I am the mother you have forgotten.
I stand in the corner,
my skin a deep brown,
coloured with the soil of the country
from whence your ancestors lived and died,
toiled and fought, loved and made peace.
Once they sang to me of their sorrows and joys,
showered me with flowers,
fanned me with coconut fronds,
vested me with gold and embroidered cloth,
honoured me with a sprinkling of water and turmeric,
and waved flickering lamps before my face.
I stood there in the temple
with the strength of the banyan tree,
the gentleness of water,
and expansiveness of wind and sky.
Hope filled their hearts as they gazed into my holy flame,
my sacred flame,
my creative flame,
my purifying flame,
my life-giving flame,
my never-ending flame
of love, renewal, and inspiration.
Then the imams and friars came.
They tore off my tapis and my headdress,
ripped the gold and pearls off my neck,
forced me to wear a veil and wimple,
and covered my nurturing breasts.
My flame was extinguished,
and my children driven out of my temples and shrines.
My sacred places flowed
with the martyred blood of my babaylans and healers.
My diwatas became demons,
and my priestesses became witches.
Gone were the rich perfumes and the incense of prayer,
the garlands of sampaguita and ylang-ylang,
but my mercy, protection, and healing power did not cease.
They gave me a new face and a new name,
a face that wasn’t my own,
powdered with the muck of imitation and duplication,
as my children began to believe
that they were inferior subjects of a foreign king.
But you called to me again and again,
crying out to my new name in the rosary,
raging against oppression and injustice,
weeping for the children lost and exploited,
the maidens raped,
and the brothers slaughtered.
You cried out to me as the soldiers of two kings,
an emperor, and of a republic
trampled on the holy soil of your nation.
I have not forgotten you,
nor have I abandoned you,
but I have heard your every prayer,
and held them closely to my heart.
My abalone eyes have never ceased from watching you.
I will deliver you from your fear,
and your misery.
Take up my cause once again,
of reconciliation and equanimity,
of dignity and worth,
of life and light,
of righteousness and truth.
Relight the wonder and beauty
and look into my holy flame,
opening your hearts to compassion,
awakening to wisdom and hope,
and showering me with flowers of your life’s virtues.
Let them bloom as a testament and testimony to me,
The mother you have forgotten.
Copyright © Joshua Ligan 2012.