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POETRY

Heng Siok Tian

Remembering EDSA II (2001), Metro Manila

As in an aquarium, I peer out 
snapping pictures of a world
I never ever witnessed
on my safe island sanctity.
The throng wobbles our car
(surely our car is sturdy,
roomy enough for six of us)
Our Philippines host
assures us we are not in danger
(demonstrations ever ready).
Our driver expertly inches us amidst the massive crowds
of peaceful protesters.

For three days, we visited schools,
witnessed students perform,
be touched by gifted artists,
be moved by dancers
art was in the air.

Enroute
we stopped at Taal lake,
the beauteous calm 
a far cry from current tempest.

The closest I ever got to a tumult at enormous events
was on a national day parade.
Theirs was a national parade of a different vein;
to remove a corrupt leader and emplace another.

I cannot but wonder if any in the crowd
even peered into our car,
we petulant enough to drive into the major thoroughfare
connecting five cities in Metro Manila.

From inside my aquarium,
I could not see clearly
the Edsa Shrine Church
but in their hearts
the people seemed to see with no uncertainty
a new savior.

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