In the slums of Tondo, people dwell
in shacks of cardboard, bits of bamboo,
corrugated metal, and a few cement blocks.
They come from all the provinces–
a farmer’s son from Cagayan,
a coal miner from Bulacan,
a field hand from the banana plantations
of Davao. They come to Manila
for work, for better pay.
The highest incidence of men
running amok is in Tondo,
or at least, that’s what the local tabloids
have for headlines every week. Amok in Tondo
kills seven! Police shoot him to death!
During the Filipino-American War
from 1900 to 1902, the Colt .45 pistol
was refined to kill crazed
Moro fighters who ran amok
and would not stop attacking
with rabid animal urgency
when shot with bullets of lesser caliber.
The superstitious old women in Tondo say
that no rice, no shoes, and no work
breed beetles and violence.
They say that small black beetles
can lay eggs in a man’s ear,
and this is what makes a man run.