The Filipino Smile for POETICS

I was thinking in Tagalog when I was  composing this  poem.  An English translation is provided at the bottom of this poem.  Pardon the hiccup at the end of the last stanza of the English version.


Singtingkad ng araw sa papawirin
ang biyayang ngiti na kanyang angkin
nagbibigay liwanag saan man siya naroon
sa tambakan ng Payatas, o sa isang mansiyon
sa disyerto ng Arabia, o pamantasan sa London.

Hindi kumukupas ang kanyang ngiti
humagipit man ang bagyo
siya ma’y magdalamhati
Iyo’y sisikat at sisikat, muling magniningning
tulad ng araw, kahit langit ay madilim
at ang kanyang ngiti, magiging halakhak
kasinglaya ng ibon sa pag-imbulog sa ulap

Nakapagtataka – kay saya niyang tingnan
kahit siya’y salat sa gintong yaman
Maari kayang ang ngiting taglay
ay tanda ng yamang sa puso nakahimlay
Kay rami ng naghahanap ng kaligayahan
‘di kaya’t ito ang tunay niyang yaman?


As warm as the sun in the sky
is the warmth of his smile
giving light wherever he is –
in the dumps of Payatas, or in a mansion
in the deserts of Arabia,
or universities in London.

His smile doesn’t fade
though hurricanes lash about
or sorrow grips his heart
The smile will shine and be bright again
just as the sun rises,
even when the skies are dim
and then the smile will turn to laughter
as free as the birds soaring in the air.

It’s bewildering – how happy he seems
even when he lacks material things
Could it be that the smile he has
speaks of  a treasure kept in the heart
So many are searching for joy
wouldn’t that be his true riches?


For Dverse Poets’ Pub’s Poetics prompt. 🙂  I had a hard time with this prompt – thank God for the article in a Dubai paper about the Filipinos’ smile.  One of my FB friends posted about it yesterday morning.  This is for you, Kelvin, my little ‘brother’ who can smile even when you are suffering from SJS syndrome.

Thank you for coming by. 🙂


12 thoughts on “The Filipino Smile for POETICS

  1. smiles…i know this will make kelvin smile as well…even in the midst of the storms and suffering being able to work a smile, now that is strength eh? i think it does speak to the treasure in the heart for sure…

  2. ..aww… ito na ata, so far, ang pinaka sincere na tula na tumagos sa puso ko ng sobra sobra… i am very proud of this ate Imelda…. and i will link this on my page so i will be reminded every day how i was humbled and moved by your heartfelt poem…. salamat! salamat! salamat!

    …iba ang ngiti nating mga Pilipino… namumukod tangi..kahit lumabas man ang gilagid… bungi man o bungal… damang dama mong totoo at hindi pilit…. smiles….. 😀

  3. so very beautiful and just read kelvin’s reply as well and brought a big smile on my lips… it surely speaks of big strength to face life with a smile when it’s difficult…was just what i needed to hear as well

  4. I wish I can write in Tagalog but alas, I am very illiterate in the native tongue ~ Yours I have to read aloud so I remember them again without even the translation ~ Funny that my hubby wanted me to write about the pinoy smile, despite the lack in material things ~ That they are a happy people, despite the poor conditions of their lives ~

    A gem to read tonight ~ Salamat ~

  5. What a heartfelt metaphor of your homeland. I wish I could write about mine, but my memory has faded so much. I guess I should just go on sentiments… Thank you for sharing this piece in your native language!

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