(Written for the 100th year of the founding of the University of the Philippines, 1908-2008)
The years are a sangagasut
& so are the memories.
The years & the memories
Remain with us, in us & it is Time
Now we accept as our inheritance,
This time as eternal as
The stories we tell each other
The histories we make & unmake
To demand from the magic moments
We imagine to renew, peculiar &
Final they are such as these cien years
We are heir to. We carry the weight
Of this siglo on our alumni’s shoulders.
We bear its terrors & surprises
So we can sing to the generations
Who have yet to tell us their names,
Their fears, sorrows, circumstances.
Will they stay? Or will they also leave
Like us, like those who cannot remember
The road to forgetting that which calls
Us all into life, into that which means so much
Because the daily truth is out there, in the distances
Away from it all, this contract with books,
Teachers, revolution, democracy, justice,
Political free-fall & free loves too
& that search & re-search for the nation,
Constant as constant can be
With no tense but the present refusing
The illogic of a past or a future?
Some have left the awaiting man
Naked in the glory of his innocence
Or knowledge he has yet to have.
(Forgive the gendering here: the allusion
Is in the verse of the new poem we have yet to write.
Maybe a hundred years more or so—or call
That the long road to the redemption of the pagilian
Also known as our salvation, first person plural.)
The icon, still in the entrances everywhere,
Is in the head now. He takes residence there,
In our wild visions, resisting all there is to forget.
He could be everyone: the iskolar ti ili
With a commitment to the rising sun,
Or to the moon in its full glow
Or to the seas over here dividing
Those who left and those left behind
But uniting them in the decades multiplied
& then weaving together the days of years
We keep in our hearts. Blessed be,
We pray. Blessed be unto the children
Of a century of fiery loves.
Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, Ph.D.
University of Hawai`i