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My Father Does Not Say “I Love You” & gentrified ube by l.m.b.f

By October 12, 2019 No Comments

gentrified ube


one day i’ll understand

why gentrified ube is made.

it was pale purple 

and tasted like the original 

but fell just a little bit short.

but still i chose to settle for its lack of flavor

cause it reminded me of something familiar.

one day i’ll understand

 why gentrified ube is made. 

real ube is deep purple 

and tastes of mang juan’s dirty ice cream 

by the church, mixing with the smell of white jasmines as children

scamper down the street 

in broken slippers. i remember 

when i was one of those children,

stumbling against the rocky pavement

cause i would never settle 

for sitting out tumbang preso

when i knew i could have a better time.

one day i’ll understand why 

gentrified ube is made. 

real ube reminds me of fiestas and lively conversation, 

like the ones we used to have. we’d talk about

our lives and what we’d hope to change, but also what we loved. 

those were the days i loved, when

i refused to settle for anything less

than love. now you might be back but every word exchanged 

feels like gentrified ube. 

one day i’ll 

understand why gentrified ube is made. 

why we settle for a lack of something 

because it reminds us of something familiar. 

why i settle for pleasantries with you 

when my past self wouldn’t 

have put up with that. 

why i settle for having you at a distance

knowing there’s no chance i’ll ever get 

to hold you at all.


My Father Does Not Say “I Love You”


my father does not say i love you,

but drives to the other side of town

so i can eat rice after two weeks

of being stranded in the Midwest.

my father does not say i love you,

but asks if i have eaten. kumain ka lang,

he prods me, and i know he means to eat so that your belly may be 

full even if your heart is not.


my father does not say i love you,

but presses two bags of dried mangoes

into my hands so that my friends,

who have never set foot into my home,

may know that life with me 

is both tart and sweet 

like the hugs he awkwardly gives me 

before i have to leave. 

my father does not say i love you,

nor does he ask me what is wrong with me,

but hands me the ladle to the nilagang baka 

and offers to peel the shrimp 

after remembering i no longer eat beef.

i know this is his attempt to peel back the layers of four years of absence. because 

nilaga is my favorite meal from childhood 

and that was the last time i felt like i could tell him anything.

my father does not say i love you,

but asks me if i have eaten. kumain ka lang

he prods me, and i know he means to eat so

your belly may be full even when your heart is not. 

i can’t remember the last time my father said i love you, 

but i remember every meal he’s cooked for me. 

and maybe one day that will be enough.

l.m.b.f. is a writer born and raised to Bicolano parents in Metro Manila, Philippines. She enjoys exploring language in all its forms — through rhetoric and speech, through poetry and prose, and through the intersection of English with her own native languages, Tagalog and Central Bikol. She completed the International Writing Program’s Between the Lines: Identity and Belonging program in July 2019 — focusing on the intersection of power, privilege, identity and language with creative writing — through a full grant funded by the Doris Duke Center for Islamic Art. Although she is new to publishing her creative writing, she wants to use her work as an educational tool to help other young Filipinx-Americans connect to their culture in the diaspora. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @haliyapoems.

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