(continuation) The “Rehabilitation” of the Marcoses

Filipino guerilla-poets during the Marcos dictatorship


sketch of Lorena Barros, artist unknown, from http://www.cpcabrisbane.org


Lorena Barros

(killed in battle in the mountains of Mauban, Quezon)

This morning Little Comrade

gave me a flower’s bud

I look at it now

remembering you, Felix

dear friend and comrade

and all the brave sons and daughters

of our suffering land

whose death

makes our blades sharper

gives our bullets

surer aim.

How like this pure white bud

are our martyrs

fiercely fragrant with love

for our country and people

With what radiance they should

still have unfolded

But sadness should not be

their monument

whipped and lashed desperately

by bomb-raised storms

has not our Asian land

continued to bloom

Look how bravely our ranks

bloom into each gap

With the same intense purity and fragrance

we are learning to overcome.

* * * * *


superimposed photo of Eman Lacaba on artwork, artist unknown, from http://www.bulatlat.com

Open Letters to Filipino Artists

  • Eman Lacaba

    (wounded in battle, shot and killed in custody by the government military, Davao del Norte, 1973)

A poet must also learn

how to lead an attack.

-Ho Chi Minh


Invisible the mountain routes to strangers:
For rushing toes an inch-wide strip on boulders
And for the hand that’s free a twig to grasp,
Or else headlong fall below to rocks
And waterfalls of death so instant that
Too soon they’re red with skulls of carabaos.

But patient guides and teachers are the masses:
Of forty mountains and a hundred rivers;
Of plowing, planting, weeding and the harvest;
And of a dozen dialects that dwarf
This foreign tongue we write each other in
Who must transcend our bourgeois origins.

1 May 1975 South Cotabato


You want to know, companions of my youth,
How much has changed the wild but shy poet
Forever writing last poem after last poem;
You hear he’s dark as earth, barefoot,
A turban round his head, a bolo at his side,
His ballpen blown up to a long-barreled gun:
Deeper still the struggling change inside.

Like husks of coconuts he tears away
The billion layers of his selfishness.
Or learns to cage his longing like the bird
Of legend, fire, and a song within his chest.
Now of consequence is his anemia
From lack of sleep: no longer for Bohemia,
The lumpen culturati, but for the people, yes.

He mixes metaphors but values more
A holographic and geometric memory
For mountains: not because they are there
But because the masses are there where
Routes are jigsaw puzzles he must piece together.
Though he has been called a brown Rimbaud,
He is not bandit but a people’s warrior.

November 1975 South Cotabato; Davao del Norte


We are tribeless and all tribes are ours.
We are homeless and all homes are ours.
We are nameless and all names are ours.
To the fascists we are the faceless enemy
Who come like thieves in the night, angels of death:
The ever-moving, shining, secret eye of the storm.

The road less travelled by we’ve taken-
And that has made all the difference:
The barefoot army of the wilderness
We all should be in time.
Awakened, the masses are Messiah.
Here among workers and peasants our lost
Generation has found its true, its only, home.

January 1976 Davao del Norte

* * * * * * * * * * *

I know. It’s Linggo ng Wika. I always make an effort, even if it’s a form of sacrilege, to translate.

Salin ng isang saknong, “Open Letters to Filipino Artists” (Mga Bukas na Liham sa mga Pilipinong Alagad ng Sining) na tula ni Eman Lacaba

Ngunit matiyagang giya at guro ang mga masa

Ng apatnapung bundok at isandaang ilog

Ng pagsasaka, pagtatanim, pag-aalaga, at pag-aani

At ng isandosenang mga wika gahigante

sa wikang banyagang nakasanayan

Tayo na kailangang lumagpas sa burgesyang pinagmulan.

One comment

  1. After having a series of reports on jeepney hold-up incidents, TV Patrol decided to broadcast a report telling how jeepney hold-uppers usually operate. According to the report, its purpose was to inform the unsuspecting public about the SOP of hold-uppers. Also, they said that the public would then be ready to avoid these hold-ups, if possible or if not, then they would know how to cope with these incidents.

    The report specified the modus operandi of hold-uppers. It says hold-uppers usually come in three so they can execute their operations more smoothly. Two would sit at the back with the other passengers, and the other one would stay in the front passenger seat, so somebody can tell the jeepney driver just exactly what the hold-uppers want him to do. Snatchers usually are more subtle, although just as dangerous. They are the ones who usually resort to distraction and other inconspicuous techniques to snatch objects off the pockets of the passengers, the report said. Indiscreet hold-uppers, on the other hand, are the ones who carry and brandish weapons, such as small guns and knives, to threaten the passengers.

    The TV Patrol report may have been intended for the good of the public, but the reporters and the newsmen overlooked the possibility that the report also reaches those of devious minds who are still planning to execute a hold-up incident, and are still working out just how they are going to go about it. In that case, the report also helps potential hold-uppers and snatchers in committing crimes more efficiently because they have seen on TV, and on a public affairs program at that, just how the expert hold-uppers do their thing.

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