kababayan

upsweep, down-
sweep of pinoy appraisal--- 
in elevator, hotel or hospital 

lobby, there's a kind of gaze 
that wants to take stock of 
what's left of the islands  

in me, or more accurately,
how well I've transcended
those origins---

if i'm sleek and taste-
ful, exude the air of 
a sophisticated traveler

who still goes to sunday
mass and makes mano
clicks open her designer

purse for cash to put 
in the collection basket
if I keep a spotless house

with a tapestry of the last
supper above the fireplace
if my daughters have had

their debut with cotillon
or weddings with at least
seven sets of godparents

i confess i don't go 
to those galas and black-
tie affairs where they still

do line dancing
in my office building
there's a manong who drives

into the side entryway 
after 5 to pick up the trash
and change the plastic linings

and in the parking garage
there's a manang who drives
a little golf cart, checking

on whether cars 
have the proper decals 
at the airport they make

my coffee and give me change
they bring the elderly 
passengers their wheelchairs 

at a conference in portland
last month, my poet friend
texted to say there was 

a manong serving home-
cooked dishes from a food truck
on the corner of harvey milk & 3rd

he said he was homesick he 
gave him extra rice extra 
ulam with sabaw

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