Our Manner of Thanking Manang Prescila, Teacher

Like the anitos
of our ancestors,
we implore you,
elder sister Prescila, our teacher:
bless us more
with goodness.

Bless us more with an urge to see,
with strength of soult
that will keep us company
in this road
to this other gospel
you renewed for us.

Linger not, we tell you now,
doubt not.

Step right off to have
that first steps in the dance
of the spirit in its dancing
of the sweet song, our sweet song
of that tune lulling us to sleep,
the music of the kutibeng
you reclaimed.

To the heritage
all things will go back,
all as in a gift, an inheritance.
In the language of the silence
you have left behind
in the sacred room
of the countless memories,
there, there we look
for the ways to freedom
there we do the rite
to undo our going away.

A lot we owe you, a lot of this
your act of redeeming us
from the language that confuses,
this clear construction of meaning
like the twin books of love
you honored us with
in these you wrote
with all of your caring for

The mind like the twists
of words in each pain,
each persistence, each hardship,
each triumph,
each joy, its sorrowing.
Ay, ay, all of these we all call out now
to become witnesses,
living and loving you in return,
joining us in thanking you
for the nurturing of what is us.

We count the fingers of years,
the long and numerous fingers
of the ceaseless decades
of your sustained giving,
this endless valuing
of that which counts
in the alphabets
of our homing or exiling:
Ay, ayna, but our hearts get tired
our hearts retire for not knowing

For you, elder sister and teacher
of all the glory
you showed us the way
to the crossroads
of that which is enchanting.

You leave behind this heaven you saw
from the sound
of going through the night
till the early hours
of the morning
we take from you
the magic of the Word,
the only thing that is salving.

Honolulu, HI, September 9, 2006. Read during the retirement banquet of Prof. Prescila Espiritu, the nurturer and sustainer of the Ilokano and Philippine Drama and Film Progra, UH Manoa.

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