Where the River Flows

by Ramil Cabela

Prologue: I learned to swim in Baan River, a small branch of the larger Agusan. I remember having such a blast, jumping from coconut trees with my friends and siblings into the murky waters. This was during the martial law years of the Marcos regime in the 70s and 80s. When I returned to my hometown in 2010, I was sad to learn that the river had dried up, the riverbanks eroded. Only grass grew where water used to flow.

Back when I was small
There flowed a river
Between my small town
My town called Ba-an
And the town next to the sun.
The river that flowed
Small Daughter River
Came from big river
Mother river she
That flowed into mighty sea.
Sometimes she was green
When kissed by the sun
Sometimes she was brown
When the rain came down
Daily flowed she with no frown.
Li’l rive was happy
From water lily
To water lily
That floated on her
Daily flowed they with fervor.
North from where winds blew
‘Neath the sky so blue
Li’l river gave life
To town torn by strife
By dictator and his wife.
River pulsed with town
As women came down
Dirty clothes they washed
As town’s children swam
Into river unabashed.
There we swam daily
There we swam freely
The afternoon sun
Toasted our brown skin
Please tell no one where we’ve been.
From coconut tree
To coconut tree
There we jumped with glee
Into the river
Of our dreams where we were free.
Li’l freedoms enjoyed
River filled the void
In hearts of people
Their daily struggle
Washed in stream strong yet gentle.
Behind li’l freedom
There was a dark cloud
Dictator’s kingdom
Dispatched robbery
Pillaging his own country.
He who hid the truth
Robbed us of our youth
Wealth of the nation
Plundered, no vision
For future generation.
One day, people rose
To the streets they came
To express their woes
Tired of this game
From dictator and his dame.
People power grew
Reaching soaring height
Nothing he can do
Even with his might
Dictator fled into night.
Yes, he’s gone, he’s gone.
We can dream again
A nation with one
Hope for tomorrow
Beautiful as river flow.
Many years have passed
Many moonshines cast
Now I come looking
For little river
Freedom, hope in its yearning.
Rive, where are you now?
Could find you no more
Where I found you before
Still I yearn to be
Swimming, dreaming, proud and free.
How come I just find
Li’l river in mind?
Empty river where
Phantom shadows share
My friends swim no longer there.
Where do I go now?
To flow in your stream
To dream the same dream
And if you asked me
My true answer would still be.
Yes, I’d like to go
Where the river flows.
Yes, I’d like to go
Where the river flows.
Where the river flows.

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