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Poem: The Liberation of Juan Dela Cruz

Written by: Christine Chua

They have been lying to you your whole life

They told you that your dark skin is lesser

And should be scrubbed away until there’s nothing but bone


They took you by the hand and sold you

On a life of freedom

Away from the oppression of your early years and into the shining light of promise and industry

Do not forget they sold you

For $20 million.

They took your hand, made their promises

And crossed their fingers behind their backs

They erased your history and turned you against your own blood

They made you hate the way your voice curls around words

Shoved their language down your throat until your tongue was forced to bend in unnatural ways

And silence the accent of your ancestors

They took your pride and replaced it with humility

Conditioned and praised you for humbly bowing your heads

Because it’s easier to subjugate when no one is looking up

Do not forget.

The way the sun beats down and bronzes your skin

The sound of your mother humming in the kitchen

Do not forget taking showers under hot summer rain

Or the whispers of your grandma to keep spirits away

Do not forget.

That even when they pruned our leaves and trimmed our branches to make us look presentable

And even when they cleared us out to see what little they could salvage from the war-torn rubble they left us in

They chopped us down at the trunk

But never saw how deep our roots went

Do not forget.

We are descendants of defiance

Of stubborn patriots

Of the same blood coursing under dark skin

Emblazoned and emboldened by the sun

They made empty promises like we were a formless clay they could shape however they wish

Never knowing that we were already whole without them

Burned and proofed from the kiln of countless revolutions

So do not forget

Forgetting is defeat

Do not let your children look back in search of themselves

And see nothing but someone else’s propaganda

Show them how deep your roots grow

So that even when they come to knock us down yet again

We will not be moved.

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