for Fernando Solijon
History remembers you now
not as the martyr
for an Abstract chained to purses and legalese
but sprawled mind-blown all over newsprint, arms
spread in a reverse hallelujah. Before sunlight
hits gridlock you once scalded with your tongue
the morning grind, and sailed through
headlines and commentary, but croaked
when you couldn’t find their roots.
It is said that anchors hit the unseen floor
to keep the ship upright
as the waves rock it.
Instead, some thought you would tip the ship over,
not knowing the point was to show the muck
that came beneath the current:
“Expensive houses and cars!” “Off-country vacations!”
“Fancy restaurant dinners!” “What happened
to the foreign aid?” “How much
of the budget are their Majesties juggling
from their air-conditioned thrones?”
And then, a phone call: “Capin is ready for you.”
The answers, always,
are another matter. Anyone can write them
or proclaim them on air but they break wills.
They leave bloodstains and broken bones
over brash words hitting air but sing praises
to paintjobs on broken stones,
even claiming to solve our woes and know
who we should vote
come next election.
It is said that Fate
missed you three times in your life—
two from murky waters, another
from the murky waters of politics. When She didn’t,
that evening She came by motorcycle, serving
canned death for dinner, the tins left by the door.
As you run aground, we are told, we must commit
to keep alive longing for truth. We hear static.
You see bloodstains on broken stones.
John Oliver Ladaga is currently a fourth-year student taking up BA English at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. He likes warm soup and is attracted to flowers growing through cracks in the wall. He is from Iligan City.