Escolta

Source: Esquiremag

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 walked along the Escolta street
I have heard of it in history,
Seen pictures of it
Black and white,
Throughout time
It is unbelievable
To walk upon its cobbled stones
Alive and breathing
In the past.

Shops on each side,
By the Chinese, the Spanish, the British.
Horses clucking everywhere,
Passersby in their camisas and sayas,
Their Barong Tagalogs fluttering in the air,
But it makes me sad,
For the impending doom that awaits them.
Who dies and who lives,
As I watch the faces of eager men and women,
Of the youth, of the middle class, of the lower class,
Where will they gamble on,
Will they win or will they lose?

My brother accompanies me today
He wanted to come,
After all of the years abroad,
Of the countries I had traveled,
The beauty of my motherland 
Is incomparable, he said.
And I agree, it is indeed.
But it makes me question,
What if time had not been
Linear, broken, untouched,
Would the changes be as beautiful
As they are?
No one would know,
Even I.

I watch my brother talk
Droning about life he had 
In France, Switzerland, Spain,
Of the things he missed,
Of how he would like to 
Travel across the islands too.
That would be nice,
I say.

He agrees and puts his right hand
On his breast.
I noticed a passerby coming
Towards our direction
His right hand on his breast.
My brother continues to drone on,
And on, but his eyes,
Affixed ahead.
We pass by the man,
My brother’s hand closed,
Index finger and thumb together.
When the man passed by,
My brother dropped his hand.

And I am filled with adrenaline,
Of delight, of pride.
My brother was part of the Katipunan,
Of the resistance that fought
For the Filipinos’ independence
From the Spanish rule.

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