Erlebnisse

(n.) German; the experiences, positive or negative, that we feel most deeply, and through which we truly live; not experiences, but Experiences ~

Pilgrim Confessions

I leave pieces of myself

on the roads I’ve traveled

Fragments of my thoughts

on the clouds over which I’ve flown

Bits of my reality

on the waves that crashed me against the shore.

 

I did not know

when I first left home

that travel would rip me apart

the newness tearing at my flesh

the unfamiliarity scarring my heart

I would become

a spectre, an exile

a thief —

 

of places that were not my own

of empty houses that became my home.

 

I rest.

I am a creature of transition

of nowhere yet everywhere

I am an expert at becoming invisible

though not of my own choosing

I think I may have been born

A ghost —

Their eyes gaze at me without truly comprehending

hiding behind barricades of mistrust

But I accept my fate

I am a traveler

a sailor

a soldier

 

Every step is a struggle

every mountain is a war

and the storms that I encounter

are like nothing I have ever seen before.

 

But there,

in the eye of the storm

in the heat of the battle

on the cliff of the mountain

 

I remain.

The Visit

I look for you

In hallways where once we walked

In paths where once we strode

I strain to hear the echoes of your name

By those who called before

But nothing sounds familiar anymore.

 

I look for you

In crowded spaces and worn-out faces

Straining for even just a glimpse

A glance

A smile.

 

I look for you

Hopeful yet hopeless

I know that there, you cannot be found

And doubtless, will not be found there again.

 

I look for you

The ghosts of laughters past cloud my eyes

I see spectres of smiles

In the rain

In puddles we once dried up together.

 

I hear echoes, whispers

Of long talks behind closed doors

Here in this place I am haunted by memories.

 

And yet

Not even in these daydreams

Can I find you.

 

I look for you anyway

Perhaps by habit,

or undying hope

But I cannot wish you here again

Where laughters are ghosts and smiles are unholy spectres.

 

And so I look for you

Knowing all the while

That I will never find you

Here. 

If I Was There (A poem for Easter)

What if I was there on that day?

But I wouldn’t have been

You see, on that day that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead

I wouldn’t have been Mary Magdalene.

 

I would have been one of the vendors in the marketplace that used to be His temple

I would have been one of the people screaming out “Crucify Him!”

I would have been one of the people who had turned Him away

And yet He would have looked on me with love and said

“Father, forgive her — for she does not know what she is doing. I’m going to die for her anyway.”

 

If I was there on that day I wouldn’t have brought spices with which to perfume his body

The stench of sin clinging tightly to me and I wouldn’t go anywhere near that grave

The one that held the body of He who said He was King of the Jews

I would have been the doubting Thomas who would have asked for proof of His nail-scarred hands because I wouldn’t have believed

That the King of the Jews would have died for me.

 

If I was there on that day, I wouldn’t have seen the Risen King because my eyes were blinded by unbelief and my heart was dead with pride

Couldn’t comprehend that my life was saved with the blood that flowed from His side

Didn’t stop to think that my perfect salvation from this world of hate and life of death

The One who should not have died a shameful death

Did. And rose to life because hate could not stop Him

and the grave could not break Him.

 

If I was there, I would have been one of the women wailing for a loss that they did not quite understand

I would have been the disciples that could not comprehend an empty grave

I would have been a soldier that carried his lifeless body

Oblivious to the fact that the world’s salvation was lying dead at my feet.

 

I was not there. But He was.

And He chose to die, chose to suffer

Because He loved me.

And now today I know that the empty grave is full of promises

That hope rises where death has been defeated.

 

I’m still nowhere near Mary Magdalene

I still cry out at Him in anger

I still turn away from Him as if I could do it on my own

I still lack faith, asking Him for proof that His promises still exist

And still He looks on me with love

and reminds me of the Cross

and reminds me of grace.

 

Because although I did not deserve this life, His death and life gave it to me anyway.

It was His death that fought for me.

But it was His resurrection, His Life, that saved me.

Kailyan (Family)

It was allegedly planned as worthy CNN material, an opening for a disgraced power figure to get back into the good graces of the President. The orchestration must have played seamlessly in the power figure’s mind–send his boys, not the military group trained in anti-terrorism and knowledgeable of the enemy’s turf and terrain; because only he should get the credit come announcement day.

“Mama, I never thought I would come home this way. They call me a hero now, Mama. Your little boy, who grew up climbing trees and sweating in the cool mountain breeze.”

Then all his indiscretions would be swept under the rug and his nameplate and rank would be reinstated to glory. But the scene turned gory, and insulted with terms like “misencounter”. Now, give them medals, give money to the bereaved families — results of an operation that didn’t reach HQ.

“Mama, I can hear the mountains crying! It’s the start of the ba-diw, isn’t it, Mama? The voices of the mountain mothers reaching to the highest of heavens, grieving the loss of their Igorot braves. We left home as hunters, Mama, and we came home as heroes.”

I lost 2 Igorot cousins in this orchestrated Maguindanao carnage, among the 13 young Igorot SAF policemen killed, mutilated, robbed.

“Mama, remember me in the next kanyao. Tell Manang and Manong to dance one more dance for me, tell my uncles to beat the gongs louder and louder until their music is heard all over the mountains. Tell them to strum their guitars and sing their country songs with wild abandon, as the fire grows ever stronger. Laugh and smile and gossip, Mama, for even the ba-diw will not last forever.”

They were convenient pawns sent to the battlefield haphazardly for one power figure’s quest for hideous, untamed, greedy power.

“Mama, tell my cousins to climb the tallest trees and conquer the highest mountains. Tell them that they need not be afraid, for in them runs the blood of headhunters and fierce warriors. Tell them that they are more than conquerors—they are Cordillerans.”

We await their bodies to be home tonight, not in their boots but in their caskets. Then the haunting Ibaloi funeral ba-diw will soon be sung by mothers with grieving hearts.

“Remember me, Mama. Remember what I died for. Tell everyone not to forget what we started and finished. Mama, don’t let your sadness turn into fear or hate. Mama, fight for peace, because peace fought for you.”

Take me home, country roads
Almost heaven, West Virginia,
Blue ridge mountain, Shenandoah river,
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong,
West Virginia,
Mountain mamma,take me home
Country roads.


Out of the 44 brave men who perished during the Maguindanao massacre, 13 were sons of the Cordillera. In light of this, a fund is being set up for the bereaved families. For those who may want to donate, please contact either Alexander Bangsoy or Annabelle Bangsoy on Facebook or comment on this post.

*Country Roads – John Denver

***By Annabelle and Karin Bangsoy

Overheard on the New York Subway (or, Barter in the 21st Century)

“I felt like the Lord was telling me to give you this,” she said, as her rough hands and manicured nails reached into the pocket of her brown blazer and pulled out a 20-dollar bill. The silver cross nestled in the folds of her black turtleneck sweater glinted in the harsh light of the subway car, and the ends of her bandanna swayed with the motion of the train. She carried a small black luggage and remained standing, looking down at her fellow passenger kindly as she pushed the money into another set of hands.

Her fellow passenger looked up at her suspiciously. Wrapped in a dingy shawl that might have once been a vibrant pink, she looked years older, her face creased with lines and her face distrusting of this unheard-of generosity. She wore grimy, fingerless gloves and protectively clutched her large bag of belongings. Accepting the money, she immediately averted her eyes and nodded her head, as if to dismiss her benefactor.

“You’re welcome. You take care now – I felt that the good Lord wanted me to tell you that.”

Her audience merely nodded again, head bowed and avoiding eye contact, folding the note in her hands and reverently keeping it in the folds of her clothing; as if disregarding the fact that the 20 dollars she had greedily accepted had anything to do with the divine.

She who had taken it upon herself to become a messenger of the Lord continued whispering a few words, but they all fell on deaf ears. The beneficiary stared straight ahead, pointedly ignoring the sermon that came with her blessing.

Finally, the train came to a clanking stop. The doors opened with a whoosh of air, and she who was now 20 dollars poorer exited the train, pulling her luggage along behind her. She who was now 20 dollars richer stared defiantly at her retreating back with a mixture of pity and indulging gratefulness, as if she was glad to see her gone.


Based on a true story.