1521

Source: Pinterest

In honor of the 5th centennial anniversary of the Spanish rule in the Philippines, the whole month of April will showcase poems set in the Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines.

The story is loosely based on history and may contain inaccuracies.

I gasp, I wake up
I sit up
I’m no longer in my room.
What happened?
A girl stares at me. 
She is wearing a long skirt,
A cloth hanging from her torso
It looks like a blouse
But it’s not.
The girl is weird
Where I am is weird,

Where am I?
I am in a house made of bamboo and rattan
Bamboo and rattan—
The girl speaks, 
Are you okay?
I understand her
But it’s a language I shouldn’t
Have understood.

What year is it?
The girl is confused
What is year?
What do you mean?
She looks worried now
She calls me older sister
I don’t have a sister—
What is the day?
It’s morning
No, I meant the date—

A commotion outside and I stand up
I find myself wearing a skirt too,
But mine is rich and lavish,
Wrapped around my limbs.
A matching blouse hangs 
From my torso

I scramble to the nearest window.
I see bamboo huts and tall trees
I see a glimpse of the sea
You mustn’t stick out your head!
That’s disgraceful!
I don’t listen
I don’t know where I am

White skin! Weird men!
With long pointed sticks, they look silver I think!
I hear the passersby chatter among themselves.
Older sister, please, I think you are sick.
The girl pulls me out of the window
She lowers the woven rattan window.

What is this place called?
Sebu
I sit on the bamboo floor.
It should have been Cebu.
Do you know what year is it?
What is year?
Is there something wrong?
You just took a nap and you woke up—
Why are you acting weird?
I realized I spoke the same language 
As the girl, I was speaking to her
I tried to speak in English
The girl’s face contorted to fear and worry
What is wrong with you?

I think I know where I am
I think I know what the date is
But I can’t believe it
I need more proof
I scramble to the door and peek it open
I see a crowd of brown men in g-strings
In tattoos, in flowing skirts and gowns
I see a clump of white skinned men—
Tanned but they stick out 
Like a newly lit candle. 
I swallow.

It’s April 7, 1521
But I was born 
July 2001
And yesterday was April 2021.

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