Tuesday, April 13, 2010


My Reading of “Florence” by Joel Toledo

In another land, we can still call a rose as a rose and we can utter the word silence with its same name. But then we still have our own view of what a rose really is and what silence really means.

The poem “Florence” by Joel Toledo enabled me to formulate these thoughts. It made me realized that wherever a Filipino is, he continuously nurtures in his heart and mind our very own beliefs, ideals and principles. He undyingly cultivates the qualities which are uniquely Pinoy.

My ideas may be elaborated through what Manuel L. Quezon III said about being a true Juan de la Cruz:
“Ang isang totoong Juan de la Cruz, na minsa’y tamad, minsa’y puno ng mga dalisay na damdamin at paminsan-minsan din ay dumadaing. Masasabi natin na wala sigurong sulok ng mundo na hindi sinugod ng Pilipino, mga kababayan natin na naghahanap at nagtitiis, upang makamit ang mga oportunidad upang maging mas maginhawa ang buhay para sa sarili at kanilang pamilya.Kung nasaan man ang Pinoy, doon din mahahanap ang kasiyahan, ang ‘di-malubog at ‘di-malulunod na pagmamahal sa ligaya, kanta, pagkain at pakikisama na masasabing genuwayn na tatak ng pagka-Pinoy.”

But even though Filipinos can easily adapt to new cultures without neglecting their very own and can smoothly find a so called “home” in the foreign land they are working in, still they can’t deny their loneliness, their longing to the things which are truly ours and the constant pain from the wound of being a stranger.

You walk with the gait of a tourist, of course,
and you are. Roses are red, you begin, taking pride
in the given. Now everyone’s looking away.
They are all guilty and blushing. And you are
saying these things because you are wounded.
The roses lie crushed and your hands are bleeding.

The same hurt from a stranger’s wound is expressed on Dr. Cirilo Bautista’s poem “In An American Graveyard.”

So much grass shifting bones under the oak
the world swims in grief; black the rock is
remember, not the mind, ikoned with moss
fat around the eyes with dates illness broke
to candlelight, closing in final smoke
the blood’s diary. Pain stands guard, rises
in poplars saying, “Stranger, notice
our teeth – we are happy,” while in a cloak
of cement resides the monarch of snow
Around my muscles, as carrions go
in antique verbs, whirl calendrics which phrase
my dust, break my name in medial space
to flog me with their secret primal sounds –-
I, a stranger, stunned by this silence that wounds.