At the bottom of a ravine

I will put the choices very simply for you.

You’re riding a bus from Baguio to Sagada. You notice that the driver is a brash young boy, most probably inexperienced, perhaps even a college brat out for kicks. The bus already had a few heart-stopping near-accidents just out of Sayangan, then in Buguias, then again in Sinto and after Mt. Data–all because of the amateurish driver’s carelessness.

IRAIA thoughts
IRAIA thoughts

Then, as the bus negotiates the steep trail to Sabangan, it happens. The driver goes into a hairpin turn, barely manages it, finds out the brakes are no longer working, careens inches away from a ravine, and is finally stopped–only through sheer luck–by a short upslope road grade.

The driver insists that the bus can still make it to Sagada, or at least to the Dantay junction. But most passengers want to get down, catch their breaths, hopefully flag down the next bus, perhaps even walk to the next junction where they can hire a jeepney instead. Continue reading “At the bottom of a ravine”

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

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