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You call it grief. We call it hinagpis \hi-‘nag-pis\. Say it, syllable per syllable, so you may taste the immeasurable sadness of my people.

Hi — Do you feel it? Your soul getting drawn out of you as you speak it. Your entire being summoned by that one syllable, only to be released abruptly, suddenly, as if all hope is gone completely — nag — a broken, heavy sound of despair and alarm …. A crushing sound of falling, of being let go and letting go. A desperate last fight for breath … before darkness takes over, and all hope is destroyed — pis … and the life left in you slowly and silently sinks away to a watery grave.

When do we surface? How do we start again? Centuries of pain and violence …. Years of compounded ignorance and disappointments …. Generations of greed and denied dreams. What now? How now? Aguuuuuuy ….

I weep for my countrymen and for myself — for what can we do? Except to bandage up wounds that never really heal. Wounds that fester and kill. Why must we always endure? But this is my people’s shared tragedy — we have to endure … we must … always endure … because we are Filipinos. And I cannot help but ask if things will perpetually remain this way?