Category: Poems

Life on the Beach

Background: I went on vacation to Boracay at the end of April 2012 and based on my experiences there, I wrote the poem once I was back in Manila. I have learned from this vacation that a beach vacation, wherever that is, is often and sometimes always an unforgettable experience.

I miss life on the beach
Where the drags of our normal life are forgotten
And we think of paradise
As it is meant to be.

Why we need to go on vacation
Varies widely among persons.
But the common reason is that
We have all been stressed out from life
In one way or another
And we need a way to get away from it.

On the beach, we unwind,
We have left to ourselves
The opportunities that abound
On the shore and out.

But most people’s lives on the beach
Have to unfortunately end
After a time of enjoyment.
Yet many unforgettable vacations
Of people around the world
Are on the beach, and it won’t change.

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Life on the Beach is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Philippines License.


The Consequences of Vice

Because of my OJT, I haven’t really had the time to write poetry. In fact, this is my first published poem for this year (I previously had published one this year but I took it down because my sister was worried that I might be sued for libel due to that poem, which is about how Holy Week is spent by non-Catholics and non-believers here.)

Background: Filipinos have a knack for being sociable, whether it is among family members or among friends. Unfortunately, vices play a key role in fortifying most social relationships. But how do some people do have strong social relationships that don’t involve vice? This poem tries to find out why.

In the past, people didn’t care about their health
Simply because there was no one to warn them
About the dangers of tobacco and alcohol.
Yet these vices were imbued into our culture many decades ago.

Now, with many faiths that advocate
The well-being of its members and the public as a whole
Having a place in our society today,
Many of us are teetotalers or abstain from all vices;
Yet there are some who continue the tradition of vice
And give their significant others a hard time to control them.

What is their hope for them? Is it non-existent?
Or perhaps in the form of long shots or wishful thinking?
So long ago, they have turned their backs on their maker
Or while they still believe in one, they don’t really follow His principles in life.

Although there are “social” vice-takers,
No vice is still better than any at all
That’s why we need to stay clean and steer clear
Of any temptation that nears us
So that we all have an equal chance to be in heaven, if we believe in one,
Where it is by choice, not by chance or fanaticism.

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The Consequences of Vice by Bona Rae Villarta is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Philippines License.

Two days ago, the sports world was almost shocked by UNC Asheville going neck-and-neck with Syracuse for most of the game, before atrocious officiating did them in. Yesterday, the sports world received a shock when two #15 seeded teams (Norfolk State and Lehigh) sent a Final Four favorite (Missouri) and a perennial postseason contender (Duke) home. Now as I finally publish this poem, because of these two upsets, of the 15+ million brackets for this year in the Web, every bracket’s busted. 😦

A Busted Bracket
When you’ve put one of the top-seeded teams
To go far in the tournament
But every now and then
They get upset by lesser opponents
Which means that your bracket has been “busted”.

It’s part of the drama of the obsession
That is called the “March Madness” for a reason
In which people go crazy about college basketball
And may forget about other sports going on as well.

Many get their brackets set before the tip-off
Of the game that will start it all
That is called the First Four
But few, if any, get the bracket accurately correct
All because of the upsets that happen.

By the time the Final Four comes into play
Very few brackets have survived the beating
And what if it’s full of upsets along the way
The chances of winning may dip all the way down to zero.

What if your bracket is part of the majority?
Everything’s ruined, every plan is gone in a flash
But that’s part of life
And we’re playing this in our hands,
Just like a game of chance.

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A Busted Bracket by Bona Rae Villarta is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Philippines License.

Undas has passed, but…

I have published three Undas-related poems, the contents of which are below.

Undas Blues
Many people go home to their provinces
To either bond with their relatives back there
Or visit their dead relatives back there
While others have dead relatives here or
They don’t have any close relatives who passed on at all.

What about those who have migrated?
All Saints’ Day is not a holiday in most countries
They instead light candles outside their homes
That night to ward away evil spirits from them.

Our close family ties make this holiday
A significant one in our culture
Even migration couldn’t reduce this significance
That values both life and spirit.

In other countries, either their relatives
Are buried far away or they were cremated
Or perhaps they chose to honor famous people instead
Memorial sites exist for this simple reason:
To honor our relatives or admirers who have passed on.

Life in the Cemetery (on All Saints’ Day)
Many people pass through a cemetery
In one of the most important days
Of our cultural heritage
In which we honor the dead and remember them.

When some people have settled in a place far from their hometown,
They choose to return there for a few days or they stay home
And offer prayers, novenas and rosaries instead
So that they still remember their dead.

But for the many people that pass through a cemetery
They spend at least an hour at their relatives’ gravesites
Some even spend the whole night in the cemetery
All meant to be shared within ourselves.

All leave flowers and say prayers for the dead relatives
And light candles to drive away evil spirits
But we shouldn’t stay there for long
Especially if we live far from the cemetery.

In the Philippines, Catholics (and some other denominations) here celebrate a 40th day (after the person died) service honoring that particular deceased person.

On the 40th Day
Forty days ago, someone has died
And today, we remember this person
For his or her positive contributions
Be it to family, school, work, church
Or the society at large.

What happens to the days in between?
It is a gray area, where grieving
And moving on take place
And as more details are usually given out
If it was a violent or a famous death,
The ones closest to them undergo a silent process
That virtually no one from their outside circles sees.

Today, we celebrate the person’s life
With a church service or a gathering
Attended by the friends or relatives
He or she knew or trusted the most.

After this day, it is up to the person’s
Relatives or friends whether they
will still remember him or her
Long after he or she has passed on.

Today, Filipinos commemorate the 2nd anniversary of Typhoon Ketsana (local name: Ondoy) rampaging through Metro Manila, in ways similar to what Americans commemorate during anniversary services of Hurricane Katrina, which happened on August 29, 2005.

I wrote a poem today describing what was the outcome of one full day of nonstop rains on Metro Manila, shattering old records along the way and what had happened in the weeks and even years following.

Ondoy: Two Years Since It Happened

by Bona Rae Villarta

On September 26, 2009,
nonstop widespread rains
tormented not only Metro Manila
but also its neighboring provinces,
leaving a few thousands dead,
while millions of lives were changed
in one day.

The most damaging effects
from this typhoon
were found in Pasig, Cainta
and especially Marikina
where entire villages were flooded there,
not sparing even those of the upper class.
Most people in these places moved forward,
while others gave up and moved on.

In North and South alike, the rains
flooded roadways and blocked access to roads
leaving thousands of students and commuters
stranded along them and some
even stayed there overnight.

Over the course of a few weeks following the storm,
People from all over the archipelago, even those
far from the damage,
volunteered their time, donated their extras,
and even helped those who were affected
rebuild their lives.

As 2009 winded down, the typhoon season
was not even finished for us.
Pepeng did its time in northern Luzon
two weeks after Ondoy and
damaged everything in its path,
making landfall three times.

In Muntinlupa, the damage from these floods
Ordered the city
To ban the use of plastic bags in their vicinity
Starting this year.
Biñan and Santa Rosa followed suit as well.

Over the two years that followed
the devastating floods,
many people have since then renovated their
houses or moved away from them and settled
in new places.

The MMDA underwent an overhaul
with its new chairman and along
with the new administration,
they are determined not to repeat their
negative performance during Ondoy.

But as Peping may wind down on us soon,
We are prepared this time
So that we will avert another disaster
From ever happening again.

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Ondoy: Two Years Since It Happened by Bona Rae Villarta is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Philippines License.