere) at an average of twice a month—to expand his network in other cities/states, and to co-supervise Traveling Bonfires gigs at the CBGB, among other venues, with bosom buddy Renrick Pascual of the NY/NJ-based Brown Culture. (Pascual is a founding member of The Indie in New York.)
In between all these, Pascua maintained a quiet but focused relationship with his non-Filipino friends in the Upper West Side and Westchester. At that time The Indie/The Bonfires’s “office” was traveling with him via a frantic, nomadic drift—to his brother’s Jersey shore house near Atlantic City, Pascual’s apartment in Heights, Jersey City, an attic perch in a residential house in a Jewish community in Great Neck, Long Island near Nassau, an old barnhouse/cabin in Weaverville NC, “his spirit-family’s treehouse” in Oklahoma or Arizona, and his many “couches and crash pads” on the road.
“In you ask me how Pasckie manages to jump from here to there—across state lines, by car, Greyhound, airplanes, trains—I don’t know,” Pascua’s longtime friend, roommate, and assistant Marta Osborne said. “When he says in his poem, all houses are mine, all couches are mine—you better believe it, that’s true.”
“This man just traveled a day from North Carolina to New York City to watch a one-hour show,” Pascua’s “kindred spirit” friend Ruben Austria told an audience at C-Note in downtown Manhattan before a performance (with family act, Mambola) in the winter of 2005. “He booked this show and he’s here to watch us play. Then, he’ll be riding back to North Carolina on a Greyhound tomorrow. He’s a crazy man!”

A MAJOR surgery in New Jersey (to remove a potentially-deadly lump on his right lung) in Nov of 2000 slowed Pascua down—but only for two weeks. But it was 9/11 that finally stopped him, temporarily that is, from savoring his crazy, almost-impulsive traveling high. The twice-a-month Asheville-NYC-elsewhere flights came to an abrupt stop.
He missed the Sept 11 / World Trade Center tragedy by a day. He attended a Brown Culture/Indie Productions hook-up concert in Hoboken NJ on Sept 8, Saturday. Instead of flying back to North Carolina on Sept 11 (as he previously planned) and stay two more days in NYC to give more time to hang out with friends and bands who flew from Los Angeles and San Francisco to join the concert, he decided to head back to Asheville/Weaverville the following day, Sept 9, “because I was already tired.” He was already in Weaverville—”mapping out his next plane trip to Seattle”—when that tragic Tuesday morning shocked the world.
“I missed the shit by a mouseclick,” he wrote in “My Life as a Greyhound,” referring to an online ticketing service by Priceline.com where he usually booked his flights.
A month or so after 9/11, he gave up Weaverville, took a Greyhound to West Palm Beach, Florida and, for almost a month “ruminated, pondered” his future in America. That was the time, via the internet, when he “rediscovered” Asheville’s downtown community, which he called, at that time, “a more sedate, laid-back small-town East Village in the Appalachians with a potential Big Apple bite.” (Before that, his usual encounters with downtown Asheville was a few occasional coffee time at Malaprop’s Café & Bookshop, while “silently marveling at this wonderful humanity... and white women with voluptuous hips and weird dreadlocks.”)
After about two weeks in West Palm Beach, he took a Greyhound to Asheville (with two-day layover in Columbia, South Carolina), and then deposited himself in cheap motels along Tunnel Road—and started mixing himself up with downtown’s neo-hippie, new ager humanity.
A few weeks after, he shared a trailer home with a local activist, Jason Klein (whom he met at a WNC Peace Coalition meeting) in nearby Fairview town; then he moved to a more secluded retreat up in Candler NC (aptly called Hidden Meadow), about 15-20mins off downtown, and tried to usher business collaboration around The Indie/The Bonfires with his housemates Elizabeth Mason and Jenni Roberts.
At that time, The Indie/Asheville’s “breakin’ cultural barriers” persona was already beginning to take shape—although his potential business partners, traditional, born-and-bred Southern spirits, couldn’t fully grasp his quixotic brainstorm.
“We loved him, we took care of him—whatever he did, we believed in him,” said Mason. “But there were moments when we couldn’t understand his vision… He worked all night, all day—winters, summers. He created many friends in downtown and in other towns here more than I did in my entire life. He never failed to fascinate us, but still—it’s hard to understand what it was he wanted to gain or pursue.”
Pascua, at that point, went deeper downtown and mixed up with Asheville’s “crazy, weird, beautiful souls” and made his presence felt. He read poems in the most widely-attended open mics, volunteered time with nonprofit organizations, attended meetings by activist organizations. The physical reality of The Indie started when he volunteered to help a small group of young downtown activists, led by Ali Morris and few student-leaders at Asheville High, in publishing a ‘zine/newsletter (The Transmitter)—but the ragtag 5x8.5 semi-scrawled/semi-Kinko’s printed/photocopied project fizzled out after only two or three issues.
However, that “bottled passion, aborted kick,” in a way, jumpstarted The Indie’s rebirth in Asheville.

A YEAR OR so before Pascua flew to New York City (in 1998), he co-published, edited and/or guided seven “cutting edge, pulp-oriented” publications in Manila; two of which were under the huge and influential mass-market/publishing empire of the Spanish-Filipino family of Roces-Guerrero.
Pascua begun his journalism career as a 14-year-old cub reporter/proofreader cum “manual folder” (tagatupi ng dyaryo)/translator (English news to Tagalog texts) for a (Quezon) City Hall-distributed newsweekly (The Metropolitan Mail) by Jose Burgos, Sr., and eventually for Burgos’ son, Joe Jr.’s “guerrilla-like, impoverished but defiantly courageous” newspaper called We Forum (later, Malaya/The Free).
The late Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr. was a fiery and daring workhorse who dared challenge the Marcoses’ genocidal twenty-year military rule. (The Roces-Guerrero’s patriarch, Joaquin “Don Chino” Roces, was one of Joe’s most ardent and loyal supporters and mentors.)
Pascua considers Burgos as the man who imbued on him the “gruff wisdom and inner beauty of street-life journalism” and “defiantly stubborn, improvisational publishing”—moving from one spot to the other, ignoring financial difficulties and sociopolitical threats in favor of steely resolve and focused, consistent determination to come out, no matter what.
The Indie’s brief life in New York City wasn’t the “kind of relevant, timely, non-partisan, non-political but socially/humanity-committed effort” that Pascua first envisioned. It wasn’t near Joe Burgos’ newspapering spirit—a belief that Pascua held on, maintaining that Burgos “wasn’t an ideologue, he was a committed newspaperman who served the people.” The Indie was viewed (by a very suspecting mainstream Filipino community in NY, or even in Asheville) as a staunchly political/ideological soundboard, which bothered Pascua.
“At a time when going against the grain meant you are leftist, I was bunched with the rest of my activist friends as Communist, which I am not—and will never be,” he wrote in one of his column pieces for The Indie. “I mean, Jesus Christ went against the current, he was a subversive community organizer. Was he a Communist, as well?”

NEEDLESS TO say, even after the first “official”issue of The Indie in Asheville was published in July of 2002, Pascua was still traveling (mostly by Greyhound and car) to Wilmington where he maintained a relationship until summer of 2004. After a year of continuous publication, The Indie stopped in July 2003, because, among other reasons, the “business hook-up” in Candler did not materialize or continue and he was losing money, small day jobs weren’t enough, financial support was sporadic.
“Checks came through the mail, plane tickets—he just picked them up in airport check-ins. Boxes of care packages came via DHL right on the front door… until one day, he just said, no more help coming. I think they need to see me again… And then he just left,” Jenni Roberts recalled. “Then one day, he emailed saying he’s in Oklahoma or Arizona and he wanted me to call him Rain or a-ga-na, not Pasckie anymore…”
For almost six months (from July 03), Pascua again pondered life and living. He traveled back to his brother’s house in south NJ, “loitered” in friends houses and apartments in Albany NY, Westchester, Manhattan, Philadelphia, Oklahoma, Arizona—until he decided to head back to Asheville in late Sept of that year. He briefly stayed in a friend’s trailer home in Oteen to draw his next plans, and then by October, finally secured a three-room-in-one basement office near Charlotte Street, few blocks from the heart of downtown Asheville.

IN NOVEMBER of 2003, Pascua made two road trips in two weeks—on separate car drives, with Indie contributing writer (now, creative consultant) Matthew Mulder and friend Sarah Benoit—to New York City “to feel the one missing working vibe that’d eventually connect The Indie/The Bonfires’ romantic life in Asheville with the upfront business tact of New York City… aside from attempting to bridge (my) cultures together into one colorless humanity.” It was the first time that he “interfaced, linked up” his “trusted American friends with his trusted Filipino friends”—a silent but calculated attempt at “breakin’ barriers, building bridges” (Mulder suggested the last two words).
He introduced Mulder to Ruben Austria in The Bronx. (Austria, a second-generation Filipino-Irish/American and another Indie founding member, remains as Pascua’s most-admired friend/adviser.) Along with another Indie oldtimer Jason Baquilod (a third generation Pinoy)—Pascua, Mulder, and Renrick Pascual—shared Filipino dinner at a Filipino restaurant in Queens. That was a day or two after Pascua booked (or “maneuvered”) an all-white/Asheville-based rock band, Kerouac or The Radio, in a dominantly 10-band Pinoy rock showcase at the CBGB, produced and organized by Pascual’s Brown Culture.
Kerouac or The Radio’s spot in that concert marked the first time that purely American band was included in a “major Pinoy rock scene event in New York” since a more-organized Filipino-American rock scene started and gained ground in Queens and downtown Manhattan in late 1998 until 9/11. Through the joint efforts of Pascual, Pascua, Baquilod, and longtime Indie/Bonfires supporters Gino Inocentes, Ryan Paayas, and other independent Fil-Am producers and bands in NY and NJ, Pinoy rock scene was hot, active and consistent. All along these, The New York City Indie Rockzine—as well as, Baquilod’s “Pinoy Radyo” shows in Baruch College (later, in Elizabeth, NJ)—assumed the ever-willing role of “underground mouthpiece.”

ALMOST TWO years later, The Bonfires successfully mixed Pinoy and American acts/bands in The Bonfires’ monthly “Vagrant Wind” (renamed from, “breakin’ barriers”) concerts in Baltimore and Washington DC. He also sustained Vagrant Wind shows in Baltimore’s Hampden and Fells Point neighborhoods (with local poet Julie Fisher) and DC’s Adams Morgan community (with Laurie Blair and her organization, Poetry Guerrilla Insurgency). Aside from Fisher, another activist friend, Lacy MacAuley (in Alexandria, Virginia), and the family of veteran newspaperman Tim Wheeler and artist Daniel Stuelpnagel, provided him accommodation and networking support at those times.
In 2005, Pascua introduced Houston-based multiracial act, Kayumanggi, in one of the The Bonfires’ “Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park” public concerts in Asheville. Fronted by a Filipino, Kokoy Severino, the band performed songs with Tagalog lyrics, interspersed indigenous Filipino musical instruments (kubing/windpipe, kulintang/brass gong) with electric guitars and drum kit, and had Americans and Mexicans as members. All these breakthroughs clearly served Pascua’s “harmony in diversity” vision.
Slowly but surely, the continued publication of a globally-oriented Indie and the activation/sustainability of a multiracial Traveling Bonfires loom in the horizon. Pascua—who, in the past six or seven years, has maintained and sustained relationships with few, selected American friends (Long Island, Westchester), Filipino-American buddies (uptown Manhattan), Filipino “comadres” and “compadres” (Queens, Jersey City)—never had success hooking up both cultures. His previous attempts were often dismissed by some of his Filipino friends with gnawing indifference and quiet rejection. (“Pasckie, the Pinoy dude who dated only American women”/ “What are you doing in a white community, of all places?”) This, although he always, consistently, passionately reiterate that he “does not do superficial, one-time cocktail-level or party introductions” between and among cultures. Instead, he continually pushed for “a realizable, concrete synergetic relationship” despite the physical or cultural differences.
Hence, in Asheville, Pascua reformatted The Indie as an a ‘zine-oriented rock/pop culture rag that caters not only to Filipinos and other ethnic groupings in America, but more importantly, it now serves a wider “all-peoples’s” readership. As The Indie sailed along with its “open mic” aura—alongside consistent Traveling Bonfires shows in mostly downtown clubs and cafes—support and respect were generated.
Among other reasons, Asheville, North Carolina does not have a huge Filipino community that The Indie could communicate with; hence, its existence in a predominantly white community under the original “for the Filipino community” format proved futile and nonsensical.
Secondly, after the September 11 tragedy, Pascua felt that The Indie should attempt to move out of the community/ethnic exclusivity that most non-American groupings chose to maintain. He felt that his brainstorm should break cultural barriers and share sociopolitical realities with other (ethnic) communities and the American mainstream, at large. Moreover, he believed that a wider perspective/understanding of global issues (ie business monopoly, international terrorism, etc) from the standpoint of other cultural realities all over the world (which commune in America) should be put to the open. Hence, The Indie offers that alternative.
Until Pascua paused The Indie’s publication in Asheville in the fall of 2007, the paper maintained writers and correspondents from various cities in the US—as well as in the Philippines, Italy, France, Wales, and Ireland.
In the fall of 2008, the first “Bonfires for Peace” in the West Coast took place in Huntington Beach. Co-sponsored by the Long Beach Peace Network, the event had the support of local chapters of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, and ANSWER (Act Now To Stop War & End Racism).
The Bonfires’ two “small-venue gigs”—Vagrant Wind and Wander Women—were mostly held at Viento y Agua Café & Gallery, located in Long Beach, where Pascua and Osborne lived from 2007 to summer 2009.

THE BONFIRES officially moved back to Asheville in the last week of August 2009; it currently holds office in the nearby town of Candler. “Vagrant Wind” organized its first “coming home” gig at Firestorm Café in downtown on Oct 31, and starting on Jan 22—returned to Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café with monthly poetry readings. (The Bonfires’ “Vagrant Wind” program started at this Asheville downtown pioneer almost 8 years ago.)
The “Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park” resurrects beginning on April 17, 2010—the next set schedules: May 29, June 26, July 17, August 21, and September 18.


PASCKIE PASCUA
From late-70s to early-90s, Pasckie Pascua (born to Roman Catholic parents, as George Alfredo Ravanzo Pascua) was a fulltime member of various respected albeit elite activist/artist/media organizations in Manila—especially during the difficult years of the dictatorship—including the League of Filipino Students (activist student leaders), College Editors Guild of the Philippines, PETA Kalinangan Ensemble (Brechtian/Boal theater), Galian sa Arte at Tula (writers/poets), Concerned Artists of the Philippines, and We Forum/Malaya (an independent newspaper that was very instrumental in ushering the downfall of the Marcos regime).
In 2000, then leading anti-US bases (the late) Filipino Senator (twice presidential aspirant) Raul Roco read Pascua’s poem, “Twenty Million Dollars” before the Philippine Senate to climax a dramatic stand by the country’s nationalist and activist lawmakers against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between Washington and Manila.
Pascua currently heads the Loved by the Buffalo Publications (publisher of The Indie, Wander, and Blue Sky Asheville). He is currently working on seven books: “Red is the Color of my Night” (poetry), “Waiting for Winter” (novel), “My Life as a Greyhound” (collection of travel prose), plus a cookbook, children’s book (The Babedawgs and The Koolcat), a compilation of his love poems, and a collection of short stories, mostly based on his childhood in northern Luzon in the Philippines and his experiences as a young journalist-editor at the time of the dictatorship.

PERTINENT BACKGROUNDERS/REMINDERS:
[ ] Traveling Bonfires’ “traveling” is written with one “l.” The logo was designed by Justin Gostony.
[ ] Greyhound refers to Greyhound bus, not the dog breed.
[ ] Vagrant Wind and Wander were taken from a Joni Mitchell song, “Urge for Going”—from the line, “I’ll lock the vagrant winter out and bolt my wandering in.” Vagrant Wind is also the English translation of the Cherokee name of Pasckie’s “surrogate greatgrandfather” in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Wander, the publication’s logo, was designed by Federico Sievert.
[ ] Loved by the Buffalo is taken from a Lakota character in the TV movie, “Into The West.” Loved by the Buffalo’s logo was designed by Matt Mulder.
[ ] Blue Sky Asheville is from Blue Sky God/dess (or Blue Sea Spirit) that Pasckie often refers to as God, and also the living spirit of his departed Mother (from his poem, “My Mother is The Sea”).
[ ] Duane (from Duane’s Poetry) is the name of Pasckie’s only son. In old Irish, Duane means “child of the hill.”
[ ] Pasckie is called Rain or a-ga-na by his native American Indian (Cherokee) friends, not Pasckie. The Pascua Yaqui Indian tribe in southern Arizona calls him Saila (younger brother).

ADDITIONAL READINGS:
[ ] http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2005/0112bonfires.php
[ ]
http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2006/1213peacejones.php

[ ] COMING UP: www.travelingbonfires.com

FOR GIG UPDATES:
[ ] http://tbonfiresasheville.blogspot.com/

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