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.

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