Thursday, May 24, 2007

Kamatis na Puno ng Hinagpis

Kamatis na puno ng hinagpis Tomatoes Full of Woe

Mariin niyang pinisil (He pinches hard the tomato)
Baong kamatis sa plastic (His lunch in plastic)
Marahan naman ibinuntong-hininga (Slowly he sighs)
Problema sa buhay (His problems in life)

Pahirap nang pahirap (‘Tis getting much harder )
Buhay at kabuhayan (Living and life)
Palaki nang palaki (‘Tis getting much wider)
Agwat ng aba at mayaman (The gap between rich and poor)

Umabot na nga (Till it has reached)
Sa kamatis na lang na ulam (This tomato for his viand)
Minsa’y napapalitan (That gets alternated with)
Asin, kape o asukal (Salt, coffee or sugar)

Parang kay dilim na ng kinabukasan (Seems that the future grows dim)
Paghihirap sa buhay di na mawakasan (Hardships never end)
Kahit magbanat ng buto sa maghapon (Despite a day’s hard labor)
Sa pobreng buhay parang di na makaahon (Poverty seems insurmountable)

Kamatis at asin (Tomatoes and salt)
sa malamig na kanin (With cold rice)
Pantawid gutom sa maghapong pasanin (Appeases the hunger of a day’s work)
Trabahong pambili lang din (That pays wages enough)
Bukas... ng kamatis, asin, kanin (for some more tomatoes, tomorrow)

Despite the promise of hope from the newly elected leaders of my country, life never changes much for the common "tao". The "masa" or people who live, breathe and make up the 80 million that is Filipino in my beautiful 7,107 islands that is Philippines.

I write this poem above with English translation (for my non-Tagalog visitors) as a tribute to the workers, the urban poor, the farmers, the many Filipinos who work from before sunrise until after the sun has set and end up only making enough for the next day.

Despite reports from the GMA Administration that money is coming into the country - brought more by the growing number of overseas contract workers than by any socio-economic changes of the current government - money is not trickling down to the poorest of the poor, the grassroots "masa", the common "tao".

My country is still poor and they get poorer each day despite the hardwork they put in. Imagine a family picking up garbage from as early as 5:00 am until dusk only to earn just enough for tomorrow's meal. That is not fair. No one who works that hard should ever live like that. But how does it get addressed by my country's leaders? They who have enough food on their table, stored in their pantries and kept fresh in their fridges? In mocking irony, these politicians dare to go on diets and enroll in gym classes to keep fit in the midst of all the poor who have nothing but a sorry plate of cold rice, maybe a tomato, salt or sugar to eat?

'Tis indeed woeful to the highest level.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Finding my old selves

Been going through a lot of photos lately. I want to make a scrapbook of the photos of me and my loved ones through the years and it's amazing how photographs sometimes pull us back to yesteryears as if they were only yesterday. Funny too how some, no matter how hard we try to remember when and where it was taken or who were those people or that person...we never could remember. Time and pictures fade. Thanks to scanners and the Net we have a chance to resurrect the dead! Yes looking back at our old self, at least the lithos of our old selves, can make us cringe or smile or smirk - so much nostalgia or the lack of it - making us wonder of years gone by and people we've met.

Here's a picture of me on my 5th birthday. It's about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I've just been woken up from my afternoon nap and gotten dressed in this pink cotton dress, my new birthday frock. A week before I've just gotten a haircut so my "bob" is fairly new. I don't know about my rolled-up knee-high socks but I'm not very happy looking in this picture.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Love and Mothers

Mothers can be anyone who loves and continues to do so without expecting for anything in return.

I would dare to equate mother with love for the love of a mother for her child is the kind of love that is unconditional, never-ending, constant and true. From our earliest hours on this planet, someone had been a mother to us; cared for our helpless beings; made sure we were fed; clothed; cleaned and more than that; loved. I believe human babies grow not just out of being well looked after, but more so out of being loved – the countless kisses, hugs and caresses we got in infancy – often many of us do not even remember. Yet mothers of all generation continue to cuddle, hug, kiss, caress their young, not allowing even a spec of dust to touch their baby’s skin or a moment that their eyes would stray from their young. It is indeed love at first sight and one that will last beyond our mortal beings.

I have been quite lucky to have felt the love of more than just one mother. Since birth, I have been cared-for and loved by four or five incredible women of three generations. My mother gave me life and fed me her milk from my early days. Luzviminda of the fair skin and the beautiful singing voice, she too would lull me to sleep. In the first few hours of my birth Lucia ran to the central market to buy me my very first clothes as “mamang”, a working mother with two other children, had not been quite prepared for my arrival. Mommy Lucy would also through the years provide a steady stream of love and encouragement that would keep me strong in my sometimes serious but much more often mundane trials. Not having a daughter of her own, she considered me hers. Felisa, my maternal great-grandmother also had a hand at bringing me up. The healer in the family, she would provide relief from the aches and pains of my childhood and being a woman of strength, she provided the stability and routine of my early years. Lola Peling in her patadjong and kimona would brew the most fragrant coffee each morning while spewing out words of wisdom to a queue of uncles and aunts who have come from the barrios in search of better fortune in the city. She is my role model for kindness and integrity.

Then there are the two Concepcions, the senior is my maternal grandmother and the junior is my Mommy Connie whom I call “magma”. Although my grandmother, I call her “nanay Conching” because she is the mother of my childhood. The woman who made sure I ate, took my bath, said my prayers; the one who stayed up at nights when I was sick and the one I ran to when I had any fears or pain in my body. Magma is the mother of my heart. She provided for me from when I was three; took me in as one of her own from that time and molded me into the person I am today. She is the voice in my head and my other role model for kindness and strength. She is also my spiritual teacher. She like Lola Peling taught me to share no matter what little I have to those who have none. She ingrained in me to help, just help and not expect for anything in return. She and my nanay Conching taught me to love, just love and not expect to be loved back. Because to deny help or love especially to those who need it is like denying sunshine or rain to mankind.

God has angels to do his work on earth. Many of them are called mothers.

To my mothers: mamang and lola Peling who are now with God and to nanay Conching, mommy Lucy and magma: I love you, happy mother’s day.