Pinay's Letter From Singapore

When I left you, I had a wounded smile,

Yesterday was gloomy and tomorrow is unclear

But I need to risk

Even your simple kisses and embraces.

Lucid in my memory

The creases deepening in father's forehead,

The tears welling in mother's eyes,

Hidden only in the clutch of the palm

And a pressed flower which has outlived its fragrance.

The requests and calls trail

The distancing footsteps of their oldest child.


I left with webs of fear

Escorted by poverty and a nameless weariness.

The pain penetrates my mask of courage

But I need to be freed from the shackles of debt.


I left, incited by a dream

The return to joy, the relief from poverty,

An infuriating insult to the galunggong and rice

And a fortuitous meryenda with kamote and bananas.

I also wished to be the housewife

Of a handsome and respected gentleman,

To bathe in perfume on Saturday and Sunday

And aimlessly stroll in the park.


So I embarked and here I arrived,

Now I mend my burnt wings.

To my foreign employer I surrendered my humanity

Completely yielded all my grief.

I have also experienced true hardship

In a twenty story building.

Maid, babysitter, cook and laundry woman

I have already occupied all these positions.

Sixteen hours without respite

My whole day's work,

Whose eyes will not fall?

Whose tongue will not flare?

Indeed it is good there is a bit of time to sleep

At the altar of dreams, there is something I can offer.


This is good enough, you tell me,

Even if a slave, there is something I can save.


Here I enclose some money,

Instantly heat into your barren pockets.

Forget for now your craved desires

Quickly smoke the pots and stove.

Meanwhile pray genuinely and sincerely,

I can endure the hardship and bear my sorrow;

I become strong like the city

Before my mind numbs and my heart hardens.