Crucifix:Altar Ego
Image: “Crucifix/Altar Ego” by Marikit Santiago, acrylic, oil, Dutch metal gold leaf on MDF placemats, 2014


Nostalgia are tears choked up in
brown habits and
brown uniforms to match
as if we were their children. 

We couldn’t breathe in polyester
as we soaked in sweat
after recess and lunch. 

Prayers we memorized
were obligatory lies –

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to
your word” –
when the child rape
of thirteen-year-old Mary
was taught as religious honor.

One kid resisted with Islam
as he sought escape
from nuns
who planted nightmares
of fetal limbs
into our prepubescent psyche
where girl bodies
were pitted against
a fertilized egg,
sprung from the loins of a fiend
reigning Hosanna in the Highest,
while a gnat’s baby be damned
between a nun’s thumbs
in an ironic heartbeat. 

They hardwired us
until we cracked at the seams
while the quietest  
eventually questioned
what the sexless women
in brown habits silenced.

There were so many of us then –
obfuscated brown bodies
by a white nun in a dark earth habit
her white hands exposed –
the only thing exposed –
white clamps against our temples
daring not question their
Mother Mary, scrubbed instrument.

See instrument:

vessel to carry
other than oneself.

Mary Manananggal
Image: “Mary Manananggal” by Marikit Santiago, flowers constructed with second hand garments, i.e. items usually donated and sent to relatives in the Philippines in balikbayan boxes; mannequin, packaging tape, thread, dress maker pins, hot glue gun, 2018

What choice was there

but to glorify masochism
and equate it
to femininity.

I could not swallow
those prayers.

Image: “Shrine” by Marikit Santiago, sculptural pieces in masking tape, cardboard, polymer adhesive, 2017

Fast forward to Manila streets
as an Offertory of 20,000 bodies

– duct-taped and bullet-ridden –
a bloody sea
of beautiful boys
and beautiful girls

who do not dance to Shabu
but drown in tears

without tsinelas
without Nanay
without Tatay

while the President reigns
Hosanna in the Highest.  
Where are the prayers?

The rich spend their hours
knowing the Church  
is another Aesop’s Fable
to feed the poor.

I’d like to tell all of them
who still pray:

“The leaders you voted for,



Articles of Interest: 

“When We Talk About Abortion, Let’s Talk About Men” by Michelle Oberman and W. David Ball 

“Here Are the Details of the Abortion Legislation in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Elsewhere” by Tara Law

“No Justice in Sight for Duterte’s 20,000 Drug War Killings” by Jason Castaneda

“In Manila, Death Comes By Night,” photographs by James Nachtwey for Time

“‘They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals’: Inside President Rodrigo Duterte’s Brutal Antidrug Campaign in the Philippines, Our Photojournalist Documented 57 Homicide Victims Over 35 Days,” photographs and text by Daniel Berehulak

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1 thought on “Benediction

  1. Lyn Pacificar June 4, 2019 — 9:19 pm

    This was Powerful! I felt your words…they painted true to the heinous acts committed by the church against humanity, in the name of Mother Goddess Mary. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

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