I almost forgot that this year was the first time I ever attended Metro Manila Pride. It was just six months ago and I totally forgot it was this same year that it happened. And that was one of the best moments of the year for me. That day was filled with so much joy and happiness.
Metro Manila Pride was also my strongest moment as a poet. I was asked to read a poem during the ceremonies in the morning and even if we hadn’t reached critical mass, I felt the poem was strong and verses from my piece was shared online all throughout the day until the next in social media from Instagram to Twitter to Facebook.
I never published the piece online because I gave it to the Philippine Graphic to publish. I never got a copy, though, and they still haven’t put up their online component. So, the poem doesn’t exist anywhere except in that moment on stage.
Before the year ends, I wanted to put the poem out there for people to see. I’m proud of it. It’s still my biggest achievement as a poet, I think.
by Wanggo Gallaga
(first performed at the Metro Manila Pride March 2017 in Marikina)
I am afraid that I shouldn’t be here.
I haven’t fought to be here like you.
But am I not a color too?
A darker shade, maybe?
A little blue?
I can be old leather, though.
I can be sequined or fishnet.
I can be white t-shirt and jeans
and that would be okay.
I’m a dreamer.
I can dive in the bluest sky and swim
from here to the rings of Saturn.
I can take root here
and spread my branches wide
and cover you and give you shade.
I have not fought any bloody war
but I can be a shield, rusty and worn,
hanging on your left arm, heavy
and hard as hard can be.
I should be here.
Stand up and be counted; another tired body
with a fire bright and burning hot inside me.
Tired from the names they give us
other than our own;
from always trying to find the fine line
between laughing at us or laughing with us.
Every fist making contact with your skin —
it hurts me too —
though I have no scars.
But it hurts me too.
But that’s when we’re strongest, right?
When the weight of this world is right on our shoulders
and we can hear the tear of the flesh
as the bones snaps out of shape
from the heaviness of what they want
and the love that they don’t give,
that’s when we bend.
Hands on the floor
knees on the floor
our arched backs
the shape of a fallen
but we can still be full
and we can still be new.
We don’t break.
They want us to be straight
but this world is round
and the heart is curved.
Everything bends, even light.
There is no other place I’d rather be
than here. Just another color
painting this world
outside the lines
and that’s okay.
Here is where all the colors reside.
It’s a sky so brilliant, it bends.