Thursday, April 13, 2006

Jewels of the Pauper

This was written by Horacio De La Costa, SJ many years ago and I offer his timeless words amid all the hopelessness:

Jewels of the Pauper

There is a thought that comes to me sometimes (the old captain said) as I sit by my window in the evening, listening to the young men's guitars, and watching the shadows deepen on the long low hills, the hills of my native land.

You know, we are a remarkably poor people: poor, not only in material goods, but even in the riches of the spirit. I doubt whether we can claim to possess a truly national literature. No Shakespeare, no Cervantes has yet been born among us to touch with immortality that in our landscape, in our customs, in our history which is most vital, most original, most ourselves. If we must needs give currency to our thoughts, we are forced to mint them in the coinage of a foreign tongue; for we do not even have a common language.

But as poor as we are, we yet have something. This pauper among the nations of the earth hides two jewels in her rags. One of them is our music. We are sundered one from another by eighty-seven dialects; we are one people when we sing. The kundimans of Bulacan awaken an answering chord in the lutes of Leyte. Somewhere in the rugged north, a peasant woman croons her child to sleep; and the Visayan listening remembers the cane fields of his childhood, and his mother singing the selfsame song.

We are again one people when we pray. This is our othertreasure: our Faith. It gives, somehow, to our little uneventful days a kind of splendor: as though they had been touched by a King. And did you ever notice how they are always mingling, our religion and our music? All the basic rites of human life-the harvest and the seed-time, the wedding, birth and death are among us drenched with the fragrance of incense and the coolness of music.

These are the bonds that bind us together; these are the soul that makes us one. And as long as there remains in these islands one mother to sing Nena's Lullaby, one boat to put out to sea with the immemorial rowing song, one priest to stand at the altar and offer God to God, this nation may be conquered, trampled upon, enslaved, but it cannot perish. Like the sun that dies every evening, it will rise again from the dead.


Anonymous said...; You saved my day again.

Anonymous said...

wow........this is an awesome poem.....feels like a speech and sounds naturally.

Art Espiritu said...

I still can recite Jewels of the Pauper to this day by memory and this was my favorite declamation piece during my HS days at Ateneo de Zamboanga. What a pleasant surprise to find this online and what memories of place and time this piece take me back to. I think I am gonna recite this during our HS reunion in December. Thank you so much.
Art (
Not sure what year you attended Ateneo but we may have mutual priestss/teachers. The Katigbak brothers, Fr. Asterio and Fr. Ramon ever taught you?

Art Espiritu said...

Jewels of the Pauper was my favorite declamation piece during my Ateneo de Zamboanga HS days and I still can recite this from memory. It has a much more and deeper meaning now though. What a pleasant surprise to find this online. I would love to recite this during our HS reunion in December. Thanks for posting this Fr. Horacio classic. It brings back a lot of memories of place and time.
Muchisimas gracias!


P.S. I am not sure when you attended Ateneo. We may have been under the same teacher priests like the Katigbak brothers, Fr. Asterio and Fr. Ramon. Fr. Asterio was our Rector and Fr. Ramon was our Chem teacher.