Discovering Burma

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Last night I accidentally stumbled on some fantastic music artists from Burma through a Burmese friend on Facebook. It was a moment of big surprise for me or I’d rather say I was totally stunned! I never realized until then that there are such talented songwriters and singers over that part of Southeast Asia. The quality of the songs and level of artistry/musicality are highly distinguished and in the class of great music dished out by talented artists anywhere else in the world. And it’s no wonder then when Time Magazine featured the youth of Burma in a recent issue about how these young Burmese are seeking ways to bring about change through volunteerism, hip-hop, and edgy art in the face of political repression and social divide.

I’ve never been to Burma/Myanmar. I’ve long planned to go there; I’ve read books on Aung San Suu Kyi- who has just been released last week by the military junta; and constantly I get myself wired to all developing events and stories from international media. Now apart from The Lady and the curiousity to get the feel of a repressive atmoshphere reminiscent of the dark days of Marcos’s rule, I have all the more reason to go there and that is to know more of these interesting people brimming with talent and creativity.

Koh Kong, Cambodia



Off To A Far Deeper Dream

Off To A Far Deeper Dream

                         “Reading opens us up so we can live everywhere”

                                                           – Naomi Shihab Nye

It was some kind of a spacecraft that started
From the lift and ascended floor by floor
As bunch of people dash mad on the stairs
In chase of it. Both of us were actually
Among these believers or should we say
Readers in the minority who travel tirelessly
Through vast spaces of the mind,
For sheer novelty of being here, there, everywhere,
Collector of things that are eventually
Rained on and discarded by sheer speed
With which they are shaped and turned over.

Suddenly the search came to a full stop,
The spaceship was released from the lift
And took flight. And funny to see you looking
Down on us gloating after shutting quick a bolt
In a frenzied declaration of desertion.
I yelled, Hey! What book are you taking?

12 November 2004
Koh Kong, Cambodia


Pag-inom ng Ginseng

Pag-inom ng Ginseng
(para kay Maningning Miclat)

Isang gabing matapos ang basahan ng tula
Sa Quezon Memorial Circle,
Dinala kami ng aming mga paa
Sa inyong tahanan sa BLISS,
Pagpasok sa sala binati kami ng iyong tatay
At pinainom ng ginseng.
Paglakad ng sandali, ang sabi ko sa sarili,
Iyon pala ang tatay mo, Maningning.
Tatay mo nga ba o hinugot lang
Sa lamyos ng iyong ngiti
Tulad ng di maarok na talon
Sa dibdib ng Tsina,
Bumubulusok sa tula at puting-puti.
Ngunit pula ba ang mga hinagpis
Sa kanyang mga litid?
Ikaw, gumigiyagis sa aking lalamunan,
Nararamdaman ang badya ng ulan
Sa ‘yong mga mata.
Ngunit bawat tilamsik ay kasinglalim
Ng pilantik ng iyong mga daliri,
Maningning na maningning.

Quezon City, Philippines (1991)

Published in Diyaryo Filipino (1991) and “Beauty for Ashes: Remembering Maningning” (Anvil Publication, 2001)