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Showing posts from May, 2005

Poems in Translation

The Act of Life ni Jacques Cousteau

Isang libog – marikit na kaguluhan
Ng alikabok at hangin
Lumiit naging pulang lupa
Nang tunaw at init

Sa mga nakalipas na habagat at amihan
Ang mundo ay sadyang bughaw
Siya’y isang sapiro
Umiiikot sa kalawakan

Isang pagkaraos ng libog sa sihay
Sa dagat ang bumuhay
Siya’y nagromansa ng buhay at libog
At buhay, ang dagta ng dagat
Ay umapaw sa kalupaan

Isang kadyot ng sihay
Ay bumuhay sa maraming libog
Mga larvae sa karagatan
Sa punla at tamod ng mga pusit
Sa paglalayag ng salmon
Sa pagpapangako ng albatross

Isang kadyot sa sihay
Ang nagpalipad ng ating pangarap sa buwan
Kay Marte, Venus at Jupiter
At kinabukasan, didilig ng luha sa ibang mga tala

Ang marikit na libog ng ating pag-ibig
Na iniyakan ng araw at lupa
Buhay- ang milagro ng dagat na ngayo’y ating hawak
Buhay – naghihirap at nanganganib sa kanyang huling supling.

Travel poetry4

Dr Jose Rizal’s Song of the Wanderer
Canto del Viajero

A dry leaf flies at random
Till it’s seized by a wind so strong
So lives on earth the wanderer
Without a heading, soul, country or love

Troubled, he seeks joy everywhere
But joy is elusive and flees
Like a shadow so vain that mocks his desire
And for which he sails the seas so wide

Impelled by a hand unseen
He shall wander from place to place
Only memories shall keep him company
Of loves and days happier then

Perhaps in the desert he shall find
A tomb, a sweet refuge discovered
But in his country and the world forgotten
Rest in stillness his trials now over

Alas they envy the sorrowed wanderer
As across the earth he is found
Ah! They know not of the emptiness
In his soul where love no longer exists

The pilgrim shall return to his country
To familiar shores perhaps
He shall find only ice and ruins
Loves that withered, graves and nothing more

Go wanderer! In your own country
Now a stranger, always alone
Let others sing of loving
They are the happy but you retur…

Travel poetry 3


Down the paths, I tread
Amidst the green, eucalyptus boughs
Shadows, shafts of light
A break in the gloom
And wildflowers bloom

The road is long and at times rough
Traverses through dry and stony ground
In coming winter’s Antarctic breath, the flowers break
The spell of autumn and her promises of chill

I walk the trails through rises and vales
And the road before me is mine
The sun begins to set and night has come
And road leads to places I haven’t seen
I tread in sight of the dawn
And colours of the wattles amaze and bellbirds ring
Where I end, home is there

The future is seized in the trails
My Master ten paces ahead
My past a step behind

The walk leads me home

10 April 2004
The Dandenong Mountains
Victoria, Australia

Why go back to all those places?

In my research I have been all over the Philippines looking for shells. There is one beach in Sorsogon that has a lot of tellins, these are thin shelled pink or yellow clams. I was there in 1999. Now I plan to go back in the third week of May.

No one journeys without a reason in mind. For some it is a search for identity, their selves lost in the business of daily life. Some seek spiritual enlightenment and an encounter with the Divine. Some seek better economic pastures. Some seek liberation. Some seek some aspect of truth.

John Steinbeck before leaving on the now celebrated "Sea of Cortez" expedition used a fish to illustrate why we need to travel to distant places. He used the Sierra as an example. This mackarel is an important fishery product of the Southern California coast. Steinbeck said you can learn about the fish from a book, see the fish itself in the museum or sold in the market. You can count it's spines and characterise its DNA . You can be sure that indeed…

One in a million in Sydney

I did date in Sydney but not the “million girls” that bloke in the popular Hotdog song would like us to believe. Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities on earth. As one writer rightly described her, Sydney has the greatest concentration of beautiful women in the Southern Hemisphere. The harbour can easily make you romantic. Even the most jaded hearts can’t avoid that. The Harbour Bridge is utilitarian, lacking in grace and ugly as James Michener correctly observed more than fifty years ago. The harbour by its very romantic nature can change even that.

I did arrive in Sydney in the dead of winter after a two-hour flight from more tropical and sunny Townsville. The avro was cloudy and grey, hardly the time for going around town. The night was even worse, freezing cold and windy. But all that can be changed. My Sydneysider Filipino friends introduced me to her. She attends Sydney Uni. and sings heartbreaking Tagalog songs for homesick Pinoys. We went out for tea.

A cup of tea at the …

Travel poetry 2

Tranquil Impermanence
Ofunato, Japan

Autumn leaves in fire and gold
will soon fall on winter ground
trees bare with buds asleep
await spring in the months to come

Sharp rocks covered in mist
The sea as calm as temple ground
Whatever the eye sees on sandy shores
ever does move in changing form

Bashõ's words has captured it more
In haiku forms the tranquil morn
For impermanence is ever here
And tranquility and peace that's always still

Travel poetry

Autumn, sea and shore
06/11/04 Otsuchi Bay, Japan

Cold breath, northern wind
Maple leaves turn into fire red
And die

Stone pine along rocky crags
Sea spray cool and sharp
Clear water and breaking waves
Strength and defiance
Tranquil and permanent
Japan's soul

Winter is nigh
The sea wind becomes ice
The pines still green and remain
Maples await spring
The seasons play
The game of eternity

A decent mob: letter to the editor of the Australian Sept 2004

Australians are a decent mob. I know this since I lived with them as a student in Queensland in the late 1990s. They have become my mates. And once a mate, you are always one.

The ordinary bloke and shiela hold dear the quintessentially Australian values of a "fair go", "mateship" and of course being a "larrikin". "A fair go" means that everyone should be given an equal chance to explain or to prove, mateship means when two become steadfast friends because of a shared experience (often a hard one, doing the "hard yard" as we say) and being a larrikin means having a healthy distrust of authority, especially when authority says something nonsensical.

Filipinos and Australians shouldn't worry that their mateship will be broken. Australians have likely dismissed Alexander Downer's and John Howard's irresponsible statements on our government's policies. After all, Aussies are larrikins. They know that come the next general el…