Aba Ginoong Maria, napupuno ka ng grasiya,
Your friend sits with her ankles crossed, palms laid flat across her lap, and you get the urge to mirror. To keep your limbs from taking up too much space. This is what it means to be a woman. Speak only when spoken to. Sit still. Be pretty. Ano ‘yang suot mo? Kay babae mong tao. Centuries of grooming are coded into your system. While your ancestors failed to break free from this invisible mold, you have become all too aware of its presence— pushing at your bones, pulsing in your veins. It fuels the anger that seethes in your sinews when you catch yourself apologizing for existing too loudly. But she mentions she’s won the case she’s been slaving over for the past two years and everything comes to a halt.
You roll your shoulders back. Lift your chin. And grin with pride. This is what it means to be a woman. Strength in the midst of adversity. Grace under pressure and beyond. A single fist raised to the skies. You look at her and realize that elegance and power are not mutually exclusive. Still waters always run deep.
Ang Panginoong Diyos ay sumasaiyo.
Church pews feel unholy when your bones are riddled with Catholic guilt. It’s an ungodly emotion borne of the solemn crowd marching down this narrow aisle— all black and white, fake tears and stolen glances, mandatory condolences and veils of lace. But rosaries and reverence can’t bring someone back to life. You lift your head to the sky and scream Diyos ko, kalian titigil? Hinihinga ng kapwa ko’y dalamhati. He might not be listening. You’re not sure anyone is. So when your pastor chants Peace be with you, it’s not your fault you look away. Not your fault you flinch at the eerie melody of chirping chicks and quiet sobs. The whisper of her name keeps you distracted, and you wonder how long it would take for people to forget. Althea Barbon, Althea Barbon, Althea Barbon. They’ll lower the small casket to the ground once dawn arrives. You swear you’ll come with prayers and a promise.
Bukod kang pinagpala sa babaeng lahat
At pinagpala rin naman ang anak mong si Hesus.
When he was born the stars smiled upon him and said
Lucky, lucky boy. Be thankful for all the doors you could unlock with that thing between your legs.
Fortunately, your story is not his to take.
Santa Maria, Ina ng Diyos
Ipanalangin mo kaming makasalanan
In the flicker of neon lights, fishnet tights dig into your thighs in the likeness of unevenly cut nails and day-old stubble. Routine has written over your fight or flight reflexes, and when he grabs you by the wrist, the fighter in you surrenders— offers open palms and open legs and an open mouth that whimpers matatapos rin ang lahat. Abot-tanaw na ang kaginhawaan. He grins at the sight of blurred kohl and smudged lipstick when you proceed to shut your eyes and pray forgive me Father, for I have sinned. Cigarette smoke curdles in your lungs and you wait for time to stall. Your siblings wait at home for today’s rations. You hope that tonight, there will be enough to go around. (Hint: There never is.)
Ngayon at kung kami’y mamamatay.
Venerated goddess, guardian spirit of Makiling, they call upon you in their time of need— noses stuck in the air as they search for the scent of your empathy. Don’t they know you’ve long since decided to exclude yourself from this narrative? Long since stopped tolerating the way they pointed at your morena skin in ridicule? The Spaniards have written your legacy out of the history books. The Filipinos have forgotten how to say your name. They make you out to be a mere shell of who you once were and spit at the wake of your trail. And still, without fail, you constantly coat dusk with a fresh layer of hope.
Forgotten goddess, Maria Makiling, you stand in the frontlines, now, voice rising above the ear-splitting hum of the chanting crowds. In the defense of our indigenous people. In the defense of your sacred lands. Always in the defense of the Philippines—Perlas ng Silanganan. Sinilangang lupain. The placard in your hands is heavier than you make it seem. Your peers give you odd looks, but never more than once. All the legends they still tell about you seem distant as you rally the people.
Exalted goddess, Maria Makiling, the government takes a running leap at violence. You hear their call to arms like a hiss in the middle of your peaceful protests.
Venerated goddess, guardian spirit of Makiling. These silly men are fools to forget. Your real name is Dian Masalanta.
In English: There, be destroyed.
A/N: In partial fulfillment of my requirements for a class I'm taking this semester we were required to write something similar to Jose Rizal's 'Maria Makiling'. I did nothing of the sort lmao. Hope you enjoy! (This got real political real quick yikes)