6 Oct

My mother’s name is Gabriela
And people call her Gabby
Her kumares in the mahjong games
Her fellow teachers in Manila

My mother’s name is Gabriela
And people call her Gilda
Her cousins and second cousins
The people in our small town in Samar.

My mother’s name is Gabriela
But her sisters and her brothers called her Manang
And we called her Mama
Feisty, prank-playing, hard-drinking, cigarette-smoking woman

Who calls me “walang-hiya, walang utang na loob
Puta ka, para kang tatay mo
At ate mo, nagsisinungaling sa akin.”
As I go out of the door to join the rally.

I was part of this woman, Gabriela.
Nestled in her womb for 9 months
And before that, merely a cell in her body,
Part of her, part of Gabriela.

I wonder if she knows that I am still part of her
Taking that same breath
Inhaling and exhaling my nervousness
As I march down to the US embassy, holding a flag
Seeing the line of riot shields and helmets.

I wonder if she knows that I am still part of her,
As I link arms with an old woman, wrinkled and toothless,
Yelling “Abante Babae, Palaban Militante.”
Is she opening her mouth, too, to yell?

The same way that over three hundred years ago,
Gabriela Silang must have yelled, and screamed her anger out
As she took up arms against the Spaniards
For taking the land that was hers and making her pay for it
For the rape of every indio woman by ever Spanish soldier and friar
The sword and the cross leaving us with an indelible mark of colonized

The same way that women

In over 200 hundred revolts before 1898
In the Philippine-US war at the beginning of the 20th century
In the HUKBALAHAP fighting the Japanese in 1941
In the First Quarter Storm of 1971
In the protest against the World Bank-funded Chico River Dam development in 1980
In the streets after the execution of Flor Contemplacion 1995.
Must have all raised their voices

An echo reverberating throughout Time and History
And Place to Place
Part of me as I am part of them
As I am part of her,


Your turn, Val.


3 Tugon to “GABRIELA”

  1. lainerz Oktubre 20, 2010 Sa 12:20 umaga #

    dear mel, i love your blog and writings. yun lang =)

  2. lainerz Disyembre 16, 2010 Sa 8:12 umaga #

    anung nangyari sayu? nawala ka ba? cmon…sulat na!

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