Tag Archives: ghosts

Ginahasa Ka Namin, Magpakamatay Ka na Lang – first draft

Many years ago I wrote a poem in Filipino in reaction to the rape and subsequent suicide of a movie actress. She was called a “starlet” – the label that sticks forever if one never gets out of b-movie, soft-porn productions – and one of the so-called “softdrink beauties” as promoted by an imaginative talent scout. Three daily TV show hosts were the rapists. It’s a surreal poem which may not work well in translation. I am posting that poem later here. Today I’d like to share a first draft of a new poem that is slightly more bitter (and perhaps less subtle – if that is even possible).  Apologies for the missing translation. I’ll have to see to that when I have more time. This poem came to mind as I read about the new antics of the same lot of “comedians” who remain popular and influential in my country of birth.

UPDATE: as this is a first draft, please feel free to tell me what you think of this new work. well I’m always open to critique, so treat the old poem and its translation the same way. maraming salamat.

UPDATE 2 (thanks to Ed Maranan) HERE is a link to a news article on the rape and death of Pepsi Paloma. Yes, some people remain in power despite everything they do.

Ginahasa Ka Namin, Magpakamatay Ka na Lang

dahil sikat kami at sanay
magpatawa. Softdrinks ka lang,
hindi pa seksi ang iyong bote,

GI goodbye Joe ang tatay
samantalang kami may daily TV show
na patok, habambuhay habang

dinudumog ng masang tila
bangaw. Ikaw, ililibing na balot
ng tabloid. Starlet

na hindi man lang kumisap.
Sino ang mumultuhin mo balang araw?
Hindi kami. Hindi kami.

-o-

Kuwentong Kalbo
para kay Pepsi Paloma

May anghel na nagbigti
sa puno ng kamatsile.

Kaya nagturok ng tinidor
at nagsalang ng kutsara
ang mga palaka

bago bumaha ng kidlat
sa dibdib ng langit
sa mga sandaling hindi pa sila nakapagliligpit

ng patay na butete
at lobong napunit.

Naglampungan ang mga dahon
bago lubusang huminahon
ang araw.

Kung mayroon lang tikbalang
sa kalapit na balete
nagkaroon sana ng munting salu-salo

at nagpamisa pa sana
ang mga mukhang taeng-kabayo.

Subalit mababang uri
ang anghel na ito
na nagbigti,

kahit pa man
siya’y nakaputi.

-o-
draft translation

Bald Story
for Pepsi Paloma

An angel hung herself
on a kamatsile tree.

Frogs heated spoons
and used forks as needles

expecting lightning to come
flooding over the sky’s bosom.
They had not yet cleared up

dead tadpoles
and torn balloons.

Leaves grew ecstatic
until the sun
became less aroused.

Had there been a tikbalang
on the nearby balete tree
there would’ve been a quick feast

and those with horse dung faces
would’ve called for a mass.

But this was only
a lowly angel
who hung herself,

despite her white
dress.

-o-

NOTE: Pepsi Paloma was one of a number of starlets discovered by a talent scout who gave them screen names after particular softdrink brands. Pepsi was raped by three comedians who hosted a popular noontime TV show: Joey de Leon, Richie “the Horsey,” and Vic Sotto (brother of another comedian, Tito Sotto, who would one day be a Senator). After being convicted for the crime, the three asked Pepsi for forgiveness. Soon after she pardoned them, she committed suicide by hanging.

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One of my poems got nominated Best of the Net 2014

image from Wikipedia

In an earlier post I announced two poems that were published in Poppy Road Review. One of the poems has been nominated for Best of the Net 2014 and I thank the editors and all the readers who have appreciated my work. I hope to keep finding new keen readers who are open to seeing various versions of my writing as I trudge along to somewhere hopefully better with them.
HERE is the official announcement from Poppy Road Review and a LINK to the poem.
Maraming salamat.


The Red Door Incident

jagged red

Memory is a ghost.  I have this strange memory from when I was a kid of say seven or eight, of a brief incident that still lingers in my head a good few decades on (no, I am no longer a teenager, in case some insane admirer finds my sophomoric ramblings passably cute).

It was the first few years when my family had moved to a new house in a suburban area that was still being “developed” – a word with Orwellian undertones.  About two minutes on a bicycle going east ricefieds still abound, but the gray concrete roads were threatening to overrun them.  All those bright green saplings in squares of brown would soon go.

Next door to us a Chinese family had moved in.  The young parents both worked and came home rather late.  A yaya (nanny) took care of the two little boys of four and two.  I can’t recall the yaya’s name, but I remember her being very kind.  She had one eye that didn’t function as well as the other. It looked more to her right most of the time.  It also seemed to weep a little.  Like most yayas at that time, she was not from Manila, but down south from the Visayas.

She had long black hair, but she never let it down in public.  I saw her once in her cramped room combing her hair – it made her look older and smaller.  She smiled at me then before closing the door.  Her smile made me think of a sudden shower of summer rain, that just as quickly disappears.

One day my sister and I were playing with the kids as she sat by the verandah.  Nothing for her to see out there but the gray of the concrete road.  Hardly anyone passed by.  She let us run around the house.  Not easy to play hide and seek when the youngest does not even know the rules of the game.  The dining table and chairs became quick and pointless hiding places. But we had fun with them.

At one point the two boys got in the bathroom that had another door leading to another room, their parents’, I think.  I was about to run in to tell them to be careful, but something strange happened.

The door started to close.  They both looked up toward the door knob on their side.  I got right at the door just before it was about to shut and what I saw made me shiver.

There was a red hand, red like it was covered in blood, holding on to the door knob.  I tried to push the door open, but the force from the other side was stronger.

There was a great slam.  I tried to turn the knob, but it wouldn’t even budge.  My ears went hot and it felt like there were ants crawling on my back.  I ran around the house to get to the other door.  Their yaya saw the fear and worry in my eyes; she had jumped at the loud sound.  My sister came running out of her hiding place to join us.

When we got to the two boys they just looked at us wondering what the commotion was about.  The door that I had struggled with was wide open.  My sister and I didn’t linger there that day.

A few months later the yaya left.  Soon after that the whole family moved out without a goodbye.