13 Nov 2012

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:

Two Wars

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.


For order.

For freedom.

Against Nazis.

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

We only simply fight.