Pinayist Poetry

POEMS

Pinays screamed but no one heard

She screamed

As the lost daughters of the Luzon Indios who came on

a Spanish Galleon in 1587

She screamed

As the missing child of the Filipinos who jumped ship

in 1763

She screamed

In 1904 when they put her in a box to be shipped to

St. Louis to parade in a fair like an exotic animal in

a cage

She screamed

In the 20’s and 30’s left back in the Philippines as

her sons and brothers left to labor in the states

She screamed

As only 7-10% of the Filipinos who came to the US in

the 1930’s

She screamed

As a beauty queen under surveillance, deemed social

box dancer, also working in the fields, at home, and

for her community

She screamed as a war bride and wife of men in the

military

She screamed as part of the military who sacrifices

her mind and body to the war

She screamed as a prostitute whose body was rest and

recreation for the men at Clark and Subic Bay

She screamed as an educated and professional women

whose pay is still lower than men

She screamed with dreams to be successful only to be

sent to a brothel

She screamed in rage

She screamed at every age

She screamed when he hit her

She screamed but no one heard

She screamed

At the computer lab

As she scanned her college photo and sent it to a man

She met through an agency

6 months later

She boards a plane with just a bag of dreams and

memories of her family

16 hours past

and she exits the runway into the arms of a man

who mail-ordered her companionship, her skills, and

her body

she was his personal slave

who scrubbed the scum of his existence

and her body cleaned the dirt of his desire

he didn’t love her

nor did she love him

Unsure of her future, she still expected to live a

happy life

But one night

She fell ill and was unable to perform the duties he

demanded

He performed violent acts

Hot iron to her face

Then slammed her head against the wood the bed

Over and over

She screamed but no one heard.

And her fate ended in tragedy

Because at 21

She married a stranger

Who calls himself a man

And American

Whose hand

was placed at the face of her death.

She screamed

The morning on the first day of

10th grade

Lola made

her favorite breakfast

day-old rice, sliced spam topped with perfectly fried

eggs with crispy edges

and for dessert, toast smeared with butter and

sprinkled with sugar

Lola demanded, “Kain na, or in your dad’s language,

mangang tayon,”

from the bathroom, she screamed in English, “no more!”

slammed the door

stood profile in front of the full length mirror

looking up and down at her body with distorted

perspective

wishing that spamsilog didn’t sound so damn good

wishing that the baby girl in her womb would go away

before lola found out

wishing that the boy that told her everything was

going to be okay, would just call.

She screamed but no one heard.

Self-hung with the shower curtain choked around her

thin neck

15 years later in the same bathroom her body was found

by her first-born child.

She screamed in this state of war 2001

2000 and one bodies

everyday

shipped

as cattle

as meat

as product

as labor

as sex

She screamed that in this state of war

In the fear that

All would be left

Would be

Body bags, a rewritten policy, and a white president

She screamed

That the war would take more than just life

It would take a generation

It would take her sister’s body

Her mom’s hard work

Her father’s nationalism

Her grandparents’ sacrifices

It would take her memories

And quickly it would take her.

She screamed

These stories to people, to Filipinos across the world

Her words fell silent on deaf ears

They only heard echoes of screaming spirits

But never listened to their roles in the stories

Till the story was about their families

About their friends

And about them

She screamed but no one heard.

-Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, 2001.

Resistance and Struggle are Sisters

Bulosan said: If you want to know what we are, we are revolution

Ninotchka Rosca said: Do things on your own, in your own way

If you want to know who the Pinay is, she is resistance

If you want to know who the Pinay is, she is struggle

Walking forward into a storm

Born in displacement meant

To exist we had to resist

Born into a life of hardship

Each day a war

Our bodies are the battlefields

Our souls the soldiers

Our lives are lives of struggle

Racist

Sexist

Classist

Ageist

It is rape culture and we must resist

Colonialism

Takes our land

But not our souls

And we must struggle

Sister

Daughter

Babae

Babaylan

Mom

Inay

She is Pinay

She is resistance

Ninang

Tita

Manang

Auntie

She is Pinay

She is Struggle

Resistance

Through Wars we have led the struggle

On many levels

Guns across our souls

Shields protecting our minds

Fighting to maintain our culture in an insane rape of our motherland

They came slinging Colt 45s and different flags

To kill and burn

Kill and burn

To turn our homeland into a firestorm

In it’s eye, we hold our family close

With strong brown arms

We have known starvation and disease

Sexual enslavement and devastation of death

And still we survive

Resistance

Contracted by Amerikkka to move from nation to nation

Being stationed in sweatshops

To sex brothels

Seen only as a maid

Bodies laid

Dignity Stolen

Hearts and Dreams broken

Many words unspoken

But yet we seemed to survive

Struggle

Is a love so deep

That leaves the comfort of a motherland she birthed

To pick cotton

To can peaches

To cut asparagus

To clean the homes of the oppressors

To care for white babies

While her own cry thousands of miles away

Her hands bleed as she feeds a Pilipino nation

Resistance

Through Pinoy colonization

Looking for someone who’s down

Cause we not willing to take

The Pinoy’s excuses

About why he erases

The Pinay’s struggle from his own

And we demand that every Pinoy man

Take a stand

Because this hand is the hand

That gave birth to your existence

Struggle

Against colonized brown minds

Which negate our lives, our spirits, our self-determination

Told we cannot be who or what we want to be

By our own

Uncles fathers brothers pares lolos boyfriends

And even by ourselves

Our aspirations left in the sink

Or in the laundry

Silenced into a culture of complacency

Ask us what we hold inside

And our dreams are a deafening roar

Resistance

Through the neglect of my mom and your mom too

Heroines with stories unwritten

About many people

Spitting on their souls

Even their own

Disrespected and Rejected by History

Not even seen as political

But step back and check out her ways of being

Cause you’ll be seeing and feeling

How being Filipino has really stayed alive

Struggle

To be recognized

Because without us,

There would be no Pilipino heroes

So check that

With your HIStory books

Original warriors, priestesses and matriarchs

Lola and mom are queens

Her everyday struggle makes her a heroine

Like our Mare Emily says, Stronger than Eve she is

Pinay

Who marches and toils

Feeds and clothes

Pinay in the trenches of wars

Past

Present

And future

So if you want to know who the Pinay is, she is resistance.

So if you want to know who the Pinay is, she is struggle.

-Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales and Dawn B. Mabalon, 1995.

It could’ve been me

In a dark room thousands of miles away

One pinay lay

With legs open

Mouth shut

Family ties cut

Only one of 20 mil

Still

In this global sex trade

So many dollars made 

that she won’t see

She can’t see

Blind to her possibilities

Her body laid naked and bare

Only to be bought and sold by men who stare

With a gaze of exotification

‘cause she’s this Asian sensation

who I call mare

who I call ate

who they call rest & recreation

she wakes to find herself displaced

in a fairy tale erased

by the reality of exploitation

oppression

and deception

it could’ve been me

it could’ve been me

it could have been me

but when I turn on the tv

a woman wears a crown

who looks like me

We Miss America now

But we don’t know how

To end a culture

where we are commodified

Where we are implicated

Where our tits and ass are rated

Life in America can be so complicated

Beauty queen

Only seen

As representation

But we know it’s perpetuation

Of objectification

In a world economy based on competition

We compete to be the star

The superfly Pinay 

Standing next to that car

Why we always wanna be

the finest

the smartest

the most brown

the most down

always thinkin’, why her?

And not me?

It could’ve been me

It could’ve been me

So let me tell you about me

Pinay living life so comfortably

Look at me, dis hip hop shortie

Perpetrating prof at some university

Going to the MAC counter

Talkin’ bout Pinay power

Spittin rhymes

About realities sublime

About times 

Of Resistance and struggle

But really, there ain’t nothing special about me

Ain’t nothing special about this brown girl

Ain’t much different 

from the pinays sold around the world

trying to be critical

self-critical

about how the global 

connects to the local

and to the personal

and so in this dark room

this pinay lay

trying to laugh through the tears

with the fear 

that distance created resistance

from the Pinay whose body

is a statistic that swims across the sea  of our minds

and all the while we are thinking 

it could have been me

it could have been me

-Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales and Dawn B. Mabalon, 2001.

Inay’s “Philippines” Pillow

Below the sunset, ocean, and sand

Underneath a palm tree swaying in the island breeze

Embroidered in bright pastel threads

Like the colors of my Soen underwear

On that white pillow sham

In perfect cursive penmanship

The word “Philippines” was immortalized

Never slept alone till I was teenager

Mom and Dad’s bed

To yours

Philippines pillow

Always left the word Philippines EMBOSSED-TATOOED-BRANDED on my face

Always stank like your aqua-net hair spray from Longs Drug

and sometimes sticky from the setting gel that you used to roller your hair

But I didn’t care

I dreamt many dreams on that pillow

It told me your secrets and your mourning for tatay

I smelt your dried tears in the crevices of its stitching

I heard your cries of his name in the dark night

I felt your heart beat slowly as the feathers escaped one by one

Philippines pillow

Shoved in the back of your closet

Behind all the plastic bags of memories

It hides there till I come home

And set it free

Philippines pillow

Always managed to find its way home

Back to your bed

In your arms alone

Philippines pillow

Strings loose, faint memories of the sunset, ocean, and sand

Only the trunk of the palm tree still remains

Now embroidered in faded pastel-colored threads

But still in perfect cursive penmanship

On that white pillow sham

The word “Philippines” is immortalized.

Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales

October 18, 2000

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