Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Volume 2, Number 44               December 8 - 14, 2002            Quezon City, Philippines

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Emmanuel Lacaba


Invisible the mountain routes to strangers:

For rushing toes an inch-wide strip on boulders

And for the hand that's free a twig to grasp,

Or else we headlong fall below to rocks

And waterfalls of death so instant that

Too soon they're red with skulls of carabaos.


But patient guides and teachers are the masses:

Of forty mountains and a hundred rivers;

Of plowing, planting, weeding, and the harvest;

And of a dozen dialects that dwarf

This foreign tongue we write each other in

Who must transcend our bourgeois origins.


South Cotabato

May 1, 1975



You want to know, companions of my youth

How much has changed the wild but shy young poet

Forever writing last poem after last poem;

You hear he's dark as earth, barefoot,

A turban round his head, a bolo at his side,

His ballpen blown up to a long-barreled gun:

Deeper still the struggling change inside.


Like husks of coconut he tears away

The billion layers of his selfishness.

Or learns to cage his longing like the bird

Of legend, fire, and song within his chest.

Now of consequence is his anemia

From lack of sleep: no longer for Bohemia,

The lumpen culturati, but for the people, yes.


He mixes metaphors but values more

A holographic and geometric memory

For mountains: not because they are there

But because the masses are there where

Routes are jigsaw puzzles he must piece together.

Though he has been called a brown Rimbaud,

He is no bandit but a people's warrior.


South Cotabato and Davao del Norte

November 1975


We are tribeless and all tribes are ours.

We are homeless and all homes are ours.

We are nameless and all names are ours.

To the fascists we are the faceless enemy

Who come like thieves in the night, angels of death:

The ever moving, shining, secret eye of the storm.


The road less traveled by we've taken-

And that has made all the difference:

The barefoot army of the wilderness

We all should be in time.  Awakened, the masses are Messiah.

Here among workers and peasants our lost

Generation has found its true, its only home.


Davao del Norte 
January 1976


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