Virginia Jasmin Pasalo, PHILIPPINES

Virginia Jasmin Pasalo

You are in my coffee again
telling me tales
of worker ants swimming
in the desert of Saudi Arabia

the last time I saw you
you were telling me
about soldier ants swimming
in a sea of sugar from Luisita

you told me
they were all women
the ones who are eager to swim
where there is no water

you have many stories
about ants being squeezed
in between fingers
stepped on by big feet
and baked by the sun

there is also one
who ran
and died famished
on the road
now being kissed
by four flies

enough of your stories
about ants

I would like to listen
to a story of one fly
that escaped her death
from the gaping mouth
of a big fish.


My life is really meant
to be lived like an Atenean
living for others, they say

but today
I will smell anything i want to smell
be it the intoxicating smell of a flower
or the smell of an armpit
cursing with acidity

I will eat anything i like
even if it is a roasted pig
trembling with fat
soft drinks swimming
in sugar

or junk food
like the words being fed
by men doing nothing
lying on soft bed
being paid on instalment
by the wife
working as a domestic helper
in Saudi Arabia

I will not think
or scrimp on the time
I will spend looking at the vast
space in the universe
waiting for stars to fall

or to watch the lizards
make love
and drop exhausted
on the floor

This day is mine.
and mine alone.


blood dripped little by little
and you, you were oblivious
as you thrust in between
the rings and the crevices
unmindful of the chaos
and the pain

again, I held your hand
roughed from chopping
pinewood for the bonfire
your lips, dry and stern
became softer by the mercy
of the moonlight

heaven was in the fire
and you, burning from all ends
smoldering with the logs
slowly turned into ashes
waiting for a resurrection

the soothsayer was right
a moment of bliss
a plunge into the abyss
never to ascend
nowhere to descend

Virginia Jasmin Pasalo is the Executive Director of the International Visitor Leadership Program-Philippines (IVLP-Phils.) Alumni Foundation. She is also a Commissioner of the Pangasinan Historical and Cultural Commission (PHCC) and founding Chairperson of the Women in Development (WID) Foundation. For her extensive and valuable engagement with women, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo appointed her as the first representative of the women sector in the Board of Trustees of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). Virginia writes prose and poetry in English, Tagalog, Pangasinan and Ilocano languages, and maintains a weekly column, “G Spot” with the newspaper Sunday Punch, focusing on women and the environment. She has authored and edited books on poetry, history, culture and development and has been recognized and cited for her initiatives in fostering culture and environmental activism. She has been awarded various grants and fellowships from several countries. She is a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, USA.

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