You raised your cry for
freedom’s light
Amidst enfolding darkening
When breathed decaying in
dungeon’s womb
The reeking anguish of the tomb.
You raised your eyes bloated
with pain,
Imploring Mercy’s hand to drain
The cup of bitter woes refilled
Till tortured life is stilled.
Imprisoned in stifling darkness,
Enchained to grueling grimness
Ah, yet! You thrilled your world
Your soul, a winged dart afire.
We live by grace of your
Alas, we know not now to pray;
We let the mold and dust to prey
Upon your silent ashes. 1

— M. de Gracia Concepcion

“Balintawak” was centered within a 4-column, two page historical essay, the “Life History of Andres Bonifacio, Father of the ‘Katipunan,’” in a 1931 issue of The Three Stars (Stockton, CA). Bonifacio, “the great plebian,” is known as the initiator of the Philippine revolution against Spain. His leadership was usurped by Emilio Aguinaldo and his followers, who had Bonifacio imprisoned and executed. The more conservative Jose Rizal eventually took the foreground to become the symbol of Philippine independence.

M. de Gracia Concepcion was listed on the staff of the Three Stars as an editor in 1931. He was the first Filipino poet to have his collected poems published as a book in the U.S. Published in 1925 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, the book was entitled Azucena, named after a lily found in the Philippines. He was a romantic poet whose greatest influences, he wrote, were Edgar Allan Poe, Rabindranath Tagore, and Lafcadio Hearn. De Gracia Concepcion returned to the Philippines shortly after an episode of what appeared to be harassment by Los Angeles police officers.


Ang bayan tang kinagisnan
Sa may dakong Bilanganan
Siya’y Perlas sa dagatan
Tala naPAUNAWA SA man ng Oriental.

Ang bayan tang sakdal yaman
Sagana sa kagandahan
Sa ating Kapabayaan
Dayuhan ang nakikinabang.

Ang bayan ta’y kung malasin
Ang malawak niyang bukirin
Hitik at sagana sa pananim
Dayuhan lamang ang kumakain.

Ilibot mo ang iyong malas
Sa bayan tang Pilipinas
Ang magagandang bulaklak
Dayuhan ang pumipitas.

Tingnan mo ang kayamanan
Ng mina sa ating bayan
May ginto, pilak at bakal
Dayuhan lang ang bumubungkal.

Tingnan mo’t nakalulugod
Mulang bukd hanggang bundok
Halaman ta’y mahihinog
Dayuhan ang mga nabubusog.

Ngayong iyong napagmasdan
Ang lagay ng Inang Bayan
Ay dapat mong pag-aralan
Ang pagtataboy ng dayuhan.

The country where we saw light
Over in the east
She is the Pearl of the seas
A star of light among orientals

Our country which is so endowed
So blessed in beauty
In our complacency and abandon
Has been taken by foreigners

Look at our country now
The wide open fields
Where plants teem with fruits
Are sapped by foreigners.

Just let your gaze wander
In our country, the Philippines
All the lovely flowers here
Are pluck[ed] by foreigners

Look at all the richness
Of the mines in our country
There is gold, silver, and steel
Yet only foreigners mine them

See the marvelous scenery
From the fields to the hills
Our plants have ripened
Yet only foreigners feast on them.

Now that you have seen
Our Motherland’s plight
You must think about
How to drive these foreigners away.2

This poem by Manuel B. Viray was published in Tagalog in The Three Stars, without a translation.


Shout aloud your merchandise, loud, louder,
till your frozen voice melts in the revelry of the party
that has been breaking silver glasses to awaken life
in their lives already made lifeless with sin.
Shout your news, shivering newsboy:
the latest suicide, gangsters’ war, kidnapping, [sic]
lynching, safe-cracking, race persecutions:
shout these till the half-asleep metropolis
awakes to smile and find breakfast appetizer
in these savage headlines.
I shall dig into my pocket with half-frozen fingers
for a tiny dime for you,
a dime for your Sunday paper, brave corner-newsboy,
and as you fold your Sunday paper and reach for my
only Heaven knows whether you shiver with cold
or quiver with joy,
there here is a dime for a loaf of bread
your family will need for this winter morning’s
breakfast 3
—Victorio Acosta Velasco

Though crisp and dry
These petals still retain
‘Their hue when in full bloom
And were strangers to pain.
A careless finger
After a moment of delight
Has crushed this rose in a book
And bid it goodnight.
These petals came to strange hands
Thumbing the book by chance;
A soothing sweetness long imprisoned
Caught and left me in a trance. 4
— Victorio Acosta Velasco

Victorio Acosta Velasco was the editor of several Filipino newspapers based in Seattle, including the Filipino Forum, and the Philippine Seattle Colonist, which was the oldest Filipino newspaper published in Washington State. “The Corner Newsboy” reflects his ongoing concern with the Filipino worker’s place within the larger American society.


Thanks be to God, the lady sings,
And pudgy hands with diamond rings
Call upon the well-fed choir
To chirp sweet thanks for blessings higher.
Thanks be to God for roses red,
But where am I to find a bed?
Thanks be to God for lovely night—
With nothing warm or dry in sight?
Thanks be to God for love divine
With such a gift why should I whine—
Who only have to stand and take
What Christians give for His dear sake;
Thanks be to God? For what, say I?
Perhaps when I arrive on high
And stand before the judgment seat,
I’ll thank Him for enough to eat. 5
— J.A.F.

It’s not clear who J.A.F. was, although it’s possible that it may have been Alex Fabros, Sr., a writer and editor for the Philippines Mail (Salinas) who wrote under various pseudonyms.

1 Marcelo de Gracia Concepcion, “Balintawak,” The Three Stars, (Nov. 1931): 3.
2 Manuel B. Viray, ” Subdue the Foreigner in the Philippines,” The Three Stars, translated by Lilia P. Mendoza, U. of Hawaii.
3 Victorio Acosta Velasco, “The Corner Newsboy,” The Philippine Advocate, (Nov. 1935, 1, no. 9): 3.
4 Velasco, “Fragrance,” Philippine Advocate, (Jan. 1936, 2, no. 1): 3
5 J.A.F. “Deferred Payment,” Philippines Mail, (October 16, 1936), np.