Tirang Adobo

Okay, I thought I'm done for today. But wait! My notebook tells me, "Shouldn't you write one of those tanaga that you recently discovered?" And I responded, "Oh yeah! Darn, you're right!"

To those of you wondering what a tanaga is, please refer to the following websites:

Let me quote the following from Buhayin ang Tanaga:

The tanaga is a type of short Filipino poem, consisting of four lines with seven syllables each with the same rhyme at the end of each line – that is to say a 7777 syllable form, with an AAAA rhyme pattern. It's almost a dying art!

Why should we let something as beautiful as a tanaga die? So, here it is, my first tanaga poem.

Tirang Adobo

Akin na lang ang tirang
adobo na may bawang
at kaning bahaw. Pitong
anak ay nag-aabang.

9:20 PM 6/24/2006

To those of you who don't speak Tagalog, here is an English translation:

Spare me this left-over
adobo with garlic
and stale rice. My seven
children are waiting.

I just thought I'd write about social issues like poverty, malnutrition, diet, food supply and family planning. My inspiration for this one is an imaginary beggar asking a carinderia attendant/owner for left-over food before the store closes so that the beggar can bring food to her family. I alternately imagined the beggar to be male then female before finally deciding that the beggar is female. It does'nt really matter.

So much drama, eh? Here are the lesser dramatic facts:

  1. There is a carinderia at the end of our street where I pass daily going to work.
  2. There is a unique old lady beggar who wakes up the entire neighborhood every morning by her loud swearing in order to get attention. She never fails to wake me up.
  3. Cooking adobo is easy. Click here to learn.

2 Responses to Tirang Adobo

  1. jennee says:

    hi bri! i got tired of waiting for your soft copy, so i’m posting a comment on this adobo poem. clean stanzas, tight poem. i particularly like the use of “bahaw” to descibe kanin, as it’s of cebuano origin and incorporated in your poem makes the work truly filipino and not just tagalog.

    having said that, i have two questions:
    “adobong may bawang”– is it necessary to put “may bawang” when describing adobo? Don’t all adobos have bawang? what if you use the syllabic count to come up with more images? it may also help the flow of the poem if you come up with a third image to match the two you already have, as the structure “tirang/ adobo na may bawang/ at kaning bahaw” while obviously taking adobo and kanin as two different units (as attested to by the break in the lines), could also be interpreted to mean adobo with garlic and stale rice, where kaning bahaw is a unit of adobo in the same way that garlic is. what do you think?
    what made you decide to give the persona 7 children? does it have significance, the number you chose?

    keep on writing!


  2. Hi Jenn!

    Sorry for not having sent you the soft copies yet. I was trying to discover if I can edit/critique my poems by myself as if I’m not the one who wrote them. After a week, I believe I can. With some retrospect, it was easy for me to identify flaws and to weed out mediocre work from the better ones.

    Jenn, you are absolutely correct! You saw right through the poem! I used “may bawang” as an extender to the second line. And yes, I could have used more imagery. Initially, I was imagining that there was not much adobo left in the dish but the soy sauce, the oil (mantika) and of course the garlic (bawang).

    Another excellent point is your question about garlic as a main ingredient of adobo. If this is true, then “adobong may bawang” is a redundancy. And I can’t imagine cooking adobo without garlic. I actually thought about this point in passing while I was writing the poem but I got too distracted  finishing it.

    What made me think of putting “bawang” is that fact that it contributes very much to the adobo’s character. I remember during difficult times in the past, we would cook adobo with much of the sauce (garlic, onions, soy sauce, oil) and less of the meat and it would still taste the same. Personally, I enjoy having the last few ounces of sauce and garlic in adobo as much as I enjoy having the burnt rice in a paella dish sticking on the pan. To me, those are the more flavorful. The “bawang” somehow held it’s place in the poem.

    Funny, I anticipated your question about the 7 children. Frankly, it was just an exageration. Originally in my notebook, I wrote “limang anak” instead of “pitong anak”. Also, the number seven somehow has a more mystical feel. Don’t you think?

    I write my poems on an average of 30 to 40 minutes. (Yes, I look at the clock and time myself.) I somehow pressure myself to finish and write my thoughts down quickly. Now, I want to eliminate the “draft” feeling in some of them. This week, I didn’t write any poems to take a second look at my work with more intent.

    Jenn, I really appreciate your comments and insights. One of the lessons I learned here is that clarity and conciseness has a very high premium. These are, after all, some of the bigger challenges (and enjoyments) in writing tanaga-poems. Again, thanks so much! I’ll make a second revision.

  3. […] Many thanks to Jenn’s comments, I present to you my first revision of “Tirang Adobo”: […]

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