Islander in the City by Pablo Tariman:


Sunrise in Baras, Catanduanes by Jorge Estrada Tejada.


It was just a few days

After your 72nd year.

It was just a few days

When the old year

Gave way to a new sunrise

Of the new year.

You have spent the Yule day

As quietly as possible.

The cleaning lady came

To help you manage

A normal day.

There are no frantic trips

To the grocery or wet market.

No wrapping of gifts

No lighted Christmas trees

That remained grey

Day in and day out.

There are days to look forward to

The youngest granddaughter

Turning two

The youngest grandson

Turning a month old.

How did the years

Of your life amount to?

You manage existence

Wherever the current of life

Brings you.

You are happy with a few pesetas.

You are glad you are not obsessed with cars

And brand new houses

And miracle cellphones.

You were happy with a bike

That has outlived its usefulness.

You were content with your own little acre

Tending to potted plants

While you process

The day’s bad news.

You are happy your grandson

Found good company in classmates

Locked down for 10 months now.

They are forever trying out new tunes

New business ventures

That had them delivering food packs

To captive customers.

To be 72 and still doing

Ordinary routines

But hopefully  at peace with the world.

You feel sorry for a man of 75

Moneyed and powerful

Overflowing with connections

At his easy reach.

You wonder why his life

Revolves around

Shoot-to-kill orders

And reviving death penalties

And shaming men and women

Whose opinions magnify

His own wicked self, his weaknesses

And his utter lack of wisdom

In his ripe old age.

It was just a few days

After you turned  a year older.

It was  just a few days

After the new year

Ushered in a new sunrise.

It is time

To recharge your capacity for kindness.

It is also time

To test your capacity for forgiveness.

It is also time

To reflect on a past life

And to find it in your heart

To forgive your own self.

It is a quiet landscape out there

While you enjoy the peace and quiet

Of the island ravaged

By strong winds and frequent floods

And recurring earthquakes

During the holidays.

It is time to summon

Peace in your heart

As you welcome a new day

On this new transition

Of your life.

Still a few things

Are worth celebrating.

You keep memories

Of the laughter

Of your grandchildren.

You remember acts of kindness you can’t resist

Of friends asking for G-Cash numbers

And bank account names

And sending food packs

When you are too wary

Of trips to groceries

And crowded markets.

It is a year like no other

The worst floods

The worst typhoons

The year of angry volcanoes

And a brand of governance

That’s neither here nor there

A product of brains no longer functioning

As it should.


So many things to thank for.

The year gave you

A deeper capacity for reflection

That illumined

Worthy causes

And deep capacity

For compassion.

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