Filipino at the Great New England Airshow

Dear America,
You don’t have to tell me twice
just how badly you could fuck us up
if you wanted to

No need to roll out your bombers, your drones,
or than new F-22 fighter jet,
I think you drove that lesson home during WWII
(which by the way wasn’t that long ago, especially
for a country that won its independence
only when you decided that we were no longer a
tactical advantage).

You don’t have to remind me that
no matter how small the Philippines feels now,
you will always find ways to make us smaller.

Before the Battle of Manila we were
The Pearl of the Orient
Asia’s first commercial airline,
the apple of great Uncle Sam’s eye

Now, if mentioned at all, we are a footnote in your
history books,
a mispronounced mention of the Bataan Death March
but none at all of the 100,000 civilians who died in
your fight.


Dear America,

I am sorry that I am in no position to stand
in awe and wonder over your billion dollar war machines,

but you see, I am not just my nationality,
I am also a teacher,

and every day I hear of
music programs cut
and art programs cut
entire schools cut
because the government
couldn’t find enough room in the budget.

And lately, all of these stopped-short futures
have been reminding me too much of the
singed earth that was my country.

Dear America, these
are your children.

And they are learning too early
how to make themselves small
to accommodate a war they do not understand
how to fight tooth and nail
for just the chance at answering the question
‘what do you want to be when you grow up’

Or how easy it is
to pick up a gun
or a remote control
and see a hundred lives as
a fair price to pay
they say,

for our freedom. Our futures. The futures of our children,
well,

We Filipinos considered ourselves America’s children
once, too.

But take it from the prodigal son when he’s allowed
to tell his side of the story,
there is no such thing as winning when
the war you fight is not your own

Dear America,
you can put your gun away.

I am sorry that war is all you know now,

But I am trying to tell you that
Freedom is here
if you’re willing to spare the cost
of the tools to perceive it.
Freedom is here if you give our youth
a chance at it.

Freedom is here.