Tag Archives: dictator

Hindi Dahil Babae – a response to Rebecca T. Añonuevo’s post on Facebook regarding Duterte as dictator

Hindi Dahil Babae

“If this man is a dictator, he is one dictator who upholds the rule of law.”
– Rebecca T. Añonuevo

Itong si Ate B, dalawang taon nang
hindi naghihilamos sa umaga.
Ayaw niyang magwakas ang mga panaginip
na ipinangako mula sa bituka ng magdamag.

Kaya hamog ng muta ang kanyang mga mata
kahit tanghaling tapat na. At kung magbuka
ng bibig, tila binabangungot. Buo man
ang mga pangungusap na ipinupukol,

lasag-lasag naman ang kahulugan.
Lantad-litid sa panginginig,
kay hirap nang maaninag
ang dating makata.

-o-

My apologies for not having a translation of this. One day, perhaps.

Advertisements

UPDATED: More Wax than Human Remains

Duterte Marcos

More Wax than Human Remains

The late dictator’s image rendered
in wax, displayed in a Quiapo-quality
glass box, is what his family would love
to drag down from the North

all the way to sweltering Manila.
Only those who have lived
through the darkness might ask:
How many candles could they carve

out of his non-human remains?
Will his greatest admirer simply
mow us down with curses and bullets,
deaf as he is to any protest?

-o-

 

 

The above is the first draft. Here is the new version which I hope is a bit of an improvement, thanks to the generous members of my secret online poetry discussion group, The Boathouse:

More Wax than Human

The late dictator’s image
rendered in wax, displayed
in a Quiapo-quality glass box,

what his family and most touched
admirer would love to haul
all the way from the North

down to sweltering Manila.
Only those who have lived
through the darkness might ask:

How many candles
could they carve out
of his non-human remains?

-o-

 

Related reading.

THE NARRATIVE has always been that the body in the glass coffin in Batac, Ilocos Norte, lying there since 1993, is yet to be buried because the state refuses burial. As a result, the body lies embalmed until God knows when. There is an irreverent twist to it, sacrilegious even, that appeals to most cultural norms barring the desecration of the dead. In short, the message is: The state is cruel to disallow proper burial.

I have had two opportunities to visit the crypt of Ferdinand Marcos. The tourist gazer is usually led to an inner chamber inside the mausoleum just beside the family’s “ancestral house.” I enclose that in quotation marks because the house is anything but old; it is a new building designed to have fake, exposed “paletadas” so as to conjure antiquity; this is also part of the narrative. This first visit had an Imeldific air to it—the sound of choral cantatas filled the chamber.

The second visit some years later was unexpectedly and surprisingly revealing. A close Marcos family friend escorted us to the crypt. There in the stillness of the chamber (no choral cantata this time), looking down on the finely chiseled body of the deposed president—you could clearly see the veins on his hands, or so I thought—the family friend whispered: This body is just a wax replica, the real corpse had already been buried underneath. End of the narrative.


Burying a Dictator

My country of birth has an incoming president who won by garnering less than 40% of the votes. It can be said that over 60% of the voting population did not choose him, and when he gains control of the country this many people will be watching his every move, hoping all their fears be proven wrong. More than a month away from being sworn in, he mouths the same things during his notorious campaign. The ghosts of those killed by the so-called Davao Death Squads (documented by international agency Human Rights Watch and the country’s own Commission on Human Rights) will continue to haunt him until justice is done.
One thing that seems to have forced even his own supporters to declare disagreement with him even this early has to do with the remains of the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. The incoming president apparently sees him as worthy of being buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery. The public – perhaps more aware of that dark part of the country’s history – has started various campaigns to fight this utter disrespect for the countless victims of Martial Law. One of the campaigns is on Change.org. Here is the LINK. Please consider signing it and then sharing the petition link.
In showing my support, I am posting this poem which appeared in my book ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2011). My poem is nothing compared to what the people of the Philippines suffered under the rule of the dictator, his family, and various cronies.
 

Tracks on Grasslands

It begins with that one step. A boot
on the slenderest blade
of grass. The faintest
crunch of bright green veins
nearly invisible to your eye.

But it happens. That breaking.

It happens again and again
as you move on, forcing down
other blades of grass,
leaving your tracks,
making a path of near
silent destruction
to somewhere
you think is yours
to claim.

And when you encounter
thicker grass that dare
to keep you out,
you make them sing
with that sharpened edge.

You do this in the dark.
You do this mostly in the dark.

October 2007
-o-


Obama and Clinton, get on the bandwagon!

I wonder if we can make Obama and Clinton sign this petition.

Join citizens around the world standing with the democracy protestors in Egypt: sign the statement of solidarity! The internet blackout can’t block radio signals–so the number of signatures will air on radio stations in neighboring countries that reach over the Egyptian border.
-o-
And please no more doublespeak

The Oddity that is Chavez

Hugo Chavez is an oddity. He does not seem to fear the omnipotence of previous and current empires. He seems certain of a future for his country that is not linked to foreign loans and influences, totally unlike most other non-Western, once-colonised countries. He does not even seem to care what Western governments have to say of his style of government. Or at least what their mainstream media babble on like religious fanatics hunting down a local witch.

Clearly democracy is in its death throes in Venezuela? Look, no one was killed, not a single voter reported being abused or forced to vote a particular way, and the elite controlled press wasn’t taken over by military personnel! What abomination! This dictatorship smells fishy!

Okay, enough of the silly ranting. I have to admit my own ignorance of Latin American politics before and after colonial rule. Venezuela didn’t get a single mention in my school history books. Only Mexico, when a beauty pageant was held there, I think. Besides, I was growing up under a dictatorship. More on that in the future, when the right memories come together to dance.

I thus confess that the first time I heard of Chavez was when he called Dubya “the devil.” Back then I thought “Wow, who is this idiot who wants his country nuked?” Of course, being a keen follower of Bushisms and other oddities, I chuckled. In that time I saw a lot of bad press about Chavez. As if he were the devil on earth!

Some time later I saw John Pilger’s “The War on Democracy” and heard a bit more from Chavez himself. The documentary was a little uneven and heavy handed in some parts, but it gave me a new perspective on the history of Latin American struggles. Pilger was too obviously in awe of Chavez, but that I suppose is forgivable if you think about the devilish image the Western press have made of him.

Fast forward to now, February 2009 with Hugo Chavez claiming victory in the Venezuela referendum. He and other politicians can now freely run for office again beyond the second term. If Venezuelans keep voting him in, he could remain president for life. What a thought! What a headache for those who cannot bear his open mouth!

Having grown up in a dictatorship, I can only say that at the moment Chavez does not seem to qualify as one. Not yet. Sure, the “poor” (read: elite) opposition have suffered a defeat. All that money and still not enough to take down a political opponent. But is a single one of them in prison? Is the local population bound by a silence for fear of disappearing in the night? Do all the newspapers carry the same stories?

You don’t know what a dictator is if you have never lived under one.

-o-

This article also appears on Helium.