If you are looking for great adventures,
Search beyond the boundaries and the comforts of the city
Carry within you the struggles of the marginalized and the poor
And in a united goal , watch with them a lengthy starry night.
I knew you had to always look through the window
Because the chills of dawn caused your bladder’s impending explosion.
Remember, endurance’s a prerequisite to long journeys along the road
But in a few hours more,the embrace of warm sunshine will be above you.
The sandy, sizzling environment of Mabalacat, Pampanga
Surrounded by long fences and monstrous signs of corporate entities
Wanting to build golf fields and the planned Clark Green City,
The starry night is, but in loneliness, will soon dash away.
Two mountains standing apart, connected with hanging bridges
Spark great fear of falling onto the hard rocks brought by lahar
But to reach the community one must brave the height
Because the mission’s fulfillment gives a warm sunshine.
The Aeta children welcomed the strangers with a facial beam
Without the thought that they might be oppressors
Or the right hand men of the capitalists or of the landlords
And in their beautiful eyes a starry night might glow.
Happily they sang the modern songs they hardly understood
Singing Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’ in a repeating stereo tone
Or idolizing Lyca Gairanod and all other ‘The Voice Kids’ renditions
Their melody touches like warm sunshine beneath the ears.
Most of them lined up inside the small, hollow-blocked room
Waiting for the doctor’s stethoscope to be placed above their chests
The babies cried, but the schoolers observed in an open-mouthed wonder
And just like the blinks of the starry night, they wished to hear their hearts too!
The adults spoke about their stories and histories
As they offered root crops and nutritious meals to the hungry
As they spared their bedrooms and pillows to the sleepy strangers
I knew the warm sunshine blessed their souls with hospitality and prudence.
Our Aeta brothers and sisters suffered from oppression
Through false representations of those empowered by the ‘seats’.
They have always wished for self-determination,
But instead experienced some unwanted alienation.
In development they were not against,
But only hoped for the promised sustainability
Where the neoliberal agenda shall not prevail
Over the indigenous people’s interest and of the masses.
During starry nights I shall remember the Aeta children of Marcos Village
And as stars glitter I shall always see the hope in their shy smiles
Their mountainous settlement shall remain their paradise
So that their warm sunshine won’t turn in a cold instant.
This poem was published at Sulo’s March 2015 Issue. “Starry Night; Warm Sunshine” is the metaphor used to describe the current lives and struggles of the indigenous peoples in the Philippines.
Sulo is the official newsletter of KATRIBU National.