Pag-uwi ng Bangkay / To Bring Home a Corpse

This is a very, very old piece.  I translated it roughly into English for the first time, and feel that it sounds like a totally alien poem from the original.  The translation also needs some notes which I have provided.  I hope this one isn’t too obscure for readers here.  It isn’t my best work.  Thank you for your patience.

21-22aug92
pm951-1025–719am
pb

Ang Pag-uwi ng Bangkay
1 Setyembre 1992

Upang makapag-uwi ng bangkay
ng pinakamamahal,

Bahain muna ng kung anu-anong balita
ang mga pahayagan,
radyo, at TV — aswang,
eleksyon, 349, kidnap,
lalaking buntis, olympics —

Basta huwag lang ang mga nakababagot
na balita ng kahirapan o patuloy
na paghaba ng listahan
ng mga nasalvage, mga engkuwentro
o ng utang daw ng bayan.

Mga bagay na baka
magpauga sa kabaong
ng mga gunita.

Kaya upang makapag-uwi ng bangkay

Pagbihisin ng kunwa-kaguluhan/-kasiyahan
ang mga pahayagan,
radyo, at TV
nang lalong madaling malimot

Ang mga pinatay
at patuloy na pinapatay
ng pamana

Ng pinakamamahal
nating halimaw.

-o-

19pebrero2009
2207-2316

To Bring Home a Corpse
1 September 1992

In order to bring home
a beloved corpse,

Be sure to flood the papers,
radio, and TV with a variety
of news – vampire attacks,
elections, 349, kidnaps,
pregnant man, olympics –

Just be careful not to mention
such boring news of poverty
or the growing list
of those salvaged, of military encounters
or the alleged national debt.

Matters that might
rock the coffin
of memories.

So to ease the return of the dead

Pretty up the papers,
radio, and TV
with mock confusion/celebration
to make it easier for us to forget

All those who were killed
and those who continue to die
from the legacy

Of our dearly
beloved monster.

-o-

Philippine Daily Inquirer Headline February 1986

Notes

1 September 1992 was the expected date of the return of the remains of former dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos to the Philippines, three years after he died in exile in a mansion in Hawaii.  His regime was put to an end by a bloodless revolution in February 1986.  Some of you may have heard of it.

In 1992 Pepsi, the US multinational beverage company, was giving out considerable cash prizes daily to consumers lucky enough to find a declared single winning number. The number 349 was announced nationwide as the number on one day, but it turns out the company had printed more than one crown.  A deluge of claimants came to Pepsi offices, but media personnel said there was a minor mistake and that the winning number was something else altogether.  A legal case was lodged by consumers and the controversy continues to this day, as far as I know.  A consumer rights movement was established from the original group that called itself The 349 Coalition.  Be warned that the website is in dire need of an editor and a good web designer.

salvaged – a term from the 1970s meaning summary execution.

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About matangmanok

Jim Pascual Agustin writes and translates poetry. Sometimes he tries his hand at essays and stories. In 2011 the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House in Manila released BAHA-BAHAGDANG KARUPUKAN (poems in Filipino) and ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (poems in English). The same publisher released his most recent poetry collections SOUND BEFORE WATER and KALMOT NG PUSA SA TAGILIRAN. In 2015 a new poetry collection in English, A THOUSAND EYES was released. His first collection of short stories in Filipino, SANGA SA BASANG LUPA, was released in 2016. UK publisher The Onslaught Press launches his latest poetry collection, WINGS OF SMOKE, worldwide in February 2017. View all posts by matangmanok

2 responses to “Pag-uwi ng Bangkay / To Bring Home a Corpse

  • loveindigoo

    Ferdinand Marcos. I always remember Philipina by this dictator, and her elegant wife, Imelda, whom known have hundreds pairs of expensive shoes and else…

  • matangmanok

    The Philippines has a long colonial history as well as a colourful range of local monsters, mythical and real. I took most of that history for granted when I was still living there. Now distance and time are conspiring a return. Sometimes what you saw in the past bear a different power or sadness as you piece them together again.

    How about where you are and where you’ve been?

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