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


My father’s mustache, turntable, etc

Pio Astudillo Verzola
My father Pio A. Verzola in his early 20s. Some cousins insist I look like him. Possibly. Lol.

He came from an industrious family of craftsmen, tailors and musicians that made and sold men’s suits, musical instruments and other crafted goods. His father died young and his mother went to live with another man, leaving him and his brother in the care of bachelor uncles and spinster aunts.

[Quick clarification, which I’m inserting here after a first cousin, Dr. Eufemio Verzola of Festus, MO pointed it out: My father’s mother, whom we all fondly called Lola Uban, returned to care for her sons and daughter after a short while. She was a loving mother or mother-in-law and doting Lola to all of us up to the end of her days.]

Gifted with native intelligence, fair mestizo looks, and a quaintly provincial sense of humor, my father struggled with limited funds through college at the prestigious University of the Philippines in Los Baños. He excelled in math and literature, but had to settle for a two-year forest ranger course. Continue reading “My father’s mustache, turntable, etc”