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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

entry arrow11:12 PM | Two Poems for Fr. Rudy Romano on the 24th Year of His Disapperance

The Bells Count in Our Blood

By Merlie Alunan

Every night at 8:00 we shall ring
the bells for Father Romano, and we
shall continue to do so until
he is found.
The Redemptorist Community
Dumaguete City
September 1985

Every night just as we settle
To coffee or a mug of cold beer,
They ring the bells—
A crisp quick flurry first, then
Decorous as in a knell, ten counts.
Into the darkness newly fallen
The cadence calls for a brother lost.

At home as we try to wash off
With music and a little loving
The grime of markets from our souls—
The day’s trading of truth for bread,
Masks of honor, guises of peace—
The clear sounds infusing the air
Deny us the salve of forgetting.

We know for what they lost him,
Why expedient tyrants required
His name effaced, his bones hidden.
As we bend over the heads of children
Fighting sleep, not quite done with play,
The bells vibrating remind us how
Our fears conspires to seal his doom.

We could say to the ringers:
Your bells won’t bring him back,
But just supposing that it could,
What would you have?
A body maimed, perhaps, beyond belief—
Toes and fingers gone, teeth missing,
Tongue cut off, memory hacked witless.

The nights in our town
Are flavored with the dread
The bells salt down measured
From their tall dark tower.
It falls upon our raw minds wanting sleep.
Shall we stop them? Though we smart
We know they keep us from decay.

Shared in this keening,
A rhythm beating all night long
In our veins, truth is truth still
Though unworded. The bells
Count in our blood the heart of all
We must restore. Tomorrow, we vow,
Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.

Twenty Four
By Anthony L. Kintanar

The street has its usual noises,
The hustle and bustle,
The ebb and flow
Of traffic and people.
No signs of the scuffle
And what was taken here,
No fallen motorbike.
No arguments beyond the commonplace
Ones between vendor and police,
Driver and passenger.
The bells have gone silent
After twenty four years.
But I remember.
I remember you, Rudy,
And how you tried to show
That salvation lies not in the bread
And submission given
Before the pulpit but is shaped
In lives lived in struggle and dignity
Amidst tyranny
And convenient resignation.
I remember.
And my children will remember.

Fr. Rudy Romano [was abducted and disappeared in Tisa, Labangon, Cebu City] on 11 July 1985. It has been [24] years now since people last saw him, but he continues to live in the memories of the people who have been a part of his life -- the example he taught and left behind is still remembered. Fr. Rudy was one of those who strongly fought against Marcos’ dictatorial regime in the Philippines. He fought it by never giving up his quest for justice and peace, and by serving the poor. He also shared conscience towards genuine freedom, especially among the Cebuanos in Central Philippines and the Warays in Eastern Visayas, where he grew up. On the website featuring the Directory of the Professed Members of the Cebu Redemptorist Province (Visayas-Mindanao, Southern Philippines), Fr. Rudy’s name is at the very bottom of the page. His status: Alive but Missing. (By Maria Lourdes Alfaro–Alorro from the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances website)

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