Wilfredo Pascual’s excerpt from a work in progress
Moderator, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo
Wilfredo Pascual’s current project is a collection of essays that seeks to explore the interstices of cinema and history. It interweaves two main narratives: the story of Elena Jurado, a Cebuana silent-film actress who went to the US in the early 1920s; and Pascual’s own account of his search for Elena Jurado. In the process of writing the project, Pascual eventually realized that the work is a rumination about time. He wanted to know why he was so obsessed with the past and what was his own place in the world.
Pascual explains that the story of Jurado resonates with him because of his own experiences as a Filipino immigrant in the US. Butch Dalisay noted how the project followed the literary tradition of diasporic writing started by Carlos Bulosan. These stories, Dalisay adds, provide connections—a sense of continuity—that “echo and validate our existence.”
Luna Sicat-Cleto stressed the importance of Pascual’s work, particularly in the discourse of celluloid images and the imagination. For Preachy Paderna, the essays tell the story of the “obliteration” of one’s culture and identity. Paderna noted how the author’s “self” was also expunged from the text. She suggested that Pascual find spaces in the text where this “self” can surface. Enrico Melendez likewise agreed that the structure has to be revised to give each essay “room to breathe.” Christa de la Cruz pointed out how the reflective parts of the essays were separated from the main narrative, making the structure of the text somewhat mechanical and predictable.
Dalisay, on the other hand, preferred the muted presence of Pascual’s persona in the project. For him, this preserves the mysterious element of the narrative, as everything is not laid out for the reader. He also warned that Pascual’s personal story can overpower Jurado’s.
J Neil Garcia framed Pascual’s project as “a Filipino queer’s quest for home.” He suggested that Pascual look into some links that are formed in his work, such as queerness and audio-visuality and feminine diaspora subjectivity. Garcia also challenged Pascual to articulate in the text the project’s intended addressee to push further the agenda of his work.