Living in the city deprives me of a lot of things, especially food. (And real friends, too, who welcome you any time of the day even without an invitation, sometimes even inviting you to partake with what little food they have.)
I thought about food after watching Howie Severino’s “Amoy Pinoy” in “i-witness”. I thought about friends after being turned away by a friend who said I should have given a warning before coming over.
I thought about food and remembered the "Adobong Bisaya" my friends in my hometown used to share especially on the feast day of St. John the Baptist. My friends used to raid our kitchen – the bahaw in the kaldero, the three-day old adobo my Nana tries to save for the next meal, the ginamos in the Nescafe glass – despite the half-hearted protest of my mother.
My friends would bring everything, including the kaldero to the beach. The family has no choice but to follow and to hold an instant piknik with "Nonoy's barkada".
In our province, my friends are my parents’ friends, my friends' friends are also our friends and so on and so forth. We would always become a happy family of friends. That's why Mayo's home is my home, Marvin's bed is my bed, Meiko's mom is our mom, Divina's husband is our barkada and we eat together, sleep together and many of us, I know, would die together, nay, almost at the same time, like our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
(By the way, wakes are a happy moment for our community. Although we shed tears, we also share happy moments together. When we were kids, we used to sleep under the coffin of a friend's dead grandfather or father or mother. November 1 is a grand reunion of the community in the cemetery. It's the only time when we account who were dead and who are still alive. The next time we buy candles for the tombs or submit a list of names of the dead for the priest to mention during the dedication of the mass, we would know how much to spend.)
Adobo is cooked in various ways. In my hometown, our adobo is dry and oily. I think it’s just appropriate because we don’t have a refrigerator. The oil preserves the meat for it to last weeks.
During fiestas, we cook a lot of adobo for friends and relatives to bring home. We call it “bring house.” We put the adobo with a lot of mantika inside cans of biscuits, milk, anything that we find in our kitchen or backyard. Sometimes, weeks after the fiesta, when we visit friends in their homes during mealtime, the nanay or the lola would proudly offer the adobo. “Gikan pa ni sa inyo. Lami kaayo mao nga gihinay-hinay namo,” the friend’s mother would say. "Kanus-a man mag-adobo og usob si nanay mo?” would always be the next question. "Sa piyesta tingali kung magpatay mi og baboy," I would answer.
It has been a long time since I’ve eaten our adobo. It has been a long time I have been with friends.