My last-minute contribution to Buwan ng Wika (Month of the Philippine Language) this August features the ‘superstar’ José Corazón de Jesús, who was also known by his pen name Huseng Batute. Rising into prominence during the first half of the 20th century, Huseng Batute was an accomplished poet (known at some point as “Hari ng Balagtasan” or “King of Versified Debate”), a writer and even a movie actor. He is probably known best for translating the poem Bayan Ko, which would later become an iconic Filipino song.
But aside from nationalist poems, José Corazón de Jesús also wrote love poetry, my favorite of which is the poem “Itanong Mo Sa Bituin” (Ask the Stars).
To be honest, I was inspired by the galaxy-themed profile pictures currently floating around Facebook. They reminded me that sentiments like “there are stars in your eyes” or “your smile is like the sky” are not entirely cliché.
The poem reads:
Isang gabi’y manungaw ka. Sa bunton ng panganorin
ay tanawin ang ulila’t naglalamay na bituin;
Sa bitui’y itanong mo ang ngalan ng aking giliw
at kung siya’y magtatapat, ngalan mo ang sasabihin.
Ang bitui’y kapatid mo. Kung siya ma’y nasa langit,
ikaw’y ditong nasa lupa’t bituin ka ng pag-ibig;
dahil diya’y itanong mo sa bituin mong kapatid
kundi ikaw ang dalagang minamahal ko nang labis.
Itanong mo sa bitui’t bituin ang nakakita
nang ako ay umagahin sa piling ng mga dusa;
minagdamag ang palad ko sa pagtawag ng Amada,
ngunit ikaw na tinawag, lumayo na’t nagtago pa.