Monday, February 14, 2011

BADIAN FOOD SOJOURN

BADIAN IS SOMEWHERE yonder in the southwest coast of Cebu and I'm going there as part of a team of birthday well-wishers to serenade a scion of a prominent family in that town. Fortunately, I have a camera with me and have used this in almost all of the engagements for this event and, for the first time, I get to pass inside the tunnel built under the Plaza Independencia. Mark this on the calendar – July 27, 2010!

A 25-seater Hyundai County bus is hired to ferry the troupe from Mandaue City to Badian without the stops that commercial bus liners usually do. That means, we have to endure bloated bladders, maybe too meek to stop the airconditioned bus with the husband and daughter of the birthday celebrant around who, BTW, are our bosses. Okay, time to practice mind over matter...inhale...exhale...inh...

Anyways, by the time we arrive at Badian at six in the evening, a meal was already prepared for serving to our party. This consist of the famous Dumanjug native chicken, a pepper-flavored roasted pork, a very tender braised pork belly or humba with either rice or milled corn as your staple. Believe me, this supper is superb and is considered a meal fit for a prince! Oh, by the way, a shake of coconut meat, ka-ong1 and pandan2 is served as dessert.

After dinner, we transferred to Matutinao where we were billeted. We practiced our singing, fine-tuning it in its minutest detail. Since I know all the songs by heart, they made my voice as the prompt to pursue the gist of each song. There were three songs: Skyline Pigeon by Elton John, You've Got a Friend by James Taylor and Dancing Queen by ABBA. Our voices were off key and so is the guitar where you could barely hear the notes.

When the practice is done, the host offered us a bottle of Fundador Brandy. Fundador is best with just ice and I took pains in walking the one-kilometer distance from the private resort to the San Isidro Labrador Parish in Matutinao to look for ice, but without success. It is already nine o'clock in the evening and, in this part of Cebu, people close shop after the Angelus.

The highway is devoid of people and some stretches are dark. The resort caretaker, however, volunteered to look for that elusive ice and I returned to the resort empty-handed placing all my hopes to the guy. Anyway, everyone needed to wash away the food with something strong like brandy but swallowing the liquid in its pure state is unbearable. The driver could not resist the temptation though and serve himself one glass sans ice.

After waiting for about an eternity, the caretaker arrive with ten pieces of ice and the atmosphere of the place became alive. The girls slipped into their bathing suits and frolic in the swimming pool while a trio of guys after many shots of the brandy decide to catch fish on the shoreline with a scoop net and caught two very tiny fish.

Inspired by this success, they drag a parked small fishing boat to the sea and paddled about a hundred meters from shore. They drop the fish net and maneuver back and forth. Meanwhile, I just read a little bit of history with an old issue of a local newspaper and got drowsy until I could not resist anymore and tilt my whole body on the bench.

I awoke from the shaking hand of the driver because I am having fits of nightmare in my sleep. So I have. I saw it in my dream and tried my darnedest best to let go a scream but no voice came out until Mr. Driver rescued me. It is 2:00 AM. Damn, I'm hungry and I smell cooked fish somewhere near. So, the “fishermen” were successful in their fishing venture ha? I eat two of their freshly-caught dangguit3 fish and claim that one more hour of sleep afterwards.

We all leave at 3:30 AM back to the house of the birthday celebrant and silently tip toe ourselves close, just outside her bedroom. We were joined by her cousins and other well-wishers. Mañanita4 time. We sing just loud enough to rouse her and there she is, open door and all, disheveled hair, sleepy eyes and a smiling face. I think we sing better in the early morning when everybody is asleep, don't you think?

Her husband offered her a huge pandan-flavored cake which she gladly accepted plus the offering of ripe mangoes and bananas with flower arrangements. After the singing and the greetings, another beeline for an early morning meal. I took a slice of chocolate chiffon and stir myself a cup of coffee espresso. The chiffon is exceptionally baked and so different from the others that I have tasted before. This one is too good!

After an hour, we leave back to the resort and eat breakfast. It is good that we brought the rest of that very tender braised pork belly and now I can concentrate on just one viand. This is a specialty in the south and no one comes close to cooking humba the way they southerners do. You know what, I just kissed my diet program away yesterday and today.

The girls went back to the pool while the guys read the lines between the sandy shore and the sea. Of course there will be high tide but it will not be early. At the earliest, it would be at eleven, but that would be our ETD. In between now and our departure, I would rather sleep for one hour and take a dip maybe at ten. Sounds good. So I snore away the one hour.

The “fishermen” took another trip with the small craft this time with fishing lines and hooks and they get to catch a tiny bass and a small sunfish. I convince them to spare the wrasse from the cooking fire and they release it. At ten, I took a dip and ended it abruptly when I notice that the sea water all around is populated by tiny jellyfish that sting the skin upon contact.

Prepared my things and waited for departure. At exactly eleven, we leave the resort for the celebrant's house one last time and take our lunch. There were many guests and everyone took their fill. At 12:30 PM, we leave Badian for Mandaue City and arrive there at four. It is a good food trip for me and the rest of the “choir” and “fishermen”.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer

1Arenga pinnatar, sugar palm.
2Pandanus amaryllifolius.
3Rabbit fish.
4Morning birthday song.