Resilience

They called us resilient.

 

They think it only means strong.

They say the Filipino Spirit is all positivity,

is smiling when the storm hits,

is finding the light in the darkness,

no matter what.

They don’t know that daybreak finds us

shadowed and shaking,

breaking and almost broken,

caked in dirt and the debris of someone else’s

irresponsibility.

Because when the storm hits,

it brings us to our knees.

Witness, then,

the concavity of a body,

wide open and aching,

gasping in the sunlight,

spilt on the earth.

 

We are god’s poison-tasters,

bitten off by the teeth,

bitten off at the skin.

Purpled by the dawn, we are

shivering for want and waiting

for something that feels like justice.

We take refuge in the rock piles,

drunk on earthquakes and

fermented in cheap grace,

tooth by tooth,

flesh by pound of tender flesh;

we would give anything

not to disassemble in the echo

of a careless politician’s footsteps.

 

Find us howling

where mangrove meets with salted water,

nursing from the sea,

hands clasped in prayer,

throat aching for prayer to be enough,

eyes anguished with supplication.

We are human splinters,

scattered by the flood,

by the fire,

by the shaking of the earth,

by the blood on the pavement,

in the cracks of the land,

on the stones of the mountain,

caked underneath the fingernails

of all the strongmen who so desperately want

to be strong men.

They know nothing of the Filipino Spirit.

They only know what their greed whispers to their dirty hearts.

They cannot see us coming undone.

They choose not to see us coming undone.

 

And yet here we are,

eroded with every new tempest,

bleeding our runoff into an ocean of time,

knuckles splitting on the door of

an indifferent god,

our mezzanines shattered,

our columns felled,

our temples all defeated.

We are children to this anger,

this hateful neglect of a people,

this ageless war for the soul of a nation

that has not learned yet how to love itself

without devouring its own.

 

And so here we are,

leveled in the beat of the earth,

still holding on to everything,

still trying to call this ragged country home.

In this flowerfield of wreckage,

find us crying into empty cups,

mouths waiting

for a hot meal,

for a garden song,

for a kind word to say about the state of our nation,

or else for a war cry.

For a call to arms.

The Filipino Spirit demands

that we be strong,

not only in defeat or in darkness,

but in the disobedient thundering of our hearts

in a clamor for our due.

 

Remember this:

we grew from seeds.

We hid in the cracks of the land and

let the storms make us brave, not broken.

We let the lightning carve our grief into good intentions

and we refused to call them scars.

We are the better tomorrow,

the lesson learned,

we are the light in the darkness,

the way home, resplendent

even in our disrepair.

 

This is us. This is resilience.

This is the Filipino Spirit,

unyielding and unbroken.