191: Letter to Pedro

Easily one of my favorite poems, this work by Rene Estella Amper. This annotation is taken from my Art of Poetry assignment:

This is an irreverent poem that speaks of the Filipino character and how we react to changes beyond our control. I actually first encountered this in a reading of its translation. The poem was originally written in English, but I heard it first in Bisaya, which added its own nuance. The poem itself is full of snark (“Your cousin, Julia, has just become a whore. / She liked good clothes, good food, big money”) but it belies a certain sadness from nostalgia (“This morning I couldn’t find anymore / the grave of Simeona, the cat we buried”) and even bitterness (“The farmers come down every Sunday / to sell their agony and their sweat for”). In a way this is who we are: as a people we mask our sadness with jokes, and sometimes we can’t really tell which is which.

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Dom Cimafranca

Teacher, writer, project manager, and all-around nice guy.