Pinoy poetry this damned war

A poet against the war.

A few months back my friend and colleague Nerissa Balce asked me to introduce a trio of Filipino writers for a literary reading at the San Francisco Public Library.

Joi Barrios — currently a visiting professor at UC Irvine, and Palanca Award-winning playwright and poet — was one of those writers, and she read the poem which I reproduce in full below:


Yankee doodle came to town
Riding on a pony
Killed and maimed and tortured us
And called it a … democracy.

Yankee doodle keep it up,
Yankee doodle dandy,
Burn the village and the town,
And with your gun be handy.

Balangiga, 1901. / Balangiga, 1901.
Ang hudyat ng batingaw / The bells signal
Ay tawag ng pag-aklas. / A call to arms
Hubdin ang balatkayo, / Remove your disguises,
Bayani at bandido ay iisa, / Bandit and hero are one
Lusubin ang kaaway, / Attack the enemy,
At itarak sa kanyang dibdib / And plunge into his heart
ang patalim, ang sibat! / The dagger, the spear,
Ang poot at himagsik! / Anger and revolt
Hayaang umalingangaw ang kampana, / Let the bells ring
Himig na nagbabanta’t nang-uusig / Music that threatens and condemns
Layas, layas, sa aming bayan ay lumayas / Leave, leave our land!

Yankee doodle comes again
Riding on a fighter
Brings his war to my country
And calls it a … democracy.

Taong 2002. / Year 2002.
Dito, sa Estados Unidos ng Amerika, / Here, in the United States of America
Nananahan ang batingaw, / The bells reside.
Sagisag ng kanilang hapis / A symbol of their grief
at ng ating miminsang tagumpay. / and our rare victory.
Dito, sa Estados Unidos ng Amerika, / Here, in the United States of America
Nananahan tayong lahat na nandayuhan, / all of us migrants live.
Tinig ba’y magsabatingaw? / Shall our voices ring as bells?
Dinala nila sa ating bayan ang digmaan! / They have brought the war into our land.
Hintayan pa ba ang hudyat? / Shall we yet wait for the signal
Ilang kababayan ang malalagas sa digmaan? / How many shall perish in the war?
Sa kampana lahat ay kumalampag, / Ring the bells!
Layas, layas, sa aking bayan ay lumayas!” / Leave, leave, leave our land.

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