The Ash-Covered Moon

the ash-covered moon
bloated and scarred
desires itself
as it smiles
deflated in the ocean.


surely, water


surely,  water

flows out of unseen

caves underground

to the waiting breast

of mother ocean.

it is the accepted fate

of flowing water

to be lost in immensity.

and to be the Immensity.


dungeon classroom

the prison guard is time
with his chrono-whip.
lethargy is my class-, dungeon-mate.

bubbling out from prof’s
vile mouth:
philosophical ennuis,
killing me with jagged
unfolding being
and three sticky hours
of slow, painful death.
of philosophical damnations
i halfly care about,
i turn a dumb ear
to the devil with his phi-trident.
marcel my arse!
eleven unlucky souls
cling to sanity with their
pens, jabbing and cutting
reality with incessant beatings
at the sorry, un-virgin paper.
nth expletive.
i pray to the demons of education.
infest with holy gnats this
poorly-dressed prof.
have mercy on our souls!
no, our sanity!
jail guard, free us, i pray!



[We all have our bad moments inside the classroom: the time seems to be trapped in a tar pit and the teacher becomes an incarnate nightmare. I wrote this in remembrance of one subject in college – always a class between Marcel and a bad hangover. It was a Saturday class during the ungodly hours of 1:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon.]


Five of Cups

lie to me
card of gods,
and deny the spilt wine
from your cups.
you look to the horizon
refusing to heed the omen of ill-luck
that soaks your feet.
then closing your tired eyes
to see the promised ace of cups
in the mountains beyond seeing.
garbed in the black of anticipation
and shadowed by a distant cloud:
a murmuring
a deep-voiced prayer to the sea,
a solitary tear silently grazing
the cheek of Fate



This is How I Understand Grief, Solitude

This is how I understand Grief:

When the crisp and hollow wailing of our neighbor

In front of her dead son

Lost its consonants and the trail of

Vowels seems to me the last echo

In her womb.

This is how I understand Solitude:

I sit in a park bench

And no one sits beside me, save my

Shadow and an echo of vowels ringing

In my ears.


[Nicolas Roerich, Song of Shambhala, 1943]


Friends Pay it Forward

December 28 in Brgy. Salvacion, Pamplona, Camarines Sur.

An annual Christmas gathering and gift-giving, in the running for 7 years now.

Thanks to Ed San Juan for the video and all my friends who supported this initiative. 🙂


The Madness of the Night and the Woven Stars

Koro (Stars)


Itipon an kanta kan mga bulalakaw

sindang nag-gigira sa diklom na panganoron

mga kantang minaosip sa agi-agi kan muraway

estrelyang kadurog kan mga bulawan.



lakbayin ang kadiliman ng gabi

ng walang hanggang lalim na mangha

iabot ang mga makasalanang kamay

sa mga mapanuksong kinang ng langit .



And sing, sing to the virgin night

the luster of desire

the glimmer of lust

and the trembling echo

of love’s sad note.

Koro 1


How do I sing the trembling of stars,

their uncertainty to meet this night?

How do I sing the night’s breathing,

the same shallow breath on my own chest?

In the east , the far cry of lovers

begs for night and the gods hear with hesitation,

the cicadas singing, the night’s own sacred aria.

I am the Balyan of night.

Hear me Nikta! Goddess of darkest night,

your devotee calls.

Hear me and give understanding.

Koro 2


Night hears every whisper and understands every thought.

She grants the lovers’ wish of the soothing blanket of night.

She hears the prayers for wisdom.

(enter man)


I have heard the distant prayer.

I have felt the night’s hesitation.

There is an ancient stirring in my heart –

which scares the stars away.

And an unseen longing, like as if the sacred aria

of the stars beckons me to open the dam

of my heart and spill the truth away.

Koro 1 (soft)


I am a sinner! The worst kind of sinner!

Kill me now, Night, with your suffocating ink,

for I am a sinner to lovers.

I am a sinner to love! Great is the gift she has given me,

but great is the betrayal on my heart.

I have loved and been loved by the revelation of love herself.

Oh, how can I describe her?

Sing perhaps about her eyes, and how they remind me

of the clearest crystal.

Sing about how  soft her hands are which makes me

want to call her the incarnation of Venus.

Or perhaps a gentle star given by God.

Where did she come from, what sweet-smelling flower

gave birth to her innocence?

What madness brought her to my side

and torture me with her beauty and love?

Koro (vocables)


But I only speak of betrayal.

I will not speak of her beauty or love.

I will sing of a murderous plot.

I will sing of the darkness building and rising

giving form to a substantial shadow.

I will sing the reason for the stars trembling!

I will sing of my vow to be the priest of the Christos!


You have heard the stars’ distant prayer.

You have felt the night’s hesitation.

I have heard your story, I have felt your sorrow –

like the unanswered call for rain, of a thirst and a parched farm.

Do sing to me the darkness in your heart.


I do not know you woman,

but you understand the weight I bear in my heart

and the absence of weight in my arms.

I feel we share the same bond

of understanding and trust.

Although it pains me to tell my story,

the night’s gentle persuasion is sweet.

She was the sun’s daughter, her face

radiant and warm.

That was the first thing that struck me.

There is a mystery in her eyes – a hidden

power of the moon’s dark passion.

She has the power to make my blood boil with desire

and arouse a deep longing in my chest.

I thought I saw her in my dream,

but I was wide awake, and my vow

was buried in lust or maybe love.

O, the stars know about my vow!

That is why they tremble tonight.

My mother offered me to be a priest

in return for my good heart when I was

a sickly child of four.

Now my heart is still the same reason for my death,

and the stars are still accomplices and

passive witnesses to my betrayal.

What say you sacred woman of night?


I know little of love or Fate’s ways myself,

child of the Christos.

I am a woman born of the midnight mist

and the silent murmuring of a thousand stars.

But in my dealings with young lovers

with the sparkle of silver in their eyes,

I learned love’s schemes.

Love is an unseen force.

Indeed, mighty is love

that we lose all thought, even time.

Love is a flood that drowns us,

still smiling and with our eyes closed to

a sweet surrender.

Love rearranges stars.


Can love rearrange the stars?

Cancel my mother’s vow and let me

love wholly and truly?


The stars will answer our questions.

(she turns to the Koro)

irorip an kabanggihan kan namumuot na daghan.

Dangoga mga bituon an pamibi kan balyan.

Paladan na masimbag nin katotoohan,

an mga maragsik na kahapotan.


Koro/Oracle (vocables)

Balyan (vocables, conversing with the koro)


They speak in riddle not in rhyme.

They speak the truth that sometimes we

get confused.

But they have spoken and sung!


And what is it sacred woman? What is it?


Only a love that’s true

Only a love that’s true

Only a love that’s true –

Can rearrange the stars.


My love is true, woman.

I love her like my love for the Christos.

But I can’t choose one from the other.

It’s a torture to let me choose.

I want to love her fully, and then serve the Christos

as His priest on His temple in the hills.

But I love her, I really do!

The stars are witnesses to my love.

The moon and the night are accomplices to our

own song.

Our love makes the torches bright!

Koro (vocables)


And so be it.

The stars hear you.

The night has crept in the east

with the same hesitation.

So be it!

Koro 1 and 2 (rearranging while singing)

(And then, a gun shot and a shrill cry!)


The cry of my love!

(exeunt left)

Koro (same vocables as in the oracle)

Balyan (competing with the koro)

The stars tremble in their place.

They speak in riddle not in rhyme.

Only a love that’s true,

Only a love that’s true,

Only a love that’s true,

can rearrange the stars…


Be careful what you wish for,

It might just come true. (whisper)


(enter man, a woman’s body on his arms)


The night is young.

The stars are peaceful once more.

Not a stirring in the air.

The mist has kissed our brows goodnight.

The larks are asleep.

Close your eyes now, love.

Sleep with the memory of our last kiss.

Sleep with the memory of our love.

The stars heard our prayers.

And now I go to the caves of the forest,

to seek understanding in their womb.

I will be the old man of the caves of Banahaw,

the old man searching for light

and never looking at the stars

nor listen to their sacred arias.


Koro 1 (sad)

Koro (vocables, exiting, their voices fading)


How do I sing the trembling of stars,

their uncertainty to meet this night?

How do I sing the night’s breathing,

the same shallow breath on my own chest?

In the east , the far cry of lovers

begs for night and the gods hear with hesitation,

the cicadas singing, the night’s own sacred aria.

I am the Balyan of night.

Hear me Nikta! Goddess of darkest night,

your devotee calls.

Hear me and give understanding.


Spatial music for 20 or more children’s/female voices (+ balingbing [bamboo buzzers], suling [bamboo flutes]),
10 mixed voices ( + balingbing, suling, tagutok [scraper], kalutang [pairs of sticks]),
20 mixed voices (+ balingbing, kalutang, suling, tagutok),
gong Ageng, 6 suspended agung (gongs with stopped sounds) (3 players), 6 kempul (Indonesian gongs) (3 players), 2 bonang (rack of small tuned gongs), 2 saron (Indonesian metallophones), 2 gender (Indonesian metallophones), 2 kulintang (gongs in a row),
8 dancers, alto (+ rainstick), bass (+ rainstick),
wind chimes (suspended from a tree)

This was premiered during the Graduation Recital of Ms Feliz Macahis
last February 12, 2009
at the University of the Philippines College of Music Annex Garden

text by: Romulo Vinci Rada Bueza

1st & 2nd Group of Voices: MuPC C COND5 [Chorus Class Under Sir Palaruan]

3rd Group of Voices:
and friends

Gamelan:students from the College of Music

Choreographed by:Chantal Primero
(dancers)UP Dance Company
Balyan (alto):Mary Katherine Trangco-Cabral
Man(bass): Arjay Viray

Conducted by: Eudenice Palaruan


Rain, Now


the rain is not in F today. rather,

it sounds like a

snip, snip

on our roof.


i look out.

look up.


and only a mocking, tangerine sky

drips unwashed memories on

my brows.


[Photo taken by Fr. Joel E Tabora, SJ in Eden Nature Park, Davao City]