Love From The Kitchen


All of us are loved by the people close to us. We undeniably absorb that love and affection from our “Immediate Family”. It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence.

Things get pretty shallow outside of our Immediate Family circle. We got back-stabbing relatives, ex-friends and ex-lovers, hypocrite co-workers, etc.
Only seldom we see and hear stories of extra-ordinary love from strangers and outsider.

Mine started from the kitchen. Ka-Ising is her name. She works as “The Cook” for my Lola in a 10 hectare property in Balayan Batangas. Every morning, Ka-Ising wakes up very early to take that 3 kilometer walk from her place to my Lola’s residence.
From there Felicia Manalo (her full name), will start the wood (fallen from the mango trees) by only using a steel pipe to initiate the fire.

She will start first with our freshly brewed “Kapeng Barako” or Batangas Coffee. Then she continues with her own version of “Beef Tapa Jerky” with Sunny-side up Eggs, Kuyog (Danggit), Atchara and Fried Rice.
Take note that the Tapa Jerky that she makes is labor intensive. It takes days for her to make something like that and only minutes for us to consume.

Me and my sister Meryl, always goes after her Palayok (A clay pot used as the traditional food preparation container). We go there to check if there still a remaining “Sinaing na Tuligan” left.
If there’s none, we beg Ka-Ising to go to the market and buy that specific salt-water fish for us. Believe me, this recipe of hers is so good that it took my sister 12 years to shed off all of her Baby Fats.

My most favorite of all of her recipes is the “Adobong Baboy”. It’s one of the best well known dishes in our country. It consist of pork meat, spices, soy sauce and garlic. It all starts when Ka-Ising marinates the meat with vinegar overnight. The next morning, she slow cooked the Adobo until we ran out of firewood.
The meat is so soft and tender that I don’t mind having that dish from breakfast till midnight snack.

Ka-Ising makes quality “Ube Halaya”. It’s a popular local dessert that is served in many households during special occasions like fiesta and family gatherings. She does Tsokolate and Suman for breakfast for my Lola’s guests. Everyday we never ran out of guests so we got lots of those in our table.

There are more dishes that Ka-Ising cooks like the “Ginataang Kuhol”, “Sinigang na Hipon”, “Kalderetang Baka”, and many other but I have to stop from here. This article is getting too long and all those recipes are making me hungry.

The thing that matters most is Ka-Ising’s desire and passion to spend that crazy amount of time to create the masterpiece that we eat everyday. She wants us not only to fulfill our hunger but she also loves us dearly. In essence, She took care of us all.

I will never forget one birthday of mine where Ka-Ising’s gift overpowered the rest. She gave me a plastic Batmobile with Batman & Robin on it. The rest of the gift that I’ve received were branded clothes that every kids needs but not wanted.
Ka-Ising knew what I wanted and that is what hit me the most.

Me and everyone in my family has a very special bond with the Cook. The Cook who mostly spent most of her adult age in our kitchen. She’s so special that she become family.

At the moment, Ka-Ising is staying with her family happily retired in her profession. Every now and then, whenever I get the chance… I “Renew that Bond”!
The love that started from the kitchen now stayed with us through lifetime. She deserves all the love and respect from all of us.

There is a saying that a way through a Man’s Heart is through his Stomach. I believe that a way through a Man’s Heart is through his Heart…. the one thing that really matters.

Written on June 15, 2018