Online Journal 3: Analysis of Amado Hernandez’ Poem.

Gaia Mauricio
5 min readOct 27, 2020

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A surge of pain and heat is what greeted me upon reading the text. The words themselves, at first glance, tasted bitter to read and felt searing to look at. The persona immediately opens with the sorrow, plight, and injustice that led them to creating something so convicted and scathing. However, I personally did not get burned at all. It was bolstering and hopeful. It was like a flash of color and faith that it almost made me want to let out a scream just as fiery, since I am not good with words and am much better at screaming. I have had practice, after all, being what I assume as the primary target or at least empathizer for this poem; a citizen of this country.

To name the persona initially seemed so easy to me, until I actually had to do it. The raw feeling that the poem managed to convey so strongly suddenly became more and more nuanced the more I looked at it. I truly did think I knew what they knew, that I have felt what they feel, that I knew who or what they were, but I ultimately came short in finding an answer I felt satisfied with. This, to me, shows the universality of these feelings. Through the years, through generations even, the carnal desire for justice after being wronged prevails, meaning that while the wrongdoings continue, the urge for what’s right hasn’t either. The reason for this poem addressing “Bayan”, an entire country and fellow countrymen, isn’t because it is preaching lofty, larger-than-life ideals, it isn’t to speak over all these people and to claim it is speaking for them, rather it is a call to action as well as a bastion of hope to those that need to hear it.

The persona, therefore, became somewhat clearer to me. It originally looked like a revolutionary asking his fellow countrymen to “wake up”, or like a bitter member of a movement that failed who has resigned the fight to those after them. I originally thought of this poem as a product of the revolutionaries, as if separate from the general population even if they are not. The lines “Lumuha ka, habang sila ay palalong nagdiriwang,” seemed to suggest an othering of the persona from the rest who remain unaware or complacent. The general tone of the stanzas, save for the last one, holds somewhat of a bitterness in the way things are, as if the persona is resigning form even trying to strive for more. It is after a slightly deeper read, however, that I realized how these ingredients of the poem only stand there as observations, not disdain for ignorance or resignation. The lines do not demonize ignorance, because they also acknowledge how rampant foreign exploitation, imperialism, and years of strife have damaged this country and its citizens to the point of constant underlying confusion and fear. It is not right to blame the victims of imperialism and bloody governance for being unsure of what to fight for, as it is not right to lose sight of how injustice plagues everything by thriving off of said ignorance. Considering this conflict of ideals and confusion that I experienced despite still vehemently understanding and empathizing with the poem’s emotion, I found that the persona is meant to be the masses.

The poem’s anger, and bitterness, with a flash of hope towards the end, signifying continued faith despite adversity but not without the confusion to go with it, coupled with the universality of resonating without even fully understanding perfectly exemplifies what the citizens of this country would embody. Whether or not all realize it, all the masses are affected by injustice. They experience them firsthand, whether it be from the upper hand or the oppressed. The persona does not leave out the possible ignorance of those who are affected yet choose to look away, that isn’t their fault, and it does not assume itself to be higher in any way because it is aware. It’d defeat the purpose of the poem to alienate the people it is representing, as it highlights the universality of its emotions. So, by acknowledging ignorance as not something to be shamed for, while also preaching unity and passion from within and not from above the masses, I find that the poem serves as a call to action. It achieves this by holding itself to only observations, through the lens of who it resonates with. There is no blaming of a friend, there is no shaming of ignorance, and there is no personal gloating for the sake of appearing intelligent and more aware and credible. There is only feelings passed on from one wronged Filipino to another, not discriminating by age, gender identity or social class. The most universal language of emotion achieved what only it can achieve: a shared experience calling forth a unified movement.

The way lines were written as even, even musical. They keep to the16 syllables for most, if not all, of the poem. It creates a sense of rhythm that’s regulated and structured. The lines themselves were cut into pairs. Each line had another one following it that completed the little sequence. There would be a question and answer, a statement and an example, or even just a blatant repetition. Not only does this compliment the rhyming scheme being Perfect Rhyme, but it also allows for internal rhymes and the tail-end rhymes varying from vowel and consonant rhymes. Overall, the scheme of this poem provides structure and regulation. It lingers in the mind like a song.

This arrangement is full of the concept of parallels and connection. The repeated rhymes that persist in every line all but forces a connection between the lines and the reader, like a song getting stuck in your head. It completes every line by giving it a match, there is no line left alone. This is what reinforces the concept of unity and togetherness to me. It also reinforces the duality that came of as confused conflict to me, as it presents pairs as strengths, answers, and completion, rather than binary choices or opposition. It accepts the way that there is more than one in almost all situations, for better or for worse, and takes it as a fact of life to be incorporated as understanding rather than opposition.

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Gaia Mauricio

i’m just gonna use this to keep animating gifs for my pfp pls look away