Days of our lives,
This we can only say.

We count the hours
Between hymns we remember
But want to hide
From the heart that sings.

We count the blue moons,
Each hand at a time,
And then the other,
And then the darkness.

We count the sorrows
We assign another name,
Something to keep them
Away from a sentence.

Exiles do not count
In those consonants
Of our cheap talks
About how war is won
In this struggle we call
Our language of sense.

We go the ways
Of angels, fallen in traffic.

Our prayers, sad as always,
Come in to proxy
What we cannot say in words.

It is phrases we cannot turn
Into as minutes, their length
Of time's endlessness
Our private grief.

Life goes on, we say.
We believe it is.

And the sun by the Diamond Head
Rises to a greeting of hope
Coming alive like the marongi leaves
After the first rains.

Waipahu, HI/Dec 2, 2010


There is so much to be said about the Ilokano struggle in Hawaii. There are the burning issues. There are the words that burn as well. It is the same struggle you have seen elsewhere: in Manila, in Laoag, in Los Angeles, and now in Honolulu. The issues go with you. They do not leave you alone.

In your homeland, the issues were about the many rights trampled upon by the powerful, from writing to students rights, to the rights of the poor like you, to the right to call it quits with a president who did not know how to preside over the affairs of a county and a people except to his own sense of country and to his own sense of people.

Which means that his country is his cabal of impostors and pretenders shanghaiing all that can be shanghaied from a country already shanghaied empty by others.

Which means that the people are simply this: his own people.

Which defines as his coterie of greedy relatives and friends and hangers-on, who would go berserk with him with irresponsibility, song, and wine.

The Honolulu struggle is a bit different. It is one marked by a complication—as if in a medical case where the patient needs all the suero you can find. The vital signs are giving away the clues.

Temperature check: no sweat, it is darn too cold or darn too warm, depending on who you talk to and who you deal with. Lydia Abajao has a term for this: quever, bibiangko.

Pulse check: too weak or too fast, depending on who are involved, like this talk we had at one fancy restaurant today, November 30, by King Street, a reverend who means so well, a young activist who means so well, and myself who is in between meaning so well and being mean. LOL would define the pulse of the moment.

To struggle for a people and with your own people is one hard task to do.

To follow the way to your self-promotion and self-aggrandizement is one easy thing to do. It is the easiest thing to do. Some of those who can write in English—and so well—has a name for this: PR work.

The first leads you to crucifixion. The second leads you to a false heaven.

One has to choose; you need to choose.

I write this reflection while I look out the window, and there, in the dark, with the bright lights of Makakilo, I see the outlines of a mountain promising social justice, the kinalinteg, to all who deserve it.

From my window sill the December rain drops, and the music it creates lilts like a morning song announcing the breaking of day.

It is 4 o’clock, and soon the freeway will be filled with people rushing to their ambition, some to their crucifixion, and the others to their false heaven.

Honolulu is paradise too, but not so.

Honolulu, HI/Dec 1, 2010


Dimtengka kadagiti nabara nga oras

Iti maar-arakattot a sardam, sa iti agnerbios

A bannawag iti ili a nagkamangan,

Adayo kadagiti amin a dangadang

Iti lagip a naggapuan, kas iti panagtalappuagaw

Ti nakisang itan a danum ti Padsan.

Adu a pakasaritaan: ti daniwmo iti presidente

Nga iti panagtabon ti kararuana ket piman

Ta maitantantan kadagiti arimukamok,

Kadagiti bisibis ti tudo nga iti angrag

Ti tiempo ket ti maidagel a panagkulay-ong.

Kadagiti talon a masaripatpatan dagitoy

Kalpasan ti panagpadara ti nakem

Iti madagdagullit a kompesar ti kalgaw

Iti agur-uray a kanalbuong ti gurruod

Wenno ti anak-ti-sal-it, agkimat tapno

Iti apagapaman ket ti daga nga iti agmatuon

Ket ti pammadso ti nabaybay-an a gimong.

Saan nga ili ti adda kadatayo ita.

Saan a pagilian nga iti kansion ket ditoy

A maarikap ti sonata ti linteg nga iti sirmata

Ket adda kadagiti maidasar nga un-unnoy

Ti konsierto dagiti dadaulo nga agmauyong.

Liriko amin dagitoy ti gasat a ditay inay-ayat.

Liriko dagiti dayyeng nga iti agsapa

Ket ti pait dagiti bigat nga iti komedor

Ket ditoy a mabalasa ti numero a naimbag.

Kas iti loteria dagiti tagainep, kas iti pinnusoy

Tapno kadagiti papaayat ti ginnasanggasat

Ket ti agtagitao koma a ragragsak.

Ita ket ti umuna a tudo iti arununos ti kalgaw

A panagawid ti mannaniw manipud

Panagtalawataw kadagiti antigo a sursurat.

Inkur-it dagitoy kadagiti pakasaritaan

Nga iti kannag a bulan ket ti isasangbay

Ti umuna unay a pammakawan.

Itapaya ti mannaniw ti nakaungap a dakulap

Tapno iti appupo ti mangted bang-ar a danum

Ket ti kari a di pananglipat

Kas iti panaglaing iti tian iti sarsaraaw

Ti adu a pananglanglangan.

(Naisurat, May 10, 2010, Marikina, Filipinas)