the true taste of home

Traveling is not always an escape, at times it is a way to give yourself a chance to miss home. And in my case, it has been a year since the last time I set foot on my native home land.

(sniff sniff) Do I smell homesick? Not quite. As homesick is defined as a mood or sadness characterized with initial signs of depression and melancholy. And I may JUST be missing and craving for some things back home.

Home sick isn’t really in the vocabulary of wanderlusts, we can even live years on the road without crying on the phone when we dial the big +63. It is just that at times we couldn’t help waking up in the morning and some what having an olfactory hallucination that we smell baking pandesal. Abroad, no matter how absurdly convenient (or hazardous) the transportation from point A to B, we are still looking for that Salmonella and Clostridium tetani thrill that only a Manila jeepney can offer.

I decided to visit my folks back home and spend some time with Monette for her 39th birthday. I left Singapore with only one set of clothes which I was wearing enroute to Manila, a luggage full of the body shop items, white coffee and almost 10 kg of chocolates (A true Pinoy pasalubong, even though those chocolates are widely available in the Philippines, visiting back home from abroad would not be complete without these diabetic’s suicide bars).

areal photo of sunset

Touching down to NAIA used to be a sad moment in the past. It simply means vacation’s over, time to go back to work, wake up to reality. This time, it means otherwise. The almost four hours of flight was enough for me to sleep and recharge after enslaving myself at work in the preceding weeks. But I was wide awake and there’s only one thing running in my head on board Airphil Express…

WHAT TO EAT FIRST?!

And here are the food choices that are making me salivate in the last 356 days:

Known as Monosodium Glutamate cooked in different ways, Jollibee for me, is still superior to any fast food anywhere else in the face of the planet. Those langhap sarap burgers served with rice (yes rice, not rice buns, but rice + extra rice) and the chickenjoy swimming in pure cholesterol love–gravy!

Me: Hello, 2 buckets of Chickenjoy please.
Operator: Alright sir, would that be all?
Me: … oh extra gravy. 10 cups of extra gravy!
Operator: but sir you have to pay five pesos per—
Me: I DON’T CARE IF I PAY 5 PESOS OR 5 DOLLARS PER CUP, JUST GIVE ME–THE FREAKING–GUHRAVEEEEEY!
Operator: ???
Me: Sorry miss… yes 10 cups of gravy please… wait, that’s on top of the free cups, right?

Flip Fact: Chicken meals in Singapore are served with Chili, not gravy. Texas Chicken and KFC are the only food chains that has gravy in their kitchen and it is usually served for mashed potato ONLY! So you have to buy it for $1.50, and the taste is bordering to those of old socks.

Tender Juicy Hotdogs. This is not  a paid post but I must say, Pinoy hotdogs are the bomb. It may taste weird to some but these smaller western sausages counterpart reminds me of Christmas. It may not be Monette’s thing but for me these salty, juicy, cheap and angry red meat puts the HOT in hotdogs. no pun intended.

sisig

Sisig. A feast of bad ass pork parts like ears, innards, skin, chicharon (fried fatty parts) sizzled in its own oil and drenched liberally with Low Density Lipoproteins. Mixed with chopped chili, onion and a squeeze of a Calamansi (lime) on top served in sizzling plate with a bottle of ice cold  San Miguel and Red Horse beer. So help me God.

Dinuguan. An alarming savory stew of meat and/or offal (typically stomach, intestines, ears, heart and snout) simmered in a rich, spicy dark gravy of pig blood, garlic, chili and vinegar. Don’t be so squeamish, this does not confirm your retarded speculations that Philippines is where Edward Cullen settled down. The dish is similar to Europe’s blood sausage or black pudding stew and the preparation is more like the Polish soup Czernina. However the Philippines’ old recipe is a knock off of Melas Zomos of the ancient Spartan Civilization.

sinuguan

Flip Fact: There’s no vampires in the Philippines. So girls, when you see a pale looking guy that sparkles, do not get too excited. Most likely he is a gay guy from an after party in Malate.

From the airport, I asked my family to go straight to a banchetto to gorge and bolt on Vigan Longanisa and the old school Isaw (A chicken or pig intestines marinated and grilled on skewers).

So it has been a year since I decided to give up the comforts of my life in Manila. I am always excited to try new cuisines when I am traveling and I tend to trivialize how good these common food we see everyday. The true taste of home is not limited to the flavors and scents, it’s the people whom you eat with, the memories it elicits while it lingers in your mouth and the fact that it is cheap all inclusive and its true character that is undoubtably Pinoy.

Here in Singapore I have been a big slob, my social life is synonymous to facebook. Entertainment is limited to watching some youtube videos of some kid who can play a wicked ukulele or Marian Rivera pulling another stupid stunt on national television. The surprises on TFC news like Police stupidity, sensationalized billboard brouhaha and the biggest telenovela entitled ‘Government’ became my regular late night amusement.

Manila may not be the cleanest, safest and most progressive city that I have been to, but it was my niche. It was my little safe corner where you can pull a Chaka Khan and belt the night away ’til the break of dawn without the Police officer knocking on my door, where my fave food can be found in every corner at any given time, and where I can climb up the roof and scream on the top of my lungs–I’M THE KING OF THE… (stop!)

In the mean time, I’m making the best out of my three days in Manila, the city I call home!