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‘Sanayan lang’

/ 12:20 AM December 29, 2016

In English, “sanayan lang” roughly translates as “one gets used to it.” Or, to borrow a line from the musical “My Fair Lady,” one grows accustomed to a face, to someone, to something, but in a “loverly” way.

There are things to which one should not simply get accustomed, so that one becomes numb and disabled from reacting. Among these are suffering, cruelty and a host of other evils that are inflicted on persons.

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Even while I was writing this piece TV news was reporting on deaths, not by typhoon, tsunami, or earthquake, but by guns. Not in some war-torn country but in your neighborhood or some blocks away from where you live. It is still killing season hereabouts; a so-called war waged on some specific societal plague has turned into a contagion. Anyone who has an axe to grind, a long-held grudge or a motive, can find use in that so-called war, pack a gun, mount a motorbike, and ride off into the night.

At the Baclaran Church, the Redemptorist Fathers have mounted a photo exhibit of the killings. So un-Christmas-y you might say, but wasn’t the newly born Jesus himself the object of killers let loose by a despot named Herod?

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Yesterday, Dec. 28, was the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which commemorates the mass killing of babies that targeted the Infant Jesus. As the prophet Jeremiah had foretold, “A voice was heard in Rama, sobbing and loudly lamenting: it was Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they were no more.”

One of several books I received this Christmas was “Sanayan Lang Ang Pagpatay,” a smoldering collection of poems in Filipino (152 in all) by Jesuit Fr. Albert Eduave Alejo (High Chair, 2016). The title roughly translates as “one gets used to committing murder.”

But before reading the poem with the murderous title, break into a smile while reading the dedication: “Alay sa Tatay ko at Mama ko/ na unang nagturo sa akin/ kung paanong magparagán ng kamiseta/maghati ng buhok na de pomada/wumasiwas ng muestra/ at bumigkas ng tulang patirada.”

Here is the tulang patirada, “Sanayan Lang Ang Pagpatay [para sa sector nating pumapatay ng tao]”. I heard the poem being read at a gathering of women.

Pagpatay ng tao? Sanayan lang ’yan pare

Parang sa butiki. Sa una siyempre

Ikaw’y nangingimi. Hindi mo masikmurang

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Tiradurin o hampasing tulad ng ipis o lamok

Pagkat para bang lagi ’yang nakadapo

Sa noo ng santo sa altar

At tila may tinig na nagsasabing

Bawal    bawal    bawal    ’yang pumatay.

Subalit tulad lang ng maraming bagay

Ang pagpatay ay natututuhan din kung magtitiyaga

Kang makinig sa may higit ng karanasan.

Nakuha ko sa tiyuhin ko kung paanong balibagin ng tsinelas

O pilantakin ng lampin ang nakatitig na butiki sa aming kisame

At kapag nalaglag na’t nagkikisay sa sahig

Ay agad ipitin ng hindi makapuslit

Habang dahan-dahang tinitipon ang buong bigat

Sa isang paang nakatalingkayad: sabay bagsak.

Magandang pagsasanay ito sapagkat

Hindi mo nakikita, naririnig lang na lumalangutngut

Ang buto’t bungo ng lintik na butiking hindi na makahalutiktik.

(Kung sa bagay, kilabot din ’yan sa mga gamu-gamo.)

Nang magtagal-tagal ay naging malikhain na rin

Ang aking mga kamay sa pagdukit ng mata,

Pagbleyd ng paa, pagpisa ng itlog sa loob ng tiyan

Hanggang mamilipit ’yang parang nasa ibabaw ng baga.

O kung panahon ng Pasko’t maraming paputok

Maingat kong sinusubuan ’yan ng rebentador

Upang sa pagsabog ay mapagpaalaman ang nguso at buntot.

(Ang hindi ko lamang maintindihan ay kung bakit

Patuloy pa rin ’yang nadaragdagan.)

Kaya’t ang pagpatay ay nakakasawa rin kung minsan.

Mabuti na lamang at nakaluluwang ng loob

Ang pinto at bintanang kahit hindi mo sinasadya

Ay may sariling paraan ng pagpuksa ng buhay.

Ganyan lang talaga ang pagpatay:

Kung hindi ako ay iba naman ang babanat;

Kung hindi ngayon ay sa iba namang oras.

Subalit ang higit na nagbibigay sa akin ng lakas ng loob

Ay malalim nating pagsasamahan:

Habang ako’y pumapatay, kayo nama’y nanonood.

May 2017 be less bloody than the year just passed. May Divine Light shine brightly on your life and loves in the year ahead and beyond. God makes all things new.

Send feedback to [email protected]

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