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Poem: Sequential Piece by Cheyenne R.

I. magkaribal ● rival

as a child,

I knew that my skin defined me.

often covered up

and lathered in sunblock,

trying to protect

that paper white baby skin.

“gold” wasn’t a good look on me.

“white” will take you farther.


was born with lighter skin

and lighter hair.

they fawned over her.

she was beautiful.

she embodied what was right.


compared our tones

reinforcing the rivalry,

that we are not the same,

that one was more beautiful than the other.

I tried

to “stay light.”

I used the soaps,

bought the whiteners,

advertised by the others that looked like her.

translucent skin -



better than me.

II. mestiza ● the look of privilege

I’ve known that color

defines Me.

defines Them.

I’ve clung to that

shred of whiteness

in my name,

the European traces

although it amounts

to less than one percent.

I allowed it to define me.

I’ve learned to be proud

when someone asks

“where are you from?”

because Filipino doesn’t cut it with one look of

my light skin.

I took pride in looking different in not being one of Them.

but who am I

if in between?

III. maganda ● beautiful

I gathered

my role models

from television shows

some spoke my language

but had skin


than mine.

“that’s what you’re

supposed to look like,”

Society whispered

in my ear

“here’s how you get there,” “look over here,”

“see, this is ideal”


with a dash of


and a surfer boy

on my arm

waves of blonde.

that is what

I want.

IV. ngayon ● now

Sociology woke me

that the white

I was trying to be

was all a fantasy

one created by


to teach me

to be like them

shed my differences

and perpetuate

this Society.

the color of my skin -

thought to be a


but all it did

was destroy

my connection

to my family,

the culture

I pushed aside

to achieve

what was


in my head

all along.

and now

I’m trying to


what is


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