Monday, May 22, 2017


After Alex Tizon’s article "My Family’s Slave" as regards Eudocia Tomas Pulido 
(The Atlantic, June 2017)


No papers, no way to go home for Tatay’s burol.
Life in America costs: dollars for dignity.
Here, we cannot afford
compassion, the capacity to love
lest we risk waking from the dream.

Fifty-six years: broken tongue exiled.
Wash the sheets over sullied memories of life in the province.
Water the plants, thirst for a lover’s touch.
Cook rice while crying yourself raw.
The children are alright.

“Katulong lang ako.” A lesser humanity,
punctuated by the cruelty of shame.
Eudocia, millions more in the shadows,
secret lives charred underground.
What price, kababayan, for Lola’s tears?


My initial and visceral reaction to Alex Tizon’s article about Eudocia Tomas Pulido was a mix of feeling betrayed, shame, anger and grief.

I felt betrayed, wishing our community had the chance to process together before outsiders cast judgments about a culture fragmented by centuries of colonization and imperialism.

I felt shame that my homeland continues the practice of exporting our people’s labor in exchange for foreign remittances.

I felt anger, because her story is part of much larger issues related to globalization and capitalism: forced migration, immigrant labor, human trafficking. Enduring systems of income inequality that render economic opportunities to very few have created ripe conditions for Lola Eudocias throughout the world to be exploited and enslaved.

Processing continues. I acknowledge that my grief over Lola Eudocia’s story was rooted in the realization that many of our kababayans live anonymous and tragic lives, as migrant laborers, paid next to nothing. This poem shows my struggle in centering her story in a feeble attempt to synthesize our people’s collective pain.


Maileen Hamto hikes and takes photographs of interesting things illuminated by sunlight. Transplanted to Turtle Island from Luzon Island, she now lives in the mountains and hillside homes of the Arapahoe and Cheyenne (Denver, Colorado). Her professional work is devoted to advancing diversity, inclusion and equity to create and provide opportunities and access for underserved communities.

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