Comedy Relief: “Lechon,” 28 June 1988

Speaking of the famous “fiesta” of “Apung Iro” / San Pedro / Saint Peter in Apalit, Pampanga… another funny memory comes to mind…

I have a Delightful Aunt, a first cousin of my father, who is charged by The Espiritu Family with the care of “Apung Iro” and the “fiesta” traditions.  Aside from caring for “Apung Iro” and his Shrine [ an 1870s “bahay-na-bato” bequeathed to Him by the Espiritu heiress who inherited Him from The Patriarch in 1905; it burned down in 2002 but the image of “Apung Iro” was saved ], my aunt has to supervise the feeding of some 10,000 “devotees” of “Apung Iro” during the three day “fiesta.”  The “Caridad” [ Charity ] Tradition from the Spanish Era dictates that Everyone who comes to “Apung Iro’s” house must be fed, so that is how it has always been.

And so, Delightful Aunt is like a headless chicken during the three days of the “fiesta,” as She is besieged by thousands of “devotees” [ actually devotees of food 😛 ] wanting to be fed.  Including Me.  And my friends, of course.

One memorable “Visperas” [ Eve ] of 28 June years ago, The Crowd swelled to unmanageable proportions and Delightful Aunt just had to hide herself because She no longer knew what to do with the Cast of Thousands besieging Her…  In fact, the 1870s house was shaking to the point of collapse…

She told my Good Friend and I not to get Food from the Crowd of Humanity-Infested Buffet laid out on the dining table, because She had Food reserved for The Family Members in, of all places, the masters’ bedroom…

So my Good Friend and I entered the masters’ bedroom where She was waiting for us.  It was mercifully airconditioned and a total relief from the humid, smelly air in the reception rooms of the old house…!!!

But where was The Food???

Delightful Aunt smiled, knelt, and lifted the cotton and lace skirting of the immense antique four poster bed.  With herculean effort, She pulled out a big, low table — actually an antique “dulang,” the low dining table of the ancient Filipinos,  which required one to sit / squat on the floor to eat — and voila!!!  The Whole Fiesta Spread [ “hygienically” concealed below layers of oiled banana leaves ]!!!  And so She handed us plates and cutlery, and told us to help ourselves to the impressive buffet laid out just twelve inches above the floor.

Suddenly, Delightful Aunt stopped in her tracks and exclaimed:  “Ay!  Acalinguan que ytang ‘Lichun’!!!  Maniaman iya ytang ‘Lichun’!!!  ‘Native’ yng babi!!!  Saguli mu…” [ in Tagalog:  “Ay!  Nakalimutan ko iyong ‘Lechon’!!!  Masarap yung ‘Lechon’!!!  Native!!!  Sandali lang…”  / in English:  “Oh!  I forgot the Roast Pig!!!  The Roast Pig is delicious!!!  It’s a native pig!!!  Just a minute…” ]

Delightful Aunt walked over to the tall and splendid 1870s “narra” “aparador” [ armoire ] of a long-decomposed grandaunt [ “Impung Pinang”:  Dona Crispina Tanjutco y Sioco, + 1918 ] and opened it to reveal an entire “Lechon” on the top shelf.  *LOLSZ!!!*

Now, How’s that for “Fiesta Style”???!!!

Even Manila’s best Spanish Restaurants do not serve “Cochinillo en el Armario”!!!  [ Roast Pig in an Armoire ]

Bwahahahahah!!!   😛   😛   😛

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6 Comments

  1. enrique bustos said,

    January 9, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    From the book Country Cooking by Micky Fenix

    In the town of Apalit Pampanga we arrived on the eve of it’s fiesta. It’s patron is Apung Iro,the local name for St.Peter or San Pedro.Toto Gonzalez ,descendant of a prominent family in Sulipan,Pampanga had taken over the task of celebrating the feast.

    What interested me was the kitchen brigade cooking in the ruins of the old house that burned down a few years ago.Gonzalez’s relative Nena Tayag supervised the many dishes that would feed probably the whole barangay and visitors from other places.

    The brigade prepared all the standard fiesta dishes like menudo, mechado, lechon kawali,pancit bihon guisado.The bringhe was steaming in a caldero on top of which were the banana leaves that would give off the aroma. For the pancit a group trimmed the Baguio beans and another sliced the carrots.

    What materialized on the table were mostly not cooked at the back of the house.There were roast turkey with bread stuffing,the family’s menudo which everyone thought was kare-kare because of the oxtail (Gonzalez said it is like rabo de toro),hamonado,Galantina,and lechon. Our host said by next year the lechon should be done at the place.

    When the bringhe was brought in Gonzalez describe it as lutong bukid as to differentiate it from the food brought in from outside Apalit.But i told him it was done so well,very tasty and still hot.Fiesta cooks have to be commented on how they can make bulk cooking flavorful and how they can cook it properly.

    While digesting all that and before trying the tempting dessert,I went to the cooking area again and chanced upon the rolling stage of the mechado.The cooked lechon kawali was being placed into boxes for storage until the next day.A large wok contained potatoes and carrots being sauteed. In the house’s kitchen the embotido was being mixed by four hands.

    Before going I was told to make a wish which the people of this town believe the miraculous Apung Iro would grant.I did and on my way out i had to take a photo of the wondrous fiesta buntings that covered the entire street forming unduating waves of color.Someone behind me asked is our decor going to win.Apparently there was a competition in the neighborhood on that narrow street.I could only smile,but i thought to my self that they should all win.

  2. August 7, 2007 at 5:05 am

    Adjie:

    It is something that could only happen in our folksy Arnedo-Espiritu family, in our folksy hometown of [ Capalangan – Sulipan ] Apalit, Pampanga… 😛

    It is something that could never happen in the elegant residence of [ your great grandmother ] “Tana Dicang” Dona Enrica Alunan de Lizares in Talisay, Negros Occidental.

    Toto Gonzalez

  3. Adrian Lizares said,

    August 7, 2007 at 1:03 am

    Bwahahahaaaa Now that makes a really good use for the dulang!!! Your Aunt is just too cute!!! This one made me LOL… Keep it up Toto!

    adjie

  4. cousin paz said,

    June 30, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    I can only agree. I know the “culprit!”

  5. June 29, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    cousin paz:

    Isn’t this story an absolute scream??? One of the best in my memory!!! *lolsz!*

    Toto Gonzalez

  6. cousin paz said,

    June 29, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Toto,

    All I can say is…. Nyahahahahahaha….! Not even “El Comedor” can be as creative…

    Cousin Paz


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