What Pardon Means

GMA pardons Erap.
Hawai'i Filipino Chronicle, Oct 27, 2007

What pardon means
screams on the page.

It is a banner story
and in the way we live down here
with wet weather and eyes tearing for the memories
that saved us from further sins
because at the EDSA we prayed and prayed,
the rigodon of regrets comes after us.

The haunting comes complete as if the ghosts
of our despair and despondency take the form of words
from a president who knows what hail marys are
and more of glory bes.

Forget the pater noster
because the cheat is going to be free once again
while we hunger for truth the way we hunger
for boiled rice. No bread, please.

None of those fancy diets Kris Aquino tells
to make you slim.

We do not have enough
calories in the flesh and here we go again:
the angry streets are calling us
and our children are going to claim
what forgiveness can give, earned or begged.

Or doled out, as a bribe,
or indugence by another president.
They are the same now, recipients
of our wrath we blessed with wrath.

I remember what it took to get that quiet.
How many days? And the EDSA rage filling up
the rafters of guilt-absolving churches
and tall buildings of commerce and profit guarding
our fears, our worst fears.

We could have been killed
like the first one.

I commandeered the stage and the hours
of the early morning till midday
like a willing soldier.
And I made the people dance.
And joyously we danced:
"Mambo-mambo, Magsaysay."

And swayed to the music
to assuage our common pains:
"Huling-huli, huling-huli!"
And a four-year old boy came
to recite his poem about loving a homeland
by catching the evildoers pronto,
jueteng or no jueteng.

You remember now: newspapers were linen
on the cement floor on that February
of the revolution of songs and sadnesses.
It was our second act at redemption.

The nights were cold.

The afternoons were nights coming too soon.

What bullets were ready to snuff out
the life of our dreams?

I made them sing, our suffering people.
I made myself sing even when tears flowed
like rivers. I hid my fear, on stage,
with the rage of a revolting mass of men
women children and lovers chanting:
"Erap, Erap, salot sa mahirap!"

And now I cry, as do the others.
We think of streams of sorrow, seas even,
their currents in the raging waters we knew,
we know.

For a people whose faces I cannot see.

For a people whose soul is lost
in the frenzy we call expediency.
Or the lack of surprise from the ambitions
of men and women who had always been the same:
thieves, rapacious thieves, liars, them who prey on us.

We have lost a homeland,
we are going to gain another one.
We will summon the masses.
Another EDSA will come.
This time, for real.

A Solver Agcaoili
UH Manoa/Nov 5, 2007

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