Ang Liwanag ng Iba / The Light of Another

I only found out a few days ago about the quiet passing of a friend from my old high school.  He wrote a rather confessional play back in those student days and asked me to try out the lead role.  It was an odd feeling to read someone else’s words on a page while he and another classmate waited for some emotion to gush out of me as if on cue.  I have to admit that I read so badly they couldn’t quite understand why they asked me in the first place.  I was just as puzzled.  I suppose they saw in me some tormented soul who might be able to portray a character on a dimly lit stage. 😉

They say he died in his sleep. Written in 1994, I now look at the words in this piece and sense that someone else had written them.  I have to admit the failures of the translation.  Perhaps it comes from the weakness of the original, too.  In any case, the friend I originally wrote it for never had the chance to laugh at this psuedo-religious-philosophical-milkshake.  What luck.

-o-

Ang Liwanag ng Iba
kay RJ Leyran

Parang dinurog na rosas
ang Kanyang mga palad
pumipintig sa dahas
pero payapang-payapa.

May tao noong gumagapang
sa dingding ng hangin
naghuhugas ng kamay sa bangungot
pero lubid na magaspang

Ang mabilis na pinadadaloy
sa mga daliri pahulagpos,
pahigpit.  Pinakakaway
ng kawag ang mga sanga

Hanggang humupa ang mga paa.
Tinanong ako ng kaibigan dati
tungkol sa mga detalyeng ito
na taun-taong sinasariwa

Sa gunitang kay daling malanta.
Pipiliin mo bang maging traydor
kung may kalayaan ka talaga?
Sapat bang ialay ang sariling dilim

Upang patingkarin
ang liwanag ng iba?

-o-

The Light of Another
for RJ Leyran

His hands
were crushed roses
beating at the violence
yet floating in peace

Someone else was crawling
the wall of air
washing his hands in a nightmare
but the roughness of a rope

Slowly flowed
through his fingers, releasing,
tightening.  Flailings
made the branches wave

Until feet ceased.
A friend had asked me before
about these details
we call back to mind

Every year, and forget.
Would you choose to be a traitor
if you had real freedom?
Would you offer your own darkness

To unleash the burning
light of another?

-o-

I lost touch with RJ after graduation.  I didn’t even know that he went on to perform in major stage and film productions.

Ang Liwanag ng Iba

kay RJ Leyran

Parang dinurog na rosas

ang Kanyang mga palad

pumipintig sa dahas

pero payapang-payapa.

May tao noong gumagapang

sa dingding ng hangin

naghuhugas ng kamay sa bangungot

pero lubid na magaspang

Ang mabilis na pinadadaloy

sa mga daliri pahulagpos,

pahigpit.  Pinakakaway

ng kawag ang mga sanga

Hanggang humupa ang mga paa.

Tinanong ako ng kaibigan dati

tungkol sa mga detalyeng ito

na taun-taong sinasariwa

Sa gunitang kay daling malanta.

Pipiliin mo bang maging traydor

kung may kalayaan ka talaga?

Sapat bang ialay ang sariling dilim

Upang patingkarin

ang liwanag ng iba?

-o-

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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

4 responses to “Ang Liwanag ng Iba / The Light of Another

  • Nick Vittum

    Nice piece! Thank you for posting it.

    • matangmanok

      Thanks, Nick. Hope you find time to browse through my other scribblings. 🙂

      • Nick Vittum

        I downloaded TulaanSaTren2, thinking it would be your work that I could read at my leisure, but found instead it was an anthology. Are you in it anywhere? And/or, do you have a page here where I could lok at just poetry?

  • matangmanok

    Hi Nick!

    Yes, my poem is in the Tulaan sa Tren 2 anthology. Look for Jim Pascual Agustin’s “Unplanned Holiday.” And in this blog’s categories you can select MGA TULA/POETRY (for the Filipino ones with translation) or just POETRY (for the ones in English). Would love to hear what you think of my work. I visited yours last night (very late my side of the world then) and felt I needed to go back there with fresh eyes.

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