To My Childhood Companions

This Nick Joaquin English translation of ‘Sa Aking Mga Kababata’ was taken from an article by Ambeth Ocampo.

This Nick Joaquin English translation of ‘Sa Aking Mga Kababata’ was taken from the Philippine Daily Inquirer article “Did young Rizal really write poem for children?” by Ambeth R. Ocampo,  chairman of the Department of History at the Ateneo de Manila University.


Whenever a people truly love
the language given them from above,
lost freedom will they ever try
to regain, as birds yearn for the sky.

For language is a mandate sent
to each people, country and government;
and every man is, like all free
creation, born to liberty.

Who does not love his own tongue is
far worse than a brute or stinking fish,
for we should foster and make it great
like unto a mother blest by fate.

Like Latin, English, Spanish, or
the speech of angels is Tagalog,
for God, a wise provider, it was
who made and handed it to us.
Like the others, our language was equipped
with its own alphabet, its own script,
which were lost when a storm brought down in woe
the barque on the lake long, long ago.

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