Friday, February 18, 2011

Another Invitation to the Pope to Visit Tondo

Emmanuel Torres won the Outstanding Young Men award for literature in 1961, started the Ateneo Arts Club in the same year, and was curator of the Art Gallery from 1960-2001. 

This poem talks about a time during the Marcos regime when the pope came for a visit. Squatters areas were whitewalled, possibly in order to "make an impression" on the Pope. He saw right through it, however, and insisted on meeting a family from the area. The poem reflects the more realistic angle of the story, a mockery of the Church, in some ways, by alluding to doctrines. 


Ma. Therese Boniface Roxas

ANOTHER INVITATION TO THE POPE TO VISIT TONDO 
Emmanuel Torres 

Next time your Holiness slums through our lives, 
we will try to make our poverty exemplary. 
The best is a typhoon month. It never fails 
To find us, like charity, knocking on 
all sides of the rough arrangements we thrive in. 
Mud shall be plenty for the feet of the pious. 

We will show uoi how we pull things together 
from nowhere, life after life, 
prosper with children, whom you love. To be sure, 
we shall have more for you to love. 

We will show you where the sun leaks on 
our sleep, 
on the dailiness of piece meals and wages 
with their habit of slipping away 
from fists that have holes for pockets. 

We will show you our latest child with a sore 
that never sleeps. When he cries, 
the dogs of the afternoon bark without stopping, 
and evening darkens early on the mats. 

Stay for supper of turnips on our table 
since 1946 swollen with the same hard tears. 
The buntings over our one and only window 
shall welcome a short breeze. 

And lead prayers for the family that starves 
and stays together. If we wear roasries round 
our nexks 
it is not because they never bruise our fingers, 
(Pardon if we doze on a dream of Amen.) 

But remember to remember to reward us 
with something . . . more lush, greener than all 
the lawns of memorial parks singing together. 
Our eyes shall belss the liveliness of dollars. 

Shed no tears, please, for the brown multitudes 
who thicken on chance and feast on leftovers 
as the burning garbage smuts the sky of Manila 
pile after pile after pile. 

Fear not. Now there are only surreal assassins 
about who dream of your death in the shape 
of a flowering kris. 

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