CHINA CONSTRUCTS | Louise Nichole Logarta
Does anybody remember the time we heard on the news that Congress passed an actual bill on a so-called “official Filipino gesture”? Termed as the “Pagbating Filipino”, the gesture entails one placing one’s right palm over the chest and lowering one’s head.
Although I think that there is some merit to discouraging handshakes especially in the midst of a global pandemic, I hardly believe it merits a bill, especially when our lawmakers have more pressing needs to tend to.
My feelings on it are similar to the latest news that just proves once again that our government is focusing on the wrong things: the Department of Trade and Industry, headed by secretary Ramon Lopez, is aiming to set a “national standard” for the beloved Filipino dish, adobo.
Lopez clarified that the soon-to-be national standard would not be mandatory within the country and said that this undertaking was actually part of what he called “creative industry exports.” He claimed that he was not aware of the issue causing a stir on social media (which it did) and claimed that they were not establishing a standard so much as a “basic traditional” recipe, which would be used to promote adobo abroad and distinguish it from variations in other countries.
He can say that all he wants but it sounds like there’s not much of a line between creating a “basic traditional” recipe and standardizing it.
Recipe variations are aplenty with versions from all over the country, not to mention family recipes passed on throughout generations.
It then begs the question: What makes adobo, adobo? It’s almost a philosophical question, really. It poses the question of essence, in this case of a dish whose popularity, I believe thrives precisely due to the many ways it can be prepared: chicken or pork adobo, adobo sa gata (in coconut milk), adobong puti (vinegar only), adobong puso ng saging (white banana flowers), adobong malutong (crispy), adobong pusit (squid) and apan-apan adobo (an Ilocano twist using kangkong or spinach), to name a few.
To call one the “national standard” and using it to introduce the dish as the “Philippine adobo” to other nations would, it seems to me, inadvertently deem others as “lesser” versions of adobo.
As some would say, “Ang dami-dami na ngang iniisip, dumadag pa ‘to.” I can’t blame them; you would think that the government would focus their efforts on something related to improve their services to businesses operating amid the Covid19 crisis.