Review of MARAWI

Neil Leadbeater reviews MARAWI by Albert E. Alejo and Eileen R. Tabios:
Tabios chooses to highlight the crisis by the use of contrast:

signs recall lives
now evaporated—

One poster proclaims
Graduate!” Another
sign beckons for
health examinations
Yet another indicates
a school road crossing—

Here we have a snapshot of academic advancement, good health and a safe society; everything that adds up to security which is just what the abandoned animals are looking for now. The security of the daily routine has been destroyed. There is a torn road, there are torn pages, calendars have been ripped from the walls. Rupture is at the core of this poem.

Alejo provides us with a very different contribution. Despite the difference in tone, it is surprising how, by changing a single letter in a word, we can bring these two poems so close to each other. I am thinking here about the words RUPTURE and RAPTURE for rapture is at the core of this poem. In “A Hand’s Breadth Journey,” the topography of Mindanao that he sees in his own hand is to a certain degree mirrored in the palm of a lover’s hand. Alejo’s love for his country is expressed in terms of his longing to be with a loved one but moments are never still for long enough and meetings have to take place in secret. The topography, expressed in terms of ravines and brooks against a backdrop of clouds and the changing seasons all point to nature in a state of constant flux because nothing can remain the same forever.

(in Galatea Resurrects 2018)