Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hush Tina, Do Not Cry

Karl Gaspar is a Filipino activist and artist who spent 22 months in a Marcos Prison. He was executive secretary of the Resources Development Foundation when arrested in March 1983 in Davao. While being detained he experienced the insanity of the situation which was compounded by the cruel and barbarous treatment to which the detainees are subjected, especially immediately upon arrest. Karl Gaspar wrote political poems which reflect the suffering that political detainees endured while in custody. His poems also talk about the political issues during the Marcos Regime. For his works, he was awarded the J. Roby Kidd International Award in 1984. His works included the “Poems and Letters from a Philippine Prison which was published in 1984. In this poem, the persona addresses his daughter not to cry because he will be away for some time. He tells the daughter that he is doing something for the hungry people in the country. The author uses the image of the rain to show the struggles that peasants have to do to sow the seeds that will save them from hunger and poverty. In the end, the persona reassures her daughter that he will come back to pin the star on her daughter.

During the Marcos Regime, a total of 751 political detainees and prisoners (May 1985) were languishing in 108 military camps, detention centers, prisons, and a military hospital all over the country. This is despite the fact that some of the detainees have no formal charges against them. Many detainees were subjected to tortures and some were salvaged. This poem depicts the suffering the persona is enduring while he is away from his daughter. It reminds us of what the political prisoners must have felt when they were away from their loved ones. It also reminds us of the struggles peasants and political prisoners have to endure while fighting for their rights.

Juan Paolo S. Bermundo
Karl Gaspar

it is raining on the day
of your graduation
you look up to the sky
and ask:
why is heaven crying?
do I hear you crying too
because papa is not around
to pin the ribbon
on your little white dress?

hush tina, do not cry
the peasants up in the hills
need the rain
to grow the rice
so there will be less hunger
across the land
like the peasants
your papa is sowing the seeds
so that one day
no one will be hungry
among our people.
the rain won’t stay
very long, tina
after the thunder and lightning
that comes with rain
the bright morning
will glitter in your eyes
and look out
your papa will come
to pin a star
on your little red dress.

Agcaoili, Fidel V. et. al. Pintig 2 Anthology of Prose and Poetry from Philippine Prisons. KAPATID (Kapisanan Para sa Pagpapalaya at Amnestiya ng mga Detinado sa Pilipnas). 1985


Gelowish said...

Tina is an symbolism of a poor child where his papa cannot come to her graduation. It talks about poverty and how hard the peasants have to work for food. And it also talks about family and the role of the father in it.

Anonymous said...

harsh reality.. dirty politics... little people bear the burden of it.

-- Wanda Madarang R16

Chia said...

Notice the transition of stanzas, and the change of Tina's dress color from white to red. It's entirely possible (given the background provided) that the red means much more than maturity, age and a certain knowledge about how the world works. It could stand for corruption of an innocent mind.

While the father reasons with Tina about the significance of crying heavens, he gives her a glimpse (a minor one at that) of the world and what is wrong with it, and perhaps, this little glimpse is all that is required for Tina to grow up and cease being a child.

Chia Roxas

Jim said...

Rain is very prominent in this poem. It represents the things that are crucial and irrepressible in spite of some people who detest it or not. In this example, Tina dislikes the rain because it was her graduation day, while the persona explains that the rain is important to the farmers. The rain here is Tina’s papa. He sows the seeds for their people when her daughter needs him the most. It tells of the sacrifices one has to make for the benefit of the many—the beneficial downpour versus the tears of a child, the people versus her daughter. The white dress signifies Tina’s innocence at that time, while the star on her RED dress serves as the explanation of his papa’s absence when Tina fails or refuses to comprehend because of what she feels.
--Neil Jameson Sta. Isabel

Anonymous said...

There are different ways people look at a thing. For a young girl who is blinded by her despair because of her father's absence, rain is her sign of sorrow. Yet for a farmer, rain is a sign of hope.
Sowing a seed may also mean the father is elsewhere, maybe abroad or working far from home, earning a living for his family. The poem justifies their absence. Though his absence hurts, in the long run it is for a good cause.
-Leslie Mae Rivero