I Am A Filipino



I am a Filipino--

With the ocean's breath,

With the forest's hair,

With suntanned skin,

With sight contoured by rain.

Allured by distant stars,

I travelled overseas.

 

The land was opulent,

I was overwhelmed by pleasure,

My life was refreshed.

My skull overflowed with memories:

The storm that ravaged

My unhusked rice,

The scorching sun that everyone

Cursed,

The dreams that my tongue

Could not express,

The despair that burned

In my mind.

 

How can I become lost?

Hawai‘i resembles the country

I left behind--

Coconuts are split

And I satisfy my thirst,

Stones are crushed

And I build my home.

Waves roar

And I ride them.

Dreams are woven

And my seeds flourish--

My tongue forked,

So too, my culture.

I look for my father's land

And my mother's child

In every girl and boy

That I could have conceived.

 

I open my diary

So they can read

The courage

Of Mactan's hero;

Or the Katipunan's revolution,

Or the death of the guerillas

During the time of the war.

They were merely amused,

They seem unaffected

Even when chastised,

Undaunted

By the bitter reality--

This is not their country,

This is not their culture.

 

I am a Filipino--

And this is what I will teach

My children:

You must return to your roots

Despite the wounds;

You must know the legend

Of your brown skin;

You must direct your zeal

And harness your dreams

In recognizing the past,

In the stored memories,

In your desired goals.

 

I am a Filipino--

I vow to release

My relatives and family from fear;

I vow to plant trust

In their hearts and minds;

I vow to be free

From any shame--

I am a Filipino with a shadow

Certain and clear;

I am a Filipino with children

Who will know their roots;

I am a Filipino with a soul

That will remain Filipino,

In whatever Country, in whatever Time,

In whatever Body.