Image Source: gmanetwork.com
Image Source: gmanetwork.com

At the outset, I hereby declare that I like adobo — the dripping cholesterol notwithstanding. My problem, though, with adobo is about its being declared as the Philippine national food as proposed in House Bill No. 3925 authored by Bohol Congressman Rene Relampagos.

It seems to me that this honorable member of the Philippine Congress is suffering from a constipation of ideas on important legislative measures he could propose to improve the lot of the people, particularly his constituents. Perhaps, to him it is important to proclaim – through a law — to the whole wide world that the immortal (walang kamatayan) adobo is the Filipinos’ national dish. It is so important that there ought to be a law to make sure it is the national dish.

I beg to disagree. I don’t see any importance of this measure for which valuable congressional time and resources have to be expended. So what if it is declared the national food? If it is declared as such, will it taste more delicious? Will the law make it a healthier food? 

I suspect, though, that the congressman is in the swine business. It’s important to him because the bill if enacted into law could certainly promote pork to consumers, and the promotion could boost his business.

But that is not the end of the lawmaker’s impertinence. He wants other Filipino things declared as national symbols. Following is a partial list of the things Relampagos wants to be declared as national symbols:

Jose Rizal, national hero; Philippine peso, national currency; Manila, national capital; Malacanang Palace, national seat of government; Filipino, national language; Lupang Hinirang, national anthem; arnis, national martial art; carinosa, national dance; monkey-eating eagle, national bird; carabao, national animal; bangus, national fish; narra, national tree; Philippine pearl, national gem; sampaguita, national flower; anahaw, national leaf; mango, national fruit; bakya, national slippers; bahay kubo, national house; jeepney, national vehicle; Bayan Ko, national song; and “Maka-Diyos, makatao, makakalikasan at makabansa,” national motto.

While we are it, we may just as well declare other things as national symbols. Following are the things I want to give national recognition:

Vigan (Ilocos Sur) or Laoag City (Ilocos Norte), national cholesterol capital of the Philippines; saluyot, national leafy vegetable; pork barrel, national symbol of graft and corruption; So-En (if it is still being manufactured), national women’s underwear; tagless Hanes (if Michael Jordan permits it), national men’s underwear; “Cover Me” brand, national condom; National Bookstore (of course), national bookstore; Pasig River, national septic drain; Luneta Park, national lovers’ lane; basketball, national past time; Manny Pacquiao, national fist (pambansang kamao); Lydia de Vega, national feet (pambansang paa); national snake, elected officials stealing government funds; and Philippine Congress, national joke.

There are many other things we could declare as national symbols but for lack of newspaper space we could not mention them in this issue.

Back to the classic adobo. As I have said, I like adobo. To me, it is the best food Filipino cuisine has ever produced. (Here in the US, adobo’s equivalent is the ever-present hot dog). To make adobo a truly authentic Filipino food, though, we should use pork belly, which was the kind of pig meat used by my grandparents to cook this delectable dish. (No wonder they died young.)

Honestly speaking, if I were to choose between adobo and siopao for  my dinner, I would choose siopao – of course! I choose it at the risk of being tagged as traitor because siopao is an original food of the Chinese who are about to invade some of our islands.

Traitor or not, I stand firm on my culinary option. Minus the gobbledygook, what I mean is that I can still eat whatever I want to eat.

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My present occupation is Owner and Journalist-Editor of the Filipino Star News, Michigan edition. Former Manila Bulletin Provincial News Editor. President of the National Press Club of the Philippines for five terms.

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