Another day in the Philippines


By Joe America

The keyboard warrior pecked at his keyboard.  Perhaps you got the message.

The cop picked up his gun. You hoped he was not coming for you.

The Christian put away his Bible. He preferred Duterte to Jesus.

The communist betrayed the poor. He was on a fast track to power.

The poor man scored a packet of shabu, something to live for today.

The congressman pocketed five million, not once thinking about his oath.

The journalist wrote of gossip. No one wanted facts.

The netizen laughed in his warm cocoon, high on sly emoticons.

The child lay in her coffin, a small, empty shell where a soul had once laughed and loved.

The mothers wept.

The soldiers obeyed.

The President’s old men schemed and preened, proud they were the favored.

There were liars to left and killers to right, creeps looking a lot like people.

The young said “It’s not up to me.”

The old said “It’s sad.”

Dr. Rizal muttered from the dirt, “indolence of mind, of deed, of honor.”

Another day in the Philippines.

One more day detached from sense and shame.

One more typical day.

Another day just like yesterday.

We can evidently do this for centuries.


33 Responses to “Another day in the Philippines”
  1. Zen says:

    I cry yet another day, Mr. Joe America
    the chord struck raw and jugular
    still this hope for the fatherland lingers
    someday some fair lady justices, good senators, congressmen
    may just sweep us up on the streets
    and together with the world proclaim
    ’tis our land we hold dear is once again
    Rizal’s Dapitan, God’s Canaan and the Filipinos’ sovereign land.

    • Your remark causes me to wonder if there are more than a dozen legislators with true patriotism, you know, the kind of honor and courage and sacrifice for the well being of Filipinos. I don’t see much at all.

    • Joe,

      You’ve invoked Walt Whitman for sure here, and I myself couldn’t help but be reminded of these lines from “Song of the Open Road”, just awesome! :

      Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
      Traveling with me you find what never tires.

      The earth never tires,
      The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
      Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
      I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

      Allons! we must not stop here,
      However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
      However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
      However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.

      Allons! the inducements shall be greater,
      We will sail pathless and wild seas,
      We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.

      Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements,
      Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity;
      Allons! from all formules!
      From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic priests.

      The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the burial waits no longer.

      Allons! yet take warning!
      He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance,
      None may come to the trial till he or she bring courage and health,
      Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself,
      Only those may come who come in sweet and determin’d bodies,
      No diseas’d person, no rum-drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.

      (I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes,
      We convince by our presence.)

  2. Gemino H. Abad says:

    THANKS, Joe! — for me, this is a poem! for, as the poet Marianne Moore says, it has both “the raw material of poetry in all its rawness and that which is genuine.” The poem is the real, the poem is to live. The poorest nation is the nation without imagi-nation!

    • 🙂 🙂 🙂 I could never get the rhythms of real poetry, although I could find the rhyme and the appropriate dash of spice to the reason, so I just write. “Raw” is good, and the message is as honest as I see it. Every line is a blog. Thanks for following and commenting. Best wishes for the holidays and on into 2017, a year that promises to be full . . . of what is yet to be determined . . .

  3. edgar lores says:


    One: Manila Bay 2016

    Fish swim sluggishly
    In sea depths no light reaches
    Abundance of grub


    Two: Manila 2016

    Four days to Christmas
    Eleven days to New Year
    The pavement crimson


  4. Veterano says:

    As long as Duterte is the sitting president the killings will continue … the only solution is a change of government. I shudder to think what will happen to Duterte, Cayetano, Gordon, et the Day of Judgment.

  5. chemrock says:

    Victims of a neighbourhood took refuge in evacuation tents.
    Grateful for a place to shelter for the next few days
    Night falls and 17 year old Emmanuel Lorica lay down to rest
    With towel over face the government scholar slept next to friends
    Hooded men came in the stealth of night
    From tent to tent their victim they search
    One killer stood over Lorica and fired single shot to the head
    He removed the towel of the dead and say
    “Hindi Ito” and into the night the killers fled.

    Oh, shoot right, Just another night in Barangay.

  6. Pabloinnasidman says:

    If you are right, why bother?
    Why not enjoy another sunny Christmas and let the world pass by?

    Let’s just hope you got it wrong and with the young people, we can make it a better world.

    Merry Christmas.

    • The greater the destruction, in social and economic terms, the harder the re-build, and the social destruction is occurring fast. Ruthless is “in”.

      My o my.

      Still, going to the beach is a good idea, and a Merry Christmas to you, as well, Pablo.

  7. Damned lot of literature being produced nowadays… Joe that is intense stuff. What I would like to share is a sample of the flash fiction series being produced by a whole lot of Filipino authors nowadays… Alma Anonas-Carpio for example, a “Kulasa” like Senator Hontiveros..

    #FlashFiction #FlashedYa

    Taking out the trash

    The signal was given and we drove off into the night. My helmed head illuminated by the streaks of speeding light as we veered closer to the target. I was tired of this. The first few kills were exciting, exhilarating, even. I was taking out the trash, I told myself then.

    Raped by a neighbor high on shabu at ten, I’d been a frightened thing jumping at my own shadow. I was mortally afraid of being left alone, because it was at those times he would come into our shanty, supposedly to babysit me while Nanay worked as a street cleaner. I’d never had a Tatay, never had anyone remotely even like the protective father I’d wished for every Christmas. As if he’d fit under the tiny plastic tree Nanay put out to cheer up the squalor of our home.

    I closed my eyes as the motorbike wheels ate up the road, bringing me closer to my vengeance. I could again hear my cries in the dim afternoon light streaming in through the curtains that couldn’t be brightened by even my Nanay’s most avid scrubbing. I could feel the desolation brought by the forced invasion of me. I remember my promise to myself that I would kill my attacker someday. I’ve kept that promise. I may be poor, but I always keep my word.

    My handler found me right after my 17th birthday. I was told to call him Santa Claus. I liked that bit of grim humor. You ask Santa for what your parents don’t give you for Christmas, right?

    So it came to be. I shot him. Twice in the head, thrice in the chest and thrice in the groin for good measure. One bullet for every child he’d violated in our shantytown. One bullet for every child who huddled with me when he would pass us as we played in the mud on the broken concrete pathways between our little homes.

    I was done with being the victim. It was time to go on the hunt.
    We were denied justice–by our parents, by the community we lived in, by our assailant’s wife, who was too scared of his furious fists and vicious ways to stand up for us. We were just kids–throwaway kids whom nobody gave a shit about.

    So I did him. I did him so well there was barely any murmur of protest. He was a dealer by then, as well as an addict. Good riddance, I thought.

    My handler came to me with a crew-cut and a cheap mobile phone, a throwaway gadget I changed with each job. He paid me to tick off a list he’d said he’d checked twice. And Santa Claus he was, bringing me enough cash after each job to buy myself and my Nanay the nice things we’d never ever imagined having. All it took was a .45 pistol, bullets and some time each week on the shooting range. I rode shotgun with one of the kids victimized by my rapist. She was good with directions and at handling the motorbike. We two girls were getting the justice we’d craved for years.

    Or, at least we did until we grew uneasy with the jobs we were given. They took us out farther afield, away from the kills we’d made that were familiar, the kills we knew were righteous. Oh, we’d shot so many, cleaned up our neighborhood and brought out the trash. By then we’d marked over fifty kills, but the blood on our hands was not something we objected to. Yet.

    When we began taking more jobs, getting called out almost daily, to cities where we’d never even been, my partner and I began to get jittery, unsure of who we were killing, and why.

    Santa Claus reassures us time and again that we are instruments of justice, but the kills feel wrong now. We girls are feeling trapped, wondering if what we’re doing is still right.

    I hear the wails behind me each time we speed away. Sometimes I glimpse someone embracing the new corpses we leave behind, their grief and disbelief a flash of light before my dark visor descends to hide the face of a young woman whose job it is to kill. We leave before regret has any time to sink in–and surrender is not an option.

    I feel the motorbike slow down as we approach the last target on this list Santa Claus has given us. I hear the end of a Christmas carol sung by children shaking makeshift maracas made of flattened bottle-caps: “…We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”

    My breaths come more slowly now. I steady my hand as I raise my gun to aim for a young man in a sweaty basketball shirt and board shorts who is raising a toddler up in the air. My aim is careful now. I only get one chance at this, so I aim away from the child, choosing the man’s chest instead of his head. I pull the trigger twice.

    We careen in a tight U-turn and I watch the child fall atop the man. He screams for his father as we race away from what is now a crime scene.

    “I am taking out the trash.” That is my mantra. I am collecting the cash and socking it away, as much of it as I can. I almost have enough for a ticket out of this country so filled with garbage.

    We stop at the safe-house where the payout awaits. As I alight from the motorbike, I wonder just how far away I need to flee so this doesn’t come back to bite me.

    All I want for Christmas is to flee.

    • madlanglupa says:

      > I almost have enough for a ticket out of this country so filled with garbage.

      And we are accursed that soon the lands shall be ripe for conquest, to make produce for a hungry dragon.

  8. karlgarcia says:

    To be or not to be was in the minds of pinoys when answering the sws ejk survey questions.

  9. Wilfredo Monroyo says:

    It is so sad to see our country in this state. All I can do is pray to God for his intercession to free our country from the claws of our selfish coward elected officials.

  10. “A very Merry Xmas
    And a happy New Year
    Let’s hope it’s a good one
    Without any fear”

  11. Bill In Oz says:

    Here is a link worth reading. It is by a Filipino academic Cleve Kevin Robert Arguelles formerly in Manila but now in Budapest in Hungay. He is seeking to explain the rise of Duterte and his election in May as President..

    It may be that a lot of what he says is already known here.But there is much in it which is worthy of notice.

    • sonny says:

      “… people felt those were the country’s golden years…”

      This was how I felt. The activists in the campuses were considered “rebels without causes.” Faintly I remember how earlier Sen Pacita Madrigal-Warns (1961) was considered the model for what a social justice administrator should be. She in fact was the top vote-getter during her ascendancy. Later on the star in the Philippine political firmament was of course newly-elected (1965) Pres F Marcos. How totally naive I was.

      In broad strokes, I agree with Prof Arguelles.

  12. cha says:

    And elsewhere…

    Joe America’s hand lands on the keyboard,
    and the mind processes what the heart can only feel

    The poetry meets the eye that yearns for the light
    and the tears release what the mind can’t contain

    The Lance Corporal stands at attention
    and lines are drawn in the lead up to a song

    Two haikus mix in with the adagio
    and the philosopher paints in words the dying of the light

    The banker counts down to one night of doom
    and an innocent becomes another number In the column of gloom

    The one in Europe, he too wants to share
    and so did the soldier, the learned, the apostle’s namesake

    Shakespeare is invoked by the faithful librarian
    and a prayer is offered as if in reply to a query

    But the heart of the Society, she sings
    and we know now the words will keep pouring in poetry and song

    Because there lies our courage and fears and hope
    Right there.

    • karlgarcia says:


    • Ah, what a beautiful year-end tribute to the heart of this eclectic collective, thanks, Cha. Best wishes to you for a warm and loving holiday season, and on into the new year. Best as well to all the fine men and women who lurk, visit, comment, and lift our minds and hearts by just being here now and then. Joe

    • chemrock says:

      And a pink elephant walked into the room
      To remind us all is not doom and gloom.

      By the way, most of you may not remember the Elephant Jokes craze of the 60s. The one I like best was Isaac Ashimov’s joke on the Dallas shooting of Oswald by Jack Ruby. Here’s the local twist.

      Reporter : Mr President what is your view of the shooting of Espinosa in the police cell.
      President : Oh I didn’t notice anything wrong.

  13. karlgarcia says:

    Maybe they should do a headcount while they are at it.
    Many have defected. The magnificent seven is not even all LP, I guess (is Lagman,LP?).
    In the senate Trillanes and Hontiveros are not LP,but I guess this consolidation of forces should form the coaltion we were talking about just a few days ago.

    Before accepting the death penalty and federalism, a healthy debate must be ensured,and that could only be posdible with a healthy opposition.

  14. “As you observe this momentous occasion, may you all be reminded of your pivotal role in ensuring and sustaining the operational readiness of your units while being prudent so that your actions would strictly adhere to international humanitarian law, human rights and the rule of law,” Duterte said.

    “I ask you to embolden yourselves to epitomize the AFP’s core values of honor, service and patriotism,” he added.”

    Nagbabago ba ang ihip ng hangin o joke-joke na naman ito? You are not funny, PRD.

  15. PRD’s trust rating is starting to slide. Puzzling is the rating by the class D and E, the very people who are getting the brunt of the drug war.

    James Taylor is not coming to PH as a protest against EJKs. He will not be the last artist/performer who will forgo a PH show for principle if the killings are unabated.

    “I don’t think of my music as particularly political but sometimes one is called upon to make a political stand.”

  16. edgar lores says:


    “Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.

    Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave,
    eats a bread it does not harvest,
    and drinks a wine that flows not from its own wine-press.

    Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
    and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

    Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,
    yet submits in its awakening.

    Pity the nation that raises not its voice
    save when it walks in a funeral,
    boasts not except among its ruins,
    and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
    between the sword and the block.

    Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
    whose philosopher is a juggler,
    and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking

    Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,
    and farewells him with hooting,
    only to welcome another with trumpeting again.

    Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years
    and whose strongmen are yet in the cradle.

    Pity the nation divided into fragments,
    each fragment deeming itself a nation.”

    ― Kahlil Gibran, The Garden of The Prophet

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