The following is a poem I first performed at Renaissance Bookstore‘s Book Launch and Open Mic this past Remembrance Day. The stanzas in normal font are meant to be spoken in a Western accent and the italicized ones in a Filipino accent, with the underlined ones without accents:
Fires fly over the air
As we in tin hats huddle behind the rocks
Clutching our rifles, the guarantors of our lives
Waiting for the chance to break out and charge on.
We came from a distance,
From our homes and fields and loves
Here on this dusty and stony land
To fight and defeat the fascist foe,
Challenger of freedom and all we held dear –
You hold dear –
Thousands of us fell on this place we are not rooted into and will fall.
Soon we will make our homes in the stony, forsaken ground.
You may shed tears for us
Lay flowers on our graves.
But know and remember this, those who are to come:
No good cause is ever too great to spend one’s life without.
When the sky turns dark
As long as the sun has not fully gone out
Never waste your time in cowardly inaction
Rather pick up your rifle and tin hat
And with fear and trembling, charge.
It may be night
But this is no time to waste it.
Twice quick we march
On this muddy and stony road
Without shoes, without anything against the cold air.
The rifles we have just mere antique
Against the modern, murderous machinery
Of the bowl-legged ones.
But what else can be done?
Are we to leave our loves to they who lack mercy?
Who, for the sake of the Sun, butcher
Even the most hapless baby?
Oh, we may be a tattered and corroded lot
But we refuse to see more of our blood shed.
For freedom and life no fear we will allow
In the name of courage and independence
This awful menace we will quench.
The bugle calls
The drums ring noisily
The ranks file in.
Every soul in this whole line accounted for.
Flames burn like masses of furious smoke
As we stride forth armed.
Why are we, simple folk who tend to farms and forests, here
Parading to our eventual deaths, you query.
We are here to defend our way of life.
Peace and order, the things we cherish
Threatened from the other side by the columns of chaos
By the forces of rebellion and unrest.
Not the fall of the world we permit,
Neither the liberty of man’s passions we consent.
To run forth and seek to halt havoc is
A privilege worth paying for.
The forest our fort
The grass our shield.
Revolvers primed as the phalanx walks on the dark road.
We do not hesitate once the chance arrives.
Bandits and brigands they might call us –
You might call us –
But never for all time will we doubt that
Providence is on our side.
Too long has the whip scorched our backs.
Too much our labour sent to the ones above us.
Our women violated, our men chained and beaten
The orphans left to be used by crafty minds and devious hearts.
No longer will our servitude continue
No more will the upper ones gain from our suffering.
With our bolos and revolvers in hand
Nothing but fortitude and hope as our strength
We roar and assail like wounded eagles.
The light of a brighter future
If not for us, for our children
From a distance greets us
As the dawn, our dawn, rises.
Against the Japanese.
Through the years and ages
For what we believe as true
Against armies that seem too great for mere humans to defeat
We soldiered on, we fought on.
With sweat but not giving up
With bravery but not without tears.
Hoisting high our tattered red flags
Conscious of our peoples’ fate on our shoulders
With ragged faces and fatigued knees
only simply fight.