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Brave Woman

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by

Jonalene Edio

on 8 December 2016

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Transcript of Brave Woman

Author
She is the translator Ang Bukid Nga Nahigugma Sa Langgam, the Binisaya (Cebuano) version of Alice McLerran’s The Mountain That Loved A Bird.
She is a poet whose works have been published in the literary journals Caracoa, Ani, Sands and Coral, Likhaan, and Philippine Studies. Her poems have also appeared in textbooks and anthologies of Philippine literature and feminist poetry.
In 2003, “Brave Woman” was chosen for inclusion in the book Poets Against the War, a collection of the best anti-war poems from among 13,000 submissions by writers opposed to war with Iraq. Grace earned her degree in Creative Writing at Silliman University, where she studied under the guidance of the country’s most distinguished literary couple, Edilberto K. Tiempo and Edith L. Tiempo. She first taught literature at Silliman, then worked at the Cultural Center of the Philippines before deciding to be a hands-on mother. When she is not taking care of her children, their father, and the house cat, she writes, reads, edits other writers’ manuscripts, and tries to solve Su Doku puzzles.
Tone
Loving mother
Theme
Bravery
To become a parent is one of life's greatest joys
Settings
Home (mother)
Barracks (sons)
Battlefield (youngest son)
Brave Woman
Grace R. Monte de Ramos

She was born in 1956. She was a local fellow for poetry at the UP Creative Writing Center in 1987.
She was deputy director for literature at the CCP. "[Grace] is preparing her long-awaited first volume of poems while mothering Onang and Biyoy.
She is a most inspired feminist in the daily practice of equally shared work and opportunities." [from Evasco and Santos, eds., Kung Ibig Mo , 1993] She is married to poet Juaniyo Y. Arcellana, son of National Artist for Literature Franz Arcellana.
Brave Woman

I am a mother of sons.
Two joined the army when they were young;
There was not enough money for school,
They had no skills for jobs in foundries
And factories, and it was easy to sign up
And learn how to handle a gun.

I am a mother of sons, two sons
And one, the youngest, now gone.
In his youth he was taken
By men whose names I never will learn.
I only know they were soldiers, like my sons,
Cradling fearsome guns.
He was a fine young man. I took care of him
For seventeen years and they took him away
And now I am searching for his bones.

I will never learn their names.
Alone I try to imagine the scene: were their faces
Bearded or clean-shaven?
Perhaps their bodies were robust.
Did they wear uniforms the color of shrivelled
Sampaguita or fresh horseshit?
How pointed the bullets from their guns?

My soldier sons come home
When life in the barracks is still.
I hide their brother’s picture;
It makes them cry and remember.
Perhaps they, too (God forbid it),
Have given other mothers sorrow.
Perhaps my son had to pay for what they borrowed.

I cannot cry, though I am told
It is better to cry and let go.
Where is my son’s body for me to bury?
I only wear my grief in the lines
Of my face, my sunken cheeks.
Silent, I mourn a woman’s
Bitter lot: to give birth to men
Who kill and are killed.
Full transcript