Monday, December 29, 2008

alone amidst
frenzied shoppers
this chilly holiday
I think I'll buy me
a present

Friday, December 5, 2008

Gregorio del Pilar

Victor P. Gendrano

Ako'y naatasang pilit na pigilin
Ang mga kalaba'y huwag palampasin,
Sa bundok ng Tirad ang aking mithiin
Makalayo sana ang Heneral natin,
Sa Amerikanong nais na hulihin
Ang ulo ng bansang ayaw paalipin.

Hayo na Heneral di makalalampas
Ang kahit na sinong dito ay tatahak,
Mamamatay muna kaming lahat-lahat
Buhay ibubuwis, lakas, pagod, hirap,
Upang bansa nati'y luningning tumingkad
Sa mga dayuha'y kami'y di yayakap.

Kagabing tahimik ang mga paligid
Habang sinusulat ang laman ng isip,
May buntong-hininga sa nalayong ibig
At mga magulang matagal nang sabik
Na makaulayaw, ngunit sa hinagpis
Ang namamayani'y ang bansang pagibig.

Isip ko'y malinaw, aking nalalaman
Higit na marami sundalong kaaway,
Ang bundok na ito'y magiging libingan
Ngunit sa daigdig ipagsisigawan,
Mga Pilipino'y may likas na tapang
Di paaalipin sinumang dayuhan!

Bansang Pilipinas, bayan ng bayan ko
Buhay ko't ng aking lahat na sundalo
Ay iniaalay sa kapakanan mo't
Sa ikararangal bansang Pilipino!
(Anong kabuluhan ng buhay sa mundo
Kung walang dakilang adhikain ito?)

Brigadier General Gregorio del Pilar, nephew of the great propagandist Marcelo H. del Pilar, died at the Battle of Tirad Pass at the tender age of 24 on December 2, 1899. With the American soldiers in hot pursuit of his commander, General Emilio Aguinaldo, Del Pilar with his 60 soldiers volunteered to stay behind and defend Tirad Pass from the oncoming U. S. cavalry battalion.

On the night before he died, Del Pilar wrote the following in his diary:

"I yield to the terrible destiny that will overcome me and my brave
soldiers, but I am glad to die fighting for my beloved country."

Reprinted from Heritage Magazine, Vol. IX, No. 4, Winter 1995.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving prayer

Thanks God
for gift of life
and blessings we enjoy.
Please help us to realize that
begets hatred;
but love engenders love
if we give it a chance to bloom
once more.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Runaway Son

One dreary autumn morning I went to the YMCA for my twice-weekly exercise. There staring at me from the door was a big poster with a boy's picture. It is a wanted sign with the parents offering a monetary reward for the safe return of their 14-year old runaway son.

I was so touched by this sad incident which kept haunting me that later that day, while waiting for lunch at my favorite eatery, I wrote these poems at the back of the sales receipt. This is an example of a poem that wrote itself.

First I tried a haiku:

a broken bat lies
in his near empty room
their runaway son

but I needed to expand it a little bit more, so I wrote a tanka:

autumn chill
a broken bat
and busted ball crowd
his near empty room
their runaway son

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Yesterday, north and south of Los Angeles, CA was beset by bush fires which burned houses and properties. Many people were ordered to be evacuated to safe places, including their livestock. The forest fire is still going on in some areas, undoubtedly abetted by the cyclical Santa Ana winds. As ashes cover part of my car and driveway this morning, I penned these sequence of haiku while eating breakfast at my favorite fast food place.

she gingerly picks
the charred remains
of her Barbie doll

rain of ash covers
the Los Angeles basin
egged by Santa Ana wind

no picky fire
humble abode
nor stately house

feisty firefighters
fight fires with their lives
we salute you friends

tales of survival
abound with the
homeless people

we pray with them
for hope and strength
to carry on

Friday, November 14, 2008


marching band
he pats the Purple Heart
over his feeble heart

veteran's park
he feeds a one-legged bird
from his wheelchair

end of parade
he gazes at the birds
flying to sunset

Vic Gendrano

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Dry leaves
smother the bench
where we used to daydream
and watch the waning sun give way
to night.
I try to resurrect those days
which seem eternal spring.
But winter's here

Reader's comments:

This mirror cinquain (2 4 6 8 2 2 8 6 4 2) creates an almost overwhelming sense of isolation. The image of "Dry leaves / smother" ing is a dominant image in the first verse; followed by the image of the "waning sun" are two well juxtaposed images that establish the theme of passing--the passing of natural objects and the passing of human relationships--the daydreams and a spouse who is now absent. In the second verse "resurrect" confirms the images of dying in verse 1, and juxtaposed with "eternal spring" and the arrival of "winter . . . again" intensifies the feeling expressed in the title. The expert selection of words to convey an image and a feeling is illustrated in these words: "smother", "used to daydream", "waning / to night", "resurrect" / "eternal spring", and "winter". "Aloneness" is a well crafted cinquain.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Reprinted from
Sketchbook, A Journal for Eastern & Western Short Forms
Vo. 3, No. 10, October 2008

For too long
I have dwelt in darkness
blinded by false promises
of a world gone mad,
consumed by the egomaniacal
instant gratification creed
and narcissistic idolatry
of the throw-away generation
peopling today's society

Where booze, drugs, sex
and getting high are
the main preoccupations
of mostly young purposeless lives
consigned to the quagmire
of hopelessness, despair
and unacknowledged guilt
with like-minded friends.

Then I see a light
flickering at first, till gradually
its blinding radiance consumes
all darkness and its minions;
and I feel so naked
afraid and ashamed
to show my face
with its telltale mask
of indifference and hate.

A gentle, soothing voice
then lifts and gathers me
in a warm embrace.

"Child of darkness
open your eyes,
come see the light
and confront your demons.
Resurrect the inherent goodness
they took away from you.
Take refuge in the security and love
of the family you have long forgotten.

Above all, come to me and
I will give you comfort and peace."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More tanka poems

the unraked leaves
play catch up with the wind
this autumn day
she asks the mailman twice
for his letters

In my book, RUSTLE OF BAMBOO LEAVES, but first published in Ribbons, Vol. 1, No. 3, Autumn 2005

autumn chill
her bougainvillea sheds
all its leaves and flowers
an empty wheelchair lies inert
near the hospital bed

In my book, RUSTLE OF BAMBOO LEAVES, but first published in World Haiku Review, Vol. 4, 2004

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tanka Poems

Poet and Tanka
by Victor P. Gendrano

Reprinted from Ribbons, Tanka Society of America Journal,
Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 2007

Most of my tanka poems has a pervading sense of pain, loss, and loneliness, no doubt engendered by the loss of my wife of forty-five years. That night, on our way home from the hospital, I noticed the almost full moon and wrote this afterwards.

the August moon
starts to wane
chilling the night
my wife returns
to her Creator

For me, the tanka form is a welcome change from the brevity of the three-lined haiku which I learned to write first, with its restrained, unstated, and reigned-in personal emotions. The additional two lines can further amplify what you are trying to say with the gamut of emotions you can muster.

While the days passed by so slowly, I felt, I wrote poems everyday, in hindsight, as a form of therapy and to preserve my sanity. Also, the very act of writing has a cathartic effect on my psyche, not unlike that of confronting and disdaining your demons.

the rustle
of fallen leaves muffles
the sound of your absence
as long nights sharpen
the barbs of autumn chill

In the over ten years that my wife was in and out of the hospital, I wrote about this seemingly ordinary clinical procedure.

she nonchalantly
offers her arm
for the nurse’s needle
as I look away
she feels my pain

Much much later, I decided to join the land of the living while trying to cope and adjust to a life without a partner.

warmth of her smile
in that winter weekend
fantasy fling
am I ready or a fool
to fall in love again

I started writing poems when I was in high school, but in Tagalog, the major language of the Philippines. I am a poet in exile as I was born and raised in the Philippines. English is my second language.

I get ideas for my poems from personal experiences and reactions from what's happening around me. My poems range from the serious to the mundane, from the philosophical to the humorous.

in search of light
a moth plunges
into the flame
the heat and passion
of love unfolding

football fever
she hugs his pillow
for company
their bed grows colder
each passing game

Editor’s note:

Gendrano published a book titled, Rustle of bamboo leaves: selected haiku and other poems, in November 2005. Earlier, for 13 years, from 1987 to 1999, he published and edited Heritage magazine, an English-language quarterly dealing with Filipino culture, arts and letters, and the Filipino American experience.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Parting words

last gasp of summer
she called me
not to see her anymore

She couldn't bear to tell me face to face, that's what I thought when she phoned me not to see or call her anymore. Pressed for an explanation, she firmly and regrettably, yet unhesitatingly, reasoned, "I don't want you to get hurt." A flood of memories unfolded before me then - our happy trips together, dining out, and that unforgettable night with her in an Indian casino, gambling and frolicking the night away.

That was a year ago, today. We never saw or talked to each other since.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nine eleven

my first flight
since nine eleven
remove your shoes sir
a tacit reminder
air travel's not the same

Vic Gendrano

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Her absence

dry leaves cover
the empty park bench
her long absence

Tagalog version

mga tuyong dahon
sa bangko sa parke
kay tagal niyang wala

Friday, August 29, 2008

On writing cinquain and other poems

To illlustrate how and why I write poems, I wrote this cinquain in April 20, 2006 which I posted in an internet forum of which I am currently an inactive member. I included some readers’ comments and my responses to them.

- - - - - - - - - -

I just attended a funeral yesterday of the father of my son-in-law. A few days earlier, I heard that an old friend whose wife passed away barely a year ago also died. The sad thing is I only learned about it after he was already cremated. Double sigh.

Passing through

two deaths
in a long week
a tacit reminder
that we are mere sojourners here
on earth

... a nice empirical often our life experiences good and sad can bring an inspiration of the realities we all must face and thus some good can arise therefrom even if it is just a poem that strikes a chord in others’ lives; it reminds [me that] we share this global village together even when separated by oceans.


Yes Brian,

Poetry binds us all together wherever we might be. There is also such a thing as the healing power of poetry, at least in my experience. In the process of expressing the depths of emotions and feelings in my poem, there inevitably follows a release of tension which I liken to a cleansing or purging process. Then I feel I am whole again or going to be and I can stare at my inner demon eye to eye without trepidation.

Thanks so much for your comments.

Vic Gendrano

Vic your comments on the healing power of poetry and how it binds us together are two further thought-provoking aspects that will add to the ongoing Why Poetry debate...

- Brian

Dear Vic,
First, please accept my sympathy.  It's hard to lose people we love. Your poem is a wonderful reflection--a reminder not to take life for granted.  The word "sojourners" is perfect for this cinquain.  Your emotion comes through [in] this short poem. 

  - Karen

Hi Karen,

Thank you very much for your sympathy and gracious comments. Sometimes I get so involved in my poems that it's hard to be objective. Like they say, I wear my emotions on my sleeves. In a way, this cinquain is a revisit to my old Heart stroke poem I wrote sometime ago while I was recuperating from what I overheard the doctor said was mild stroke. It happened soon after the passing
of my wife.

Vic Gendrano

Dear Vic,
I like poetry that comes from the heart. It's the depth and emotion that capture me in a way superficial pieces never will. Your poem allows the reader to ponder and take something away from the experience--something difficult to achieve in a short poem. Thanks again for sharing it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Summer Olympics

Summer Olympics
the world's best athletes
fiercely compete, but in peace
just for a few weeks reigns

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

2008 Haiku Anthology

On Sunday, August 24, 2008, at 2:PM, the Haiku Anthology 2008 by the Southern California Haiku Study Group, titled "above the tree line" will be launched at Pacific Asia Museum, 46 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, California. It will be followed by poetry reading by the authors, book sale, and book signing. Everyone is invited. More information is available here:

Southern California Haiku Study Group

There are 30 member poets in the anthology. Included in the new book are my five haiku below. I also have a haiga (picture poem) and a haibun.

graffitti wall
the rain uncovers
a poem

sleepless night
I touch gently
her empty space

waiting room
the plastic flowers
always in bloom

handicapped parking
he pretends to walk
with a limp

hot autumn day
a leaf curls
into itself

Monday, July 21, 2008

Death of a friend

This week is the second year of the death anniversary of Maria, our YMCA friend.

I was vacationing in Hawaii when she died. When I came back, Joyce, our mutual friend, told me of the sad news. Here's a poem I wrote about her passing.

The Three of Us

diverse cultures                                     
different backgrounds                            
all over the world                               
that’s where we came from                  
all kindred souls                                 
the three of us                                     

we banter and exchange jokes             
as I always tease Joyce            
for her hip gyrating moves                 
while Maria and I prefer            
cha cha, tango or salsa            
the three of us                            

I owe you a lunch date Maria            
you and Joyce dressed for the occasion
sadly I was not able to come           
for whatever valid or not reason      
we could have had a ball                 
the three of us    

Joyce, the baby
is an English woman
I am a Filipino, the man
the lovable Maria
is our amiga Latina
the three of us

we look after each other
check whereabouts if one’s not in
solicitous of each welfare
we are a happy go lucky bunch
exercising at YMCA
the three of us

rest in peace Maria
Joyce and I will miss you
we’ll cherish your memories
of a time when friendship
is all that really matters for
the three of us

24 July 2006

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lotus festival

The annual observance of the Lotus Festival in Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA was a mild disappointment this year, to say the least. The reason? No lotus flowers in the lake for unknown reasons. Considering that the reliability of their profuse blooming every summer is as certain as the traffic gridlock in LA, visitors from within and outside the area were vocally disgruntled. Locals were disconcerted and at a loss on how to explain to their out-of-town friends the absence of the floral attractions.

no lotus flowers
in the murky water
global warming here?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Philippine Typhoon

(For the victims of the Philippine typhoon)

buried under the raging sea
with unrealized hopes and dreams
innocent victims of nature’s fury
no rank nor class distinction
escaped the unbridled calamity

Tagalog version

sa ilalim ng malupit na dagat
lumubog dala mga pangarap
biktima ng galit ng bagyo
mahirap o mayaman man
wala itong sinisino

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ten Best Haiku

In the latest issue of World Haiku Review, May 2008, my 10 best haiku were featured, together with those of two other haijins (poets), Michael McClintock, president of Tanka Society of America, and reknowned Irish poet, Gabriel Rosenstock. Here are my poems.

Victor P. Gendrano

misty afternoon
she takes a last look
at the leaving train

still in their box
the flowers start to wilt
Mother's day

sleepless night
I touch gently
her empty space

Father's Day
I add to my wardrobe
my son's outgrown shirts

midnight chill
I wait for New Year

at her favorite table
the jukebox plays our song

a lilly blooms
near a makeshift cross
war-ravaged field

Mother's day
my daughter brings her daughter
as a peace offering

raindrops roll down
the golden leaf
first day in hospice

she finally throws out
his half-empty cologne
New Year's day

The other poems can be viewed here.

World Haiku Review

Thursday, June 19, 2008


wrong trail turn
the scent and sight
of wildflowers

Tagalog version

maling daan
bango at tanawin
ligaw na mga bulaklak

Vic Gendrano

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Flowers's Essence Slide Show

I wrote the tanka poem below, then added a picture and transformed it into haiga, a picture poem. The idea is for the reader to concentrate on ONE poem only with its accompanying image while reading line by line. Click the arrow on the lower left corner to play the show. Click on the same spot to stop/pause it momentarily.

More hints: Position your cursor on the images at the very bottom of the slide show box. The fourth one from the left is colored white with a RED slash. That image is for turning the music or or off. On the farthest right next to the music image is a full screen viewer (big white square). The attached small square retracts it back to the original size.

For those who prefer a straightforward poem, here it is.

For Lucy

the flowers' essence
lingers long after
their blooms wilt
remembering the lives
she touched on earth

© 2007

Sunday, June 15, 2008



Gnarled hands reveal
The toil of countless years,
Unceasing care in raising us
From carefree days.
Warm them on mine, let us,
In peace, relive the bygone days
With no regret. Let's not lament
The rare instance when we snatched
From fleeting time a few minutes
Then being one, sharing one's soul
In man-to-man's togetherness.

Oh memories!
Time-warped and distance-dulled
We seem only to dwell on those
We like and dump away the rest
As if in so doing we wash our guilt
Of things undone, unspoken words
Which might haunt us in our sleep.

Your frail body, which now is sapped
Of all strength lay bedridden
Creased brow, etched lines
On aged face my hands
Nor love, cannot erase.

Hearken, I'll sing our song
When as a child you soothed my fears
I need it now to steel myself
Still sorrow, and sad swan song
Inchoate yet escaping
From my burdened breast.

And when the thief of life
Finds us apart, take heed
With you my thoughts, my love
My memories remain always
As with Mother who you precede
Rest peacefully, peacefully rest
We commend you to heaven's grace.

In my book, RUSTLE OF BAMBOO LEAVES, but first published in Heritage magazine, Vol. II, No. 1, March 1988.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


My friend Bonnie, a filmmaker and nature lover from the Big Island, Hawaii recently emailed me the news that they cut the banyan tree near the botanical garden in Captain Cook. It's a magnificent big shady tree where our mutual friend Shanna and I were frolicking around and under it when I visited them two summers ago. Bonnie suggested I write a poem about its demise. Here is what Bonnie wrote:

“I was wondering if you would like to write a poem in memory of the Banyan tree in Captain Cook that was cut down a few weeks ago along with the huge stately Norfolk pine that grew in the middle of it. The pair reminded me of an odd couple in love. Interspecies relationships, especially in the animal [and plant] world have always fascinated me. Arron and I want to erect a memorial plaque in the place where the two trees grew.” In response, I wrote this poem.

(Captain Cook, Hawaii)

only the stump is left
of the once mighty banyan tree
whose canopy shielded
the fragile ecosystem below

the gentle giant is felled
in progress name

under its shade, lovers frolicked,
quarreled, made-up, and bade adieu
the guardian of nature’s garden
enjoyed by young and old

the gentle giant is felled
in progress name

only its spirit remains
for man wields destructive tools
long before Captain Cook roamed
this woods which now bears his name

the gentle giant is felled
in progress name, they explained

Victor P. Gendrano © 11 June 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


beyond the seas lie verdant palms
nourished by the tropical sun

growing up there, we lived our lives
in carefree days 'til we parted

almost three decades later
I learned of her untimely death

My sister, the oldest child, passed away last Sunday, May 18, 2008. As a younger brother who has not seen her since 1980, I offer her these poems of tribute. Rest in peace Ate Nena! I will always cherish your memory - a second mother, cheerful, fun, and bubbly with your sweet smile, and boy can you sing!

a hummingbird
loses its grip
of the falling leaf
just got the news
of my sister's death

hunting season
the wild bird sings
no more

Alpha and Omega

Last May 18, I received the sad news that my sister passed away. I was miserable as I was not able to even view her remains as I live so far away. Anyway, after ten days, on May 28, my grandson Anthony was born. He is the first child of my son who will carry my name to posterity. "Once a door closes, another one opens." God has ways of balancing our sadness and happiness.