Award-winning playwright Floy Quintos' powerful poem is heartbreakingly real

A photograph can spark a thousand words

 

(SPOT.ph) A photo of a woman cradling the body of her partner, an alleged drug pusher, was on the front page of The Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sunday, July 24, and has since gone viral. The scene was captured by Raffy Lerma and shows a weeping Jennelyn Olaires as she hugged 30-year-old Michael Siaron, who was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen near Pasay Rotonda on EDSA. Siaron is one of the many alleged criminals killed by unidentified hitmen since President Rodrigo Duterte declared a war on drugs and crime.

 

On Monday, July 25, Duterte emphasized his stand and told drug pushers and users not to run to the Church and human rights groups to get away with their supposed crimes. He referenced Lerma's photo and said "Eh tapos nandiyan ka nakabulagta and you are portrayed in a broadsheet na parang Mother Mary cradling the dead cadaver of Jesus Christ. Eh yang mga yan magda-dramahan tayo dito."

 

The photo moved Palanca-winning playwright and scriptwriter Floy Quintos (St. Louis Loves Dem Filipinos, Evening at the Opera) to put in verses his feelings about the ongoing killings. His ekphrastic poem titled Lamentation was posted on his Facebook account on July 24. 

 

 

LAMENTATION

By Floy Quintos

 

i will not let you go, bebe ko
not now,
not yet,
not even
if i can still hear the wings of death's angels
throb -throb -throbbing
in the distance.

they came on a motor cycle
and you looked up, puzzled,
wondering if it was your time.
oh, we always knew they would come.
for you, for me,
this day, the next?
we always knew.

 

maybe the shots were dulled
by the high, my love?
or maybe, it was just beginning
to fade away?
so, who knows,
baka tama lang ang timing?
'Tanginang timing yan.

 

Maybe they were just like us once,
outsiders,
so easily condemned,
of the streets,
so right for the picking
damned and drugged and petty,
so who would miss us?

 

but they are right and strong and mighty now,
and we are petty still.

 

but, bebe ko,
the righteous will never know
the highs of love among the dazed,
or the soaring rush of joy that frees the damned .
They who have lived all their lives in righteousness
will never know
what you and i have known.
Ah yes, the wrong we have known, bebe ko.

 

we joked, once in a while,
about staging our own redemption.
who knows?
maybe we would have been
serious about it .
rehab or religion?
tomorrow or the lifetime after ?

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too late for that now.
The throb -throb -throbbing
Is ebb -ebb -ebbing
and you are quiet and small and still
at last.
I do not hear the cries of protest
or the judgement of the upright
or the lamentation in my heart.

All i know is that

 

i will not let you go, bebe ko
not now
not yet.

 

 

Fellow writer Elmer Gatchalian (Shake, Rattle, and Roll XI; Mga Kuwentong Barbero) translated Quintos' poem into Filipino.

 

 

PANAGHOY

Filipino translation of Floy Quintos' LAMENTATION by Elmer Gatchalian

 

hindi kita pakakawalan, bebe ko
hindi pa ngayon,
hindi pa muna,
hindi kahit
naririnig ko pa ang mga pakpak ng mga anghel ng kamatayan
pumapagaspas, tumitibok
sa di kalayuan.

 

dumating sila na nakamotorsiklo
at ikaw ay napatingin, nagtataka,
nagtatanong kung oras mo na ba.
ay, alam naman nating darating sila.
para sa ‘yo, para sa akin,
ngayon, o bukas?
alam naman natin ‘yon.

 

marahil hindi natin narinig ang mga putok
dahil high tayo, mahal ko?
o baka naman, nagsisimula nang
maglaho ang tama natin.
kaya nga
baka tama lang ang timing.
‘Tanginang timing ‘yan.

 

Marahil katulad din natin sila dati,
mga latak,
na madaling husgahan,
mga tambay sa kanto,
na madaling itumba
sinumpa at talamak at mga hamak,
sino nga ba ang maghahanap sa atin?

 

ngunit sila ang nasa tama at malakas at makapangyarihan sa ngayon,
at tayo’y mga hamak pa rin.

 

pero bebe ko
silang mga nagdiyos-diyosan
ay walang alam
sa tayog ng pag-ibig ng mga praning,
o sa pumapailanlang na buhos ng ligaya na nagpapalaya
sa mga sinumpang gaya natin.
Silang buong buhay na nagdidiyos-diyosan
ay walang alam
sa mga bagay na ating pinagsaluhan.
Oo, bebe ko, kahit karamihan noon ay mga kasalanan.

 

Nagbiro pa tayo minsan
tungkol sa pagsasagawa ng ating kaligtasan.
sino nga ba ang nakakaalam?
paano kung
sineryoso natin iyon
bukas o sa kabilang buhay?

 

pero ngayon, huli na ang lahat.
Ang pagpagaspas at ang pagtibok
ay naglalaho na
at ikaw ay tahimik at hamak at payapa na
sa wakas.
Bingi na ako sa dagundong ng mga protesta
o sa hatol ng mga nagsasantu-santuhan
o sa panaghoy ng sarili kong puso

 

Ang tanging alam ko na lamang ay...

 

hindi kita pakakawalan, bebe ko
hindi pa ngayon
hindi pa muna

 

 

Posted with permission from Floy Quintos, photo by Raffy Lerma

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