Rebecca T. Anonuevo Oct 10, 2008 16:01:43 GMT 2
Post by thepoetslizard on Oct 10, 2008 16:01:43 GMT 2
Rebecca T. Añonuevo is a poet and author of five collections of poetry, the latest being Kalahati at Umpisa (UST Publishing House, 2008). Other titles are Saulado (UP Press, 2005), Nakatanim na Granada ang Diyos (UST Publishing House, 2001), Pananahan (Talingdao Publishing House, 1999) and Bago ang Babae (Institute of Women’s Studies, 1996). All collections have won numerous awards for poetry from the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Her study on Philippine literature titled, Talinghaga ng Gana: Ang Banal sa mga Piling Tulang Tagalog ng Ika-20 Siglo (UST Publishing House, 2003), won the Gold Medal for Outstanding Dissertation at De La Salle University-Manila and the National Book Award for Literary Criticism from the Manila Critics Circle. She also writes children’s fiction, essays, and reviews. She teaches literature and writing in English, and chairs the Filipino Department at Miriam College in Quezon City. She resides in Pasig City.
Si Nanay talaga.
Ipinaalala niya kagabi na simula na ulit
Ng siyam araw na nobena ngayong adbiyento,
At kung mabubuo ko raw iyon ay matutupad
Ang anumang hihilingin ko sa Diyos.
Alam ko ang gusto niyang hilingin ko
Na hinihiling niya para sa akin kahit mangitim
Ang tuhod niya sa pagkakaluhod
Araw-araw kahit hindi Pasko.
Simple lang ang sagot ko, pigil ang pagsinghal,
Habang pinaiikot-ikot ang bilog sa mata:
Kung ibibigay ng Diyos, ibibigay Niya. Sa isip ko’y
Hanggang ngayon ba’y kaliwaan ang areglo sa langit?
Ang totoo’y di sinasadyang sinasadyang buuin ko
Ang simbang gabi ngayong taon nang di inaamin sa ina.
Hindi ko alam kung ang mundong kasabay ko
Ay dumadagsa dahil may mga hinihiling din sila
Katulad ni Nanay para sa hindi nag-aasawang anak,
O may ipinagdarasal na maysakit, kaaway, kapatid,
Lumubog na negosyo, petisyon para sa Canada o Australia,
Pagtama sa lotto, o kahit man lang sa cake raffle sa parokya
Na nagpapamigay ng pulang scooter at mga bentilador.
Sa pugad ng mga Heswita ay nahabag ako
Sa puto bumbong dahil ang pinipilahan ng mga bihis na bihis
Ay ang churros con tsokolate at donut sa magkabilang tabi.
Gusto kong sabihin kay Nanay na ang pagsisimbang gabi ko
Ay tulad ng panalangin ng puto bumbong habang sumasagitsit
Sa nagtatanod na buwan: salamat, ulit-ulit na munting salamat
Sa pagkakataong maging payak, walang inaalalang pagkalugi
O pagtatamasa sa tangkilik ng iba, walang paghahangad
Na ipagpalit ang kapalaran pati ang kasawian sa kanila.
Salamat sa panahon ng tila matumal na grasya,
Sa sukal ng karimlan, sa budbod ng asukal ay husto na,
Ang di pagbalik ng malagkit na puhunan
Sa kabila ng matapat na paninilbihan at paghahanda
Sa anino ng Wala, luwalhating kay rikit! Tikom-bibig.
- Disyembre 20, 2006
- from Rebecca T. Anonuevo's Kalahati at Umpisa, UST Publishing House, 2008
Translated by Luisa A. Igloria
You’ve got to hand it to my mother.
Last night she reminded me
that the nine-day simbang gabi masses begin this advent,
and that if I manage to do the whole thing,
any wish I have will be granted by God.
I know what it is she wants me to pray for—
It’s what she constantly implores,
not caring that her knees have darkened from
her daily supplications, not just at Christmas time.
I held my tongue and rolled my eyes
but answered simply:
If God means to give me something, He will. Could it be
that after all this time, slanted deals are still being made in heaven?
To tell the truth, I did not mean to complete
the nine-day masses this year without eventually letting Mother know.
Could it have been because I felt in the crush
of people around me, the weight of a whole world’s
freightload of requests: including Mother, praying for her still
unmarried daughter to please find someone, including those
praying for the sick, for their enemies, their siblings,
for a business gone bankrupt, for petitions to migrate to Canada or Australia;
prayers to win the lottery, to win even just the parish cake raffle
which also gives away red scooters and electric fans as door prizes.
Then, in the Jesuit compound my heart went out
to the lowly puto bumbong, because well-dressed churchgoers
were making a beeline for the stands selling churros
con chocolate and donuts.
I wanted to tell Mother that my going to simbang gabi
was like the little puffs of steam exuding heavenward
from the puto bumbong
as the moon, austere, kept perfect watch: manifold in even
its smallest gesture,
such gratitude as the chance to feel part of the whole,
of having been short-changed, without regret for the concern
that others did not show,
without wishing to swap fortunes or even the pains one has
I give thanks for such finitudes that are nevertheless
imbued with grace,
for the powdery cone of darkness and its just-enough
dusting of sugar,
for the succulent body that will soon disappear.
Faithfully we serve, preparing the feast presided over
by the shadow of Death. And yet, how beguiling! The promise
of fullness cupped and brimful in the mouth.
- December 20, 2006
*Simbang gabi (literal trans., “night masses”) – in the Philippines, nine-day masses celebrated at dawn, preceding Christmas. Puto Bumbong – a rice cake traditionally prepared at Christmas time, associated with simbang gabi. People coming from the dawn masses buy them to eat from vendors who set up makeshift stands by the church. The rice cakes are steamed in cones or tubes of bamboo over hot coals; they are dusted with a mixture of coconut flakes and sugar, or sugar alone.
Nagpapantay ang araw at dilim
sa pangangalumata ng isip--
ano't may di-inaasahang panauhing
dumadalaw at pumapasok sa mga sulok
na kahon-kahong salansan ng mga mortal
na pangarap at paninimdim.
Wala iyon sa layo o lamig na nakabalot
sa paligid. Wala sa pagtigil o pagtakbo
ng oras. Wala sa pagkapagod ng katawan.
Wala sa pag-iisa o dahil naliligid
tayo ng mga bata at halaman, o may babala
ang hangin, o umaalimuom ang lupa.
May panauhin pagkat nakikinig
ang labi ng mga rosas, buko sa buko;
nabubuhay ang pagkain sa mesa,
halos magsayaw ang mga kutsara at plato;
nililinis ng huni ng butiki ang agiw sa bintana;
sumisigid ang ulan sa mata ng buong bahay.
Maaari nga nating hamunin ang tadhana
para magbiro sa tulad nating parating lango
at sala-salabid ang hakbang sa pagsuyo:
dagdag na mga tanong na walang kasagutan,
kaliwa o kanan, munti o labis, isa-isa,
sabay-sabay, sa bakuran ba o kusina.
Magpapantay pa rin ang dilim at araw.
Gigising ang liwanag na bagong hangong tinapay.
Mag-aantanda ng pasasalamat, susuong sa siyudad.
Muli, uuwi sa tahanan, maghahain para sa hapunan.
Ang panauhin ay nakabantay at nangungusap
sa kanyang katahimikan. Gayon ang kagalakan.
5 Nobyembre 2002
Translated by Luisa A. Igloria
Consider how the mind holds
daylight and darkness now with the same
regard, ever since the unexpected guest's
arrival, its unbetokened entrance-- How
it's come to take up residence in your life's inner
recesses, its series of boxes nested and full
of such mortal longings and fears.
None of this is an effect of distance, or the cold
that begins to enfold everything in the landscape in its embrace.
It has nothing to do with the stasis or movement of
the hours, nothing
to do with the body's arrival, exhausted, at the limits of anything
it has had to endure. It has nothing to do with being alone,
surrounded by the clamor of children and growing things,
or whether or
not the wind is listing its warnings, or the earth its humid and
You know the Beloved has arrived, because even the mouths
of roses are shaped to listening, are moving from epiphany
to epiphany. As if miraculously, food appears on the table,
and the cutlery and dishes could just as well dance, suffused
with a sense of grace. The lizard's tiny call is enough to banish
cobwebs from the windows, and rain washes clean the
house's many eyes.
It's true, we tempt the fates to take
a capricious delight in the ways we are so bent on walking,
magnetized, in the wake of our own longings. Mumbling
questions without answers, how do we know whether to go right
or left, take smaller or larger steps, take one step at a time, or rush
headlong, all at once, into the yard or back into the kitchen?
There is a moment when even darkness and light are allowed
at their edges. Then light breaks new like warmly risen
itself like gratitude or a blessing over the whole city, only to return
to its home at evening, as if obeying the call to prepare the evening
meal. And between this passing, night and day, the Beloved waits
patiently, speaks to you even in the silence which is its
gift, mysterious joy.
6 November 2002