Multo ng Union (Busting)


Talo ka talaga sa trabaho natin

Dapat kasi may unyon yan basta ganyang general labor

Ah, kung may unyon, magbabago mukha ng lugar na yan

Di yan pwedeng siyam o labingdalawang oras tayong nagtatrabaho

Mas mahaba ang break

Mas maikling mga oras at hindi ganyan kapaspasan

Tapos umiikot ka talaga, di pwedeng parehong trabaho lang parati

Tsaka yung maangas na leadhand, di pwede yan, di pwedeng nagmumura-mura

Maraming kalokohan talaga mawawala kung may unyon

Problema lang, kung ang unyon tulad sa Pinas, sindikato rin

Pinapaboran pa rin ang management

Wala pa rin

Sige, pangsamantala lang naman to

Oo nga

Sige, bukas naman…

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Shores of Miag-ao


Seated on the sand, facing the sea,
lights from the fishing boats
appear like stars
making it hard to tell where
the water ends and sky begins
and with every wave as if
the night reaches for our toes.
It was fascinating even
without beer in our veins.

I spent four years in that town
but this moment gives off
the most warmth in my
now longer February nights.

News from Alberta and Similar Spaces


“I tell them all you have to do is work hard and be patient and always wear a smile,” she says.
“We don’t want to get fired … So we have to be nice.”

From The Globe and The Mail

Let us not pretend
this is the first time
we heard something
like this. Do away with
petty reasons, in

chorus with business owners,
like Filipinos and other migrants
are hard workers, with big dreams,
which could also mean that they
are docile and anxious
in greener pastures. It would
be a great help if everyone
sobers up and talk about
supply and demand,
labor force, wage, elderly
populations,

inherent contradictions

instead of broken promises
and hard decisions.

Let us not pretend
this is the first time
we heard something
like this. How about those
who flee wars? How about those
who find the financial crisis more than
just numbers and graphs and charts?

For sure, the landlords and ministers
will welcome our brothers and
sisters with open arms,
while they find a different country
where they can be a heroes again.

Let us not pretend
this is the first time
we heard something
like this, and may your
sorrow turn into rage.

After the Honeymoon


It starts after month you arrive
and could last up to two years, or longer.

You begin creating rituals

like learning the streets yourself
since no one going to take a day off to drive
you around to see the attractions.

You no longer amuse yourself
with naive exercises of compare-and-contrast
of what can be found here and not there,

you start to looking into the future, and get vertigo,

making your homeland so beautiful.

In bus rides going home, eye-contact, and a smile
from another adventurer like you
gives you a moment’s strength
you can’t explain.

In dinner tables, apologies start to outnumber promises.

Care Givers


The first thing about people
who work with the institutionalized
elderly, it that they have a
grim sense of humor.
My aunt
once describe an average
night shift in a home, to be
smooth, quiet, and simple
checking if the old timers
are still breathing.
They have
learned to sing, dance, do
stand-up comedy, mostly
the slapstick kind, so that
the patient could have a little
more reason to take
another meal, another medication.
None of them thought,
that halls of weak and aged
bodies could contain so much
laughter, flirting, and the
occasional violence.
A job
requirement is suppressing
paradoxes that haunt your sleep,
like how could children
neglect, [or abandon, or any
harsher word, in dozens of
mother tongues,]  their parents to
total strangers,
but then again,
if they didn’t, care
givers wouldn’t
be able to provide for their own
children, parents, relatives, friends,
neighbors,
anyone.
Don’t worry,
things never reach philosophical
levels, like is a longer life a better life?
or how can one suffer dimentia, if one has dimentia?
They would rather rest,
since you are not paid to
contemplate in the global
flow or care.

Now,
who would like to hear stories
of nannies?

 

Converting Dreams


Any new arrival would be
amazed with how the
first world
changed the way their loved
ones talk, not just the language,
but the emphasis on words
like
‘rights’
not just as worker
but also as
‘consumers’.
By-words like
‘labor unions’
and
‘work benefits’
spring up equally often.
Special attention is given to
‘workplace ethics’,
everyone is alert to cases
of
‘harassment’
and/or
‘discrimination’.
‘Traffic rules’
are sacred as well as
dutiful filing of taxes.
The office number
of the PM is in their
phonebooks, and in times
of calamity, they join the
chorus for
‘government assistance’

Hope was burning
inside me, as I recall
that indeed a lot of
revolutions were plotted
by future heroes while
they are in exile,
exposed to the possibilities of
a better way of doing things.

But then I remembered
when
they went home for a few weeks,
as a kid back then this is
synonymous with chocolates,
they only want to hear and say
happy things, like
funny anecdotes,
and little reportages of achievements
by loved-ones, endless
endless catching up,
no stories of hardship, of struggle,
it is a vacation after all.

They’ve learn to close their eyes
to the graft at airports,
consider the trips on
war-zone highways as adventures,
they can now afford to value
culture, history, sceneries
of their homeland,
maybe carry back bits
of national pride, cliché aside,
there is indeed no place like home.

Beauty has been found in violence.
Dreams, it appears, like dollars,
can also be converted.
And I’ve barely earned any.