Wednesday, October 3, 2007
The Birthday at Gusa a.k.a. the Wedding at Canaan
In the three years that I have been living in Cagayan de Oro City, I have formulated one main conclusion--- people here love to party and eat. Maybe most Filipinos do but I just never knew because I had such an introverted family that we might as well have been living in a mouse’s hole while the rest of our countrymen socialized, drank, binged and died of consumption.
I must honestly say though that the frequent parties that my husband’s family has been in the habit of taking me to have been gastronomically satisfying. I’ve more or less learned to relate with other humans simply because I get rewarded with the chance to bathe the walls of my arteries with all that bad roasted pork fat. I’m telling you, this is the most satisfying way to commit long term suicide.
Two Sundays ago, I had my organs swim happily in pork oil again till I had difficulty breathing. My husband’s aunt celebrated her birthday and the two roasted pork carcasses were beckoning to me with the shadows of their former selves and the glow of their new forms. I was having the time of my life until I noticed my husband and his aunt picking a little uneasily at one of the considerably deflated carcasses.
I asked my husband what his problem was. He looked at me with a slight hint of amusement and said, “We ran out of rice, the food is quickly disappearing and more people are pouring through those double doors like bulls on a stampede.”
Oops. That sounded too much like Jesus and Mary in the wedding at Canaan but I wasn’t about to ask my husband to stare at the food and miraculously multiply them. Well, he’s not Jesus, he isn’t even Harry Potter. Thankfully, the real magicians in the kitchen just kept whipping up rice like a factory and the food did hold out although there wasn’t even a hint of pork bones left after the storm abated.
The incident is another reminder of a unique aspect of the Filipino culture. My husband’s aunt did estimate the number of her guests correctly. She probably forgot though that in the Philippines, when you invite a person to an event, you are also indirectly inviting that person’s spouse, children, friends and friends of friends. In other words, expect a whole platoon to show up for every individual you invite.
I suppose this unwritten Filipino party code of conduct has its roots in the concept of the fiesta. Anyone is welcome to partake of a house’s feast. This does make you feel all the more the unique Filipino brand of hospitality. Then again, for modern middle wage earners who have limited budgets and resources, it can get pretty inconvenient. Well, what can we do, it’s a cultural thing you know.