They came in their millions
to Epifanio de los Santos,
and in their hearts was a woman.
They came with an angry prayer,
from the slums,
the neighbourhoods sunk at
the foot of horrific mountains of wretchedness.
Or they came from
the peaceful, palm-bedazzled barrios,
where anger simmered
for the shackles of the people’s song.
Rich or poor, in their hearts
there was a woman.
Twenty years under the dictator,
long pillaged years,
during which slums grew up
in the hearts of the people,
when the furtive promise
of the young nation
became the rot of the dead martyrs
exhaled from the murderer’s white palace.
And when her husband fell
at the door of the city,
a bloodied envoy of that almost forgotten thing,
the housewife rose
and put away her gentle years,
because she understood, at last, his fatal love,
because she grasped now
how her grief seethed with an immaculate justice,
and the rage of a burning archipelago.
In the people’s hearts was a woman,
who they dressed with their songs,
the chants they hurled against a crumbling regime.
Against her, the tyrant had no weapons.
American tanks, American jets, American guns
could not wound this woman
clothed by the people.
He fell, beleaguered and afraid,
while the two million on Epifanio de los Santos
were crying, Corazon, Corazon,
for in their hearts was a woman,
and they surged around her
and lifted her up on their joyous shoulders
and carried her like an unchained dawn.