Bandillo: Terror tag the chef at a panciteria?


Yes, I am a passionate activist. A writer-journalist, too. Had I not been one, I could have been any of the following – food technologist, researcher-scientist, chef in a panciteria, photo-journalist at Reuters, a librarian or an anchor in a music station. Never a terrorist, as the Department Of Justice (DOJ) alleges.

I sense I am a good cook. In college, I was a presidential scholar, food technologist by training. I majored in fish processing technology. I put to heart the learnings on product development, quality control and lots of food microbiology, chemistry and physics. I am also a certified food sensory panelist.

I know the rudiments and advances of fish drying and salting (pagdadaing, pagtutuyo), smoking (pagtitinapa), canning (paglalata ng isda o paggawa ng sardinas), fermenting (pagbuburo), fish sauce and paste making (paggawa ng patis at bagoong). I could also produce a fish net in one sitting. My thesis on surimi (an edible paste of processed meat or seafood such as imitation crabmeat or fish analogs) was funded partially by, yes, the World Bank. Yes, I graduated from college after a long delay in the submission of my thesis, “Accelerated Shelf-life Study of Squid Surimi.”

I am master cook of Pancit Cabagan. Friends and fellow activists would always love this northern specialty. I could prepare quickly for a small group, a hundred or even more. During big occasions, for instance, during mobilizations and protest actions, the biggest pan would be reserved for me, for my special pancit cabagan.

So how do I do it? Quite simple. But it could be a disaster for those who are not familiar with the raw fresh miki (Cabagan noodles). First, have everything prepared – noodles, ingredients, pre-boiled broth, toppings/garnishings. Saute garlic and pork. Cook until brown. Add soy sauce, stir and simmer for a few minutes. Add the pork (or chicken or beef) broth. Boil (this is a must) and add fresh Cabagan noodles “miki” and vegetables. Simmer for three minutes. Season to taste. Serve and garnish with onion leaks, sliced onions, quail eggs, and lechon kawali (seafoods or plain vegies will also do). Of course, the secret of it all lies with unconditional love for the people who have the passion to produce food to feed the masses.

I am also inclined to do photo-journalism although I don’t have a journalist’s camera. I use my laptop for taking pictures. I have been a participant to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and the scuttled 5th round of peace talks. And posted in FB those events almost on real time (thanks to wifi). Some pics would land in GMA News website and other news agencies. For instance, my FB photo with GRP Peace Adviser Vice-Mayor Herbert Bautista would land twice in GMA News Online, first as a photo on news on peace, and second, as a photo for the news on Herbert Bautista’s brother Hero’s involvement with drugs! One nephew called my attention:

Nephew: Tito you are in the news!
Me: On what?
Nephew: Drugs!
Me: Gracious Lord!

I have always loved books. Over the years, I have collected not a few titles. I have stored them in different places. I have lost track of some. How I wish I could have them in just one place, to no avail. Recent supertyphoon Lawin destroyed some of my collections. I was not around when the supertyphoon soaked and ravaged them. It took two months before I learned of the extent of damage on my hard-earned books. I could only sigh in resignation.

In my trip to India last year, I was able to scour an ample collection of writings of Soviet revolutionary JIosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili at a baratillo prize. From time to time, I also “raid” the sidewalk sale in Recto and ukay ukay stores in UP Diliman. Mark Twain, Tolstoy, Neruda, Octavio Paz at cheap tags is always a great joy.

Lastly, I enjoy listening to music. I welcome all genres but the top on my list would be classical (opera and/or instruments), jazz, pop jazz (e.g. Mike Francis,), progressive alternative (Joey Ayala, Buklod) and the 80s new wave (Spandau Ballet, Culture Club). But I reserve the classics for solo moments. One friend who would not stand a minute of an aria or a masterpiece of any of the maestros Bach, Beethoven, et. al. “Nakakabaliw! she would complain.” I would happily retort back, “Di ba, Emily Dickinson said, “stark madness is the height of happiness?””

Ed’s note: This columnist has been included, along with fellow columnist Sherwin De Vera and several indigenous rights activists of Cordillera, in the proscription list of 600+, with the intent to declare the revolutionary organizations, CPP and NPA, as terrorists. Here he is rambling in search for an explanation to what has he done to deserve such a tag. #


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