Scribblory Writers Library
Your virtual library of true stories has come to this site!
Scribblory Writers Library shelters short true-to-life stories written by the memoirists of Scribblory Writers Group. This virtual library started in 2020, at the outset of COVID-19 pandemic. While the world was losing many lives, we held our pens and preserved life stories.
Are the write-ups here too few to quell the thirst of the reader in you? Head out to our old site and read some more.
Written by Sisang Batute
August 3, 2020
Scrumptious + Yummy = SCRUMMY
As the world—the Philippines included—scrambles for some months now, the smallest institution finds the opportunity to recharge and renew itself.
Our family is considered large: we have five children. We already have grown-ups who are starting to find their way in the real world. This makes our weekdays busy with the concerns of the different companies that the five family members are working with—although not often, some weekends in a month, for my husband and I are devoted to serving the community and the church.
When ECQ was announced, I considered it a grand blessing! I discreetly planned out how our days of being complete every day would be spent. The usual funfair of a Filipino family such as going to malls, eating out, and out-of-town trips were crossed out from the list.
Being a dictator mom, I did a complete roll call of everyone's names and said this over breakfast: "Starting today, at exactly 11 AM of every day, we're going to have a family workout. That is my rule. Everyone must follow.” Your reaction is as good as our children's. Don't worry, they did not cuss, only sighed in bewilderment.
From that moment on, we have been doing Zumba, Hip Hop, and Retro Pop Dances with ‘on the side’ bodyweight exercises. The first few days were tedious. All five children were dragging themselves. Sometimes, I had to pull them out of their beds at 8 AM to make sure that we would have breakfast together at 9 AM—to give us enough time to rest before our 11 AM exercise routine. Our lunch is at 2 PM. The rest of the day until dinner is our ‘me time’ which is usually spent in front of a gadget or the idiot box.
Lately, I am pushing my two daughters (aged 26 and 25) to skip dinner and make it their workout time. They followed except this one time when my second daughter told me that her favorite food was a hotdog and what was in front of her for dinner was a hotdog. I gave her a nod to take one, and then told the family, "Did you know that I can only see and eat hotdogs during Christmas when I was a little girl?"
Oh no, I am going there already...
Down the memory lane.
As our meal, we used to always partner rice (as our staple) with straight-from-the-fishpond creatures and/or river fish, shrimps, and crustaceans. They were of different shapes and colors. The most popular way of cooking them was stewing them with ginger, onion, and freshly harvested sweet tuba (aged vinegar) that with its sourness, one would cringe, “Mukha asim talaga!” as a once-popular advertisement of a similar product said.
When I was still a sensitive teenager, there were times when I did not want to be asked where I lived. Because whenever I truthfully answered, the comment would be, “Ah, kaya pala maasim ka. Taga-Paombong ka pala." (Ah, that’s why you smell sour. You’re from Paombong.) Maybe, I was guilty of the said smell. LOL.
Oh yes! I would eat paksiw almost every day. By the way, that is the local term for that dish I mentioned earlier here. If your taste buds detest that stinky fish, cook it with the best vinegar. Our well-known sukang Paombong will cure that fishy taste. Paksiw may not be my current favorite (I have not yet found a trusted brand with the same familiar taste of sukang Paombong), but smelling one brings me back to where I came from. Now, I realized that I am indeed from Paombong.
Going back to my roots, I remember this one favorite dish of mine that I've been wanting to eat with my family. It is called ‘palakang batute’ or ‘palakang batutay.’ You read it right, FROG! KOKAK!
Caution: This frog must only come from the fields (or the palakang bukid). Otherwise, I cannot assure you that you will be eating the safest kind.
The frog is stuffed with minced garlic, onion, tomatoes, and ginger. Then, it is wrapped in this wide leaf that is similar to a local herbal oregano. Then, it is deep-fried. My mouth is watering from the mere picture of it in my head. Scrumptious!
By the way, we also cook the frog in a steaming sweet and versatile tuba. This dish is soupy, but do not worry. Since the tuba is cooked, it loses its spiritual power.
Going back to our ‘kokak,’ the frog’s meat tastes like the meat of the poultry. But the frog’s meat is soft, though unfortunately stingy because of its size. The meat is concentrated in its thighs and legs, and the rest of its body is almost pure bone and skin.
I wonder how my family will react if they see me diving into a plate of finger-licking good ‘palakang batute.’ Hmmm . . . To the tune of Bieber’s "yummy, yummy, yeah!"
Other sources of food yumminess are crabs and shrimps. Anyhow they are cooked, they are special treats for me. Aside from their mollusky (buttery and salty) taste, crabs and shrimps are expensive. Eating time is long and fun when these two are served even with just a pantry vinegar mixed with freshly-pound garlic and chilis. More rice, please! Delicioso!
Wait! There is one argument with my special relationship with crabs and shrimps that I always need to prepare myself with. For the following days, do not complain of swollen joints and aching soles. Crustaceans are a great source of uric acid! Aw!
Genuinely, if there is one special superfood that I achingly missed during this unprecedented event in human history, it is that one little white wafer. So tiny in our vision, yet when raised in consecration together with the chalice of His blood . . . I am full. No right term to coin His taste in my system, not just in my palate. Is it? Suddenly, this inspiration, I have been complacently swallowing without noticing.
As the world starts to pick up the shattered economy, this smallest institution—the family, re-energized and renewed—will go back to where it was two months ago. But no longer complacent and no longer indifferent, only more loving and mindful of what truly matters in this world.
Lockdown with a Food Fairy
Written by Kai Alfonso
July 27, 2020
I am no cook, but when it comes to food cravings, I'm lucky to be locked down with a sister who loves to cook. She is my food fairy who would cook up to six viands on Sundays, so we will have a week-long ready-to-eat food to bring to our condo. So, all my cravings are satisfied this lockdown—from lumpiang sariwa (fresh wrapped vegetables), dumpling, kare-kare, and seafood paella, to sinigang na salmon, tempura, and you-name-your-cravings-and-she'll-cook-it. This is the reason we rarely eat out; we will just be complaining and comparing the food to her cooking.
I remember a toxic day in the office, when everything seemed to not be working right. I went home late and tired. There were food packs in the refrigerator, and I heated the seafood paella that my sister sent me. As I started eating, I was so comforted that my tears just fell from my eyes. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I took a photo of the paella and messaged my sister. I told her that I just had the most delicious paella ever.
When my son was growing up, he would only eat food cooked by my sister. Even whenever we went to a fiesta, he would not eat anything. He would even say, "Mas masarap pa luto ng Mama Baby ko 'dyan." (Mama Baby's cooking is more delicious than that) to my embarrassment.
Food, to us, is always prepared with care and love, and it has become part of our family's tradition to eat together every dinner time. There, we share all the happenings in our day, partaking of the food we have. Every day becomes a celebration of love and family.
Preparing food is not just something to get by, but something to be remembered, cherished, and shared. No wonder, when we crave food, we also crave laughter and stories and wonderful moments with our loved ones.