Aswang. Lianga

By Tyrone Velez

I. 2015

The forest emerald faded

and red the valley turned

as embers devoured the commune

The dawn cracked with bullets

on the heads of two datus

and a blade slashed Emok’s neck

Wails echoed across Andap

walls shake

this village school

Forest leaves snapped off

and embrace the blood-soaked soil

Blood red the sun

the busaw* howls

the tribe departs

a season of blood

II. 2021

A year of pandemia

but other things can kill

the Manobo girl dreams

of dances and harvests in their fields

but as abaca leaves were gathered

she and her family were collected

by bullets laced

with words of the busaw

smash their inner bodies

rape their lands for the coffers

the nightmare sets in again

as their blood cries for Magbabaya**

*in Lumad folklore is a being that eats or attacks people