Thursday, 20 December 2007

More Holiday Imperialism

I wrote this some weeks ago for our company. I was planning to wait 'til they publish it but it's been too long. I can't wait; Christmas is nearing.


People here in this country have come to love this largely American event. It's a license to do all sorts of things that Filipinos are too shy to do. Cos-play; pig out on candy; throw loud parties. Bleep our program, or bleep our company for that matter, is no exception. After all we are an American company, aren't we? Yet this is where I put down my smile. While I find nothing wrong with us celebrating Halloween despite a lack of inherent connection with it (chokes on 'nothing wrong'), I just find it sad that none of our programs have ever celebrated the holidays that are native to us. Has anyone raised a Philippine flag during June 12th? Put up pictures of Dr José Rizál during his death anniversary (does anybody even know the date by heart)? Has anyone ever raised a toast to the heroism of Andr
és Bonifacio? We invest hours for Halloween parties; have we ever aired a short prayer for our dearly departed? It's shameful if you ask me.

We work for an American company; we converse with an American audience; we are probably paid by their money. But we are not Americans (and I must thank the Gods for that, no offence). Halloween parties and Easter egg-hunts may seem fun, but those traditions are alien to us. But what's new, eh? We've been raking in foreign utterly useless customs since the first G.I. Joe set foot here. It's been a tradition. And it's alright (chokes some more). As long as we don't throw away the traditions that really matter, that is.

This December, I am willing to bet my left nut arm that at least one person will be decorating his/her station with a "White Christmas" theme - oblivious to the fact that we have neither snow nor intimate knowledge of the significance of plastic evergreen trees. (I'm half-European and I've never don my Yule tree with fake snow. It's ridiculous in a tropical climate!)

I'm not asking any of you anything. I'm not asking that we start putting up flowers for Flores de Mayo or flags on Independence Day (but lechon for Araw ng Maynila would be excellent). We don't need to if we don't want to. I am simply airing my sentiments. What I believe matters.

Advanced Happy Bonifacio Day, everyone!

Friday, 14 December 2007

Dead King's Weeping

A poem of mine from my college days. Inspired by brilliant paganus Isaac Bonewits' poem "Cú Chulainn Wept". I never got to title this, unfortunately.

'Twas the twelfth of June we called him
To join in the spirit of the night.
Rose a ghost in the silence of a song
Of a lord, Soliman to our sight.
In royal red, mightiest of elders
As his steady eyes upon us did fall.
Anguished was his face, full of despair,
His bearing had shamed us all.

"Too long have the islands been ravished...
"Too long have my people wept."
"Oh my Lord," I replied, in a voice so anguished,
"The old glory is no longer kept."
"My name is no longer remembered," the Lord responded;
"The language, bastardised aghast.
"The greed of its stewards unfolded,
"Treachery has triumphed at last"

Through the fog and the smog we watched him
Drew his sword to strike some cow'rd foe.
Falling tears could the lord hold no more
As the rajah saw Manila below.
"Where are all Her trees?" eyes blinking
"All rivers and lakes have been fouled
"Winds now are fetid and stinking --
"Who has raped my city?" he howled.

Farther north did he go, "Women?" asked he
"Pimped by their own mothers and reviled?"
Foreigners buying 'slaves' too young, I replied
And brutes who their daughters defiled.
The anger on his face, stuck to us forever,
As he saw what cowards we've been.
"What has happened?" he whispered, "to the women of the islands?"
"Know you nothing of Urduja the Queen?"

Then he wept, how he wept, the noble Lord of the Nilad.
For the the rape of women and country, he wept.

Then he turned his eyes south to the land of his faith.
What he saw made him amuck in despair.
He saw cowards and monsters, called to God as if noble,
While bullets and bombs covered the air.
Murder and terror without care as if with sanction
Muslim and Christian shot and left to die,
And the villians a-bragging, how "for God" were their actions,
"Not knowing how their ancestors cry?"

Now he raged, how he raged, the noble Lord of the Nilad.
For the shame and dishonor, he raged.

"A curse upon greedy stewards and barbarian defilers:
"May no night fall for you to sleep.
"May the ghosts of the past and the cries of your victims,
"Make you wail, to the ground may you creep!"
"May the curse of all gods and all kings,
"Descend on all traitors of the isles
"Who've perverted all that was sacred and holy,
"Who had passed off their crimes with false smiles."

"May the wrath of the old warriors afflict all law abusers,
"And defend the people against foolish mires.
"May those who've polluted the Motherland's body
"Fall screaming into Mayon's fires!
"This curse, it shall last, 'till spirits true are rekindled
"Honored at last by as of old.
"And demons of manhood perverted are vanquished
"For the love of our country hold."

How he raged, how he wept, the noble spirit Soliman.
In anger and sorrow, he left.

Not very good times we have now, eh? Not here, at least.