At the 56th Annual Patron Fiesta of Philex Padcal Mine community

Everybody is gaga over the preparation on the occasion of the 56th year celebration of the fiesta of the patron saint of Philex Padcal mining community – the venerable Sto. Niño of Prague. Like those many communities celebrating the feast of the Sto. Niño in our country alone, the Sto. Niño is regarded to have blessed them in any way they believed they have been blessed. Yes, faith, carried, carries, and will carry the Padcal Mine community in its daily mining grind. We believe in the ever good Lord, thru His Son, the little Sto. Niño, that the life of mine of Philex is not finite.

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The main event of the fiesta celebration is the annual recognition of the workers of Philex Padcal Mine operations that courageously held on to their dear employment for the past 25 years, and counting. They rise and fall, so to speak, to the highs and lows and then highs and lows again of Philex. They survived to cheer and savour the joy and happiness in celebrating the Philex Sto. Niño Fiesta. Why not? Well, because not one, but two Bishops are expected to lead the community to praise and give thanks to the Almighty! The newly ordained and installed Bishop of the Diocese of Baguio, the Most Reverend Victor B. Bendico, D.D., together with the Bishop Emeritus of Baguio (former Bishop and now retired), the Most Reverend Carlito J. Cenzon, CICM, D.D., are expected to come, joining Reverend Father Rosito S. Pedro, Jr., to lead their flock in Philex Mines. Mabuhay po kayo Bishop Victor, Bishop Carlito, and Father Rost!

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Back to the preparation of fiesta, I recall that I have written a piece on cooking. Yes, of course, cooking is one of the centerpiece of celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries, and fiestas. Reproducing this piece is hereby warranted.

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“After last week’s super bout with typhoon Ineng, it left so much destruction in her aftermath, claiming so many lives with quite a number still missing as this piece is being written, leaving their bereaved poor families gasping for hope in their misery, a misery that is coupled with huge losses in properties, houses and agricultural crops, easily in so many millions of pesos. We end up asking who should be at fault for these miseries and loses. Of course, the easy way out is fingerpointing. Once again, the ineptitude of the government is on display. Was their preparation that extensive before Ineng was so close already to our province and city? The answer is obvious. One would just look at the result, the after effect of that calamity. When will we learn? Maybe it is really time to heed papa Francis’ “laudato si,” eh?

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“Not even our little ‘la presa’ in our home called Philex can withstand the onslaught of Ineng. Poor vegetables, ornamental and even flowering plants, they were all devastated. The wind gust is simply strong it knocks out the ornamental plants in front of our house even before I could raise them up. At the end, I just laid them down anew for them just to wait until Ineng subsides. But as soon as the sun shone on them, we immediately worked for its restoration and rehabilitation. I have called and important some help from my beloved hometown Aringay – the hometown too of the first Filipino Miss Universe, the lanky and beauteous Gloria Diaz. But before you wonder if beauty (read: gwapo) and brain also runs in my blood. Yes of course! I have a beautiful wife that is no push over in beauty and brains!”

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“Thanks for the help from my cousin Alba, brod-in-law Nick, and nephew Amante. In their ala-farewell send-off over a usual brandy-wielding moment, coupled with so much laughter, as host, I overran the kitchen with my cooking skills, not so much for the fine diners but can pass the simple taste of my guests. On menu were adobong tokak (farm frog cooked in generous garlic, pepper, toyo-mansi, and of course sugarcane vinegar), inihaw na ulo ng salmon, and the main dish, este pulutan, is chicken pinikpikan (with Sagada vacuum-packed etag). When I mentioned the menu, specially the main pulutan, their eyes became so wide. They blurted almost in unison, sa wakas makaraman kami met laengen ti pinikpikan!”

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“With so much anticipation, my helper guests became inspired during the day. In their eagerness, they were able to move an almost 3-tons dog house to another place. I did not witness how they did it but I was amazed on their resourcefulness and ingenuity in finding a way to move it. How did they do that? Well, pinikpikan was probably the catalyst – a music to their ears! They say “love can move mountains.” I say, “pinikpikan can move a doghouse!”

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“First to be devoured in just a few minutes was the tokak. Cousin Alba remarked – did you really cooked that? I told him “Res Ipsa Loquitor!” meaning, “the thing speaks for itself.” The rest of them were speechless, just for the first pulutan! Then followed by the inihaw na ulo ng salmon. While a very high review from my food judges was given, I was stunned by a statement from my cousin Alba. He said – “it was really delicious and I love it, but your way in cooking this is really meant for you who have money.” I was slighted and remarked that anybody can buy, it is not that pricy anyway. “If I cook it in alasinigang way, my whole family would be able to enjoy it with its delicious soup, the kankong and sitaw in it, and of course the ulo ng salmon itself,” he replied. He has a point which means, one salmon head will really make a way for an average family. I meekly submitted my case.”

 

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“The final and main menu was immediately served right after the last fin of the salmon was laid on the bare table. Their first sip of the milkycoloured soup of the pinikpikan almost fell them, so to speak. It was followed by another sip, and another sip, and countless sips. It was simply the best for them. My other guests, my name-sake Ed and the person with a leak according to boss Euls, Rogel (a.k.a. Kulot) were astounded too. They enjoyed everything. In the process, two bots of brandy were toppled (funda and fonso). My guests were like Ineng, devouring everything served on the table. The funny thing was that, at dinner time, we have no more ulam! We’ll that was not my fault anymore. We end up looking at the fridge for longplaying cooked viands. Those were killed too!”

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“At least they enjoyed it and earned their respect not only in my legal skills, but on the other side of me – the promdi-lawyer can cook too! Pero hwag lang nila ipaulit, hindi ko na alam pano iluto and mga iyon! Until the next recipe guys!”

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