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Nalpay anamnama (leona florentino)

What gladness and what joy

are endowed to one who is loved
for truly there is one to share
all his sufferings and his pain.

My fate is dim, my stars so low

perhaps nothing to it can compare,
for truly I do not doubt
for presently I suffer so.

For even I did love,

the beauty whom I desired
never do I fully realize
that I am worthy of her.

Shall I curse the hour

when first I saw the light of day
would it not have been better a thousand times
I had died when I was born.~
Would I want to explain
but my tongue remains powerless
for now do I clearly see
to be spurned is my lot.

But would it be my greatest joy

to know that it is you I love,
for to you do I vow and a promise I make
its you alone for whom I would lay my life.

Wedding Dance (amador baguio)

Awiyao reached for the upper horizontal log which served as the edge of the
headhigh threshold. Clinging to the log, he lifted himself with one bound that carried
him across to the narrow door. He slid back the cover, stepped inside, then pushed
the cover back in place. After some moments during which he seemed to wait, he
talked to the listening darkness.
"I'm sorry this had to be done. I am really sorry. But neither of us can help it."
The sound of the gangsas beat through the walls of the dark house like muffled
roars of falling waters. The woman who had moved with a start when the sliding
door opened had been hearing the gangsas for she did not know how long. There
was a sudden rush of fire in her. She gave no sign that she heard Awiyao, but
continued to sit unmoving in the darkness.
But Awiyao knew that she heard him and his heart pitied her. He crawled on all fours
to the middle of the room; he knew exactly where the stove was. With bare fingers
he stirred the covered smoldering embers, and blew into the stove. When the coals
began to glow, Awiyao put pieces of pine on them, then full round logs as his arms.
The room brightened.
"Why don't you go out," he said, "and join the dancing women?" He felt a pang
inside him, because what he said was really not the right thing to say and because
the woman did not stir. "You should join the dancers," he said, "as if--as if nothing
had happened." He looked at the woman huddled in
a corner of the room, leaning against the wall. The stove fire played with strange
moving shadows and lights
upon her face. She was partly sullen, but her sullenness was not because of anger
or hate.
"Go out--go out and dance. If you really don't hate me for this separation, go out
and dance. One of the men will see you dance well; he will like your dancing, he will
marry you. Who knows but that, with him, you will be luckier than you were with
"I don't want any man," she said sharply. "I don't want any other man."
He felt relieved that at least she talked: "You know very well that I won't want any
other woman either. You know that, don't you? Lumnay, you know it, don't you?"
She did not answer him.
"You know it Lumnay, don't you?" he repeated.
"Yes, I know," she said weakly.

"It is not my fault," he said, feeling relieved. "You cannot blame me; I have been a
good husband to you."
"Neither can you blame me," she said. She seemed about to cry.
"No, you have been very good to me. You have been a good wife. I have nothing to
say against you." He set some of the burning wood in place. "It's only that a man
must have a child. Seven harvests is just too long to wait. Yes, we have waited too
long. We should have another chance before it is too late for both of us."
This time the woman stirred, stretched her right leg out and bent her left leg in. She
wound the blanket
"You know that I have done my best," she said. "I have prayed to Kabunyan much. I
have sacrificed many chickens in my prayers."
"Yes, I know."
"You remember how angry you were once when you came home from your work in
the terrace because I butchered one of our pigs without your permission? I did it to
appease Kabunyan, because, like you, I wanted to have a child. But what could I
"Kabunyan does not see fit for us to have a child," he said. He stirred the fire. The
spark rose through the crackles of the flames. The smoke and soot went up the
Lumnay looked down and unconsciously started to pull at the rattan that kept the
split bamboo flooring in place. She tugged at the rattan flooring. Each time she did
this the split bamboo went up and came down with a slight rattle. The gong of the
dancers clamorously called in her care through the walls.
Awiyao went to the corner where Lumnay sat, paused before her, looked at her
bronzed and sturdy face, then turned to where the jars of water stood piled one
over the other. Awiyao took a coconut cup and dipped it in the top jar and drank.
Lumnay had filled the jars from the mountain creek early that evening.
"I came home," he said. "Because I did not find you among the dancers. Of course, I
am not forcing you to come, if you don't want to join my wedding ceremony. I came
to tell you that Madulimay, although I am marrying her, can never become as good
as you are. She is not as strong in planting beans, not as fast in cleaning water jars,
not as good keeping a house clean. You are one of the best wives in the
whole village."
"That has not done me any good, has it?" She said. She looked at him lovingly. She
almost seemed to smile.
He put the coconut cup aside on the floor and came closer to her. He held her face

between his hands and looked longingly at her beauty. But her eyes looked away.
Never again would he hold her face. The next day she would not be his any more.
She would go back to her parents. He let go of her face,
and she bent to the floor again and looked at her fingers as they tugged softly at
the split bamboo floor.
"This house is yours," he said. "I built it for you. Make it your own, live in it as long
as you wish. I will build another house for Madulimay."
"I have no need for a house," she said slowly. "I'll go to my own house. My parents
are old. They will need help in the planting of the beans, in the pounding of the
"I will give you the field that I dug out of the mountains during the first year of our
marriage," he said. "You know I did it for you. You helped me to make it for the two
of us."
"I have no use for any field," she said.
He looked at her, then turned away, and became silent. They were silent for a time.
"Go back to the dance," she said finally. "It is not right for you to be here. They will
wonder where you are, and Madulimay will not feel good. Go back to the dance."
"I would feel better if you could come, and dance---for the last time. The gangsas
are playing."
"You know that I cannot."
"Lumnay," he said tenderly. "Lumnay, if I did this it is because of my need for a
child. You know that life is not worth living without a child. The man have mocked
me behind my back. You know that."
"I know it," he said. "I will pray that Kabunyan will bless you and Madulimay."
She bit her lips now, then shook her head wildly, and sobbed.
She thought of the seven harvests that had passed, the high hopes they had in the
beginning of their new life, the day he took her away from her parents across the
roaring river, on the other side of the mountain, the trip up the trail which they had
to climb, the steep canyon which they had to cross. The waters boiled in her mind in
forms of white and jade and roaring silver; the waters tolled and growled,
resounded in thunderous echoes through the walls of the stiff cliffs; they were far
away now from somewhere on the tops of the other ranges, and they had looked
carefully at the buttresses of rocks they had to step on---a slip would have meant

They both drank of the water then rested on the other bank before they made the
final climb to the other side of the mountain.
She looked at his face with the fire playing upon his features---hard and strong, and
kind. He had a sense of lightness in his way of saying things which often made her
and the village people laugh. How proud she had been of his humor. The muscles
where taut and firm, bronze and compact in their hold upon his skull---how frank his
bright eyes were. She looked at his body the carved out of the mountains
five fields for her; his wide and supple torso heaved as if a slab of shining lumber
were heaving; his arms and legs flowed down in fluent muscles--he was strong and
for that she had lost him.
She flung herself upon his knees and clung to them. "Awiyao, Awiyao, my husband,"
she cried. "I did everything to have a child," she said passionately in a hoarse
whisper. "Look at me," she cried. "Look at my body. Then it was full of promise. It
could dance; it could work fast in the fields; it could climb the mountains fast. Even
now it is firm, full. But, Awiyao, I am useless. I must die."
"It will not be right to die," he said, gathering her in his arms. Her whole warm
naked naked breast quivered against his own; she clung now to his neck, and her
hand lay upon his right shoulder; her hair flowed down in cascades of gleaming
"I don't care about the fields," she said. "I don't care about the house. I don't care
for anything but you. I'll have no other man."
"Then you'll always be fruitless."
"I'll go back to my father, I'll die."
"Then you hate me," he said. "If you die it means you hate me. You do not want me
to have a child. You do not want my name to live on in our tribe."
She was silent.
"If I do not try a second time," he explained, "it means I'll die. Nobody will get the
fields I have carved out of the mountains; nobody will come after me."
"If you fail--if you fail this second time--" she said thoughtfully. The voice was a
shudder. "No--no, I don't want you to fail."
"If I fail," he said, "I'll come back to you. Then both of us will die together. Both of us
will vanish from the life of our tribe."
The gongs thundered hrough the walls of their house, sonorous and faraway.

"I'll keep my beads," she said. "Awiyao, let me keep my beads," she half-whispered.
"You will keep the beads. They come from far-off times. My grandmother said they
come from up North, from the slant-eyed people across the sea. You keep them,
Lumnay. They are worth twenty fields."
"I'll keep them because they stand for the love you have for me," she said. "I love
you. I love you and have nothing to give."
She took herself away from him, for a voice was calling out to him from outside.
"Awiyao! Awiyao! O Awiyao! They are looking for you at the dance!"
"I am not in hurry."
"The elders will scold you. You had better go."
"Not until you tell me that it is all right with you."
"It is all right with me."
He clasped her hands. "I do this for the sake of the tribe," he said.
"I know," she said.
He went to the door.
He stopped as if suddenly hit by a spear. In pain he turned to her. Her face was in
agony. It pained him to leave. She had been wonderful to him. What was it that
made a man wish for a child? What was it in life, in the work in the field, in the
planting and harvest, in the silence of the night, in the communing with husband
and wife, in the whole life of the tribe itself that made man wish for the laughter and
speech of a child? Suppose he changed his mind? Why did the unwritten law
demand, anyway, that a man, to be a man, must have a child to come after him?
And if he was fruitless--but he loved Lumnay. It was like taking away of his life to
leave her like this. "Awiyao," o the farthest corner of their room, to the trunk where
they kept their worldly possession---his battle-ax and his spear points, her betel nut
box and her beads. He dug out from the darkness the beads which had been given
to him by his grandmother to give to Lumnay on the beads on, and tied them in
place. The white and jade and deep orange obsidians shone in the firelight. She
suddenly clung to him, clung to his neck as if she would never let him go.

"Awiyao! Awiyao, it is hard!" She gasped, and she closed her eyes and huried her
face in his neck.

The call for him from the outside repeated; her grip loosened, and he buried out into
the night.
Lumnay sat for some time in the darkness. Then she went to the door and opened
it. The moonlight struck her face; the moonlight spilled itself on the whole village.
She could hear the throbbing of the gangsas coming to her through the caverns of
the other houses. She knew that all the houses were empty that the whole tribe was
at the dance. Only she was absent. And yet was she not the best dancer of the
village? Did she not have the most lightness and grace? Could she not, alone among
all women, dance like a bird tripping for grains on the ground, beautifully
timed to the beat of the gangsas? Did not the men praise her supple body, and the
women envy the way she stretched her hands like the wings of the mountain eagle
now and then as she danced? How long ago did she dance at her own wedding?
Tonight, all the women who counted, who once danced in her honor, were dancing
now in honor of another whose only claim was that perhaps she could give her
husband a child.
"It is not right. It is not right!" she cried. "How does she know? How can anybody
know? It is not right," she said.
Suddenly she found courage. She would go to the dance. She would go to the chief
of the village, to the elders, to tell them it was not right. Awiyao was hers; nobody
could take him away from her. Let her be the first woman to complain, to denounce
the unwritten rule that a man may take another woman. She would tell Awiyao to
come back to her. He surely would relent. Was not their love as strong as the
river? She made for the other side of the village where the dancing was. There was
a flaming glow over the whole place; a great bonfire was burning. The gangsas
clamored more loudly now, and it seemed they were calling to her. She was near at
last. She could see the dancers clearly now. The man leaped lightly with their
gangsas as they circled the dancing women decked in feast garments and beads,
tripping on the ground like graceful birds, following their men. Her heart warmed to
the flaming call of the dance; strange heat in her blood welled up, and she started
to run. But the gleaming brightness of the bonfire commanded her to stop. Did
anybody see her approach?
She stopped. What if somebody had seen her coming? The flames of the bonfire
leaped in countless sparks which spread and rose like yellow points and died out in
the night. The blaze reached out to her like a spreading radiance. She did not have
the courage to break into the wedding feast.
Lumnay walked away from the dancing ground, away from the village. She thought
of the new clearing of beans which Awiyao and she had started to make only four
moons before. She followed the trail above the village.
When she came to the mountain stream she crossed it carefully. Nobody held her
hand, and the stream water was very cold. The trail went up again, and she was in
the moonlight shadows among the trees and shrubs. Slowly she climbed the

When Lumnay reached the clearing, she cold see from where she stood the blazing
bonfire at the edge of the village, where the wedding was. She could hear the far-off
clamor of the gongs, still rich in their sonorousness, echoing from mountain to
mountain. The sound did not mock her; they seemed to call far to her, to speak to
her in the language of unspeaking love. She felt the pull of their gratitude for her
sacrifice. Her heartbeat began to sound to her like many gangsas.
Lumnay though of Awiyao as the Awiyao she had known long ago-- a strong,
muscular boy carrying his heavy loads of fuel logs down the mountains to his home.
She had met him one day as she was on her way to fill her clay jars with water. He
had stopped at the spring to drink and rest; and she had made him drink the cool
mountain water from her coconut shell. After that it did not take him long to decide
to throw his spear on the stairs of her father's house in token on his desire to marry
The mountain clearing was cold in the freezing moonlight. The wind began to stir
the leaves of the bean plants. Lumnay looked for a big rock on which to sit down.
The bean plants now surrounded her, and she was lost among them.
A few more weeks, a few more months, a few more harvests---what did it matter?
She would be holding the bean flowers, soft in the texture, silken almost, but moist
where the dew got into them, silver to look at, silver on the light blue, blooming
whiteness, when the morning comes. The stretching of the bean pods full length
from the hearts of the wilting petals would go on. Lumnay's fingers moved a long,
long time among the growing bean pods.she said, and her eyes seemed to smile in
the light. "The beads!" He turned back and walked away.

Nunuk dutukum (iwata folk)

Translated by Florentino H. Hornedo) The Nunuk on the hill short forth the leaves
and twigs; Then suddenly all its branches fell and I under it.On what is left I cannot
watch the boats on the seaFor I stand on the side from the sea.I weep in my grief?It
was the sea that made me an orphan; The sad news came to me in the roar of the
breakers,From the voice of the mighty sea currents.

Life is a three ringed circus (jose quirino)

About a dozen years ago, I got my first job as a drumbeater for a German-Italian
circus. I had cubbed for two or three obscure provincial newspapers, had finally
become a real McCoy of a reporter for a more stable paper in the big city, and I was
swoony with a glamour of the journalistic life. I bought a hat just so I could wear it
on the back of my head. People followed me for blocks to see if the hat would fall

I also learned to smoke cigars with one side of the mouth but never learned to talk
from the other unoccupied side. The tone would have been wrong anyway; nature
had given me a falsetto voice. I began on the police beat but did entertainment
features on the side, mostly interviews with starlets who were as wet behind the
ears as I was.
Those movie items were what dumped me into the publicity route. One day this
promoter with a stable starlets most of whom I had done, interview-wise, asked me
out to lunch. I thought it was just a thank you lunch but it turned out that the fellow
was branching out. He was importing a European circus. And he wanted me me!
to do the publicity work. I told him I knew nothing of pro work but he said if I could
write, I could drumbeat.
He named a fee. It sounded like a fortune to me in those days. But my heart was
pure. I told him Id have to consult my editor first and find out if this was honest.
My editor, a tearful souse, wept over me; I think he was mourning his lost
innocence. But he did give it to me straight: where legitimate news ended and sly
propaganda began. If I could walk the brink without falling off, he didnt see why I
shouldnt accept the pro job. As I said, my heart was pure and I had the strength of
ten. I had not the least doubt I could toe the perilous line between being a newsman
and being a propagandist.
The sideline looked dull at first. The promoter dumped a load of publicity material
on me and told me to cull out a few items from them. It was mostly a rewrite job. I
just changed the adjectives and put the verb in future tense. But I must have done a
good job because most of the papers I sent the items to, published them.
The promoter wasnt satisfied. He wanted more specific writeups, especially on the
stars of the shadow. The top down was supposed to be a very famous one and he
wanted me to do a lush job on that clown. I sifted through the publicity material but
more or less knew how I was going to do the clown. I was young then, remember,
and had the stereotyped notion of clowns as being very gloomy, even tragic
creatures, when not before the footlights.
How many movies had I seen about clowns laughing while their heart broke. So I did
this writeup that I entitled The Grin is Only Painted On. A real tear-jerker.
Everybody ate it up. I and the clown became names in peoples mouth. It was my
first small taste of fame.
Then the circus arrived and I met the clown in person. I could have died of shame.
This was my first lesson in the difference between literature and life, between the
clich and the reality. The clown was not the kind I had read about in books or
watched in the movies. In street clothes he was just an ordinary man, very relaxed
and easygoing, eventempered, rather indolent. It needed only a few minutes with
him to se he wasnt the moody type or a prima donna . he was a great clown all
right, as I found out at rehearsal, but he didnt call it art, what he did, it was just his
line of work, a craft passed on to him by his father and grandfather, and if they had
been carpenters he would have been as cheerfully a carpenter too.

Gorgio his name was. He didnt used his surname. He was a north Italian but the
family had moved up from some dreary village to a swanky suburb of Milan. The
first time we were together he spent the first ten minutes showing off photos of his
villa in Milan, the two cars he owned and his family.
The wife was a fat peasant but he told me she ordered her clothes from Rome. His
five children were all in classy schools in Switzerland. In the winter he took his
family to Southern Spain. He was pushing 50 then and was thinking of retiring. He
boasted he had saved enough money to retire in style. Milan was nice but too cold.
He was thinking of buying a place in Capri. His family had been in the circus for
generations but no circus for his children; the tradition was to end with him; no
grease-paint for his sons. They would be professionals, businessmen, solid citizens.
My heart sank lower and lower as I listened to Gorgio. It wasnt merely the
embarrassment of having painted a wrong picture of him, in a writeup that had
caused so much splash it demanded a follow-up. There was also the problem of how
to make this old square interesting.
Again I beg you to remember that I was young. It just didnt occur to me that the
reality might be a hell lot more interesting than the accepted clich. I never got the
bright idea of shattering a superstition, of coming up with a piece that said: Look,
youve got a wrong slant on clowns. Theyre not all gloomy. Heres one who laughs
because hes happy, not because his heart is breaking. I had set ideas about life.
Everything followed a pattern. Newsmen were tough on the outside, prostitutes had
hearts of gold, movie stars were discovered in rags, and journalism was a glamorous
profession. Clowns had to follow the pattern set for them too.
I asked Gorgio if he had read what I had written about him. He said he never read
his notices. He didnt say that to hurt me, he was just telling the truth. He had good
English but if he read at all he read in Italian. I told him about having drawn a
picture of him a hamlet of a clown.
He laughed and made me face, then shrugged. Yes, so many had written so about
him, as being melancholy, moody, morose. The world had a certain picture of
clowns that it didnt know was spurious. So he never contradicted those writeups
about him. I had no cause to worry. He would not contradict me either. He would go
along with the game if such publicity would draw crowds to see him. I could say
Now, what could you do to a guy like that?
Gorgio kept his word.
In his first general conference with the press he wore black, spoke in curt
monosyllables, scowled at cameras went into a tantrum, then broke down and said
the gentlemen of the press were to forgive him, he had so much on his mind,
emotional troubles, affairs of the heart.
The follow-up piece I did on him pulled out whatever steps were left. I hinted at a
series of tragic live affairs. Now, in the middle age, he had fallen in love with a
young girl who was merely playing with him. Every time he rolled into the ring to

play the clown, he was doing it to punish himself for playing the clown in real life,
for allowing his heart to be kicked, punched, buffeted, and tripped by a little hardhearted wench. All Manila crowded to the circus to see this clown who was so funny
because he was so pitiful. I look to drinking.
Gorgio was a hit, and so was the circus. It had been contracted for a mouth, was
held over for two weeks, then got contracted to appear in Cebu and Davao. About
two or three days before the troupe left for the for the South the promoter paid me
off the stipulated fee plus a bonus. He said I had done a terrific job. Next time he
imported a show I was to be its drumbeater again. I told him he could give the job
to somebody else: this was my first and last try as pro.
I had to resist an urge to give away to charity the money I had earned. I was very
much the idealist in those days and I felt I had been false to my public!
The promoter must have talked to Gorgio about how I felt because the day before
the troupe left Gorgio invited me out to dinner. We went to the European restaurant
on Isaac Peral and Gorgio showed his cosmopolitanism by ordering a rare meal,
each course with the proper wine. Since there were only the two of us I was rather
puzzled by all the attention. Over the demitasse and the brandy Gorgio opened up.
He said he could understand my feeling so upset for having invented a story, but
everyone in show business was used to that sort of thing. In time I would learn to
take it in stride and not be so scrupulous.
You must learn, he said, to separate your professional life from your other lives,
or youll never be able to live for yourself. You will have a very narrow world.
Look at me, he continued, My life is a three ring circus. In one ring I am Gorgio
the famous clown. In another ring I am the father of a highly respected family with
an elegant villa in Milan. And the third ring I am myself alone, in person. This person
thats me like good food, likes to drink, like pretty girls, likes to live it up. He can be
very wild but he is wild only on his own time. He is never allowed to mess up the
work of Gorgio the clown or to disturb the reputation of that respectable father of
the family in Milan. I live, therefore, three different lives that are more or less
independent of each other. And because I can keep them separate, each in its own
ring, I enjoy a much larger world than I would if I were merely entirely engrossed in
being a circus star or the head of a family.
You must learn to do the same, boy. Right now you are merely the newspaperman.
You have allowed your profession to absorb your entire life. That is bad. In my
business we would rate you as just a one-ring circus. The big stars are in the three
ring circus. That is what you must aspire for. It is good to be serious about your
vocation but bad to be nothing else except what you do. You must right away start
setting up two other rings in the circus of your life.
I have put down as much as I can remember of what Gorgio said that night, and I
remember them so well because they made such an impression on me. In every
mans life theres one particular moment when the right advice hits home and that
night was the moment of orientation for me.

That very next day I told my editor I was getting tired of the police beat. I had an
idea for a series of articles on life in the provinces. Would he take a chance on me
and send me as a roving reporter all over the country for two or three months? I
must have spoken forcefully because an editorial conference soon after decided it
might not be bad to have a series on provincial life. And I was tapped to do the
series. It wasnt the series I was after but the enlarging of my horizons. I was taking
Gorgios advice, I was setting up a second ring in my circus. I was in quest of
I left for the Batanes a week later and it was there I read, in a day-old paper, of
Gorgios accident in Davao. One part of his act has him parodying a tight rope
walker. The rope is supposed to break and spill him to the floor. That night in Davao,
the rope has broken as usual but Gorgio had landed on an iron bar the strongman
had left in the ring. Gorgio had bruised his back against the bar. He had stood up
right away and gone on with the act but was absent from the show the next day.
When I came back to Manila about two months later, I called up my friend the
promoter for news about Gorgio. The circus had long left the country; as far as the
promoter knew, Gorgio was all right. He had been absent only one night during his
tour and had arrived in Manila looking fit. I told the promoter I had changed my
mind; if he imported another show I was ready to be his drumbeater. He put me to
work on a coming ice revue at once.
All this was a dozen years ago. Early this year I was approached by some fly-bynight company that wanted me to publicize a circus. They felt rather apologetic for
approaching me; this circus they were importing was only a small one-ring circus,
but that was why they needed me.
Maybe I could do wonders even for such a minor show.
I was busy a lot of big deals, but for some reason I was interested in this
chickenfeed of a proposition. After all, as I told myself, I had started in the pro
business as a drumbeater for a circus. So I told the promoters to send me the
materials and I would see what I could do with them.
Among the publicity stuff they sent me was the usual writeup on the top clown,
somebody called Peppo was most probably a healthy, wealthy member of the
bourgeoisie back in his country and owned a villa and two cars. I said he was most
probably the head of a respectable family, sent his children to the best schools, and
had a fat, comfortable wife. This piece of mine also created quite a sensation. My
blas line had the right hook for the public temper. The mood is indigo.
I was in Hong Kong when the little circs arrived, and when I came back to Manila it
was just ending its run. I heard it was a rather dreary show. Well, what could you
expect from a one-ring circus? I went to catch it on its last night.
When the clowns came in, one of them seemed familiar. But I told myself it was
impossible. I couldnt possibly have seen the fellow before. He was a very drip of a
clown; I could sense he was old you cant tell with all the paint on. And I sensed

something else he was suffering and that his two companions were deliberately,
maliciously making him suffer.
There was intent, there was enjoyment in the way they tripped him and whacked
him and jumped on him and kick him. He had two companions, both obviously
young, a boy and a girl. And I began to be horrified with what they are doing to that
poor old clown; I could sense he was old you cant tell with all that paint on. And I
Toward the end of the act, the boy and the girl give poor Peppo a whack with a
board that sent him sprawling to the sawdust. The audience roared as he strove to
rise but couldnt, falling down on his face after such effort to push himself up. I
leaned forward in my chair. Were those real tears in the clowns eyes?
I felt positive he was weeping from pain. The audience guffawed when the boy and
the girl jumped on his back, then picked him up by the shoulders and dragged him
out of the ring.
I jumped from my seat and hurried backstage. I asked the way to Peppos dressing
room. He was alone in the room when I entered. He was lying on a cot. I introduced
myself. The eyes that were dead under the paint flickered for a moment. He sat up
with effort and leaned toward me.
We have met before, he said.
I asked him who he was and he rose and got a towel and began wiping away the
paint from his face. Then he took off his wig and turned around to show me his face.
It was Gorgio, Gorgio grown very old.
He told me what had happened to him. After that accident in Davao he had begun
to feel a pain in the back. The pain grew so bad he had to leave the circus he was
with and undergo an operation. It was the first of a series of operations that had
completely exhausted all his savings. The villa in Milan had to be sold, his children
had to migrate to America. His wife died. He had to beg for circus jobs. But
managers were reluctant to hire him now, he could not move as nimbly as before,
every moment was pain.
I was aghast. I told him how shocked I was by the way his companions tormented
him in the ring. Why did he allow that girl and that boy to treat him as roughly if the
least movement was painful to him?
The girl is my wife, he said.
I did not know where to look.
And the boy is her lover, he went on in his dull voice. I know shes unfaithful. I
know they enjoy making me suffer. But I cant do anything. I cant leave her. Shes
all my life now, all my world.
I reminded him about what he had told me long ago: that life should be a threering circus. Nothing should absorb your life by itself.
He made a horrible grimace.

That was another man talking. He said. All I want now is a one-ring circus,
however small, however cheap. But its hard to get even that now.
And suddenly he began to cry. I was embarrassed. I rose to go, wanting only to
leave him alone in his misery. I had twice been wrong about this man. When I
opened the door, a news photographer I knew was standing outside. I deliberately
blocked his way, not wanting the photographer to see the man sitting on the cot
But Gorgio had heard us and was asking who it was.
Somebody wants to take your picture, I called out over my shoulder, still blocking
the door way.
Let him in, said Gorgio.
The photographer stepped in andi said goodbye.
Smile, I heard the photographer say as I walked out. I glanced back. The clown
was laughing.

The great flood felipe landa jocano

The Great Flood, many of us know about it from the Bible, but have you ever
wondered if there are other versions of the story?
The Tingians, a group of pagan people inhabiting the interior hills of Abra have their
own story of the Great Deluge.
The tragic incident began with the abduction of Humitau, a sea-maiden guard of
Tau-mari-u, lord of the sea, by Aponi-tolau.
One day, Aponi-tolau, god-hero of the Tingians, went down to the lowlands. He
wandered aimlessly through the plains until he reached the seashore. The calm blue
sea, massive and yet helpless beneath the morning sun which flooded it with golden
light, fascinated the young man. And unable to resist the beauty of the dancing
wavelets, he made a rattan raft and rowed seaward.
On and on he rowed until he came to the edge of the world. There, in a place where
the sea and the sky meet, Aponi-tolau saw a towering rock, home of Tau-mari-u. lord
of the sea. It was guarded by nine beautiful daughters of the seaweeds. The
radiance of the ocean light reflecting silver and gold upon the greenish hair of the
nine guards as they played around the palace gates, chasing one another in gay
laughter, attracted the mountain lord.
Gathering the courage the Tingian warrior went nearer the palace gates. However,
when he inquired what place it was, the maiden guard laughed at him and lured him
further inside the palace walls. This made Aponi-tolau very angry. Taking his magic
hook, he lashed at the unsuspecting maidens.

The hook hit the youngest and the most beautiful among them, Humitau. The young
diwata gave a loud and piercing scream and struggled desperately to free herself
from Aponi-tolau's grip. But the magic oil which the mountain lord had placed at the
tip of his hook weakened her blood and soon she was helpless.
A wild uproar followed as the guards screamed and fled the gates. Aponi-tolau
hurriedly picked up the unconscious body of the sea-maiden, loaded it on his rattan
raft and rowed shoreward. Shortly after the Tingian hero had left the bauwi ( native
hut ) gates, Tau-mari-u went out of his abode to see what was the commotion was
all about. But he was too late.
In his rage, Tau-mari-u summoned the waves and tunas of the sea and ordered
them to bring back the intruder. The waves lashed at the raft of the mountain
warrior and the tunas pushed it back.
Alarmed, Aponi-tolau cried out to his mother, Lang-an of Kadalayapan, mistress of
the wind and rain, for help. The great goddess heard her sons plea and
immediately sent down strong winds to pull Aponi-tolau and efforts of the tunas, the
Tingian warrior was able to reach the shore unharmed.
But Tau-mari-u was furious. He immediately called a meeting of the gods and
demigods of the seas and oceans, who agreed to punish the dwellers of the land for
what Aponi-tolau had done.
From the sky, Lang-an knew the plan. She immediately called for the north wind and
sent him to warn her son of the impending flood. She instructed the mountain lord
to go to the highest peak of the Cordillera mountains for safety. Obediently, Aponitolau took the members of his household to the mountain top and waited. The flood
came. From his bauwi Aponi-tolau saw mighty waves sweeping across the plains,
filling the valleys, and destroying the crops and working animals of the inhabitants.
Higher and higher went the water until it covered the mountain top but for the few
square meters where Aponi-tolau and his household took shelter.
Frightened, Humitau gave a desperate cry. She knew that she could no longer swim
or live in the water after having tasted the mountain food which her husband had
given her. The charm removed her seapowers. She imploted Tau-mari-u to save her.
Despite his anger, the water lord took pity upon his favourite Humitau. Si he called
back the water and waves. But he promised that henceforth he would sink mens
boats and drown passengers until Aponi-tolaus crime appeased. When the water
subsided, Aponi-tolau and his wife went down to the lowlands and from them came
the people of the world.

The bread of salt

usually I was in bed by ten and up by five and thus was ready for one more

day of my fourteenth year. Unless Grandmother had forgotten, the fifteen

centavos for the baker down Progreso Street and how I enjoyed jingling
those coins in my pocket!would be in the empty fruit jar in the cupboard. I
would remember then that rolls were what Grandmother wanted because
recently she had lost three molars. For young people like my cousins and myself,
she had always said that the kind called
pan de sal
ought to be quite all right.
The bread of salt! How did it get that name? From where did its flavor come,
through what secret action of flour and yeast? At the risk of being jostled from the
counter by early buyers, I would push my way into the shop so that I might watch
the men who, stripped to the waist, worked their long flat wooden spades in and
out of the glowing maw of the oven. Why did the bread come nut-brown and the
size of my little fist? And why did it have a pair of lips convulsed into a painful
frown? In the half light of the street, and hurrying, the paper bag pressed to my
chest, I felt my curiosity a little gratified by the ovenfresh warmth of the bread I
was proudly bringing home for breakfast.
Well I knew how Grandmother would not mind if I nibbled away at one piece;
perhaps, I might even eat two, to be charged later against my share at the table.
But that would be betraying a trust; and so, indeed, I kept my purchase intact. To
guard it from harm, I watched my steps and avoided the dark street corners.
For my reward, I had only to look in the direction of the sea wall and the fifty
yards or so of riverbed beyond it, where an old Spaniard's house stood. At low
tide, when the bed was dry and the rocks glinted with broken bottles, the stone
fence of the Spaniard's compound set off the house as if it were a castle. Sunrise
brought a wash of silver upon the roofs of the laundry and garden sheds which
had been built low and close to the fence. On dull mornings the light dripped from

the bamboo screen which covered the veranda and hung some four or five yards
from the ground. Unless it was August, when the damp, northeast monsoon had
to be kept away from the rooms, three servants raised the screen promptly at
sixthirty until it was completely hidden under the veranda eaves. From the sound
of the pulleys, I knew it was time to set out for school.
It was in his service, as a coconut plantation overseer, that Grandfather had
spent the last thirty years of his life. Grandmother had been widowed three years
now. I often wondered whether I was being depended upon to spend the years
ahead in the service of this great house. One day I learned that Aida, a
classmate in high school, was the old Spaniard's niece. All my doubts
disappeared. It was as if, before his death, Grandfather had spoken to me about
her, concealing the seriousness of the matter by putting it over as a joke. If now I
kept true to the virtues, she would step out of her bedroom ostensibly to say Good
to her uncle. Her real purpose, I knew, was to reveal thus her
assent to my desire.
On quiet mornings I imagined the patter of her shoes upon the wooden veranda
floor as a further sign, and I would hurry off to school, taking the route she had
fixed for me past the post office, the town plaza and the church, the health center
east of the plaza, and at last the school grounds. I asked myself whether I would
try to walk with her and decided it would be the height of rudeness. Enough that
in her blue skirt and white middy she would be half a block ahead and, from that
distance, perhaps throw a glance in my direction, to bestow upon my heart a
deserved and abundant blessing. I believed it was but right that, in some such
way as this, her mission in my life was disguised.
Her name, I was to learn many years later, was a convenient mnemonic for the
qualities to which argument might aspire. But in those days it was a living voice.
"Oh that you might be worthy of uttering me," it said. And how I endeavored to
build my body so that I might live long to honor her. With every victory at singles

at the handball court the game was then the craze at school -- I could feel my
body glow in the sun as though it had instantly been cast in bronze. I guarded my
mind and did not let my wits go astray. In class I would not allow a lesson to pass
unmastered. Our English teacher could put no question before us that did not
have a ready answer in my head. One day he read Robert Louis Stevenson's
The Sire de Maletroit's Door
, and we were so enthralled that our breaths
trembled. I knew then that somewhere, sometime in the not too improbable
future, a benign old man with a lantern in his hand would also detain me in a
secret room, and there daybreak would find me thrilled by the sudden certainty
that I had won Aida's hand.
It was perhaps on my violin that her name wrought such a tender spell. Maestro
Antonino remarked the dexterity of my stubby fingers. Quickly I raced through
Alard-until I had all but committed two thirds of the book to memory. My short,
brown arm learned at last to draw the bow with grace. Sometimes, when
practising my scales in the early evening, I wondered if the sea wind carrying the
straggling notes across the pebbled river did not transform them into Schubert's
At last Mr. Custodio, who was in charge of our school orchestra, became aware
of my progress. He moved me from second to first violin. During the
Thanksgiving Day program he bade me render a number, complete with pizzicati
and harmonics.
"Another Vallejo! Our own Albert Spalding!" I heard from the front row.
Aida, I thought, would be in the audience. I looked around quickly but could not
see her. As I retired to my place in the orchestra I heard Pete Saez, the
trombone player, call my name.
"You must join my band," he said. "Look, we'll have many engagements soon. It'll
be vacation time."
Pete pressed my arm. He had for some time now been asking me to join the
Minviluz Orchestra, his private band. All I had been able to tell him was that I had

my schoolwork to mind. He was twentytwo. I was perhaps too young to be going

around with him. He earned his school fees and supported his mother hiring out
his band at least three or four times a month. He now said:
"Tomorrow we play at the funeral of a Chinese-four to six in the afternoon; in the
evening, judge Roldan's silver wedding anniversary; Sunday, the municipal
My head began to whirl. On the stage, in front of us, the principal had begun a
speech about America. Nothing he could say about the Pilgrim Fathers and the
American custom of feasting on turkey seemed interesting. I thought of the
money I would earn. For several days now I had but one wish, to buy a box of
linen stationery. At night when the house was quiet I would fill the sheets with
words that would tell Aida how much I adored her. One of these mornings,
perhaps before school closed for the holidays, I would borrow her algebra book
and there, upon a good pageful of equations, there I would slip my message,
tenderly pressing the leaves of the book. She would perhaps never write back.
Neither by post nor by hand would a reply reach me. But no matter; it would be a
silence full of voices.
That night I dreamed I had returned from a tour of the world's music centers; the
newspapers of Manila had been generous with praise. I saw my picture on the
cover of a magazine. A writer had described how, many years ago, I used to
trudge the streets of Buenavista with my violin in a battered black cardboard
case. In New York, he reported, a millionaire had offered me a Stradivarius violin,
with a card that bore the inscription: "In admiration of a genius your own people
must surely be proud of." I dreamed I spent a weekend at the millionaire's
country house by the Hudson. A young girl in a blue skirt and white middy
clapped her lily-white hands and, her voice trembling, cried "Bravo!"
What people now observed at home was the diligence with which I attended to
my violin lessons. My aunt, who had come from the farm to join her children for
the holidays, brought with her a maidservant, and to the poor girl was given the

chore of taking the money to the baker's for rolls and pan de sal. I realized at
once that it would be no longer becoming on my part to make these morning trips
to the baker's. I could not thank my aunt enough.
I began to chafe on being given other errands. Suspecting my violin to be the
excuse, my aunt remarked:
"What do you want to be a musician for? At parties, musicians always eat last."
Perhaps, I said to myself, she was thinking of a pack of dogs scrambling for
scraps tossed over the fence by some careless kitchen maid. She was the sort
you could depend on to say such vulgar things. For that reason, I thought, she
ought not to be taken seriously at all.
But the remark hurt me. Although Grandmother had counseled me kindly to mind
my work at school, I went again and again to Pete Saez's house for rehearsals.
She had demanded that I deposit with her my earnings; I had felt too weak to
refuse. Secretly, I counted the money and decided not to ask for it until I had
enough with which to buy a brooch. Why this time I wanted to give Aida a brooch,
I didn't know. But I had set my heart on it. I searched the downtown shops. The
Chinese clerks, seeing me so young, were annoyed when I inquired about prices.
At last the Christmas season began. I had not counted on Aida's leaving home,
and remembering that her parents lived in Badajoz, my torment was almost
unbearable. Not once had I tried to tell her of my love. My letters had remained
unwritten, and the algebra book unborrowed. There was still the brooch to find,
but I could not decide on the sort of brooch I really wanted. And the money, in
any case, was in Grandmother's purse, which smelled of "Tiger Balm." I grew
somewhat feverish as our class Christmas program drew near. Finally it came; it
was a warm December afternoon. I decided to leave the room when our English
teacher announced that members of the class might exchange gifts. I felt
fortunate; Pete was at the door, beckoning to me. We walked out to the porch
where, Pete said, he would tell me a secret.
It was about an

the next Sunday which the Buenavista Women's Club

wished to give Don Esteban's daughters, Josefina and Alicia, who were arriving
on the morning steamer from Manila. The spinsters were much loved by the
ladies. Years ago, when they were younger, these ladies studied solfeggio with
Josefina and the piano and harp with Alicia. As Pete told me all this, his lips
ash-gray from practising all morning on his trombone, I saw in my mind the
sisters in their silk dresses, shuffling off to church for theevening benediction.
They were very devout, and the Buenavista ladies admired that. I had almost
forgotten that they were twins and, despite their age, often dressed alike. In
lowbosomed voile bodices and white summer hats, I remembered, the pair had
attended Grandfather's funeral, at old Don Esteban's behest. I wondered how
successful they had been in Manila during the past three years in the matter of
finding suitable husbands.
"This party will be a complete surprise," Pete said, looking around the porch as if
to swear me to secrecy. "They've hired our band."
I joined my classmates in the room, greeting everyone with a Merry Christmas
jollier than that of the others. When I saw Aida in one corner unwrapping
something two girls had given her, I found the boldness to greet her also.
"Merry Christmas," I said in English, as a hairbrush and a powder case emerged
from the fancy wrapping. It seemed to me rather apt that such gifts went to her.
Already several girls were gathered around Aida. Their eyes glowed with envy, it
seemed to me, for those fair cheeks and the bobbed darkbrown hair which
lineage had denied them.
I was too dumbstruck by my own meanness to hear exactly what Aida said in
answer to my greeting. But I recovered shortly and asked:
"Will you be away during the vacation?"
"No, I'll be staying here," she said. When she added that her cousins were
arriving and that a big party in their honor was being planned, I remarked:

"So you know all about it?" I felt I had to explain that the party was meant to be a
surprise, an
And now it would be nothing of the kind, really. The women's club matrons would
hustle about, disguising their scurrying around for cakes and candies as for some
baptismal party or other. In the end, the Rivas sisters would outdo them. Boxes
of meringues, bonbons, ladyfingers, and cinnamon buns that only the Swiss
bakers in Manila could make were perhaps coming on the boat with them. I
imagined a table glimmering with long-stemmed punch glasses; enthroned in that
array would be a huge brickred bowl of gleaming china with golden flowers
around the brim. The local matrons, however hard they tried, however sincere
their efforts, were bound to fail in their aspiration to rise to the level of Don
Esteban's daughters. Perhaps, I thought, Aida knew all this. And that I should
share in a foreknowledge of the matrons' hopes was a matter beyond love. Aida
and I could laugh together with the gods.
At seven, on the appointed evening, our small band gathered quietly at the gate
of Don Esteban's house, and when the ladies arrived in their heavy shawls and
trim panuelo, twittering with excitement, we were commanded to play the Poet
and Peasant overture. As Pete directed the band, his eyes glowed with pride for
his having been part of the big event. The multicolored lights that the old
Spaniard's gardeners had strung along the vinecovered fence were switched on,
and the women remarked that Don Esteban's daughters might have made some
preparations after all. Pete hid his face from the glare. If the women felt let down,
they did not show it.
The overture shuffled along to its climax while five men in white shirts bore huge
boxes of goods into the house. I recognized one of the bakers in spite of the
uniform. A chorus of confused greetings, and the women trooped into the house

and before we had settled in the sala to play "A Basket of Roses," the heavy
damask curtains at the far end of the room were drawn and a long table richly
spread was revealed under the chandeliers. I remembered that, in our haste to
be on hand for the asalto, Pete and I had discouraged the members of the band
from taking their suppers.
"You've done us a great honor!" Josefina, the more buxom of the twins, greeted
the ladies.
"Oh, but you have not allowed us to take you by surprise!" the ladies demurred in
a chorus.
There were sighs and further protestations amid a rustle of skirts and the glitter of
earrings. I saw Aida in a long, flowing white gown and wearing an arch of
sampaguita flowers on her hair. At her command, two servants brought out a
gleaming harp from the music room. Only the slightest scraping could be heard
because the servants were barefoot. As Aida directed them to place the
instrument near the seats we occupied, my heart leaped to my throat. Soon she
was lost among the guests, and we played "The Dance of the Glowworms." I
kept my eyes closed and held for as long as I could her radiant figure before me.
Alicia played on the harp and then, in answer to the deafening applause, she
offered an encore. Josefina sang afterward. Her voice, though a little husky,
fetched enormous sighs. For her encore, she gave "The Last Rose of Summer";
and the song brought back snatches of the years gone by. Memories of solfeggio
lessons eddied about us, as if there were rustling leaves scattered all over the
hall. Don Esteban appeared. Earlier, he had greeted the crowd handsomely,
twisting his mustache to hide a natural shyness before talkative women. He
stayed long enough to listen to the harp again, whispering in his rapture:
"Heavenly. Heavenly . . ."
By midnight, the merrymaking lagged. We played while the party gathered
around the great table at the end of the sala. My mind traveled across the seas to
the distant cities I had dreamed about. The sisters sailed among the ladies like
two great white liners amid a fleet of tugboats in a bay. Someone had

thoughtfully rememberedand at last Pete Saez signaled to us to put our

instruments away. We walked in single file across the hall, led by one of the
barefoot servants.
Behind us a couple of hoarse sopranos sang "La Paloma" to the accompaniment
of the harp, but I did not care to find out who they were. The sight of so much
silver and china confused me. There was more food before us than I had ever
imagined. I searched in my mind for the names of the dishes; but my ignorance
appalled me. I wondered what had happened to the boxes of food that the
Buenavista ladies had sent up earlier. In a silver bowl was something, I
discovered, that appeared like whole egg yolks that had been dipped in honey
and peppermint. The seven of us in the orchestra were all of one mind about the
feast; and so, confident that I was with friends, I allowed my covetousness to
have its sway and not only stuffed my mouth with this and that confection but
also wrapped up a quantity of those egg-yolk things in several sheets of napkin
paper. None of my companions had thought of doing the same, and it was with
some pride that I slipped the packet under my shirt. There, I knew, it would not
"Have you eaten?"
I turned around. It was Aida. My bow tie seemed to tighten around my collar. I
mumbled something, I did not know what.
"If you wait a little while till they've gone, I'll wrap up a big package for you," she
I brought a handkerchief to my mouth. I might have honored her solicitude
adequately and even relieved myself of any embarrassment; I could not quite
believe that she had seen me, and yet I was sure that she knew what I had done,
and I felt all ardor for her gone from me entirely.
I walked away to the nearest door, praying that the damask curtains might hide
me in my shame. The door gave on to the veranda, where once my love had trod
on sunbeams. Outside it was dark, and a faint wind was singing in the harbor.

With the napkin balled up in my hand, I flung out my arm to scatter the eggyolk
things in the dark. I waited for the soft sound of their fall on the gardenshed roof.
Instead, I heard a spatter in the rising night-tide beyond the stone fence. Farther
away glimmered the light from Grandmother's window, calling me home.
But the party broke up at one or thereabouts. We walked away with our
instruments after the matrons were done with their interminable goodbyes.
Then, to the tune of "Joy to the World," we pulled the Progreso Street
shopkeepers out of their beds. The Chinese merchants were especially
generous. When Pete divided our collection under a street lamp, there was
already a little glow of daybreak.
He walked with me part of the way home. We stopped at the baker's when I told
him that I wanted to buy with my own money some bread to eat on the way to
Grandmother's house at the edge of the sea wall. He laughed, thinking it strange
that I should be hungry. We found ourselves alone at the counter; and we
watched the bakery assistants at work until our bodies grew warm from the oven
across the door. It was not quite five, and the bread was not yet ready.

The other woman (francisco arellana)

I have watched her in stillness,
how still and white and long.
I have followed her about with my eyes,
how silent and swift and strong.
When she is still, it is musical.
When she moves, it is a song.
I have looked at her fearlessly,
openly, and without shame:
it is quite true that I desire you,
it is quite true that lust is my name.
I know, I always know where she is,
when she is around and about:
it is in my body like a shout.

soft hair, white brow, eyes young

nose fine, sweet lips, sweet mouth, tongue
proud chin, neck white, graceful, long
downy nape, smooth, shoulders strong
under the arms soft, arms long
sweet and exquisite, white and strong
wrist small and supple
hands neat, exquisite
fingers - petals of the lotus
breasts like apples
white body shining, sweet and long
hips broad and ample, wide and strong
thighs like pillars, white and long
legs like cedars, firm and strong
feet that are sweet
toes like the rose
I know her name, I have called to her
but she does not hear, she will not listen.
I call to her but she does not come.
The Lord is my shepherd but I want.

Magnificence (estrella alfon)

There was nothing to fear, for the man was always so gentle, so kind. At night when the
little girl and her brother were bathed in the light of the big shaded bulb that hung over
the big study table in the downstairs hall, the man would knock gently on the door, and
come in. he would stand for a while just beyond the pool of light, his feet in the circle of
illumination, the rest of him in shadow. The little girl and her brother would look up at
him where they sat at the big table, their eyes bright in the bright light, and watch him
come fully into the light, but his voice soft, his manner slow. He would smell very faintly
of sweat and pomade, but the children didnt mind although they did notice, for they
waited for him every evening as they sat at their lessons like this. Hed throw his visored
cap on the table, and it would fall down with a soft plop, then hed nod his head to say
one was right, or shake it to say one was wrong.
It was not always that he came. They could remember perhaps two weeks when he
remarked to their mother that he had never seen two children looking so smart. The
praise had made their mother look over them as they stood around listening to the
goings-on at the meeting of the neighborhood association, of which their mother was
president. Two children, one a girl of seven, and a boy of eight. They were both very tall
for their age, and their legs were the long gangly legs of fine spirited colts. Their mother
saw them with eyes that held pride, and then to partly gloss over the maternal gloating
she exhibited, she said to the man, in answer to his praise, But their homework. Theyre
so lazy with them. And the man said, I have nothing to do in the evenings, let me help
them. Mother nodded her head and said, if you want to bother yourself. And the thing
rested there, and the man came in the evenings therefore, and he helped solve

fractions for the boy, and write correct phrases in language for the little girl.
In those days, the rage was for pencils. School children always have rages going at one
time or another. Sometimes for paper butterflies that are held on sticks, and whirr in the
wind. The Japanese bazaars promoted a rage for those. Sometimes it is for little lead
toys found in the folded waffles that Japanese confection-makers had such light hands
with. At this particular time, it was for pencils. Pencils big but light in circumference not
smaller than a mans thumb. They were unwieldy in a childs hands, but in all schools
then, where Japanese bazaars clustered there were all colors of these pencils selling for
very low, but unattainable to a child budgeted at a baon of a centavo a day. They were
all of five centavos each, and one pencil was not at all what one had ambitions for. In
rages, one kept a collection. Four or five pencils, of different colors, to tie with strings
near the eraser end, to dangle from ones book-basket, to arouse the envy of the other
children who probably possessed less.

Add to the mans gentleness and his kindness in knowing a childs desires, his promise
that he would give each of them not one pencil but two. And for the little girl who he
said was very bright and deserved more, ho would get the biggest pencil he could find.
One evening he did bring them. The evenings of waiting had made them look forward to
this final giving, and when they got the pencils they whooped with joy. The little boy had
tow pencils, one green, one blue. And the little girl had three pencils, two of the same
circumference as the little boys but colored red and yellow. And the third pencil, a
jumbo size pencil really, was white, and had been sharpened, and the little girl jumped
up and down, and shouted with glee. Until their mother called from down the stairs.
What are you shouting about? And they told her, shouting gladly, Vicente, for that was
his name. Vicente had brought the pencils he had promised them.
Thank him, their mother called. The little boy smiled and said, Thank you. And the little
girl smiled, and said, Thank you, too. But the man said, Are you not going to kiss me for
those pencils? They both came forward, the little girl and the little boy, and they both
made to kiss him but Vicente slapped the boy smartly on his lean hips, and said, Boys
do not kiss boys. And the little boy laughed and scampered away, and then ran back
and kissed him anyway.
The little girl went up to the man shyly, put her arms about his neck as he crouched to
receive her embrace, and kissed him on the cheeks.
The mans arms tightened suddenly about the little girl until the little girl squirmed out
of his arms, and laughed a little breathlessly, disturbed but innocent, looking at the man
with a smiling little question of puzzlement.
The next evening, he came around again. All through that day, they had been very
proud in school showing off their brand new pencils. All the little girls and boys had been
envying them. And their mother had finally to tell them to stop talking about the
pencils, pencils, for now that they had, the boy two, and the girl three, they were asking

their mother to buy more, so they could each have five, and three at least in the jumbo
size that the little girls third pencil was. Their mother said, Oh stop it, what will you do
with so many pencils, you can only write with one at a time.
And the little girl muttered under her breath, Ill ask Vicente for some more.
Their mother replied, Hes only a bus conductor, dont ask him for too many things. Its
a pity. And this observation their mother said to their father, who was eating his evening
meal between paragraphs of the book on masonry rites that he was reading. It is a pity,
said their mother, People like those, they make friends with people like us, and they feel
it is nice to give us gifts, or the children toys and things. Youd think they wouldnt be
able to afford it.
The father grunted, and said, the man probably needed a new job, and was softening
his way through to him by going at the children like that. And the mother said, No, I
dont think so, hes a rather queer young man, I think he doesnt have many friends, but
I have watched him with the children, and he seems to dote on them.
The father grunted again, and did not pay any further attention.
Vicente was earlier than usual that evening. The children immediately put their lessons
down, telling him of the envy of their schoolmates, and would he buy them more
Vicente said to the little boy, Go and ask if you can let me have a glass of water. And
the little boy ran away to comply, saying behind him, But buy us some more pencils,
huh, buy us more pencils, and then went up to stairs to their mother.
Vicente held the little girl by the arm, and said gently, Of course I will buy you more
pencils, as many as you want
And the little girl giggled and said, Oh, then I will tell my friends, and they will envy me,
for they dont have as many or as pretty.
Vicente took the girl up lightly in his arms, holding her under the armpits, and held her
to sit down on his lap and he said, still gently, What are your lessons for tomorrow? And
the little girl turned to the paper on the table where she had been writing with the
jumbo pencil, and she told him that that was her lesson but it was easy.
Then go ahead and write, and I will watch you.
Dont hold me on your lap, said the little girl, I am very heavy, you will get very tired.
The man shook his head, and said nothing, but held her on his lap just the same.
The little girl kept squirming, for somehow she felt uncomfortable to be held thus, her
mother and father always treated her like a big girl, she was always told never to act
like a baby. She looked around at Vicente, interrupting her careful writing to twist

His face was all in sweat, and his eyes looked very strange, and he indicated to her that
she must turn around, attend to the homework she was writing.
But the little girl felt very queer, she didnt know why, all of a sudden she was
immensely frightened, and she jumped up away from Vicentes lap.
She stood looking at him, feeling that queer frightened feeling, not knowing what to do.
By and by, in a very short while her mother came down the stairs, holding in her hand a
glass of sarsaparilla, Vicente.
But Vicente had jumped up too soon as the little girl had jumped from his lap. He
snatched at the papers that lay on the table and held them to his stomach, turning
away from the mothers coming.
The mother looked at him, stopped in her tracks, and advanced into the light. She had
been in the shadow. Her voice had been like a bell of safety to the little girl. But now she
advanced into glare of the light that held like a tableau the figures of Vicente holding
the little girls papers to him, and the little girl looking up at him frightenedly, in her
eyes dark pools of wonder and fear and question.
The little girl looked at her mother, and saw the beloved face transfigured by some sort
of glow. The mother kept coming into the light, and when Vicente made as if to move
away into the shadow, she said, very low, but very heavily, Do not move.
She put the glass of soft drink down on the table, where in the light one could watch the
little bubbles go up and down in the dark liquid. The mother said to the boy, Oscar,
finish your lessons. And turning to the little girl, she said, Come here. The little girl went
to her, and the mother knelt down, for she was a tall woman and she said, Turn around.
Obediently the little girl turned around, and her mother passed her hands over the little
girls back.
Go upstairs, she said.
The mothers voice was of such a heavy quality and of such awful timbre that the girl
could only nod her head, and without looking at Vicente again, she raced up the stairs.
The mother went to the cowering man, and marched him with a glance out of the circle
of light that held the little boy. Once in the shadow, she extended her hand, and without
any opposition took away the papers that Vicente was holding to himself. She stood
there saying nothing as the man fumbled with his hands and with his fingers, and she
waited until he had finished. She was going to open her mouth but she glanced at the
boy and closed it, and with a look and an inclination of the head, she bade Vicente go
up the stairs.
The man said nothing, for she said nothing either. Up the stairs went the man, and the
mother followed behind. When they had reached the upper landing, the woman called
down to her son, Son, come up and go to your room.
The little boy did as he was told, asking no questions, for indeed he was feeling sleepy

As soon as the boy was gone, the mother turned on Vicente. There was a pause.
Finally, the woman raised her hand and slapped him full hard in the face. Her retreated
down one tread of the stairs with the force of the blow, but the mother followed him.
With her other hand she slapped him on the other side of the face again. And so down
the stairs they went, the man backwards, his face continually open to the force of the
womans slapping. Alternately she lifted her right hand and made him retreat before her
until they reached the bottom landing.
He made no resistance, offered no defense. Before the silence and the grimness of her
attack he cowered, retreating, until out of his mouth issued something like a whimper.
The mother thus shut his mouth, and with those hard forceful slaps she escorted him
right to the other door. As soon as the cool air of the free night touched him, he
recovered enough to turn away and run, into the shadows that ate him up. The woman
looked after him, and closed the door. She turned off the blazing light over the study
table, and went slowly up the stairs and out into the dark night.
When her mother reached her, the woman, held her hand out to the child. Always also,
with the terrible indelibility that one associated with terror, the girl was to remember the
touch of that hand on her shoulder, heavy, kneading at her flesh, the woman herself
stricken almost dumb, but her eyes eloquent with that angered fire. She knelt, She felt
the little girls dress and took it off with haste that was almost frantic, tearing at the
buttons and imparting a terror to the little girl that almost made her sob. Hush, the
mother said. Take a bath quickly.
Her mother presided over the bath the little girl took, scrubbed her, and soaped her,
and then wiped her gently all over and changed her into new clothes that smelt of the
clean fresh smell of clothes that had hung in the light of the sun. The clothes that she
had taken off the little girl, she bundled into a tight wrenched bunch, which she threw
into the kitchen range.
Take also the pencils, said the mother to the watching newly bathed, newly changed
child. Take them and throw them into the fire. But when the girl turned to comply, the
mother said, No, tomorrow will do. And taking the little girl by the hand, she led her to
her little girls bed, made her lie down and tucked the covers gently about her as the
girl dropped off into quick slumber.
America (simeon dum dum jr.)

I listened to him speak

of West Virginia
(he was born in Leyte
but was living
in West Virginia)
He spoke as they do
in the movies,

and as Ronald Reagan does

on the radio.
Even the way
he said Virginia
was better than the way
Hinying, a girl I knew
whose hair fell down a shoulder
like the tail of a bird,
said her name,
which was Virhinia.
And on that warm evening
I told myself,
Thats where I want to be,
in West Virginia, or New York,
or San Francisco,
because cousin says
everything there is big
and cheap big chickens,
big eggs, big buildings,
And big flowers?
Cousin looked at me
and said, Yes, big roses,
tea roses, and he was
about to name other roses
but the moon was rising
and it was bigger than in
Family reunion (carlos angeles)
It must have been a letter sent, it must.
Have been some mute desire made vocable
At last my word or whisper, or as hummed
By someone who was never there at all.
Must have been; it was not a Holyday
Nor death; there was no testament to hear.
It was as if-no, none could half suppose
What purpose we came with, why we were there.
Papa called us by our names as we stepped
To kiss his hand, and Mama watched,
caressing Us with focused love, and spoke the welcome,

Welcome! And us, we wept at such addressing

Papa was human, He forgot how long
Our absence was, but led us in; and in.
The centered room spoke syllables to us
Like love, like love. Mama forgave our sins.
Simply by closing the door behind her,
And as simply, shut out the outside world.
And here, at last, we prodigals closed in
Like remnants which were being slowly furled.

Bringing the dolls ( merlie alunan)

Two dolls in rags and tatters,
one missing an arm and a leg,
the other blind in one eyeI grabbed them from her arms,
No, I said, they cannot come.
Each tight baggage
I had packed
only for the barest need:
no room for sentiment or memory
to clutter with loose ends
my stern resolve. I reasoned,
even a child must learn
she cannot take what must be left behind.
And so the boat turned seaward,
a smart wind blowing dry
the stealthy tears I could not wipe.
Then I sawrags, tatters and all
there among the neat trim packs,
the dolls I ruled to leave behind.
Her silence should have warned me
she knew her burdens
as I knew mine:
her clean white years unlived
and paid my price.
She battened on a truth
she knew I too must own:
when whats at stake
is loyalty or love,

hers are the true rights.

Her own faiths she must keep, not I.

Pilandok crosses a river

The prankster Pilandok wanted to cross a deep river filled with crocodiles. But he
had no boat, and no bridge was in sight. And then he had an idea. He called to the
crocodiles underwater.
"What do you want?" they asked him irritably.
"Come up to the surface of the water," he commanded the crocodiles. "My master,
the sultan, wants to know how many you are in the river."
"Why?" the crocodiles demanded.
"He is going to give you gifts. Many gifts, and he wants to know how many would
benefit from his kindness."
So the crocodiles floated until they filled the surface of the river. Pilandok jumped on
their backs as if they were stepping-stones, and pretended to count as he carefully
picked his way to the other side of the river. When he had safely reached the bank,
he turned back to the crocodiles and shouted:
"I fooled you! I came from no sultan - and whoever with such ugly faces would
receive plentiful gifts?"
Then he ran away as fast as he could, so that the crocodiles never knew what a
master prankster tasted like.

Street urchin (tita lacambra ayala)

My life in the news (fatima lim wilson)
We eat best with our hands,
Chewing fish eyes,
Picking our teeth with the baby bones
Of a half, half duck,
In the absence of delicacies,
We swallow snow and our own hot air,
we get full, humming our sweetest songs
Syrupy with moonlight and sadness,
How happy we look always,
Showing off the caves of our mouth.
And how we dance! Fishlike, serpentine,
Birdsure between the bamboo poles,
Balancing crowns of the candle fire
Upon our heads. Watch us leap!
Creep through barbed wire, dodging bullets,
We have a gift for turning into smaller things.
The guards at the bases thought they were
Shooting down pigs.

Years under the yoke have made our necks pliant.

We nod like windblessed flowers.
Flowers scattered the world over,
From Singapore to Paris,
watching over powdered babies
or being watched through
beer and cigarette breezes
as we open and close, open and close,
Generous as Gods with our secrets.
We are brownfaced, under five feet ,
Blackhaired, browneyed. Harmless
When kept at a distance, remote
As our scattered islands. But never
Stop watching us.
When we can shrink no more, we vanish.
Finding no tracks, you grow alarmed
For who now will tell you what to do
In the face of your shadows disappearance?

Two faces of america (carlos bulosan)