I was a witness to my parent’s power to mobilize resources at the quickest possible time, with efficiency that could even rival that of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
We were in the middle of a very late breakfast when my parents proved to me again something that I am all too aware even before – my parent’s almost magical, if not occult-like, power to cause spontaneous generation of anything.
Our family has no concept of brunch; we breakfast at around 10 am during Saturdays and Sundays and move our lunch time to 2:30 in the afternoon. On our table are the usual poor man’s breakfast – fried fish, laswa (an Ilonggo dish made from a smorgasbord of vegetable from our backyard garden), and steaming rice. This is something I have been complaining about ever since I arrived home three weeks ago.
We heard a vehicle pulling over in front of our gate. A group of women got off a small pick up truck led by the youngest sister of my mother who is active in a Protestant religious group called Kingdom that is based in Davao City. There were 13 of them. She asked if they could have their lunch in our house. My mother being the ever hospitable did not hesitate to say yes.
I asked her how come. One moment were having a very simple breakfast of fish and sticky vegetable soup on Tupperware dishes, and in a matter of 15 minutes, she uncovered her expensive-looking china which I am sure she got at a bargain. She then asked my father to cook six chupas of rice, which translates to roughly 2 ½ kilos, and lo and behold, he’s using a really big pot that looks like the ones used by witches, which I do not know we have, until he started cooking rice.
My mother then removed a slab of frozen pork from the freezer and started thawing it in running water. After a minute, she changed her mind and took a 500-peso bill from her purse, gave it to my father and instructed him to buy roasted chickens in the plaza corner. It was too fast, and before I could comprehend what was occurring before me, my aunt and her team started devouring what we served them.
From this I learned important lessons about resource mobilization:
1. In a tightly knit society where people living next door know what you will have for dinner, it is a rule of thumb to live modestly and if possible blend in to keep them from concocting ugly stories whose subject is your steamy private life set in a French-like atmosphere of a film noir. People in rural areas are very post-modern without them being aware of it.
2. Expensive-looking china are not for every-day use. You’ll never know when a horde of religious women, who gets easily impressed by them, comes visiting your place.
3. Big pots are of extreme importance, and like the expensive-looking china, should be kept hidden as to avoid triggering your extremely nosy neighbors from inventing stories that can start modern-day witch hunt.
4. Set breakfast time, especially during weekends, at a normally accepted time; between seven to nine o’clock in the morning is the safest. This is to avoid being caught unaware by eventualities such as unexpected guests who always make it a point to schedule their visits at awkward moments and you’re in your ugliest housedress, giving you no time to mobilize needed resources.
5. In case you decide that you do not to bother yourself with these mundane tasks on a weekend, lock you gate and pretend you’re away enjoying your two days on a deserted island alone. This time, you can take advantage of your neighbors who will make stories, colorful ones, without you having to hint anything. From an escapade with an imaginary paramour, a dead body you want to dispose of in a coral atoll, to as grand as you contemplating to purchase an entire island.