by Remedios Dorio


When we travel through life, many things happened, and that as it depart away from us, it became fragments in our memory. These fragments content our many moods, sad, happy, embarrassing and so on.


With my high age of seventy-five, there’s many embarrassing moments that still I could not forget.


One of the many embarrassing moments that now I only laughed about it, happened when I was about seventeen years old. I was on the peak of my career as a drama talent and soap-opera script writer in the radio station of DYRP in Iloilo City. I earned good money, and I could buy things or foods that I like.


As most Filipinos were poor (There’s a time that only ten percent were rich.) I grew also on a poor family. In our family, our parents fed us, as my father described it, the military way; it means our food were on ration and measured. We were many siblings and every food must be divided equal. I don’t know how our mother managed it, but there were times that if our viand were a chicken, she slaughtered self and cooked, and as it was already on our plate, always one sibling would complain if he or she saw that the other had a bigger cut.


With such backgrounds about food, one could imagine how one would react if he or she comes to a classy, very expensive restaurant. It happened to me.


The Production Team as we always did, go out to eat in a restaurant every salary day. One salary day, we all agreed to come to a Japanese Restaurant; new in town, very classy and expensive.


Settled on a long table especially organized for our group, three waiters came to us with their menus book for us to guide what would be to eat. No picture and only in Japanese characters so if you don’t ask you will never know what had you ordered. It never occurred to me to ask because my thought was fixed that I will order the best most expensive Japanese food and I did. The waiter asked me though what would I prefer to be with it, pork, beef, chicken or seafoods; and of course my chose was seafoods.


My colleagues ordered this special Japanese beefsteak and urged me to order the same, but I am not a meat eater. I prefer seafoods and vegetables.


One by one, what my colleagues ordered was brought to the table and the last one was what I ordered and I was excited. My colleagues were excited too as they could not start eating while waiting for my order to be brought to me; then my colleagues with relief in chorus said, ‘at last,’ and it sounded like a fanfare when the waiter entered with my order.


I was so surprised and so were my colleagues. The waiter was carrying a big ‘kalalaw,’ kalalaw means a big, wide native tray made of bamboo. When the waiter lifted the cover of the kalalaw I was shocked; I saw fried noodles of almost five kilos. What I thought an especial Japanese menu was just a plain pancit (locals name for noodles) mixed with what vegetables and shrimps. Yes, my expensive Japanese food was just a common food nothing special.


“You just ordered pancit? Why so many, you cannot eat it all?” questions and some more from my colleagues. Liked me, they were all surprised. And me, I felt so ashamed but I tried to cover it up with an answer, “I ordered safes, I did not understand all the Japanese characters but I did not expect so much, well it doesn’t matter, you all can prove the Japanese noodles and the rest I will bring it home for my siblings.”


Some accepted my explanation, some have their secret grins and me, I did not taste the pancit I just ate liked it was so delicious. How can I taste it when my appetite was overwhelmed by embarrassment?  ****