Category Archives: Introduction

14 Love Poems – an introduction


For 14 days I will be posting love poems from my two books published by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Baha-bahagdang Karupukan and Alien to Any Skin. Call it a promotional gimmick, a teaser of sorts, to find new readers. Yes, that’s mainly what it is. But it’s also a declaration that despite all the evils, all the wars, all the human rights violations that take place in various parts of the world, it is love that sees us all through. Not anger. Not hatred.


Get on the ride. But be warned. This can get muddy.

Oh, and if you are in Manila, my books should be easy enough to find in various bookstores. Mary Martin Booksellers and Kabayan Central also stock them online. I have a few copies of Alien to Any Skin left with me in Cape Town.

After I complete posting all 14 poems – and if I manage to translate them with some help from readers and friends, that would be a total of 28! – I intend to make them available as a free sample ebook/pdf. If you are interested in receiving that, please subscribe to this blog and post a comment here.  It would be great to hear any feedback from readers. Maraming salamat!

Here is a list of the poems as I post them.

Awit Amats


Ganoon pa rin ang mga Salita

The Climb

Ang Sabi Mo

Mountain Province

Night Gown

Water Renders

Kakambal-Kaluluwa / I Don’t ever Wish to Get Used to This

The Scar Examined at Midnight

Banaue, Bontoc, Sagada


Matangmanok. Chicken-eyes.

Matangmanok literally means chicken-eyes.

Chickens — those creatures that often end up in KFC buckets or whose claws and day-old offspring are served as delicacies in some cultures — have eyes that are more used to seeing in daylight than in darkness. They struggle to make out the shape of things when there is little light.

The free ones scratch the ground for the possibility of finding something to peck at, some sustenance. They also look up at the sky every now and then to watch out for predators that could swoop down on their kind at any moment. They seem forever nervous, sensing the world around them with eyes that rarely stay still.

And then there are the caged chickens whose lives have been reduced to being fed in the smallest space possible, for human consumption. Human economic practices are often vicious on other species. Chickens that are stuffed in communal cages for their eggs have beaks cut off to keep them from venting their frustrated instincts on one another. Their eggs plop on metal surfaces, rolling away onto a conveyor belt for efficient packaging. These chickens have an existence that are good only while they can keep on supplying a targeted number of eggs. Otherwise they end up meeting the fate of other non-laying chickens.

Of course there are other cases, the in-between freedom and the chopping block.

I digress. This is my first blog and already it has taken on a different direction from what I had intended.

I meant to say welcome to this little realm. I might wander into strange territories and you, dear reader, are most welcome to wander along.