Friday, April 20, 2018

Day 19: The Black Forest

Trees are close together,
Their leaves and twigs touching,
Their branches raised over,
The ground and creatures sing
Songs you can't even hear
As music of near and dear.

For they're creatures unknown,
Like every plant below
The trees on soil, they've grown
A life humans don't know,
Without the warm sunlight,
Without any pure light.

And every day is night,
Darkness only a knight
Can face with his trained might.

For what lies in the woods
Is beyond your nightmares,
The plant with the wild moods,
Intruders it ensnares
In its deep mystery,
I'm lucky to be free.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Day 18: Every Day is a Chance

Everything is so clear,
The sky is clearly blue,
The pure birdsongs I hear,
For this bright day is new.
Wake up from your sweet sleep
And breathe this fresh air deep.

For the darkness has gone,
The creatures of the night
Have their evening's crawlings done.
Step into morning light
Because it is now safe
To sail in the smooth lake.

Starting the day calmly,
Starting positively,
Starting very early.

Whatever this day throws
Along the ways we choose,
Our strength only grows
As we learn not to lose.
Retire tonight not late,
Prepare for the next day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Day 17: My Truth is Stranger Than My Fiction

It was another normal day.
My sister and I were downstairs.
Suddenly, trucks full of men
Stopped on the street
Outside our house.

Most of them looked like carpenters.
Brown skin and huge eyes,
All staring up at our house.
They looked so scary.

My sister and I
Ran upstairs.
It was hard
To hurry up a flight of stairs
Without hitting every higher step
With your knees.
But we made it upstairs.

Once we were upstairs,
We saw that they had jumped
Out of their trucks
And were beginning
To tear down our gate.

My mother was in the living room,
Which had a door
That led to the second-floor balcony.
She hurried to the balcony
To confront the men,
Who had brought down our gate
And were walking into our driveway
Toward the four-car garage,
Which was below our balcony.

She addressed them
With the mind-breaking,
And scary voice that she always used
Whenever she wanted someone to leave the house.

But the men just laughed,
And mocked my mother
And didn't leave.

In the street in front of us,
Some of them talked
To the concerned onlookers.
"That woman is crazy!
Don't listen to her."

My mother stopped yelling at them,
And went back inside the house
To tell my sisters and I
To get ready to run.

Then she helped my sisters
Free all of our animals,
So the men can't capture them
And eat them for supper.
The chickens from their coop,
The dogs from their leashes,
The birds from their cages,
And the cats out of the house.

We slipped out of our house
And rushed to the police,
But the policemen apologized;
They wouldn't help,
Because the men had bribed them.

We rushed
To the main police headquarters,
But our case
Was too big a case.
The offices kept passing,
The case to other offices.
It took forever.

We got exhausted.
We hadn't eaten yet.
We weren't even wearing proper dress code
For the headquarters,
Where slippers were forbidden.
We were wearing slippers.
So we went home,
Where the men had built
Shacks on our grounds,
Preparing to sleep
In their newly-built homes.

We slept in our living room
With all of our lights out
And with our shoes on,
Ready to run anytime,
Crawling every now and then to spy
On the men in our garage
Through reflections on glass shutters
Of our windows.
Since that night,
Our nights had become like this.

The discomfort
Of having strangers
In the security of your home
Was like spending a whole year
Of completely no baths,
Having layers of germs
Sticking to your skin
All the time.

My mother spent the following days
Trying to befriend them
And quietly sending them away,
But they were paranoid and defensive,
Resorting to violent reactions,
Threats, and scandal.

They claimed the land was theirs
Because they outnumbered us.
They claimed we were the illegal settlers.
Being only five,
I couldn't work it out in my mind.
I mean, I was born there,
It was the Delfins' house,
And they said we were stealing it?

One day, my mother told us
To quietly get our shoes and secretly get packed.
We escaped from our enviable house,
From its greedy illegal settlers,
From our bribe-able policemen,
And from our own identities
As the descendants of the Delfins.

My mother brought us to the countryside
And told us to never tell anyone who we were,
So that the illegal settlers won't find us
And invade our new homes.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Day 16: Remember When We Lost

Large shoes and huge biceps,
Tall men with the big bones,
They stepped our three steps.
Right now, everyone knows
We were too brave back then
To agree to face them.

And like the forecasts said,
They passed the ball away,
Dribbling all of us dead,
And had enough cray-cray
To score a few more points
By fouling our joints.

If not for your free throw,
Our record won't grow;
Diminished even so.

Done with the cheers and boos,
We walked home in darkness
With nothing but those shoes
And uniformed fitness,
But we're glad to this day
That we still chose to play.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Day 15: Tonight's the Night!

They are my own future,
They are my second chance,
They are the only cure
To the unfinished dance
In my heart so broken;
I will do all I can.

I will tell everyone:
"They are the most beautiful,
Many good things they've done!"
They shall attend the ball,
I'll buy them the best clothes,
Because I love them both.

Can't women have their say?
A prince they'll meet today!
In the palace, they'll stay.

But not Cinderella.
Nobody shall see her,
Lock her in the cellar,
For her beauty and care
Threaten my dear lasses
And my deepest wishes.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Day 14: Silly Dream Dictionary

Teacup - Means somebody's hypnotizing you, or you're just feeling haunted after watching "Get Out."
Hammer - Means you want to kill someone, but don't have the right weapon.
Seagull - Means you secretly want to get a vacation, but deny it because you don't want to seem lazy and irresponsible.
Ballet slipper - Means that you love ballet flats way too much, you just have to get ballet slippers next.
Shark - Means your teeth are bothering you. Maybe it's time to visit the dentist?
Wobbly table - Simply means you need to fix a table.
Dentist - Means you didn't pay attention to your dream about a shark.
Rowboat - Means you need to get a better car because your current car makes you feel like you've been sailing all day.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Day 13: Middle

My love, I hate you.
It's my first goodbye,
May God not bless you.
There's a reason why
An apple a day
Makes the doctor stay.

When in doubt, do it,
Forewarned is crippled,
And we will not meet
When the lake rippled,
As everything's still.
To lose, just will it.

Sun sets in the east,
I see in the mist,
It's not you I missed.

Don't beware of dog,
When the thin girl sings.
Wake up like a log,
And heed all the things
The wise men don't say,
Unhappy birthday.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Day 12: The Story of Our Trees

There was a beautiful place in my childhood. It was a house that was surrounded by nature.

Surrounded by trees,
Inspiring animals
To roam and be free.

There was a kamias tree at the back of the house, right next to our second stock room. Its leaves were green and its fruits were small and elongated. They smelled acidic and they didn't taste nice.

All the shades of green,
Hiding natural beauty:
The nests birds build.

There was a tuba near the kamias tree. It was next to our back wall and its crown was thick with leaves, leaves that housed more than a dozen birds. Despite the fact that the thick leaves were hiding the birds that resided in the tree, the residents were easily discoverable because the birds wouldn't stop chattering and chirping every afternoon. They were noisy.

The new leaves were green,
Then they turned into yellow
Before they danced down.

There was a tall tree at the corner of the wash area. It was a big tree with big leaves. It was getting bigger and about to push our wall away. The neighbor wouldn't wait for it to grow, though. He was already treating the tree as his own just because it was extending into his own property. At a certain season, its leaves turned yellow and dropped on my mom as she washed our blankets. The neighbor liked to climb our wall and remove the other yellow leaves before they even fell.

Every kind of wood
Comes to life in this great place,
Even before death.

There was a pair of old coconut trees next to our outdoor staircase. They were separate from each other but looked extremely identical. They were dying, without leaves and with dried up trunks. Their roots were crispy, easy to blister into small pieces when hit with a hard object. One day, they just suddenly fell to our staircase, throwing out all the large worms that had been eating them alive. The white worms wriggled on the pathway between our staircase and the trees. My sister and I found them extremely disgusting. Mom made our eldest sister collect them and feed them to the chickens, who happily gobbled up every worm like they were just French fries.

Crystalline water,
Splashing against dark green leaves,
Forming drops that slide.

There were plants between this unfortunate pair of coconut trees. They had wide, dark green leaves and inedible fruits that looked like tiny squashes. The tiny squashes were green and almost as hard as marble. I never knew what these plants were called, but they were identical in kind to the plants outside the fence of our front lawn. They were some of the last plants my mom watered every morning.

It is a dark cave,
It is a passage, but no,
It is a dead tree.

There was a small hill of roots from another, long-gone coconut tree in the nearby azotea. It had a hole in it where I liked to place my dolls. I imagined that the hole was a portal to another world. I left my dolls there for the rest of the day, then I went back to our house to tell everyone that they were "in school." I brought the dolls back home at the end of the day.

Tree with thick, green leaves,
With heart-shaped fruits like earrings,
Give free sweets for all.

There was a huge mango tree on the other side of our outdoor staircase. The ground on which it grew was full of charcoal, but it was a strong and healthy tree. It leaned over our garage and the driveway, serving as a natural roof with its thick leaves and huge branches. I liked to stand on the staircase next to it, and reach over to collect sap. I once ate its sap. I was at the age when children got to know the world by eating everything. The sap didn't taste nice. We sometimes relaxed in our sala and admired the heart-shaped fruits of the tree as they hang from its branches. We liked to collect those mangoes, slice them open, put them in our crystal plate, and eat them with soy sauce. The tree had way more fruits than we can eat, though, so we gave the other bags of mangoes to our neighbors and the street children from downtown.

Mystical fragrance,
Flowers of white, pink, yellow,
Shining in the gloom.

There was a kalachuchi next to the azotea. It rested against the wall of the neighbors next-door. Its wood was dark and its form was hard to figure out. Its leaves were very dark, but its flowers shone white and a bit pink with a yellow in the middle. The kalachuchi was a moody tree, not producing flowers when bad things were happening around it. When it did produce flowers, though, it brightened up that gloomy space next to the azotea and its flowers cast about a mystical and fragrant scent. I used to collect its flowers into my little bag and place them on my dolls' heads.

White blossoms, green leaves,
A green, gigantic flower,
Scented, bright, and rare.

There was an ornamental plant along our driveway. It was like a gigantic flower, its long green leaves reaching outward from its center. Secured in between these leaves were a collection of numerous white flowers. The white flowers were shaped like the plant itself, but much smaller and with white petals. They are exactly identical to the plants in the garden of UP Town Center, the only other place where I've seen such a plant.

Flapping leaves of brown
Of the tall tree that's leaning
With spherical fruits.

There was a star apple tree in front of our house, exactly in front of my mom's bedroom. Its lower part was narrow, but its top reached over our roof. I can hear it flapping against our roof on silent noons. I can see its top whenever we relaxed on top of our roof. Its leaves were green on one side, but brown on the other side. Its fruits were perfectly round and heavy, green when new and purple when ripe. Unlike our mango tree, our star apple tree was extremely hard to reach. We just let the fruits fall on the ground when they ripened, usually splattered on the soil beneath the tree due to its perfectly soft and sweet ripeness. Although difficult to deal with, I found the star apples the most delicious fruits on our property.

White, glowing flower,
Casting its pure beauty forth,
You just didn't see.

The fence of our front lawn was lined with a wide variety of low plants and trees. At the other side of our pedestrian gate was the fortune plant. It was of average height and its leaves were dull green. Its leaves grew in a certain pattern around it that made its trunk resemble the skin of an armadillo. I considered it to be our most boring plant because it wasn't colorful and had no flowers or fruits. My eldest sister, who liked to invent fairy tales to put me to sleep when I was young, told me that the fortune plant had magic, though. She said it produced a beautiful flower when a miracle was about to happen.

These candy flowers,
They are beautiful and real
If you know them well.

Next to the fortune plant was a series of santan. They were like hedge plants with light green leaves and clusters of colorful, tiny flowers. One plant produced only one color of flowers. Our first santan had red flowers, the second one had orange flowers, and so on. Whenever my mom was sweeping our frontage, I busied myself by picking some of those flowers. A fine, translucent stick was sticking out of each flower. I liked to pull out those tiny sticks and eat them. They tasted sweet and delicious, almost like honey.

Pink, alluring shine,
Beckoning with soft, green leaves
With its thorns waiting.

At the far corner of our property was the bougainvillea. It was a low plant that grew from the ground in a messy way, its branches growing long and sticking out to everyone who passed by along the pavement. These branches held leaves, but not just leaves. These branches also held thorns.
The bougainvillea was a beautiful plant from afar because it produced a bunch of pink flowers.
Yes, only from afar. I didn't like getting close to it because I had been poked by its thorns more than once. It was an extremely unpleasant feeling, the very reason why I rarely wandered to that area of our property.

It was next to those terrible branches that the new maid of our next-door neighbor once stood and greeted me. She asked, "What is your name?"

I shouted from the driveway, because I really didn't like getting close to that unfriendly plant, "Charlene Delfin Ragas Domingo!"

The maid grinned, and then her grin turned into bursts of laughter. She couldn't control herself anymore, covering her face and turning away to hurry back to her house as she laughed uncontrollably. She was terribly amused that the Delfins' little child included every relative's name in her name.

There were little plants along our driveway that occasionally produced fruits that were poisonous to us, but not to my sisters' cats and the birds. There were green, elongated fruits. I liked to collect them and put them in my kitchen toy set, slicing them up with my toy knife, cooking them in my toy stove, and serving them to my sisters. I told them they were string beans. We all only pretended to eat them, of course. There were also tiny, round fruits that were colored orange. We simply referred to them as "oranges." I collected them for the sole purpose of feeding the birds.

Fresh, bright pink petals,
Standing straight on the wet ground
As clouds clear away.

The most precious of all these were the pink flowers that appeared among our plants only after a rain. My mom called them Vietnam roses. I never picked them because they were too rare and died too quickly.

The king of trees lived
With strong, majestic beauty,
Feeding those who seek.

There was a tamarind tree at our big gate. It was the biggest tree on our property, and one of the biggest trees in the neighborhood. It was old, its thick trunk carrying rings upon rings of years. It was tall. My mom's cousins used to climb it to collect some of its fruits, which were elongated and brown. As my uncles clung to the branches of the trees, they threw the tamarinds at us on the driveway. The tamarind that fell before my feet had a broken shell, and my sister told me to bring it to our kitchen to have it washed. It tasted both delicious and unpleasant, like some magical form of sticky soil.

The king of trees fell,
Dropping more fruits than you find,
Leaving leaves and wood.

The tamarind tree had been there for such a long time, that its roots had grown far beneath our huge gate and the pavement next to it. We learned about this when the tree leaned on its side one stormy morning. Its roots destroyed our gate and cracked parts of the pavement. Its trunk fell across the street in front of our house, blocking the way of the vehicles going from Cubao to Dulo and vice versa. It also brought with it some electrical cables, destroying the neighborhood's electrical connection and endangering my mom's life. Long story short, it took weeks and dozens of men to restore everything back to normal. At the end of the disaster, neighbors and visitors cut up the tree and took some of it for firewood and other wooden things. My mom took what was left of the tree and used the logs to build a makeshift gate to replace our destroyed gate.

It was the same wooden gate next to which my mom stood waiting every afternoon whenever she sent my sisters and me to buy sweets in the nearby Pelaez.

It was the same gate that our Labrador skillfully climbed whenever she escaped just to catch our attention.

It was the same gate that I climbed over every morning after waking up to look for my mom (I always found her sweeping our frontage; Quezon City had a law back then that homeowners should keep their frontage as clean as possible).

It was also the same gate that truckloads of men tore apart years later to build squatters' houses in our garage, trying to force us to sell the property.

We moved to Cavite and never sold them the property.

They stayed there and built more illegal dwellings, but the natural landscape was gone. The soil became hard, gray concrete over torn and dusty rubble. The walls became hard covers of the tragedy within the place. The houses were just houses, nothing more. The occupants were pale, frail, and paranoid.  They can't plant a single tree. They can't make the wood grow, the leaves green, and the flowers blossom. The earth does not give them food. Because it is not theirs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Day 11: Projection

Tonight, I'm gonna rest
Because it's too much work
That makes this life arrest
Sanity on his fork,
Him, the one who lives in hell,
Keeps me from being well.

Again, you're gonna rest?
Last time I looked at you,
You went to rest to vex
My patience last year through
Becoming so lazy,
Like that man who's crazy.

I work, you just don't see.
You don't, oh, I can see.
Can't they just let it be?

They just keep arguing,
The noise they always make,
Glad I have been working
For my future's own sake,
Before interruptions,
By their bad actions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Day 10: 6 Years Since We Met

The man said that you were
Like a small chihuahua,
It was the most unfair,
But in the brouhaha,
The people still chose you,
So you have made it through.

I was writing stories,
Wasting my time with trolls,
Full-time, but just for free,
Though it made my head roll,
The pain and the hurt
Brought ideas to birth.

There I was, as you've seen,
Asking you to join me,
In dumb philanthropy.

Instead, you have set sail
To those small islands,
You were about to fail
In finding her on sands,
For they took you away,
'Til you've lost every way.

My own humiliation
Sent me throttling down, down,
To degradation,
All that's left of my crown
Were the muck and cobwebs,
Away, my hope had ebbed.

Your easiest escape
Was in the poverty
Of the southerners' cape,
To spend years of twenties
Away from what we see,
Also away from me.

And my fastest escape,
Provided by outcasts,
A world where I was safe,
Free to do what I must,
Sleeping with every book,
Spending each day to look.

We were gone and were lost,
Extremely missed by most,
Just enemies can boast.

As a beggar's waiting
In the dark, empty street,
Frozen, but still freezing,
The warmth his skin can meet,
The warmth of coming sun,
It has arrived, the one.

Your voice is deeper now,
And your calm confidence
Make way for tones that grow,
Improving the essence
Of the songs you can sing
And the thoughts I can think.

My work hours are longer now,
More creative, faster,
I no longer care how
The trolls will troll better,
The enemies will fight,
For I just want to write.

Everything was worth it,
Disappointments, madness,
We are still here to meet,
Here to fix every mess,
Tame them, don't let them be,
As you sing about me.