(For Geraldine Dumayas, on her 11th birthday, her first
in the United States of America)
Pretty soon you will lose your accent,
The one that speaks of your Sarrat
In the Ilocos now vague and vacuous.
The message is loud, clear, compelling,
That one that urges you to lose
The hard guttural R by rounding your lips
By remembering to forget in your mind
The hard life in Currimao and Vintar.
You will have to roll the R, make it softer,
Pronounce it with the purring of that soft,
Fresh, calming breeze from your father's farm
Now in that state of sorrow for so long, with its
Promise of bounty dismissed, its voice muted,
Silenced like the wayward waters of falls
Dammed to make spring pools and lakes
For the rich, those who show green bucks
For quick gratification,a paradise in plastic.
Pretty soon you will say the perfunctory
Polite phrases, the empty nonsense signifying
Equally empty existences like those lives
Lost on exiles in drag races, young lives,
Promising, the future on hold, the morrow awaiting
But now, but now, lost to perpetual forgetting.
The second language will not remain foreign.
With the 24-hour TV and Fox News and CNN,
You will pick up the gangsta lingo
You will pick up the standard tongue
You will pick up the one for the movies
You will pick up the one for romance
And then the language will be yours
And then the language will reside in your soul
And then the language will one with your heart
And then the language will be born in your mind
And then you will lose the hard R
And then you will lose the guttural R
And then you will lose the memory of how Bacarra
Spells the sound of belonging to the heartland,
Balikbayan boxes and the feasting with the basi.
But then again, I can only second guess.
I believe you will yet to learn to forget
How the grandmother back home prepares pinakbet.
Aurelio S. Agcaoili
Nov. 19, 2004