Sagada tour guide
If you have nothing left to sell
but your culture
wouldn’t you don the g-string of your ancestors
to appease the appetite of tourists
for entertainment ‘round the Christmas bonfire?
Beat the gongs now
and wake the ghosts from their slumber.
There’s enough time to worry
about their wrath later
when the embers turn cold
and the winds grow strong
at sunset lake or sunrise mountain.
This afternoon you have opened a casket
of bones — or what remains of it —
for your lowland and foreign siblings to gawk at
then led them with gas lamps inside the womb
where unapologetic lessons of gross anatomy
by stalactite and stoneflow
turn into an opportunity for poking fun
at the very thing that brought you cash and fame.
Tonight you would beat a chicken’s wings numb
then sing its feathers with blow torch —
tourists wouldn’t care about such shortcuts
or the absence of prayers to the unseen
just the chicken chopped, thrown into a pot
then mixed with smoked salted pork,
rice wine, sayote, and enough local story lies
to complete the exotic experience.
Before the night is over, take a stick and with its tip
of smoke and burning charcoal
stir against the blackness of night
the breath marks of your name, lest you forget
who you are and where you’re from
after this sleepwalk.