Stephen Norries A. Padilla, or simply Steno, is a graduate of BA Journalism, cum laude, at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. He worked formerly as a correspondent at Philippine Daily Inquirer and as a researcher at GMA News and Public Affairs. His novel, Ang Lihim sa Tore ng Sinagtala, won the 1st Lampara Prize for Young Adult Story in 2017. He is also a fellow of the 2nd Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Writers Workshop (short story) and the 6th Cordillera Creative Writing Workshop (short story). Currently, he is an editor at MIMS Philippines.
Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Ari
Where I'm From
Ipinunla ang aking binhi sa lupang
mataba at hitik sa mga bulateng
kalaban ang umaga at mga ibon.
Araw-araw diniligan ang aking buto
ng dugo at pawis na bumukal mula
sa disyertong imbakan ng krudo.
Bawat umaga ay sabay na paalam
at pagbati ng gumagapang na ugat
sa hardinero at sa hardinerang
alipin ng panginoong maylupa.
Nang sumupling ang aking talbos,
natikman ko ang abonong nabili
sa mga mangangalakal na singkit.
Unti-unti, tumindig ang katawan,
tumubo ang mga sangang naging
tahanan ng ibong mandaragit—
salamat sa arugang simula’t sapul
ay di naging salat sa bungkal at dilig.
Ngunit sa pag-usbong ng mayayabong
kong dahon, naging kapansin-pansin
ang kawalan ng matatamis na bungang
inasam-asam ng aking tagapag-alaga.
Ang punong tumubo sa matabang
lupa ay baliko, na ang tanging
biyaya ay lilim at mga bulaklak.
I planted my seed on soil
that is fertile and full of worms
whose enemies are the morning and the birds.
I watered my seed every day
with blood and sweat from the fountain
in the desert where crude is stored.
Every morning is both a farewell
and hello from the crawling vein
of the male gardener and the female gardener
that were both slaves of the landlord.
When my plant bore fruit,
I tasted the fertilizer I bought
from the chinky-eyed traders.
Gradually, my body grew,
the branches sprouted that became
home to birds of prey––
thanks to the care that from the start
never lacked in digging and watering.
But with the growth of my thick
foliage, one could readily notice
the absence of the sweet fruits
that my carer longed for.
The tree that grew from the fertile
soul was bent, whose only
blessings were the shade and the flowers.