I scratched my eyelids as I wait for my water to boil. I made my coffee and grabbed coins for breakfast. Outside my boarding house, eateries line up like a welcoming buffet feast on a festival. I entered the one where I usually eat. Actually, in my two months of stay here, I never thought of ordering a meal from other canteen. Sooner or later, I wouldn’t be surprised if they call me “suki”(patron). I pointed at one of the dishes and ordered one cup of rice. I took my meal to a table and started eating. Adobo, the Filipino favorite, I miss my mom’s version of adobo.
It is not a different thing that a dish even if it bears the same name varies from place to place. For example, another popular dish, the sinigang. Sinigang has many variations, sinigang sa sampalok(tamarind), sa bayabas(guava), sa kamias(ginger lily), sa mangga(mango), sa santol(wild mangosteen), and sinigang sa whatever that tastes sour. The ingredients vary differently depending on the availability of resources in one place. I would not go far (but actually it is far from where I am now) in my hometown, Bataan, they would serve you sinigang na alimango at sugpo with bagoong.
I have met several people who did not know that that variety of sinigang exists. But, I cannot wish for lavish dishes now. On my plate were three chunks of chicken and several pieces of potatoes. Anyways, where else can you buy a complete meal for 18 pesos? 10 pesos for a half order of a viand and 8 pesos for a cup of rice. If you don’t have the appetite, you can also order half rice (also) for half the price. Retail business in the Philippines is really booming. Variety store with the pseudonym: corner store, sari-sari store, Aling Nena’s store, whatever you call it, sells retails of everything.
A “gatang” of rice, shampoos, detergent, and other toiletries in sachets, instant coffee, creamer, and sugar is sold in packs for one peso each for a single serving of coffee. Even hot water is sold. I hit the break on my train of thoughts before my meal went cold. I finished my breakfast and took a bath. I played a little with the steam on the shower like child fascinated by the diligent colony of ants. When I’m putting on my clothes, I glanced at the clock, it says 9:30. It’s Sunday but I need to go to the university for an educational discussion. The clock says 9:30 but actually, it is just about a minute past 9.
I intentionally adjusted the clock so whenever I saw that it is already past the given schedule, I would instinctively hasten up. That’s why even if I go to school at 8:45 (according to my clock), I would still be 15 minutes early for class. I fixed myself for sometime and waited until the clock hit 10. I walked to the campus while enjoying the city. I arrived at school ahead of everybody. I waited for 15 minutes, then another 15 minutes, and then I spotted a couple of my bloc mates coming. We exchanged hi’s and hello’s then I asked “have you finished the ano…? ” “Ah! Hindi pa e,” (not yet).
They as if they fully grasped what I have said. “Ang hirap naman ng Philo! Tapos four pages pa. ”(our requirement in philosophy is hard, then it requires four pages of reflection). Now, I find that one hard to translate. Naman! I tried asking my friends (high school classmates) trough SMS how they understood that tagalong word. And, as if it was the one million jackpot question, the majority answered “ewan, XD” (I don’t know, XD*). Naman, according to Paolo Manalo, a professor in UPD, is our tagalong accent, so they wont think that were all airs. So much weight it means nothing naman. ” We waited patiently as one by one, my bloc mates arrived and asked “O! Ba’t ang aga nyo? ”(Why so early? ) as if punctuality is the greatest affront. 2 The educational discussion started at 12 and ended at 3, we ate our lunch and afterwards, together with some of my friends, we decided to go to mass. Sundays are really busy days in churches. The Baguio Cathedral is packed but the three of us managed to get a seat in the front balcony. From there I could feel an instant holiness and closeness to Jesus. Down below I can see devotees wiping holy images with their hankies, maybe, praying for different purposes.
Some time ago, I became skeptical of other people’s beliefs, even of the same sect or religion. I knew a lot of church goers, who were just there for the sake of socialism. Much worse, I knew a few who take the hassle of going to some crowded holy place just to flaunt their trendy catwalk-worthy fashion clothes. Haven’t they thought that they were attracting devils on their vicinity (which ironically happened to be the church)? Not to mention that it tickles the devilish side on the back of my brain to think of little silly thoughts.
Okay, too much of that distraction, and now I am back to myself. I know and studied my religion but I’m not the like of those who religion conscious folks who, I guessed, memorized a book of “How to Impress Jesus” or “What Not to Do’s on Filipino Catholicism”. Yes, there are a lot of them (tradition in relation to religion) but I guess it would be cliche if I enumerated them here so I’ll just talk about fasting. So, the regular fasting occurs every Ramadan period for the Muslims and every Lenten Friday on Christians. I’ve experienced fasting but not the likes of that.
When still at high school, our class decided to collect the money we allot for our recess (excluding lunch) for two days every week for a month, (good bye egg pie, farewell cola, adieu cheese waffles) to give to the less fortunate. I’m not saying these to add wreaths to my name but to share our modern way of fasting. Which appeals greater to God? The traditional or the modern? We careless about that. We just like to help. Helping one another especially a fellow citizen is definitely Filipino. And that’s what we are. That’s what I am. What Makes Me a Filipino?