Last April 25, Words Anonymous celebrated its first anniversary. In one of our sets, we performed translated versions of one another’s poems. I translated Jihad Mambuay’s Kailan(gan), the first piece I’ve seen him perform during my first time at Sev’s, and one of my personal favorites.

It goes without saying that the original Tagalog version, which follows immediately after my translation, is much better.


I can live without this
But I’d rather not;
I’d rather listen to your stories
And ask how you are
What you think of the world
And of other people’s words
That linger on your lips
I’d rather think that you are made of these bits
That I can bring with me, fill my pockets with
Until the next time we meet

I can live without this
But I’d rather not;
I’d rather spend time
Watching out for
And taking care of you
Make sure that you always
Have someone to sit next with
Even when you don’t ask for it
You see, time is nothing
And being tired is irrelevant
When put in the context
Of me and you

I can live without this
But I’d rather not;
I’d rather help you carry the weight
Of whatever is bothering you
When tears are on the verge
Of spilling your pain
My ears are ready, my shoulder steady
I’ll listen as you lean on me

Because I can live without this
But I’d rather not;
I’d rather make a fool of myself
Belting out a song and dance number
Embarrass myself by sharing silly stories
If it means seeing you laughing
(Even if it’s at me)
And being truly happy
(Even if it’s not because of me)

And I can live without thinking about all of this
But there are quiet moments
When I wish that you’d rather
Also want to take my stories with you
Walk with me when my boots are too heavy
Be my compass because I suck at navigating

I can live without this
But I really hope
That one day, you couldn’t
That you’d realize
How I was made for exactly this

How I can do more than stay

But for now, I can live with just this


Previously titled March 23
Jihad F. Mambuay

Hindi naman kailangan,
pero gusto ko
Pakinggan ang lahat ng iyong mga kwento
Kumusta yung araw mo,
mga opinyon mo sa mundo
Mga salitang nananatili sayo mula sa ibang tao
Gusto kong isiping mga maliliit silang parte mo
Na maaari kong baunin, sariwain
Hanggang sa susunod nating pagtatagpo

Hindi naman kailangan,
pero gusto ko
Na inaalalayan, inaalagaan ka
Sa araw-araw mong buhay
Batiin ka sa umaga, paghandaan
Tabihan ka tuwing ikaw ay nangangailangan
Wala sa akin ang pag-alay ng oras
At wala sa akin ang pag-alay ng pagod
Kung ikaw lang din ang aking babahagian

Hindi naman kailangan,
pero gusto ko
Na samahan ka tuwing ika’y nabibigatan
Hayaan mong makinig ako sa mga problema mo
Hahayaan kong sumandal ka kapag nangingilid na ang luha mo
Hayaan mong yakapin kita
Dahil hindi man ako ang nais mong hagkan
Baka sakaling sumapat muna ito
Para maibsan ang iyong nararamdaman

Hindi naman kailangan,
pero gusto ko
Na makita kang Masaya
Kung kailangan man kitang awitan,
Gagawan ko,
gagawin ko
Dahil mahalaga sa akin ang kaligayahan mo

Hindi yata tama, pero minsan iniisip ko
Na sana balang araw maisip mo
Na gusto mo ring magbaon ng aking mga kwento
Alalayan ako kung kinakailangan
Tulungan ako pag nagbibigatan
Pag naliligaw, pagsabihan

Hindi naman kailangan,
pero sana maisip mo
na gusto mo ring suklian ang binibigay ko
Hindi naman sa pagbibilang,
sabik lang ako sa ideya na aalagaan mo rin ako
Pero sapat na muna sa ngayon
ang pagpayag mong manatili ako
Sasamahan kita
Hanggang sa masabi mo na
Na ako ang hinahanap mo

Good Mourning

When I go, I imagine it would hurt
But not like the hurt you felt when
You fell off your bike and skinned your knee
It would hurt like that time you found out
From someone else
That your mother had left for good

Like something heavy dropped on your chest
And you couldn’t breathe
Paralyzed from shock to even cry
But sometimes, there is no explanation given
When people or feelings die

Do not fall into the cracks of my shattered mind
There is no light down there
It isn’t always the case
Sometimes, relationships and people simply end

When I go, I imagine it would be the end
I wouldn’t live on through my poems
No one likes to dwell in someone else’s sadness
My book will have ended before it begins

Don’t start reading too much into my poems
There is no between the lines
I never intended to hide in metaphors
My pain has always been in plain sight

It has always been an extension of me
I clung to it even during my dark times
Weirdly comforted that it wouldn’t leave me
When everybody else already did

When I go, I imagine it would rain
Because the sky couldn’t hold in its tears
When another one of its children
Decided it was too crowded down here

I imagine it would be fast
Life has already been too slow
We’ve all been too lazy to let go
And anyway, nothing ever lasts

And I imagine it would be ugly
Beauty never resides in rotting shells
I imagine the world would stay like this
Looking at me, but barely understanding

A Way Out of Loneliness

“I want a way out of loneliness. Just like you.” –Mr. Robot

There is no word in the dictionary for all our types of lonely. This is what kills me. Loneliness is universal, which is both comforting and sad. But somehow we still keep struggling. We struggle to understand how others could be lonely one moment and happy the next. We struggle to accept that there are people who don’t get Happy and that they feel all life gives them is Okay. We struggle to understand when we see someone who is just fine with being lonely. Sometimes we even struggle to appreciate when friends try to make our Loneliness smaller and lighter so that we could fit it in a compartment somewhere inside us and not weigh us down all the time. I’ve heard Loneliness in so many songs, seen it in countless paintings, and recognized it in poetry and prose.

But see, there’s the problem. All this time, I’ve thought of Loneliness as some kind of baggage, something we carry along with us inherently. But Elliot says that all he wants is “a way out of loneliness.” I’ve never considered it to be a place for others, something bigger than them, somewhere they could get lost in, and somewhere they could lose other parts of themselves.

I’ve never pictured Loneliness to be a place you find your way out of. But now I can’t stop thinking how it might be like a maze for some people. They turn in a corner, hoping finally they did something right, took a step in the right direction, but still end up at another dead end.

Maybe this is why we keep on struggling. We know Loneliness exists. But we don’t know what it looks like for others. And you can’t make a maze smaller; you can only guide the person through it, regardless how vast and endless and confusing they think it is. Because sometimes, all a person needs is someone to hold his hands, not an actual escape plan.