27 May 2011

If One Didn't Stop at Apples

Twenty-five years is how long it took me to finally show up at something that happens five minutes from where my family lives — indeed, from the Quezon City district where I have lived all my life. And it happens every year. The La Loma Lechon Festival: a day for celebrating the loveliness of suckling pig — stuffed, roasted, costumed, paraded (in floats, too!), and eaten — symptomatic of the Filipino appetite for fiestas, loud ceremonies, and sustenance that can be delicious just as decidedly as it can be dreadful.

If not for lechon, La Loma would have been known for cemeteries and columbaria, which is just as well. At a ridge in this district that overlooks Manila was where José Torres Bugallón, fighting valiantly in the Philippine-American war, had died, along with many other Filipino soldiers. Let’s not forget, too, the innumerable roosters sacrificed all the time in the name of sport at the La Loma Cockpit, past which — as one heads toward Santa Cruz — stands the Chinese General Hospital. That this building has not only survived, but grown steadily since over a hundred years ago despite being surrounded by the La Loma Catholic Cemetery, the Manila North Cemetery, the Manila Chinese Cemetery, and the Manila North Green Park is truly worthy of note, one which I lamentably hadn’t taken until just now.

But back to suckling pigs: who knew how charming they can be if one didn’t stop at apples! After a day of putting on my Journalist Hat, pretending to know about photography, and falling in love with saucy, meaty, thick-skinned, and publicly idolized beings that cannot possibly break my heart — at least not until cholesterol fills my arteries to bursting — I have “photo-bloggers” (and friends, certainly) Nykko Santos, L.A. de los Reyes, Lizza Capucion, and Sidney Snoeck to thank. If they never forced me to go out and move my bottom I would’ve closed myself off for a little longer. Even from a place so close to home.

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