Posts tagged ‘student activist’

What is a Mother?

Lorena Barros (Photo from E. San Juan, Jr. Archive).
One Mother’s Day weekend, I decided to translate into English a poem written by Lorena Barros to her mother. She was a poet, writer, and student activist who went to the hills and became a guerilla fighter in the 70s when President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in the Philippines in order to stay in power.

In 1976, she paid the ultimate price when government forces caught up with her in a hiding place in the mountains. When democracy was finally restored, a wall of remembrance containing the names of those who died fighting martial law was erected. She was one of the first 65 martyrs who were honored and enshrined.

When she died, she left a child motherless. but in the process, she became a mother to all freedom-loving Filipinos.

Here’s the poem published with her story written by Maita Gomez in the book, Six Young Filipino Martyrs.


Ano ang isang ina?
Mayamang hapag ng
gutom na sanggol
Kumot sa gabing maginaw
Matamis na uyayi
sa naghahapding sugat.

Ngunit ano ang isang
makabayang ina?
Maapoy na tanglaw
Tungo sa liwayway.
Sandigang bato.
Lupang bukal ng lakas
sa digma.
Katabi sa laban’t
Alalay sa tagumpay
Ang ina ko.

She’d probably frown at my attempt of translation and ask, “What for?” Well, I haven’t seen it translated before. For all its worth, I just feel it needs a wider audience.


what is a mother?
sumptuous table
to a hungry child.
blanket on a cold night.
sweet lullaby.
to a tender wound.

but what is
a patriotic mother?
fiery glow
leading towards dawn.
rock to lean on.
wellspring of strength
in battle.
beside me in the fight and
a hand in victory
is my mother.


May 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm 14 comments

To Kimay: In Memoriam

Kemberly Jul Luna (1988-2009)

it’s winter in the park
skies are gray
brown leaves have fallen
far and wide

i think of someone gone
and remember when these leaves were green
strong, full of life
mocking the wind

now the trees are bare
their wet branches showing the hidden pain
alone on the bench
i’ve grown older watching the rain

Kimay was a Iskolar ng Bayan, student activist, and freedom fighter. She died for her beliefs with a bullet piercing her breast during an encounter with the military in Bukidnon last month.

She was no Gabriela Silang. She was no Teresa Magbanua. She was no Lorena Barros. She was no Maria Theresa Dayrit. But she was equal to any one, in her heart, in her spirit, and in her love for the poor and the oppressed.

January 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm 32 comments

From The Book Thief

i have hated the words and i have loved them, and i hope i have made them right.

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