My American Friend

Bamboo Shoots

“But what will happen to the Pandas?” my American friend asked.

I still remember one hot summer day (during Cuaresma – Lent in the Ilocano language) we spent in the Philippines. Our ship moored dockside at Alava Pier, NAS Cubi Point for a couple of days of rest and recreation en route to the Indian Ocean. Sunshine drenched the countryside and the weekend beckoned.

“You want to come with me to the public market?” I asked a shipmate buddy who was folding his freshly washed laundry.


Squash and katuday flowers, eggplants, camote, ginger roots and bittermelons

“Why? What’s there to see?” he replied never taking his eyes off the linen he splayed in front of him.

“You might be surprised,” I said, quickly grabbing my baseball cap to leave. I thought I’d share some Filipino culture with my American friend. And the public market would be a good place to begin such enculturation.

“Wait,” he said. “Give me a second and I will go with you.” I knew he was just trying to be nice. He probably figured I needed company.


Getting ready to haul stuff

Before long we were off to the public market, dodging weaving tricycles, avoiding wobbly ox-carts piled high with rice straw, and politely turning down independent shish-kebab merchants lining the sidewalks hawking their wares.

Entering the open bazaar we first came upon the fresh vegetable stalls. “Whoa… are those things what I think they are?” he exclaimed pointing at a stack of freshly cut bamboo shoots. “They look like 16 millimeter projectiles.”

“You’re right. Them’s bamboo shoots – not projectiles,” I shot back.

“But what will happen to the bamboo plants if you take the shoots? What will happen to the Panda bears who eat bamboo? Who buys that stuff anyway? What is wrong with this picture?” My friend went on and on. He was Mr questions. I smiled contentedly. Here’s our cultural teaching moment.


Sausages – Sorizo – Longaniza

We walked deeper into the center of the bazaar. The air became staid. Different odors met our nostrils, some sweet and some downright repugnant. Then we came by the salted-fish merchant stall. “Eeeeks…” even I felt repulsed by the fish left fermenting in those huge gray clay jars.

My friend loudly protested. “What in the heck is this place? Let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough of this &%^#!” (the euphemism is my choice since his very words are unprintable here). I felt embarrassed for my friend but what could I do? We hurried back to the ship.


Vegetable stew – Inabraw

Since it was already past noon, we stopped by the Exchange Cafeteria for a cup of coffee and some lunch. I paid all charges; a peace-offering. My friend couldn’t stop telling me how much he enjoyed the Filipino food items I ordered for lunch. He said the vegetable stew tasted like something he ate in Thailand, and the soup was reminiscent of the seafood soup he ate in Vietnam. He went on and on about how much he liked the fish lightly battered and cooked in sun-dried tomato sauces. I listened intently.


Bagnet for Sitsaron (Chicharon)

I told him about the basic food ingredients used, the seasonings and spices that made the dishes tasty. I told him also that he saw all those ingredients in the public market place when we went there earlier.

He took a gulp of chilled coconut juice but largely remained silent. I wondered what he could have thought. “Didn’t he like the food?” I silently asked myself.

Then he said, “I have concluded that Filipino people are good cooks. And I can eat this food all day.”


TIKANLU Festival Tagudin Town Fiesta 2013 – by Fegie Yvette Layco

Fegie Yvette Layco, SAS Ai Scholar Class 2011-12

Fegie Yvette Layco, SAS Ai Scholar Class 2011-12

It is the fourth day of the Tagudin Town Fiesta 2013 Tikanlu Festival. This most awaited annual event turns the entire town of Tagudin into a veritable wonderland.

There are bands playing, people dancing, cotton candy machines whirring, kids crying – lost and frantically looking for their mothers, halo-halo ice shavings packed into overflowing glass cups topped with scoops of ice cream to stave off the heat, the town is rocking.

Visitors from adjoining towns, relatives from distant provinces, and some native Tagudinians who work overseas have come home to join in the fun. Goody – they have come home to spend some of their hard-earned money. Good for the local economy.


An Ifugao Warrior dancing

Early this morning, we watched the Folk Dance competition. This competition event affords every school in Tagudin time to present its own dance number. Each school had its own highly trained dance troupe, bedecked in colorful costumes, holding and waving exotic props that included native swords, spears, and colorful loin clothes.


People line the streets

People lining the streets joined in the revelry and celebration. In the afternoon, my cousins and I watched the exciting Acrobatic Show. There must have been close to a thousand people inside the covered court.

The place became so crowded and packed to standing room only. As the inside temperature rose people unfurled their fans and furiously stirred the stale, unmoving air for relief. Their wrist movements flicking their multi-colored fans added more color to the scene as they coaxed the still air to move.


Acrobat flips in the air – a difficult maneuver that defies gravity

Showing great physical agility, strength and prowess the acrobats performed intricate stunts to the beat of the music. The most interesting stunt was the quadruple jump and twist. The acrobats executed flawlessly. Thundering applause raised the roof and shook the glass panes. The acrobatic presentation proved amazing to watch.

And that should bring you up to date with what is happening at the Tagudin town fiesta. Wish you were here!