A statuette of the Virgin Mary stood guard as my mother and I sipped from glasses of wine cooler on our living room floor. We’d propped our front door open to let in the breeze, leaving only a flimsy screen between our shelter and the world outside. Every once in a while, we’d hear our neighbor calling for her wayward son or the laugh track of a sitcom playing too loudly in the next house over. We’d echo it with giggles of our own, seated on faux mink blankets from the Philippines laid over ceramic tile.
Dear friend, take me to where they dragged you.
Show me the plaza flanked by homes made
of hollow blocks, plywood, rusty tin sheets—
anything to keep rain and flies out.
Point to me the CCTV that followed you
across the basketball court with its torn nets
and kids scrambling home to screaming mothers.
a “mixed-use development”—huge shopping mall—in Bonifacio Global City, Metro Manila
Between the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and The Body Shop
a station of the Cross. On a trodden lawn browning into
desert, two lines are formed for shoppers to be Christ-like. Christ-lite, puns the Pinoy. The devout come forward to suffer,
put their suffering on display. They’d strap a stretch of varnished
four-by-four across their shoulders, ropes tied around their wingspan
arms, the weight of sins redeemed by Jesus on his march to Calvary.