Thursday, January 15, 2004

Philippines 1999--Entry #5 

I have to tell you about the goat. The story of the goat reflects a lot of what our visit with my father-in-law’s family was like.

After the rain subsided, plans were made to acquire a goat and prepare a special dish for me to try. The goat dish is a specialty of the family of the cousin from Cagayan and said to taste very delicious. The preparation of the goat for slaughter involves the goat ingesting vinegar. While I think their intent may have been to overwhelm me with the ritual, I was interested and curious rather than squeamish. My husband, his cousin from Cagayan, and his uncle (father’s brother) left the house to try to find a goat to purchase.

To our surprise, they came back to the house without a goat. My husband told how they had to walk through mid-thigh high water the length of a football field to get to the only farm that had a goat available. Once there, they inquired how much money the farmer wanted for a goat. My father-in-law’s brother turned to my husband and told him the “price”. The cousin from Cagayan, who was doing interpreting for my husband, could not believe his ears. My husband’s uncle had told my husband a higher price than what the farmer had asked for. The original price the farmer had asked for had been higher than what they expected, but they would have bartered with him to get it to a more reasonable amount. The twist of having a mark-up built into the price by his uncle made the whole scenario very unappealing. My husband and his cousin conferred on the side and decided not to purchase the goat. Thus, they returned to the house, disheartened and empty-handed.

When my father-in-law heard of what his brother had done, he confronted him. The tension was tremendous. Speaking for myself, I had felt strangely removed from the situation, ready to move on to the next part of our trip at a moment’s notice.

There was no way we might relax and feel comfortable at that house. The house where we stayed in Cagayan had been so welcoming, and in contrast, we felt no sense of being welcomed into my father-in-law’s boyhood home. Both of these families had lost a father in wartime and had to make due with what little they could afford on limited means. Yet, how much their approaches to having guests differed. The food we bought to share and eat with everyone in Cagayan was prepared and eaten in celebration of having visitors and at the other home had been divided, part of it to be saved for another meal once we had departed.

And so, we left after only a short stay of two days. My father-in-law was gravely disappointed. His family said their good byes, saying how much they enjoyed having us and how much they would miss us. Huh.

More another day…

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


So, where did the nickname “Hurricane” come from? I thought you’d never ask. When I was a kid of maybe three years of age—I don’t know for certain because I can’t recall the incident—I was visiting my grandmother’s house with my mom. There was a house full of other relatives there to have lunch. I rushed past everyone straight to the bathroom and came out, only seconds later according to several accounts, with my hair completely lathered with shampoo. Uncle George was one of the first to observe the condition of my hair and remarked something like, “That’s quite a little hurricane you’ve got there!” and “Hurricane” stuck.

Other incidents of note that affirmed the nickname given to me:
1) At the age of two, doing chin ups on the kitchen table in order to find and eat an entire jar of dill pickles (and getting so sick from it that my mother had to take me to see the doctor)
2) Going to my aunt and uncle’s house when my brother was born (also age two) and, according to my uncle, opening doors and running clear through the house without stopping, all at a place I had never been to before
3) And one I do vaguely recollect, maybe at age three or four, playing “horsie” with my sister, using the rocking chair for a corral and having my sister insert her head between the chair’s seat and horizontal slat. Mom drove my sister, with the chair around her neck, to my grandmother’s house for assistance in getting her free.
4) My sister and I, being the oldest at four, going home from our grandparent’s house (next door), when we weren’t supposed to, and taking all the sandwich cookies apart to make a ball out of the white middles

At least I’m not the one who stuck baby aspirin up his nose. That was my brother. Although I might have been the one to convince him it was a good idea.

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