I loved you in my mother tongue
a language that does not drip or flow
with all its gnashing consonants: the ks and
the ts and the ns, and hard, stern vowel sounds
tripping the tongue like rocks and boulders
riddling the Karayan Buaya in the summertime,
daradar, kalgaw, see? But you already know that.
It was the language that welcomed you
into the world, the one that raised you.
I grew with it very differently.
I didn’t know softness in it,
endeared only with borrowed phrases.
Thrilling to realize it now, you showed me
how the coiled sounds of g and ng are also
tender with unbridled warmth:
dungdungwen, isu nga kagasat, ingungoten
in the language I only knew how to
grieve, and mourn, and unravel—
leddaang, liday, panagladingit—
you introduced me again to familiar words,
reacquainted me with their affection
now they are so very familiarly felt—
dungngok, patpatgek, ingungotek.
Everything to do with you I now say in the past tense—
I loved you, you must know that,
and I have missed you
Mailiwak kenkan ken kailiwkan, ngem
To say “agkitatanto” is no longer true
To say “agkitatanto pay” will now always be untrue
in this lifetime, napaay nga kari
Iti iriringkuas ti dungdung-aw, ununnoy di latta
maibulosan; rakep-rakep, apungolko’t
ladawan ti isem ken katawam
iti natalingenngen nga ayatmo, haan nga
kimmapuy uray kimmapuyen ‘tay
pananggemgem mo ti imak.

From “Sika” by Ilay Quidangen

Pa-Liwanag: Writings by Filipinas in Translation

Published by Tilted Axis Press as part of their Translating Feminisms series

PA-LIWANAG (To the Light) is a collection of poems and prose in English (in the original and in translation) by Filipinas in the Philippines and abroad. It includes writings by an arrested food factory worker; an urban poor community leader; a lesbian migrant worker; a former domestic helper; indigenous and peasant women; teachers and professionals – on topics like sexuality, romance, motherhood, the domestic, the body, the environment, history, state repression, and women’s involvement in the Filipino people’s long struggle for justice and peace.

More about Pa-Liwanag on South China Morning Post and Tilted Axis Press’ blog.

Publication Date: 2020
Language: English
Format: Print and Digital
Pages: 88
Size: 5.5” x 8.5”
Selling Price: Available to purchase here.

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