My love,
when a strange man offers you his hand,
holding out blue ribbon-wrapped promises of the world,
a diamond ring as an engagement gift,
and honey-coated vows for a life without worry,
this time,
check to see if his other hand is not clenched in a fist
or crossed behind his back
or inching its way around your throat
or holding a gun to the back of your head
You hold a history
of entrusting your heart to the wrong person,
of forgetting to look a little closer
before you leap–
more than 300 years of it.
And the ghosts of your bruises still linger
as much as you’d like to forget.
It is easier to be blind to strange men’s cruelty
then to be faced with yesterday’s mistakes.
But the blind never see what tomorrow might look like, do they?

Dearest Philippines,
you don’t need to put makeup on your scars
to be beautiful.
Let them be your badges of honor,
your victory tattoos.

Let them scream to the ocean’s edge
that you have suffered nameless horrors
and you have survived.
Let the world know
that when injustice tried to drown out your voice,
it could not silence the steady march of your still beating heart–
And for that,
you are beautiful.
So, my love,
wait for the day
when there will be those who will come to you,
both hands in sight,
their right hands held over the left side of their chests,
and their left hands rightly reaching out to offer you


Karmella Tapia is a highschool student from PAREF Woodrose. She is a finalist 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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