POEMS (My Way of Dealing With the Passage of the Human Security Act)

Other than through poetry, I cannot adequately express how I feel about the Human Security Act.

God bless us all.

The Plagues Only Solidarity Can Quash

We gather round
for lies have been sown
on fecund fields of innocence
They will sprout into evergreen trees
If we do not gather

We dared say the sky is blue
They say it is red, the color of blood
It is black, the color of terror
We dared say one and one equal two
They say a million
Give or take a few
To prove their point, they come down to us
With their arrogance printed on that
paper exalting Falsehood

This is the curse
that Truth can quash

We gather round
for the door to seal the cage
of thought is almost complete
We will be trapped inside
If we do not gather

We wondered loudly why the very few abide
in palaces and the rest inside Baguio Oil cans
They say "Choose- destiny or misfortune;
Indolence or hard work!"
We dared complain that the innocent suffer,
the guilty are blessed
They say paranoia has been a scourge
since the dawn of civilization
As paranoia fueled barbarism,
it foments rebellion and terrorism
Neutralize the noise of barbarians/rebels
With that paper dignifying Silence

This is the plague
that Freedom can quash

We gather round
for the ink on our death warrant
is about to dry
It will dry
if we do not gather

We dared taunt them for their inability to tell
man or woman from quadruped,
They say biology fundamentals evolved
And how can we forget that immutable law
The lord of the manor has divine license to
shoot at beasts sowing chaos in his estate?
We dared ask why counting bodies on the streets
is a task never done like a woman's work
They say our calculator is counterfeit or obsolete
We dared demand to see the disappeared
They say we have gone to the wrong information booth
They wave at us the paper that watered down
debauchery in murder, celebrating Death

This is the plague
That Life can quash

We gather round, we gather round

Before we believe
The graves are a lie


themes of literary works of fiction

Before we believe
Our thoughts are a figment of our imagination


insanity in a clever disguise

Before we believe
that the broken bones
of our parents
of our siblings
of our children
are of chimpanzees

Before we stop chanting

Justice is not a squatter on earth
deserving eviction!
Equity is not a vice!
Disparity is not a virtue!

Before respiration becomes
mere proof of existence
not of animation


Truth will be swallowed by Falsehood
Freedom will be caged in Silence
Life will be buried under Death

Only Solidarity can quash the plagues.

We gather round.

Warning to Tyrants

Cut off our tongue because through it
You become deaf to the injustice
You cannot hear what is being said
How can you hear what is not?
But the language of silence is a venom
Nature abhors a vacuum
It will fill the silence with noise
That will penetrate your deafness and
consume your soul weighed down by hatred
Till it evaporates into useless ash

Ascend your ivory towers
Arms folded, stand against a milieu of grandeur
Raise the trident so stillness will reign
Watch us with hawk's eyes
Eager to witness our fall with a move we make
But you will jump from your verandahs
When stillness will wave its hand
and metamorphose into Freedom that inflates
The sizes of small people
Whose massive force will pull you down

Push the buttons on the gas chambers
Let the bullets from your armalites fall
Like harsh monsoon rain
Let the grenade explode into splinters as many
as the untruths let loose by your tongue
and the wrecked aspirations of the masses
Let the mass slaughter continue
Every day is an open-game season
Extend the parameters of the mass graves
So that they can swallow more dead bodies

What you cannot stop:

Heroes will fall proclaiming that Life is wheel
on its axis; what goes up comes down,
what comes down goes up
This is not a thought
Rather, a conclusion of thought
From the matter surrounding it
The heroes' last rational thought will be of
the air you breathe poisoned by your paranoia
It is not a curse; it is nature registering
Itself in the mind of those about to collapse

I wonder, do you know
who will have the last laugh?


It will continue to haunt those who live.

On Grief and Recovery

How long should we grieve over the death of a loved one? I suppose there is no standard answer. It is not easy to recover from a loss as irreparable as death. Some go through a grieving period of more or less one year, others go through a protracted one, while some never recover at all.

If the loved ones could speak from the grave, I am sure they would tell the living they want the grieving period cut short. I am sure they would do everything to take us out of the state of suspended animation and help us bounce back to life.

I am posting what I imagine to be a voice from the grave to a loved one. I wrote it for my friend Harry Basingat (moderator/owner of Bibaknets), whose wife succumbed to stroke last year. Harry is going through the difficult process of recovery. He is actually making effort to circulate in the Land of the Living, but always with reservation. Yesterday, he expressed his interest in ballroom dancing (Translation: He is realizing that he was not buried with his wife.) but I could sense that he was holding back. The culprit could be guilt because his wife died while he was here in the Philippines and she was alone in their US home. What makes this story more poignant is she was getting ready to join him here. She never made it. Perhaps, Harry thinks that sinking in sorrow is a tribute to his beloved wife and soaring from it is betrayal. We who are not in fact in his shoes at the moment can readily say he is wrong. However, the matter is not one easily settled by logic or reason, it is one addressed to the emotion. I think my friend has this emotional baggage that he needs to shake off to facilitate his reintegration into - let me say it again- the Land of the Living.

I wish I were a psychologist or a psychiatrist so I could figure out the situation. Perhaps, I would be in authority to tell Harry that he has grieved long enough and he should not be stabbed by compunction when he yearns to be a regular guy (Translation: what he was before his beloved wife's death). Like all his friends, I want to pull him -body, mind, and spirit- out of the shell he withdrew into after the tragedy. Not being a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, I could only write a poem. I hope reading it will help Mng Harry make a complete exodus from the different world he inhabited for more than a year.

Call for the Next Dance
(for Harry B.)

How we used to dance together.

The dinner table would be set
With its lyrical sparkle of low light,
the candle would bid us:
With mine, your body would move
in all directions,
weaving a poetry of motion
creating – unconsciously-
beautiful memories
that we would summon
with a smile,
not sorrow
when we could not dance
together anymore
Ah, how we loved to dance

In the morning
At noon
In the evening
How we loved to dance

When eternity was ours
in our moments of solitude together
or with a coterie of friends
or even total strangers,
we would dance
You would dance with a swarm of
lithe bodies or stiff ones
As long as I was there
I would watch as your feet pirouetted
as if controlled by some spirit of their own
You loved to dance

And before the next ball
I was snatched as I was about to hurl myself
to your waiting arms
after we were apart for a few days
the few that seemed frustratingly infinite
But the train came too fast, stopped long
(or short) enough to load me and absconded
before I could beg for a chance to say
to you
in the fashion we were accustomed
I wish we could have gone to the
Last Dance
which you skipped
because I could no longer go with you
Even if
You loved to dance

Lately, I would silently feel you
intuitively hankering for a dance
But you would not move your feet
Because I could not mine
Even if
You loved to dance

Because you must,
I let you grieve
I let you stop dancing
Even if
You loved to dance

The datebook of the past year is no longer there
in its place one desperate to remind you
time has moved forward with slow precision
Or have you not noticed?
The interregnum has been long
Even the Great Source of Wisdom says
There is a time for everything
A time to cry, a time to laugh
A time to hurt, a time to heal
Too, there must be, for you,
A time to forget, a time to remember
A time to bury a loved one,
A time to exhume the stirring memories
that say life does not end with one death,
Like how
You loved to dance

There is a ball
Why does the spirit in your feet slumber
You do not want to go
because I will not be there,
You think?
Even if
You loved to dance

Go to the bedroom
(Which is no longer ours but yours; let the
last of me vacate it so you can be whole)
Open the wardrobe
Retrieve your dancing pants
and your dancing shoes
Heed the call of the dance floor
It missed you for too long
This last time
I will be there
Before the clock strikes at midnight
Let me go
Because really
I have gone a long time
as your dance partner

Before I go, brace your ears
Let me stay
long enough to whisper to you

Dance again.

Cheryl Daytec, 10 July 2007

Poverty and Children

Last week, I traveled to Manila with my children Lugat and Gawani foremost for medical reasons (which are why I went on leave from SRT, aside from the fact that my internet connection went crazy).

We got off the bus at the Victory Liner station in Cubao. By then, it was past 8:00 PM. As we were looking for my husband's car, Lugat noticed a man and a girl of about two or three years sleeping on the sidewalk. Their mat was a cardboard. Lugat, a relatively sheltered child, asked me, "Why are they sleeping there?" I said, "They have nowhere else to sleep." Staring at me with a dumfounded look, he was speechless for a few seconds and then he said, "This world is so unfair."

Lugat's response elated me because it meant that this early, he has a social conscience. I hope he will never lose it.

The sight of a baby sleeping under squalid circumstances is not new. And yet, everytime we see one, we get so affected. Why can't the babies be spared?

"Suffer the children to come unto Me," Jesus said with determination when His disciples were acting as a cordon sanitaire to prevent the children from getting near Him. Children must be very special to God. What are we doing letting them go homeless and hungry? Our government's budget for social services is so low that I am sure there will be more of the innocent sleeping on the streets this year. And to think that it is spending more than P300 billions yearly to pay for the Marcos years' debts which did not benefit the people. The debt is so huge that even the unborn Filipino children will have to pay.

I am reminded of a poem I wrote when I was so depressed thinking of how poverty has stolen our children's childhood. That time, I just got an email about children scavengers who had to go through piles of garbage to survive.

Elegy to Poverty

Did you see the five-year old boy rummage thru
trash cans for garbage his family could feast on?
Do you behold that pre-school girl peddling
white flowers amidst hurtling cars on perilous
streets as she piously hopes for family supper?
Are you smacked by shame that while the few
snorkel in the lake of prosperity, the multitude
is sinking in the ocean of your wretchedness,
with them babies who know not how to swim?

Oh, Poverty, you are the ruthless scourge that
abbreviates Infancy and impounds Innocence.

Be banished; hide as a skeleton in the cupboard
The time is too soon for the infants to know you
Suffer them to slurp milk from generous cups
Permit them to frolic around with their toy cars
Let them dress up their chubby baby dolls
Pilfer not their mirth and smell of Innocence
Inoculate them from the vile reek of your curse
Let Life be their gift; let it not be their burden!
Let them embrace Faith, not yet Despondence.

Free them to have memories of Beauty and Virtue
for when Innocence fades away and they meet you.

God bless the children.