Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Feeling of Community
22nd of December 2006, Barangay Hall Staff Party

Written in: Poblacion, Sta. Maria, Bulacan
Composition: Impromptu
Previous Post: A Cultural Observation


My Uncle Tito, the Kapitan, hosted Tumana's Barangay Hall Staff Christmas Party in his place at the Family property - the same place where I am staying.

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And, like most large Filipino parties, there was lechon or spit roasted pig. As far as I can remember, the preparation is very simple: Step 1 is to select a young pig that is no more than 80 pounds, and, if male, must be castrated; Step 2 is to execute the pig by puncturing the carotid artery and letting all the blood drain (blood may be saved for other dishes); Step 3 is to shave and gut the pig (some internal organs may be saved for other dishes such as the sarsa or sauce); and Step 4 is to impale the pig and slow roast it over hot embers (no direct flame) for a few good hours - keeping the impaled pig constantly rotating.
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I will spare you the photos of the more gruesome aspects of this process, but I can assure you that the slow roasting has a subtle beauty all on its own that I found fascinating. The roasting is so slow, you almost would not notice the raw flesh of the pig transform itself to a bright golden red. As well, the final product is very delicious - pork roasted in its own juices with a hint of smoke.

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Uncle Tito himself donated the lechon, but the rest of the buffet for this feast was pitched in by the rest of the community in some sort of Barangay-wide potluck. Tumana's treasury did not have anything to spare, so it was up to everyone to make it all happen - and happen, it did.

There were no caterers, no servers, and no paid help, but everything went smoothly. Everyone fell into their assumed tasks, and a grand time was had by all, even me.
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Especially me.
(Photo is staged. No! Really!)



But before I fell into such a merry drunken stupor, I did manage to interact with the rest of the people and got to experience first hand the true meaning of 'community'. Everyone knew everyone and I was pleasantly surprised that people also knew me. Well, they may not have known ME personally, but they knew me as the son of my dad, Reynaldo "Ka Bonteng" - himself quite a well known figure in Barangay Tumana prior to our migration to Canada.

This was the second time I experienced such a feeling of community here in the Philippines - the first time was in Ilocos, during my Lola's wake. Indeed, that was my first time experiencing such a thing in ten years.

Canada may be a friendly, accepting, and tolerant nation, but somehow this part was missing.

It is hard to grasp and difficult to pinpoint; for it is more than a sense of belonging.

It is also beyond everyone else around me saying that I DO belong. And no, it's not about blood and familial ties.

It's something more

Roots.


Related Flickr Photos.




Next Post: Pasko

Related Post: My Uncle, The Kapitan 
                         The Godfather's Party
                         Deconstructing and Unpacking Rice and Rice Growing
                         Where Meat Comes From

 

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