Beautiful Poems in Spanish

September 23, 2009
A project by Instituto Cervantes & MRT bringing Spanish poems, mostly from Filipino poets, in MRT coaches.
A project by Instituto Cervantes & MRT bringing Spanish poems, mostly from Filipino poets, visible in MRT coaches.

I’ve been reading poems since there is not much to do these past few days. I admire our great poets; their works speaks of their passion for their beloved Filipinas. How I wish that the youth of today could read their wonderful poems in its original form.

When our Gobierno under US agreed to removed this language, we had given up on the language of our greatest poets and heroes. Perverted nacionalismo destroyed not only our literature in Spanish but our written history – a visit to the Archivo Nacional will make one wonder why Filipinos were not taught Spanish [paano natin babasahin ang mga mahusay na manunulat natin sa Espanyol?] We had our chances but we blew it all the way, instead of promoting Spanish lessons in our schools our constitution completely removed it.

If the Spaniards, in their more than 300 years of rule failed to disseminate their language, I’m certain that for Filipinos writers like Lopez-Jaena, Plaridel, Rizal, Recto, Bernabe, Lete, Balmori, Palma, Victoriano, Los Guerreros – would’ve wanted the common Filipino to discover the language of Cervantes and continue using it. For the simple reason that Spanish was their language and these great men believe that it rightly belongs to the Filipino people, they fought long and hard for this stand – its a shame that we forgot about what they stood for. Borrowing from Recto’s famous poem,El Español ya es cosa nuestra propia, sangre de nuestra sangre, y carne de nuestra carne, porque así lo quisieron nuestros mártires, héroes y estadistas del pasado”.

When we speak of the Spanish era and the years of the American occupation, we have to rely on English books written by known nationalist historians and Americanized writers whose agenda is to put forward a reinvented Filipino history, based on their own personal and political beliefs. Sadly, the only books you’d find in schools these days are from these revisionist scholars.

Anyway, below ia a poem of  Ma. Leon Guerrero, one of my favorite, our  Hispano Filipino – Príncipe Lírico. This poem gives us the emotion his generation felt upon the defeat of their revolutionary spirit and dream.


No es la forma engañosa que dibuja

la luz que en el ambiente se refracta:

es algo grande que a la gloria empuja,

que de ella vive y que con ella pacta.

[Country] is not the misleading form that draws

the light refracted in the surroundings:

It is something grand that compels one to glory,

that lives on [glory] and with [glory] makes covenants.

Patria es la concreción del pensamiento,

Patria es el vivo ensueño de las almas;

da vida en lo moral al sentimiento

y en lo real da vida a nuestras palmas.

Country is the materialization of thought,

Country is the living dream of souls;

it gives life in the moral realm to sentiment

and in what is real, gives life to our palms.

Yo la imagino inmensa e inviolable

como un dogma sagrado; yo la veo

cristalizada en algo impenetrable

a los cálculos torpes del deseo.

I imagine her, immense and inviolable,

like a sacred dogma; I see her

crystalized in something impenetrable

for the clumsy calculations of desire.

Cuando, de cara al Ideal, la busco

de lo grande y sublime en el zodíaco,

la encuentro en los laureles de Kocziusko

y en el gladio triunfante de Espartaco.

When, face to face with the Ideal, I seek her

in what is great and sublime in the firmament

I find her in the laurels of Kocziusko  [Jewish general, led 1794 uprising in Poland]

and in the triumphant gladiolus of Spartacus

En la paz es arco-iris que fulgura,

en la lid es bandera que flamea…

¡Oh! La Patria lo es todo: sangre pura,

tierra, y celaje, y sensación, e idea.

In times of peace, it is the rainbow that glitters,

in battle it is the flag that flutters…

Oh! Country is everything: pure blood,

earth, and cloud-studded sky, and sensation, and idea.

No en libros, en las almas está escrito

su nombre, que es conjuro y amuleto;

pero ¡ay! No todos saben de su rito

ni deletrean todos su alfabeto.

Not in books, but in souls is her name written,

that is an incantation, and an amulet;

but oh! — not everyone knows of her rite

nor can all spell her alphabet.

Sólo en el arca azul de la leyenda

se halla la clave del misterio santo,

y a esa arca se va por una senda

de eternos sacrificios y de llanto.

Only in the blue Ark of Legend

is the key to the holy mystery found,

and towards that Ark one travels on a path

of eternal sacrifice and tears.

Para poder abrirla es necesario

tener el corazón firme y sin mancha,

y preferir la ergástula al denario,   [cárcel destinada en Roma a los esclavos]

y afrontar el turbión y la amenaza.

To be able to open it, one must

have a firm heart without stain,

and prefer the slaves’ prison to the coin,

and face the squall and the threat.

¡No!  Los arbustos débiles y secos

no resisten los vientos de la cumbre,

como no pueden ánimos entecos

soportar del dolor la pesadumbre.

No!  The weak and dry bushes

cannot withstand the summit’s winds

as sickly temperaments

cannot bear the pain of sorrow.

¿Gloria? ….¡Jamás!  No aspiren a la gloria

los que son, por su espíritu, pigmeos

y forman, abdicando de su historia,

la turba de los nuevos fariseos.

Glory!  Never!  They do not aspire to glory

who are, in spirit, pygmies

and they form, abdicating from their history,

the mob of the new Pharisees.

Esos que quieren del atroz flagelo

el golpe eterno, y la perpetua rienda,

¡ah! que no sueñen, bajo un propio cielo,

abrir el arca azul de la leyenda….

Those who desire the savage lash

the eternal blow, and the perpetual reins,

Ah!  let them not dream, beneath their own sky,

of opening the blue ark of legend…

La Patria no la erigen los rufianes,

La Patria no la engendran los villanos:

¡es labor exclusiva de titanes,

de mártires tal vez, mas no de enanos!

The Motherland is not erected by the ruffians,

the Motherland is not spawned by the villains:

it is the exclusive labor of titans,

of martyrs, perhaps, but not of midgets!


*Translation by Sra.Isabel Medina.

*Photo by http://images.habagatcentral.multiply.com

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De AnDAPepeSiockAko si GundamPepe Recent comment authors
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yet,,,you´ve chose to write this blogsite in English……
what a pity…

Ako Si Gundam
Ako Si Gundam

I hope he’s not one of those Tagalog imperialists, Nold. Or is he?

Oh, and any poems by Claro M. Recto?


i think it will take time to rehabilitate the spanish language in our counrty..

Ako si Gundam
Ako si Gundam

We can hasten it… BY GUNPOINT!!! Let’s force everyone who calls himself Filipino learn Castellano under the pain of death!!!


I love this project of MRT with Instituto Cervantes de Manila! I think it’s amazing. This will help us Filipinos remember and appreciate our own history. Sabi ko nga, “Remember your history and use it to your own advantage. It’s not your enemy”. Just like in Macao, Hindi nila itinatakwil na na-colonized sila ng Portuguese, kundi ginagamit pa nila ito para sa kanilang advantage. They fused traditional Chinese culture with Portuguese culture, the result is a unique blend of east and west. Sa atin kasi kabaliktaran ang nangyayari, tinataboy natin ang ating Spanish heritage, hindi naman natin kaaway ito, para… Read more »


Hindi pala si Pepe Alas ‘to! Si Pepe Cabrera Ito!


Acó, ¿sino acó?


Actually my knowledge of Spanish is almost nil. But i think Spanish is a very elegant language. I could count though in Spanish pretty accurate hehe, just like any hiligaynon speaker. I can really see ur passion for Spanish culture and everything Spanish. Keep it up! I think i will be a frequent visitor of ur interesting blog.