Kallautang-Abril Varilla

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Note: Excerpted from the book, Kallautang–Poetics of Diversity, Displacement, and Diaspora: Ilokanos in the Americas Writing (TMI Global Press, in collaboration with the University of Hawaii SEED and the UHM Ilokano Language and Literature Program. Partial assistance from the SEED Grant 2008. Edited, translated, and with a Critical Introduction by Aurelio Solver Agcaoili)

 

 

Estranghero  

 

“I want to go home!”

 anek-ek ti maysa baket iti nursing home

 

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

Adda umaw-awag a timek

A tumpuar iti kaunggam

Daytay timek ti panangilantip

Manen ti dapan

Iti bagi ken kararua

Ti bukod a pagtaengan,

Iti daytoy laeng a ritual

A mariknam ti namayengmeng

A talinaay ti kinapudno

A nasken a sublian latta

Dayta nagpanawan a disso.

 

A, ta uray dagiti salmon, subaenda

Dagiti agus ken baresbes

Agdaliasatda ginasgasut a milia,

Dida mabannog makasublida laeng

Disso a nakaispangayanda!

 

Kunaek kenka, ina, maysaak met

A ganggannaet a kas kenka

Ket rumkuas met ti tarigagay a sublian,

Agepan ken ilantip manen toy kararua

Iti disso a nakaidulinan ti kadkadua.

 

Ngem addaak ditoy nga agngatangata,

Napupok kadagiti adu a pangngadua:

Ti bassit a balayko, a pinanawak a rutrot

Ken agrakrakaya, gistayanen marba,

Kukuan ken pagturayan dagiti marabutit,

Kiteb, karasaen ken ipes?

 

Kayatmon ti agawid, ina, kas ti regget

Ti panagawid dagiti salmon nga agitlog!

Ngem siak , addaak iti nagtengngaan

Dagiti adu desdes

Diakon ammo ti dana

A mangitunda kaniak

Ii taeng a pagawidak?

 

 

Stranger

 

“I want to go home!”

 lament of an old woman in a nursing home

 

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

A voice calls

It comes from the deepest recesses of you

It is the voice of the feet

Oneing once more with

The body and the soul

With your own home

In this ritual

Where this truth

That one must return

To the land you left behind

Is tranquility itself.

 

Ah, but even the salmon,

They go against
The flow of water and rivulets

They journey for hundred of miles

They do not tire

In going back to the place

Where they come from!

 

Mother, let me tell you this:

Like you I am also

A stranger and this desire

To go back

Rises in me

To kiss and let my soul one

With the place where

My placenta was kept.

 

But I am here with all my doubts

Imprisoned by all these indecisions:

My humble abode, I left it with its holes

And decay, now almost giving way

Is now owned by mice

Their kingdom, and those bedbugs

Cobra and cockroaches?

 

Mother you now wish to go

Back home, the way the salmon

Desires to go back to spawn!

But here I am in the middle

Of many roads

Now I do not know which is to take

Which road would bring me back

To the home I can go back to?

 

 

Addaak Sadiay

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

 

Addaak sadiay idi nagalikubong ti tapuk

Daradara, sisusugat, maysan a mannakigubat

A nakirinnamas iti dangadang ti tay-ak

Sadiay, dagiti agbuybuya, ginayangdak

Kadagiti nagtagisima a balikas

A kabulon ti lais ken paggaak

Maagak kano ta apay ‘toy bagik insebbak

Kas simotsimot iti apuy a napasag

Natdaak koma a para buya lattan

Iti tugawko nga agim-imas, siraragsak.

 

Addaak idi sadiay iti arena ti dangadang

Para buya idi, itan maysan a mannakigubat

Ta ti buya ti pannakairuromen, batibatennak

Ti ikkis dagiti awanan-gaway, riribukennak

Ti luada, maysa a bala a mangsalbag ‘toy kararuak

Ket inarmasak ti bagik iti pannakiraman.

 

Wen, addaak sadiay idi nagalikubong ti tapok

Daradara, sisusugat ngem siraragsak:

Maysa a nagtagipuson a tao ti kaimudingak!

 

 

 There I Am

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

 

There I was when dust was a whirlwind

Bloodied dust, wounded, and then a warrior

Waging war in the summit

There, the spectators, they speared me

With words that have hooks

That went with taunt and laughter

Saying I was a fool

For putting myself onto fire

Like a moth that died

I wished I were just a viewer

On my seat sitting

On my seat enjoying, filled with gaiety. 

 

There I was in the arena of struggle

I used to be a kibitzer, now a warrior

Because with the spectacle of oppression,

I have nightmares

The cries of those powerless, I am afflicted

Their tear is a bullet that pierces my heart

And then I armed myself

With involvement. 

 

Verily, there I was when

Dust was a whirlwind

Bloodied, wounded, but full of joy:

Now I am person finally with a heart!

 

 

Aldaw Dagiti Al-Alia

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

Aldaw ita dagiti di-katataoan ken al-alia

Ditoy nalam-ek a disso

A nakaipalladawan ‘toy kararua.

 

Kadagiti paraangan arig kamposanto

Dagiti arkosda:

Adda nangisit a lungon, puraw

A krus ken rurog a nakadeppa.

Anniniwan ti mangkukulam,

Sapot ken lawwalawa

Ti maanninawan kadagiti sarming

A tawtawa.

 

Kadagiti nakatangep a ridaw,

Agbambantay dita

Dagiti nakarungiit a kabkabanga

Wenno pumpkin

A nakitikitan agpagpaggaak a rupa,

Dumardarang dagiti matana.

 

Aldaw ita dagiti di-katataoan ken al-alia,

Panawen daytoy dagiti nagmaskara

Kadagiti nakaal-alingget a rupa

Ti bruha ken vampira,

Iti sardam ti maudi a kidem ti Oktubre

Agdakiwasda kadagiti kalsada,

Sa “trick or treat,” kunada

Iti paraangan a serkenda

Ket maiyatang ti kendi

A sumra ti “trickda.”

 

Ngem sannakon a mabutbuteng kadagitoy a buya

Ta nairuamakon a makilanglangen kadagiti al-alia

Idi addaak pay laeng iti adayo a daya,

Inaldaw kunam sa,

Saan laeng nga arkos, wen, talaga a pudnoda,

Saanda metten nga aggigian kadagiti balete,

Dalipawen, ken acacia.

 

Nagapondan kadagiti balay ti ili,

Linungoganda pay pasdek

Ti Batasang Pambansa;

Isu a no panawen ti eleksion,

Linaon ti balota, maal-alia;

Rangtay a di natuloy ken marmarba

Kasta met natapok

Ken lasonglasong a kalsada

Amin dagitoy, aramid dagiti al-alia;

Sabali laeng met dagiti nakapatig nga aswang

Nga agsapsapul sepsependa a dara

Kadagiti tiendaan wenno kalkalsada,

Nasken nga agbaribarika

Di la ket makabatbatika a matda!

 

 The Day of Ghosts

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

Today is the day

Of non-persons and ghosts

In this land of the cold

Where my soul finds its

Strange shore.

 

The yards of homes

Are like graveyards

With their décor:

Coffin in pitch black,

Cross in white

And skeleton hanging.

The shadow of the witch,

Spider’s web and its owner

Are reflected on mirrors

Of windows.

 

 

In doors shut,

There await as sentries

Smirking skulls

Or pumpkins bearing

An engraved guffawing face,

Its eyes ablaze.

 

Today is the day of non-persons

And ghosts,

Today is the day of the masked

With the terrorizing faces

The witch and the vampire

In this night of the last day of October

They go roam the streets,

And then they say, “trick or treat”

On front yards they get in

And a candy is given as offering

To combat their “trick.”

 

But I no longer am scared of these scenes

I am used to dealing with ghosts

When I was still in the far east

Each day, I tell you,

These were not only décor, verily,

They were all true

And they did not reside in banyan trees,

Other robust trees: dalipawen and acacia

 

They have gone to roost

In the houses of the towns and cities

And they have ghostly possessed the building

Where they make the laws of the land

Which is why each election time,

The votes in ballot boxes

Have been busted by evil spirits;

Bridges that remain unfinished

And the dusty and potholed streets

All these, these are the handiwork of ghosts;

And then there are those vampires

In camouflage scouring for blood to suck

In marketplaces and roads,

And thus you need to say, “Baribari!”

Or else your soul will go haywire.

 

 

Wasay

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

Di agsarday a maipakpakan

Ti wasay dagiti naulpit a dadaulomi

Iti pinuon ti narra a yan

Ti umok ti darepdepmi.

 

Agpigergerkami iti tunggal layat

Agtibbayokami iti tunggal tikap;

Agalinggagetkami

Iti aldaw ken agpatnag

Ta ditoy tinnagenda ti ulo

Ti inanamami nga agbiag,

Itanemda dagiti bukod

A karbengan ken arapaap

Ket dung-awanmi

Dagiti bukodmi a gasat

Nga impalak-am kadakami

Dagiti naulpit a dadaulomi

A kaarngi dagiti berdugo

Nga agpagpaggaak!

 

Ket umawerkami a kas

Kadagiti nabugtak a bannatiran

Inyuritmi iti law-ang ti exodosmi

Nga agkalkallautang.

Nasitaksitakkami a nagturong

Iti uppat a suli ti lubong;

Tunggal maysa sapulenna

Disso a pagpaknianna

Ngem dadduma pabaor

Ti nagur-uray kadakuada.

Silulungonda a nagsubli

Iti bukodmi a daga;

Idinto a di latta agsarday

A mailaylayat ti wasay

Dagiti dadaulomi

A mangtuang iti pinuon

Ti narra a nagaponanmi,

Putarenda a lungon

Nga agpaay kadakami!

 

 

 Wasay

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

 

The ax of our oppressive

Leader has his endlessly

Cutting up the narra tree

That nestles our dream.

 

We quiver in each aim

Our heart thumps in each cut;

We panic in the day

And throughout the night long hours

Because here, here, they chop off

The stump of our hope

To keep on living,

They bury our own rights

And aspirations

And then we lament

Our own fate

The one inflicted upon us

By our oppressive leader

Who look like murderers

Laughing to announce their deed!

 

And then we wander away

Like the bannatiran that is driven away

In the heavens we write

This exodus of our going away.

We were forced to go

To the four corners of the world;

Each one had to look for his own corner.

Each one had to look for a place

Where he could stay put

But for some, bad fate

Awaited them.

Some came home on a coffin

In our own land;

In the meantime,

The ax of our leaders

Aim at our tree endlessly

The ax felling the narra tree

That we nestled in,

Them to create coffins

They reserve for us!

 

 

Sungbat kenni Ina

 

“Didakami liplipatan ditoy Filipinas, wen.”

                              -unnoy ti maysa nga ina.

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

Patgek nga ina,

diyo koma gamden a panunoten

a markas ti kawar a nakaigalutan

dagiti lagipmi kadakayo

ditoy simmangbayanmi

a ganggannaet a disso.

saksimi dagiti kawaw a rabii

a mangsungsungka dita

no kasta nga iliktadyo dagiti agdan,

itangepyo dagiti tawa

kadagiti maam-amak a sardam

a napnot’ taul ken alang-ang,

wenno lukag-putok ti badigard

ni apo mayor a nabartek

ken agpagunggan,

a mangsallin naimnas a ridepyo,

uray nabugguongan

la a bulong ti marunggay

ti pinangrabiiyo…

 

Ilislistami latta dagiti agtinnag

a tinukel ti lua dagiti balo ken ulila

a kailiantayo a mangsawsawar

kadagiti ammada

a nayulog kadagiti nasipnget a sardam,

a sapsapulenda iti nagmanto a langit

daydi maudi nga arakup,

daydi maudi a pakada:

“annak, agsingsingpetkayo,

isublidakto met laeng…”

 

Agmuttalengkami latta iti lagip

dagiti agpaspasuso nga inna

iti sanguanan dagiti nanumo

a dulang wenno lamisaan

a mangur-uray

kadagiti amma wenno annak

a nagsawar iti nabangles a makan

kadagiti pagbasuraan

da apo baknang…

 

Agtibbayokami latta iti damag

maipanggep kadagiti appotayo

nga agtuturay

a nangikisap iti innapuy

ti namnama, a nangarub-ob

iti dinengdeng

ti hustisia, ken nangati iti malabi

ti danum ti ayat ken asi,

potahe a paglalanglangan koma

iti mangurkuranges nga ili.

 

Malaglagipdakayo latta,

patgek nga ina

ket dinto aggibus

ti sirkulo ti ayat

iti laksid ti ipapanaw

ken panagkatangkatang,

iti panangsapsapul iti sungbat

ti doliar, euro, yen ken riyal

kadagiti saludsod

ti pisos a di masarakan

iti disso a nakaipasngayan…

 

 Reply to Mother

 

“Do not forget us in the Philippines, please.”

                              -a mother’s plea

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

Mother, my dearest,

please do not ever think

that the chain linking us

to our memory of you snaps

in this land we have come to

in this strange place.

 

The empty nights are our witness

our way of figuring out things

when you take off the bamboo stairs

from its perch,

shut the windows

from the early evening hours

that speak of terror

filled with the howling

and baying of dogs

or the warning shot

of the mayor’s body guard

who is drunk 

and unrestrained,

who will bother you from your deep sleep,

even when your dinner

was a soup of marunggay

with tomato paste…

 

We keep on with the inventory

of tears that fall

the tears of widows and orphans

our countrymen looking for their fathers

the fathers who were abducted

in nights of pitch darkness

they who look for their fathers

in the heavens on a mourning clothing,

the last embrace,

the last of the goodbyes:

“you be good children,

they will have me come back to you…”

 

We go blank with the memory

of mothers breastfeeding their young
before the modest low dining tables

or regular tables

waiting for the fathers or children

that scoured for spoiled food

in the garbage bin of the rich…

 

We cannot help but be panic-stricken

by the news of big men

ruling over us

them who finished in one full sweep

the rice of our hope

them who finished off

the soup of justice,

and bled dry the earthen container

of the water of love and mercy,

or men we could have partaken of

in the land of misery.

 

Mother, dearly beloved,

I keep remembering

the circle of love

ceaselessly

despite our leaving

and wandering

in our search for the response

of the dollar, euro, yen, and riyal

to the question of pesos

that we cannot find

in the land of our birth…

 

 

 

Kadagiti Allon ti Jericho Beach

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

 

ditoy ganggannaet

nga aplaya ti jericho beach

bilangek no kua

dagiti sumangbay

nga allon ket bay-ak

ida nga agkurno

iti sakaanan ti sasainnek

dagiti iliw ken segga

nga agburak iti barukong

 

hala, umaykayo,

dakayo nga allon,

riknaenyo ti bara ‘toy nagsiding

a dapan kayumanggi a gabat

nga agkatangkatang

 

hala, umaykayo, allon,

ta ipaw-itko kadakayo

dagiti mensahe ti lua

ti diaspora a tao a naitibnok

iti danum a namagsaip

iti laud ken daya

 

hala, iyanudyo dagitoy

a sasainnek

 

iyanudyo dagitoy a segga

 

iyanudyo dagitoy nga ila

 

ket yagepyonto

koma a silalailo

iti bangir nga aplaya

ti ingungotek a daga

a yan ti nakaidulinan

daydi kadkadua

 

idanonyo koma

nga iti laksid ti ipapanaw

ti pusok ken espirituk

nabati kenkuana

 

idanonyo koma

nga iti laksid

ti sam-it dagiti agaruyot

a gatas ken diro

sapsapulen latta

dagiti nakairuaman a raman

ti nagbiagan a nanam

ti tuyo ken bugguong

 

idanonyo koma

nga iti laksid

ti lukneng pagiddaan

il-iliwen latta ti imnas

dagiti tagainep

iti nasileng a datar

daydi nanumo a kalapaw

a siraragsak a nagtakder

iti dumna’t karayan

ken kataltalonan

 

idanonyo koma

nga iti laksid kinadaeg-buya

dagiti agtinnag

a niebe iti winter

ken panagukrad dagiti sabong

ti cherry iti spring

 

dinto agkupas ti buya

ti panagraraep iti nepnep

ken ti di agmawmaw

nga ayamuom

ti sampagita iti kalgaw

 

hala, umaykayo,

dakayo nga allon,

umaykayo ta ipaw-itko

kadakayo dagitoy a mensahe

iti testamento ti kari

ti maysa nga agkatangkatang

a patneng nga ilokano!

 

* nalatak a beach iti Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

 

 

To the Waves of Jericho Beach

 

Abril P. Varilla

 

 

in this strange shore

of Jericho beach

I keep counting

the waves coming

I allow them to take their bow 

on the feet

of loneliness

the many feelings of missing and desiring

breaking out of my breast

 

do come, come, 

you, you waves

feel the warmth of the foot

with the mole

this foot of a brown flotsam

wandering without aim

 

do come, you come, waves, come

so I can ask you to bring for me

the message of tear

of this diasporic man

mingled with the waters

that put together

the east and the west

 

come, you bring with you

this sobbing

 

you carry with you

this sense of anticipation

 

you carry with you this sense of missing

 

and then you kiss

with all the love

in that other shore

my dear homeland

where my afterbirth

has been kept

 

you tell my homeland

that despite my leaving

my heart and soul

is left with her

 

that despite the sweetness

of milk and honey that drip over here

I keep searching

for the familiar taste of food

like the savor of dried fish and fish sauce

 

please let her know

that despite the softness of my bed

I miss the life-giving power

of dreams

on the well-scrubbed floor

of the humble home

that proudly stands

close to the river

and the fields

 

you please tell

that despite the glory of the scene

of snow falling in winter

the blooming of the cherry flowers

in the spring

the scene of planting rice

during the rainy season

will never fade

and the scent

of sampagita

in the summer

lingers

 

come, come waves,

come, you waves,

come so I can ask you to bring

with you the message

in the convenant of the promise

of an Ilokano

who is a wanderer!

 

* a famous beach in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

 

2 thoughts on “Kallautang-Abril Varilla

  1. Abril,
    kadagti kur-it ken kayat mo nga iparikna ,sika pay laeng tay gayem ko nga am-amok, no nag baliw kaman dakkel ti pammatik nga maysa ka nga Propesyonal, no anyaman ti propesyon mo itata. ta uray siyak, diak mairibak ditoy riknak nga na sagid mo ti emosyon ko kadagiti daniw mo.

    How’s my long lost freind? Sa bawat bakasyon ko lagi akong nagtatanong kung nasan kan, kaya lang walang nakaka alam sa mga dati nating ka batch (1986) ang where about mo.stay safe. Long lost friend Oscar.

  2. i was touched in every words of the poem,it made me cry actually.i’d heard a lot of good things about you and how you grow as a kid in buguey.more power to you….!

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