Sari-sari store: Food identity

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Friday, March 14, 2014

I SHOT out of my chair when I heard that Dr. Jose Rizal has not been officially declared as national hero. Is that right?

Thanks to adobo, this important element in our history is out in the open. Bohol Rep. Rene Relampagos filed earlier this month House Bill 3926, according to GMA News. The bill seeks to declare adobo as national food, claiming that it uses a cooking method “indigenous to the Philippines.”

Although Spain and other Spanish-influenced countries like Brazil have adobo in their cuisine, the Filipino version adds vinegar to the stew.


The bill also wants to formalize Dr. Jose Rizal as national hero, Cariñosa as national dance, bakya as national slippers, bahay kubo as national house, barong Tagalog and baro’t saya as national costumes, mango as national fruit and anahaw as national leaf.

The above lines have caused so much traffic in my brain. My thought was: You mean to say I have been memorizing these things since I was knee-high only to be told they are not official national emblems?

I do agree that if this is really the picture, we must support Relampagos, but the sad thing is this: We don’t make bahay kubo anymore; we don’t have much ananaw trees (a kind of palm) around; yes, we wear the barong Tagalog, but the baro’t saya? Oh dear, girls wear them only during Filipiniana programs.

Perhaps by making these icons official, we will start planting more anahaw trees, reinventing the baro’t saya, reconsidering the bahay kubo and sincerely teaching history in the eyes of Dr. Jose Rizal.

Back to adobo, I am just wondering how the selection was made. Was it by popularity or uniqueness? For example, kimchi is strongly associated with Korea and sushi and kare with Japan, although Korea has its version. Maybe the Japanese chose sushi because everybody in Japan eats it.

But if we are looking for something only found in the Philippines, there’s utan Bisaya and puso. Hurray for utan Bisaya and puso.

However, based on popularity, adobo is the more common food compared to sinigang, linat-an, tinuwa and monggo soup. It comes in many forms, from chicken to pork, to vegetable and even egg adobo.

On another matter, kamunggay has recently been pushed as the national vegetable. My friend Violet, who once worked in Papua, New Guinea, said that she found kamunggay in Papua, but the people there didn’t eat the vegetable. She taught her new friends how to prepare a dish made with kamunggay.

According to InterAksyon, the online news portal of TV5, Pangasinan Rep. Gina de Venecia is pushing for kamunggay’s declaration as the country’s national vegetable.

House Bill 2072 or Act Declaring Malunggay (Moringa) as the National Vegetable of the Philippines and the Month of November of Every Year as the National Malunggay Month was approved on third and final reading late Monday.

The World Health Organization has been promoting the vegetable in the past 20 years because it is a low-cost health booster in poor countries around the globe.

That is a good food combination.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 15, 2014.


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