Celebrate the best of humanity.

by Trina from Tustin

Joi Barrios is a Filipina poet and activist. She writes Tagalog poetry (the primary language in the Philippines). To give an idea of the importance of her work, Virgilio Almario, one of the best recognized literary critics and a scholar of Filipino poetry, has stated that there are only four recognizable women poets in Philippine literature. Joi is one of them.

Ms. Barrios completed her Ph.D. in Philippine Literature at the University of the Philippines (UP). She taught at the University and also served as an Associate for Fiction at the UP Likhaan: Creative Writing Center. She has won various honors and awards, including the Palanca Award, the most prestigious literary award in the Philippines. During the Marcos dictatorship and the tumultuous years that followed, she became well-known as a freedom activist and rally poet. She has taught in Korea, Japan, and is currently working as a visiting Professor at the University of California, Irvine.

In writing about her work, Joi "touch(es) on topics closest to my heart--the love of country, women's issues, history. With these poems, I reaffirm my commitment to the national democratic revolution" (translated from the introduction of her book, Minatamis at Iba Pang Tula ng Pag-ibig - Sweetened Fruit and Other Love Poems).

In a distinct, tender and passionate manner, Joi moves the readers of her poems by talking about love, freedom, what it is to be a woman, and what it means to be a human being. I consider her to be a hero, friend and a great poet.

Written by Trina from Tustin
Last changed on: 7/19/2004 2:43:08 PM

Traveling Poet: Joi Barrios

To read about Maria Josephine Barrios in Spanish, click here to visit Mi Heroe’s Maria Josephine Barrios story.

By Joi Barrios

I am a Filipina woman.
And in my country
There are three thousand American soldiers.
This is my song.
My song of satire, my lament, my call to action.

Yankee doodle came to town
Riding on a pony
Killed and maimed and tortured us
And called it a... democracy.
Yankee doodle keep it up,
Yankee doodle dandy,
Burn the village and the town,
And with your gun be handy.

America, America
How easily you forget, America.
You traded lives for power.
What is the value of life in a poor country?
The value of life of a person of color?
We are forever scarred
Filipinos marked by the violence of your war.

Yankee doodle comes again
Riding on a fighter
Brings his war to my country
And calls it a ... democracy.

America, America
Off to war again, America.
Trading blood for oil.
My country is not a playground
For your tanks and soldiers.
A nation is not just land,
Mountains, sea.
We die with your bullets.
We perish with your bombs.
We live in poverty
We are people of color
Yet we sing of dignity,
Sovereignty and peace.
Leave, America
Leave my country, leave.


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