Noel Lozada, Witness

MANILA, Philippines -- When their father was thrust in the eye of a political storm, one of his five children remarked: “Hero kasi niya si Rizal, gusto yata niyang magpabaril sa Luneta at ipagtayo ng rebulto (Because Rizal is his hero, it seems he wants to be shot at the Luneta and be given a monument).” INQUIRER, FEB. 8/08, on Noel Lozada.

Things are not what they seem to be.
One can be alive and kicking now
but tomorrow, like the rain pouring
in other places, and the storms tearing
our days beginnings, the end could come
and what is left is your courage.
Or the memory of what was it:
you dare speak of illness,
this one fat chance we do not have
and we envy you, thrust in history
and its power to give witness,
you are that, Noel of our coming
into immanence. For that
is what you are now, your word
against their own, or their claim
to silence even if they are hurting.
But does it matter when our children
are willing to die for all the children
yet to be born? The martyr is witness too,
and is also the reverse: he dies
for what comes out of his lips,
testifying as it should be
to the fullness of language.
There you can never lie, this site
of silence where soul talks to another
and the spirit knows evil as it should.
Trouble here is that we have so few left
like you. Either they are dead or deadened.
Or on dead-ends, like good men
in government sending their fears
away, to exile unknown, to places
we cannot track down because there,
there are no roads, no trails,
no sound we could follow, not even
the faint wailing of widows and orphans
whose dreams we have murdered:
husbands meeting their death
in the hand of soldiers their paid protectors
children incarcerated in the prison
of our hopelessness. The future
is not in lonely prison cells.
The future is in the streets crying,
their fury blasting the ear
so could no longer listen
to what promise is.

A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI
Feb 8/08

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