On the 105th birth anniversary of Amado V. Hernandez:


A translation by Prof. Jose Maria Sison of Ka Amado's poem,

Kung Tuyo na Ang Luha Mo, Aking Bayan

(When Your Tears Run Dry, My Motherland)


September 13, 2008




Amado V. Hernandez

Working Class Leader, Poet, Novelist, Journalist

(Sept. 13, 1903 - March 24, 1970)



◄Amado V. Hernandez, center,  with Jose Maria Sison (2nd from right) at the 64th anniversary celebration of the Union de Impresores de Filipinas (UIF) on February 6, 1966 where Sison was the keynote speaker.


Others in the photo (from left to right) are Felixberto Olalia, president of the National Association of Federated Labor Unions (NAFLU), Mrs. Olalia, and Julieta de Lima., executive editor of Progressive Publications. (Standing behind in white barong shirt) Juan Cruz, UIF president.




Kung Tuyo na ang Luha Mo, Aking Bayan
ni Amado V. Hernandez

Lumuha ka, aking Bayan: buong lungkot mong iluha
ang kawawang kapalaran ng lupain mong kawawa:
ang bandilang sagisag mo’y lukob ng dayong bandila,
pati wikang minana mo’y busabos ng ibang wika;
ganito ring araw noon nang agawan ka ng laya,
labintatlo ng Agosto nang saklutin ang Maynila.

Lumuha ka, habang sila ay palalong nagdiriwang,
sa libingan ng maliit, ang malaki’y may libangan;
katulad mo ay si Huli, naaliping bayad-utan,
katulad mo ay si Sisa, binaliw ng kahirapan;
walang lakas na magtanggol, walang tapang na lumaban,
tumataghoy, kung paslangin; tumatangis, kung nakawan!

Iluha mo ang sambuntong kasawiang nagtalakop
na sa iyo’y pampahirap, sa banyaga’y pampalusog:
ang lahat mong kayamana’y kamal-kamal na naubos,
ang lahat mong kalayaa’y sabay-sabay na natapos;
masdan mo ang iyong lupa, dayong hukbo’y nakatanod,
masdan mo ang iyong dagat, dayong bapor, nasa laot!

Lumuha ka kung sa puso ay nagmaliw na ang layon,
kung ang araw sa langit mo ay lagi nang dapithapon,
kung ang alon sa dagat mo ay ayaw nang magdaluyong,
kung ang bulkan sa dibdib mo ay hindi man umuungol,
kung wala nang maglalamay sa gabi ng pagbabangon,
lumuha ka nang lumuha’t ang laya mo’y nakaburol.

May araw ding ang luha mo’y masasaid, matutuyo,
may araw ding di na luha sa mata mong namumugto
ang dadaloy, kundi apoy, at apoy na kulay dugo,
samantalang and dugo mo ay aserong kumukulo;
sisigaw kang buong giting sa liyab ng libong sulo
at ang lumang tanikala’y lalagutin mo ng punglo!



Pilipino original by Amado V. Hernandez, “Kung Tuyo na ang Luha Mo,
Aking Bayan”
Free Verse Translation by Jose Maria Sison

Shed your tears, my motherland: let all your sorrow flow

Over the hapless fate of your hapless soil
The flag that is your symbol is shrouded by the alien flag
Even your inherited language is demeaned by another language;
Thus was the day when you were robbed of freedom
When Manila was seized on the thirteenth of August.

Shed your tears, while they gloatingly celebrate
On the graves of the downtrodden, the magnates are in revelry
You are like Huli, the enslaved debt peon
You are like Sisa, demented by suffering
Without strength to defend, without courage to fight
Wailing while being slaughtered, lamenting while being robbed.

Shed your tears over the heaps of misfortune
That inflict pain on you, that fatten the aliens
All your riches are wantonly squandered
All your freedoms quashed in one fell swoop
Behold your land, an alien army is guarding
Behold your seas, an alien ship is hovering.

Shed your tears if in your heart the purpose has waned
If the sun in your sky is always in twilight
If the waves of the sea have ceased to surge
If the volcanoes in your breast do not rage
If no one stands vigil on the eve of the uprising
Shed, oh shed your tears if your freedom lies in state.

The day will come when your tears run dry
The day will come when tears no longer flow from your swollen eyes
But fire, fire the color of blood
While your blood will be boiling steel
You shall shout with full courage in the flames of a thousand torches
And the old chains you shall destroy with gunfire.###


Download mp3 of Kung Tuyo na Ang Luha Mo, Aking Bayan, delivered by Jess Santiago   ►


Amado V. Hernandez: People’s Writer

Because of the sharp and stirring literary expression of the social causes he pursued, Amado V. Hernandez is rightly considered a prime example of the writer as agent of social change and purveyor of people’s culture.

By Alexander Martin Remollino

 I distinctly remember that in one of our college classes in literature, our professor asked the following question: “Should literature be for its own sake, or should it espouse social causes?” As our professor herself would later on explain, the question was a way of asking whether the writer should be concerned with form or with content.

We can be sure that if the late writer Amado V. Hernandez, whose centennial birth anniversary will be celebrated on Sept. 13, were asked that question, he would have answered—without a moment’s hesitation, without batting an eyelash—that writers have a responsibility to involve themselves in society. As he said in his speech when he accepted the 1964 Manila Cultural Award (which is just one of the many awards he received), “The days are gone when the artist was like Narcissus, adoring his own image. Today the artist is witness to and part of the immediate present.”

As his very writings prove, in the manner that one of his literary idols, Jose Rizal, proved decades before him; and another writer, Eman Lacaba, would start to prove while he was still alive—espousing social causes does not have to diminish the aesthetic quality of one’s literary output.

Society as truth

In his essay “The Filipino and the Man,” which he wrote as a college freshman at the Ateneo de Manila University, Eman Lacaba said: “The responsibility of any writer in the world is to write truthfully and comprehensibly about the world he lives in, the world he remembers and continues to know, the world he experiences.”

Hernandez, who was born decades before Lacaba, also knew this. And his prolific and diverse writings attest to his vast knowledge of the reality of human experience.

Hernandez’s grasp of the scope of human reality was so deep that he was well aware that society and social phenomena, like romantic affairs which comprise the greater bulk of subjects in the world’s body of literature, are also parts of human reality. In fact to Hernandez, society and social phenomena play the most prominent parts in the human drama: he knew perfectly well that all human beings are inevitably affected by society since they are all part of it.

Thus, even as he would sometimes write of a woman wooed with orchids, of a lover’s Rip van Winkle heart, he wrote infinitely more of the battle between the oppressor and the oppressed—and because he knew that rectitude can never side with the oppressor, he in his writings showed unequivocal support for the oppressed and undeniable hatred for the oppressor.

Hernandez wrote clearly and eloquently of enslavement in the hands of a colonial power, of workers in unspeakable penury amidst unimaginable abundance, of peasants stripped of their lands, of children begging on the streets, of people eaten by the prisons for refusing to bow before iniquity, of the heroism of fighters for freedom and justice. His poems, articles, novels, short stories, and one-act plays contained such lucid expositions of the social issues of the times in which he lived (issues that are still very much with us), and were so splendidly written, that he became (and still is) an icon for many a succeeding generation of cause-oriented writers.

Among the people

One of Hernandez’s distinguishing marks is the fact that unlike so many politicians who in their campaign speeches tell sob stories of how as boys they had to catch frogs for supper because there was nothing else to eat, he stayed by the side of the people of whom he was born—and served them to his very last breath.

Hernandez was born on Sept. 13, 1903 but it is not quite clear where; the conventional wisdom is that he was born in the slums of Tondo, where he grew up, but a short story by Jun Cruz Reyes implies that his origins can be traced to a town in Bulacan.

He took his pre-college education in public schools in Manila. After high school he began the study of Fine Arts at the University of Santo Tomas, where fellow cause-oriented writers Bien Lumbera and Rogelio Sicat also studied. However, he did not finish his course, and instead settled for a course under the American Correspondence Schools.

Afterwards he entered the worlds of journalism and literature. He would climb the ladder and eventually become editor of Mabuhay in 1934, a post he held until 1941. Even at the earliest days of his career he was already writing against U.S. imperialism and social injustice.

When the Second World War broke out, he refused offers to collaborate with the Japanese. He took to the hills and became an intelligence officer of a guerilla unit.

In 1945, he co-founded the Philippine Newspaper Guild and the Congress of Labor Organizations (CLO). He would become chairman of the CLO. These organizations were in the forefront of struggles not only for press freedom and better economic conditions for workers, but also against U.S. economic domination and military intervention.

Hernandez was arrested in 1951 amidst a crackdown by the Quirino administration on both legal progressive organizations and the underground Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan. For five months he was held in solitary confinement, after which he was charged with “rebellion complexed with murder and other crimes.” He was convicted by the lower court and sentenced to imprisonment for five years and six months. In 1956 he won temporary liberty, and after eight more years was acquitted, with the Supreme Court ruling that there is no such crime as rebellion complexed with murder.

After that, he became editor of the progressive newspapers Makabayan and Ang Masa, and continued to write  poetry, fiction, and short drama. He also resumed active participation in the people’s movement.

Aside from his work as writer and activist, he had a brief stint in teaching, and also served four terms as a Manila councilor.

He died of heart attack in March 1970.

The writer as hero

Amado V. Hernandez definitely has a place in the country’s pantheon of heroes, along with Emilio Jacinto, Apolinario Mabini, and Aurelio Tolentino—like whom he was a brilliant writer with unswerving dedication to the fight for freedom and justice. Like  Mabini and Tolentino, he suffered for his refusal to accept a status quo characterized by a rule of a small elite and their foreign masters, but held fast to his convictions to his last breath.

Because of the sharp and stirring literary expression of the social causes he pursued, he is rightly considered a prime example of the writer as agent of social change and purveyor of people’s culture.

He may not be as well-known as he deserves to be, as activist artist Nanding Josef lamented in a recent press conference, but that does not mean he is unworthy of admiration. In fact he is infinitely worthier of admiration than the celebrities whose antics today’s pop culture is heavily drawn from. Bulatlat.com



Download mp3 of Bayani, a poem by Amado V. Hernandez, delivered by the late Rep. Crispin Ka Bel Beltran and KMP Secretary General Danilo Ramos