At the former seminarian’s funeral march
along the route of red flags and angry banners
the dictator’s black-garbed enforcers stood.
Peering through helmet slits, their eyes betrayed
a sense of disbelief, and maybe respect --
Loyola Heights was a white area after all.
The eyes of Bill’s comrades reflected clenched fists
raised, and tempered resolve.
The grief of the mourning marchers was morphing
into courage, burning the fog of their fears.
Loyola Heights was a white area -- but not then.
On his casket a single red rose Bill’s brother laid.
Stepping back, he saluted crisply and mourners noticed
his uniform with U.S. Air Force patches.
Bill had chosen the road less taken.
As the casket sought the moist earth
Bill’s comrades burst into the Internasyonal
pumping their arms to its pulsing tempo.
As more mourners joined the chorus
the strokes of fists rose higher, punching the heavens
invoking justice as their human right.
Bill’s comrades and the mourners became one.
The hammer loomed larger back then.
The pretenders in the palace would have wanted
the mourners to see and hear
none of the truths
that were freed back then.
But that day
the hammer did loom larger.
*Chapter 6, Fractured Memories
[In memory of William (Bill) Begg, killed by the Marcos dictatorship’s soldiers in 1975 in the Philippines.]