Rethink

These past few weeks, my thoughts and actions have been to write and draw, revise and redraft, build it up and tear it down so I can start over again and see what I could come up with.

It occured to me that all these have some twisted analogs with my life. And truth be told, there are some things I would like to change with how I have lived the recent 5 years or so, but that’s a digression.

To rethink what I have learned and known all these years. Taking a step back and see where can make the changes, or improvements for that matter on how i would like my story to be. What do I know about my past, our collective past? Sure we have been fed the usual crap movies about dwarves and elves, those enchanted beings that we alll so loved and feared. But was that it?

Are dwarves (or elves) really just little beings with pointy hats and pointy shoes in colorful garb and not much else? How magical are they? How come they always seem to mingle or interfere with humans? Are tiyanaks anything more than just scary childlike ghouls that devour infants? Where do they live? who gives them, command? Are these pitiful tiyanaks the result of some aborted pregnancy?

Questions and more questions I hope to find the answers.

Early this evening I went to my newfound eatery. Of course, my standards for good food and cooking was from the fact that I believed , and it is still true up to this day, that my mother is the best cook in the whole world. Whenever I try a new place to eat , and not the franchised fast food kind, nor the expensive restaurants and culinary spots all those hipsters are fond of taking photos first before actually tasting the food, I go for the cab-driver sort of food joints. Places where thesoup is hot, the dishes are laid on the counter and you just pick the one you want. This particular place makes the best Kinunot, in thick coconut cream and generously spiced with siling labuyo, a real Bicolano fare. I have been coming here in the last couple of months or so because, simply put, I like their cooking. Upon my first sitting here I went for the Nilaganhg Baboy and that I enjoyed very much that I keep coming back, if my budget doesn’t limit me to instant noodles and pancit canton that is. So, I like their cooking but I don’t put much stock on Sinaing na Tulingan that is not made by my mother. Years ago I gave up on it, because nobody, no one, no place anywhere could cook this dish like my mother could. It’s even dangerous if Tulingan is not prepared right. But tonight, I let down my guard and picked the Tulingan, because I am feeling lucky.

It was marvellous. The pork fat was just right, the fish pressed wide, and the Camias was a revelation. And the broth was thick. It was Sinaing na Tulingan like my mother used to make. My acquired animosity towards urbanized Sinaing na Tulingan was shattered.

Now that is a complete turnaround. I learned another lesson.

In building my fictional town, I realized I can’t just draw anything from thin air. It has to have some basis, some solid foundation. The chacarters should be as real as your next door neighbor or else it woud be just like Roderick Paulate in Duwende garb, all color and pretty vague. Same with our Diwata, Kapre, Tikbalang, Nuno sa Punso. At least what I know then were paper thin descriptions, and it’s only now that I am learning a lot about our pagan beliefs and traditions, lore, myth and legend. You can’t substitute cabbage for lettuce.

Just like the Sinaing na Tulingan, I found out this eatery pays homage to the real, old fashioned way of making the dish, it’s a skill way above average cooking.

There’s a reason why in this modern age, we still have our Hilot, the medicine women and men who relieve us of pain and afflictions, or the old Sage who when things got rough, are sought by the people for guidance. To reach back and take those stories and retell hem the way I want, but as much as possible, keep the essence of the lore, as close as can be or else as in the case of the tulingan it wouldn’t be edible. I mean to throw rocks and break those misconceptions that was forcefed to us by our educational system and the film industry that fueled the vacuous depictions of our folklore.

And notice how in the brink of living in space or travelling towards other planets, superstition and fear of the dark still cling to our consciousness. The old ways does not necessarily have to fade away. There are reason these persists. These stones that I throw will also be the one I’ll use to rebuild those long lost tales.

I just have to find out how. So In the meantime, I continue to write what tales and anectdotes from my youth can provide. And as a form of respite from fictional writing and illustration, I do this blogging stuff to rethink my process.

See? There is something going on here. I may be getting the hang of this thing called writing. I am doing this blog post because after several hours of plotting and writing, my head is in overdrive and if I don’t stop, I may choke on it. I even refrained from playing Heavy Metal and shifted into something moderately raunchy, if you could classify Def Leppard moderate.

Rethinking spilled over to my character designs. Oh I would love to show them to you, but I guess there’ll be time enough for it.

Let me just sit back and sip coffee, for now…

Instant Noodle Mentality

Sustenance in plastic packs

Typical instant noodles without the flavor packs.

Let me tell you something. I’d you to know that  me and my friends could have written and published a book with a title that sounded like –

“101 Ways To Cook Instant Noodles”

And we could have made a killing, catering to most college students and ‘syanos who rent roach infested, stale smelling, gin blossom patterned, cramped rooms around the University Belt – Morayta, Dos Castillas, Carola, Bustillos and that most loved hole-in-the-wall dwelling we had in Lincallo, a small alley along Legarda, in Tanduay.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see, nowadays whenever I resort to instant foods, a couple packs of instant noodle does the trick, but not without added trickery, too.  Oh, there  has to be some veggies to add to the  monosodium glutamate that comes with the 60gm pack, along with the requisite egg to make it “special”. A chicken flavored noodle goes well with Pak Choi (Petsay for the uninitiated) or Malunggay. Beef noodles are just begging to be boiled with Cabbage. With Pancit canton, you can use any of the three, plus some Squid Balls to add fun. And if there are no more veggies to add, because your budget just doesn’t allow for extra (it could be that your salary went south about a week ago) or there was no time to drop by your local market or talipapa, chopped onions or garlic will certainly make your eating-solo worth the time to prep for. You should try sprinkling those beautiful, finely chopped raw garlic on freshly cooked pancit canton and you can never go wrong.

But during college, and I was going to Far Eastern University at the time, a group of seven hungry promdis scrimping and saving for everyday expenses, the usual solution was pool small amounts of money, specially near weekends when allowances just can’t seem to get through the week, and try to make a feast of the measly budget – barbecued chicken neck + head, lavishly dipped in vinegar and soy sauce concoctions, or two cans of Red Ligo Sardines, sauteed in garlic, onions, extended with water and egg, because the sauce is thick enough. Now how could you feed 7 hungry college students with just 3 packs of chicken noodles? Easy. Okra, kangkong or saluyot might just add variety and flavor  to your gastronomic adventure.

We used to put a single tinapang Galunggong, deboned, shredded, along with garlic and onions so that leftover rice can be enjoyed without the usual Ulam, black, powdered pepper enforcing the taste. I still do this every now and then.

Speaking of leftovers, don’t throw away those unfinished potato or corn chips. Grind them, and throw them into a couple of beaten eggs add some chili sauce. That’s why I never throw away those unopened chili pizza sauce packs away. You never know.

Why am I rambling about food? Continue reading