dagiti karurungsotan a tigtigre
a kadatayo makipagindeg
makikammayet a makikammaysa
agtagiuray kakaimbagan a gasat
sukal tratrahedia tawtawen
a nagtawataw palpaladtayo.
Kadua dagitoy nagal-alusan
a rikrikna wenno naglagisi nga alimpatok
tapno kadagiti ar-arapaap
iti law-ang nga asul, sa kolor-dapo
sa maris-dara, ditoy a maiparsua
agabuyo a kaunnaan a pammakada
tapno mangrugi a maikapaammo
nga ayat ti piman a kamalala.
Asul dagiti bulan iti Enero
iti agsusukot a balikas
dagiti agpagungga a demonio.
Iti bukot ti panawen, ditoy
ditoy nga agdisso ti eklipse
ti umap-apuy a panagpalalo
tapno kadagiti maris ti asul
a bulan ket ti sumuko nga estranghero
kadagiti pantalan ni papauyo:
adu a malas a masukal
adu a panagpaputok iti luses
rebentador bawang trianggulo
plapla superlolo tapno agkuitis
dagiti ansisit a kadagiti suli
mabugiaw iti ringgor ti Enero.
Kas iti ili a pagilian dagiti ibit:
dagiti barko a lungon
nga iti agpakanito ket
ti pannakatay iti apagbiit
tapno kadagiti narungsot a danum
iti nakataltalna nga allon
ket ti waragawag ti pangulo
a no agsao ket agpuerong.
Agbiroktayo iti pangontra
sukal gitgita kadagitoy a malas
kadagiti siglo tapno ti buenas
a suerte ket kadagiti komedor
nga iti agnanayon ket aglabon.
A Solver Agcaoili
Marikina/Enero 1, 2009
She comes from the sun,
this lady from down under
a proverb unto her own:
what is she who comes
with a smile even when
the angels are mad, raging
and restless in their flight?
She has gone away
only to return to where
she comes from
the warm soil, moist and dry,
that knew her veined hands
clasped in fervent prayer
her chanting cusped for the asking
for some salving to come
to assuage the bruised body
the bruised soul, bruised mind
and this story of return
offering a loving lullaby.
She keeps her appointment
with time and all those moments
that tell you of sins revisiting
the sinner only to talk about
that which gives some sweet
We let go of the accounting
of lies, she tells, her voice firm,
that of an angel seeking light.
The deception is complete
and it cannot be undone.
We move on, she says,
to painting pictures with the colors
of that which will remind us
of the mercies we accord
to the lesser kind
some pretenders to some greatness
we cannot figure out how.
With her by my side,
I think of red here, like
the rebel word of a clown
or the clandestine cadre
of a poem about a metaphor
for a final freedom.
She says she is delighted,
so delighted we have met
for the first time after
miles and miles of letters
bridging what distance
separated us from her Darwin sun.
I tell her the same thing:
I send you my bright stars
my singing blue moons,
their alignment the meaning
of what I have become
in the Honolulu of my lifetime.
Stronger as you can see,
even if at times, some of the time,
the scars open up to countries
I have gone to journey
one meaning of what is beyond.
A Solver Agcaoili
Pasig, Dec 28/2009
It is plural, this meeting
of minds, plural too
in their capacity for words
that bring in the healing
from the wounds, raw and unkind,
pestering and festering,
this continual discourtesies
of lies and what they can do
in their conjugal power
to destroy what love is
even if it abounds, well beyond
what a poem is, a boon
if it is love, beyond the dictator's touch,
to give as a gift to us.
She came with her bright light
and all you see are the many loves
of her vagabond heart,
she who has come all the way
from this nearness so far
we cannot touch her word
nor follow her laughter
to its counterpoint to reside
in the sacred places of our lives.
It is forgiveness she tells,
full and absolute
and she reminds you of her stories
their triumph beyond their conclusions
as she was with her sister
all through and through
in the blazing of roads and more
for us to go by in life
as in the way we dream of our homeland
our people in need of soul
spirit too in the way we say our word
like the trials we go through
in writing the first lines of our songs
when we come back again
once more in the company
of what was, this sacred past
we cannot go back to
not any longer, resisting
and resisting this forgetting
that has come to assault us,
we who have come
to make a pact with the word
that sings and sings for us.
I must thank you now:
two sisters like one, your joy
the conversion of sorrow
I have come to know.
And with you I laugh, laughing
louder than I should
in the company of strangers
with their buffet of stares
and approving eyes.
We partake of the food:
our recollections of events
that will heal us more and more.
A Solver Agcaoili
SM Megamall's Cabalen/Pasig
Dec 28, 2009
a nation's curse, lifetime
and forever the source of our ills:
for her reign to last a minute longer
and last forever, to be president
of murderers, allies in the massacre
of what we are, who could we be,
cheats of the highest caliber,
they who can even lie saying the matins
so priests and bishops can hear her
so her god can give her indulgence
so her thieving sons can defend her
tell of her immaculate heart and her novenas
to the Lady of Piat and the black Nazarene
her daily appointment with her small heart.
Never mind that this nation
erred in Error's name
wrongly gave her the mandate to govern
this land without the home, bleeding
as it has always been, ever since,
does not have any need for her lies
one like her, drunk as drunk
she can be with power, as she
has become, with her capacity
for greed while she smiles while she clings
to her prayer beads, dark in their sheen,
strung together by a gold wire
that could have strangled
the neck of those who refuse to die
or those who fight to make life
better for this country now bitter
for exiles, men and women who have
to go away to send in their love
from boxes and boxes of sorrows
from memories of remittance receipts
even if all these mean dying a thousand times.
It makes her big, bigger, biggest:
huge and large for her swollen sense
of self, her presidency for her allies
like Ilokanos elsewhere pretending
greatness borne of conjugal anomalies
desires, deceptions, demented claims
to some similes of their empty lives.
A minute woman, she, this president,
her stature is what compensates
what she cannot do: do, do
the right thing for a people
long in need of living human lives.
She promised a lot of blessings
and she stole what honor
we can have in slaving for others
even as coffins, cold and frozen,
come back to us in increasing number.
Her logic is that of a convent girl:
she knows the power of the novena
and the enchanting capacity
of waltzing with cheating soldiers.
A Solver Agcaoili
Honolulu/Jan 3, 2009
1. His unfinished story, fragmented like drafts of earlier manuscripts, survive mainly through the details. A made-up room, its light blue walls, the singular window overlooking a frequently empty street, the white curtain that separates it from the adjacent room. A train, painted in green, left on top of a wooden chair. A young man riding the subway at 7 pm, an open book in his hand, looking out of the window and into an afternoon, once, when everything was home.
2. My mother calls out my name, her voice a soft, Sunday music from the kitchen. Geronimo, she repeats, and I remain in my room, holding the wooden train, responsible for its path, its destination. I continue playing. I want to hear her one more time.
3. "The narration of diaspora, of the exilic experience," the author begins, his soft voice pitched for storytelling, "is always one of reconciliation. With pasts and places that are never fully one's own, with an identity that is always in flux, flowing in and out of foreign and familiar grounds." The author pauses. His eyes, now looking at a memory, continue where he left off.
4. He suddenly remembers her. Her laughter, light and infectious on easy afternoons, the slight tilt of her head as the punch line kicks in. Her natural elegance, a certain softness that always surrounds her, a certain lightness of air. Her tenderness, as she folds her clothes, as if they are silk or satin, and puts them in the suitcase. Her stillness and poise, as her eyes scans the nearly emptied room, the vastness of blue walls. Her grace, as she slowly lifts a hand to say goodbye.
5. There were pictures of before, kept inside the wooden box on top of her cabinet, never to be looked at again. She once said that photographs do not capture moments; they just make the past appear more recent. It is us, she said, so choose what you remember.
6. I looked at photographs of an abandoned city, its remains mossed with nostalgia. I could have lived at that time, in that place and feel exactly the same way as we leave. A boy looking at everything familiar, for the last time.
7. I was certain the moment I saw her as she scans for a safe seat, hurried, but awkwardly and with much hesitation, her eyes unaccustomed to skins of other hues. There was no fear in her eyes, unlike mine. It was more of a slight irritation from a temporary inconvenience. She walked towards one of the chairs nearest the window, eagerly waited for the instructor to arrive.
8. Then she told me, after all those weeks, a smile on her face, that her father, already in Johannesburg, is expecting her by the end of the week. She handed me a white book, the title in gold, and informed me that the elegies are considered the poet's magnum opus. She recited lines about beauty and terror, that one is the beginning of the other. The verse encapsulated. I was silent. I shivered as she walked away.
9. Suddenly, I realized that it is gone. A place that existed in photographs, mentioned every once in a while in sullen conversations triggered by a distant relative's death, in infrequent emails of early friends, in the news. Now, it is fiction, a thing to be imagined.
10. Trains used to be toys, things for the imagination. I remember owning one once, I remember playing with it while Barry Manilow was crooning on the radio and not really liking the music that much, I remember fantasizing about far destinations, mountains, seas, the sense of conquest when returning, I remember my innocence with what distance really means. Now, trains are just metaphors, things of the imagination. Life in transit, one heads on from one destination to another, and, in between, watches everything go by.
11. The train halts, the doors open, the multitude bursts out. He comes out carrying the same book, the same old ticket inserted between the poems, but his hands feel as if they belong to a different man. He walks past cafeterias, some diners, a butcher shop, a closed bookstore, blocks that could've been half a world away. Then he stops, takes the keys out. He is home.
In pursuit of the commitment of TMI Global (Guild of Ilokano Writers Global) to bring to world literature the best of works by Ilokanos through a sustained translation program, this publishing organization of writers with country chapters in the Philippines, Australia, and the United States, will launch its newest book, Alie(n)ation: Nation and Nationalism in Ilokano Exilic Poetics.
Edited, translated, and with a critical introduction by Aurelio S. Agcaoili, program coordinator for Ilokano at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, president of Nakem Conferences, and executive director of Nakem Youth, the book gathers the poetic works and nonfiction narratives of writers who have moved from their birthplaces to other places including those who immigrated to other countries.
Alie(n)ation is TMI Global’s second critical anthology, and its second in collaboration with other writers organizations, including, Rekuerdo/Memento, released in November 2009 by the Ilokano Writers Association of Hawaii/GUMIL Hawaii, in collaboration with the Academy for Ilokano and Amianan Studies; and Kallautang: Poetics of Diversity, Displacement, and Diaspora. Both books have been edited, translated, and with a critical introduction by Agcaoili.
Alie(n)ation will be launched during the Ilokano Cultural Festival organized and hosted by TMI Global on March 6, 2010, at the Pagoda Hotel International Ballroom, Honolulu, Hawaii.
At this festival, a play, “Iti Nagan ti Ama/In the Name of the Father”, written and directed by Agcaoili, will be premiered.
A combined cast from TMI Global, GUMIL Hawaii, and Nakem Youth will act in the play.
"Iti Nagan ti Ama/In the Name of the Father" questions age-old declarations on sexuality and gender, domestic violence, feminism, male dominance and privilege, and human liberation.
The play is the third written and directed by Agcaoili that zeroes in on issues related to domestic violence.
"Our Word, Our World," a dramatic recitation of monologues based on the results of the creative writing workshop on DV and cancer awareness conducted by Agcaoili in 2008, was shown at Tenney Theatre in Honolulu at a Men's Day celebration in February 2008.
Another play, "Ruk-at/Unshackling" was shown at an Ilokano Culture Festival organized and hosted by GUMIL Hawaii in February 2009 at the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu.