A City of Words



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I have not the language of writers
Born from distant mountains
Children of the fields and the sky
For their words reflect the river they came from
Slow, languid, and flowing like waters from pools
Where sleepy banana trees recline on banks
Blessed by the ancient rain
And where needlepoint of sunlight never fades
But shine brightly even behind closed eyes

No, I am a daughter of the asphalt
Of the long and winding streets of this city
Where a million feet never rests
Even as the moon rides high across the midnight sky
You can hear hundreds of souls shuffling
Making their way through narrow alleyways
That lead to houses upon houses of dreams
Nestled under a sea of tin eaves
Separated by weathered roads
Where jeepneys reign and sputter at standby
As their barkers, in unison, heave and cry
A crescendo of sound, a concert of destinations
To attract the people passing by
“Come now, come now. Just one more. And we are off.”

Off deep in the city. Off to reality. Off to the daily grind.
And my words run
Letters spilling on top of one another
Like buses racing against each other
And my words intimately know the cracks on the pavement
My syllables fit snugly into every pothole
Forming neon lighted sentences beside shanties
Furiously carving out their existence,
Punctuated with the rise of every building
Reflecting the red sun against windows of glass
And all the while, people stand and fall
Just like a crowd of words, pushed and pulled
Shaped and molded into steel and grimy concrete
Never knowing rest, always changing, sharp and knowing
Tenacious, street-smart, no sugar added attitude
Dripping from my tongue like the acid retort
Of vendors and pedestrians alike
Fighting for space, fighting for life
And my words, are born out of them,
Blades of phrases, bound together
Cutting deeply into city-bred flesh
And all the while,
The sunlight shines through
Manila’s open bloodshot eyes.



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So now we have translated
Past computer screens
Past mobile phone dreams
From virtual reality into tactile clarity
These distances we have created
Boundaries that society
Even in cyberspace has initiated
Are now transpiring
Manifesting into daily living.

Open the doors. Let them land and enter.
Political reasons. Loyalties deferred.
ASL? Filipino? Truth or not.
Chinese, should I say – but?
Hoard the goods, sell on Shopee.
Triple the price, must think of me.
Stop at checkpoints. Follow orders.
I’ll go around it. Find a way, who cares?
Work. No output. No pay.
Ants mean nothing, haven’t you heard them say?
Front liners unprotected.
Fear. Save myself. Better them dead.
Wash your hands.
Pilate’s speech. After all that’s been said.
But who cares what you say then and when.
Everybody’s gone. No one is left to listen.

Manila on the night before the quarantine starts. The stillness is unnerving, and yet the silver light of the moon seems to be a celestial promise, telling me that everything will be okay.

If Only Today Could Stay


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You said
Life can be short or long
And I replied
You are so wrong
For our moment now is too swift
Too fast for a lifetime to keep
And this instant of being in your arms
Cocooned in the warmth of your charms
Is but a dream in the heartbeat of reality
Where our flesh obeys the voice of mortality
And if I could, I want to get trapped in forever
Hold back the seconds, escape with you wherever
You and I can be free, to be just you and me
And to taste happiness, not just for a while
But live in the eternity reflected in your smile
Tell time to stop, for I want today to stay
And never let the sweetness of your kiss fade away.

We, the Outcasts


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We are the odds ones
We never fit in with anyone
We do things our way
No matter what people say
We dress with subversive flair
We don’t care if they stare
We do things as we please
You will do well to remember this
Call us heathens, call us weird
We don’t mind, we know we are feared
By those who do not understand
So they try to mark us with their brand
But they will never pull us down
We are fierce, we can hold our ground
We were the lost ones, who survived and found
Strength within us that will not be denied
And so we march, waving high our pride
For all the battles we won, alone
We’ve only just begun, we’re still not done
So give way to us, the outcasts, the dreamers
See us burn, see us glow, and shimmer
As we bravely claim our rightful places
You cant stop us – remember our faces
Hear our voices until the end of your days
You can’t muzzle us with your traditional ways
We have decided – we are here to stay.

Silver Memories


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Remember me with kindness, in silver darkness

Alive within yesterdays where my heart still lies

Entwined with yours, under the watchful eyes

Of the ancient stars, as the wise old moon rises

To shed light on forgotten memories

Of the lovers that once were … you and I.

Photo from Lunar Chronicles @Pinterest

My First Time to do a Vlog


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Just a few days ago, my former student, Nellie, who just started her YouTube channel asked me to accompany her in one of her Vlog entries. She wanted to feature De La Salle College of Saint Benilde – School of Design and Arts – which she is a proud graduate of. I agreed, because heck it was a new experience and I wanted to challenge myself as well.

I was initially a bit nervous talking to the camera, and Nellie and I ended up giggling a lot, but I guess being a professor and speaking in front of students most of the time helped me out in the end. I was able to speak clearly and confidently by the time Nellie finished shooting. Oh, in case you’re wondering, Nellie used her phone to shoot everything, and there was no script because she wanted her videos to feel and sound natural. Anyway, she says I should start my own channel too on poetry – how to write and teach it – hmmmm … I don’t know … still thinking about it. In the meantime though, I’m sharing Nellie’s work here (please click on the link below) and I hope you subscribe to her channel for support. 🙂 🙂 🙂

A Glimpse of DLS-CSB SDA


Nell and I

Dangling Mortality


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Her earring was a grinning skull
And people judged her for it
I asked her if it took its toll
She replied,
“Not a bit.
Should I get affected?
When the day sets
And death’s face blooms
Sprouting blood red roses
To remind them of headstones
Marking their places of doom.”

Beyond Now


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Do you believe in lifetimes?

I’d like to think they exist

And in another world, another time

It’s okay for us to fall in-love

And we could hold each other and kiss.

I’d like to believe another us lives

Somewhere, outside this reality

And in that place, we are free

To be just you and me ….

Deliciously Dangerous


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For the girl I saw crossing Taft Avenue today, you with tongues of fire in your hair, I wonder what it would have been like to be you. Thank you, for inspiring this poem.
Photo was taken from IG: krissyelisabeth

I like girls with flaming hair
Spirals of rainbow in the sky
Reflected in their souls
Shining through the endless wonder
In their fascinating kaleidoscope eyes

I like girls who can hold their own
Who are not afraid to stand alone
Raise an eyebrow at every misogynistic act
Unafraid to adamantly dish out facts
While calmy shaking the mud off their boots
Never losing sight of what’s true and good

I like girls burning with an inner fire
Unabashedly vocal about their desires
Creating miracles where ashes were born
Tirelessly rebuilding souls that are torn
Ready to take the leap in order to fly high
And triumphantly trample down hurtful words and lies

I like girls who have daggers in their gaze
And can cast Mona Lisa smiles from purple lips
Bruised from their ongoing quarrel with this world
Gaining strength and wisdom, beautiful and bold
Carving their own paths, never doing what they’ve been told

I like girls with tattoos on their skin
Canvas of ideas, goddesses of ink
They will keep you on your toes and make you think
Until you get lost in the intricacies of their thoughts
And fall madly-in love and be forever caught
In indelible dreams of the goddess you vainly sought

So be careful now, they will take you to the edge
Push you over your limit, leave you dangling in the ledge
Yes, be careful now, see that sparkle in my eye
Never accuse me of telling you lies
Come if you dare, girls like me, will strip you bare
We’ll leave you bleeding and we won’t even care
Until you cannot get enough of us
You’ve been warned, so hold on fast
Think twice, before you take my hand
Do you believe you have what it takes to last?

August Rain


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The rain cascades like a curtain of memories
Each drop, whispering distant forgotten stories
Bringing us back to quiet places in our life
Where jeepneys sputter to a standstill
And aspins drowsily snuggle in a dry corner
While cats sleepily open one eye
As the cold delicious wind blows by
And all the while, hot coffee warms our soul
Reminding us of one carefree rainy day of old
Awakening the soothing memories of childhood
When swirling puddles seemed like raging rivers
Meant for racing paper boats to cross and conquer
And San Pedro is causing thunder to roar
As he strikes again and again with his bowling ball
As you and your friends dance and cheer
Laughing and bathing under the rain
Unmindful of life, fear, and pain
And all the while Mother’s chicken soup is slowly cooking
Over the faithful stove, where food and memories are forever simmering
To be replayed again, once again, gratefully tasted and regained
Under the spell of this gently falling blessed August rain.

Within the Rain


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With her heart in her lips
She turned away and said,
“Did no one tell you?
You cannot love
And walk away unchanged.”
He looked up into the sky
And his eyes closed
Against the honesty
Of the falling rain.