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.
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.
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.
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.

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


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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