A Song: “Butil ng Palay” (“A Grain of Palay” or “A Grain of Rice”) by Jess Santiago

 

          

Painting by Papo de Asis. Beginning of the End. From www.laluzdejesus.com

 

            Okay, i’m going to commit sacrilege again,  i’m going to translate. Apologies.  One tries: for  non-Filipinos  who might chance upon this site. (translating is always risky, one  tries not to be too literal, but at the same time,  to be faithful to the lyrics so that the composer would not get angry. “Palay”  (unhusked rice) is used in Philippine newspapers, but it doesn’t seem to be used in the published dictionaries  of English words. I used the word “rice”, sorry po, it’s one syllable, it works well with the other words in the song like  life, hope, soil, toil, etc.. “Nakasuga”, i think, is how we tie the carabao’s nose to rein it, i don’t have a translation, sorry po, i used another word. I retained “palay” in the title though.)

BUTIL NG PALAY

 

(A Grain of Palay

Words and music by Jess Santiago

Vocals and acoustic guitar by Jess Santiago from the album  Halina  (“Come” , or “Charm”, or “Comeliness”), 1991

 

     Bawat butil ng palay

   ( Every grain of rice

Ay butil ng pawis

      (is a bead of  sweat

Ng bawat alipin

     (of every enslaved peasant

Aping magbubukid

     (oppressed tiller of the soil.)

 

Bawat butil ng palay

      (Every grain of rice

Ay butil ng luha

       (is a drop of tear

Ng kayraming inang

      (of  many, many mothers

Natali sa lupa

       (shackled to the soil

 

Bawat butil ng palay

      (Every grain of rice

Ay butil ng dugo

      (is a trickle of blood

Kalansay at bungo

      (all the the bones and remains

Ng ating ninuno

        (of all our ancestors

 

Butil ng pawis

       (Every bead of sweat

Ng luha at dugo

        (every drop of  tear and blood

Butil ng palay

     (is a grain of rice

Butil ng ginto

       (our grains of gold

 

Bawat butil ng palay

       (Every grain of rice

Sanggol na walang malay

      (is an unborn child

Hindi pa man isinisilang

Nakasanla na ang buhay

        (whose unlived life

            is payment for our woes)

 

Bawat butil ng palay

        (Every grain of rice

Ay isang magsasaka

       (is a peasant

Nakasuga sa lupa

Ang kanyang hininga

       (whose breath is prisoner

          of the soil

 

 

Bawat butil ng palay

       (Every grain of rice

Ay butil ng buhay

     (is a grain of life

Butil ng pag-asang

      (a grain of hope

Sumibol sa parang

      (born in fields  of toil)

 

Bawat butil ng palay

       (Every grain of rice

Ay isang magbubukid

       (is a peasant

Nagbibigay-buhay     

Sa buong daigdig

        (Feeding the whole world

           With grains

            from his hands

             and toil.)

 

 

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