What the fuzz is all about?

I was asked why the mockery?

I believe I need to tell a story.

I grew up in a farming community in the Northern Philippines. My father is a farmer. Life was hard, barely making ends meet.

Sometime in the early 80’s, during the extreme drought in Negros, Philippines, we have to struggle everyday to find something to eat. The whole country is actually in drought. We’d scour fields which has just been harvested, and gather any left over by the rice-reapers, then whatever we’d find we dry in the sun and pound with mortar and pestle to remove the rice hulls. A kilo of rice will go a long way.

Being that, my discipline in growing up is: if it staves your hunger, and it doesn’t kill you, eat it! And I grew up like that. Food is more precious than gold. A single grain of boiled rice left in your plate after eating will cause unbelievable berating from my father. Another thing that somehow made me chuckle sometimes when my memory take me back then is when there is more than 1 viand on the dining table, my father will castigate my mother with “are you rich?” kind of words. The key here is reserve it for the next meal time, don’t live in excess. (To non-Filipino out there, “viand” is a loose translation Filipinoes use to describe any dish eaten with rice. The exact Tagalog word is “ulam” and it has no exact English equivalent).

I am not about to write a sob story here, so fast forward to the present. I am now a software engineer in Taiwan, working for a top-tech multinational company whose product will reach my hometown after almost a decade. My salary should afford me nice dinner once in a while in a nouveau restaurant but I have not outgrown or forgotten my past so I don’t do it. I am a farmers son and still is and will always be is. As a matter of fact, my father is still farming even with my insistence that he can take a rest.

I know many Filipino out there share my background, although maybe your parents aren’t as disciplinarian as mine. However, I believe not many view food like I do: as a means of survival, a basic need. Food is for sustainance of our body, for fuel. This is true for people who hardly make ends meet– like most of us, the Filipinoes. Accept it or not, majority in the Philippines still live below the poverty line. What are those art-nouveau foods being posted in FB for then? To show off? To show you can afford already? To be different from the race you belong? I don’t get it.

Well if you are really having that excess that a haute cuisine is a necessary ingredient of your daily subsistence now, wake up! Sooo many kids in the streets of Manila and many other cities are sleeping hungry!

Think about this: the effort you put in taking the picture, retouching it in Photoshop to enhance, uploading and checking every now and again who liked, would it not be better if you use that time to fetch a few peso of pandesal and feed at least one person in the streets?


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