the wind will have its purpose


the wind will have its purpose

the wind ruffles my thoughts
that cling like leaves to branches,

a tree takes root, a bird must fly
and leaves will whisper to the wind

we will fall but not before
this bird becomes a bird, this tree a tree,

and the wind will have its purpose
to pluck my thoughts, to build its skies.

© said sadain, jr. 2017

Author’s Note: 

To go with the poetry above, here is Yusuf (a.k.a. Cat Stevens) with his song The Wind:

“I listen to the wind
to the wind of my soul
where I’ll end up, well, I think,
only God really knows…”
“I listen to my words
but they fall far below
I let my music take me
where my heart wants to go….”

— Cat Stevens 

The period December-January is a very busy time for me, so with this post I would like to wish everyone happy days filled with love and peace for the holiday season and for the coming new year. I hope to see you again later in January or early February, God willing.

— SSJ, 2 December 2017


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mt. tumantangis

mt. tumantangis

(from the collection: Mt. Tumantangis and Other Poems on Sulu)

she lays open the breast to the sea
and crouches low enough to ward off the winds,
her brows impose the wisdom of the time
harder than the jutting rocks, yet gentle
as the blue of the sky that crowns.

she breeds the warriors from her bosom
as caretakers of the integral bind,
somewhere a heart throbs below the green
warms the veins, and roots stretch deeper
to the rhythms of life.

silence is snarled in the weir of trees
like a cicada in the dead of night,
and pricks the conscience or soothes the heart,
and when a native rests his ears against the ground
the sigh of the universe, primordial and basic,
flows as ether, forceful and sentimental.

what tears that are shed only serve
to strengthen her stalks, limbs and cleanse
the smoke from the brown of the flesh.

and seeing her is inspired poetry
for soldiers who only wanted wives and homes
and wished neither to kill nor to be killed.

© said sadain, jr. 1978

( All photos of serene sceneries on this page are courtesy of Harly Limlingan Marcuap from his travel blogs on Sulu & Tawi-Tawi )

Author’s Note: 

Nobody is entirely certain how Sulu’s majestic peak, Bud Tumantangis (bud being the local word for a mountain) got its name. Some local folks would reverently speak of it as the weeping mountain since the Bahasa Sug word tangis, or tumangis, means to cry. These folks would tell of tragic legends of mystical women roaming the mountain, weeping over either unrequited love or proscribed romance. Others would tend to look more closely at the strange part of the name: tuman, which is a rarely used Bahasa Sug word for the English words correct or true —- bunnal, amu or patut, being the more commonly used local words to mean true, correct or right. However there is another common local word tumahan which, in English, means to endure and desist. Thus the name Tumantangis, according to this explanation, could most likely have settled in over time from a syncopation of tumahan tangis, to endure and desist from crying.

Instead of a weeping mountain, we now see Bud Tumantangis as epitomizing the hardy and enduring nature of the Tausug people as expert sea travelers sailing for trade and diplomacy to as far as China in the olden days of empires and kingdoms (circa 14th century, or even earlier), as well as fierce warriors defending their southern territories from foreign aggression from the 16th century onwards.

With the disappearing peak of the mountain weighing down their sights every time they sail out to the sea, their hearts would be weeping for the longing to come back to their motherland. And when they approach their homeland as they return from the perils of their journeys, their hearts would be crying with joy as they catch the first glimpse of the peak on the horizon. In all these, they have to hold back their tears of longing so as not to show any sign of wavering lest their nation would become weak and less able to endure the blows of fate and history that would besiege them for centuries to come.

— SSJ, 30 November 2017 

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Arrivals, an image of naval boats and soldiers disembarking, mashed up by SSJ from Internet images found here and here


(from the collection: Mt. Tumantangis and Other Poems on Sulu)

the wharf is like the season’s face
it marks the time,
the coming and the going
witness the breeze dive
to kiss the expectant waves,
or the wind howl to shake
the complacent crests,
the gray iron boat approaches
as a plundering heap.

motor launches are dwarfed beside
the yawning mouth of a naval boat
crippled now along the solidness
of baked earth and trampled land.
the men in green are lined against
a backdrop of steel and heavy veil,
strange arrivals with neither feast
nor hometown yearning appeased.

a town watches with searching eyes,
and seeks the law in young men’s brows
so much flesh and so many rifles
spark an air as that might scare
the cooing doves, the question asked
of why so much authority cannot
bring justice to a dead man’s bones
and law into the civil homes.

© said sadain, jr. 1978

Photos of a typical day in Sulu, when the sea is calm, and the day is bright enough to live and let live.  Sulu & Tawi-Tawi island photos are courtesy of Harly Limlingan Marcuap of, 2013 

Author’s note:

In good times, the arrivals would see a Sulu like the one shown in the Lupah Sug video below. And then you have to be a bird to keep on holding this view in your mind. But even birds can get scared when a town watches with searching eyes, and the drones take to the sky.

The second video, In Focus: Sulu Gun Culture, is an up-close coverage of one of the low-intensity conflicts that continue to plague Sulu, begging the question “of why so much authority cannot bring justice to a dead man’s bones and law into the civil homes”. And guess again, the Sulu gun culture, while a major part of the problem, is far from being its root cause.

The Sulu story is a long one, and this blog will never be able to fully tell or retell it. But in bits and pieces, in bugs and bytes, this blog will be writing about it. As did Mark Twain in the past.

Like a gremlin, and probably more facetiously than anything else, Mark Twain wrote this statement about Thanksgiving Day in his 1894 novel, Pudd’nhead Wilson:

“THANKSGIVING DAY. Let all give humble, hearty, and sincere thanks now, but the turkeys. In the island of Fiji they do not use turkeys; they use plumbers. It does not become you and me to sneer at Fiji.”   – from Chapter 18, Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain

By the first decade of the 1900s, a few years before his death in 1910, Twain was bitterly writing about America’s entanglement in Jolo, Sulu instead of Fiji.

— SSJ, 23 November 2017  

The Lupah Sug / Sulu video is produced by The Extra Mile Productions

The In Focus: Sulu Gun Culture video is produced by  Orlando de Guzman in association with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, 2009

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Devora de Bris

Devora de Bris,
she breaks her fast
with dwindling hydrogen thrust,
toasted titanium
and a cracked cranium,

and sails her way
to the nearest space station.

She’d hoped she’ll see
The Bus Station,

but sorry, not here, they say,
as they direct her way
to the farthest dark 

© said sadain, jr. 2017 

Author’s note:  Honk! when you get there.


Related Materials: 

A Satellite Chunk Could Fall on Your Head at Any Moment. Get Used to It. (with video)

Space Debris and the Human Spacecraft  

The Space Junk Problem Is About To Get A Whole Lot Gnarlier 

Space Debris Story (video) 

The amount of space junk around Earth has hit a critical point (video)

Not Devora, but she will take you through a very interesting tour of the International Space Station (video) 


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the calm


A typical scene in Sulu & Tawi-tawi islands, when calmness is a boat cradled by the gentle sea in the safety of a wharf on a breezy, sunny day. Photo of a Simunul Island wharf by Harly Limlingan Marcuap of, 2013.

the calm

(from the collection: Mt. Tumantangis and Other Poems on Sulu)

it haunts the people’s dream of comfort too.
the cozy rooms, the furnished halls
drive the cold out into the night
and into the poor man’s house, it nurses
the bleeding lungs, the muted mouth.
and when a launch docks beside the wharf
with shrill hoots in the early dawn
arrival is no more wakeful than
departures in the afternoon.

lethargy becomes contagious as
a memory struggling back to mind
from within the fallen walls,
the silent rubble
a soul search leads to a tower
too often neglected by the many
who neither know the brewing storm
nor perceive the strength behind
the stinging calmness of a sea.

down the planks a step and two
the eyes miss the reckless faces,
the funny feet:
behind the sand sacks, a soldier softly
whistles forth a tune
and just as casually warms a steel
back to life for the hours of the day.

© said sadain, jr. 1978

Author’s note: 

for this poem, contemplate
the temporary period of calm
that holds back the wind and the sea
from dancing up a maelstrom.

— SSJ, 9 November 2017


The Sulu islands, when calmness is the pregnant silence behind sandbags at the first whiff of a brewing storm. Mashup image by SSJ (using Harly’s photo above and a US Army photo here) to depict a typical scene in Sulu during the mid 1970s.

Posted in collection: mt. tumantangis and other poems on sulu, photography, poetry, politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

the waves of sulu

(All photos are courtesy of Harly Limlingan Marcuap of


the waves of sulu

a boy contemplates the nipa huts
beneath the coconut trees as a patch
firewoods for the sacrificial pyre
and the land heaves beside the waves.
he rows as a speck in the sea
his arms full now, his eyes deep
scan the point on the beach
where once a father had dearly bled.

the sand lays white as a breast
where waves race one another to caress
and when it gets smudged in red with haste
the waves would roll their backs to cleanse.
nearby jolo languishes in a mist,
a mountain frowns, the sea’s in rage
a conscience alien to her mosques
stalks as thumping shells, the giant feet.

below the waters in the depth
of weeds and reefs and the labyrinth,
the sea urchins prick with readiness,
disturbing like empty tipsy wells,
just one lesson learned and the lad
seeks the sea and the brooding beach
for the rest of the folds, the nerves
as well as the integral bind.

© said sadain, jr. 1978

Author’s Note: 

‘The Waves of Sulu’ is part of the poetry collection Mt. Tumantangis and Other Poems on Sulu. 

Take a peek at the breathtaking shorelines of Sulu by way of the photos being featured here with the permission of Harly Limlingan Marcuap, a fearless travel blogger who chronicles his adventures in his travel blog Please note that I write of these shorelines as ‘breathtaking’ in both the hyperbolic as well as the literal sense, considering that government travel advisories have time and again been issued to warn travelers against non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago and the Sulu Sea. Danger has always been the proud, but sad, blue that simmers beneath the surface of the Sulu Sea in its calmer days. This explains why I describe Harly here as a ‘fearless’ travel blogger.  

[Disclaimer: This post is not to be taken as an invitation and/or encouragement to travel to the Sulu Sea and its islands. It is the sole responsibility of the determined traveler to check the current applicability of  travel advisories such as the ones listed below before making plans to visit the area.] 

– SSJ, 3 November, 2017 

Some Travel Advisories:


Posted in collection: mt. tumantangis and other poems on sulu, photography, poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

the damas trees of sitteen


surreal image mashed up from a photo of damas trees and images from courtesy of aitoff, Capri23auto and Clker-Free-Vector-Images

the damas trees of sitteen 

green conocarpus
dinosaurs lined up in mid
island of sitteen

silent witnesses
to the flow of red-tailed worms
this side of the world

and yellow-headed
creepers on the other side
of evening traffic.

roots dig deep to ground the trees
lazy with the breeze

sad damas dinos
hovering under street lamps
weep with tears of leaves

they’ve seen the yearning
for home many times over
of jaded drivers

hush now the traffic
of sitteen tells of a tale:
you lead, you follow

for speed cameras
are lurking owls waiting for
the rush of hot steel

they’ll send e-tickets
to the crumpled body wrapped
around steering wheel.

© said sadain, jr.  2017

Author’s note:

The conocarpus lancifolius tree, according to Wikipedia, “has no common name in English”. In Arabic, it is commonly called damas. It is a fast-growing heat-tolerant tree with a dense foliage that can be seen all over Jeddah, mostly lining up the sides of roads and their middle islands, or towering over long stretches of walls and fences of residential compounds and private villas. The damas tree can grow up to over 20 meters (over 65 feet) tall and its roots can dig deep and strong enough to cause damage to walls, water pipes and waste drains, but is still the preferred ornamental tree for the greening of Jeddah.

Sitteen Road (or otherwise known as the King Fahd Road) is one of the major roads traversing Jeddah from north to south, on my route from residence to office and back. I prefer to endure the roads and highways of Jeddah by occupying myself with surreal thoughts that come with a foggy mind but clear side view mirrors. On days when thick sandstorms engulf Sitteen, hazy Godzillas can easily emerge from an orange landscape that can rival images of a locked-down lost city of Mars.

— SSJ, 28 October 2017 

Related readings:


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