Ober Khok

MAN is a horizontal creature who seeks to scale the heavens with his vertical offerings.

Each year, Cebu celebrates the Sinulog festival. It is dedicated to the Sto. Niño, who was considered the patron saint of the southern island also referred to a Sugbo. But in 2002, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal declared Our Lady of Guadalupe as the official patron saint of Cebu.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

However, we will not discuss this biggest festival in the calendar of the faithful. Our subject is on offerings that we now eat.

A few months ago, you may have read the feature here on puso, which is a Cebuano culinary creation.

It is a heritage food in that different shapes were offered to different gods of the air, sea and land. The binosa (wine glass shape) was offered to a lesser god, and the binaki (frog shape) reminded the gods of their relationship to man. The puso was offered to some unnamed god to urge him to bless the farm and household.

Actually, the woven puso casing represents Cebu’s unity when its sons and daughters find a cause that affects the community.

Filling the coconut leaf casing with raw rice grains symbolizes the industriousness of the Cebuano, and his sense of responsibility to the family and society.

“Wow, you really have a way of making something simple seem more complicated, Obz,” my Tita Blitte said, teasing me.

“I feel like a beauty queen wannabe answering a question that has no definite answer,” I told her.

“Don’t forget to include dinuguan, Obz,” my Uncle Gustav told me.

“Oh, the spicy, brown soup,” Joy said.

Dinuguan contains the more controversial elements in any food around the world. It has pig’s blood, chopped pig entrails and lungs, and sometimes even ground pork. Some religions prohibit the eating of pork, while some allow it—but disallow the consumption of blood.

The reasons for the taboo are spiritual, a territory we would rather not get entangled with. We might have dinuguan dumped on our big head.

Maybe today offering dinuguan is no longer the thing to do—unless technology creates a virtual dinuguan. So many Filipinos eat it without second thought and without guilty feelings. However, the fact remains that blood is a special commodity reserved for The Higher Being.

Goat meat was used in the Old Testament as a sin offering. Only the physically perfect and unblemished animal would do.

Actually, God wants us to offer ourselves—the whole of our personality—as living sacrifice. We pray that it will be worthy and acceptable.

Unconsciously, we consider goat meat as special perhaps because it is not a common market merchandize. We see it only during special occasions.

Many tribes in Benguet (the Ibalois, for example) have traditional beliefs and rituals such the kanyao.

It is a ritual with offering to the gods as thanksgiving for good health, or petition for a rich harvest. There is an animal sacrifice such a goat, and some rice wine.

Merry is the communal gathering to appease or thank a native god, but holy is it to those who participate also. For this reason, we need to examine ourselves—as the city celebrates the Sinulog—in our jubilation of life and ask: “Where am I heading when I die?”