Following Shrove Tuesday yesterday, today is Ash Wednesday, the official first day of Lent during the Christian year and the prelude to Easter. Lent represents the 40 days that Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness, fasting and contemplating his mission on earth. Known as the ‘Day of Ashes’ because of the practice of having ash rubbed & drawn on the forehead in the shape of a cross (representing Christ’s crucifixion), by a priest at the dedicated Ash Wednesday church service. The priest and participants from the church congregation intone the phrase either the words:-
“Repent, and believe in the Gospel”or the dictum “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Anglican,Catholic and most Protestant and Christians hold Ash Wednesday services around the world. Following the service, participants observe some sort of fasting,abstinence and spiritual contemplation for 40 Days, ending on Maundy Thursday in 2018.
The practice of using ash comes from the 11th Century and is taken from the Biblical Book of Daniel, where ashes are regarded as a sign of Penance & fasting. The ashes are normally made by the burning of palm crosses. These palm crosses were handed out to church congregations during the previous year’s Palm Sunday service (commemorating Christ’s entry into Jerusalem to crowds waving palm leaves in celebration) and given back to the priest shortly before Ash Wednesday. The priest will then burn the crosses and mix the ash normally with Holy Oil to sanctify and make a ‘paste’ with which to rub on the participant’s forehead.
Today is shrove Tuesday, which has now become better known as Pancake Day.
What is Shrove Tuesday about? Has it become just a day of cooking and tossing pancakes?
Shrove Tuesday is the last day of merriment and feasting before Lent begins in earnest.
But in truth and in its history, today is about penitence. Shrove Tuesday got its name from the ritual of shriving, which early Christians used to do.
The act of shriving meant that Christians would confess their sins and their shortcomings and in so doing will receive absolutions.
Absolution means the person will be forgiven of his sins and released from his guilt and pain that he had caused.
This tradition is very old.
It was a custom and tradition of the early Christians to confess their sins a week before the start of Lent to their priest/confessor, who shall so shrive them.
Today is not only about pancake but a time to think about the wrong deeds that we have done or have continued doing. We must be penitent of them.
On the happier side, Shrove Tuesday is also about partying and feasting. Time to cook and serve all the foods that may have to be given up for the sober Lent to come. Barbecue the meat and fish and make pastas so no food are wasted for the coming Lent. Today is like a Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday.
Pancake became the ideal food for Tuesday because it uses up all the fats, milk and eggs with the addition of flour.
I used to be obsessed with this board game when I was a little girl.
For whatever reason my mother used to discourage us playing sungka. She was really adamant that we should not play it. I think I heard her say that it was a game of the dead or something. She made it sound like there was something sinister about it.
But I’ve always had a mind of my own, and the more I was told ‘NO’ the more I had to do it; it was like a red rag to a bull to me, a fascination of the forbidden. 🙂 I was a tad naughty! LOL
Probably that was the reason I loved playing sungka. I used to ask a neighbour, Lagring, who was a year or two younger than me to play sungka. We did not bother with the wooden board; at my instigation we would just dig little holes similar to those in the wooden board on the ground under our mango tree. We would then gather little stones and away we play for what seems like hours. 🙂
My mother always knew what I was up to as I would come home with dirty hands and even dirtier finger nails. And of course those little holes which suddenly appeared all over our backyard! 🙂
In the end, knowing that I would not really listen, she just gave up on her embargo against sungka. Funnily enough as soon as the ban was lifted I moved on to another obsession, Jack’s Stone! 🙂
By the way the photo above was taken at late president Ferdinand Marcos childhood residence in Batac, Ilocos Norte. It seemed President Marcos used to play sungka as well. 🙂
The above photo was taken in Ferdinand Marcos’s Batac ancestral house. It was used when he was obviously younger as the mortar shows sign of erosion or depreciation.
Having lived in a farming community when I was a young girl, this life-size mortar and pestle is a familiar sight.
It was used in many things that needed pulping like my favourite sweet rice dessert called nilupak or dehusking palay, especially when going to a rice mill is a bit of a hustle.
The term used by Ilocanos, people of Northern Luzon, is agbayo, which means to pound.
Rice comes from palay grains, and if you only wanted a chupa or a ganta of rice, most Ilocanos would probably use a pestle and mortar to pound the palay to dehusk and turn into rice which then ready to cook.
Pounding rice is sometimes more than just a chore. It can be a way of bonding with friends and family.
I used to help my cousins when they were pounding in the mortar. Usually there are extra pestles around and two or three people can pound together but take turn. It is a matter of timing. It was a lot of fun though can be hard work. Having someone to help makes this arduous repetitive task less of a chore.
This time around, our visit to the Philippines was more tumultuous than past vacations, for obvious reason because our mother had passed away.
During this visit, all of us have suffered from some form of ailments, mostly stomach ache, diarrhoea, stomach bug related.
It became ridiculous the amount of time we spent in the toilet and despite medication like Imodium, Diatabs and the likes, we continued to suffer.
There was only one thing left, and that was to consult the great lady of Nicodemus in Dagupan, Tondo.
Apparently, she has a very long experience of curing people on the cheap and also saving time (queuing & waiting) and consulting medical doctors.
This lady of Nicodemus can diagnose the type of ailments by using candles and a bowl of water.
Sometimes, she does not even have to see the patient or know the full name of the person being diagnosed.
Anyway, the first one to consult the Lady of Nicodemus was Marilou. She had not been sleeping because of acute stomach ache and the constant need to go to the toilet.
The Lady of Nicodemus did her supernatural bit by letting the tears from a lit candle fall into a bowl of water. The tears from the candle then started to form a shape. Marilou’s one has so much indentations and protuberance that it could only be a man. 🙂 🙂 The Lady of Necodemus said that a man (living) had hexed (usog) Marilou. The lady prescribed Marilou a drink of a pancit pancit tea. It seemed to have worked as Marilou finally had her good night sleep denied to her during the last few days.
When I heard about this good diagnostic from the lady, I was so intrigued that I sent Dayday to the Lady of Nicodemus to diagnose Peter. Dayday said that she would go after 6 pm, to ensure the power of the Lady of Nicodemus was more potent. Who am I to argue?!!! 🙂
At exactly 6 pm, Dayday went and spoke to the Lady. After the candle ritual, it was found out that Peter had not been hexed by anyone because the candles formed a very smooth shape, pretty normal. His stomach upset was due to dinuguan, eating lots of bloodied pork! How did the lady know about this? Again Peter was prescribed the pancit pancit tea and to eat grilled pork and tofu. He has not followed the advice, ergo, he still suffers from mild to acute stomach ache!
Just then my brother, who said he does not believe in supernatural hocus pokus, said that his left eye had turned red. He said it just happened and the only strange thing that occured to him that day was meeting a cat at a hotel room that was largely not reached or occupied by paying guest. My brother was there to fix the air-conditioning system.
Anyway, Alma went to the Lady of Nicodemus, who by now was absolutely perplexed by the goings on in our house in Fullon. 🙂 🙂 🙂
The lady said that we or my family in Fullon is living with a duende (supernatural little person) in the house and that it is better to keep him undisturbed as he is harmless. Woah!!!
Also, my brother seemed to have offended the spirit in the hotel and therefore he had to make amends by offering a sacrifice of 3 cigarettes, a glass of beer, a plate of food place in the darkest corner of the house. My brother also has to say a heartfelt apology.
After 3 weeks, Marilou is going back to Los Angeles, California tomorrow!
And as such, we had a family celebration at Max’s Restaurant in Malate, nearby Aristocrat.
Though we remembered our Mother dearly, the reason why we are here in the Philippines, Marilou and I as well as Peter that is, the dinner at Max was also fun, filled with laughter and food galore.
The family were in full force. There were Jon (my youngest brother), Alma (his wife), Ella May (their eldest), Michael (their middle child) and Jomari, their youngest. Our lovely Dayday was also there, Marilou, Myself and Peter, are of course in attendance too. We were missing our other brother, William, but his situation can’t be helped at the moment.
Anyway, we had a really sumptuous meal. We had a starter of Lumpiang Sariwa (fresh lumpia) made from finely chopped ubod, garlic, lettuce with sweetened sauce.
For mains, we had deep fried bangus with vinegar dip ( I must say their vinegar is really potent, it was so sour if almost blew my sinuses away), there was roasted crackling of loin pork with lechon-like sauce, there was sinigang na hipon (large shrimps in sour tamarind base soup), there was also kare-kare with a complementary shrimp bagoong. And of course, we had Max’s signature dish, their own recipe of roasted chicken.
There where so much to eat that we were all struggling in the end only to be given a dainty glass full of emerald-like jelly and tapioca/sago called buco pandan pudding.
These were all washed off with glasses of delectable pineapple juice and gallons of iced-water.
I can’t fault Max in anyway, the food was truly good and the service was exemplary.
I supposed, it comes from experience. It all started in 1945, when Maximo Gimenez, a teacher, started serving chicken and drinks to American troops he befriended stationed near Quezon City. Maximo’s niece, Ruby, more fondly known as Nanay Ruby was part of the making of the brand according to a caption on a picture proudly displayed in their restaurant. She created the now famous Max’ chicken, which is tender and juicy in the inside but crispy outside.
The dinner celebration is a fitting homage to a wonderful, beautiful sister. This is not goodbye but an au revoir, Marilou. We will see each other again soon.
Be safe in your trip back home!
Our love from us all.
Buko Pandan, Photo by JMorton
Chicken gravy, Photoi by JMorton
Kare-kare, Photo by JMorton
Kare-kare, Photo by JMorton
Max’s Signature Chicken, photo by JMorton
Fried Daing Na Bangus with the Most sour vinegar dip, photo by JMorton