18 Jun


It was the only Filipino martial arts class that I found in Queens.

And I was the only Filipino in it.

Even my teacher was white.

So, when another Filipino showed up one night,

I got so excited

That I came up to him

Speaking in Tagalog.

But all he did

Was give me one, long look,

Raise his eyebrow

And say,

“Uh, I don’t speak Tagalog.”

I never spoke to him after.

And he went to every other martial arts class in our dojo

Except the Filipino weapons one.


As it turns out,

He was an incoming freshman

At my college.

I walk into our student org room

And there he was.

He wasn’t so rude, after all.

And it changed

When one night, in our dojo

I was persuaded by my sensei to stay for jujitsu

A martial arts which entails a lot of body contact

And he had been assigned to teach me.

I had to keep myself from laughing

At how emabarassed he was

When, at one point, he had to be on top of me

Just to teach me a hold and a choke

And he became more than an uppity kid

Who didn’t know Tagalog


I kissed him in a roomful

Of noisy chaotic college kids

And he started learning Tagalog.


Mag-iwan ng Tugon

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