Thursday, February 11, 2016


ni E. SAN JUAN, Jr.

Damdam ko'y banayad at walang pangamba habang tumatawid
sa lansangang patungo sa hulugan ng koreo
sa tabi ng palengke sa Krus-na-Ligaw, Quezon City.

Payapa, maalwan.  Matimpi't
matimbang ang tikas, maingat. Dahan-dahan ang pagtunton.
Nasulyapan ang mga paskil ng pelikula, mga kandidato sa darating na halalan at grapiti sa maruming pader....

Hinagod ang kapaligiran, Internet Cafe, tindahan, nag-aalok ng kakanin,
tuhog-tuhog, talyer ng eksperto sa tatoo, hain din ang hilot, himas,
nakatatakam na tukso.  Nakalalaway ang amoy ng inihaw,
barbeque raw ng baboy, manok, aso? Singaw ng piniritong bawang, sibuyas, kamatis, konting bagoong....

Napansin kong may mukhang nakangiti sa salamin sa barberyang naraanan, nakangiti sa larawan ng Birhen.  Walang pagsisisi sa pag-iisang ito. Walang pagtitimpi o pagtitika?
Ulila ma'y walang atubili, alinlangan, tiwala sa bawat hakbang.
Sinong maiingit o manghihinayang?

Ulila ma'y nakasandig pa rin
sa matatag na talampakan. Tumawid sa nagsangang landas, lusot sa balag at barb-wire na bakod. Napansin ang palumpon ng bulaklak--rosas, kalachuchi sampagita, nilingon pa ang nawasak na matinik na tarangkahan....

Nakatuwad na ang araw nang lumiko sa matuwid na daan
at sumapit sa palikuran. Hindi na mapigil.  Ay naku!

Isang pilay at duling na babae ang sumilip mula sa taksing humagibis. Lunes ba ngayon o Linggo pa?
Tanda ko pa, napuwing ako, nakapandong na itim
ang babaeng iyon. Isang karaniwang pangyayari. Tanda ko
kahit walang bakas sa gunita, bakas ng paang lumisan
mula sa butas ng sepulkro kung kailan pa iyon.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


The Philippine Tangle
by William James 
Boston Evening Transcript
(March 1, 1899) 
An observer who should judge solely by the sort of evidence which the newspapers present might easily suppose
that the American people felt little concern about the perfor
mances of our Government in the Philippine Islands, and
were practically indifferent to their moral aspects. The cann
on of our gunboats at Manila and the ratification of the
treaty have sent even the most vehement anti-imperialist journals temporarily to cover, and the bugbear of
copperheadism has reduced the freest tongues for a while to
silence. The excitement of battle, this time as always,
has produced its cowing and disorganizing effect upon the opposition.
But since then, Executive and
all, we have been swept away by the
overmastering flood. And now what it has
swept us into is an adventure that in sober seriousness
and definite English speech must be described as literally
piratical. Our treatment of the Aguinaldo movement at Manila and at Iloilo is piracy positive and absolute, and the
American people appear as pirates pure and simple, as da
y by day the real facts of the situation are coming to the
What was only vaguely apprehended is now clear with
a definiteness that is startling indeed. Here was a
people towards whom we felt no ill-will, against whom we had not even a slanderous rumor to bring; a people for
whose tenacious struggle against their Spanish oppressors we have for years past spoken (so far as we spoke of them
at all) with nothing but admiration and sympathy. Here wa
s a leader who, as the Spanish lies about him, on which
we were fed so long, drop off, and as the truth gets
more and more known, appears as an exceptionally fine
specimen of the patriot and national hero; not only daring, but honest; not only a fighter, but a governor and
organizer of extraordinary power. Here were the precious beginnings of an indigenous national life, with which, if
we had any responsibilities to these islands at all, it was our first duty to have squared ourselves. Aguinaldo's
movement was, and evidently deserved to be, an ideal p
opular movement, which as far as it had had time to exist
was showing itself "fit" to survive and
likely to become a health
y piece of national self-development. It was all we
had to build on, at any rate, so far -- if we had any de
sire not to succeed to the Span
iards' inheritance of native
And what did our Administration do? So far as the facts have leaked out, it issued instructions to the
commanders on the ground simply to freeze Aguinaldo out, as a dangerous rival with whom all compromising
entanglement was sedulously to be avoided by the great
Yankee business concern. We were not to "recognize" him,
we were to deny him all account of our intentions; and in ge
neral to refuse any account of our intentions to anybody,
except to declare in abstract terms their "benevolence," until
the inhabitants, without a pledge of any sort from US,
should turn over their country into our hands. Our Pres
ident's bouffe-proclamation was the only thing vouchsafed:
"We are here for your own good; therefore unconditionally surrender to our tender mercies, or we'll blow you into
kingdom come."
It is horrible, simply horrible. Surely there cannot be
many born and bred American
s who, when they look at
the bare fact of what we are doing, the fact taken all by
itself, do not feel this, and do not blush with burning shame
at the unspeakable meanness and ignominy of the trick?
Why, then, do we go on? First, the war fever; and then the pride which always refuses to back down when
under fire. But these are passions that interfere with the r
easonable settlement of any affair; and in this affair we
have to deal with a factor altogether peculiar with our be
lief, namely, in a national destiny which must be "big" at
any cost, and which for some inscrutable reason it has become infamous for us to disbelieve in or refuse. We are to
be missionaries of civilization, and to bear the white man'
s burden, painful as it often is. We must sow our ideals,
plant our order, impose our God. The individual lives are nothing. Our duty and our destiny call, and civilization
must go on.
Could there be a more damning indictment of that whole bloated idol termed "modern civilization" than this
amounts to? Civilization is, then, the big,
hollow, resounding, corrupting, sophis
ticating, confusing
torrent of mere
brutal momentum and irrationality that brings forth fruits li
ke this! It is safe to say that one Christian missionary,
whether primitive, Protestant or Catholic, of the original missionary type, one Buddhist or Mohammedan of a
genuine saintly sort, one ethical reformer or philanthropist,
or one disciple of Tolstoi would do more real good in
these islands than our whole army and navy can possibly ef
fect with our whole civiliza
tion at their back. He could
build up realities, in however small a degree; we can only
destroy the inner realities; and indeed destroy in a year
more of them than a generation can make good.
It is by their moral fruits exclusively that these benigh
ted brown people, "half-devil an
d half-child" as they are,
are condemned to judge a civilization.
Ours is already execrated by th
em forever for its hideous fruits.
Shall it not in so far forth be execrated by ourselves
? Shall the unsophisticated verdict upon its hideousness
which the plain moral sense pronounces avail nothing to stem
the torrent of mere empty "bigness" in our destiny,
before which it is said we must all knock under, swallo
wing our higher sentiments with a gulp? The issue is
perfectly plain at last. We are cold-bloodedly, wantonly and abominably destroying the soul of a people who never
did us an atom of harm in their lives. It is bald, brutal piracy, impossible to dish up any longer in the cold pot-grease
of President McKinley's cant at the r
ecent Boston banquet -- surely as sham
efully evasive a speech, considering the
right of the public to know definite facts, as can ofte
n have fallen even from a professional politician's lips. The
worst of our imperialists is that they do not themselves know where sincerity ends and insincerity begins. Their state
of consciousness is so new, so mixed of primitively human passions and, in political circles, of calculations that are
anything but primitively human; so at variance, moreover, with their former mental habits -- and so empty of
definite data and contents; that they face various ways at
once, and their portraits should be taken with a squint. One
reads the President's speech with a st
range feeling -- as if the very words were squinting on the page.
The impotence of the private individual, with imperialism under full headway as it is, is deplorable indeed.
But every American has a voice or a pen, and may use it. So, impelled by my own sense of duty, I write these
present words. One by one we shall creep from cover, an
d the opposition will organize itself. If the Filipinos hold
out long enough, there is a good chance (the canting game
being already pretty well
played out, and the piracy
having to show itself henceforward naked) of the older American beliefs and sentiments coming to their rights
again, and of the Administration being terrified into
a conciliatory policy towards the native government.
The programme for the opposition should, it seems to me, be radical. The infamy and iniquity of a war of
conquest must stop. A "protectorate," of course, if they
will have it, though after this they would probably rather
welcome any European Power; and as regards the inner stat
e of the island, freedom, "fit" or "unfit;" that is, home
rule without humbugging phrases, and what
ever anarchy may go with it until the
Filipinos learn from each other, not
from us, how to govern themselves. Mr. Adams's progra
mme -- which anyone may have by writing to Mr. Erving
Winslow, Anti-Imperialist League, Washington, D.C. -- seems to contain the only hopeful key to the situation. Until
the opposition newspapers seriously begin, and the mass mee
tings are held, let every American who still wishes his
country to possess its ancient soul -- soul a thousand tim
es more dear than ever, now that it seems in danger of
perdition -- do what little he can in the way of ope
n speech and writing, and above all let him give his
representatives and senators in Wash
ington a positive piece of his mind.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Foreword to Peter McLaren's PEDAGOGY OF INSURRECTION


by E. San Juan, Jr.

    For citizens of the informed public sphere everywhere, Peter Mclaren needs no introduction. He is one of the world's most distinguished educators, the key architect of "revolutionary critical pedagogy," to quote his colleague Paula Allman. His substantial academic record of over 45 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, beginning from his pathbreaking Life in Schools to his epoch-making Che Guevarra, Paulo Freire and the Pedagogy of Revolution, is widely known. It unfolds a chronicle of passionate engagement with radical social movements and popular-democratic forces of change spanning over 30 years. It serves as a testimony to an examined life in the service of humanity, in particular "les damnes de la terre."

    "Wretched of the earth," Frantz Fanon's rubric for the colonized peoples of the global South, signals what is crucial in McLaren's new endeavor.  It is a point of departure for finessing of the weapons of critical pedagogy in the age of the wars of terror, planetary surveillance, legal torture, genocidal drone assassinations, in this mystifying regime of disaster capitalism. As a leading public intellectual, McLaren seeks a rearming of the collective spirit to explore possibilities for resistance and transformation of social life.

    Here we witness a novel turn in McLaren's career. But it is a dialectical move, negating but also preserving elements of the old in a new configuration. Mclaren began as a school teacher in Canada. After involvement in youth activism and the international protest against the anti-Indochina wars, McLaren earned his doctorate from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. His early rich  experience in frontline teaching (1974-79) is intimately documented in Life in Schools. It was followed by his scholarly dissertation on Schooling as a Ritual Performance: Towards a Political Ecoonomy of Educational Symbolos and Gestures (1986).

    In his early teaching and research, McLaren's expertise in critical literacy, ethnography, and curriculum studies reflected his Weberian interest in the politics of consumption and lifestyle identity nuanced with Frankfurt Critical Theory. With the outbreak of of global capitalism's crisis after the end of the Vietnam War, and the attempt of the neoconservative bloc (Reagan and Thatcher's reactionary attacks on unions and the social-welfare consensus) to roll back revolutions in Central and South America, as well as in Africa and Asia (support of dictatorships in Chile, the Philippines, apartheid rule in South Africa, etc) until the explosion in 2008, McLaren's thinking underwent delicate recalibration, if not a subtle retooling of the critical-pedagogy paradigm.

    In the trajectory of McLaren's development, 1994 is marked as the pivotal year of change. His encounter with the ideas and example of Paulo Freire, the great Brazilian thinker, functioned as a heuristic and catalyzing influence. Freire negated the neoliberal hubris of possessive individualism and replaced it with the secular ideal of a community of learners-teachers. Freire's vision of education as freedom for action was simultaneously realistic, utopian, and self-critical. 
    This encounter harbored germinal insights for McLaren's future work. The re-discovery of Jesus of the Gospels as a foundational communist, the origin of the narrative of Christian communism, has given his Marxist humanism a new line of approach in the "war of position" against predatory capitalism. McLaren now wrestles with questions prompted by his synthesis of critical pedagogy as a praxis of class-struggle and a neoGramscian approach to constructing the counter-hegemony of the "wretched of the earth." He asks:  "How can we reclaim Jesus as a fellow communist?... After all, it was not Marx who established the final criterion for judging the authenticity of one’s life as a concern for all peoples in need. It was comrade Jesus. How do we move beyond a new left narrative of redistribution and defence of public services? How do we get up and run an antagonistic social and political paradigm to neoliberalism? How can forms of popular power from below be transferred into a new historical bloc?"  These are urgent questions not to be postponed for a future agenda of organic intellectuals.

    The application of historical-materialist methodology leads us to "Comrade Jesus." As Enrique Dussel (in The Ethics of Liberation) has pointed out, we find the ethical criteria of those subjugated by the Empire in the primacy of "corporeal carnality," the community" and its carnal needs, summed up in Matthew 25: 35-36: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me" (for a feminist angle, see Elisabeth Fiorenza, Bread Not Stone, 1995).  In this context, McLaren affirms that Jesus' "intransigent condemnation of the rich" and the vision/prophecy of a classless society that emerges from the abolition of private property and alienated labor, is a message "grounded in the establishment of justice and life now, at this very moment."

    This detour to the Gospels actually brings us back to the real world of contradictions, to the historicity of lived experience. We rediscover the world of sensuous practice which resolves the classic duality of immanence and transcendence, idealism and materialism, and the historic disjunction of manual and mental labor. Social agency reveals itself in the metabolism of human needs and nature, of congnition and material conditions. We grasp anew the "community of life" where bodies with their potential and actual powers interact with the natural life-world--Marx's fundamental insights expressed in the 1844 Manuscripts and Grundrisse. A similar experience occurred in the Philippines during the nightmarish U.S.-Marcos dictatorship (1972-1986) when partisans of the movement against U.S. imperialism invented a theology of struggle and organized the Christians for National Liberation. Both lay persons and church workers joined hands with national-democratic movement guerillas in the fight for social justice and genuine sovereignty.  "People's war" waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines since the 1960s articulated a program of structural transformation partly inspired by the Latin American theology of liberation initiated by Gustavo Gutierrez, Leonardo Boff, and others.

    In the essay on "Comrade Jesus," McLaren revitalizes the principles of materialist dialectics with his account of his visit to San Juan Chamula where the indigenous farmers of Mayan lineage now struggle with the Zapatistas. He also celebrates the people's mobillizations in Detroit and in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for basic rights to water and other vital resources, against corporate greed and cynical bourgeois reforms. They serve as examples of self-management and decolonizing collective praxis. These enduring struggles for food, health care, housing, education, and other basic human rights on an international scale (including the phenomenal Occupy Wall Street insurrection) have now expanded and enriched the revolutionary critical pedagogy that McLaren initiated in the last decades of the last century.

    Operating on the terrain of ideological struggle, Mclaren's militant cultural politics evolves in resonance with the times. It continues to confront state apparatuses of reification, media commodity-fetishism, and networks of power that construct identity/performative subjects. It strives to expose the limits of nihilistic deconstruction, anarchist pragmatism, and the biopolitics of the multitude. His interventions into the embattled sites of popular culture, of common-sensical habitus in the urban life-world colonized by racist-sexist politics of white supremacy, seek to analyze institutional relations of power and their reproduction. McLaren's vocation has always been  to discover opportunities in classroom and community life susceptible to mediation, resistance and transformation. His commitment to advance the project of producing subjects or agencies of liberation empowered with sensuous rationality and reflexive structures of feeling, is vibrantly demonstrated in this new work.

    As Paulo Freire noted in his preface to McLaren's Critical Pedagogy and Predatory Culture, we are fortunate to become "intellectual cousins" of Mclaren by sharing (through his discourse and his example) the knowledge and skills needed for conscientized participation in changing our world by sharing with, and cooperating in, the struggle of the "wretched of the earth" for our all-encompassing liberation from the barbarism of global capitalism and for the survival of the planet.

---E. SAN JUAN, Jr.
Professorial Lecturer, Polytechnic University of the Philippines
Manila, Philippines


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Poems of Engagement: E. San Juan, Jr. and the
Various Philippine Political Dispensations

  • by Tomasito  T.  Talledo
  • Division of Social Sciences
  • University of the Philippines Visayas
  • Miag-ao, Iloilo
  • <>

        This essay aims to capture the continuing engagements of the poems written by E. San Juan, Jr. with the selected four Philippine po-litical dispensations, namely, administrations under Corazon Aquino, Fi-del Ramos, Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. These were post-Marcos administrations that claimed to be popularly elected yet distressed by disquieting vox populi. Supposedly they were dispen-sations that restored formal democratic institutions after the ouster of Marcos’ autocratic rule but failed to escape the odious label as regimes dependent upon the support of the world’s chief unilateralist -- the po-litically imperial United States of America. In other words, they are ex-emplary dispensations fitting as objects of critical examination, they are dispensations that E. San Juan, Jr. elected to continuously discourse on in his poems even after Marcos. Earlier collected poems by E. San Juan, Jr. already recorded those struggles against Marcos martial rule but they deserve our separate attention elsewhere and in some other time.

        When one does not subscribe to the thesis that the Marcos’ autocratic rule phenomenon was something unique and singular in our recent history, that it was in fact a kind of “solution-as-conclusion” ar-rived at when class contradictions in the Philippines were at its peak during that historical juncture, what followed then was the thesis of continuing problem, the deep down spiralling of social crises that are cognizable registers in San Juan’s later poems. Indeed, the erstwhile “US-Marcos dictatorship” was ousted by popular uprising in 1986, but the poet is only too familiar with the farce that Marx referred to in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte thence he pursues his committed writings. The gyrating forces of neo-colonial relations and underdevel-opment had further impelled San Juan to remain awake, to vigil still, when many amongst us already went to sleep lulled as we were by the sweet bourgeois songs of Ibong Adarna.

        Very like “kalamansi sa sugat” were the spicy, stinging, disquiet-ing poems written by E. San Juan, Jr. that were addressed to the re-gimes of Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Erap Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; those severe reminders which could have kept us awake and should have prevented us from turning into unfeeling stones. San Juan’s poetry is not “magical as a seagull,” its dictions feel like a stinging whip that draws no blood.

Early Readings of E. San Juan’s Texts

        The Pilipino literary criticisms of E. San Juan in 1960s made used of Formalism, though he was not a fervent subscriber to its tenets, ac-cording to scholar Soledad Reyes (1977). In fact, he later disavowed the Formalist approach, but his English poems published in 1964 to 1965 were not able to escape formalist reading by critics. Literary critic L. M. Grow found in San Juan’s English poems, the “lyric voice” and “the comic voice” as the poet’s “saving grace”. This appears to me a formal-ist modus operandi of judgement as it was characterized by a double-faced task of putting-down and lifting-up what the critic considers as in-trinsic worth and inadequacies of a poetic work. The critic writes, “... lyric interludes are rare in San Juan. He easily drifts into dullness by simply writing uninspired prose in the form of verse” (Grow 1992: p.525).

Yet much later the critic reluctantly concluded, “many readers will find San Juan’s poetry repulsive because crude – even gross – it is his humor, if anything, which is its saving grace” (p. 529).” Ambivalence as virtue appears to be a fixation of formalist judgement. The same critic later acknowledges that San Juan’s Filipino poems in 1964 and 1965 – “Kundiman XL,” “Eklipse ng Buwan at Araw sa nayon ng Montal-ban,” and “Isang Pangkaraniwang Dalaw” rightly deserved honors in Talaang Ginto contest. It can be asked: is it in the court of ambivalence or of inconsistency where the formalist judgement is pronounced when the poet’s case is in the language that the critic does not share? A cur-sory view here suggests that San Juan’s poetic frame went through a process of metamorphosis.

Literary scholar Soledad Reyes produced an assessment of San Juan’s writings, mostly literary criticisms in Pilipino, where she grouped those criticisms into two periods: the first, from 1964 to later part of 1968 and the second, from early 1969 to 1973/5 (Reyes 1977). In the first period, Reyes noted that San Juan as a literary critic was freely in-fluenced but did not completely subscribed to the school of the New Critics or English and American Formalism. Reyes’ definition of this ap-proach reads: “The New Critics or Formalists are English and American critics noted for their critical theories and practise, stressing the need for a careful scrutiny of the text and a conscious exploration of the world of the poem as something abstracted from other external data pertaining to the author’s life, to history, and other backgrounds” (see footnote 2 in Reyes 1977: p.302). Never conceiving himself as a severe Formalist, in the first period San Juan maintained the “belief that the development of Philippine literature can be evaluated in terms of the artist’s response to the human condition that he articulates through a conscious use of language” (Reyes 1977: p. 303). But San Juan escaped such prison house of language through healthy self-assessment and dismissal of the idea that one can dream of becoming the Wittgenstein of the Pilipino language.

In the second period, according to Reyes, San Juan has shifted from reluctant formalism to a historico-sociological perspective, his point of arrival at a realization that no creative work can be viewed as something closed and self-contained. Allow me to repeat San Juan’s self-admission as quoted by Reyes: “... I soon learned that without a his-toricist and materialist grounding, the partially valid insights of existen-tialism, Freudian rationalism, archetypal speculations, phenomenology, and other idealist styles of thought, would never lead to an objective revolutionary understanding of life – of the reality of one’s specific time and place judged in concrete perspective” (Reyes 1977: p. 316). With these words, San Juan finally plunged into the waters of his future po-litical writings. When he made this self-admission in fact, it was 1971, the ominous year described as “may balana ng unos sa bundok,” in a poetic line that appeared in the underground publication Ulos (Ordonez 1986: p. 12).

Poems of Engagement from Cory Aquino to Gloria Arroyo

The poems by San Juan selected as subject of our commentary here were understood to be written during his critical engagement with various presidential administrations after Marcos. The appellation “re-gime” is the loaded and widely-used word that critics deploy to charac-terize the periods when the dispensations of Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo were in power. From standard sources, the word regime does not only refer to a particular govern-ment in power but generally the ruling system as well. And in the poems of San Juan we sense that he tries to portray the persisting system of inequality that fetters social classes even as various presidential dispen-sations succeeded one after another. The poet avers that while on the political exterior names and faces of rulers change, the flawed funda-mentals in Philippine society remained.

In this paper the poems of engagement are those written by San Juan to openly expose and oppose the various regimes after Marcos. The valor in these poems is straightforward, their message unabashed, they are the poet’s head-on confrontation with phony optimism of op-pressors, business-as-usual timidity of the middle class and quietist poli-tics of the day. Where there is a preference for don’t-rock-the-boat dis-course among consumers of media products; and where self-control is hallowed by producers of the imaginary when they portray the powers that be -- San Juan was no longer patient with Formalist ambiguity un-less perhaps such ambiguity is Leninist clandestinity. His poems bravely capture and pitilessly critique the social conditions that characterized the succeeding post-Marcos regimes.

The poems/tula selected for exemplifications were part of the E. San Juan, Jr.’s already published collections such as “Alay sa Paglikha ng Bukang Liwayway,” 2000 by the Ateneo de Manila Press, “Sapagkat Iniibig Kita at iba pang bagong tula,” 2004 by the University of the Philippines Press, “Salud Algabre, Babaeng Mandirigma at iba pang tula,” 2007 by the University of San Agustin Publishing House, and “Bu-kas, Maynilad!” 2009 by Philippine Cultural Studies Center in Storrs, Connecticut. The selected poems also came from Eduard C. Dionio’s un-dergraduate terminal essay requirement of his senior Literature course that I suggested and later on supervised (Dionio 2010). The selection of poems focuses more on the details of social reality that are captured in the poems than on the poet’s style and form of writing. Being aware that San Juan has consciously unloaded the previous baggage of For-malism, the selection here is therefore deliberate: the preference is content over form.

The selected poems or mga tula are: “Masaker sa Mendiola: En-ero 22, 1987” and “Litanya para sa Kapayapaan sa Gitna ng Karahasan” for Cory Aquino’s term; “Lagalag sa Makati” and “Megamall sa Metro Manila for Fidel Ramos’ term; “Uyayi sa Panahon ng Terorismo” and “Dalumat ni Felix Razon sa Boston Harbor” for Joseph Estrada’s term; and “Bago Ideklara ang Emergency Rule ng Diktaduryang Arroyo” and “Makabagong Dasal: Madapa ka, Presidente Gloria” for Gloria Macapa-gal Arroyo’s term. Represented by two poems for each presidential dis-pensation after Marcos, there are a total of eight poems for exemplifi-cation.

“Masaker sa Mediola...” and “Litanya para sa Kapayapaan...”
 The Mediola Massacre or what was later termed Black Thursday by journalists happened in January 22, 1987 under Cory Aquino’s dis-pensation. A street march was held then followed by a huge gathering in the city spot near the Presidential palace called Mendiola for the peasants to publicly broadcast their demands revolving around the na-tional issue of land distribution pointing in particular the Cojuanco fam-ily-owned Hacienda Luisita. The paranoiac security forces assigned therein went berserk and the routine dispersal operation turned vio-lent. The gruesome count includes thirteen (13) unarmed peasants that died on the spot, thirty-nine (39) with serious gunshot wounds, and thirty-two (32) suffered various types of injuries. This incident was in-ternationally reported and seriously tarnished the immaculate image of the Cory regime. The anger is a little subdued, yet the poet rages and echoes those howls after the many massacre incidents in our national history
     Abot tanaw na
    Tumatagos sa karimlan ng hirit-ganti
    Sa ilalim ng bandila ng pulang mandirigma
    Abot-tanaw na natin
    Ang liwanag ng sumabog na utak at dugong dumanak
    Sa larangan ng digmaan
    Sa Mendiola

The contented middle-class that felt settled, the devoted constituency of the Cory “yellow” administration was not spared by the poet’s sting-ing scorn.

           Dito sa aming bayan ng Gitnang-Uri
           Mapayapa ang lahat –
           Payapa ang kasama sa bukid na nagpapawis araw-araw, walang kibo
                 Payapa ang mga trabahador na nagbabanat ng buto, walang ingay
           Payapa ang mga babaeng nasa kusina   
          PatuloĆ½ ang luto at laba, walang imik
          Kung may naligaw na pulubi’t palaboy rito
          Mapayapa ring manlilimos o nagugutom, walang ungol

The erstwhile peace enjoyed by the middle-class brought no advance-ments to the lives of those in the lower classes. The progress hoped for after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship by the landless peasants, urban workers and women trapped in their domestic role was not delivered by the middle-class Cory dispensation. If the prevailing temper then was not disappointment, more probably it was betrayal of expectations for the majority populace.

“Lagalag sa Makati” and “Megamall sa Metro Manila”

    San Juan’s poems seek to disrupt the smart propaganda of pros-perity spewed by the media machine of the Ramos regime. While the regime painted a modernist vision of a leaping “tiger economy” for the Philippines, the poet makes sure that reality still bites, “Alumpihit sa umatikbong trapiko, wala ka pang trabaho at ilang/ Buwan ng pasabit-sabit lamang./ Nagbibilang ng poste’t bituin, inaabot ng siyam-siyam.”  The reality includes high rate of unemployment while the local labor market is not capable to absorb the new and young workers. With a contracted local labor market, the burden of average-size household gets heavy. And to shoulder the basic needs of its members, the house-hold affords to sacrifice even its optimism.

    Pumalaot ka sa Ayala Avenue, pikit-matang nilulunok ang bayag
    sa lalamunan
      Humahagibis ang bilis ng tren ni Dr. Zhivago pero hanggang Tutuban
    lang tayo.
    Sa bartolina ng panaginip sumisingit at lumalagos ang amoy
    ng pulbura.
    Walang itulak-kabigin ang pagtitiis, kumapit sa patalim.
To fund its pompous vision, the Ramos regime launched its ambitious programs of deregulation, decentralization and privatization – the full speed globalization of Philippine economy riding the winds of the dreaded neo-liberalism. Aggressive invitations to foreign investments and massive export of warm bodies for their expected remittances were integral to the strategies of the rentier state under Ramos. Such vision was not informed by the dark experiences of South American peoples under neo-liberalism. But when the planned Constitutional change to extend his term of office was derailed, Ramos exited in a whinge for failing to industrialize the country and was disgraced by the Amari deal corruption issue.

“Uyayi sa Panahon ng Terorismo” and “Dalumat ni Felix Razon...”

        The presidential term of Joseph Estrada was the shortest so far since post-World War II history of the country. This short term was nonetheless troubled by terroristic activities such as hostage taking of locals and foreign-ers for ransom, the logistics and casualties of war it launched against Moro rebels but what abruptly truncated his stay in the Chief Executive’s Office was his shameless amassing of monies from gambling operations and the scandals of his personal life. The president whose occupancy of the highest office was propelled by cinematic roles became the casualty of the tele-broadcast of his own impeachment. Here, the poet rudely awakens the gullible movie fan in us by his satirical uyayi or lullaby.

            Gising na, bunsong madungis, humabi ng bagong uyayi
            Manupol ng pulbura’t isabog sa marangyang alta
            Gusi’t bumbong ay bawiin kamusmusay isuka

    By the Boston City harbor, the poet anxiously ruminates what transpires in the Philippines under Estrada. His uneasiness continuously lingers, “Laluna kung nababalitaan ang inhustisya sa ati’y kalabisang lumalatay/ na parusa sa bawat mamamayan – extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances, ma-saker ng mga pesante’t manggagawa...” Piercingly the poet’s private inner voice becomes publicly audible.

“Bago Ideklara ang Emergency Rule...” and “Makabagong Dasal ...”

    The international Human Rights Watch and other bodies that monitor the violations of human rights in the Philippines were simply appalled by the grisly record of the Gloria Arroyo regime. At some point of its rule, its tally of victims exceeded the number of the lengthy Marcos dictatorship. Though Ar-royo ascended into the Presidency as successor of the ousted Estrada, it em-ployed numerous manoeuvres to stay longer in power like the manipulation of election results, open repression of political oppositions, declaration of emer-gency rule, among others. The poet asks the apparent yet disconcerting ques-tion: “Sa pambubusabos at pagmamalupit baka walang hihigit sa ‘tin --/ Di ba nasaksihan ito sa pagmamalabis ng diktaduryang Marcos? At ngayon pa-sistang sundalo ni Col. Palparan, pulis at vigilanteng berdugo ng may po-der?”  This history redux is a cruel farce in our collective impasse and I sense only a few are laughing but numerous are indeed grieving.

    Sharing the sense of frustration by the countless that are fed-up with the excesses of Arroyo regime, San Juan writes the mantra prayer: “Hoy GMA madapa ka madapa ka sapilitan ka ring mawawala.” Now we realize such are poetic and prophetic words of the poet. Former President Gloria Macapa-gal-Arroyo is now isolated while under trial for the crime of plunder.

Concluding Words

    In more than twenty years, the writing of these poems of engagements has registered the poet’s creative combat with the imposing suasions of the succeeding political dispensations after Marcos. Such political commitment must have required from the poet steady patience, unflagging energies and single mindedness – sometimes perhaps, with “pessimism of the mind and op-timism of the will”. Yet almost without rest, the poet continues to dig deep into the bowels of our collective experiences as a nation. He brings to surface what were expediently secreted in the national psyche. He acts like the reli-able “old mole” tunnelling into the communist horizon.

    He piercingly rages against killings of innocents and the business-as-usual nonchalance of the middle class during Cory Aquino’s dispensation; he actively unmasks the smart propaganda of neoliberal globalization during the presidency of Fidel Ramos while poses the reminder that grim reality still bites; during the Estrada administration, he shakes the gullible and passive fan mentality of citizens yet still meditates the fate of our country while located elsewhere outside its territory; he asks disconcerting questions and like an augur prophesizes the downfall of Arroyo.

    San Juan’s poems of engagement are no “sweetness and light” for he “sees his role as part of an organization within a nationwide movement seek-ing thoroughgoing social change” (Ordonez 1986: p. 15).


    Abalajon, Eric P. “New Poems of an Established Poet: Review of Bukas Luwalhating kay Ganda (2013) by E. San Juan, Jr.” BUSAY [Students’ Literary Folio, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines Visayas]. Year 38 2013-2013. Pp. 35-38.

    Casper, Leonard. The Opposing Thumb: Decoding Literature of the Marcos Regime. Quezon City. Giraffe Books. 1995.

    Dionio, Edward C.  Social Conditions and Transformations in the Selected Filipino Poems of E. San Juan, Jr. An Undergraduate Thesis Presented to the Division of Humanities, University of the Philippines Visayas. March 2010.

    Grow, L.M. “Epifanio San Juan, Jr. as a Poet.” Philippine Stud-ies. Volume/Fourth Quarter 1992. Pp. 522-30.

    Ordonez, Elmer. “Emergent Writing in the Underground Press.” Diliman Review. Vol. 34, No.4. 1986. Pp. 1, 12-15.

Reyes, Soledad S. “Main Trends in the Criticism of Epifanio San Juan, Jr.” Philippine Studies. Volume. 25/ Third Quarter 1977. Pp. 302-333.

First presented at a symposium on "The Places of E. San Juan, Jr." at Ateneo de Manila University, 7 March 2015.

Sunday, December 06, 2015



Kailan lamang sapilitan tayong na-detour
Ng walang-hiyang Yolandang ibinunyag ang bulok
Na pamamalakad ng gobyernong buktot
Nalubog sa putik ng kasinungali't korapsyon

Pabalik mula sa Tacloban ng mga Romualdez
Naligaw tayo ng patayan sa Mamasapano, sinilip
Kung saan idinuro ni Marwan si P'Noy nasipit
Utos ng Kanong sa pandarambong di mailigpit

Di naharang nina Jennifer Laude't Veloso, biktima
Ng patuloy na alipin ng dayuhang kapital
Liku-likong landas ang tinahak ng berdugong Palparan
Tinutugis ng multo nina Burgos Empeno't Cadapan

Hirap ituwid ang liku-likong daan nina Marcos & Macapagal
Vigilante ni Cory Mendiola't masaker sa Ampatuan
Daang madugo'y lumawig mula Bukidnon hanggang
Surigao del Sur ng Magahat-Bagani ng AFP, ng Alamar

Di maituwid ang tusong landas nina Monsod at Coloma
Sisihin man ang NPA o Abu Sayyaf at libu-libong Lumad
Dagdag na ang 280 biktima ng rehimeng P'noy, huwag kalimutan
Ang pinaslang sa Hacienda Luisita--Ay naku, matinik na landas

Ang tatahakin ng U.S. imperyalismong  sa krisis nahulog
Habang tumatawid sa lupain ng Moro't Lumad, sinakop
Ng korporasyong kasabwat ng mga oligarko't trapong
Yumaman sa pagnanakaw--

                    saan ang hustisyang pangako?

Kung walang katuwiran sa "daang" binaluktot, imbi't taksil
Ang hagkis na dahas ng gobyernong suwail
Sa masang tuwirang bumabanat, naghihimagsik
Upang tuwiring makamit kararinlang minimithi.  -##

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Thursday, October 01, 2015

ni E. San Juan, Jr.

Kailan lamang sapilitan tayong na-detour
Ng walang-hiyang Yolandang ibinunyag ang bulok
Na pamamalakad ng gobyernong buktot
Nalubog sa putik ng kasinungali't korapsyon

Pabalik mula sa Tacloban ng mga Romualdez
Naligaw tayo ng patayan sa Mamasapano, sinilip
Kung saan idinuro ni Marwan si P'Noy nasipit
Utos ng Kanong sa pandarambong di mailigpit

Di naharang nina Jennifer Laude't Veloso, biktima
Ng patuloy na neokolonya't alipin ng dayuhang kapital
Liku-likong landas ang tinahak ng berdugong Palparan
Tinutugis ng multo nina Burgos Empeno't Cadapan

Hirap ituwid ang liku-likong daan nina Marcos & Macapagal
Vigilante ni Cory mula Mendiola't masaker sa Ampatuan
Daang madugo'y lumawig mula Davao Bukidnon hanggang
Surigao del Sur ng Magahat-Bagani ng AFP, ng Alamar

Di maituwid ang tusong landas nina Monsod at Coloma
Sisihin man ang NPA o Abu Sayyaf at libu-libong Lumad
Dagdag na ang 280 biktima ng rehimeng P'noy, huwag kalimutan
Ang pinaslang sa Hacienda Luisita--Ay naku, matinik na landas

Ang tatahakin ng U.S. imperyalismong  sa krisis nahulog
Habang tumatawid sa lupain ng Moro't Lumad, sinakop
Ng korporasyong kasabwat ng mga oligarko't trapong
Yumaman sa pagnanakaw--paano na ang hustisyang pangako?

Kung walang katuwiran sa "daang" binaluktot, imbi't taksil
Ang hagkis na dahas ng gobyernong suwail
Sa masang tuwirang bumabanat, naghihimagsik
Upang tuwiring makamit kalayaa't kararinlang minimithi.  -##

Monday, September 21, 2015


Culture and Revolution

By E. San Juan Jr.

As this century of wars and revolutions comes to a close, Mark Twain's "person sitting in dark-ness" is bound to experience a lightning shock of recognition. Those dark-skinned natives in southeast Asia, conquered by the brute force of "Manifest Destiny" soon after the occupation of the homelands of the American Indi-an nations, have now stood up by expelling US military bases from their sovereign territory.
The event may come as a surprise to western observers. But not to the countless martyrs from Macario Sakay, Salud Al-gabre, and Crisanto Evangelista to the nameless victims of Mal-iwalu, Escalante, Lupao and of other still undiscovered sites of anti-communist barbarism; and surely not to Maria Lorena Bar-ros, Macli-ing Dulag, Rolando Olalia, and thousands more who have sacrificed their lives so that the Filipino masses can achieve a measure of autonomy, justice, and equality . Such, indeed, has been the destiny of the "White Men’s Burden" in the Philippines after the 1986 revolution against Spain and the protracted resist-ance against the invading power of the United States.
It has taken almost a centu-ry for us to appreciate the vi-sionary force of what our com-patriot Jose Rizal prophesied in "The Philippines A Century Hence": the people's struggle for national liberation, though suppressed many times, will overcome in the end. Amid the triumphalism of a hierarchical "New World Order," one harks back to the enduring truth of Marx's statement in 1870 with reference to the British colonial subjugation of Ireland: "The peo-ple that oppresses another peo-ple forge their own chains." Qualified accordingly, Marx's insight applies to the United States where today a social-dem-ocratic brand of nationalism is being propagated throughout the whole society at the expense of the peoples of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and the "internal colonies" (inhabited by millions of African Americans, Ameri-can Indian nations, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and Asian Amer-icans) whose mass mobilizations constitute the cutting edge of modern emancipatory and life politics in late capitalism.

Today, in the periphery of the "New World Order," the domination of the human species by commodity fet-ishism and the alienating power of the cash-nexus encompasses all spheres of private and public life. Even the negative can be coopted if not neutralized. The celebration of Columbus's "dis-covery" of the New World by the northern centers of privilege is symptomatic of a new theoretical program to constitute the field of "the postcolonial" as a regulated mode of discourse, another disci-plinary regime for elaborating theories of difference, alterity, and positional identity.
The fashionable signs for this strategy of recuperation are "multiculturalism," pluralism, and literacy. In Philippine Stud-ies administered by American scholars, for example, this rec-olonizing move is exemplified by the ascription of responsibil-ity for domination to the victims themselves, under the guise of liberal objectivity and the post-modern vogue of relativized power in a consensual norma-tive order. Even paradigms like "Third World" or "underdevel-opment" are stigmatized as to-talizing and therefore totalitari-an. Only a micropolitics of local pragmatism and deconstructive cosmopolitanism (or self-serving op-portunism?) seem tolerable to academic pundits and would-be public intellectuals. In brief, as Raymond Williams points out in The Year 2000, global transnationalism can ar-ticulate for its own interest the emancipatory politics of oppo-sitional forces - the struggle for fully active social identities and for egalitarian self-governance within the market parameters of exchange value and profit that continue to inform the "ration-al" discourse of the social sci-ences and humanities in the Unit-ed States and Europe at this his-torical conjuncture.

Within this overdeter-mined field consti-tuted by the still per-vasive cultural authority of the west, voices are exploding from the margins, traversing borders and boundaries, challenging this discourse of universal postcoloniality and transnationalist interdependency. This layered, heterogeneous zone of conflict is what Fredric Jameson calls "cultural revolution" after the Chinese experience of the sixties and seventies.  But a more precise figuration of this dialectic of the new evolving from the old can be gleaned from C.L.R. James's homage to the Rastafari's culture of subversive exuberance (quoted in Paul Buhle's excellent biography C.L.F James: The Artist as Revolutionary): "Their world is just beginning .... The colossal stupidities, the insanities of the Rastafari are consciously motivated by their acute consciousness of the filth in which they live, their conscious refusal to accept the fictions that pour in upon them from every side. These passions and forces are the "classic human virtues." As long as they express themselves, the form may be absurd, but the life itself is not absurd."
We confront the dialectics of form and content, the universal and the historically specific. What is fundamental here is the perception that form cannot be essentialized and valorize in itself, that forms of cultural expression as well as of political allegory and social representa-tion need to be grounded in the complex of historical antago-nism in a world system whose relational dynamics has deter-mined the configuration of na-tional, class, gender, and racial forces in our contemporary mi-lieux. What commands priority is the mode of production and the social relations in which culture, ideology, beliefs, and purposes are inscribed.
In the triumphalist celebra-tion of neoliberal, technocratic modernization through racial, gender and class divisions amid widespread ecological disasters, it is important to note that the current ascendancy of the capi-talist market together with the legitimacy of the bureaucratic welfare-state is only a moment in a world-historical process that began with the genocidal ex-ploitation of the Indians in the Americas and the triangular slave trade. US imperial hegemony is thus built on the cadavers and skulls of its victims.
One moment of that process is of course the Spanish-Amer-ican War of 1898 which led to the US colonization of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines. But how long can the oppression and exploitation of people of color go on? Almost everyone anticipates massive problems reproducing and intensifying the crisis of global capitalism: un-employment, homelessness, ru-ral exodus, corruption, inflation, worsening social inequalities, decline in health care and other social services, aggravated ra-cial and ethnic conflicts, ram-pant criminality, subordination of national economies to the mul-tinational banks, unmitigated ex-ploitation of migrant labor (spe-cially women of color), height-ened sexist violence, moral decay and general decadence.
In this context, Henri Lefe-bvre, the great philosopher of la quotidienne, reminds us that the all-inclusive agenda of Marx-ism, that of changing life itself, remains unsurpassed: "Marx en-visaged a total person of the future, being deployed as a body, as a relation between the senses, as thought. What remains to be thought now? Marx certainly thought the world in which he lived, but the modern world has not yet begun to think Marx-ism." As Sartre and others have reminded us, Marxism is still the unsurpassable philosophy of our time.

The restoration of oligar-chic rule in the Philip-pines in 1986 ushered a new stage of retrogression, a time for the retooling of the neocoloni-al apparatuses of domination which today are mediated through the World Bank/International Monetary Fund, various interna-tional agencies and foundations, including fundamentalist sects. The myth of the United States' redemptive mission in the Philip-pines, its almost unlimited poten-tial for self-aggrandizement, has been given a new lease on life with the recuperation of "people power" for preserving inequities in all sectors.
But while bourgeois elitist values saturating the mass me-dia persist, a praxis of national liberation in art and literature has emerged on the face of Pen-tagon-sponsored "low intensity warfare" and globalized mass consumer-ism. Ideas, styles, conventions of feeling and conduct, artistic forms - all have become sites of ethical, political, and ideologi-cal contestation which implicates authors, texts and audiences alike. What is at stake? Not so much the fate of reading or writ-ing as such, but rather the mate-rial and spiritual life chances of nearly seventy million Filipinos - people of color whose voices have been silenced for a long time, but whose labor has virtu-ally enabled artists and writers (including their western coun-terparts) to survive and fulfill themselves.
Grounded in the struggles of women, tribal and ethnic na-tionalities, workers and peas-ants, youth, and people of the church, a culture of resistance has emerged to interrogate the status quo, forge new subjectiv-ities as collective agents of em-powerment, and unfold possi-bilities of alliances among vari-ous groups sharing common memories of being victims and
of revolt. New initiatives for intervention by the marginal-ized, the excluded and subordi-nated, have sparked creative acts speaking truth to power. Within the space demarcated by the ero-sion of traditional client-patron politics and the bankruptcy of oligarchic-comprador revival of election rituals, one can discern new structures of self-govern-ing communal life particularly among women's collectives and in peasant villages of the liberat-ed zones.

Hermeneutics is thus political in its grounding and effects. The process of "reading" western hegemony gen-erates its complemen-tary act of "writing" by the subju-gated native as creative reappro-priation, a reorientation of old forms given new content or sub-stance by this catastrophe of bond-age, witness to transgression and deliverance. These two dimen-sions of cultural interaction are integral parts of the Third World experience, polarities of one his-torical event. When Filipino writers began to “read” the culture and ideological practices of US power, imperial authority exposes the limits of its legitimacy, its transcendentally mystified but ul-timately historical truth.
A phenomenology of mas-ter and slave is necessarily in-scribed in East-West confronta-tions, given the unequal and un-even development of the world system. In such an inquiry, the "critique of weapons" can yield the weapon of criticism for those already convinced that what is needed is not merely to interpret but also to transform the social texts of our everyday reality. "Change your lives!" - such is the calling, the vocation, of the Third World artist in her embat-tled situation.
The resurgence of revolu-tionary nationalism in the Phil-ippines in the last two decades can be viewed as a response to this necessity. In the genealogy of subaltern intransigence, even the writing and career of a die-hard aestheticist like Jose Garcia Villa can be interpreted as a mode of dissonant and sublimat-ed articulation of protest. The cunning of Caliban's dissent/dis-sidence against the Ariels of capital - art's goal of metamor-phosing the real - is as protean and resourceful as the ruses of imperial pacification. Every artistic work is ideological and utopian at the same time; every poem is both a document of culture as well as of barbarism.
In the variations of this transition from past to future, what this critique of symbolic exchange hopes to convey is that Marxism is (in Lenin's phrase, "concrete analysis of concrete conditions") the principle of hope in action. It is a sense of the beginning of a long-range jour-ney of socialist reconstruction; the play of utopian energies in-vesting the counter hegemonic art of the everyday life with value. This process becomes actualized by Fili-pino activists in cities and coun-tryside where the crisis of neo-colonial dependency, indeed the claims of "Manifest Destiny" recycled today by the apologists of transnational capital, will be finally resolved.

[From:  Conjuncture Vol. V Number 5  May 1992]

Monday, September 07, 2015

TAHIMIK tula ni E. San Juan, Jr.


Payapang lugar   walang tilii   bulahaw  hiyaw  kulog  dagundong 

             walang imik


Walang tinig   taghoy  halinghing  sigaw  saklolo tahol  tugtog   palakpak  iyak 

Walang bigkas    atungal   palahaw  tanguyngoy  usap   ngalngal  tagulaylay

Walang  ingay  ungol  haginghing  himutok   irit   hibik  hagulgol  angil


          walang ingay

Walang hikbi  daldal  haluyhoy  lagaslas  alingawngaw   saklolo

Walang huni  sipol  pagaspas  lawiswis  halakhak  agas-as

Walang siyap  sutsot  bulong  alatiit   kuliling  kaluskos  paswit


    walang imik

            walang kibo    talagang naumid

Piping lahat--negunit bakit may kumakatok   humihingi ng saklolo

         ugong sa sulok 

                anasan sa butas ng bungo 

    bulong  buntong-hiningang   sayang  

               sinayang ---

Wednesday, August 05, 2015



Ni E. San Juan, Jr.


 Ako'y may tapat na irog saanman paroo'y kasunod-sunod;
 Mapatubig ay di nalulunod, mapaapoy ay di nasusunog.

 Mayroon akong alipin, sunod nang sunod sa akin.

Kung araw, yumao ka; kung gabi'y halika;
Sa araw ay nagtataboy, sa gabi ay nag-aampon.

Laging nakasakay ngunit di nagpapasyal.
Lumalakad ang bangka, ang piloto ay nakahiga.

Hindi hayop, hindi tao, walang gulong ay tumatakbo.
Takbo roon, takbo rito, hindi makaalis sa tayong ito.

Nang maalala'y naiwan, nadala nang malimutan.
Pasurot-surot, dala-dala ay gapos.

Dalawang magkaibigan, unahan nang unahan.
Dalawang batong itim, malayo ang nararating.

Maputing parang bulak, kalihim ko sa pagliyag.


 Apat katao, iisa ang sombrero;  paa'y apat, hindi makalakad.

Ang bahay ni Pedrito, walang pinto, puro kuwarto.
Mayroon pitong bentanilya, tatlo lamang ang naisasara.

Isang bahay na bato, ang takip ay bilao.
Isang bakuran, sari-sari ang nagdaraan.

Kakalat-kalat, natitisod-tisod; kapagka tinipon, matibay na moog.

Nagbahay ang marunong, nasa ilalim ang bubong.
Limang magkakapatid, tig-iisa ang silid.

Bahay ni Santa Maria, naiinog ng sandata.
May bintana, walang bubungan; may pinto, walang hagdanan.

Bahay ni Ka Huli, haligi ay bali-bali, ang bubong ay kawali.
Bahay ng anluwagi, iisa ang haligi.
Maliit na bahay, puno ng mga patay.

Sarado roon, sarado rito; sarado hanggang dulo.


Kung saan masikip, doon nagpipilit.
Isang butil ng palay  sakop ang buong bahay.

Kung gabi ay hinog, kung araw ay hilaw.
Nagbibihis araw-araw, nag-iiba ang pangalan.

Sa araw ay nakahimbing, sa gabi ay gising.
Lumuluha walang mata, lumalakad walang paa.

Kulay rosas ang pulseras ng reyna, pumuputok walang bala.
Walang ngipin, walang panga, mainit ang hininga.

Kung bayaan ay nabubuhay, kung himasin ay namamatay.
Kung ako'y mamamatay, pilit siyang madaramay.

May katawa'y walang mukha, walang mata'y lumuluha.
Kung kailan pinatay, saka humaba ang buhay.

Kung bayaan ay nabubuhay, kung himasin ay namamatay.
Kung kailan pa ako pinatay, saka nagtagal ang buhay.

Iisa na kinuha pa, ang natira ay dalawa.
Kapag ako'y minsang pinatay, buhay kong ingat lalong magtatagal.

Apat na kapapang kumot, di matakpan ang tuhod.
Isang butil ng trigo pinapagsikip ang buong mundo.


Isang reynang maraming mata, nasa gitna ng mga espada.
Nakayuko ang reyna, di malaglag ang korona.

Ang sombrero ni Bernabe sa bundok itinabi.

Maliit pa si kumpare, nakaakyat na sa tore.
Naunang umakyat, nahuli sa lahat.

Nakatindig walang paa, may tiya'y walang bituka
Naligo ang kapitan, hindi nabasa ang tiyan.

May likod walang tiyan, matulin sa karagatan.
Lumuluha'y walang mata, lumalakad walang paa.

May ulo walang tiyan, may leeg walang baywang.
Tag-ulan o tag-araw, hanggang tuhod ang salawal.

Mataas kung nakaupo, mababa kung nakatayo.
Ang ina'y gumagapang pa, ang anak ay umuupo na.
May dala, may bitbit, may sunong  may kilik.

Di matingkalang bundok, darak ay nakakamot.

Kay raming nakahiga, iilan lamang ang abot sa lupa.
Masarap na hantungan, ngunit iniiwasan ng tanan.


Maputing dalaga nagtatalik sa lila.
Isang reynang maraming mata, nasa gitna ng mga espada.

Balahibong binalot ng balat, balahibong bumalot sa balat.
Pagsipot sa maliwanag, kulubot na ang balat.

Tubig na binalot sa papel, papel na binalot sa bato
    batong binalot sa balahibo.
Kawangis ay palu-palo, libot na libot ng ginto.

Nang wala ang ginto ay doon nagpalalo,
Nang magkagintu-ginto, doon na nga sumuko.

Gintong binalot sa pilak, pilak na binalot sa balat.
Tinakpan bago minulatan.

Itinapon ang laman, balat ang pinagyaman.
Abot na ng kamay, ipinagawa pa sa tulay.

Binalangkas ko't binalutan, saka ibinilad sa araw.
Kinalag ang balangkas, sumayaw nang ilagpak.


May kawalang lumilipad, nakawalang kumikislap.
Bumbong kung maliwanag, kung gabi ay dagat.

Isda sa Kilaw-kilaw, di mahuli't may pataw.
Munting hayop na pangahas, aaligid-aligid sa ningas.

Hayan na, hayan na, hindi mo nakikita, buto't balat lumilipad.
Walang pakpak, mabilis lumipad.

Hawakan mo ang buntot ko, sisisid ako.
Munting tiririt, may baga sa puwit.

Ang ibabaw ay tawiran, ang ilalim ay lusutan.
Tubig na sakdal linaw, nadadala sa kamay.

Nakaluluto nang walang init, umaaso'y malamig.
Sa init ay sumasaya, sa lamig ay nalalanta.

Di man isda, di man itik, nakahuhuni kung ibig.
Maliit pa si Kumare, marunong nang humuni.

Nang munti pa'y may buntot, paglaki ay punggok.
Hanggang leeg kung mababaw, kung malalim hanggang baywang.

Nang umalis lumilipad, nang dumating umuusad.
Itinanim sa kinagabihan, inani sa kinaumagahan.


Nakatalikod na ang prinsesa, mukha niya'y nakaharap pa.

Mukha ko'y totoong tinikin, ngunit busilak ang kalooban.
Aling mabuting litrato, kuhang-kuha sa mukha mo.

Isang panyong parisukat, kung buksa'y nakakausap.

Hindi pa natatalupan, nanganganinag na ang laman.
Binuksan ang kanyon, perdigones ang nakabaon.

Dalawang bolang sinulid, abot hanggang langit.
Kung manahi'y nagbabaging, dumudumi ng sinulid.

Binili ko nang mahal, isinabit ko lamang.

Mataas ay binitin, kaysa pinagbitinan.
Pusong bibitin-bitin, masarap kainin.

Kinain mo't naubos, nabubuo pang lubos.


 Nagpiging ang bayan, iisa ang hugasan.
Tubig na pinagpala, walang makakakuha kundi bata.

Nang bata ay nakasaya, naghubo nang maging dalaga.
Nang maliit pa'y nakabaro, nang lumaki'y naghubo.

Tatlong magkakapatid, sing-iitim ang dibdib.
Magkakapatid na prinsesa, lahat nama'y pawang negra.

Maitim na parang alkitran, pumuputi kahit di labhan.
Nagbibigay na, sinasakal pa.

Isang balong malalim, punong-puno ng patalim.
Tubig sa ining-ining, di mahipan ng hangin.

Dalawa kong kahon, buksan walang ugong.
Sa buhatan ay may silbi, sa igiban walang sinabi.

Dumaan ang hari, nagkagatan ang mga pari.
Hindi pari, hindi hari, nagdadamit ng sari-sari.

May binti walang hita, may tuktok walang mukha.
Sumususo ang anak habang lumilipad.


Punong layu-layo, dulo'y tagpu-tagpo.

Hinila ko ang baging, nag-iingay ang matsing.
Binatak ko ang baging, bumuka ay tikin.

Aling kahoy sa gubat ang nagsasanga'y walang ugat?
May puno, walang bunga; may dahon, walang sanga.

Bawat dahong binabaksak ay araw na lumilipas.

Limang punong niyog, iisa ang matayog.
Tinaga ko sa puno, sa dulo nagdugo.

Usbong nang usbong, hindi naman nagdadahon.
Sa araw ay bumbong, sa gabi ay dahon.

Tinaga ko sa gubat, sa bahay umiyak.
Halamang di nalalanta, kahit natabas na.

Bunga na, namunga pa.


Munting tampipi, puno ng salapi.
Malalim kung bawasan, mababaw kung dagdagan.

Baboy ko sa Marungko, balahibo ay pako.
Baka ko sa palupandan, unga'y nakararating kung saan.

Baston ni Adan, hindi mabilang-bilang.
Tungkod ni Kurdapyo, hindi mahipo-hipo.

Tumakbo si Tarzan, bumuka ang daan.
Buka kung hapon, kung umaga ay lulon.

Isang matinik na tampipi, asim-tamis ang pinagsama
    sa maputing laman niya.
Malayo pa ang sibat, nganga na ang sugat.

Baka ko sa Maynila, abot diyan ang unga.
Bumubuka'y walang bibig, ngumingiti nang tahimik.

Naupo si Itim, sinulot ni Pula; heto na si Puti, bubuga-buga.
Iisa ang pinasukan, tatlo ang nilabasan.

Baboy ko sa Sorsogon, kung di sakya'y di lalamon.
Urong-sulong panay ang lamon, urong-sulong lumalamon.

Sa isang kalabit, may buhay na kapalit.
Pumutok ay di narinig, tumama'y di nakasakit.

Baboy ko sa kaingin, nataba'y walang pagkain.
Habang iyong kinakain, lalo kang gugutumin.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015



 -- ni E. San Juan, Jr.

ANG tao ba ay katumbas lamang ng kanyang katawan, o bahagi nito? Ang kasarian ba ay walang iba kundi organong seksuwal? Seks ba ang buod ng pagkatao?

    Kung hindi man ito kalakaran, ang tumututol ay siyang nagtatampok ng problema, bagamat salungat sa namamaraling opinyon o doxang pangmadla. Sinomang bumanggit ng seks ay kasabwat na ng mga bastos at mahalay. Sabi-sabi ito. Batikusin mo, ikalat mo't palaganapin. Bakit mali ito?

    Ang usapang seksuwal ay di na masagwa o mahalay ngayon. Buhat noong maging sikat, bagamat kontrobersiyal, ang "Vagina Monologues" ni Eve Ensler, tila hindi na nakasisindak tumukoy sa mga maselang bahagi ng katawan ng babae. Ang estilong bugtong o talinghaga sa seks--gawaing pakikipagtalik--ay itinuturing na sintomas ng neurosis o maselang sakit ng budhi. Paano ang seks ng transgender, hybrid o cyborg? Ordinaryo na lamang ang seksuwal chitchat. Bakit hindi kung laganap na ang advertisement sa Viagra at iba pang drogang nagpapaudyok sa hindutan? Anong masama sa masarap na "dyugdyugan"? Di ba utos kina Eba at Adan: "Multiply...Magparami kayo!" Kung di kaya, uminom ng pilduras o di kaya'y virgin coconut oil. OK ito sa mga pariseo ng simbahan.

    Wala bang sariling ating pukaw-pukyutan? Katutubong pukyotan-putakang pangsarili. Biro ng iba, kung instrumento ng progresibong sektor ang popularidad ni Ensler, bakit di pumatol ang "Penis/Balls Monologue"? Kung sobrang tsobinismo o makismo ito, e di symposium o colloquium ng mga genitalia? O sunod kina Bakhtin at Levinas, diyalogo ng balun-balunan, bukong-bukong at puwit? Demokratikong pagpapalitan ng kuro-kuro at kiliti. May reklamo ka?

Pambihirang Pakulo

    Iwan na muna natin ang katawang performative. Dumako tayo sa milyung  espirituwal, sa palengkeng neoliberal. Pambihira talaga. Walang clone si Ensler. Isa na siyang korporasyon ng Power Elite ng Global North. Isang haligi ng Imperyong U.S. Naging selebriting burgis si Ensler, kumita ng di-makalkulang yaman at prestihiyo sa di umano'y peministang hamon sa moralidad ng puritanismong lipunan.

    Nagsilbing kultural kapital ang cause de celebre, ginawang passport o pretext para isalba ang kababaihan saan mang lupalop tulad ng neokolonyang Pilipinas. Talo pa niya si Mother Teresa. Ililigtas sina Mary Jane Veloso, Andrea Rosal, Wilma Tiamson, at iba pang inaaping babae sa rehiyon ng BangsaMoro at Lumad.

    Huwag nang idawit ang Birhen, o babaylang Reyna sa TV at pelikula. Hindi biro, naging talisman o magayumang lakas ang seks ng babae. Sino ang  may reklamo sa One Billion Rising ni Ensler? Ang Vagina Men sa Quezon City o sa Congo? Pati mga gerilya ng New People's Army ay nagsasayaw sa direksiyon ni Ensler sa tulong ng mga kakutsabang kabaro. HIndi na monologo kundi koro ng mga diwata sa gubat kung saan ang masa ay mga isda, ayon kay Mao.
Magaling! Tuwang-tuwa ang mga hito, talakitok, dilis, bia, tanggigi, bakoko at tilapya. Mabuhay ang rebolusyong umiindak, naglalambing. Kung hindi tayo kasama sa sayaw, sambit ni Mother Jones, bakit magpapakamatay?

Karnibal ng mga Paru-Paro?

    Kaalinsabay ang usapang puk# sa liberalisasyon ng diskursong seksuwal sa klimang anti-kapitalistang protesta sa buong mundo. Tampok dito ang Women's Liberation movement (simula kina Simone de Beauvoir o Shulamith Firestone) noong dekada 1960-1970. Bumunsod na nga sa pagturing sa prostitusyon bilang sex work/trabahong makalupa. Ewan ko kung anong palagay ni Aling Rosa at mga Lola ng "Lolas Kampanya Survivor" na naglakbay sa kung saan-saan, salamat sa tulong ni Nelia Sancho, ang coordinator ng grupo.

    Sa ngayon, 300-400 Lola ang buhay pa sa bilang ng 2000 "Comfort Women" sa Pilipinas. Wala pang hustisya sina Lola Jullia, Lola Fedencia, atbp hanggang ngayon. Patuloy nilang iginigiit na ang ginawa ng mga Hapon noong giyera ay hindi pag-upa sa babaeng trabahador kundi talagang gahasang tortyur, panggagahis sa sibilyan, isang masahol na krimen laban sa humanidad. Usapang putangna iyon, walang duda. Ang babae ay makinang ginamit upang magparaos ang mga sundalong Hapon, tulad ng mga "hospitality girls" sa Angeles City, Olongapo, at iba pang R & R sentro ng US sa kanilang pandaramong sa Vietnam, Cambodia at Laos noong mga dekada 1960-1980.

Radikal at Mapanuri?  Bawal!  Huli 'yan!

    Bago sumabog ang peminismong radikal, mahaba na rin ang tala ng rebelyon ng mga alagad-ng-sining laban sa sensura, ipokrisya't pagbabawal sa malayang paglalahad. Historya ito ng ebolusyon ng modernidad. Kasi, laging pinaglalangkap ng Patriarkong Orden ang militanteng sining at pornograpya. Hindi sumusunod sa istandard ng burgesya. Taktikang pagbubusal iyon sa kritikang kamalayan. Isipin na lang ang kaso sa dalawang nobelang Ulysses ni James Joyce at Lady Chatterley's Love ni D.H. Lawrence, o mga libro ni Henry Miller. Pati Catcher in the Rye at Huckleberry Finn ay pinagbabawal sa ilang aklatang pampubliko sa U.S.

    Nakakabagot itong ipokrisya, testigo sa paghahati ng lipunang mapagsamantala't makahayup. Huwag na nating balik-tanawin pa ang mga sinaunang halimbawa ng Satyricon ni Petronius, Decameron ni Boccacio, Gargantua at Pantagruel ni Rabelais, at mga akda ni Marquis de Sade. Sinubok nilang sugpuin at pigilin ang pag-unlad ng kamalayan. Laging umiigpaw sa kontrol ng mga naghahari ang lasa at nais ng madla, hindi ng mga awtoridad na umuusig sa mga "ideological State apparatus" ng makauri't mapagsamantalang lipunan.

    Sa larangan ng pintura, masilakbo't maengganyo ang balitaktakan. Armadong puwersa ang nakapangingibabaw, hindi argumentong rasyonal. Nakasalalay ang kapangyarian ng Patriyarkong Burgesya. Pwedeng banggitin ang eskandalo tungkol sa "Olympia" (1865) ni Edouard Manet, "The Origin of the World" (1866) ni Gustave Courbet, "Ecstatic Unity" (1969) ni Dorothy Iannone, at mga litrato ni Robert Mapplethorpe. Halimbawa naman ng mga paggamit ng tema o imaheng relihiyoso, mababangit ang eskandalo tungkol sa "Piss Christ" (1987) ni Andres Serrano o "The Holy Virgin May" (1999) ni Chris Ofili.

    Sa atin naman, magugunita ang pagsasara ng "KULO" exhibit at ang "Politeismo" (2011) ni Mideo Cruz. Kung itinanghal ang "KULO" sa Pransiya o Italya, marahil walang problema. Baka naging mabenta pa ang mga mapangahas na likhang-sning, karibal ng mga milyong dolyar na produkto nina Andy Warhol at De Kooning.

    Ngunit sa neokolonyang mahal, ang diskurso ng libog o praktikang pukaw-pukyutan ay tabu pa rin, sa pangkalahatan. Merong pasubali. Sa akademyang sekular, umiiral ang regulasyon sa takdang lugar ng usapang libog. Ngunit nananaig pa rin ang tradisyonal na moralidad ng iba't ibang simbahan--mga ugali, gawi, kostumbre sa kilos, salita, at sentido komun ng bayan.Sino ba ang nakikinabang sa ganitong paghihigpit? Di na tayo makababalik sa hardin ng karinyo't lampungan. Magtiyaga na lang kayo sa kampo ng mga nudist. O pornograpikong eksena/video sa Internet. Mag-ingat ka, ang surveillance ngayon ay di lamang estratehiya ng pulis, kundi maniobra ng mga espiya sa Internet, satellite, drones---wala kang ligtas! Puputaktahin ka ng isang katerbang buwisit at kamyerdahang panghihimasok.

Hamon kina Gabriela Silang at Mga Babaylan

    Paano kung ambisyon mo ang tumulad kay Shigeko Kubota? Lalaki ka man, puwede ka ring gumaya kay Kubota.

    Sino itong Kubeta? Kubota po, hindi kubeta. Ipinanganak siya sa Niigata, Hapon, noong 1937, kalahi ng mga Budistang monghe. Naging kasapi siya sa organisasyong Fluxus sa New York noong dekada 1960. Si Kubota ay tanyag na avantgarde video-iskultor,  lumilikha ng video installation, sumusuri sa pamana ni Marcel Duchamp, ama ng modernismong sining. Kalahok ang mga maraming likha niya sa Dokumenta 7, Kessel (1982) at iba pang museo't galeri. Naging propesor siya ng teknolohiya ng video/pelikula sa iba't ibang unibersidad at institusyong global. Unang napag-aralan niya ang komposisyon ni John Cago noong 1963 sa pagsasanib niya sa grupong musikero sa Tokyo, ang Ongaku, kasama si Yoko Ono.

    Naging tanyag si Kubota sa "Vagina Painting," na ginanap sa Perpetual Fluxus Festival,Cinematheque, New York noong Hulyo 1965. May foto ng akto niya sa libro ni Peter Osborne, Conceptual Art (New York: Phaidon, 2002), pahina 71. Subaybayan din siya sa Internet sa dokumentasyon ng "Vagina Painting" at iba pang likhang-sining niya.

    Sa pangyayaring ito, inilatag ni Kubota ang isang malapad na papel sa sahig. Doon nagpinta siya nang abstraktong linya sa pulang kulay sa bisa ng galaw ng brotsa. Nakakabit ang brotsa sa singit. Huwag mo nang itanong kung gaano katagal ang aksyon at ano ang reaksyon ng awdiyens noon.  Sinasagisag ang kanyang vagina bilang bukal ng inspirasyon. Ang pulang pinta ay kahalintulad ng dugo sa regla na hulog mula sa lugar na tinaguriang kawalan ng phallus (sa metaporikang pakahulugan; ibig pahiwatig, hindi penis o titi). Sa gayong palabas, pinasimulan niya ang isang perspektibang makababae sa tipikal na pagtatanghal ng Fluxus hinggil sa operasyong pagbabakasakali, pasumala o patsansing-tsansing("chance operations").

    Iminungkahi ni Kubota sa kanyang akto ang isang alternatibo sa agresibong teknik ng action o drip painting ni Jackson Pollock. Isang hamon din ang ginanap ni Kubota sa papel ng babaeng artista na laging pinapatnubayan, ginagabayan, at inuugitan ng kalalakihan--awtoritaryong disiplina ng mga Patriyarko. Dagdag pa, pinuna ni Kubota ang paggamit sa babae bilang brotsang buhay, nilubog sa pintang kulay asul, na pinagapang sa kanbas, na masasaksihan sa Anthropometrie serye ni Yves Klein noong dekada 1950-1960.

    Salungat si Kubota (na asawa ng bantog na si Nam June Paik) sa ganoong paggamit ng katawan ng babae, isang uri ng "human traffiking" ng kababaihan. Kapanalig niya sa krusadang ito sina Yoko Ono at Carolee Schneeman, na hindi masyadong nagustuhan ng kanilang grupong Fluxus.

Makibaka, Huwag Magsipsip

    Sunod ba ang One Billion Rising sa pintang pukyutan ni Kubota? Aktibo pa rin si Kubota sa New York. I-Google ninyo. Uliran ang kanyang halimbawang napasimulan sa pagpukpok sa pukyutan upang pukawin ang bihag at nakukulong na kamalayan. Isang sandata iyon sa conscientization ng madla.  Bakit hindi? Bakit hindi gamitin ang katawan--na siyang lugar ng "Kingdom" ng Tagapagligtas--upang palayain ang pagkatao't kaluluwa (kundi pa naisangla o naipagbili)? Bakit pa nagkaroon ng inkarnasyon kung tayo'y mga anghel na walang puwit o bunganga, walang titi o puk%?

    Anong reklamo mo? Manunuod na lang ba tayo ng "Fifty Shades of Grey" at YOUTUBE seryeng pornograpiko, at mga artifaktong pabalbal sa Internet tulad ng  "Kakantutin ka lang nila" (mahigit 4,081,933 ang taga-subaybay? Kuntento na ba tayong laging nakatungaga sa mga strip-tease at sirko ng mga egotistikong selebriti sa TV at pelikula? Marami tayong reklamo, sigurado, kaya dapat ipahayag na ito. Pasingawin at ibilad ang mga pasakit, himutok, hinanakit. Kundi, baka magkarambulan sa sikolohiyang pantayo't pambarkada.

    Alam nating lahat ang tunay na situwasyon. Tulad ng anumang bagay, puspos ng masalimuot na kontradiksiyon.  Lahat ng bahagi ng katawan ay may reklamo, laluna ang sikmura, uhaw sa hustisya. Marami nang pasubali: kaya bang ipahiwatig ang damdamin ng buong body politic sa makitid at partikularistikong paraan ng Vagina Monologue o Vagina Painting? Binugbog at pinarusahang mga katawan ng sambayanan, isinasangkot sa pambansang mobilisasyon ang lahat ng kasariang inaapi. Bukod ito sa One Billion Rising. 

    Pag-ugnayin muli ang pinagwatak-watak na bahagi ng katawan upang mabuo muli ang kalayaan at pagkakapantay-pantay na winasak ng imperyalismo't kapitalismong global. Usapang mapagpalaya, hindi lang usapang puk%, ang rebolusyong sumusulong, kabilang ang lahat ng nakikiramay ngayon kina Ka Leoncio Pitao at  Ka Vanessa Limpag, biktima ng barbarismong kabuktutan ng rehimeng Aquino at US imperyalismo. Mabuhay sina Kumander Parago at Ka Vanessa, bayani ng lahi, laging buhay sa puso ng masa.--###