by Luis G. Dato
How like Elysium were the prewar times,
When Freedom reigned and life seemed free from care,
Then was our Naga gay, with houses filled
Her nights turned day, her flowers suffused the air.
Where’er went, turn wheresoe’er our eyes
Were crooning swains and lovely girls in bloom,
What else on earth of glory? – came the Japs,
And Pleasure fled, the town became a tomb.
Then did our woes begin, the bane, the rue,
The hills we fled to, leaving Home behind,
There barely did we live unused to plow
Or hoe, the bitter bread to find.
The cool, blue hills, the brooks, the whispering sea,
Did shed somewhat a balm upon the heart,
And we were charmed to rest at even-tide
With songs of birds that eased while the smart.
But we had brethren of the sinister turn,
And evil heart betrayed us to our foes,
And thus the innocent oft met their doom,
Bound like a beast, beheaded, hung who knows?
How many thus untimely end did meet,
God knows alone, who maimed, thrown to the flame,
‘Tis thus our friends we see no longer here,
Till now we know not what of them became.
Our homes by dint of countless sacrifice
Completed, with much toil and sweat of days,
We say one morning disappear in smoke,
Thus suffered we in other diverse ways.
Thanks to the soldier we the war resumed,
And rose in arms to fight from cave and hill,
And but for him, the lie-low, hit-and-run,
We would not now perhaps be living still.
The Malay blood is thus, our pence we prize
Beyond most else, our second Nature’s good,
But when injustice ruled, Nippon oppressed,
Volcanic turned the life-stream of our blood.
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.