Online Journal 3: Analysis of Amado Hernandez’ Poem
Raw, unbridled, unadulterated rage. Disgust. A sense of loathing, and the desire for vengeance. From the very first encounter with the poem, it speaks “Kung Tuyo na lang Luha mo, Aking Bayan”. When I first read this line, there was no sadness to the words, and no impulsive wrath, no hot rage. The emotion it carries is slow, steady. There is a certain demand, an overbearing power to the words: “kung tuyo na ang luha mo, aking bayan,” as if there is a succeeding request, order. The tone is similar to a parent gently waiting for their child to rise on their own: gentle, but firm. Unrelenting in the demand that in the end, something must be done.
The more I read the poem, the more I feel that the persona is a parental figure, looking down at a small and stumbling “bayan”. The persona seems all-knowing. This felt strange to me, for how could one be older and more experienced than “bayan”? After all, the prevailing concept is “Inang Bayan”. But I suppose there is a benefit to the unfamiliarity: I am suddenly looking through an angle I’ve never before considered. We often neglect how our country has been left behind while it’s citizens are moving forward. I had thought this impossible, since the citizens make the country. But perhaps, “bayan” isn’t limited to the literal sense of country. To me, the persona is a Filipino, but there are many ways one this conversation could take place. For example, a Filipino to his fellow countrymen, or a Filipino to this intangible “Inang Bayan”. What I think is most romantic is a Filipino speaking to this metaphysical sense of patriotism, to a spirit of “pagkamakabayan” that resides in every filipino.
Indeed, what comes after “kung tuyo na ang luha mo, aking bayan”? The more I read the poem, the more I am inclined to think that this is an intimate conversation. The text is written as if the persona is speaking, lines cut exactly as if the persona is saying the words, stopping for breath and emphasis every now and then. The words are wrought with emotion, and if I try to say them outloud, they leak through. I have never been one to feel an intense love for country, but there is a charm to the way the words rhyme and roll of the tongue; it feels natural, as if it’s only right for me to be mad, indignant and enraged at the injustices presented. Maybe this can be attributed to the perfect rhyme of the words, the way each stanza has a musicality that comes with the sound of the words. These words are not perfectly rhyming in a rigid sense, but rather it’s the sound of them spoken out loud that form an undeniable flow. To be perfectly honest, there are many unfamiliar words that I have never encountered before, words I don’t know how to speak. It was through the help of this musicality that I could finish reading the poem smoothly by following the rhyme. Regardless of the unknown words, the emotions are delivered without fail.
If there is indeed an answer to what comes after the line “kung tuyo na ang luha mo, aking bayam”, I believe this can be found in the text itself. It’s rather melancholic, how it begins with “kung tuyo na ang luha mo”. It makes me envision a parent writing a letter for their child, carefully inking each word out, and sealing it with a single statement: kung tuyo na ang luha mo, aking bayan. A letter to be opened only when one is ready. Upon opening the poem, the words tumble out: Lumuha ka, aking Bayan; buong lungkot mong iluha. I would most definitely start sobbing. Lumuha ka, habang sila ay palalong nagdiriwang: the words I originally ignored in favor of the vengeful verses jump out at me now. Iluha mo ang sambuntong kasawiang nagtalakop: at the beginning of every stanza, the persona never forgets to remind, cry. Lumuha ka kung sa puso ay nagmaliw na ang layon. And nearing the end: May araw ding ang luha mo’y masasaid, matutuyo, Ang dadaloy, kundi apoy, at apoy na kulay dugo.
The more I read the poem, the more a whole storyline plays before my eyes. What was once confusing becomes clear to me now. The persona is an older, more experienced figure, and they are speaking to their fellow countrymen. Indeed, the citizens make the country. “Aking bayan” is indeed small and stumbling, the younger generation, new Filipinos born without the firsthand experience of suffering, oppression. This is why he recounts the stories, injustices, pain, and reminds us to cry. Cry, because the emotions that rush through each and very word is real, and they flow out the moment you read. Because the readers have to know, they have to keep the fire burning. The persona is a Filipino, and he acknowledges that the country will outlive any single individual, “aking bayan” will always be there, and must always remember the pain felt by those who had come before. The readers have to cry, and taste the bitterness of the words, the sting of the meanings, and feel the heat of tears rolling down one’s cheeks. Once those tears dry, a steady sense of raw, unbridled, unadulterated rage, disgust, and loathing replaces them. A desire for vengeance. Once those tears dry, you again read the words: kung tuyo na ang luha mo, aking bayan. And the cycle starts again, because it has to.