by Luis G. Dato

“Here fair Columbia, one historic night, Presaging Freedom, claimed a people’s care.”
–Fernando Maramag

This is America –she came this day
To us three score and seven years ago,
By accident? design? We cannot say,
Perhaps research might help who want to know.

This much is certain –Cuba had her war
For liberation from misrule by Spain,
Undaunted, Cubans followed Freedom’s star,
Havanna meantime saw blow up the “Maine”.

That was a red flag –from its scabbard leapt
Columbia’s sword to smash the Spanish power,
And in the fray brave Admiral Dewey kept
The Spanish fleet to hug Cavite’s shore.

Montejo was no match in naval fire,
And one by one his ships disabled were,
Castille was over, came a new empire
Whom destiny our people left in care.

The guns! the guns! they breached the ancient walls
Of Intramuros, Spain’s white flag flew up!
The Philippines, no longer Spanish thralls,
Saw a new master –this a bitter cup.

But not for long, for all unparalleled
In human annals, ancient and Dark Age,
The victor pledged our country she but held
In trust for its God-given heritage.

And we could not believe as we heard first
McKinley’s message from across the sea,
And mightily we strove to quench the thirst,
Through blood and war of sacred liberty.

But so it was, she opened schools for all,
Brought law, her English language to our land,
Peace established, and wiped out the ancient pall,
Of pestilence –who fail to understand?

McDuffie-Tydings then a charter wrote,
Removing vestiges of doubt at last,
A ten-year grace, and then the dream we sought
In war and peace were ours –the die was cast!

And even Nippon’s coming infamy,
Atrocity, samurai, blood and sweat,
Would not prorogue award of liberty,
America did not her pledge forget.

In ’45 amidst the ruins vast,
The smoke and rubble of a cruel foe,
In independence this our land was cast,
America our freedom to bestow.

August 13! immortal you shall live
As to our sons we tell the nation’s story,
This day you taught it is more blessed to give,
The spangled banner covered all with glory!

Luis Dato
Luis Dato

Luis G. Dato (July 4, 1906 - January 29, 1985) was a poet, writer and educator from Sta. Cruz, Baao, Camarines Sur. He published books in English including Manila A Collection of verse (1926), My Book of Verses (1936) and the Land of Mai in 1975. He also wrote several books and text in Bikol such as, Vocabulario Bikol-Ingles-Kastila (1963), Cantahon na Bikol (1969), Morfologia kan Tataramon na Bikol (serialized in Naga Times), Patotodon sa Bikol (Bikol Mail) and Sarabihon sa Bikol.

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