Tag Archives: EJK

A few poems in response to Duterte’s so-called War on Drugs and Rebecca T. Añonuevo’s writings

There are words and there are words.

In the 2017 film “The War for the Planet of the Apes,” words and the meanings they convey are key to an evolutionary leap toward “being human.” The film is a brave effort that attacks the politics of war and the blindness of hate. It turns on its head the entire idea of what it is that makes us human. You will need to see the entire trilogy of films to fully appreciate what the filmmakers have accomplished.

My country of birth, the Philippines, has grabbed headlines worldwide due to the seeming popularity of the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, and his murderous regime that has so far resulted in the killing of between 7,000 to over 13,000 (depending on the source of data).

Dead bodies continue to turn up every single day since Duterte took to power. Most of the victims are from poor communities. This is no war on drugs but a war on the poor.

Rebecca T. Añonuevo is an award winning poet in the Philippines. She is a friend, yes, even as she chooses to support Duterte. I cannot condemn her beliefs and opinions, as we all have them. But then she uses poetry every now and again to express or cloud her views, and I cannot help but respond in an attempt to dialogue. She has since broken ties with many fellow writers, including myself.

I am posting the following poems – perhaps more to be added one day – to open the dialogue to a wider readership. There is a Philippine literary tradition called “Balagtasan,” a kind of debate using poetry – or at least rhyming verse. In this vein, you could perhaps call this a modern version of the Balagtasan.

With good poetry, one is often forced into a moment of silence. But when poetry is used to confuse what matters, silence alone should not suffice.

There are words and there are words.

ps I am unable to supply English translations for these at the moment, so I apologize to those who cannot read Filipino.

-o-

Hindi Tabla ang Laylay na Bisig, Hindi Yero ang Basag na Bungo

 

“Limpiyo ang bugso ng hangin
Kahit humahaplit ang bagyo sa mga lalawigan.
Gumagalaw ang lakas ng mamamayan,
Nagdadamayan, magkakadaop-palad
Sa pag-alalay sa mga balo at ulila.
Nagtitindig muli ng humapay na haligi’t bubungan.”
– “Limpiyo,” ni Rebecca T. Añonuevo

 

Sa pader na kay tayog, kay kinis dahil sa araw-araw,
gabi-gabin pagkuskos ng mga tagalinis, may natanaw akong
akala ay dating kakilala sa pag-aararo ng mga salita
at diwa. Ngunit bangag na alingawngaw na lamang

ang naulinigan nang siya’y magwika sa megaphone.
Balu-baluktot na tila pinaglagos-lagos sa pilipit
na tubo ang mga kataga. Sa mga taludtod na sinukat
ng bali-baling patpat, hinugot ng isipan

sa kung saang lupalop malayo sa mga eskinita
na pinagdanakan ng mga pinangakuan,
ito ang kanyang sambit: Tabla ang laylay na bisig,
yero ang basag na bungo. Kay daling gawan

ng bagong tahanan ang mga naiwan,
bigyan kaya ng pagkaing kailangan,
sabihan na para sa higit na kabutihan
ang mga pinaslang. Walang lugar

ang palahaw sa kamaong umaga. Pumalag,
nanlaban ang aking kaibuturan. Ang mga binalo
at inulila, paano kaya mapapalitan
ang kanilang minamahal na hindi na muling

mayayapos o makakahabing-hininga?
Kumaway ako sa nakaupo sa pader,
isinigaw ang iisang tinig na nilunod
ng kaskasan ng mga tagalinis.

-o-

 

Agawan ng Eksena

 

“Pero wala nang kibo ang bata.
Nakadapa. Naliligo sa dugo.
May nagsabing berdugo:
May hawak siyang baril sa kaliwa.
Kanan ang bata kapag kumakaway.”
– “Bata,” Rebecca T. Añonuevo

 

May pusod ang lahat ng tao. Pusod ang dugtungan
ng kawad na laman sa inang bukal ng buhay
na hiram, hanggang sa sandaling putulin
sa tama sanang panahon, at hindi sa ibang dahilan.

Kaya naman walang katulad ang sidhi ng dalamhati
sa paglibing sa sariling supling. Winawarak nito
ang kaayusan na magulang ang dapat mauna
sa paglisan. Lalong kay tindi kung mga kuko

ng karahasan ang humugot sa isinilang.
Sandali. Bakit tila higit na tinitimbang kung kabataan
ang pinaslang? Ang huklubang pulubi,
barya na lamang ba? Hindi kailangang mag-agawan

ng eksena, matanda man o bata
ang libo-libong pinaslang.
Sa larangan ng trahedyang pambansa,
tinutupad lamang ng utusan ang utos.

Sandali. Tandaang bawat tao, may pusod.
Pikitmatang salatin mo ang sa iyo.
Damhin. Isaisip ang hugis
ng balang naglagos.

-o-

 

Ang Balahibo Mo sa Puwet

 

“Rodrigo, pasok na, nakalatag na ang dilim!
Puli na! Uwi pa ba iyan ng matino?
Hindi mo na nakikita ang balahibo mo!
Mare, ilabas mo ang hagupit, kung kailangang dalihin
Sa puwet ang palalong espiritung lumukob sa bunso.”
– “Mareng Soleng,” Rebecca T. Añonuevo

 

May mga naniniwala sa multo,
sa mga espiritung naglilipana
pagkagat ng dilim sa lansangan.
O kaya sa halimaw na umuusbong

mula sa tadyang ng kung anong puno,
sa nakaluklok sa tatsulok na bunton ng lupa,
sa mga halos-taong naglaladlad
ng mga pakpak samantalang inihihiwalay

mula sa baywang ang katawan,
at sa di-mabilang pang nilikha
mula sa mga takot at imahinasyon
ng mga siguro ay wala lang ibang magawa.

Minsan may mga kailangang bigyan
ng anyo nang may maitukoy
sa panahon ng pagkalito
o kawalan ng unawa. Mas maigi ito

kaysa umapuhap sa usok at pagdudahan
ang di-mahablot-hablot ng sariling kamay
sa karimlan ng pag-iisa. Isang araw
magigising ka paghipo ng balahibo mo

sa puwet, sa pumipintig na latay
ng inang malaon nang yumao ngunit
hinihingan mo pa rin ng payo.
Matatakot ka sa halimaw

na walang pangalan at papalit-palit
ng anyo. Mamumukhaan ang sarili
sa huling pagliko palayo
sa inihabilin na daan.

-o-

 

Sumpa sa Pagkawasak

 

“Sumusumpa sa watawat. Busilak
Ang pag-asa, ang pangarap, para sa bayang ititindig sa pagkawasak.”
– “Mamaw Pulis,” Rebecca T. Añonuevo

 

Hindi sanay magtapon ng pagkain
ang aming angkan na mulat
sa kahirapan. Ang kaning lamig

isinasangag kinabukasan sa sibuyas
at gulay mula sa tirang ulam.
Habang makakain, ihahain.

Walang sinasayang.
Walang basta itinatapon
nang hindi hinahanapan

ng katiting mang halaga.
Tila pinsan ng ganitong pananaw
ang kintsugi ng Hapones,

sining ng pagkumpuni sa nabasag
na seramikong mangkok o tasa,
gamit ang pinaghalong pulbos na ginto,

platinum, o pilak. Inililigtas
ang nagkapira-piraso
na dati ay isa at buo,

tila ipinagdiriwang
ang bagong anyong pinunan
ang kawalan. Mainam, ano?

Pero ang mga pinaslang
ng iyong mga pinupuri
hindi maibabalik ng kitsugi.

-o-

Walang Apoy na Namukadkad sa Kaniyang Tuntungan

 

Binuhusan siya ng langis ng nagdedeliryong pangkat,
Sinindihan ang posporo, ang panggatong, pero walang apoy,
Walang apoy na namukadkad sa kaniyang tuntungan.
– “Istorya ng Makata,” Rebecca T. Añonuevo

 

Samantalang dumadaloy, pawindang-windang
sa sapot-sapot na mga ugat sa buhay
na katawan, tila tubig sa ilog ang dugo.
Mainit, kahit sa sandali ng pagputol

ng hininga, paggapang sa kalsada.
Ngunit tulad ng nilisang katawan,
magmamabagal ito, mangungunyapit
sa kahit anong malapit

bago lubusang huminto
sa malamig at magaspang
na semento, sa bingit ng biyak
na imburnal, sa balat ng kapwa

pinatumba ng bala, o kaya sa paanan
ng nagmamasid lamang,
hindi iniinda ang umaalsang likido
na lumunod na sa kanyang tinutuntungan.

-o-

 

Ang Pagsalakay ng mga Peste

 

“Ingat ka, may oras ang pagsalakay ng mga peste.”
– “Daga,”Rebecca Añonuevo

 

Hindi ako tinuruan ng aking ama
kung paano manghuli ng daga.

Mapalad daw ako dahil hindi panahon
ng taggutom at digmaan ang aking kinamulatan,
sabi niya. Pero makulit ako, mapagtanong.

“Ano’ng lasa ng daga?”
“Kung tama ang pagkaluto, parang manok na rin.”
“Paano ang balahibo? Ang nguso?
Ang buntot? Ang maliliit na paa at daliri?”

Naglagos sa akin ang titig ni Itay,
parang may kung anong nagtatatakbo
at patago-tago ang sinusundan.

Nalantad ang mga litid sa kanyang leeg,
lumukso ang mga buto
ng kanyang mga kamay sa sandaling pagpalag.

Nanlamig akong bigla,
tinangay ng kanyang mga mata sa daigdig
na hindi ko nais makita.

-o-

 

Advertisements

Duterte’s dead

httpss.yimg.comnyapires1.2S30Kp_tWv.YqcaDoYQR8dg--YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9NDUwO2g9Mjc3O2lsPXBsYW Tony Perez photo of chick on top of coffin 17426098_1307916249295099_709865950848

photo by Erik de Castro found on Yahoo News

Duterte’s dead

are squirming with worms
that take the place
of forensic investigators.

They seek the shortest
and most efficient way
of exposing bone.

To those unacquainted
with the language
of final repose,

the worms render
each body
nearly identical.

Duterte’s dead
have lost the need
for food and water,

for the rare solace
of undisturbed moments
at the toilet.

Hope leaves no trace
in their hollowed skulls.
Only the living carry

that weight as they navigate
the mute streets, the dark
alleys, the witnesses

to the carnage.
Is there really
no memory in heaven?

-o-

The world seems to be on a tailspin – so-called leaders are intent on taking entire countries into variations of hell on earth. In my country of birth, it has been reported that over 8,000 people have been killed under the reign of President Rodrigo Duterte. Among the victims are children, innocent bystanders, and relatives who could not point to the whereabouts of a supposed target.

I entered this poem in the current Goodreads.com poetry competition. I don’t know if the good judges will choose it as a finalist, but I just wanted to put it out for as many readers as possible.

In the Philippines, there is a practice of not wiping the tears that fall on the coffin. It is also believed that if one places a young chick on the glass of the coffin with some seeds to peck at, those responsible for the death will never find peace.

The photo is credited to Erik de Castro, image found on Yahoo News.


Using what’s free to fight what’s wrong

protea going dry

I posted on Soundcloud.com audio recordings of both the original Filipino and English translation of my poem “Danica Mae” which won the Gabo Prize from Lunch Ticket. The texts were published here on Matangmanok as well as on Lunch Ticket.

I’m using Soundcloud as I have over 160 minutes of free time to fill. I thought I might as well use it as another platform to spread not just my poetry but to also express my disgust at the continuing murderous war on drugs policy of the Duterte regime in my country of birth.

I can’t say “Enjoy it!” as that is not the intention. Be bothered would be more apt.


The first review of WINGS OF SMOKE

img_20161201_102249

Huge things are happening in my country of birth. A retired policeman has corroborated the testimony of one of the hired killers of the dreaded Davao Death Squad, saying the former mayor, now elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, created and conducted the vigilante-style group. During Duterte’s term as mayor of Davao City thousands were claimed to have been murdered or made to disappear by the DDS. Will this revelation change the course of my country of birth? One hopes for the better, as worse scenarios have been floated by various critics such as self-initiated revolution in order to force a change to federalism or even dictatorship (as Duterte’s hero, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos did in the 70s).

But the title of this post said something else! Yes, it did. My apologies. Here goes.

It is one thing an author wishes for his/her paper child – to be read. So I always thank readers who can find time to delve deeper into my work and come up with their own ideas about it.

Thank you to Marius Carlos, Jr for this review with two versions. One appears on his Medium.com page. The other version appears on The FilAm.

-o-

Wings of Smoke may be ordered via my publisher’s website – www.onslaughtpress.com – and Amazon. It will be made available in South Africa in March 2017 mainly through the author who will be reading and launching the book at various venues: at the Writing for Liberty Conference at the Centre for the Book on 28 March, at Off the Wall (A Touch of Madness Restaurant) in Observatory on 30 March and at Kalk Bay Books on 4 April. More to follow during the year.


Human Rights Day, the Gabo Prize, Danica Mae and the murderers who go unpunished

10 December is International Human Rights Day. In the same week the Philippine Congress has been busy trying to bring back the death penalty. It is not simply a step back for the country of my birth – more like running backwards down a dark alley littered with shattered rocks and corpses, wearing no helmet and blindfolded. Since the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, came to power the country has been gripped with a madness that his most blind supporters continue to embrace.

I wrote “Danica Mae” in response to the state-sanctioned killings that have summarily ended the lives of nearly 6,000 people as of this writing. I wish it wasn’t necessary to write it. The translation – or re-vision – in English, along with two other poems I originally wrote in Filipino many years ago, got the attention of Mark Statman, the judge for the Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation and Multi-Lingual Texts. He says

“There is something beautifully and sadly dense about these poems, which the poet, Jim Pascual Agustin, himself has translated. I found myself returning to them because I found them at once mysterious and ordinary, describing what I can only think of as tragic events (in “Danica Mae,” the actual death of one child, in “Standing in Tagatay,” the learned careless callousness in the life of another). The final short poem, “The Long and Brief History of the Bald Old Man and the Busted Pot,¨ presents the reader with a different kind of tragedy, a view of a long life at its unhappy end. Not easy to want to read, these poems nonetheless demand it. That demand is what I think I want most from a poem.”

Lunch Ticket has featured the winning work in its latest issue, Winter/Spring 2017, edited by Arielle Silver. Here is a link to the Filipino version that I posted on this blog earlier.

gabo-prize-danica-mae-lunch-ticket

Please read the issue, leave a note to the editor, express your reaction somewhere, anywhere, should you find resonance in what is plaguing my country of birth today.

Some links for those who might wish to know more about what has been happening:

ABS-CBN NEWS ITEM

NEW YORK TIMES photo essay

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY OF PROTEST

NEVER AGAIN

iDefend

My hope is that you share this post far and wide. Perhaps those in power may read it and respond. Perhaps those who feel they have little power to change this tragic course may find courage and learn that they actually do wield something that no violator of rights can ever take away.


TokHang Santa – first draft

TokHang Santa

PNP Chief Dela Rosa plays Santa to kids of those killed, caught in Tokhang
A total of 120 children of drug suspects received gifts from Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa (Bato), who dressed as Santa Claus at an event on Thursday.
Dela Rosa said giving gifts is the PNP’s way of bringing cheer to the lives of children whose parents have either no income, are in jail, or were killed during anti-illegal drug operations.
-Amita Legaspi, GMA NEWS ONLINE 01 Dec 2016

He believed his intentions were pure
and shiny like his lightbulb head when,
sometime after All Souls’ Day, he wondered
what it must be like to be a child

who had lost a parent. Perhaps once
when he was still small he had pretended
being an orphan, as most children do,
and that helped him arrive at the grand idea

of dressing up as Santa to bring some cheer.
How difficult could it be? Having no hair
meant that white wig would fit nicely,
not at all uncomfortable. The red suit

with fluffy white trimmings must be breathable
cotton, like the elf hat. Not at all like
being wrapped in a garbage bag and tagged.
Since he’s big and solid as a chunk of rock,

a kid on his lap will feel like a stuffed toy,
or an inflatable beach ball. Still, he has to be
gentle. These kids may not remember
that lost parent for a day, or forever

if they’re lucky to be too young to retain
memories. But surely they’ll never forget
the day TokHang Santa came for them, the chosen
120 from the ever-growing thousands.

-o-
http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/…
“TokHang” is a contraction of the Visayan words “toktok” (knock) and “hangyo” (request).

Since this is a first draft, I welcome all feedback, critiques, comments – as always. Thank you in advance.


Carrion Flies and Congressmen – a first draft

Carrion Flies and Congressmen
for De Lima and Dayan

Carrion flies, not Congressmen,
these buzzing before us. Unable
to keep themselves from prying

into flesh, they push their blunt
and moist mouths to break down
each morsel that they may suck

some sick nourishment. Compound
eyes unblinking, they imagine fragments
of wet dreams while questioning

a witness in the cold halls of Congress
that might as well be a makeshift morgue,
an EJK cottage industry offshoot.

Their wings transparent with such dark
veins, quivering with every imagined
movement of limbs behind closed doors.

Their feet have tongues that taste
possible fodder. Lust and love,
these flies could never have.

-o-

NEWS ITEM 1

NEWS ITEM 2