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Juxtaposing Hotel Luna

Alfonso Manalastas


A blood splattered painting

hangs regally in a corridor:

increments of the artist’s DNA,

some overt political message,

an antiquated brass frame,

deftness, dexterity, taste.

A woman in shiny pearl earrings

stays at the hotel, smokes Esse

along the cobblestoned streets

of Calle Crisologo, a microcosm

of Spanish occupation in rural

Ilocos where a plume of smoke

erupts from her mouth, lungs

brimming with ash and heat.

The rate goes: four thousand

pesos a night, not bad for its

middle-class occupants; a pool,

an intercontinental breakfast,

a blood splattered painting

perched outside your door

to decorate your mornings

with, as a warning, perhaps.


We will stroll around this city

made of stone. We will meet

at 8:30 sharp, travel by foot past

old walls, red bricks leaking out

of concrete like gushing skin.

We will have steaming white rice

for stamina, meat in distinctly

Vigan sauté for protein, something

sumptuous that will say we are

neither of this land nor new to it;

what hybrids can find love in a city

that sells horseshit and decay

by the pound, and be so in love, still,

that we are drunk after two beers,

unperturbed by the click-clack of

the kalesa, how spit and sweat are

traded in gleaming currency, how we

barter for more as soon as we run out.

The hotel staff will find our sheets

disparate from their appointed beds,

a crescent yellow forming outward

from the center—nothing that good

detergent can’t fix in Hotel Luna

where it’s business as usual.


The philosophy of forgiveness

resides not in the abandonment

of history, or the virtuous denial

of our pain, but in the cruelty

of remembering, how we preserve

the cages we were slaughtered in,

how we bend our knees in worship

of the wealth that flourished

on our hunger, how we build highways

out of stones we collected on our

broken backs, how we slice off

our tongues to learn the language

of our enemies, how we create

monuments out of bomb shelter

ruins, how thirty pesos per person

is what it costs to enter bell towers

built in the names of those who

enslaved us, how so willingly we

surrender our last change, how we take

the shape of our oppressors and sell

it back to them, complemented with

the finest hotel arrangements our

tempered sense of selves can offer,

certain that they come back for more.

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