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Follow her as she prepares and partakes the "bread for the stomach" in http://beforesixdiet.blogspot.com/ . And while you are full at it, she offers you the "bread for the soul" in her travels by foot and by thoughts in http://footandfire.blogspot.com/ Happy Reading!

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Jose Rizal's "Water and Fire" in World Poetry (An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to our Time)

This 1338-page book is a gift from the court interpreter who will be retiring soon. He loves novels and will be donating his fictions to my local school. I already spotted this heavyweight last time and I mentioned to him that he gift it to me because I personally "eye" it. Fellow bookworms bond...


Quickly, I skimmed the book and the quick index. Of course, I am interested what were the entries for the Filipinos... So far, I found Jose Rizal under the tagline Filipino-Spanish and Jose Garcia Villa under Filipino writing in English. What were my instant thoughts? Why was Jose Rizal not placed as Filipino when the others were under Chinese, Malay etc. I shall write of my thoughts on Villa separately.




Jose Rizal......

Water are we, you say, and yourselves fire; 
so let us be what we are and co-exist without ire, and may no conflagration ever find us at war. 
But, rather, fused together by cunning science
within the cauldrons of the ardent breast, 
without rage, without defiance, 
do we form steam, fifth element indeed: 
progress, life, enlightenment, and speed! 

(Translated by Nick Joaquin)


This poem written by Jose Rizal reflects our history. I wonder why Rizal is placed under Filipino-Spanish? I must admit that such a tagline sets the stage for his poem as it speaks of his topic, the occupation by Spain of the Philippines. Water stands for Filipino while Fire for Spanish.... Is this the intent of the editors why they did not simply put Filipino on the tagline?

I enjoyed this empowering poem. 
It is very Filipino to be resilient... 
to be "without rage, without defiance,"
But it is also very human to finally find our way...
"do we form steam, fifth element"
Our independence is achieved because of the fifth element 
"progress, life, enlightenment, and speed!" 

 I wished there is one more entry.