(from the collection: Mt. Tumantangis and Other Poems on Sulu)
she lays open the breast to the sea
and crouches low enough to ward off the winds,
her brows impose the wisdom of the time
harder than the jutting rocks, yet gentle
as the blue of the sky that crowns.
she breeds the warriors from her bosom
as caretakers of the integral bind,
somewhere a heart throbs below the green
warms the veins, and roots stretch deeper
to the rhythms of life.
silence is snarled in the weir of trees
like a cicada in the dead of night,
and pricks the conscience or soothes the heart,
and when a native rests his ears against the ground
the sigh of the universe, primordial and basic,
flows as ether, forceful and sentimental.
what tears that are shed only serve
to strengthen her stalks, limbs and cleanse
the smoke from the brown of the flesh.
and seeing her is inspired poetry
for soldiers who only wanted wives and homes
and wished neither to kill nor to be killed.
© said sadain, jr. 1978
( All photos of serene sceneries on this page are courtesy of Harly Limlingan Marcuap from his travel blogs on Sulu & Tawi-Tawi )
Nobody is entirely certain how Sulu’s majestic peak, Bud Tumantangis (bud being the local word for a mountain) got its name. Some local folks would reverently speak of it as the weeping mountain since the Bahasa Sug word tangis, or tumangis, means to cry. These folks would tell of tragic legends of mystical women roaming the mountain, weeping over either unrequited love or proscribed romance. Others would tend to look more closely at the strange part of the name: tuman, which is a rarely used Bahasa Sug word for the English words correct or true —- bunnal, amu or patut, being the more commonly used local words to mean true, correct or right. However there is another common local word tumahan which, in English, means to endure and desist. Thus the name Tumantangis, according to this explanation, could most likely have settled in over time from a syncopation of tumahan tangis, to endure and desist from crying.
Instead of a weeping mountain, we now see Bud Tumantangis as epitomizing the hardy and enduring nature of the Tausug people as expert sea travelers sailing for trade and diplomacy to as far as China in the olden days of empires and kingdoms (circa 14th century, or even earlier), as well as fierce warriors defending their southern territories from foreign aggression from the 16th century onwards.
With the disappearing peak of the mountain weighing down their sights every time they sail out to the sea, their hearts would be weeping for the longing to come back to their motherland. And when they approach their homeland as they return from the perils of their journeys, their hearts would be crying with joy as they catch the first glimpse of the peak on the horizon. In all these, they have to hold back their tears of longing so as not to show any sign of wavering lest their nation would become weak and less able to endure the blows of fate and history that would besiege them for centuries to come.
— SSJ, 30 November 2017
Potent writing. Thank you for the explanation afterwards.
You’re welcome, and thank you too, Ms. Jade! I would have written a long backgrounder as there is so much more to say about 600+ years of myth and history, but decided not to, and instead just linked to a few other sites to provide more details for those who would care to dig deeper 🙂
Looks like you were a prodigy poet. I really like the imagery you create with the poem.
More like prodigal, Ms. Jade 😊 — recklessly extravagant with the few English words that I know…😄😄 I’m glad that you appreciate the imagery. Thank you for your kind words.
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Thanks, Joy. 🙂