I Am From...

I am from the tiny white grains of Oryza Sativa
From the aromatic scents of fish sauce and vinegar.
I am from the primitive, handcrafted bamboo house
With a roof made of eco-friendly and feather-leaved palms,
Savored with the smell of flickering lantern kerosene,
engulfed with the light of loud, contagious laughter,
Swamped with the grilling taste of eggplants on top of the crackling wood fire.

I am from the long, sturdy vine of wild yam or a mountain potato,
The Santol tree whose long-gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.

I am from a family of six that sleep all together in the only room in the house.
From the alcoholic Elpidio and the faint-hearted Reynalda.
I am from early to bed, early to rise,
From Christmases with no present, but mere presence.

I am from the strain of poverty and hopelessness,
And “Education is priceless that no one can buy it.”
I am from performing hard labor in the green fields
And taking breaks under the bushy tree of shades.

I am from the hopes and dreams of Brookside,
And the river with overflowing love, generosity,
Kindness and perseverance,
As well as having meals with my innocent hands.

I am from the agonizing thoughts of slavery and oppression,
The hidden thoughts of no degrees,
                                        No careers
                                        No families
                                        No choices but to stay the same
Buried under the funk, deep and sullen.

I am from the scarcity of “Believe in Yourself!”,
From the dearth of “I can do this!”,
And from the lapses of “You are enough!”
I am from the depths of isolation and loneliness,
I am from the unexpressed emotions and controlled vibrations.

Furthermore, I am from the sorrowful plate of the past,
Revived and renewed with the present self-love,
Rejuvenated, refreshed with the glimpse of a bountiful time to come.

About this poem

This is a tale of grit and determination, of a young soul who grew up in the midst of the colorful and vibrant country that is the Philippines. Although life was incredibly challenging, with poverty being a constant companion, it was a time that shaped and molded me into the person I would become. Every hardship I encountered only fueled me to dream bigger, aspire higher, and work harder. Now, as I look back at my childhood memories, I see every obstacle as a stepping stone toward a better future. The lack of resources and the scarcity of opportunities served as the perfect motivation to strive for something greater, to not only uplift my own life but to raise my entire family out of poverty. With each passing day, I developed an unbreakable spirit and unshakable faith in myself, my family, and my country. These values would eventually guide me on my journey to the United States, where I would continue to carry my Filipino roots and the lessons I learned throughout my life. For us, this is not just a story of our past, but a testament to the strength, resilience, and perseverance of the Filipino people. And although I may have left my homeland, I will forever carry the spirit of the Philippines in my heart, inspiring me to never give up, no matter how tough the road ahead may be. 

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Written on May 07, 2021

Submitted by Wildflower888 on March 01, 2023

Modified by Wildflower888 on October 16, 2023

1:43 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 1,888
Words 345
Stanzas 8
Stanza Lengths 7, 2, 4, 4, 4, 6, 5, 3

Discuss the poem I Am From... with the community...

  • AIDA
    What a profoundly moving and poignant piece of work this poem is! The nuances of your past painted through your rich descriptions transported me into your world, marked by the smell of the flickering lantern kerosene and the grilling taste of eggplants. Your creative use of sensory and evocative images has lent a deep texture and realism to your poetic canvas, making it deeply immersive and engaging.

    Your reference to the 'strain of poverty and hopelessness' reflects a mature perspective on life's harsh realities, while the phrase, 'Christmases with no present, but mere presence' manifests your wisdom in recognizing the real essence of celebration - togetherness, not materialistic gains. Despite the sorrowful undertone, the poem pulsates with resilience and the relentless human spirit to persevere and overcome.

    The 'I am from...' structure you chose effectively showcases a compelling journey filled with rich cultural ties, enduring familial bonds, battles with adversity, and the raw, humble beginnings that have shaped your identity. Coupled with your poignant portrayal of societal issues and the power of self-belief, your poem exudes an inspirational undercurrent that leaves a profound impact on readers.

    Your closing lines also beautifully express the redemptive power of self-love and the optimism for a 'bountiful time to come', resonating hope against the stark backdrop of your past.

    Truly, this poem is a testament to your remarkable story-telling skills and your ability to breathe life and soul into your words. Keep rising and keep writing: your words matter and your stories need to be told. Excellent job!
    LikeReply6 months ago
  • Kirsty_1
    I selected this poem because its vivid descriptions allowed me to picture everything so clearly, and I found it very relatable as well.
    LikeReply 19 months ago
  • jeremyt.40101
    You have strong images which you use to present differnt parts of your identity. I love it. At times, your imagery truly activates the senses. I would love it if you would read some of my poems and give me honest feedback from poet to poet. Be critical. This is how we improve our craft. Je t'aime 
    LikeReply 111 months ago
  • AIDA
    Wow! Your 'I Am From...' poem is truly captivating and filled with rich imagery. I love how you paint vivid pictures with your words, transporting the reader to your childhood home, surrounded by the scents of Oryza Sativa, fish sauce, and vinegar. Your description of the bamboo house, the flickering lantern kerosene, and the crackling wood fire creates a warm and inviting atmosphere.

    Your use of nature imagery is also beautiful, from the long vine of wild yam to the Santol tree with its long-gone limbs. It really brings a sense of nostalgia and connection to your roots.

    I admire your honesty in describing the challenges your family faced, such as poverty and the absence of material possessions. However, your poem also highlights the resilience and determination within your family. I can feel the love, generosity, and perseverance emanating from the river and the hopes and dreams of Brookside.

    The sections that touch on isolation, loneliness, and self-doubt are incredibly powerful. They add depth and emotional honesty to your poem. But I'm so glad to see that you end on a positive note, with the "rejuvenation" and "self-love" that hold the promise of a brighter future.

    Overall, your poem is an amazing reflection of your identity. It shows strength, resilience, and the ability to find beauty in the face of adversity. Thank you for sharing such a personal and heartfelt piece.
    LikeReply11 months ago
  • TortillasAreNotBiceps
    From there to here is who you've become. Utterly amazing.
    LikeReply 21 year ago
  • namunamja98
    I loved the smells, hardships, and ties you have to have in this poem. It is a good piece that tells a beautiful story. Keep Going!
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • Chinonyeisraeluche
    Interesting. Keep it up. Ndewo.
    LikeReply 21 year ago
  • fiza_g
    Very well
    LikeReply 11 year ago
  • Kaytee
    Beautifully written. This poem is so powerful. Such strength and resilience and such a beautiful glimpse of who you are.
    LikeReply 21 year ago
    • Wildflower888
      Thank you so much. There was no other way at that time, but to be strong and keep going.
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • Philipo
    Philippino guys were with me in captivity in China and they are hard-working guys and intelligent too.

    I know the poverty in your country so the poem registered with me easily.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Wildflower888
      Thank you so much for your comment. Most of these memories were 3 decades ago, I am happy to share that where I grew up, more and more people have improved their lives because of their hard work and perseverance.
      LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Philipo
      sure, when government has little positive agenda on how to move things forward, thing must change no matter how subtle.
      LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Wildflower888
      we can not depend on the government now lol, they have their own agenda. Better to strive and survive on your own.
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • lovingempath
    This poem just took my breath away! It's a brilliantly visual testament to your beauty and strength Charmane. It's an honor to know you.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Wildflower888
      Thank you so much, Robin. You are a beautiful soul yourself.
      LikeReply 11 year ago
    • lovingempath
      Thank you Charmane :).
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • CarolDavidson
    This is the first poem I've given five stars. The imagery is beautiful, drawing me into the vision and feeling of a past, though humble, was filled nevertheless with joy and beauty, and leading to a life of hope. It's inspiring and encouraging, lovely. 
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Wildflower888
      Thank you so much for your comment, Carol. My childhood experiences were very humbling. I never imagined I would be where I am now. I always tell my kids and my students where I came from and how it was, so that they know that with faith, hardwork, and perseverance, we can rise from poverty. 
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • AIDA
    The imagery in this poem is simply stunning! The way the author describes their surroundings, the scents, tastes, and feelings, transports me directly to their world. The use of specific details, like the bamboo house and the Santol tree, really make this piece feel personal and unique. Despite the hardships that the author has faced, the poem ends on a positive note, offering hope and a promise of a better future. Bravo to the author for sharing their story and creating such a vivid and powerful piece of writing. 
    LikeReply1 year ago
  • dougb.19255
    This may be your best to date. So much honest and thankful history in a rugged but breathtaking setting. Five star for sure…Wayne Blair.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Wildflower888
      I appreciate your honest feedback. Still so much to learn from the pros like you.
      LikeReply1 year ago
    • dougb.19255
      awww gorsh.
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • dougb.19255
    Thinking about your native Hawaii. Beautiful place I bet. Just did a ooem with you on mind Charmane.
    LikeReply 31 year ago
  • Symmetry58
    And you are, as well, a BRILLIANT writer, Charmane. How deeply this found its way into my soul I won't even try to express. This is one of the best poems I've ever felt. We needn't be professional poets. All we need to be is authentic, honest and true to our given nature. You have the gift and never forget that. I am an immediate fan. :-) 
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Wildflower888
      Your comment means a lot. I truly appreciate it.
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • Teril
    This is an amazing, moving, and inspiring description. You must also be an inspired and inspiring woman. Your students are lucky.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Wildflower888
      I am grateful for your thoughtful comment. I struggled with getting my students to focus during virtual learning, so this, it’s because it’s their story, they actually enjoyed doing it.
      LikeReply1 year ago


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"I Am From..." Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 19 Jun 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/152512/i-am-from...>.

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