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You Can Choose Your Afterlife by Mario Eric Gamalinda

By kiiiinnn Feb 12, 2012 486 Words

Name: Mario Eric Gamalinda
Age: 54
Birthday: Oct. 14, 1956
Birthplace: Manila
School: UST and UP
Occupation: Poet, fictionist, essayist
Currently lives in: New York City, USA
Currently works at: Center for Investigative Journalism

Eric Gamalinda is a local fellow for poetry of the UP ICW in 1983. He went to Great Britain to represent the Philippines in the Cambridge International Writers’ Conference in 1990. In 1991, he attended the Hawthornden International Writers’ Retreat in Scotland. Gamalinda got a Rockefeller Foundation residency in Bellagio, Italy. He also participated in the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Programme for the 21st century.

Other Works & Achievements

Fire Poem/Rain Poem (1976)
Lyrics From A Dead Language (1991)
Zero Gravity (1999) –Asian American Literary Award
Peripheral Vision (1992)
Planet Waves (1989) –National Book Award
Confessions of a Volcano (1990)
The Empire of Memory (1992)
My Sad Republic (1998) –Centennial Literary Prize
Anatomy of a Passionate Derangement (One-act play, 1980) -1st prize, Gawad Palanca Award •Ara Vos Prec (1985) –Gawad Palanca Award
Patria Y Muerte (1988) –Gawad Palanca Award
Mourning and Weeping in this Valley of Tears (1988) –Gawad Palanca Award •The Unbreakable Lightness of EDSA (1990) –Gawad Palanca Award •Muerte del Anghel (1992) –Free Press Literary Awards


"You Can Choose Your Afterlife," is found in Gamalinda’s book, Zero Gravity. The poem is based on the beliefs of the T’boli, an old indigenous people living in South Cotabato in Southern Mindanao.

The T’boli afterlife has several destinations. The souls of murder victims and warriors slain in battle will be celebrated in a bloodthirsty kingdom. To die by the sword entails the people you left behind to mourn for your tragic death. According to the T’boli beliefs, victims of drowning become citizens of the sea. They will be under the rule of Fon Muhin, a god they believe in. If you die due to sickness, you will get what you wish for, which is to be free from pain, however, they will sorely miss the people they have left behind. For people who commit suicide, their souls will never truly leave earth because they still have unresolved problems. They will always wonder what the people they left behind think of them for committing suicide.

At the end of the poem, the speaker addresses a friend, real or created, who decided to take his own life. He doesn't know why Arne took his own life, but he's not going to spend the rest of his life trying to figure it out. These people will always wonder what the people they left behind think of them for committing suicide.

Figures of Speech

They welcome you there with the tintinnabulation of copper bells •Apostrophe
Arne, You didn’t tell us why you wanted to go
and the lamentation of bamboo violins and all night long a wounded sun hovers over your place of business

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