“The Work of Water” by  Jury S. Judge

“The Work of Water” by Jury S. Judge


“A Curse & Sacrificial Potion
for my Diasporic Terrors”

by Louie Tan Vital

Ingredients for Potion

  • Use a butterfly net to catch the winds of crisp Baguio air because your lola knows you’ll never be able to recount the way the motherland stings your lungs. It dissipates the second you release your breath. Should I stop breathing?

  • Collect Ilocos Surian soil to cradle the urn of the other lola you’ve never met. Pack sweetly in a Balikbayan Box. Duct tape 12 times over until you cannot tell it is a box. Duct tape your mouth 12 times to prevent your mother language from falling out. Ensure the box circles the globe three times. Pad the Balikbayan Box with the exploited dreams of Overseas Filipino Workers.

  • Steal holy water from your nearby Catholic church, use your broken tongue to christen yourself the ugliest manifestation of your ancestors. Hysterically rub water into the gaping wounds of your soul and ask yourself if this will stop you from diluting the diaspora. Atone for having been born, bruja.

Circumscribe ingredients together. Subject yourself to the following:

  1. Wear your malong from the neighborhood Filipino festival because that’s the closest thing to the motherland you can afford. Layer your malong atop your father’s dusty barong you took when he wasn’t looking.

  2. Play the Philippine National Anthem in the background. Attempt to indoctrinate yourself with chauvinism for the country and childhood you never had.

  3. Use a gisi to graffiti-tap your image into the framed portrait of The Last Supper above Tita’s dining table so your future generations will know you are pious.

  4. Batok yourself. Ink your skin until you bleed to convince yourself you are a ‘real’ Filipino. Appropriate indigeneity with this blood and manufactured soot. It is the only way you know how to honor your ancestors, you mixed mongrel.

  5. Bless the potion as the body of your ancestors in the name of the mestiza, morena, and holy chinita. Incant the following in your bastardized accent:

    “Bansa ko ay iniibig ko. Maawa ka, kawawa naman ako. Bakit nandito sa Amerikkka ung katawan ko kung nasa Pilipinas ung kamalayan ko? Apay? Bansa ko, ayayaten ka kahit di ko kilala kita.”

  6. Rub concoction on chest and back like it’s Vicks. Garrote rosary beads around your neck.

  7. Take 16 sleeping pills. Lay down. Pray to the white jesus you don’t believe in.

Maybe then, will the diasporic screaming stop.


Louie Tan Vital is a Filpina American poet, community organizer, and Masters candidate at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. Her work sits at the intersections of migration, diasporic trauma, bodily politics, and public policy. She has dedicated her life to fighting for racially-equitable public policy and harnessing performance arts as a means for political activism. Louie’s words have appeared in Washington State’s C-SPAN, the Smithsonian, The Filipino Channel, Yahoo News, and various news and radio outlets in America and the Philippines. She believes combining policy and poetry is an exciting avenue to catalyze institutional change.