Cultural Warriors Go to Waialua on a Saturday

For Gordon Lee and Jeff Acido, co-warriors on the road

Cultural warriors go
to Waialua on a Saturday.

It is the three of us seeking
what we can seek from where
the blinding light of the midmorning sun
goes in these tropes of our people's faith
in the future as in themselves
but who need to be told in frankness
that somewhere, on the lonely road
that snakes through our public grief,
there is where a late lunch awaits.

It is the day after the profuse thanks
had been given in the annual ceremony
that we do to appease what memory's
remembering ghosts cannot propitiate
to make us see what we all look for,
like the bellows striking it quick
with the vast verdant land
carpeting what alluring landscape
we have before us, its offer of calming sea
a suffering we can afford to imagine
as we spend past upturned rows
and rows of furrowed fields
red in their welcome of fierce rain
and fiercer wind even as they await
for some caring Ilokano farmhands
to come sing to them the sacred songs
of old to give them peace and quiet
or, if luck is not on their side,
some enterprising capitalists from other places
who will steal the scene from us,
actors and story-tellers of endless events
swallowed up by what the Waianae mountains
can hide in the bosom of the Makua valley
or what money can erase from the raging
lifelines of our hands, we who have come here
to find something salving and healing
only to be told that the shore has all the fierce
clouds to carry all the remnants
of what profit does to make us forget
our Hawaiian pain.

We get to Waialua just on time
before the day is done for those seeking
what cannot be sought in some soul food
we all remember: two roasted chickens
cooked the Ilokano way
or some such other means
by Ilokano hands that dream of freedom
from what us cultural warriors talk about
in between our learned silences
to let in what living language
can fill in the spaces-between
our warriors' fantasizing selves to stage
in our suddenly famished minds
what better way to imagine the setting
for an apt phrase that finally,
hopefully emancipates.

This work we do
is not for the weak-hearted,
we tell ourselves while we summon
our strength to down the fowls
in whose death we get some life.

We divide the chickens in half
and after thanking all the ancient spirits
that gaily lurk from behind us
and from all over after throwing
to them a ball of rice
a sliver of the roasted meat
a drop of water
to the grass reaching out
to our tired feet and called out
to all those who have died
to come, come partake
of our life's offering,
we begin the ritual of feeding
our bodies with what sustenance
can offer to wage one more revolution
from our guilty hands.

We have talked a lot,
we say, in between
our practiced bourgeoise way
of appreciating what savory food is for
apart from this exercise
in masticating, one small chew
at a time.

We draw from there a deconstruction
a language that liberates,
the one we use or perhaps need
to fend off the enemy
a language that swats bulging flies
attempting to take part in our meal
of chickens, laughters, hopes.

We remember we are warriors
and after the putting away of the crumbs
we rest our back on the weathered benches
while the cool breeze makes us dream
so sweetly one sweet dream,
one about a revolution
with our warriors' fists unclenched
or its redeeming absence.

A Solver Agcaoili
Waialua, Nov 29/2009

Ulang Colasing

Ken Cris Quilpa, gapu iti suratna kaniak maipapan iti daytoy a lagip sakbay ti Linteg Militar

Urayentay ti aniwaraar,
ti panagdara ti bigat
kalpasan ti rabii a naunday,
kas kaunday ti lagip kadagidi nga aldaw
nga ita, kalpasan ti madagdagullit
a pannakaidasay dagiti panagpakaasi
panagpaarayat sa ti panagdung-aw
ket ti kintayeg nga awanan kapada.

Kas iti kunam, mannaniw: narasi
ti gasat ket narasi met
ti kari ti panagayuda
iti nagan ti biag dagiti sabali,
kaarruba man ida
iti pannakailupitlupit iti panawen
nga uray dagiti sirmata a makaalay-ay
ket agbaliwangga dagitoy nga agtirong
tapno iti pannusa ti maikasa a paltog
ket ti mabigatan a bangkay.

Ulang Colasing, kunam, mannaniw
ti muhon dagitoy a padas, ti panuli
kadagiti amin nga agrakaya
a templo a maipasdek
tapno iti unget, kas iti sapata ti bales
ket iti panangiwanesnes iti santifikado
a latigo ti panagwaywayas.

Ti dung-awna ti nangburak
kadagiti ulimek iti barukong
ti ubing a sika, samonto kinarga daytoy
iti panagdaliasat, panagbayanggudaw
nga imet-imet met laeng
ti natangig a sipnget
ti kuridemdem a lawag
a tinawid iti Ilokano a padas.

Sadinno a pagilian,
sadinno a sulinek
ti isip, sadinno kadagiti panagwalangwalang
ti pakaibellengan dagiti ibit, panangpaguni
ken Apo Dios, kaarruba, kailian, langit
sa ti rungsot dagiti allawig
tapno maitabon a final
dagiti ladawan ti kinaranggas
iti ngudo ti rifle
nga iti kasipngetan
ket di agbuteng nga agparakpak?

Ni Iniong Ansongen ti biktima
ngem datayo met:
ti damag ti mansayag
ket pasakalye kadagiti adu pay
nga umras, atang, panagikali
kadagiti bangkay kas kadagiti aminen
a buteng iti dekada sitenta
a dagiti nabibileg ket kadagiti katedral
nga agkarkararag sa ket mapanakpak.

Kadagidi a panawen ket kas ita:
baratilio ti anges, pigsa, laing,
uray ti kakaisuna
a tagainep iti aliwaksay.

Maustil dagiti amin a maustil,
matumba dagiti amin a matumba
magripuan dagiti amin a magripuan:
adda dagiti padi a mangted iti basbas
mangitunda iti panungpalan
nga awanen panagsubli
no di ti panangnamnama
iti warsi ti aldaw dagiti minatay.

A Solver Agcaoili
Manoa/Nov 27, 2009

The Poet is Persona Non Grata

The poet is persona non grata.

And he should be.

You see: a poet of our people
is not of this earth
not of a nobody's unthinking friend
or amorous liking or willing slave
not someone who flies
akimbo to the prosaic vision
or the on-the-bargain sale wishes
of writers of cheap speech that will soon
be forgotten like fresh flowers
that are only good for the elect
as long as the public show lasts
but never for the masses who want
to hear the song of freedom
when the pretenders stage a pop show
instead of writing what red protest is
instead of writing what immaculate revolution
gives birth to in swirling images of color
that in the road to life a poem emancipates
like robust sticks to chop off
the excesses of despotic discourse
in them are vague sounds that make you forget
the lonely crusades of poets rebelling
to plumb what is in the abyss
of our Ilokano writers' perennial grief.

Why would he repeat, this persona
non grata of a poet, mindlessly parrot
the same flattery for pretending honorable men
and women whose deeds will go with them
in their adulterous, sinking, shallow grave?

Why would he recite polygamous accolades
for those who seek honor and temptation
when honor is for those who keep
the truth of word, the integrity
of language, the peace of sentences
that tells us what life is
what liberating poetry
is for the work we do
to free our word from dictators
and those whose wretchedness
is learned by dancing the curracha
with the rest of pretenders
and dancing with everyone else
including robbers and thieves of greatness
when temptation is for those
who know where the good in art begins
and evil in life ends?

He accepts: I am persona non grata
as I am of another earth,
another geography of another poetics
the geography of our people's pains
the geography of our collective sadnesses:
these are what I write about
not the honor you so desire
that honor I truly cannot give.

I am persona non grata, he says,
this poet, who in his sleep,
dreams of freedom for all the oppressed
even as he dreams that he is oppressed.

No, he says, give me back my language.

No, he says, give me back my poem.

No, he says, give me back what justice
is in the arc of our public histories,
you who have come to defame,
you who have the temerity to call it quits
with truth and beauty and morality
of our deeds.

And so, he remains the persona
non grata of his people, in the margins
of the memory of those who are drunk
with the nouveau wine of self-deceit.

A Solver Agcaoili
Manoa/Nov 26, 2009

A Monday Mourning

The setting for murder is perfect.

And the act is multiple,
in-the-face and full length
one ritual inaugurated
at Ampatuan but certainly
has been going on
before the history of our god-forsaken
lives got to have punitive lines.

Two days of planning
for your foes' death
complete with the innocent's script:
where the shallow graves would be
what deceptive reports would be released
to the president and her military men
what words would cover up
the lies of thieves and impertinent
gods who roam the wash of days
what sentences would judge
the mortal enemies of Monday mornings
like this one in this sad,
sorrowing Ampatuan,
when the just sun was up
with its bright lights shining
through the land with its tall grasses
that first covered the dastardly deed
the same land that would give off
the cover for the bodies of women,
some doing lawyering and giving logic
to the life of ending inequities
the bodies of our faith gone too soon
but awaiting redeeming
the bodies of the pregnant
dreaming of birthplaces and birthrights
and the citizenship we have
with an atrocious country such as ours
ruled by the big men
with monstrous desires
with their murderous declarations
of what basic freedoms are all about.

The gleaming guns came in handy
in the morning sun,
as was the shallow grave
from the backhoe
operated perhaps by fear
and the man who had to preside
over which fresh flesh came first
into the fresh mound.

What vision of a land is this
what country what nation
what community is it
that makes all these possible
this picture perfect view
of cheap deaths,
fifty-seven of them all, and the death
of what is possible after burying
our hopes with them who came
to Ampatuan to hope?

I grieve, I can only grieve.

I come from a faraway land
now but these images linger on
linger longer that I can hold on.

On a Monday morning like this one
is this mourning whose consonants
and vowels I cannot find.

A Solver Agcaoili
Manoa/Nov 24, 2009

Panagorder iti Masaker

"Planado ti masaker," kuna ti vise mayor ti Buluan, Inquirer, Nov. 26, 2009

Naggapuak iti maysa a pagilian

ti daradara a rusrusngi,

babawi, us-ustil. Maysa a republika

daytoy a leddaang a naynay

tawiden pay di ikankano

uray no sursuruentay pay lat’ agbiag.

Ket ita daytoy

nga order ti panagmasaker,

limapulo-ket-pitoda amin

ken mabalin nga ad-adu pay

a dagiti laeng babbaro a tanem

ken ti mammapatay a backhoe

a di makaammo nga agpatubbog iti lua

ti agbalin a dadaulo

dagiti amin a makipagladladingit iti Maguindanao

iti daytoy a daga ti Ampuatan

a nalipatanen ni Allah ken ti Dios

iti daytoy a bigat ti Lunes

a dagiti ang-anghel ket nagmutit.

Nalipatanen ti presidente ti pagilian

no ania ti kayat a sawen ti ladingit.

No mapukawmo ti lagip

ken dagiti ina, dagiti dumadangadang

ken babbai a nakakita

iti kaibatogan dagiti naimbag nga aramid

ket sika ti mangidaulo iti daga,

insegida nga alaen ti rosario,

pilkuen dagiti tumeng

ket itanamitim dagiti amin a supusop

daytoy kolektibo a dung-aw.

Mabalin a daytoy ket kumboy

iti ipupusayda kas iti prosesion

dagiti namnama nga awanan nagan,

ket makitatayo amin

ket mabasatayo amin

ket amin dagitoy ibagatayo

iti kumpesar iti bigat nga ar-arapaapentay

a maaramidtayo kadagiti siglo

a dumteng kadatayo

no umdas ti naimbag a gasattayo

wenno itanemtayo kadagiti darat

ti panawen no ditay masarkedan a lappedan

daytoy a kinadamsak

a maawatantayo laeng babaen

iti ginalgalon a dara.

Aramidentay a naganagan itan

ti daga babaen

kadagiti laslasag ket buteng

kadagiti bagi ken anges

iti pammati ken pannakaupay?

Ket agordertay iti masaker:


ket ti bilang umad-adu

iti kada aldaw no ti kinapudno

ket agsubli kadagiti panid

ti testamentotayo.

Naggapuak iti pagilian

a mangipato a ti demokrasia

ket isu met la nga isu iti pannakamasaker

ti asi a nadiosan

ket mabati iti lagip napalabas

nga iti masakbayan ket ur-urayen

kas iti pannakaidasay ti rekuerdo

a naynay nga agbibiag.

Limapulo-ket-pito a biag

ti napukaw iti Ampatuan

ngem kaliadotayo, kalmado piman.

A Solver Agcaoili

Manoa/Nov 25/09

Order for Massacre

"Massacre planned, says Buluan vice mayor," Inquirer, Nov. 26, 2009

I come from a country
of bloody contradictions,
regrets, deaths. It is a republic
this sorrow we are prone to
even inherit even take it easy
even as we have yet to learn to live.

And now this
order for massacre,
fifty-seven of them
and perhaps more
that only the new graves
and the murderous backhoe
that does not how to tear up
ends up as the chieftest
of all the Maguindanao mourners
of this Ampatuan land
Allah and God have forgotten
on this Monday the angels went mad.

The president of the country
has forgotten what grief is.
When you lose memory
and mothers, warriors
and women who saw
the meaning of good deeds
and you are the leader of the land,
you grab your beads, fall on your knees
and say all that which substitutes
for this collective lament.

This could have been a convoy
to their death like a procession
of hopes without any name,
and we all see
and we all read
and we commit all these
to a morning confession we hope
to make in the centuries
that will come to us
if we are lucky enough
or we bury in the sands
of time if we cannot fight it out
this impunity we define
with gallons and gallons of blood.

We make fertile the land now
with our own flesh and fear
with our bodies and breath
with our faith and failure?

And we order for massacre:
fifty-seven of them
and the number is increasing
by day when honesty goes back in
on the pages of our testament.

I come from a country
that mistakes democracy
with the massacre of what divine mercy
is left in our remembrance
of the past we look forward to
like this order for the death
of memory that lives on and on.

Fifty-seven lives lost in Ampatuan
and we remain callous, calm.

A Solver Agcaoili
Manoa/Nov 25/09