(My first attempt at concrete poetry. I’ve been playing around with the title for months now, part of a story I’m working on, and this poem came out on the sides as I also dabbled with Buddhism. The words on the body, if the picture quality isn’t clear, is “flutter-fetter, lost lie.” )
As much of a cynic as I may be, I still believe that every one ought to be given a chance at life, and this makes the killing of children absolutely unforgivable.
In Burma earlier this year, over twenty schoolboys in a Madrasah were butchered and burned by a mob of anti-Muslim locals. These boys had futures waiting for them, and they might have been part of Burma’s beginning rise to a bright future, but all of that is gone now. And all because of ethnic tensions they personally had nothing to do with.
Recently, the Oxford Research Group reports that over the course of Syria’s ongoing civil war, over 11,000 children have been tortured and slaughtered. Again, these children might have been the hope of the country, and again, the future they promised had been reduced to naught. And again all for matters which are beyond or do not concern them (in this case, because a man wants to stay in power and other men want to take that power from him).
Heart-wrenching, lamentable, abhorrent, condemnable. For all the eloquence I have the vanity of thinking of having, I am inarticulate at trying to express my horror at these bits of news. And I am frustrated at both my incapacity to do anything and at the cliche as which this expression of horror comes. The abhorrence of these acts of child-slaughter are self evident enough that it need not be pointed out, and yet paradoxically (or perhaps as a result of that self evidence) it seems one can never condemn this atrocity enough.
It is hardly a thing in Philippine political thought to think of foreign affairs (unless they have to do with islands and OFWs about to be beheaded), but I believe it is imperative that our government, as a government of a people that subscribes to fundamental human values, must play a bigger role in the world stage in preventing the continued slaughter of children.
I was buying bread at a bakeshop in Dumaguete a while ago. Beside this bakeshop was a store that sold liquor, and when I arrived there a few tambays (the stereotypical Filipino drunk-as-winecork freeloader)were wasting the night away with the cheap rum they could afford. Gloc-9’s provocative “Sirena” was playing in the store’s radio.
You see I have long hair, and to crude Filipino standards the class I cannot shake away from myself is nothing but effeminate. With his imagination (which I daresay is barely better than his apparent standing in life), one tambay mocked me by emphasizing the song’s title. You know, that proud Filipino tradition of mocking gays on which the careers of comedians like Diego from Bubble Gang and Pooh are established. He was implying I was a sirena.
I didn’t mind — heck, aside from sympathizing with the plight of the homosexual, after almost twenty years of being falsely taunted for being gay I’ve grown used to it. But having an imagination a bit better than manong tambay’s, I imagined all the similar lowlifes like him who could have been killed or who had lost their loved ones in Leyte at the wake of typhoon Haiyan, and I thought “I am sad at the loss of other lives, but God thank you so much for killing those scum and their families. The world is a better place now. ”
But in all seriousness (and calmness), I realized that for all Gloc-9’s moving lyrics on the plight of a young gay boy in our pretentiously patriarchal society, his message has failed to change people so spectacularly that people actually use his lyrics to mock those they presume to be gays.
There is something seriously wrong with how Filipinos appreciate art.
It isn’t official yet, but this has been speculated for years now, and it hardly comes as a surprise. Dumaguete poet Cesar Ruiz Aquino has long advocated Bautista’s getting the distinction. This time I’m holding on to sir Sawi’s predictions!
Any works by Bautista I recommend? The flash fiction “Miracle of the Trains” from his Political Parables!