The Taste of Tocino

Sometimes I think that when you’re a 26-year-old guy with a great job, an awesome girlfriend, really nice friends, and having the respect of your peers and colleagues in spite of imaginary chips on your shoulder, the last thing you should worry about is the taste of tocino.

But I do: if only because you trade off a few things here and there as you do what all other 26-year-olds do.

It started out as one of those usual trips to the Jollijeeps to buy lunch… that was until my senses were tickled by the familiar, delicious smell of that old Filipino staple, tocino.

Like the chicken cheesedog and skinless longganisa, tocino occupies its own place in that realm of the familiar and the taken-for-granted: the Filipino “Frigidaire.” The sugary sweetness and the faint notes of salitre, its special role in caricatures of a failing public school system, and the degree of burning required to make a tocino delicious all make it somewhat complicated. Surely the supermarket tocino purists will have their own debates on the matter of Mekeni vs. Pampanga’s Best, but it is, to me, something rather special:

I haven’t had it in months. Not tocino per se, but the tocino I actually like.

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The Weight*

No, this isn’t one of those indictments on the state of the “social media sphere” for the past year, but rather a reflection on weight.

“Lay your burden down,” the old blues refrain goes, and somehow for many of us that’s the same refrain for this year.  For me, 2011 was not a year to wallow in despair or bask in glory, hype the highs or lament the lows, curate them every now and then… those are things that bear too much weight for things that are really important.  Things, people, events, and memories that are worth their weight.  Things, people, events, and memories that are worth bearing.

Milan Kundera, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, wrote a little nugget of wisdom that I’ve somehow carried throughout the years: “Necessity, weight, and value are three concepts inextricably bound: only necessity is heavy, and only what is heavy has value.”  This year, I stopped believing that completely.  There are a lot of things that have, in time, become valuable to me.  There are things that have no worth in others’ eyes that have become valuable to me.  And the world works because of that: we weigh things not according to the concrete but the abstract, and nonetheless real.

When we lay our burden down, that’s when we know what things in that burden weigh the most.

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Jesus, the Revolutionary





In a noon mass, Father JV Ilano, parish priest of the Baguio Cathedral, turned away parishioners who were for the Reproductive Health Bill.  He was quoted in saying, “If there is anyone in the Mass here who are pro-RH bill… please, go out.  It’s useless.”

Today is Black Saturday, where the Christian faithful commemorates the day when the Body of Christ was laid in the tomb.  For many of us, it is a day to reflect on the suffering and passion of Christ on Good Friday, where he was crucified for doing things that, even by today’s standards, remain revolutionary.  In His time, Jesus was the leader of a group of radicals that taught things that ran against the grain of convention: to love your enemy, to turn away from sin.  He was first in a very revolutionary belief that He bore the message of God.

I ask, does a statement like turning parishioners away from Church for things they do not believe in follow in the same radical, revolutionary ways of Christ?

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