And soon the camote dreamers became the ANAKPAWIS, an association of the toiling masses that dream of bettering their lives and the lives of their children and the children of generations of toiling people yet to come.

Davao Today

A glaring fact stares us in the face.  Life in our land today is synonymous to dire poverty.  Everyone among the hapless great majority of the Filipino people is scrambling for a means to eke out a living.  A decent livelihood is what every man and woman longs for.  But for most, it is a lifelong longing that rarely comes true.

The heart cries out in silent sigh in the middle of the night.  From the rising to the setting of the sun the children of slave workers — the Anakpawis — continuously shed their sweat in bone-breaking jobs so that life for themselves and their families may thrive.  And perchance they would be able to cross to the better space of human existence.

Sadly, a child of sweat remains an Anakpawis profusely sweating for life.  And he is not alone.  Millions like him seek for the evasive dream for a better life in this land of bounteous forestlands and mountains and beaches that burn the eyes with their stunning wealth and beauty.

This is the land where Eddie Cañon shed his first drop of sweat.  The same land that his half-naked body, in most hours of the day, romanced with the scorching sun and the brown soil beneath his feet.  And only the night breeze like real balsam soothed his nerves.

Until one night, sleeping under the twinkling illumination of fireflies, he dreamt of hearing voices calling him softly to go out into the night for there were dreams that began to sprout and grow and crawl like camote vines on the soil around his shanty.  And they continuously grew and grew through the numberless days and nights that he rested his weary bones beneath the roofs of his shanty.

And he learned later that these camote dreams were the same dreams dreamt by children of sweat like him.  And they haunted him wherever he went.  For there were camote dreamers everywhere.  And he soon realized that the voices in his sleep were voices of these camote dreamers he became familiar with everywhere.  Everywhere.

And soon Eddie decided to invite the camote dreamers for a gathering in the front yard of his shanty.  He has trekked narrow mountain trails and descended steep canyons to gather the dreams of the children of slave workers like him.

And soon the camote dreamers became the ANAKPAWIS, an association of the toiling masses that dream of bettering their lives and the lives of their children and the children of generations of toiling people yet to come.

But these dreams would take an impossibly long time to come true.  Certain heartless and conscienceless people in society are doing all they can to block the fulfillment of these dreams.  And they do not merely frustrate the dreams, they kill the dreamers!

That’s how malignant these forces are!  And who are they?  They are the State security forces who serve as armed goons of the ruling classes — the imperialists and landlords — the arrogant dispensers of the awesome instruments of State power and government.

These dream-blockers do not want real change to happen in our country.  They are contemptuous of the poor who clamor for the elimination of poverty, who demand that genuine agrarian reform be pursued, who call for national industrialization to prevail.

Their invariable response to these demands is militarization which always ultimately ends up in Killing! Killing! Killing!

To Eddie Cañon, champion of the toiling masses, real son of the brown race, this poem:

Eddie Cañon,  Kampiyon                                Eddie Cañon, Champion
sa mga Ulipon sa Buhat                            of the Slave Workers
Gipuga mo ang hinagkom nga yuta                    [You squeeze the fisted ball of earth
ug gihumod mo sa lusok sa damgo                      and moist it with the dreamdrops
nga nanaligdig gikan sa bung-aw                        that roll down  the steep cliff
sa imong agtang ug mitipon                                 of your brow and mingle
sa luha sa imong mga mata.                                 with the tears in your eyes.

Di maisip ang mga higayon                                  [Countless are the moments
nga gikarmot mo ang panit sa yuta                    you’ve scratched the skin of earth
ug miturok sa imong palad dili                            and on your palms grow not
mga bunga sa imong pangandoy                         the fruits of your longings
kundili singot, luha ug dugo —                            but sweat, tears and blood—
dugo sa pagpakasakit!                                            blood of sacrifice!

Hain ang mga saha‘g salingsing                          [Where are the shoots and sprigs
sa paninguha nga imong gitisok                          of strivings you have planted
sa tugkaran sa kabuntagon?                                 on the frontyard of  morning?
Hingsabligan ba’g dan-ag                                     Could  sunbeams have shone 
ang mga udlot nga natakloba’g                            on the fresh leafbuds beneath
anino sa mga dahong naghambin                        the shadows of leaves that bear
og laa nga duga sa kagabhion?                            venomous juices of night?

Ilabyog imong panglantaw ngadto                     [Lasso your vision into
sa migitlak nga banagbanag                                 the crack of  dawn in the
sa kaadlawon! Kab-ota ang                                  eastern horizon! Reach for the 
mga gihay sa naghabo-habong                            threads of the showering rays
bidlisiw sa kabuntagon! Ibisibis                           of morning sunshine!  Sprinkle
sa nangigdal nga mga luha, singot                      them on the sprouting tears,sweat
ug dugo sa nagdamgog kaugmaon!                     and blood of the life dreamers!]

Don J. Pagusara is a native of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.

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