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A space to encourage writing of Filipino American literature and the arts




Philippine American Writers and Artists blog for lit/arts events, reviews, news, and opportunities.

Filtering by Category: Poems

#AllPinayEverything: Joi Barrios


Next up for #AllPinayEverything is poet Joi Barrios. This poem, "Botox Day," is really very touching. Lots to think about here, about gender, beauty, and aging. 

"Botox Day?"
(For J.) by Joi Barrios

Tanghaling tapat sa Glorietta.
At ikinukuwento ko sa iyo
Ang aking umaga –
At ang aking unang botox.

Ito ang mga bilin ng doktora:

Una, kailangan ng kilay ng ehersisyo.
Kailangang kumalat ang lason sa noo.
Taas-baba, baba-taas,
Mainam na balaan agad ang kausap.

Ikalawa, huwag hihiga
Sa loob ng apat na oras.
Hindi dapat umabot ang nasabing lason
Sa mata o pisngi.
Baka maplantsa pati ang ngiwi.

Natatawa ka lang sa kuwento kong
Kuwento ng babaeng lampas kuwarenta,
Kuwento ng pangamba sa mga bakas ng pagtanda.

Ano nga bang maisusukli ng binata
Sa kanyang katanghalian?
Isang ngiti,
Bulalas ng pagtangi,
At naglaho sa aking puso,
Bawat gusot, bawat gatla.


"Botox Day?"
(translation by Ninotchka Rosca)

As we have lunch at Glorietta,
I tell you about my botox morning.

My doctor’s orders:

Exercise the eyebrows,
The poison needs to spread.
Up – down, down – up,
If I do not want to seem too strange,
I should warn my friends.

In the next four hours,
Do not lie down.
The aforementioned poison
Should not spread
to the cheeks nor the lips.
One cannot risk a half-shut eye,
Nor a lopsided smile.

You laugh at my stories,
Stories of a woman past forty,
Stories of fear for aging signs.

You listen and smile,
A young man at the noontime of his life,
Blurting words of affection
As magical as botox.

All at once,
The heart
Is wrinkle-free.


A Poem for Veterans' Day: "From a Filipino Death March Survivor Whose World War II Benefits Were Rescinded by the US Congress in 1946," by Bino A. Realuyo


[caption id="attachment_4724" align="alignright" width="212" caption="Bino A. Realuyo, The Gods We Worship Live Next Door (The University of Utah Press)"][/caption]

From a Filipino Death March Survivor Whose World War II Benefits Were Rescinded by the U.S. Congress in 1946, by Bino A. Realuyo

In Memoriam, Augusto Roa Realuyo, 1921-2003

  1. I left three years ago.
  2. If you want to know about my rural childhood, ask my survivors.
  3. If you want to know how I was recruited into the United States army at twenty, ask President Roosevelt.
  4. If you want to know how I ended up in the Death March at twenty-one, ask General MacArthur.
  5. If you want to know how many of my friends perished in the Japanese concentration camps, ask General Homma.
  6. If you want to know how I contracted malaria, beri-beri, dysentery, skin disease, gastrointestinal disease in one month, ask the Japanese Camp Commander.
  7. If you want to know how my military benefits were rescinded at the end of the war, ask President Truman.
  8. If you want to know how I became a 100% disabled veteran, ask my V.A. doctors.
  9. If you want to know how I got burial benefits, ask President Clinton.
  10. If you want to know why I wasn’t buried in Arlington, ask Judge Owen.
  11. If you want to know how I died without seeing the Rescission Act of 1946 repealed, ask me again.
  12. Then again.
  13. I’ve been asking myself the same question for sixty years.
  14. ______.
  15. I don’t know why, really.
  16. I don’t know why Filipinos have ignored it for so long.
  17. I don’t know why Americans don’t know this happened.
  18. I don’t want to think about this anymore.
  19. 46 . . .
  20. 06. Sixty years. I couldn’t wait anymore.

In 1946, at the end of the war, the U.S. Congress passed the Rescission Act of 1946 that denied Filipino veterans war-time benefits. To this day, Filipino World War II veterans, now in their twilight years, continue to fight for their dignity and the benefits owed to them.


More info on Bino A. Realuyo's The Gods We Worship Live Next Door can be found here.