Nob 30, 2001


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8:08 AM 11/29/01 COLD NIGHTS

Baguio, males' room of the guest house - I chose the bed closest to the window. From there, I see the area's clotheslines and roofs in the mornings and its lights in the nights. At night, the darkness here seemed very exotic to me, but never threatening. Like a stranger that I cannot predict at all, but somehow makes me feel that she will never harm me.

The slope of the land in my bedroom (pur)view always wears the same face. It's features are frozen by Baguio's air, the breeze subtly discouraging thaw. Very much like a lightly sleeping dog in the front door. Thus, the vault of the night is impenetrable.

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8:25 AM 11/29/01 SLAUGHTERHOUSE RULES

The sounds of the night seemed like a suitable accompaniment to the sights. The constant "face" has a perpetual "voice." The night was not dumb at all. However, it was droning, humming.

From where I sat or lay, the cries of pigs being butchered in the slaughterhouse was so distant. But since it was the only language of an otherwise silent night, I heard it like clear whispers.

After the girls left our room to dream in their own quarters, alcohol-moist conversation was led to the "whispers". The next night would sound the same. Even the ride home was to be infected with the tune.

We chopped our thoughts and words, set them on the low fire of our tipsy-drowsy conversation, and served them on a common table. Potluck in a foreign banquet. I took the liberty of compiling the leftovers. Just like full-blooded Pinoys do to make sure that the whole family tasted a feast attended by a member.

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9:50 AM 11/29/01 ABATTOIR DOGS
We talked about various meats. We talked of tastes and palates. And what of the cries that came to us as a distant drone? It never left us, the progenitor and undergird of our small talk.

You are what you eat, we have always been told. What does that say for us then? Some have gone beyond the regular chicken, pork, and beef norm. In its place our group's collective tongue have tasted ostrich, boar, and deer meat. Cat meat was cold to the stomach and may cause the uninitiated to puke. Bullfrog meat tastes a lot like chicken. Snake meat has been touted to increase a man's charm, vigor, and sexual prowess. One among us, as a child, roasted pipit and ate it with the childhood barkada, probably one of the rites of passage that children so cleverly devise.

Then of course, there is dog meat. They say that one should drink dog's blood before partaking of dog meat. Some say that the man who eats dog meat will smell of dog sweat.

Now, i would risk taking the freezing hell of an unheated Benguet bath as long as I finally taste dog meat. A staff member said that dog-eating was banned by legislation throughout the archipelago. But officials in Baguio argued that it had a special cultural significance for the city. And it was a special attraction.

The hegemonic nations consider dogs as man's best friends, the most fortunate of them bejewelled in gems that could buy third world households, factories, and votes. Special breeds have regimens and "person"al effects for competition. I wonder when our Pinoy athletes will receive the attention and compensation "owners" give their "dogs".

But no, legislation of the elite somehow saw fit to give in to foreign values before a host of other more important concerns (the state of our athletes and workers, among them).

As a friend said once, were will you draw the line? Humans, monkeys, dolphins, dogs, cows, pigs, or chickens? Extremist vegetarians also have their own standards. Where will you draw the line there? Dairy products, tofu? Maybe someday, I add, when synthetic food is possible, anything that was originally alive or part of something alive would be banned. Even plant products, mushrooms, maybe even lactobacilli shirota strain.

What if the world was the other way around? Or let's entertain speculations on an entirely system, maybe if the past wasn't as it was or if the future promised to be something else than the way it is now. With India, let's say, as the dominant ideological force and Bush and Blair's America and Europe as downtrodden as Mongolians long after the Khans.

What would happen then to the Filipino diet? More dogs, less cows?

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1:07 PM 11/29/01 TO HAVE ONE'S DOG AND EAT IT TOO

Hey! Don't get me wrong I don't like being cruel to animals either. I don't like the idea of chickens being beaten to death with a blunt blade just to get the distinct flavor and blackened meat of pinikpikang manok.

Maybe that's where I draw the line. I just don't know how I can justify that to my (hypothetical) child. Maybe first-worlders also have that problem. They don't know what to say to their children or themselves when they see that the animals they consider all too human are treated like animals in their thirld-world backyard.

And since they are hegemonic, they try their best to impose these stupid laws on us. As if we were cultural and intellectual inferiors who have no sterling values aside from what is given to us "third"-hand.

The local elite seek their approval. And since the eating of dog seems far less natural (dangerously exotic) to the "conscientious" first-worlders than something like poverty or class differences, they see fit to approve measures that emancipates the dogs and maintains the status quo for masses of indigents and a handful of elites.

What if I just think as they do? They are greater nations so they do with us as they want to, guided by their "superior culture." I am "naturally" higher up in the food chain too compared to the dogs. So I'll have my dog and I'll beat it up nice and sound in the very same way that my national identity has been battered by ages beneath the superior races and their little brown puppies. And I'll eat it too.

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11:33 AM 11/29/01 EPILOGUE FOR CARNIVORES

We had ogled the females in the coterie to eat in one of the carinderias around the great slaughterhouse. They resisted. So we went all the way to Baguio just to eat at the same haunts open to the urban working class. Jollibee, Chowking, Kentucky Fried Chicken. The last morning in Baguio though, we were surprised that they decided to have breakfast were it counted!

I ordered dog cooked adobo-style of course. More of the flavor, less of the "lansa." Alas, they said, they were banned from serving dog meat. Maybe the lobbyists caught up with them. Why was it kept in the menu then? For posterity? So I ate goat. I ordered kaldereta and took tastes from the company's sinampalukan and pinapaitan. There it was then, three "interpretations" of goat in my stomach.

Dog meat is still served there somewhere, underground i guess. Maybe even in that carinderia! But only to trusted patrons and to people referred by such regular patrons. Or maybe only to people who could say some sort of password, some code that would secretly state that he is what he eats. Some predatory air, aura, or sweat that reeks distinctly of prey's odor.

Maybe only to people with dog blood already on their lips.