News flash: in an alley, dismembered,
numbered. ____ -thousandth, at nineteen!
“nanlaban” in audacious quotation marks.
found: packets of narcoti — bzzt.

Every night, a mother closes the television before family dinner. it gets hard to talk over the silence dead leave,
and harder so to forget how they’ve gone.
tonight a family chews words that taste of metal.

Vanish : as in go quickly, to a store. as in
pass completely from existence, facedown on the floor. tainted red, limp instead. blurred from nation’s memory. the boy’s mother weeps tears too often heard

Expressing loss beyond the capacity of language.
pain like the grating sound of the outside, knocking. anonymous complaints in all caps: this is justice,
for who is the boy to them but an other? the blame

Rewinds. old greed, familiar filth. a shameless
parade under the banner of change;
all gradually leaving the monotone of a schoolbook.
a child learns better by the quiver in her father’s throat,

As he bids ingat before she leaves home.
just one habit ingrained by a fear you can only imagine.
until now, the father wonders how he lost them to the night: waking to an anguish that could not be mourned.

God knows how they can forget, he says,
how the streets were clean but wrought with acute stench, the by-pollution of pretensions: plaster smiles, and iron butterflies. how it was their fault the dictator’s ghost was

Alive and well, with thousands of young apologists

slamming at keyboards, babbling over two evils:
rehashed promises, and the old, who are no longer credible. those who know better mistake noise for disruption,

In clamor for progress. the discourse forgets compassion; endless ad hominem to no end: who for?
the cries of marginalized are left writhing
until their tales are sought by those willing to listen.

Now the youth may hurt collectively, bleed profusely. ceaseless tweeting. anger with direction, in bold font. in song, in art, and speech; prometheus on the streets, raising our voices for those who can shout no longer.

Martha Balagat is a highschool student from Philippine Science High School – Main Campus. She is the champion in the Martial Law Museum Awards Poetry Category.

The Martial Law Museum Awards is a nationwide competition for high school students that aims to promote the value of remembering our history as a nation during Martial Law and engage the youth in creative responses through literature and the arts.

Photo by John Oranga


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