Thursday, January 22, 2009


I wrote this short story back in high school...

Her tiny body moved gently back and forth against the woman’s side, her legs dangled and swayed with each sure step her mother took. In the distance she could see the outline of the tranquil volcano, dense clouds looming at its peek. The woman, who was heavy with child, reached up to fix the placement of the short tight braids she had lovingly created earlier on the head of the girl she carried and then touched her own hair, which hung thick and matted against her sweaty neck. The child looked down at the woman’s bare feet, which were dusty and deeply scared from years of walking on sharp rocks that covered the endless path beneath them. Her face was worn-- old even though her skin was without age. The constant clamor of chickens and children and vendors haggling their wears was barely audible to their ears. On the woman walked, her mind as empty as her heart.

The girl lifted her thumb to her mouth. She never uttered a word. Just gazed ahead, her big black eyes piercing. The path made a sharp turn and soon they were at a small, muddy stream. The woman sat the child down in the shallow current of the stream and began to wash her. Scrubbing the child’s delicate skin with reeds from the water she sang softly “Lupa ng araw, buhay ay langit sa piling mo; Aming ligaya, na pag may mang-aapi, ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo.” (Beautiful land of love. In thine embrace ‘tis rapture to lie; but it is glory ever when thou art wronged for us thy sons to suffer and die.) When she was through, she placed the child in the dry grasses, walked over to the stream and untied her dress.

The woman sat naked on the banks of the water. A wave of pain seared through her body. She arched her back and felt the hot sun on her face- it was time. Her body quivered with anticipation, she swallowed back a scream . Within a short while, the boy made his entrance into the world. Her large, calloused hands reached to catch him out of the murky water. He opened his tiny mouth in a squeal, but was silenced as the woman quickly put him to her breast. The boy reacted with delight and nursed contently, soon closing his eyes. The woman glanced over at the girl still sitting in the grass, sucking her thumb, and glaring.

The woman looked down at the baby lazily tugging at her breast, and without a word, firmly placed her hand on the back of his head and thrust the infant’s nose deeply into her skin. She held him there while he squirmed, wondering how long it would take. Soon, his tiny body grew still and limp. She released her grip on the back of his head and the body rolled upward. “Agbulos padios,” (I let you go to God) she whispered, and began to cleanse the body in the water. Looking at his delicate futures, a solitary tear escaped from the corner of her eye. Her hand caressed his tiny nose, slid down the soft, round mound of his cheek and under his square chin She dug a shallow grave and placed the boy in it, coving the void with dirt. When she was finished, leaving small trails with her finger in the dust, she wrote, ‘Ummei.’ (Destiny.) The woman walked back to the stream and stepped back into the water. Again she sang “Lupang Hinirang, duyan ka ng magiting, sa manlulupig, di ka pasisiil.” (Land dear and holy, cradle of noble heroes, ne’er shall invaders trample thy sacred shores.) When she was finished bathing, she lay down next to the child in the grasses and they slept.

When the sun was in the western sky they awoke and continued their journey. Hunger reflected in the toddler’s eyes, but the woman walked on oblivious, even to her own hunger. They became aware of new sounds; sounds of birds and crickets beginning their nightly praises. Shadows creped along the path. The woman stopped, turned her face towards the heavens and closed her eyes. After a moment she looked at the child, “Batac ng awa,” (Child of Mercy,) she muttered, “tignan bago ng langit.” (Look to the heavens.) With her hand she tenderly lifted the child’s head in the direction of the evening sky. Stars endless in number reflected in the baby girl’s eyes. “Ayo dumalaw muti.” (We shall meet again.) Their eyes met, for a moment, in a flash of understanding. The woman walked on.

They soon reached a small cement building filled with the glow of soft light, and the sounds of many children settling into bed. The woman peered through the window. A younger woman sat in a rocking chair holding an infant wrapped in a blanket. “Americano,” the woman whispered. Quietly she knocked on the heavy, wooden door.

The light-skinned woman inside stood up, gently laying the infant she was holding in a nearby sleeping-basket, and came to the door. “Ano po pangalan niya?” (What is the her name?) she asked, gesturing towards the girl.

“Ito si Malaya Awitan,” (Malaya Awitan is her name) the mother woman shyly responded, turning her eyes to the earth.

“Marikit,” the stranger said cautiously reaching for the child.

“Salamat po,” (“thank-you ma’am”) the mother whispered. Handing the baby over she quickly turned away.

“Magandang Gabi.” (Goodnight.) The woman called as the child’s mother walked off into the night. She closed the door and looked at the girl in her arms for the first time in detail. She did not see a child, in the eyes that studied back at her, what she saw was a the heartache of a tribe, of a nation, whose banner stood for allegiance only and not for it’s people. and she saw a mother who risked her life to give a daughter, a nonentity, the liberty to blossom.

The child’s mother stopped a few feet away from the orphanage and watched her baby through the window for the last time. “Paalam, matamis bata,” (Goodbye, my sweet child,) she wept, tears incessantly, streaming down her face.

The child, christened Freedom, raised her little hand from the other side of the door and pleaded out in her almost insignificant voice, “inay.” (Mama)

Translation/Explanation Page:

1. Lualhati: “Spiritual Peace”

The woman longs for spiritual peace, knows she will never obtain it, and selflessly gives her daughter (a nothing in the tribe she belongs to) the opportunity to find that peace.

2. Lupa ng araw, buhay ay langit sa piling mo; aming ligaya, na pag may mang-aapi, ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo:

* Philippine National Anthem v5:

“Beautiful land of love. In thine embrace tis rapture to lie; but it is glory ever when thou art wronged for us thy sons to suffer and die”

Symbolism, justifying the murder of the woman’s son. Boys are valuable to the tribe, so it’s better for them to die than to betray their people (which by being adopted would do)

3. Agbulos padios:

Literally means: To let go to God

4. Ummei

Name: “Destiny”

His destiny was to be a martyr of his people and of their ways.

5. Lupang Hinirang, duyan ka ng magiting, sa manlulupig, di ka pasisiil.

* Philippine National Anthem v2

Land dear and holy, cradle of noble heroes, ne’er shall invaders trample thy sacred shores.

6. Batac ng awa. tigan bago ng langit. Ayo dumamlaw muti

“Child of mercy, look to the heavens. We shall meet again.”

7. Ano po pangalan niya:

“What is her name?”

8. Ito si:

“This is...”

9. Malaya Atiwan:

Name: “freedom song”

I chose the name Freedom song because the child was granted her freedom and she will forever be able to sing about it

10. Marikit:


11. Salamat po:

“Thank-you ma’am”

Po, is a term used with elders as a sign of repect.

12. Mangadang Gabi:


13. Paalam, matamis bata

“Goodbye, sweet child”

14. Inay


Literally: mommy or mama typically used by young children to address their mothers

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