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ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


MY POEM TODAY was prompted by poet Rita Gadi's poem on the displaced Lumads. They have been as quite as the venerable mountains in the valleys they called home. Wounded, they must now go back the same mountains with their kris (swords) unsheathed. These, too, are as old as these mountains. (This was earlier included in an anthology of poems protesting the displacement of the Lumads edited by Philippine Graphic editor Joel Pablo Salud)


(For the Displaced Lumads)

Listen to them whimper with the wind:
“We were here even before the hunters,
Scorched dry even before the rivers
Have caked into mud, molted into mire.
We will be here till time decrees our end.”

"Estábamos aqui antes de oro
En las casas de los ladrones;
Entonces, según de principio
Y vergüenza, vamos a sierras;
Porque no? Ellos están Viejas."

Not all the lust for life, gold and its lustre
In this pretend paradise-regained matter.
They were there even before hoary time
Stood still currying to man’s sad fantasies
Of earning back his purloined happiness.

"Estábamos aqui antes de oro
En las casas de las malditas;
Entonces, según de principio
Y vergüenza, vamos a sierras;
Porque no? Ellos están Viejas." *

Arid now, the mountain bent at its knees
Will turn to desert yet, and its hunger
Will be fed by sand clusters ripped by wind
That has brought fire burning their homes
long nurtured by mute mountain valleys.

* "We were here before the gold
In those houses of the evil ones;
Of course, as a matter of principle
And shame, we go to the mountains;
Why not? They have become venerable.”

"So have our unsheathed kris. They are as old."


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