Kari iti Ili

Uray no matay ti bagi, la ket ta mabiag ti kari. - Pagsasao nga Ilokano

Agisagana itan bulbullagaw
kadagiti ap-appan iti mata

kasla panagliwliw daytoy
wenno panagtabukol iti aripit

tapno maikisap naknakem
makullaapan is-isip kinakisang

kadagiti baybay wenno rama
tapno iti apagdarikmat

a panagkulaidag ket ti kari
ti ilado a lames iti seniora

daytoy a bassit a dulang a no manglangan
ket tawen tapno iti rabaw daytoy

ket ti kulay-ongan a bingraw
ti soldado a kuton nga agkettel

iti kaawan maiyawid a sinam-it
iti reina dagiti am-amangaw.

Kas umili, rugian ti panagrespeto
iti maidasar nga iti panagdalupisak

ket ti inanama ti pannakairanud
daytay makapatig-ab a ladawan

pannakapnek maidiaya a raman
adu dagitoy, manipud sinam-it

agpatingga iti panagtagainep manen
tapno malagip konkontrat' sasaaden

saan a no ania ti maipakat a pangar-arit
wenno saosao lattan a pananglamlamiong

siudsiudadano iti bisin nga iti aglagaw
a tiempo ket ti saraaw ti ammo

a paulo dagiti amin nga ar-araraw
iti lenned a dagiti an-anek-ek

ket mabatida a parparawpaw
arkos kadagiti punsion, bistat' taripnong

nga iti uloulo ti lamisaan a napanayag
ket ti fantasia ti kinalabon.

Mabiag ti bagi
ngem awan ti kari

ta ditoy nga ili a naiyaw-awan
permanente a residente bambanti.

Hon, HI


Sumang. Daytoy ti adda
iti aginaldaw a leddaang

iti adayo a lugar a nagtalappuagawan
pangpanggep iti pagilian.

Sumangen babantot
kas saksakidol. Wenno mamayo.

Wenno ti panagbaniaga
dagiti rugso panpantok

a di met matagikua.
Ta ania ngarud: iti ili

ket ti addaan iti dokumento
kas iti binta dingdingnguen

titulo dagdaga nga agur-uray
pammaneknek iti apros

dagiti mailiw nga ima.
Ngem kasano nga agsukay

ti amo, isuna nga agek
ti para kenkuana, manipud dapan

agingga iti teltel sa iti ulo
tapno iti lulonan ket ti nagan

ti kabaruanan a tagabo a datayo:
ditoy, kadagiti walangwalang

batbatibat a di masinuno
ditoy a biroken ti ipus

ti pagi, sa ti lana nga iti Viernes
a sagrado ket sapsapo

matanamitiman, makurusan
ti birtud ti orasion ti adda

aglansad iti praskita a nagawangan
sa ita ket ti maikarga a sumang

tapno kadagiti rabii nga agtugtuglep
a ti ridep ket di met managibi

ket ti allangon ti bileg ti burabor
ili kas iti mailiw nga umili.

Itugotmo daytoy iti panagdaliasat
isakibut nga ipuslit beddeng

pampanawen a pagrutingan
maiwawwawa nga ayat.


Wolf Moon

Tonight's full moon will be the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. It offers anyone with clear skies an opportunity to identify easy-to-see features on the moon. Robert Roy Britt, Space.com, Jan 29/10

Like all life coming from the world
into the universe of miracles

they gave you a name,
Wold Moon of this magic

we witness tonight.
The Almanac says it is your first

but other moons will come
with the seasons of grace.

So from the dark alley of this longing
for many absences touching me now

I go out to watch you peak into
what Light there is, you light

in this city I have come to
thousands of miles away

from where I first saw you
with my young heart when first love

got into me somehow, fell for
the one that spelled Love.

The wolves in my new city
have been banished into backyards

hidden away from the streets
like the wolves of the city

I left behind: hidden in palaces
hidden in military camps

hidden in offices of honorable men
who know how to pull the trigger

and snuff out the life of lovers,
multiple and eternal, but now

mortally wounded by the dark
that comes to grip us in fear.

They have learned to hide,
these wolves everywhere.

And they speak the language
of the wise and we listen.

But tonight, even as you come
into full view, O Wolf Moon,

I will not hear the howling
of the brute that adored you.

But I will stay outside,
on the corner of doubt

and praise and on my watch
time you as you slide to a caricature

of the ephemeral luminosity
of a sad sad exilic life like mine.

Hon, HI


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The children with no names lay mute in a corner of the General Hospital grounds Tuesday, three among thousands of boys and girls set adrift in the wake of Haiti's earthquake. V. Sequera & B. Fox, Associated Press, Jan 26/10

The language of disaster
left them without speech.

This multiple death needs
to be washed away

by this facetious ceremony of tears
flowing through rivers of blood

on lonely roads of freed prisoners
through oceans of sorrow in parched earth

even as this heartland cracks
and cracks so to eat up

what remnant there is
to make us remember

what repeated and repeatable
bad luck is to die without saying goodbye

on a day when a holy bishop
in his palace leaves us as well.

Many others follow the same route
to extinction, common and senseless,

beyond forgiving, this and heartless
beyond remembering, past pains.

Now those who survived
feast on the final pity, lots of those

if only to get by each day
when moonrises do not come

to cool the warm and old days
that are for the kill

like a swarm of flies lustily
buzzing around with their music

busy with the pus springing from flesh
rotting on the wayside, offering

what pus can offer, what decay
and its mutations are in the mortal

wounds of this nighmare
we cannot name, never.

The flies come with their declamations
of death. They announce the impossibility

of one last dance for grace
in life as in its end.

We try to dream, dream on.
But the nights and the sleep

this one last sleep
no longer comes.

This House is a Skeleton

MANILA, Philippines—It seemed no one really wanted to have anything to do with a once sumptuous, P142.9-million mansion linked to a disgraced presidency. E. Tandoc Jr. Inquirer, Jan 27/10

This house is a skeleton
the remains of a dream
with some beloved and her children
who have given all what a man wants:

some laughter in dark days by the palace
when the plot of the silver screen
turns to some heroes I can never forgive.

Some of them come from dead alleys
their crisp placards calling out
to what deception there is when
one good friend decided to tell all
that which happens in the wake
of a sleep that just died because

one, the rallies go on and on
two, the demonstrations are becoming
a contract with the devil
three, they no longer believe
what I say except the jokes
I have not made from sex to sexlessness
or those phallic virtues of Filipino men
who can woe all, a country such as women

one, we have it all anyway, this charm
to win voters who do not know how to think
for themselves since they confuse
what heroes are for in grainy films
and those who die tragic deaths
fighting for what is right on deadends

two, we have it all anyway, this promise
we spell out without a commitment
to our word except to say
what people want to hear
except to leave the lying to them
who believe in miracles, in truth
as in despair when all what our macho men
have got are the ability to go my way
go where the action goes, where I lead them,
and make them see that they are me
and I am them in the first place.

Now that they sell this house,
this skeleton of a grand dream
where I had hoped to rest my tired mind
thinking of what could have been
were it not for this awakening
on the sacred street of activists
who have called for my head
them who made it sure
that in four days of my last glory
I would be gone, spirited to some
place in a mountaintop where there
I would meditate the meaning
of kingdom come.

And now, no one wants to buy
this house, this skeleton house
of my dream. It has history,
you know, and it has all what it takes
to fool those we can and should.

You could come and live here,
watch the Boracay sand, sad and immaculate,
fly, the waves of the urban sea
urfurling what pretense desire is
when everything is a secret
when things are done like this loving
away from the public's prying eyes.

But then the ghosts of the past
have lost the meaning of honor:
they do not allow me to leave behind
the life I could have lived were it not
for the revolution that came out
from the people's clenched fists
their rage for having me becoming a clown
the holy word uttered that cannot be undone.

This house is a skeleton.
It will always be so.

Hon, HI

Nakem Youth News

Nakem Youth organized

In the attempt to engage the young people of Ilokano descent in Hawaii in advocacy issues related to social justice and equity, to culture and language advocacy, and to education to democracy and diversity, the Nakem Conferences put up a youth arm, the Nakem Youth.

Nakem Youth is a comprehensive program for the young people ages 15 onwards.

As an advocacy group, Nakem Youth will take as its point of reference the issues on diversity and cultural pluralism in Hawaii, issues that remain relevant not only in this state but also elsewhere.

Nakem Youth has since lined up a variety of full programs including an upcoming writers workshop that will tackle the experiences of the young Ilokanos. A book, “Kabambannuagan: An Anthology of Writings of Nakem Youth in Hawaii,” will gather the works of the Nakem Youth writers and will be released later this year.

Aside from the writers workshop, the group has lined up other programs related to community language promotion and preservation, linkage and solidarity, comprehensive education, and creative arts and social media.

Nakem Youth is run by Jeffrey Acido, deputy director; Rachelle Aurellano, director for community language; Walter Luares , director for solidarity and community linkage; Calvin Rilviera, director for social media; and Steve Badua, director for finance. Aurelio Agcaoili serves as executive director of the group.

In partnership with Nakem Conferences and TMI Global, Nakem Youth is co-sponsoring the staging of “In the Name of the Father/Iti Nagan ti Ama”, with a number of its officers acting in the play. A full-length version of the play will be staged to raise funds for the organization.

For more information about Nakem Youth, email Jeffrey Acido at nakemyouth@gmail.com.

TMI Writers Workshop & Seminar in March 2010

TMI writers to hold seminar, launch book, and stage play

The Guild of Ilokano Writers Global—also known as Timpuyog Dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano Global—will hold on March 5 a writer’s seminar that coincides with the launching of its second anthology of literary works by Ilokano writers, “Alie(n)ation”.

The anthology, translated, edited, and with a critical introduction by Aurelio Solver Agcaoili, problematizes the Ilokano experience of “leaving one’s place of birth” and reclaims the energy that informs these writers to meditate on their unique experiences as writers of the diaspora.

TMI Global will also hold the Ilokano Culture Festival on March 6 at the International Ballroom of the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu. One of the highlights of the festival is the staging of a play on men’s issues, a play that cuts across issues on gender and domestic violence, “In the Name of the Father/Iti Nagan ti Ama”. The play is written and directed by Agcaoili.

The members of cast include Perlita Tapec Sadorra, Rose Daproza, Naty Cacho, Letty Manuel, Luz Bagaoisan, Bernard Collo, Jeffrey Acido, Calvin Rilviera, and Walter Luares.

The writers association, with country chapters in Australia and the Philippines, will also hold the Mrs. Literatura Ilokana Contest, the proceeds of which will go the Bachelor of Arts in Ilokano scholarship project of the University of Hawaii’s Ilokano Language and Literature Program and to the book publishing project of the association.

FAO/Feb 2010


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The children with no names lay mute in a corner of the General Hospital grounds Tuesday, three among thousands of boys and girls set adrift in the wake of Haiti's earthquake. V. Sequera & B. Fox, Associated Press, Jan 26/10

Nagtalapuagaw kadakuada ti lengguahe
ti didigra. Adu a pannakatay
a masapul a maumrasan kadagiti lua,
madayasan kadagiti basi tapno
mapasubli ti nakem iti agdama.
Awagan man dagiti arutang a mapuoran
dagiti apres a maiyayus iti taaw
dagiti pulikkaaw nga iti apagdarikmat
ket ti apagapaman a panagliway
dagiti dios nga iti rekkang
ti danum kas iti teppang
ket ti mailumlom a kinapimpiman
tapno manen iti madagdagullit
a ritual ti panagbalin nga umel
ket dagiti balikas nga awanan
kaipapanan. Kasano, kasano ngarud
nga isawang dagiti awanan iti kaes-eskan
a ladawan nga iti alintatao ket
ti lagip a di mamakawan?

Ngarud ta agmamayo nga agmalmalanga
dagiti napanawan. Saan a masapulan
kadagiti waragawag ti biag a naiwalang
a ti nagannak ti akinkukua nga iti daytoy
a walang ti likkaong a kalsada ti kadua,
kabinnulig kadagiti ibit nga inulila
ti soltero a panagmaymaysa.

Hon, HI

Massacre of the fields

MANILA, Philippines--For some 10,000 farmers, workers and teachers who marched to Mendiola Friday to commemorate the massacre of 13 farmers 23 years ago at the historic Mendiola Bridge (now Don Chino Roces Bridge) in Manila, opened to the militants once again, it was a day meant to remember the past and to collect on unfulfilled promises for the future. J. Andrade & G. Cabacungan, Inquirer, Jan 22/10

We called it the Mendiola Massacre.
The yellow president saw it coming
this madness of hands toiling the land

this grief of feet on a stampede
with the promise of a woman that prayed
hard and harder so we would come to this:

justice as it is: land for the landless
justice as it is: job for the jobless
justice as it is: food for the hungry

those who have not known what it is
to live as they should as this homeland
has erased all means to define what life is.

We kicked out the delusions in the dictator
with the exorcism of our rage, our chant
for freedom the IED that scared him away

to Hawaii and to his sunset, ignominious as yet
his death the cheap politics of those who do not know
the meaning of staged grief for a land without love.

And so the farmers come to march once more,
follow the steps to the massacre of their comrades
and women and dreams, thirteen of them

claiming the victory that was theirs and there,
on the cemented pavement by the dirty bridge
there the perfect pictures reveal: slippers bloodied

bodies bloodied dreams bloodied
the night's anger comes with the hoarse
words coming to grief, final and useless.

The military's guns were more powerful
than the ammunitions of their faith, prayer, hopes
for peace, quiet, and all that we did not have

like the sacred moment to bury our dead
until the next massacre comes once more
until all this is over, this abduction in encore

of who we are, our names in their pockets
our names in their long list so we learn
how to be afraid, we learn how to die.

Hon, HI


No borders, no boundaries. - Yanni

We see it coming, this Sin Nombre
and all the Zayrahs we come to know
and the rest of them the jornaleros

you have seen yourself on street corners
in Torrance by the sea, the calm waters
that get into your own forsaken country

one you have left behind to come over here
leave behind what was there and see
what golden suns you can see

and see what bright stars you can see
and see what lovely moons you can see
in between this hide-and-seek with men

them who have guns on their holsters
and the power of voice commanding
you to lay low, hands on your deadened head

so that a ritual like this could commence
as it were, in raid as in all stories of surrender
where those who have come without the papers

those who have just come on board
those who have yet to prove their truth
that they can speak English by not sounding off

the words but eat 'em like junk food
consumed to the quick and swallowed
then think of the days ahead, full, fulfilling.

We go by the trajectory of the American Dream.
We go by the route of the train ride
from distant hills unknown to mountains unknown

and all the untold dangers of a peregrine
in cold nights as in dark days even when prayers
keep us company and the nascient angels

swoon overhead like drunken clouds
or flirting air making us see light as light
is supposed to be: the sparkle on water

where we cross to another fate
the sheen of dew on leaves we pass by
after the rain, after our final dying

to cross the border, the boundary
of who we are to follow clearly where
the sound of the American dream begins.

Hon, HI

Didigra iti Apagapaman, 3

TITANYEN, Haite - And each day, the dead keep coming. Paul Have, AP Dispatch, Jan 20, 2010

Agpasangpet a kas bumalay
ti abut a daga a malmalday iti daytoy
a pagibasuraan nga iti panagretiro

dagiti am-ammo a buyok tapno kumleb
iti saklot ti lidem ket ti panagrupsa:
amin-amin, nabiag wenno ti asintado

a panagduadua no sadinno
ti pagturogan dagiti mapnek nga igges
nga iti ritual ti rakaya ket ti marunot

ti lagip kas iti lasag iti daytoy a didigra.
Apagapaman laeng ti seremonia
ti panaggabur: awan ti napait a dung-aw

kas iti panagliwat ti anug-og
ken aminen a panagidulin iti im-imeten
a dagensen iti nagpasina a barukong

tapno kadagiti narasay a saning-i
ket ti nalabon a panagitabon
kadagiti ribo a ti simbeng ti ulo mabuong.

Ta kasano koma a mabukatan
ti kastoy a tanem no uray ti kararag
ken patay ket ti mababain a pakinakem

wenno asi wenno ayat, amin dagitoy,
iti rupa dagitoy a kas-ang ita
nga iti apagdarikmat ket ti paripirip

ti pakpakadaan a diram-os
tapno di maan-annongan
tapno ti kararua agbati iti nagan.

Hon, HI

Tactical Articulations

The February of our collective lives is a continuum of what we have left off last year, with the inflation of our hope for the better because of forces that are largely not within our control.

There is so much of these right now, in the Philippines and elsewhere, and the tragedies that visit those who do not have the capacity to bear them seem to be increasing in number: the Ampatuan massacre in the homeland, the whole scale devastation in Port-au-Prince, the relentless terrorist bombings in Baghdad and in Kabul, and the foiled attempt at another airplane high jacking in the United States.

We are living in interesting times, indeed, so the saying goes.

And these times are difficult times, strange too, leaving us with not so much to hold onto even as we try to keep looking for that proverbial dawn light streaking through the forests and valleys and plains and mountains of our already sundered, blighted, troubled lives.

It is easy to fall into the cracks in these especially difficult circumstances marking our days, with the cracks creating gaping holes that are ever ready to swallow us whole and entire.

It is easy to lose sight of the promise of the future when so much of the tragic leaves us unable to re-gather our thoughts, reenergize our minds, and replenish our already dissipated sense of self-worth.

Even as we are greeted by a continuing sense of the absurd in this globalized world, with the global recession providing the engine for a freefall that has given rise to some other freefalls in employment and our capabilities to fend for ourselves and to take care of our families, we are here, and truly so, and our presence has become some form of active witnessing to what possibilities are still there in this vast world of interesting human experiences.

No, we cannot afford to fall on the wayside.

No, we cannot afford to go haywire.

No, we cannot afford to turn our back to the challenges of the present, however terrifying and surprising these challenges are.

What we need is some form of tactic to articulate what we have got.

What we need is to take back our ability to name that which we have got.

What we need is to articulate our pains, articulate our tragedies, articulate the present, and in the process of this tactical articulation, we will soon realize that yes, indeed, we have a way of seeing the whole thing in way that can be revelatory of what we can do—of what we, in fact, have before us: our lives, our present, our being around, our being in the midst of the here-and-now, in the midst of these things, in the midst of the events that open up new life lessons for us.

There is that sense of urgency in looking at the positives and to tactically articulate them so that we can have some reference points even as we try to get by despite all these troubles.

There is that immediacy of turning the ugly experience into something meaningful, beautiful, and truthful even if admittedly it is raw.

For the beautiful life—as in the promise of a faithful love which we celebrate this month—does not come as a polished, finished product but is always ongoing, always subject to the vagaries of moments, of pains, of histories, of joys, of hopes.

The truly beautiful life is, in the beginning, always rough.

Holding all other things equal, there ought to be one thing that renders life worth living: our commitment to loving and loving fully, meaningfully, humanely.

And this love is not only the romantic kind but includes the courageous confrontation of all that that hinders the deployment of love in order to charm the lover.

FAO, Feb 2010

Didigra iti Apagapaman, 2

TITANYEN, Haiti - Tens of thousands more killed in Haiti's catastrophic quake lie beneath the earth in mass graves cut into this wide green hillside north of Port-au-Prince, buried anonymously and without ceremony above the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Paul Haven, AP Dispatch, Jan 20, 2010

Siak ti verde a danum a manipud
iti bendision dagiti langit
nga agsansanuong
siak, ita, ditoy, masaripatpatak
dagiti bagi nga idi ket napnuan
ngem ta itan agkanabtuog
nga iti wangawangan ti abut
ditoyda a maigarangungong.

Miraek a riparen dagiti ima
nga iti sikkil kadagiti lamiin
kas iti kigtot ket iti law-ang
a gumawgawawa, mangnamnama
piman kadagiti mangted biag
nga agpros nga iti apagapaman
ket ti mauyos a babagot
kadagiti amin nga ipupusay
nga awanan pammakada
kas iti lib-at kadagiti darikmat
iti agmaya a sirmata
tapno kadagiti maminribu
koma a pannakiinnala
kadagiti samiweng iti kalkalsada
sa kadagiti tambor a mapatit
tapno sadiay ket ti musika
ti panagungar ken patay
sa kadagiti gitara, akordion,
pito, fluta, dagitoy dagiti punebre
nga iti patit ti kampana
ket ti maidasay met a namnama.

Awagan ti nagan ti Port-au-Prince,
ti kararua a maiwawa
tapno kadagiti abut nga iti tuktok
makitak nga agtabugga,
siak a danum a verde
nga iti arbis makipalpalama.

Hon. HI

Didigra iti Apagapaman, 1

TITANYEN, Haiti – They stick out at all angles from the tall mounds of chalky dirt, the limbs of men, women and children frozen together in poses of death. Paul Haven, AP dispatch, Jan 20, 2010

Maar-arakattot dagiti buldoser ita
dagiti mangkutkot iti Apo Daga
tapno iti kada maitaud a rugit

basura aminen a saem gapu iti leddaang
nga iti daytoy a pagibellengan ti siudad
ket mairakurak, maiyakuyak iti silnag

ti aldaw nga idi bigat ket ti buteng
kadagiti didigra nga apagapaman
tapno iti kaatiddog dagiti panagbilang

kadagiti sugat ket ti naatiddog met
a ritual ti panagdayas tapno koma,
iti baet dagiti kibaltang ti paragabur

nga ima ket ti sangadalusong
nga agruprupsan a lasag.
Kuna ti damag: agur-uray kano

dagiti abut a kapada ti kalawa
dagiti dan-aw a mapartuat
manipud kadagiti lua

dagiti ul-ulila nga iti kannag
ket ti lidem dagiti pasamak
dagiti nagannak nga iti sagawisiw

ti angin ket ti paal-alaw a nagan
dagiti inauna, dagiti buridek
dungngo man dagitoy wenno aligagget.

Honolulu, HI

Kontrata iti Masa

“Why will I withdraw? No way. No way,” he said. “I have a contract with the Filipino people—till death do us part.” Erap Estrasa, Inquirer, Jan 21, 2010

Adda kontratak iti masa
kas kadagiti mannaniw
iti Ilokano a talanggutang

nga iti rugi dagiti pangngarigda
ket ti batobalani ti bitla
nga iti agsaraaw a nakem

ket ti pangep-ep rusok
nga uray laeng nabara a sao
ket makaanay a mangatipa.

Kasta dagiti agmirmiraut:
maysa laeng a lamlamiong
umanayen a malipatanda

panaas ti isip tapno iti likud
dagiti kakastoy a sao
ket ti agraraip a patpatiray-ok.

Ikarik amin a mabalin nga ikari.

Ti kinalinteg, kas pagarigan,
uray no diak ammo no ania
daytoy ti inna kaiyulogan

kadagiti umili a kadagiti iskuater
ket piman a ditoyda nga agbilang
iti panaglangan iti isu amin

a mabalin a libtawan:
maisakmol, kas pagarigan
wenno bendision ti padi

tapno iti langit dagiti kakastoy
a kinaawan ket ti kinaadda
dagiti sinandios a mangiyaw-awan.

Ti demokrasia, kas pagarigan,
tapno dagiti amin a panagrigrigat
ket adda kadagiti sangasapulan-

sangaapuyan ket paaduen pay
piman dagiti bilang kas kadagiti
agadu a sasanto a pagparintumengan.

Ti tagtagainipen a kappia, kas pagarigan,
nga iti laeng naliday a tanem a mabirokan,
ta kadagiti darikmat dagiti maarus

nga ayat, dagiti magabay a panangipateg,
adda ditoy dagiti babawi a siak, siak laeng
koma ti mabutosan a mangisalakan.

Isu a daytoy ti ultimo a makunak:
adda kontratak iti masa ket ninto kaano man
ti masa ket siak ken siak ti masa

diakto inggaan ti agpabutos nga agpailayon
tapno amin a takneng kukuakto manen
tapno amin a pammadayaw kukuakto manen

tapno dagiti asintado a lagip dagiti karsel
ket iti pakasaritaan ti nadayaw a kas kaniak
dinto kaano man maipalagip iti sapasap.

Honolulu, HI

King, not Kingmaker

“I want to be king again myself (and) recover my throne that was stolen from me,” Erap Estrada, Inquirer, Jan 21, 2010

You want to be king

hope of those who have nothing
but dreams made of words
not the maker of kings
who will, like you,
deceive what desperate
deception is for a people like us
who have known all things
like age-old want for what want is.

You want to be king

and in your head is the shining crown
in celluloid, silver and golden
and the sparkle of stolen diamonds
as in the guises of our ugly truths
we who have come to believe
at what that drunken dusk, at the Luneta,
we overheard you saying.

You want to be king

and you tell us gathered by the light
of what you have promised:

"We build a happy land for everyone
not for brothers alone
not for sisters alone
not for parents alone
but for all the spirits that take
residence in this soul that is us
awaiting and awaiting salvation
that in churches and palaces
have never come
will never come.

The words, yours or your ghost's,
had the power to enchant,
and we began to dream about riches
we have yet to see
even as your words
rang in circles in our head
even as we said muffled amens to all
that which we heard in the kilometers
and kilometers of our distance
with your shadow at the stand
slipping through what our hands
and hearts could catch.

You want to be king

and we believed you then even
if there was ruse and we knew
but we did not. Was life a cinema
then and now as you recite
what we want to hear?
Was this mystery a chimera
we cannot run away from?

Or is this the wage
of all the falsities we have come
to live by like elections
we cannot run away from
or cathedrals of saints and holy men
we always go back
to ask for the lottery numbers
that will deliver us
from what we do not want?

You want to be king

and you lied to us once:
there is no guarantee
you will not lie to us again
even us this lying
is all we have got in this land
liars and thieves rolled in one.

Honolulu, HI


Amor es traicion. --
Amores Peros/Love is a Bitch

Traidor ni ayat
ni ayat-a-traidor.

Kabaelanna a ballasiwen ti agpang
ti langit ket daga tapno iwaragawagna
ti poder ti puso a manglimlimo
kadagiti palabra a di mabalikas.

Kas iti daniw daytoy a manglimlimo,
mangikassaba iti ammo kadagiti nengneng
nga abuyot ti kinalaglag kadagiti metapora
ti pannakaisalakan kadagiti managimbubukod
a rikna, mangpampanuynoy daytoy
iti kamalala nga isip, nakem, kaayan-ayat
dungdungnguen man iti wagas a nasungdo
wenno mangiyatang iti didigra kadagiti gatgatangen
nga idda, kas iti pananggatgatang iti dayaw
kadagiti kapada a kumanunong iti panangkautibo
kadagiti aganito nga apros dagiti sarita
nga ilimlimed iti sipnget
tapno di maarikap ti rabii
di masirpat ti agsapa
uray no aganikki ti utek
kadagitoy amin a panangiyaw-awan
iti pantok kas iti patag
ti pakasaritaan a di mangilala.

Ayat a traidor ti awagda
iti kastoy, ti pangapatan
kadagiti amin nga aramid
nga iti metapora ket ti engkanto
ti kinalanggong.

Namak pay nga agbalin a mannaniw
ti ayat a traidor.

Namak pay nga Ilokano ti balikas
ti mannaniw a traidor kadagiti balikas
nga iti litania ti panagsaur
ket ti aglenned nga init ti kaasi
iti laud dagiti agragut a balasador
dagiti gasat kas kadagiti malas
tapno iti loteria ti biag
ket ti pannusa a rumbeng ken masapul.

Honolulu, HI


Amor es pecado.
--Amores Perros/Love is a Bitch

Basol ni ayat, sitsitik.
Kabaelanna daytoy

ti agputar dandaniw a rabrabak
sinsinan a takneng tapno ipanagan

iti agraraman a bituen a manglulem
iti rabiim a laklakaddugan: daytoy ti ayat

nga iti estranghero nga idda
ket agbilang kadagiti alimpatok

dagiti rugso ti pammakada
kadagiti panaglabsing kas

panangkamalala reglamento ti burburtia
nga iti versikulo ti daniw a nalinteg

ket adda kadagiti makusen
a lino a ti al-almo ket ipeksa.

Pagpuligosem kas sirkero
ti naimbag a damag

kadagiti aguttog a buyot
dagiti niloloko a kassaba,

kas iti pamutbuteng, madagdagullit,
ti manglimlimo nga evanghelista.

Sika daydi mannaniw a sitsitik,
kadagiti bainbain, kapuriketan

sika daydi mannaniw a talangkiaw
nga iti salamangka ti saom

ket ti agdadata a panangiyaw-awan.
Aglibakkanto iti pakasaritaan:

iti kanito nga agtaraok ti kawitan
ilibakmonto ti nalpay a rugso

kadagiti agrakrakaya a sellang
isikapmonto nga iyarapiras

mailiw iti talged nga imam
kadagiti versikulo ti santilmo

a kakunsaba kadagit amin
nga aramid nga iti tarabit a pug-aw

ket namak pay a pagngawngawam.
Ta kasta ngarud ti ayat-a-basol:

aramidem nga artek a mannaniw
ti parawpaw a kabinnulig iti angol

a kadagiti paulo ti sinsinan
a daniwmo ket ipanagan iti piman

laeng ta makaduam iti alimpatok
nga iti anagna ket ti barangabang.

At Port-au-Prince Before the Dead and the Dying

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Drumbeats called the faithful to a Sunday Mass praising God amid a scene resembling the Apocalypse — a collapsed cathedral in a city cloaked with the smell of death and rattled by gunfire, where rescue crews battle to pry an ever-smaller number of the living from the ruins. Michelle Faul and Mike Melia, Associated Press, Jan 17, 2010

At Port-au-Prince, before the dead and the dying
before the living who escaped the wrath
of reason beyond word, language, speech

here, here they are all coming to utter
what hope that be said in grief
as in this utter silence. The question

comes in existential form, and we recall
Camus' and his disbelief, the anguished
soul of a philosopher who is a poet of the tragic

the question looming large before mountains
of destruction where lines curve to admit
what is in there for the finality of death.

Here they come, and the CNN accounts,
as in the Yahoo videos tell: this supplication
this singing of lauds and all the songs

they remember in their sleep
even as the smell of decay comes
to mix with what is body of Christ

to be offered to ward off the hunger
and his blood to drive away
the evil spirits that have come

to visit this land visited by dreams
of empire and the power that goes
with what power can offer to put in place

all the slaves in their own perch,
before as today and forever, indeed.
Our prayers go with them, as Fanon's

tactical articulations of justice
demanding food, land, job
and the immediacy of relief

just to get by each day, one day
at a time, past this havoc
that has come to reside in the quick.

Honolulu, HI

Barikada Dagiti Bangkay

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Desperate Haitians used corpses to set up roadblocks as anger and despair at the trickle of aid mounted on Friday and rotting bodies littered the streets after a massive earthquake killed tens of thousands of people. AP, Inquirer, Jan 15, 2010

Daytoy ti baro a pagbarikada:
agruprupsa a bangbangkay
nga iti ginggined ti Port-au-Prince
ket ti salamangka ti karasian a biag
nga awanan patinggana.

Iti Haiti daytoy a buya,
ti lugar nga agal-alawaaw ti grasia
iti nabayagen a panawen
sipud pay nga amin a manakem
ket iti ikub daytoy a nagpapas
bannog dagiti nangisit a babaonen
sakripisio dagiti nangisit nga adipen
biag dagiti maisakripisio a biag
iti nagan ti wayawaya a di sinsinan
pammati iti Dios, kas pagarigan
biag a ditoy ket ti musika ti kabinnulig
iti rabii a nasipnget a mangriing
iti agdudungsa a bitbituen
silnagan dagitoy dagiti taaw
iti aglawlaw tapno mangisagut
samiweng pannakaisalakan.

Ngem ita ket ti sugat.

Ket asinanda dagitoy,
tapno dagiti bingraw makaramanda
iti adat iti lasag dagiti marigrigat
a makaammo unay ti kaes-eskan
ti siglosiglo a kinakurapay
a di met uray leang iti maysa
a darikmat ket dinardarepdep.

Alaenda ti aweng dagiti agpakpakadan a lasag
dagiti pimmusay tapno iti kaunggan a buteng
sadiay nga aglansad
sadiay nga agbirok iti kappia
kadagiti rekkang ti solido a danum
ti likido a daga nga iti apagapaman
ket marunaw a kas iti bain
dagiti agbebessag a kolonisador nga ita
ket kunam a dida sibabasol.

Gargari laeng ti panagbalse
ti daga tapno iti kaunggan
ket ti paripirip dagiti aginkukuna:
dagiti dadaulo, kas pagarigan
dagiti pimmanaw a mannibrong,
kas pagarigan:
dagiti agsubli iti eksena ti didigra
tapno ti gundaway saan a mapitutan
saan a mauma uray kaano man.

Honolulu, HI

Baliwangga, Baliwangga

"Have they not hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars? Have they not forced them to eat excretement? And, having flayed them with the lash, have they not cast them alive to be devoured by worms, or onto anthills, or lashed them to stakes in the swamp to be devoured by mosquitoes? Have they not thrown them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup? Have they not put men and women inside barrels studded with spikes and rolled them down mountainsides into the abyss? Have they not consigned these miserable blacks to man-eating dogs until the latter, sated by human flesh, left the mangled victims to be finished off with bayonet and poniard?" Henri Christophe, on the treatment of the French of their African slaves in Haiti

Ita ti panangidasar iti amin a sarita
a di malamut ti aso.

Dagiti indulin kadagiti gumawgawawa
a tanem nga itay ket mamingga
nga ita ket masukay
tapno ditoy nga idulin dagiti agdama
a pimmusay tapno din manglagip
iti pakasaritaan ti inhustisia
tapno din mangidasar iti atang
kadagiti mayordomo, amo a pulano
ti panagsagaba.

Ngem idi, iti naunday
a tiempo ti panagbaliwangga
dagiti kolonisador, iti gameng
kas iti kinatao, sa ti kinabaknang
nga adda kadagiti Arawak
idi un-unana, idulin ta idulin
dagiti malagip a padeppa
ti ranggas. Kaano a naudi
a nakita ti Taino ti karbenganna
kadagiti lames wenno ti dalluyon
nga umagek iti templo ti dios
iti sakaananna, sa ti dawel
a no dumteng iti kapanagan
ket maysa a nalinak a buya ti agsapa?

Ita ket ti didigra.

Ngem sipud pay idin daytoy, manipud
kadagiti siglo nga indateng
dagiti kinautibo a pakasaritaan
kadagiti liday wenno ikkis wenno dung-aw
mariput a wayawaya dagiti agbalin nga adipen
a no umisem ket manglaglagip
iti Africa.

Ita ket ti daraan a konsiensia.

Isublida amin a ginaramugamda
manipud kadagiti rangaw ti kappakappa
agingga iti bunggaria ti kalsada:
ditoy ti mansayag nga awan ipusna.

Honolulu, HI


In a life where the next meal is uncertain, where the next rain may claim your home, where the next election may happen or not — where that is the normal. Think of having those institutions smashed all around you. Jonathan Katz, Associated Press, on Port-au-Prince, Jan 14, 2010

Death is certain
as the evil come-with-us
in flesh and blood
with our without this earthquake
tests the fire in the prayers
we have memorized to fend off
all these aftershocks
of our ruined lives.

The people of Haiti, like us,
have been tried, before
and repeatedly: the callousness
of thieves in high places
the empty words of promisers
whose names are the people's
presidents and saviors.

But here, in this estranged land of storms
and imperial temptations in all shapes
here where slavery and colonialism
both take the form of alien desire,
one propping each other
one the logic of the other
we declare in French what
fraternite is all about:
those on the other side
live with all the trappings of honor
both bought and stolen
and then vested upon one's own
while those in the dumps
dream of egalite and liberte
pronounced with the tongue
of gods, white, and fearful of all
that can cast a white curse.

As if we have not heard of
Pat Robertson who easily
connected the meaning of devastation
with the grief of those who do not know
they have suddenly died on the living
who survive by living wretched lives.

We put the dots together:
this misery and this destruction
what in between them is the meaning
of redemption while bodies come to rot
and go back to the land
of those who have labored it out
for a darn century too long?

Haiti: you will not go.

Haiti: you will not leave us untouched.

Haiti: you shall tell us: with these deaths
shall rise the one other hope for all of us.

Honolulu, HI


They begged for their lives…(but) they made sure no one would survive.

Mayor Sangki’s testimony, Inquirer, January 13, 2010

Berdugo nga agdadata
dagitoy a testimonia
a sumarut uray
iti tulang, umukuok
uray iti suli dagiti kuadrado
a buteng kadagiti bala,
kas iti mariput nga imbag
iti sango ti agkiet a rikna.

Kasano nga isubli
iti dati met laeng a puesto
iti bangabanga
ti naburayrayan nga utek
a kadagiti gumawgawawa
a didigra ket kaing-ingas
dagiti amin a pananggudas
kas iti gulib ti ili
nga addaan iti birngas a ranggas?

Kuna ti saksi: nagpakaasida.

Inawaganda ti nagan ti Alah
a manangngaasi, nagorasion
iti bendisionna a kappia
iti puso, kas iti kararua
kas iti panagtalawataw ti kebbakebba
iti barukong tapno ti isem
ket kadagiti bibig nga agapon
tapno iti sumuno nga aldaw
ket ti garakgak kadagiti balligi
a ti nasion ket agsagrap.

Ngem kastoy ti pasamak:
ratraten ti rifle nga agpanakpak
ti maudi a selula ti namnama
nga agbiag tapno ti lasag
ket ti narabaw a tanem
sadiay nga agipalawag
no apay nga iti ili ket ti turay
dagiti bambanti ti agari
ti bileg dagiti awan asi
daytoy ti pammati.

Mano a kandela
mano a kararag
mano a biag a maipatli
tapno iti udina
ket ti panagkawili dagiti rikna
nga iti kaunggan ket tani?

Honolulu, HI

Honolulu in the Early Hours

It is leaving on a Sunday
before the first crack of dawn
that makes you linger
and linger on. The bed you know
too well you will remember
too well from a distance
with the dark of the wee hours
giving way to light
and this another sun.

And the cheerful day at sea
that will last a lifetime
until you come again
to leave on a Sunday like this one
to arrive on a Sunday like this one
between time zones
one in the Marikina by the mountains
another by Waipahu by the mountains
in between is the sea that does not know its name
its pain not knowing its past
its wound having no future
as will the Honolulu you go to
in the early hours.

It is your first time arriving
this early in this new city
you keep hidden in your poem
that speaks of isolation
with no birthplace no birthdate
but wishing just the same
to be up in the gusty wind, cold and freezing
in winter time
and alone and happy in the fall
in all the seasons you count
how much longer how much time
how many years this separation
will keep you from coming
to your word, perfecting the promise
and keeping it to build a dream,
colorful and glad and majestic
like the Diamond Head in the distance.

You see the glitter and glamour
of the restless lights on posts
as with the glitter but not the glamour
of your heavy heart.

It is leaving that makes you arrive
in destination countries
you have dreamed of
but never know it is this hard
like a protracted war
your people have waged
for the longest time possible
since time immemorial
when the cross-bearing bastards
came to own the only thing
you have got: memory, this memory
language, this language
word, this word
story, this story
revolution, this one at last.

Honolulu in the early hours
is all these: a destiny yet
to be defined by love
and what it has got.

Unlike your land, your homeland:
this is all it has: this early
hours bidding goodbye to the dark
as you embark from a night-long
ride atop the clouds.

Honolulu, HI

Maprosak Laeng ti Dapan ti Dios

MANILA, Philippines – A third Black Nazarene devotee has died after he suffered severe head and body injuries when he fell off the carriage carrying the centuries-old icon during the procession on Saturday, police said Monday. Inquirer, January 11, 2010

Maaprosak laeng ti dapan
ti Dios, mabalinakon a pumusay
mapan iti sabali a biag tapno
iti agnanayon a pammakawanna
ket ti awan ressat a panagibtur
iti rigat.

Mapalag-an laeng
ti abaga kadagiti babantot.

Makaruk-at laeng
ti isip kadagiti amin
a karsel ti makurkuriro
a panunot.

Makapadas laeng nga iti panaguyas
ti prosesion ti manangngaasi
a Dios ket ti panagubbog met
ti grasia nga iti nabayagen
a panawen ket naundayen
a tinagtagiruot.

Maysaak laeng a marigrigat
nga iti ipupusay ket
ti kinaawan nagan.

Matayak kadagiti dalan
a pagnaan ti Dios
matayak nga iti semento
ket maipalek ti ulo
a ti bangabanga ket ti buong
a dagiti panawen ket ti antigo a pulkok.

Isu a kayatko koma a madapadap
ti saka ti Dios, ti dapanna a kadagiti bara
daytoy ket ti inspirasion nga iti agnanayon
nga arapaap ket iti sibayna
sadiay a din agtuok.

Itan ta napanakon iti sabali
a biag, ti nagan ket addan
kadagiti allawig, kadagiti inana
nga iti sakibot ket ti agreppeng
a saka ti agmirmiraut.

Honolulu, HI

Ammo ni Santino Dayta

Ammo ni Santino dayta.

Ti panagarapaap iti kinapimpiman
tapno iti numero a mabalasa
ket ti gasat a di maiyaw-awan.

Ammo ni Santino dayta.

Kas ti obrero nga iti maysa
a pannakibaka ket ti pustana
iti buenas, sika, iti laing
ni Santino, ken ti ladawan
ti sangadangan a pirak,
sika ket makipili kadagiti padam
nga agkumbulsion
iti nagan ti areglo dagiti numero
nga iti ramay ti manangngaasi
a Dios ket mapuntaan.

Ammo ni Santino dayta.

Ti panagbusi iti balikas
no lima kadagiti numero
ket iti palad agbakas,
agsiasi kadagiti linia
iti nabun-as a dakulap.

Ammo ni Santino dayta.

Ti agpalpalama ket ti mapalpalaam
a maregmeg iti padaya dagiti babaknang.

Kasta ditoy ilim, kas iti pagiliam.

Ammo ni Santino dayta.

Ti maregmeg ti panggatang
iti karurua ti masakbayan.

Honolulu, HI

The Early Hours Wake You Up

The early hours wake you up.
You have your second set
of clothers folded
and your memories,
brief and tangential,
are kept in the closet
there to rest for a while
in repose and quiet
until you get back
to quicken their unfolding
unraveling before the dawn
is over.

It is the hour before
the rooster crows
and you drink of your cup
this brew, your first for the day,
quickening your steps
from here to there
in the darkness of a moonless
morning. The sturdy fan,
old and rattling, breaks
the silence you try
to keep in your father's
heart even as you see
your children dam what feelings
of leaving and separation,
again and again, they have got.

This is our life now,
this intermittent life
of impermanence on holidays
we use as an alibi to come home
to roost and imagine
that life lived away from all these
is the destiny of citizens
who look to blessings
from somewhere else.

There is not much over here,
that we need to see. Small betrayals
of the homeland can come from here
even as we raise our hands
to profess fidelity to our new land.

Even then, we send whatever love
we can to the temples of our heart:
in boxes and boxes we stack
whatever care we can define
while we eke it out in some
kingdom come.

Marikina, Metro Manila

We Move the God From One Place to Another

We move the God
from one place to another.

From his kingdom
where we walk on our knees
to ask for what is difficult
to ask and we know we will receive
in some other mysterious ways
like this prayer that resides
in our hearts to ward off our fears,
in perpetuity we move him
from his sacred place
to the park of our people
marked by executions, death,
campaign sorties
Erap inauguration
Eddie Villanueva prayer rallies
Mike Velarde born-again testimonies
with hundreds and hundreds of roast beefs
with thousands of roasted pigs
with the breaking of the bread
as in the breaking of the nation's promise.

There we spend the nights
going around wearing
our dark nakedness so
the immaculate vestment
of goodness be ours.

We have prayed a lot
and so much in this country
for so long.

We have always prayed so hard
in this homeland.

And for so long.

And this is where we are:
our people live on the streets
our people live on water with some rice
our people live underneath bridges
our people live on the promises
of presidents, thieves, actors
senators, priests.

We move the God
from one place to another
and we dream of virtues
from temples, palaces, slums
and spectacles such as this one
that we do for our days.

Quiapo, Manila

Another Luna Died for the Nation

“She believed that faith should not be a lifeless dogma. She believed that just like Jesus, one must bring faith to serving the people—without thought of oneself. And just like Jesus, to die in service of the poor and oppressed," Stand MSU-IT on Kimberley Jul Luna, Inquirer, Jan 8, 2010

Another Luna died for the nation.
She is Kimberley Jul Luna
of the land of the lumad that dreams
of freedom and peace in Bukidnon.

These things are real for this warrior.
They translate into visions
that imagine what is put on the table:
food that speaks of a land
that can feed its own people.

Fields that dream of plenty,
with stalks of grains dreaming
of children laughing their way
to the harvest season
and to the rituals of satisfaction
like a tummy not knowing
the language that grumbles
through and through
and speaks of the deprivation
that does not begin
from salvation but in the truths
of a just future. In that time
that comes, we will no longer
need warriors dying in daylights
succumbing to the terrors
of death while one is young.

She is our struggle, true,
and she leads, leads on,
and with her sacrifice,
we wish for this calm
that will come to us at last.

We say goodbye to her,
this warrior of our homeland.
In her graveyard, clear
as the morning sky,
is the beginning of the end of war.

Marikina, Metro Manila

Barefooted Men Carry the Dark Son of God

Today the long lines
are getting longer
and the black Son of God
reigns supreme in
this tropical land
of hope and faith,
two cottage industries
that make us produce
what we can believe
reproduce what mercies
cannot in this difficult times
give as generously
as in the wretchedness
of our miseries.

We go around town,
pass through where all
things sacred are profaned
by what we can unsay
to mark the barefooted men
they who carry the maroon
of what life can offer
and the yellow of what courage
we need to go on living
in these tropics
where elections become
a ritual of our tender goodness
for all those who have oppressed
for all those we want to continue
oppressing us because
they promise us rice in abundance
they promise us roads
connecting our birthplaces
with the graveyard.

Barefooted men, in multitude,
the throng a prelude
to the morning of a mindless crowd,
carry the dark Son of God
who from his perch, looks
at a sea of men drunk
with the blood of Christ.

This has become a story
of generations, a generation
after another one
until the memory of this ceremony
of our coming around
to what the days have given us
become itself the apocrypha
to what we have become.

Quiapo, Manila

Bisperas ti Nangisit a Kristo

Bisperas ti nangisit a Kristo
inton bigat, ti Viernes
dagiti sakasaka a kas kaniak:

dagiti mamati kadagiti tagiruot
dagiti agpannuray adu nga anting-anting
manipud iti susmariakusep

sansanantek agingga iti panangkurus
iti muging iti mamitlo
a sukal kadagiti demonio

iti man Honolulu wenno
iti tangatang dagiti abusado
a no agtabbaaw awanan modo.

Masaksiak ti sala agurgurigor
a padpadek nga iti aspaltado
a dalan iti Plaza Miranda agsurnad

ar-arimpadek nga agur-uray
panangiburay ti padi iti signos
dagiti nangisit a rebultot' nangisit a dios.

Agur-uray sangapulo a dalan
a pagrikosan tantanamitim
a rangtay ribo nga ir-iroken

a milagro ti agbusi a balikas:
baldado mabannog a gurgurong
kas iti bibineg ti utek

ngem ti Jesus Nasareno
kadagiti ar-araraw agidulin
nga agisakibot ladladingit!

Adda buteng iti alintatao
ti nagkuna a buyogan
ti panagrarek ti karabukob

tapno dagiti plema ket agbugsot.
Indeppelkot' barukong ni ayat
iti barbangisit a ramay ti saka

ti nakamansayag a naplakda a Dios
ket amin a lagip iti pannubbot
ket ti konsierto dagiti birkog.

A, ta adu a panagtestimonia.

A, ta adu a panangipapan.

A, ta adu a promesa ti pamilawan
tapno kadagiti maitupra katay
ket ti halabira ti agpaspasanaang.

Adda ringgor kadagiti tambor
kas ti panaguyek no panawen lam-ek
kas ita ngem ti temperatura dagiti daniw

ket kas iti agkumbumbulsion a karro
ti natay a dios dagiti mangnamnama
iti nalinay nga innapuy

ti makabang-ar rusok a digo ti ipon
wenno ti mabatobalani a sabong
ti alukon. Awan dagitoy kadagiti kaliehon

ti Quiapo a pagilian ti nangisit a dios.

A Solver Agcaoili
Quiapo, Manila


Karambola ti lengguahe
ti naimbag a gasat
a naisangrat kadagiti bituen.

Ita ket lotto 42
sa lotto 45 inton bigat
sa supperlotto 49

dagiti amin a sammaked
tapno iti labes dagiti rigat
ket ti panagarapaap

nga iti darundon dagiti malas
ket ti perdigana ti rebbengna
a ragsak.

Kas iti panagsabong sagpaminsan
ti dama de noche nga iti panangiyawid
iti lagip ket ti ayamuon ti narasay

a panagsubli kadagiti nangina nga aldaw
nga ul-uloden ti anniniwan
tapno makasubad datao

kadagiti naimbag a nakem
kadagiti rabii nga iti bartek
ket iti parbangon laeng
a mausawan kadagiti pannkaiyaw-awan.

Ket ita ti aldaw ti Mierkoles ti rambol
iti sumuno kadagiti panagrennek
iti saot' dakes: laeng ta maipeksa

dagiti amin a sakit ti nakem
nga iti isip ket sabidong a balinsuek
tapno ti numero iti tagainep

ket iti tarheta ti baro a gasat
a maimarka iti tawen ti purpuriket.

Iti pila dagiti agbirbirok iti suerte,
ditoy a madiskubre dagiti rikna
tapno pabaruen ti panangilala

kadagiti balabala ti panagwayawaya
manipud kadagiti numero a marambol
kadagiti kari ti maikadus a sunganit' basol.

Aprosan ti urnos dagiti numero
ket inanamaen ti pugto a paulo
ti maiwaragawag nga agpugpuga

nga angol dagiti maatianan a bisukol
a koma kadagiti paspasmok a pagkarasan
ket ti kisang ti adda iti pagramaan.

Ibbung, kunaen koma, iti bagi kas iti pila
dagiti kas kenka. Ngem a ta sibibiag
dagiti kasaba ti umadanin a buslon
dagiti numero a dikta
ti diosa a karissabong.

A Solver Agcaoili
Divisoria/Enero 6, 2009

Combo de Numero

It is combo de numero
that gives him luck,
one final hit with the jackpot

to build a dream church
for the poor. He promises
this to his gods, his friends,

poor poets and sincere pretenders,
but dear friends who understand
the urgency of his need to imagine

what is it to have enough of ironies
to hope even if famine becomes
the language of the broken soul.

Some of his friends,
of course, do not understand
the parallel vision of his wish:

what on this unhappy earth will put
two and two meanings together
such that this writer of verses

would need the matter for
that is not what verses reveal
that is not what tropes unconceal?

So: each day he goes, his gait confident,
to a superlotto store by the S-malls,
make small talks with the smiling clerk

and buys himself one, just one
freaking number combination that will,
he hopes it will, give him some hope

the break to break free at last
from all these that make him work
endlessly still and forget how poems

are supposed to decipher
the mysteries of a lucky pick
the numbers in a combination

in the quick.

A Solver Agcaoili
Diliman, QC/Jan 4, 2009

The Day After the Three Kings

The day after the three kings,
he goes around his city of thieves,
cheats, liars, praying politicians,

preying presidents, smirking saints.
Some holy men come in handy
from dingy bars and dark cinemas

of the lowest kind,
those for laborers whose lives
have been cheapened by lack of work,

jobless carpenters who are about
to forget the feel of a hammer
patient vendors with their amulets

on their wares, three calamansi
to enchant the best of luck and buyers,
sunburned jeepey barkers

on the take for what mercy is
like those ever-willing pimps
on the ready to transact business

with those who while away
the night's secrets, as this city's
with its chambers on its alleyways

cemented streets leading
to urban jungles without the foliage
and the chirping of birds.

No one among them, these city people,
can tell you what happens
to the three kings, what wisdom

they have got to follow the star
in Bethlehem with its bedlam as in this filth
of a land pretending to be a country

of our difficult, dreary dreams.
No, we cannot find anything
else from middle aisles

where the mandarasal
say what we need to plead with the gods
of our blighted lives by the Quiapo

by the blessed sacrament, the church
or the exposed sacred bread
one where there, this man on a furlough,

he washes his sweet sins away
with the holy water that comes
in drought, its vessel,

huge, granite pale, and warm
from being empty. He dips his fingers,
the one by the left hand that touched

the bony woman's word by the Avenida,
sullen woman, sunken and sad,
offering the body of a fresh one,

someone else's far into the recesses
of kept places, the prospect of loving
to wrap up his waking day,

spent from walking, sleepwalking almost,
to remember what was, what was there,
when he had not left this city, his

nor imagined he would after the revolts
requiring the massing up of courage
the massing up of fears and prayers

on street pavements with the Black Madonna
watching from her perch, with her sorrows
a benediction for the aggrieved

like him who has come away
to rekindle what fire is left
with his memories now kept

cages, in his mind as in his heart.
A box of votive candles awaits him
with the admonition of a donation

for seminarians who pretend
to be unsexed, virginal, innocent
like them angels with wings strong

and flying high against the strong winds
of shame, desire, temptation
and all those the bind the body

to the earth, this one, with the dirt
that make him remember many things:
the women by the church entrance

offering relief from the humdrum
of reciting a long novena for the lotto
the men lined up by the Plaza Miranda

begging to come, sit down by their stool,
and journey with their aces and jokers
and diamonds and black hearts

to go figure what is in store for the year
for those who go on looking for regrets
and walking the streets of the filthy city

to bring home the images in another land,
another country, another love, lifetime.
He look for where quiet is. There is none.

The three kings are not here,
he says, and he lines up to dust & kiss
the feet of the dead, black Christ.

A Solver Agcaoili
Manila/Jan 3, 2009

A-tres ti Ngatangata

Tawen dagiti tigre ita.

Iti Provident Village
ket ti leyenda:
maysa a baket a kubbo
iti danum nagpalpalama
tapno koma ti waw
maep-epan kadagiti amin
a paidam dagiti tudo.

Saan, awan, kuna
ti nadawatan ket nagkiat
ti langit iti naimatanga
wenno natimud manipud
kadagiti ngudot' bulbulong
wenno ti arasaas ti es-es
a karayan.

Ita ket malabsam dagitoy a litania
iti panagawid manipud
iti sabali a ritual ti pannakaisalakan
wenno panagdawat pammakawan
kadagiti basol
nga iti delubio ket namarkaan.

Saan laeng a sangabaso a danum
inkay malak-am. Lemmesen layus
amin a lua nga iti parkag a daga
ket mangbisibis kalak-aman.

Timudek dagitoy nga estoria
iti panangiturongko iti manibela
iti lagip dagiti maiyan-anud
nga agsapa, babawi, pammakada.

A Solver Agcaoili

President Forever, My Wish

A child's wish, this, beyond innocence,
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 chanting the lauds

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
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, special, important:
huge and large for her swollen sense
of self, her presidency for her allies

like Ilokano writers elsewhere pretending
greatness borne of conjugal anomalies
desires, deceptions, demented claims

to a simile of their empty adulterous 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 full 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 prayer's power repeated
over and over and the enchanting capacity
of waltzing with grinning, scheming courtiers.

A Solver Agcaoili
Honolulu/Jan 3, 2009

Iti Nagan ti Rebentador

Two of the most popular firecrackers are the “Ampatuan” and “Goodbye Gloria,” which pack so much punch and explosive power that they can shut off street lamps, trigger car alarms and shatter glass windows. Ric Sapnu, Philippine Star, January 1, 2010

Iti nagan ti rebentador ket duakayo:
singin a berdugo dagiti amin a namnama
dagiti pimmanaw tapno agsubli
ngem iti panaglagaw dagiti aldaw
ket dinton mamati kadagiti bingraw
wenno egges wenno iti bugiaw
a kari ti palibbaangen nga Ampatuan
wenno ti masindian a Goodbye Gloria.

Iti aripit ti nakapasagan, ditoy
a mangur-uray ti Ampatuan
ti Goodbye Gloria iti baro kanalbuong
tapno agkamata koma mangmangkik
iti maysa a tawen a biag
ket ti timbatimba
a dara dagiti maidalit a gartem
tapno iti panangisakada kadagiti tagainep
ket ti embalsamado a maminribu a gagem
dagiti Ampatuan ken Goodbye Gloria
a no agbettak ket bukiradenda
ti sentido dagiti agmutmuttaleng a masa.

Mano nga ima
mano a barukong
mano amin a sellang ti ratraten
dagitoy a didigra manipud
iti buteng iti masukatan a tawen
tapno kadagiti selula ti bannawag
a kadagiti gumawgawawa
a tanem ket ti agpapauray a bangkay
dagiti salemsem iti kartaan nga uray
iti panakpak ti palibbuong
ti mammapatay a bala
ket ti agungarto a sakit ti nakem
dagiti naipatli kas pinanawanda
a lagip iti namnama
iti kaidatdaton nga atang kas iti kinalinteg?

Ampatuan ti awag
iti mangidagel
a paputok.

Goodbye Gloria ti birngas
dagiti amin a dagensen
nga iti barukong
ti bigat ket nasken nga iparaut,
igalut kadagiti amin
a sulinek ti ili
tapno iti makaulaw
a panagrikusrikos
dagiti lamlamiong
ti bulbullagaw a papauyot
ket ti matebba a lambaan
nga iti pitupulo
ket dua a seliado a lungon
ket padagsen
ti agharakiri a buyok.

A Solver Agcaoili
Marikina/Enero 2, 2009

Observer Editorial-January 2009

The New in the Year

Even as we welcome the blessings of the New Year, we remember the shape and substance of hope for the future.

This hope rests on the recognition that the old year was good, true, but has left us with so many scars, with so many wounds, with so many painful traces in the memory even as we try to make sense of the redeeming stories we can and should remember.

One story is the unforgiving economic meltdown that has affected many of us.

And this story is global--or has become global--as it was a whole scale failure of the globalized economy based on speculation and not, in gist, on our capacity to produce what we need.

Some lessons can be learned from this, and these lessons have something to do with the meaning of "new" in the "New Year".

This sense of newness invites us to do a lot of soul-searching, even as we try to parry all those predictions about what comes to us in the coming year, about which color is going to give us some luck, about which number is going to make us hit something golden, and all other soothsaying this-and-that from some experts about the future life of men and nations and communities.

No, we cannot be held hostage by all these statements that assault us in the morning that we wake up from a good dream about 2010 revealing to us a better revelation about life.

No, we cannot be shanghaied by beliefs that tell us that the positions of the stars and the moon and the sun and the earth will determine when the good luck and the good life will finally come to us.

For the "new" in 2010 is all about substance, meaning, resolve, and faith.

It is the substance of our life ahead: what we can have and what we can become in an ever-renewing sense of what life is all about.

It is about meaning: this constancy of coming to terms with what, indeed, is our life for even as we continually strive to make sense of what was, what is, and what will life be for us in the years ahead.

Certainly, many of us have been tried by 2009.

But certainly, many continue to hang on to the belief that nothing happens that will not give us some sense of who we are if only we tried harder to understand even that which is not easy to understand, and if only we tried harder to accept that which is not easy to accept.

It is about resolve: this inner strength that we need to cultivate in the face of the confusing and the conflicting even as the events come in confusion and in conflict.

By not losing sight of what is--of that which needs to be done in goodness and in fairness--that resolve should remain and should be always there for the summoning when the need arises.

And 2010 is about faith: the faith this year will not come in a silver platter; that it will not offer us all the panacea for all that which ills the world, our lives, and our communities; that it will not come as a manna from the heavens; that it will not be the answer to all our questions; and that it will try us as well.

Rather, the sense of 2010 as our sense of belief is that despite the challenges, we hold onto the renewing power of life, the renewing power of time, the renewing power of people helping each other, the renewing power of communities helping each other, and the renewing power of a world that will come to a fuller understanding of a sense of itself.

A S Agcaoili/FAO, Jan 2010