A dusty old box
In the depths of your closet
Alongside the forgotten
Is now brought back into light
Hands start nervously shaking
You open it once again
Pages brown from the time passed
Flipping each page after page
Reminiscing the pa—schwip
A cut forms on your finger
Stinging ever so slightly
Only to realize pain
Had been present all along
Reliving pictures of home
Fake smiles and faded colors
No trust in one another
Snapshots of a “family”
Bruises only you can see
Only God knows what courage
It takes to retrieve what has
Been hidden away from
More than just kawaii desu
More than nico nico ni
And senpai noticing me
You are the reason my heart goes doki doki
More than the final rasengan
More than the last hurrah
And all the power needed for a kamehameha
You give me strength when all hope is gone
More than just friendly rivalries
More than swimming medley relays
And underdog hero clichés
You help me be the best I can be always
With Moon Prism Power
I’ll transform right before your eyes
Into a weeb like no other
You bring me joy before I even realize
Pumapatak ang ulan sa semento.
Coloring it darker than it was before.
As the intensity increases,
I peek my hand outside my umbrella.
Allowing water to kiss my skin.
Eventually lowering the divide,
I allow it to engulf me.
Memories of home flood my mind.
Murky waters seeping into my belongings.
Cold droplets suddenly become
Warm welcome embraces.
Swift winds turn stagnant and sticky
As rain mixes with sweat.
I hear the roaring of motors,
Whispered chatters of tsismis,
A symphony of honking horns,
Bells of sorbeteros,
And Kuya yelling “TAHOOO!”
I smell the grease of fried fishballs in the air,
Swirling around with the scents
Of fresh pandesal and isaw-isaw.
My mouth begins to water,
Until stifling smog hits me.
I see the tiny tin houses crowded together.
Colorful clothes hung up high.
I feel the rough, callous hands of kapwa,
Who have had to work everyday of their lives.
I hear the laughs of those who remain resilient
After many typhoons have torn them down.
I smell the piles of trash; its stench diluted by the rain.
As the Pacific Ocean connects our coasts,
The rain connects our hearts.
Rainfall never fully dissipating
Between home and homeland.
Our stories unfold.
Hangang sa muli
Unconditional love that knows no bounds
Warmly embraces me without judgment
His voice fills my ears with heavenly sounds
Jesus causing a shift in my movement
None of it makes sense, it baffles me so
I kept running away yet He would still wait
Relentlessly pursuing me until I know
That my homecoming is never too late
I savor the times we spend together
When we’re in a crowd dancing and laughing
Or in nature’s beauty and warm weather
Even the grief and anger-filled crying
Through my pain and brokenness, He remains
An overwhelming love that breaks my chains
The cries I never had to hear
ring in my head;
keep my heart heavy.
Cries of loved ones;
cries of lost ones.
Gunshots ring louder.
Voices grow quieter.
Faces become shadows.
Lights once flickering bright,
fade into the night.
We scroll quickly with mindless fingers
while they fade like distant memories.
Faces to be forgotten.
Until it happens,
No time to mourn.
I fade into an abyss
of news and media
filled with violence;
an abyss called hopelessness.
into its darkness
This piece came from the numbness I felt in reading about all of the shootings that had been done this year. I was overwhelmed and wanted to take time to mourn but even trying to do that was overwhelming. I believe that real change can happen but, there are times when you just feel paralyzed. This poem doesn’t have to only apply to shootings in the U.S. but can be related to any systematic acts of violence in the world. I hope that those who read this won’t feel alone in their numbness and know that it’s okay to feel this way.
They told me I’m made in the image of God
But why do they tell me, “Stay out of the sun Janelle”
“Make sure you put on sunblock Janelle”
“Use papaya soap Janelle”
What kind of kingdom is this? It feels like hell
Scrubbing my skin
Pinching my nose
What hurts more
Is my deeply rooted self-hatred
I can’t shake it
Pinoy pride on our shirts
But underneath, white is all we strive to be
Home in the land of the free
Pinanganak sa Pilipinas
Lumaki sa America
Sino ka ba?
Ako? I’m proud to live in a place that
Stands for liberty & justice for all
I’m proud to be light-skinned
I’m proud to not sound like a FOB
I’m proud to live in such diversity
But turns out, I live in this hegemony
Sino ka ba?
Ako? I’m free
Free to play the game
My colonizers created
Free to assimilate
Assimilate to eradicate
My Filipina identity
Then Jesus swoops in to save me
Not like my colonizer, no
But as a Father who knows
And loves every part of me as I am, Fil-Am
Sino ka ba?
Ako? Ako ay anak ng Diyos
Binuhos niyang biyaya para sa akin
Para dumating ako sa puntong ito na
Maganda ako kasi Pilipina ako
Now I can see
The image of God
Redeemed in me
This was the first poem that I ever wrote. I had just returned from a six week mission trip in the Philippines where I had begun to further understand the lasting effects of U.S. imperialism and specifically, how it affects our perception of self. I was inspired by Ruby Ibarra’s work and I wanted to convey my process in fully accepting my Filipina American identity. Even in the midst of brokenness, I saw and continue to see the beauty of God’s healing and redemption in me and in the Filipino people.
— The End —