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

Thoughts of Home


Remembering Lent as a boy of 13, used to feel the burden of looking at a long list of Suman deliveries for all the orders Ina has taken from visiting Paetenos who has moved elsewhere. Our Suman is the choice for family gathering come vacation. Some even stop right by even before getting home.

Lent is one of the busiest cooking seasons for my Mom, probably preparing as much as more than a thousand Suman, along with orders of Kalamay. We used to jump at her errands, buy this, get that, and that is while we also have to deliver the paper for that day, and the usual household chores a boy growing up in Paete has to do around the house.

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Long Way From Home

There were times I wished I was just another outsider looking in. No relation whatsoever to the people being observed. But I can’t keep the distance. These are my own blood, my kin, my siblings. And yet, while we share the same mother, my own behavior and likes are somewhat beyond their comprehension, and that is why I try very hard to stay away. No one can deny our inherited likeness – the eyes, the loosely,thick-strands of hair, the bulky bone structure, even the low arch of our feet, our coffee fondness. But the similarity ends when I see my own literary favorites, my smoking habit, my own way of seeing the world in it’s slanted state. Even then, I always ask why do I differ from my family. They don’t listen to me. They never believed anything I said. And I always try to earn their approval.

So I got tired.

Now I say what I feel. I do what must be done. That, and my seemingly streetwise demeanor tend to get me in trouble with my family. At least I think so. Contrary to what others believe, I am the token black sheep, the one who’s always away. The brother who’s always somewhere, except home.

Well, home, now, is where someone remembers me. I’m humbled by the welcoming arms from old friends, college buddies and new ones. The sad part is, I don’t really feel welcome anymore when my thoughts turn to my own family.

I’m a deviant they will never accept, nor understand.