Aaron Cadiz Berkeley, CA

Aaron Cadiz is a Vallejo, California native and is currently a first year intended Legal Studies Major and Rhetoric Minor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the local Bay Area spoken word organization, Youth Speaks, as a part of the Youth Advisory Board known as SPOKES. Aaron is also an Advocacy and Internal Affairs intern for PASS (Pilipino Academic Student Services), which is an organization geared towards the recruitment and retention of Pilipin@s into higher education. Some of his poetry will be featured in the latest edition of Maganda Magazine, the longest running Filipino-American literary arts publication in the nation.

Aaron’s poem for The Bigger Picture Campaign is below.

I’ve heard that they call it Grandma’s disease.
And when my once perfectly healthy Lola Guia,
Who lived through two World Wars,
Developed Type II Diabetes In the 1990s
Upon immigrating from the Philippines to the United States
Make no mistake, It wasn’t just a piece of cake that led to the
Daily insulin shots that she has to take
Lola Guia calls me huggie bear…
And I swear, every time we engage in an embrace
And I gaze in at the wrinkles riddled with impeccable wisdom on her face
I say to her, Lola, Mahal Kita (Lola, I love you)
And every single one of my little cousins does the same
Ever since we can remember,
She’s always been the sweetest member of the Lopez clan.
But the moment my Lola Guia places her lips on a Coca-Cola can,
She buys into the soda industry’s lies.
The same industry in the Philippines that is one of the top ten Coca-Cola bottlers worldwide
Her grandchildren watch her intently with glistening eyes
Starting to materialize sweet tooths as early as age 5,
Everyone else calls me Sprite boy
Because as I dive into these pools of liquid poison at any given opportunity
My throat swells up with carbonation,
I am choking on this lemon lime delight leading to my overall demise
6 feet wide and 6 feet under,
I didn’t know that Coca-Cola would sponsor my own gravestone
Whether it be a glass of root beer at the restaurant, a 2 liter bottle of orange soda at a family party, or a soda advertisement plastered on a billboard
12 billion dollars of soda ads in the last year alone has bought the lives of my Lola Guia, my little cousins, America’s youth, and the lives of brown skinned children throughout third world countries
We yearn for sugar like crack addicts in line at the local candy store
There is absolutely nothing sweet about a sweet tooth when unrecognizable words sprinkle our soft drinks like maltodextrin, dextrose, sucrose, and high fructose,
All pseudonyms for a malignant poison known as sugar.
addictive like cocaine,
The toxicity flows through our very veins,
It’s a shame, because as my cousins and I grow old together In both weight and size, We start to realize that this Grandma’s disease has materialized,
In our own bloated stomachs and bulky thighs.
It is ironic that we call sodas soft drinks,
When there’s nothing soft about a surgeon’s scalpel amputating more legs of diabetic patients Than military veterans from the past decade
Look at this world we’ve created, where we’ve associated celebrities with sugary beverage campaigns aimed at our most vulnerable populations.
Where 1 in every 3 of our country’s children born in the year 2000 develops Type II diabetes.
We’ve been bamboozled; we’ve been blinded by the CEOs of Coca Cola and Pepsi
I’m coming down from this sugar high
I’m slowing down in this a sugar rush
I’m pushing back on the notion that this epidemic is just some grandma’s disease.
Because when my six-year old niece
Develops symptoms of an elderly senior citizen.
This grandma’s disease is no longer just my Lola Guia’s disease,
Unless our generation does something about the soda industry’s ability to sell us
THEIR lies,
THEIR advertisements giving us premature deaths
THEIR marketing schemes targeting youth of color
This disease is OURS.

The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture