A DESAPARECIDO'S FAREWELL

On December 1, 2006, fellow HR lawyer Manja Bayang and I met with two women whose husbands were victims of enforced disappearance. One of them talked with pain about the uncertainties felt by the disappeared's families. That night, I could not sleep thinking of how a desaparecido must be feeling during his/her last moments.

At a few minutes past 2:00 A.M. of 2 December 2006, I woke up and wrote my poem, "A Desaparecido's Farewell." Manja and I were meeting the women that day and I wanted to give them a copy each.

We who have no immediate family members who were made to disappear can only imagine how it is to wait, to speculate, to hope, to have the hopes dashed, to hope again, to continue waiting, to keep looking toward an open door. But even the family members can only imagine how it is to be a desaparecido: to be concerned that your loved ones are frantic with worry, to be facing the imminent possibility of death, to regret not having said a word of love to a dear spouse or a child, to remorse over not having said goodbye.

I remembered the desaparecidos recently with the disappearance of activist James Balao, native of the Cordillera. It has been more than two weeks since he was last seen. We are all hopeful that he will be released unharmed.

There is a petition to surface him. I urge every freedom-loving human being to sign it.

Here is the poem " A Desaparecido's Farewell:"

My love, please do not wait up for me tonight
Or tomorrow – forgive me, I will not arrive
I am lying peaceful in an unmarked grave
In a tepid, dark place; please, my love, be brave.
Do not grieve: I have done all I needed to
Save for one weighty thing: oh, it haunts me so.

To my heart, they plunged a lance to halt my breath;
But ten more of me will emerge from my death.
Like glass chandelier launched by a livid sky
Into a thousand splinters, I will multiply.
My corroded flesh joined the barren, parched earth;
Droves of life-sustaining shrubs await their birth.

My blood is fertile peat for the grassroots’ war
For liberty from hunger, to freedom’s door.
My life is not my flesh; it’s the robust force;
It gives intense light to Revolution’s torch!
Its smolder unswerving--the masses wield it high!
While the steadfast grassroots stand, how could I die?

Promise no tears ‘cause my death is not death: it’s life.
Please celebrate my death; do not mourn, my dear wife.
From my grave - here, I hunger - beside you I stand;
I need to embrace you and caress your warm hand.
Please forgive me: there’s just one thing I failed to do---
Oh, my love, why did I not say goodbye to you?

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