Never forget. Never again.

It's a good day to flood your social media feed with #neveragain to Martial Law sentiments. It's a message that is extremely important to let out these days (years) as an epidemic of collective amnesia on the evils of Martial Law is afflicting this country. It's very sad and disturbing to me who's only read about said evils, how much to those who actually lived through it? You can feel the frustration from those people here, here, and here and here and everywhere.

And so keep chanting: Never Forget! Never Again! each September 21 or 23. Lest people forget. Lest people revise history.

Remember repression. Remember resistance. Remember courage. ‪#‎NeverForget‬ ‪#‎NeverAgain‬

(Fully disclosure. I've totally ripped this post below off of Patricia Evangelista's Facebook post.)


Mars shall glow tonight,
Artemis is out of sight.
Rust in the twilight sky
Colors a bloodshot eye,
Or shall I say that dust
Sunders the sleep of the just?

Hold fast to the gift of fire!
I am rage! I am wrath! I am ire!
The vulture sits on my rock,
Licks at the chains that mock
Emancipation’s breath,
Reeks of death, death, death.

Death shall not unclench me.
I am earth, wind, and sea!
Kisses bestow on the brave
That defy the damp of the grave
And strike the chill hand of
Death with the flaming sword of love.
Orion stirs. The vulture
Retreats from the hard, pure

Thrust of the spark that burns,
Unbounds, departs, returns
To pluck out of death’s fist
A god who dared to resist.


From the poet:

Written under a pseudonym, the poem somehow got published in the mainstream media, despite the rigid press censorship. It was entitled 'Prometheus Unbound,' and it looked harmless enough, since it sounded Greek to the authorities. But word soon got around that there was something about the poem that was subversive, and the magazine carrying the poem was pulled out of the newsstands by military troops.

When the centurions finally caught me two years after the declaration of martial law, and in the course of the physical torture that I was subjected to, one of my interrogators said: 'You’re the one who wrote that poem in that magazine.' I was flattered that a constabulary colonel was literate enough to have heard about my poem, but he was making a statement, not asking a question, so I did not bother to confirm or deny his allegation. It was only after the fall of Marcos, after the people-power uprising of 1986, that I finally publicly admitted to being the perpetrator of the controversial poem.

Today, whatever standing I may have as a poet in the Philippines will probably be based on my Tagalog poems. But I will also probably be remembered, or remain notorious, for my last poem in English.

Still, 'Prometheus Unbound' is not entirely in English. It’s an acrostic poem, and the first letters of the lines, if read downwards, spell out a Tagalog slogan popular among demonstrators before martial law: MARCOS HITLER DIKTADOR TUTA (Marcos, Hitler, Dictator, Running Dog).

– Jose F. Lacaba

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