Reading for the Day: Excerpts from Rafael Zulueta y da Costa’s “Like the Molave”

Note: This is only a series of excerpts. Self inserted asterisks to indicate a jump.


My American friend says:

show me one great Filipino speech to make your

people listen through the centuries;

 show me one great Filipino song rich with the

soul of your seven thousand isles;

 show me one great Filipino dream, forever

 sword and shield —

Friend, our silences are long but we also have our

Father, with my whole heart I forgive all.

 Believe me, your reverence.

Speeches short before the firing squad, and yet

    of love.


My American friend continues:

you are a nation being played for a sucker;

poor fish swallowing hook, line, and sinker.

And I answer with parable of analogy:

brown brother and packed for home,
one adventured into port and called us brothers;
we fed him the milk and honey of the land;
he filled his pockets by the sweat of the little
taking with him but one song for souvenir:
O the monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga.

The little brown brother opens his eyes to the


created equal;

sea where dwell his strong brothers.

sound of the Star-Spangled;
dreams to the grand tune of the American dream;
is proud to be part of the sweeping American

*     *     *
sings the American epic of souls conceived in liberty;
quivers with longing for the brotherhood of men
envisions great visions of the land across the
And then the fact. The crushing fact of a world no



shining through the exalted word;
the world where the deed is, the intolerable

*     *     *

The expatriate returns sullen and broken . . . We know



Filipino Pickpockets; the loneliness, the

woman denied.

the story, the black looks, the scowls, the

in the restaurants saying: Neither Dogs nor

Allowed; the warning at the fair: Beware of

Yet what say you, repatriate? America is a great


— Written 1940 by Rafael Zulueta y da Costa (1915- 1990)


  1. Kathleen said,

    June 21, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    I remember that poem! My cousin practiced it over and over in the dining room- really a restaurant of our old resort, now a ruin on the South China Sea. “…and God walks on brown legs”

  2. Janie Cruz said,

    July 2, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    My father was ever scarred by those years, a Filipino immigrant in 1930.
    And the only request at his death, was to see his brothers one more time

  3. July 2, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Janie, That’s heartbreaking. What province was your father from? And did he work in California? Washington? Alaska?

  4. denise said,

    July 13, 2008 at 5:59 am

    hi! Can you tell me where can I find the complete version of this poem? I would really appreciate if you could..Thank you.

  5. July 13, 2008 at 6:23 am


    If you are in Manila, you can try contacting UP? Maybe Jimmy Abad might know? Or e-mail Wendell Capili (his blog is on my blogroll) and ask him if he can help.

    All I had were excerpts, and they were published in a literary Journal called Caracoa, but the issue I have is about 10 years old . . .

    You can also try contacting the librarian at Ateneo de Manila’s Rizal Library?


  6. nai jian said,

    November 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    where is the poem about a molave…the title is “like the molave”
    i need that poem….i cant see that poem in the internet
    please post that here…thanks…

  7. November 18, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Ask your teacher where you can get it! I don’t have the entire text, either.

  8. ALYSA said,

    November 19, 2008 at 9:51 am was a nice poem..

  9. November 19, 2008 at 11:11 am

    And he lost his teaching job at De La Salle University because of it.

    “Nice” would not be the adjective I would apply!

  10. Xeng Zulueta said,

    August 17, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Rafael Zulueta da Costa was my grandfather

  11. August 17, 2009 at 2:54 am

    And he was a great poet. I first read “Like the Molave” in grade school. Then I saw it again recently, in a Filipino literary journal, something I’d picked up on one of my visits home. And it was still so powerful.

  12. akoPinoy said,

    September 10, 2009 at 8:34 am

    that is poem is really true….. can you say that we are free land.But no we are not a free land. because we are holding by the american gov. american are not contented with his big big land. what they want to the philippines. they want our gold, silver, coal, and other mineral in the philippines. So why they dont want to live the philippines. FILIPINO ARE NOT INTELLEGENT BUT WE ARE WISE……

  13. Theresa Z. Harmon said,

    August 28, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Like the Molave – a beautiful poem. Author’s family background is equally interesting and fascinating. Can anybody tell me where can I get a copy of his complete autobiography. I remember during my high school years, we studied the poem and at the back of the book, it showed the author’s parents/siblings names. That particular book is not in circulation anymore. I’ve been chasing this book for decades now. The schools (I was told) is not using this book anymore.

  14. August 28, 2012 at 5:35 am

    It’s a beautiful poem. I haven’t lived in the Philippines for some time now, so am not sure where to direct you. Can you try the Philippine National Museum? Or maybe someone in UP? Really, schools aren’t teaching this poem anymore? That makes me sad.

  15. October 31, 2013 at 5:26 am

    Rafael Zulueta Da Costa “Famous Filipino Author and Philanthropist” was my great-uncle. For several decades now, I’ve been trying to get a copy of the book (Philippine Prose & Poetry) in which the poem was printed. So far, nobody back home can help me. I was told the book is not being used in any schools anymore. Can anybody help and direct me where I can get a copy of this book. Author’s biography was also included in the original book.

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