‘Kidapawan in my heart’ by Rita B. Gadi, a translation to Davao Filipino

(Time has finally allowed me to enjoy translating again. Here I make one of the poem ‘Kidapawan in my heart’ by the poet Rita B. Gadi, from book Selected Poems (published in 2010 by the UST Press) from English to Davao Filipino. This translation would not be possible without poets Paul Gumanao, who introduced me to Gadi, and Arkay Timonera, who bought me a copy of the book. All rights to the poem belong to Rita Gadi.

This apostrophe to Gadi’s – and my – hometown of Kidapawan is surprisingly lyrical considering how tight it is, and the main aim of the translation is to capture that lyricism. The use of Davao Filipino, with its informal intimacy, surprisingly gives it a more personal touch. At points the translation has had to be liberal: ‘all the figures I have shaped / to design your face’ was translated to ‘lahat ng hugis na gihulma ko pangmugna lang / sa iyong wangis‘ (‘all the shapes I had molded just to imagine your face)’ even though the original only subtly implies the desperation explicitly stated in the translation (I find the subtlety untranslatable); ‘what would please you’ was translated to ‘ano mang makapalagay sa iyo‘ to take advantage of the accidental connotations of belongingness in ‘makapalagay’ (‘to put at ease,’ but literally ‘to put’); and ‘landscape’ was translated to ‘kalawakan’ (‘space’) maintaining the lyrical function of the (somehow untranslatable) original while making it more consistent with the succeeding images of moon and stars. But I’ll say more on the poem when I make an analysis of it later!)

Kidapawan sa puso ko
Translated by Karlo Antonio Galay-David

(Akyat-kanaog ng kabundukan
ang kilos ng lahi ko, pero laging
sa kabundukan kung hindi magambala, agilang
pinamumugaran ang mga tuktok sa kaulapan.
Inawit kami mula sa mga tinig ng gubat
at wala kaming imik. Tahimik ang mga mata namin
sa mga lihim ng aming mga bibig; ang mga ibon
kumukulay sa simula ng aming mga awit.)

   Isipin mo gud ang lahat ng mga gipangalan ko
      sa iyo, lahat ng hugis na gihulma ko pangmugna lang
   sa iyong wangis, lahat ng alaaala
      na hindi kailanman makauwi kay
   hindi man talaga sila ang nakaraan, lahat ng pagsubok ko
      na kilalanin, alamin ang anong makapalagay
   sa iyo, lahat ng bintanang gititigan ko
      para lang masulyapan ang aninag mo,
   lahat ng salitang hindi ko masulat sa iyo
      kay halos hindi ka na mahanap,
   mataymingan lang, mawala-wala
       at minsan maglitaw ulit
   pareha o di kaya iba,
      nagagala sa kalawakan ko
   sa mga gabi-gabi, kung kailan
      ikaw lang ang makaabot sa mga bituin
   at makabigay sa akin ng buwan, habang
      ginaipon ko ang mga dahilan
   kung bakit mahal talaga kita, ng ganito. Pa din.

Kidapawan in my heart
Rita B. Gadi

(The movements of my tribe climb
up or down the mountains, but always
in the mountains when unmoved, as eagles
dwell the habitat of clouded peaks.
We are formed from the voices of the forests
and have no speech. Our eyes
keep the secrets of our lips; the colors
birds fill with celebration
the beginnings of our songs.)

   Imagine all the names I have called
      you, all the figures I have shaped
   to design your face, all the memories
      that never arrive because
   they are not past, all the trying
      to recognize what would please
   you, all the windows I have gazed at
      looking for reflections of you,
   all the words never written to you
      who are almost invisible,
   chanced upon, vanishing
      and sometimes reappearing perhaps
   the same and not the same,
      walking my landscape
   through separate evenings, when
      only you can take the stars
   and give me the moon, while I assemble
      all the reasons why I love
   you this way. Still.
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