18 October 2010

"Apihin Ang Api" (Axel Pinpin)

Oppress the Oppressed
by Axel Pinpin

Cut them clean in half like a shelled coconut,
Hold tight the left hand and slacken the right,
Best to pick out the young buds from the old hand,
Do not regret this, do not ever regret this.
Let anarchy descend and tear them apart.
Their selfishness will sweeten the taste buds
Of our sweet deals, our sugarcoated victories.

Grind like coconut the poor people's power.
Grind, ground, collect all hard workers.
Go grind, ground more, strip down to skin.
Do not feel merciful, do not ever feel merciful.
Their vinaigrette sweat is vintage wine,
Their suffering is the best fodder
For our drunkenness for power.

Squeeze out like milk the poor man's sweat.
Squeeze once, twice; set aside the extract.
If possible, thrice, four times till pure tears well up.
Do not pity them, do not ever pity their fates.
Their hard work is our unequalled joy,
Their suffering our ultimate blessing,
A merry feast prepared in our midst.

And so! Cut clean, grind down, squeeze tight!
Oppress, oppress! Bring down the downtrodden!
Save every scrap, throw not a bit of meat;
Plunder all things, leave nothing behind.
Their wretchedness is their wretchedness alone,
Their misery is our saving grace
From Bathala, good god of the forsaken.

January 28, 2008

- Translated from Filipino
From Tugmaang Matatabil (2008)


  1. hey Rise!

    Did you translate that poem? I have no knowledge of Filipino but whoever translated had a strong empathy with the poem and could write verse themselves I'm sure.

    i just joined Shelfari inspired by your widget to add books to my blog. Can you please point me to any reading groups or your profile on Safari please as I'm trying to start a Sir Thomas Browne reading group.

    Multissimo thanks, Kevin

  2. Yes, Kevin. I did. Thanks for your kind words.

    Welcome to Shelfari. I think I found your profile.