COMING TO GRIEF: In the name of the international campaign--and therefore, the international committee that took up the task of fighting for the fundamental right of the three pupils of the Saviour's Christian Academy--I had the good fortune of having Manong Joe Padre for company. We were joined by other kindred spirits I would not name in this post.
But day in and day out, Manong Joe kept me on my toes. There was not any moment that he left me alone to come to terms with the demands of our decision to side with truth and justice. Only my teaching hours kept me away from constantly communicating with him. All told, he helped me strategize our campaign. He was one of the wellsprings of the energy that we needed in those moments of doubt, despair, and daring. Our aim was simple: to demand justice for these young people. A few hours before the Day of Thanksgiving, Manong Joe breathed his last, and took on that Ilokano barangay to cross over to that other side of the Ilokano river of eternal life. Manong Joe: you know we owe you a lot. A lot. Your God knows your good and kind and fair heart.
Long live! May your Maker bless you forevermore!
FOOD OFFERING ON THE DAY OF THANKSGIVING
You are not just a food offering.
You are the spirit
of the betel pepper vine
and the betel nut, the soul
of all that can be chewed
to cheat hunger and the bitter aftertaste
that can be spat out. You came
into the universe like a comet
with its fire that remained ablaze,
and unlike the firewood that does not ignite,
you are the cinder of the night
of our daring to fight. There is patience
in the silences
and in the assault of force
in the words you kept
so that in the struggle,
in between the sounds
we cannot say, there,
there are the muted vowels
in the secret pockets of our mind,
and the boldness
you gifted us with was your offering
to the many visions for a homeland
that would come to grief.
Alas, we can no longer embrace each other,
Alas, that aim in all the moves we have
is this verdict of death of our dreams,
and each of these colorful blueprints
of our victory will decay
you and the power you lent us,
we and the desire we borrowed from you
so that when dusk comes
light comes about as conceived
in the graveyard of our sorrow.
Now, today, give us your benediction.
You give all the coins to the boatman, all.
Hand these all to him so
he would not yet come back.
We have yet a lot of wrapping up to do
and in your leaving
daybreak is still far off.
Nov 28, 2013