Friday, January 23, 2004

Sampaguita Song

Marjorie Evasco's second collection of poetry called "Ochre Tones: Poems in English and Cebuano" was launched last May at Edith L. Tiempo's new residence on Montemar, Sibulan, Negros Oriental. She calls this volume a "book of changes," following "Dreamweavers" which for her was a "book of origins." In the poem, the persona speaks to a Sampaguita vendor who is just a little child. Recently, the country was plagued with several typhoons which caused a lot of people to be relocated. These people have no other means of livelihood except to beg on the streets and sell Sampaguitas. The bad part about it is that the children who should be having fun are the ones doing most of the work. This poem reminds us of the plight of street children and a glimpse into their everyday lives.
Thea Cuaso
Marjorie Evasco

To a suki at Quirino Highway

We see you every night intercept
The narrow dance at highway
Living, the jammed traffic of your days
Run-down by those who do not see
Your flag of white
Small flowers.

Your shanks gleam thin at the intersection,
Beating the stop light to the edge
Of danger.

Sampaguita, Sir!
Sampaguita, Ma’am!
Sariwa, mabango
Piso po ang tatlo.

You thrust brown hands at me
Flower-laden, smelling like old
Memories, tender at the recall
Of gardens in a province
We’ve left
and miss.

Back home the sampaguitas
dry in an earthen dish
leaving the scent of warm
brown palms that offered
an extra garland for
Buena Mano.



vix said...

This poem illustrates the overwhelming poverty that our country experiences. Street vendors riddle the streets everywhere in order to make a living. Because the poverty of this country is so severe, some of the street vendors’ parents even resort to making their children sell sampaguita when they should be playing with other kids like normal children do. This poem is wrenches my heart as I compare my carefree childhood days to that of a sampaguita girl’s- I didn’t have to worry about selling sampaguita garlands to eat a decent meal. This poem also inspires me to help alleviate the poverty encrusting our society by adopting an attitude of frugality; because as expressed in this poem, “piso po ang tatlo [tatlong sampaguita]”, which means that one should not take even “a piso” for granted.

-Victoria Hernandez R16

Anonymous said...

This poem truly has something to say about the poverty of the nation. Poverty is so widespread that children drop out of school at an increasing rate, instant noodles will consist of a day's meal and children roam the congested streets for money. What should be careless days of childhood has become pitiful exitence. It makes me wish that their parents stayed in the province rather than look for greener pastures.

-Michael A. Chua

Anonymous said...

A poem that clearly shows the hardships and dangers a sampaguita vendor experience in the streets. Although this poem could speak not only of a sampaguita vendor but all the Filipinos who work on the streets for a living. It is one of many poems that clearly depict the harsh reality of poverty in the country. It is very “Filipino” in nature because very seldom does one see street vendors in other countries.
-Richmond Valdellon-