“For my design, I chose two stanzas from ‘Sunlight on Broken Stones.’ Stanza 1440 reads
‘Money, money, money. Hidden or foiled in flight, laundered or newly-ironed, begged or loaned, it sweetens the armpits of corruption and greases the lightnings that strike the palace.’
The other is from stanzas 1490-1500; ‘Where are the moneys to burn our infidelities,
the laws to restore our rights, and the armies to protect against rape, pillage, and larceny?’ These lines questioned the breakdown and usage of public funds in the past, but they are more relevant than ever today. The issue of corruption is the root cause of our problems, ranging from COVID-19 Mass Testing, the Social Amelioration Program, the lack of available transportation for workers, and many more.”

GELO FABIAN

Portrait by Kevin Nuñez

“In all honesty, poetry is not my biggest strength. With its complex language and metaphors, I find it to be the most challenging literature to read and study. However, stepping into the world of National Artist Cirilo Bautista was quite an experience I never expected. Despite his use of figurative language to convey his message, he still delivered his poem in a way that is understandable
and relatable especially if one has an idea of the context of Philippine history.

 

Choosing his perspective from the eyes of influential figures in history felt like a front-view, first-hand, exclusive access of those times! Kidding aside, I was in awe of his use of poetry to build the scene and cement his ideas of the historical narrative.

My stanzas in “Telex Moon” pick up on National Hero Jose Rizal’s exile in Dapitan. He reflects on the increasing power and influence
of the Spanish as Manila goes on a downward spiral. He refuses to follow them when they ask him to renounce his writings.
As the piece continues, it shifts focus to the contradicting views of Rizal and Andres Bonifacio, with the former’s aim
to have a reformation, while the latter, a revolution.

 

Given this scenario, the mood is dark and raging with frustration. If I stepped into Rizal’s shoes, a man who fought for reform
in the country through his writing, I would definitely feel the same way. Cirilo Bautista portrayed him in the most humane
and realistic way possible – a frustrated artist, a nationalistic man, and a firm believer of peace.

This statement in itself is very relevant to our situation today, calling the government out for their violence and frightening solutions and urging Filipinos to act on the modern-day oppression we are facing without having to let destruction
and violence be our call to action.”

“My stanzas in “Sunlight on Broken Stones” highlight the rebuilding of the Philippines after the Marcos regime
and Martial Law. Usually, the rise of the country is depicted as a positive, upward curve of progress. The poem poses a stark contrast, exposing the truths often overlooked in history books. Together with “Telex Moon,” these two readings are striking and captivating in its revelations, an integral one in fact, as it gives a voice to the other side of history not exactly known by a lot of Filipinos. Most of the time, we are only taught the general parts
and those that are in our favour that we fail to see and understand other realities.

For Sunlight on Broken Stones,” I chose multiple statements from different stanzas. One statement comes
from stanza 1440, reading “Money, money, money. Hidden or foiled in flight, laundered or newly-ironed, begged or loaned, it sweetens the armpits of corruption and greases the lightnings that strike the palace.

Another is derived from Stanzas 1490 to 1500, reading “Where are the moneys to burn our infidelities,
the laws to restore our rights, and the armies to protect against rape, pillage, and larceny?”

These two statements questioned the breakdown and usage of funds in the past, but evidently they are more relevant than ever in today’s context. The issue of corruption is still the root cause of many problems today, ranging from COVID-19 Mass Testing, the Social Amelioration Program, the lack of available transportation for workers,
to many more.”