Tag Archives: massive flooding

Ang Pisi ng Saranggola

kite string 2 sepia

Sa haba ng panahong lumipas hindi ko na alam kung sinimulan ko nang habian ng imahinasyon ang gunita.  Ako na lamang ang mag-isang nakakaalala ng hapong iyon.  Noong may kabataan pa ako, siguro mga labindalawang taong gulang, may binuo kaming saranggola ni Daddy.  Kapwa naming pinalipad at pinanood ang pagpapaalagwa nito sa langit.

Malaon nang ginutay ng panahon ang kalansay at balat ng saranggolang iyon.  Ngunit noong naglilinis ako ng mga putikang aparador isang lingo makalipas ang baha sa Marikina, natagpuan ko ang pisi na nakapalibot sa dalawang piraso ng popsicle sticks.  Hindi ko alam kung bakit nakahalo and pisi sa aparador ng mga gamit ng tatay kong ilang taon nang yumao.

Noong Pebrero 2008 may nasulat akong tula sa Ingles.  “Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo” ang pamagat.    Hindi ko alam kung maisasalin ko ito sa Filipino isang araw.  At dahil nga ako na lamang ang mag-isang gumugunita at nagtala nitong alaala, may duda akong ganitung-ganito nga ang naganap.  Hinabian ko na malamang ng imahinasyon.

ROUGH TRANSLATION

In time, imagination sometimes weaves into memory. Now only I can remember a particular afternoon.  I was only about twelve then.  My father and I put together a kite.  We flew it together, allowing sky and wind to toss it about.

Time has long since gutted that kite.  But while I was cleaning one of the muddied closets back home a week after the flood in Marikina, I found a string spun around two popsicle sticks.  It was the kite string; I don’t know how and why it was tossed in with the few belongings of my father who had years ago passed away.


In February 2008 I wrote a poem (or at least an attempt at one) in English, “Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo.”  I don’t know if I will be able to translate it in Filipino one day.  And because I am the only one who remembers and has tried to record the events of that day, I have doubts that this indeed is how it was.  It is more than likely that imagination has been woven into that memory.
-o-

I sent the poem to a few publishers, hoping one of them would deem it worthy of seeing print.  A version (aversion?) of the poem can be found at a discussion site I now seldom visit, for reasons you might discover if you search around the net.

Update… many years later.

The poem Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo may now be found at Goodreads.com where it was a finalist for the monthly poetry competition.

Ang pisi ng saranggola

Sa haba ng panahong lumipas hindi ko na alam kung sinimulan ko nang habian ng imahinasyon ang gunita.  Ako na lamang ang mag-isang nakakaalala ng hapong iyon.  Noong may kabataan pa ako, siguro mga labindalawang taong gulang, may binuo kaming saranggola ni Daddy.  Kapwa naming pinalipad at pinanood ang pagpapaalagwa nito sa langit.

Malaon nang ginutay ng panahon ang kalansay at balat ng saranggolang iyon.  Ngunit noong naglilinis ako ng mga putikang aparador isang lingo makalipas ang baha sa Marikina, natagpuan ko ang itim na pisi na nakapalibot sa dalawang piraso ng popsicle sticks.  Hindi ko alam kung bakit nakahalo sa aparador ng mga gamit ng tatay kong ilang taon nang yumao ang pisi.

Noong Pebrero 2008 may nasulat akong tula sa Ingles.  “Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo” ang pamagat.    Hindi ko alam kung maisasalin ko ito sa Filipino isang araw.  At dahil nga ako na lamang ang mag-isang gumugunita at nagtala nitong alaala, may duda akong ganitung-ganito nga ang naganap.  Hinabian ko na malamang ng imahinasyon.

-o-

Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo

These were all we needed:

An old pair of scissors,

Two pieces of sturdy

but pliant bamboo, split

to the width of a finger

the span of my young arms,

Newspapers, the gray skin

rubbing off on my palms,

a fistful of cold rice

to glue everything together.

Last was the longest string

I could steal from my mother

as she lay in restless sleep.

Then there had to be time.

All these things grew useless

without time.  They waited

to be gathered, to be touched,

put together with patience.

They waited for father.

Those newspapers could have told me

scraps of stories, something

about his absences, nights

And days on end. Curfews, arrests,

insurgents, offensives,

puppet masters, empires.

Back then words mattered less

To me.  All I wanted to see

was that kite defying claws

of TV aerials and rusty roofs,

the grasp of remaining trees.

From both our hands

that kite took off and saw

the sprawl of lives made intimate

by a common silence and struggle.

It took on the wind and sang.

Blurred all words on its skin.

Stillness in between mad search

for balance became its dance

To its very end.

Although that rare afternoon

never lasted long enough,

that kite was relentless, fierce

In its defiance of wind

and ground, everything

that dared to take away

all that fragility.

All that majesty.

-o-


What Was Left

This is just a quick note of thanks for everyone who shared good thoughts as I went off to see my family back home after the flood.  It will take me a while to share thoughts about the experience, and I might end up writing about other trivial matters for the mean time.  Also my laptop died on me as I was preparing to leave Manila, as if things weren’t grim enough!  Back to pen and paper for me then and if I get lucky I might be able to sneak in when this computer is not being used by Ze Boss.


State of Calamity

flood

I write this as the last days of winter in this part of the world drenches the garden.  It is barely audible, this rain.  The cooling fan in this computer I use to write this random thought gives a predictable buzz.

Back to the country of my birth there is massive flooding.  The last I heard from my family, by sms text message, was at 1 AM their side.  They said the water was finally slowly subsiding.  No other word since.

They had been stuck on the second floor of the house since noontime.  Rain from a passing typhoon was the heaviest in decades, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.  Within six hours only the roofs of single-storey houses were visible.

As I write this it is an hour before dawn there.  I am thinking of my mother, over seventy, her two grandchildren holed up with my sister and her husband, along with two other families who had sought refuge with them.

For hours I had been frantically trying to get through to the various rescue teams, and so far no success.

The most recent report I gathered online mentions 46 deaths due to the floods.

It is nearly time for me to go to sleep in my comfortable bed with an electric blanket. The cruelty of this distance is nothing compared to the grim situation back home.

I wait for the next message, hoping the batteries on their cellphones don’t fail before someone rescues them.  I dare not phone in case they have somehow found a way to sleep through the fear, even as the rain continues to come down in dark sheets.

News article from GMANews

News article from Al Jazeera

Video footage from Al Jazeera