Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Water Buffalo

Warning! This post may upset some vegetarians. In the past few months I have been introduced to a variety of new foods while living here in Besao. Most of them are delicious, and everything is sweeter than you would expect. The Filipinos put sugar in almost everything. The one that surprised me most was the sweet spaghetti. A dish which my Greek father would never eat. He might even liken the act of eating sweet spaghetti to sinful behavior. I eat tons of fruits and vegetables and rice is a must at every meal! Meat is a whole other issue. The people here grow and slaughter their own meat (mostly chicken and pig), so if you don't know how to do that, then you don't eat meat. Hence, I have been a semi-vegetarian for the past three months. I did learn how to scale and gut fish, so I eat talapia from the river about once a week. Anyone want to take me on a fishing trip when I get back? Today was a special day in Besao. One of the village elders passed away and so the other men slaughtered a caribao, or as we call them in the U.S., and water buffalo. I decided to give it a try telling myself that it was just like beef. It was tasty! It was also organic! Also cooked was rice and pancit. The family of the deceased fed approximately 1,000 people. It was amazing. Igorots came from everywhere to eat this special meat and pay their respects to the family. Funerals last for about 10 days here, and are filled with ancient ritual, some of which I was invited to experience. Other rituals are kept private, only to be practiced by the elders. They bring the coffin to the family home and sing music and dance and tell stories. The body is never left alone. All through the night there are people there. It is an amazingly elaborate tradition that requires the work and energy of the entire community. Please pray for the family of Joseph Ayeo-eo.
-Melanie West Goes...Water Buffalo.

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