Sa Ilalim ng Tulay

Isang tinadhanang umaga, pahanon ng tag-ginaw,

Sa lugar na kinikilalang lungsod ng nagmamahal,

Ay may isang magsing-irog ang doo’y nagsumpaan,

Na sila ay mag-iibigan anuman ang kapalaran.

Sa kabila ng mundong mabangis, malupit at malamig,

Walang makakahadlang sa kanilang wagas na pag-ibig,

Doon sa may tulay at sa may rumaragasang tubig,

Silay nagpasyang tumalon, upang magtagpo sa langit.

Nguni’t huwag malungkot sa kuwento ng magkasintahan,

At huwag ninyong isiping, sila’y tumalong nagpatiwakal,

Sila lamang ay napalundag dahil puso ay umaapaw,

Sa pag-ibig at galak na hinding-hindi mapupukaw.

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Maligayang Valentine’s po sa lahat ng umiibig.

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(*photo taken during our wedding anniversary trip)

The Hero Who Told The Truth: A Tribute

The Wuhan coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, has claimed its ultimate victim. Chinese doctor, Dr. Li Wenliang, the first one to raise the alarm of the spreading epidemic, died on Feruary 7 from the virus that he tried to warn the world about. Instead of heeding his warning, the authorities tried to silence him, as back in December last year, he was arrested for being the whistle blower who is ‘spreading rumors’ about a mysterious virus. Now we can only speculate if the course of the epidemic could have been different if his government had listened to him.

Dr. Wenliang continued to care for patients in Wuhan until he himself got infected with the virus and paid the ultimate sacrifice for his work.

I found a poem in Chinese that was translated in English circulating in the internet, claimed to be penned by the doctor himself. Though I cannot confirm its authenticity, yet I’m sharing it here in honor of Dr. Li Wenliang.

“The Hero Who Told The Truth”

我不想當英雄。
我還有爹娘,
還有孩子,
還有懷孕臨產的妻,
還有許多的病人在病房。
盡管正直換不來善良,
盡管䢛途迷茫,
可還是要繼續進行,
誰讓我選擇了這國這家,
多少委屈,
等打完這仗,
垂淚如雨仰天遠望。
“I don’t want to be a hero.
I still have my parents,
And my children,
And my pregnant wife who’s about to give birth,
And many of my patients in the ward.
Though my integrity cannot be exchanged for the goodness of others,
Despite my loss and confusion,
I should proceed anyway.
Who let me choose this country and this family?
How many grievances do I have?
When this battle is over,
I will look up to the sky,
With tears like rain.”

我不想當英雄。
只是做為醫生,
我不能眼看著這不明的病毒,
傷害著我的同行。
還有那多無辜的人們,
他們盡管已奄奄一息,
可眼睛裏總望著我,
帶著生命的希望。
“I don’t want to be a hero.
But as a doctor,
I cannot just see this unknown virus
Hurting my peers
And so many innocent people.
Though they are dying,
They are always looking at me in their eyes,
With their hope of life.”

誰成想我競死了!
我的靈魂分明在天上,
望著那張白色的病床,
床上分明是我的軀體,
軀體上還是那熟悉的臉龐。
我的父親母親在哪?
還有我親愛的妻子,
那當年我苦苦追求的姑娘。
“Who would have ever realised that I was going to die?
My soul is in heaven,
Looking at the white bed,
On which lies my own body,
With the same familiar face.
Where are my parents?
And my dear wife,
The lady I once had a hard time chasing?”

天上有一道光!
那光的盡頭是人們時常說起的天堂。
我寧願不去哪裏,
我寧願回到武漢我的家鄉。
那裏有我新買的房子,
每月還要還貸的賬。
我怎能舍得,
我怎能舍得!
沒有兒子的爹娘,
該有多麽悲傷;
沒有了丈夫的寶貝,
該如何面對這未來的滄桑。
“There is a light in the sky!
At the end of that light is the heaven that people often talk about.
But I’d rather not go there.
I’d rather go back to my hometown in Wuhan.
I have my new house there,
For which I still have to pay off the loan every month.
How can I give up?
How can I give up?
For my parents without their son,
How sad must it be?
For my sweetheart without her husband,
How can she face the vicissitudes in her future?”

我分明死了。
我看見他們把我的軀殼,
裝進一個袋子。
在袋子的近傍
有許多死去的同胞,
象我一樣,
在黎明時分,
被推進火的爐堂。
“I am already gone.
I see them taking my body,
Putting it into a bag,
With which lie many compatriots
Gone like me,
Being pushed into the fire in the hearth
At dawn.”

再見了,難舍的親人。
永別了,武漢我的故鄉。
但願你們在災難過後,
還記得曾經有人,
努力地讓你們盡早知道真相。
但願你們在災難過後,
學會正直,
不再讓善良的人們,
遭受著無盡的恐懼,
和無奈的悲傷。
“Goodbye, my dear ones.
Farewell, Wuhan, my hometown.
Hopefully, after the disaster,
You’ll remember someone once
Tried to let you know the truth as soon as possible.
Hopefully, after the disaster,
You’ll learn what it means to be righteous.
No more good people
Should suffer from endless fear,
And helpless sadness.”

“那美好的仗我已經打完了,
應行的路我已行盡了,
當守的道我守住了。
從此以後,
有公義的冠冕為我留存。”
《聖經》提摩太後書4.7
“I have fought the good fight.
I have finished the race.
I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.”
2 Timothy 4:7

Flower-Strewn Pathway

I was going out for my morning run a few days ago and as I got out of the front door I noticed that our walkway was covered with flower petals.

Beautiful morning. Flower-strewn pathway. What else could I ask for?

Maybe our crabapple tree was treating me as royalty, shedding and laying its flowers on my path.

I remember an old movie “Coming to America,” where the character played by James Earl Jones, the king of Zamunda, a fictional wealthy African nation, visited the United States, New York City, to be exact. He was looking for his son, played by Eddie Murphy, who was the crowned prince of that said nation. In one scene, as the king steps out of his limousine, royal attendants strew flowers on the ground where he would walk on. I know, I am no royalty.

Come to think of it that is what flower girls in a wedding do too. These cute little girls would scatter flowers in the path where the bride would walk on. But I am no bride either.

By the way the tradition of flower girls scattering flower petals has its origin from the Greek and the Romans. The young girls walking before the bride in ancient practice, scatter herbs and grains to wish the bride fertility. But nowadays it is replaced by tossing flower petals as a wish for happiness for the bride. And maybe fertility too.

Our journey in this life though is not always filled with happiness or a flower-strewn pathway, so to speak. Or perhaps it is, as our path could be littered with roses but including its thorns. Maybe the flower vase is thrown in the path as well with its broken pieces of glass!

A poem by Annie Johnson Flint said this, “God hath not promise skies always blue, flower-strewn pathway all our lives through.”

The author of the poem, Annie, was only 3 years old when her mother died while giving birth to her baby sister. Her father who also had an incurable disease decided to give Annie for adoption as he couldn’t take care of her, and he died not long after that. Annie was sent to school by her adoptive parents and was able to finish her education and became a teacher. However she developed painful and debilitating arthritis at a young age which extremely limited her mobility. She was resigned to a wheelchair most of her life.

Yet she still penned this poem:

WHAT GOD HATH PROMISED

God hath not promised skies always blue, 
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain, 
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
many a burden, many a care. 

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above, 
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

What a great reminder for us indeed.

As for my morning run that day, it did start with a flower-strewn pathway though it got a little thorny especially on the last mile. But I did fine.

I am thankful for the promised strength for the day. And I don’t mean just for running.

(*photo taken with an iPhone)

Hamog

Parang kumot na sumusuklob sa damong giniginaw,

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O balabal na bumabalot sa paligid kong tanaw,

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At parang kurtinang tumatabing sa araw na sumisilaw,

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Ang mga ulap na humahalik sa lupa at nanliligaw,

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Gaya ng pag-ibig na tila hamog sa pusong nauuhaw.

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(*photos taken with an iPhone during my morning run)

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Post Note: since a reader asked, here’s the English translation for my non-Filipino readers and followers:

Dew
Like a blanket that covers the shivering grass,
Or a heavy cloak that the surrounding it wraps,
Or like a curtain that veils the sun’s glare,
Are the clouds that court and kiss the earth,
Just like love is like the dew to hearts that thirst.

 

Hagibis

Ako’y tumakbo kaninang umaga,

Sa amin dito sa Iowa,

Habang humahangos sa daan,

Ay aking pinakikinggan,

Maiingay na halakhak,

Ng mga ibong taratitat,

At sa aking paghingal,

Aking namang nalalanghap,

Ang mabangong halimuyak,

Ng mga bulaklak ng lilac.

Pero miss na miss ko na,

Mag-jogging sa Maynila,

Kung saan naghaharana,

Mga traysikel na umaarangkada,

At aking muling masasanghap,

Usok ng tambutsong kay sarap,

At takbo ko’y lalong bumibilis,

Parang anak ni Hagibis,

Dahil ako’y hinahabol,

Ng mga asong nauulol.

(*Hagibis means speed in Tagalog, it is also a Filipino comics hero, and the name of an all-male pop group.)

 

Mi Ultimo Ubo

 

Hithit ubo, hithit ubo,

Pabili nga ng Marlboro,

Hithit ubo, hithit ubo,

Pahiram din ng posporo.

 

Hithit ubo, hithit ubo,

Butas na ang bulsa ko,

Hithit ubo, hithit ubo,

Butas na pati baga ko.

 

Hithit ubo, hithit ubo,

Hirap na hirap na ‘ko,

Hithit ubo, hithit ubo,

Tang’n@ng yosi ito!

 

Hithit ubo, hithit ubo,

Adios! Malupit na mundo,

Hingal ubo, hingal ubo,

Hingal……hingal……aaagghh.

smoking

(*image from the web)

Writings on the Wall

 

My head is light and the walls spinning,

Too much of the “happy hours” again,

Staggering down Manila’s dark alley,

My steps and dignity are both shaky.

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I know I have passed this way before,

Promising a change, I will go for,

But my will is weak to the intoxicating spirit,

I am but a spineless fool! Damn it!

 

My family have long gave up on me,

I’m at the point I’m giving up on me,

Am I beyond redemption? Can’t get free

From the quatro cantos that enslaves me.

 

Heeding the call, fumbling in the night,

I am desperate to seek the light,

Then the writings on the wall, I saw

It reads: Hoy, Bawal Umihi Dito!

 

(*dedicated to all who struggle with the bottle; photo from the web)

 

Bulaklak ay Nalalaglag

 

Pansit ay napapanis,

Hopia ay inaamag,

Alahas ay kinakalawang,

Maganda ay nalolosyang,

Katanyaga’y nabibilasa,

Lakas ay humuhupa,

Awit ay napapaos,

Kuwento ay natatapos.

IMG_5468

Bulaklak ay nalalaglag,

Ngiti ay lumalayas,

Tangkay ay yumuyuko,

Damdamin ay natutuyo,

Araw ay lumulubog,

Hininga’y nauubos,

Panaho’y lumilipas,

Pag-ibig ma’y kumukupas.

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(*photo taken and edited with and iPhone)

 

Raindrops

One dreary morning,

I was slowly traveling,

The world I cannot see,

For everything was blurry.

                             I turned the wipers on,

                             Yet the haziness remain,

                             For it was not the rain,

                             It was my tears and my pain.

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(*This poem is brought to you by ibuprofen. My body aches again. Damn that volleyball!)

(**photo taken with an iPhone)