THE sound of sizzling skillets starts the day on one special Sunday.
Majority of Cebuanos venerate the child Jesus through the Santo Niño. In addition, the island province has set aside the third Sunday of January as a public display of affection with a festival of festivals, the Sinulog.
People celebrate the Sinulog with music, dance and food. All public holidays and feast days not only center on the social aspect of the celebration but also mark it with a shared table of food. Most feasts feature traditional dishes such as lechon or roasted pig and embutido (a kind of meatloaf), among others.
Lechon is Spanish for roasted suckling pig (lechon de leche). However, Cebu has its own word for it, inasal or cooking something over live coal.
Inasal nga baboy (roasted pig) and inasal nga manok (roasted chicken) are very popular in the Philippines. As to whether inasal is an indigenous or native way of preparing meat in the Philippines, your guess is as good as mine.
I think inasal is the local way of cooking meat that predates Spanish occupation and the influence this colonization had on our country. So each time I have inasal of any kind, I feel I am ingesting a part of history.
Embutido is another dish served during feasts. I learned from my Tita Blitte this is a dish handed down to us from Spain.
“During the 300 years we were under Spain, we received a lot of new ways of preparing food. Embutido started as a kind of sausage recipe from our Spanish colonizers. Over time, we added our own touch, making embutido more like the American meatloaf,” Tita Blitte said.
“Make it America marries Spain. Why? Because embutido tastes like American meatloaf but retains the sausage-like form of the original from Spain,” my Uncle Gustave said.
Whenever we have embutido, let’s think of the two times we were under two world powers. Think of how we felt, thought and dreamed as a nation before June 12, 1898 when we gained freedom from Spain. Thereafter, we were under America. We gained full independence on July 4, 1946.
We earned our freedom from the blood of our national heroes and the unnamed freedom fighters who have no monument in their honor. Before they leaped into battle, they thought of us.
The last line in our national anthem promises “Ang mamatay nang dahil sa yo” (lit. to die for you). Let’s not make haste in changing anything that will negatively affect our children. What will satisfy us now may be detrimental to the future.