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(after Women With Birds of Paradise by Anita



Their eyes are black slits against

Gold of their burnished skin this side

of morning. They do not shatter silence

with chatter of the marketplace.


Only their hands speak of the task,

gathering the day’s burden of beauty:

birds of paradise singing in tongues,

wings spread over and between


their heads, a feast of burning angels.

The youngest among them bends down

deepest into herself, wrapping the green

stems in a second skin against breaking.

The night before, she had watched the sea

while the gravid moon rose red as her belly.

She tore off her white bandana and broke

into the waters, her black seagrass hair dis-


entangling, waves hissing low ‘let be, let go!’

Birds of Paradise

by Marjorie Evasco

Women With Birds of Paradise

by Anita Magsaysay-Ho


Anita Magsaysay-Ho (May 25, 1914 - May 5, 2012) is considered one of the foremost modernist painters in Philippine art history.  In a biography by Alfredo Roces (In Praise of Women), she is quoted to have said, "In my works I always celebrate the women of the Philippines. I regard them with deep admiration and they continue to inspire me—their movements and gestures, their expressions of happiness and frustration; their diligence and shortcomings; their joy of living. I know very well the strength, hard work and quiet dignity of Philippine women, for I am one of them.” 


"Women With Birds of Paradise" is exhibited on this page with the kind permission of Mr. Daniel Yeung, whose art collection includes this painting by Anita Magsaysay-Ho.



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