Working-class delicacies on the bus

Consider this as a short cultural note about a barely documented habit among the Filipino workers, peasants, and other poor people who seasonally travel on shoestring budgets from city to hometown, or from provincial town centers back to their barrios. Typically, this habit is most expressed in the mass exodus that happens during Holy Week, All Saints-Souls Days, and Christmas-yearend holidays. Continue reading “Working-class delicacies on the bus”

Cold analytical anger, because it takes all kinds

It took me seven years of activism more or less — from 1970 to 1977 — to control and channel my adolescent anger and arrogance.

A personal rant
A personal rant with political overtones

It was hard enough, especially for a teenage activist who saw up close the Marcosian state violence that claimed the lives of fellow street marchers and, under martial law, comrades in the underground. It was an extra challenge, for one who believed he had all the answers in his hands and had the right to lash out at anyone who questioned his political and ideological beliefs.

Let me get that right: This doesn’t mean that angry activism automatically leads to arrogance or blind, brash action. They don’t. This also didn’t mean that, prior to 1977, I was a seething, roiling cauldron of dysfunctional behavior that exploded and splattered onto other people, hurting them in random ways. I wasn’t. Continue reading “Cold analytical anger, because it takes all kinds”

How to console a grieving father

Last night I bid my friend a last farewell.
Flowers and candles have softened his face now,
Mangled by a thousand bullets beyond belief.
His father in black I greet with a sad hello.
Wear and tear have softened his face now,
Listening to a hundred voices sing in grief.

How does one console a grieving father?

We share with him stories about the son of nimble feet,
Fording rivers with a band of warrior poets,
Rousing village after village in a dozen tongues.
The son like Eman lived among the nameless ones
In the ever-moving eye of the mountain storm.
The father says, “I would have joined them too if I were young.”

How does one console a grieving mother?

We send her an orchid from the guerrilla zone.
Hidden in its highland perch, a smile unfolds
In petals of gentle reds and fiery purples.
Mother understands. As her child rejoins the earth
To blend with forest greens and browns, we behold:
A thousand sprouts take their place in great perennial circles.

How does one console a grieving people?

A tapestry of poems like these we weave for fallen fighters
And wipe our tears. Vows of struggle we refresh before their biers.
The peal of village gongs are heard across the land of raging rivers.
They spread the word: the fire trees are in bloom to dispel the grief.
With care we prepare Kalinga coffee and diket rice, for at dawn,
The trails widen tenfold for our finest sons and daughters.

In honor of the Lacub martyrs
October 6, 2014