Thus God made people a bit different: some with flat noses, some with long slender noses; some with blue eyes, some with jet-black eyes; some with yellow hair, some with brown hair, some with curly black hair. N. Turner
Honest, I did not know.
The miracles are everywhere
in our midst, the poor who come to you
in supplication as in sorrow.
Today we celebrate your feast
you, black Man-God, black God-Man
and here we all are, away or on your altar,
giving you this distant look
as if you come to rescue us now
from all these spectacle after spectacle
of deceit and lies. Accept this handkerchief
with my sweat and in both are my life,
the cloth to make an imprint of your looking away
from all these processions of our blighted lives,
my sweat, odor and testimony and both,
my passport to your granting me what I ask,
strange as it is, you realize,
in these times of difficult wants.
Did you come from Mexico
move here to Manila to bless us
with your Aztec warmth, your color
the evidence for a black God?
You were white, as it was, or the color
of wood alive and aglow with forest soul
and the fire that gave you life
made you a redeemer of color
like our own people in exile.
We try to keep on with the watch
for blessings as we throw in the towel
that comes from our brow or shoulder
or in our pockets as we march
the rough streets on bare feet and fierce faith.
We do not know how to stop
as the throng keeps thronging
maroon men in need of mercies
multiple as the loaves and fish.
And we become a sea of desperados
as we have always been for centuries
and centuries on end. We have not been lucky,
you know well, black Nazarene of our salvation.
We cannot even save ourselves
from the revenge of our lands
going to other hands, some those of friars
who venerate you, believe in your kingdom
and preach about your justice and freedom.
In the past, the colonizers got them all,
the good lands and graces, and they called this
the wages of the Spanish god
who did not look like us. We looked at them
the colonizers and their priests and their allies
in their abundance, the best of fruits and fantasies
the best of lust for brown skin, the best of days
for merriment beyond the prohibited hours
the best of happenstance.
What we do not know is that we have prayed
and forever we did and the preying has gone on
and on and on. Are we going to open our
souls even to those who cannot see you
eye to eye because they have so much
to offer and they are giving you back at your feet
at your donation boxes, at your basket of offerings
those things that they stole from us?
Today is the parade of our terrible lives.
We walk the talk on belief and the miles on the Quiapo
of our regrettable loves. Even here, our hopes are alive.
A Solver Agcaoili
Jan 8/08, on the occasion of the Feast of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo