By RUDY D. LIPORADA
(Columnist’s note: In light of ‘Galunggong’, the poor man’s fish in the Philippines, is now being imported from China and has spiraled to Php300.00 ($6.00) per kilo apart from the continuing increase of prices of basic commodities in the country, I am posting an excerpt from my novel, Cordillera Red Rising. This is on Chapter 10 – circa early 1970s.)
“Petra, I think Noel is ready for the fruit salad,” Conching said, smiling at the maid.
Petra stood by the door of the kitchen.
“Don’t worry, Nanay,” Julius said. “Noel has space for all the food in the world.”
Everyone laughed. They have all finished eating except for Noel who was still grappling with a dice of pork and three spoons of rice on his plate.
“Here,” Carlo said, smiling. “Have some more lumpia.”
Noel gestured with his palm to say no. He said, gurgling with the meat in his mouth, “No more. I am full.”
“Finally,” Julius said.
Everyone laughed again.
“Okay, Petra,” Conching said. “You can bring out the fruit salad now.”
The maid vanished into the kitchen. She came out with a tray with a bowl and serving dishes.
“You serve your Kuya Noel first,” said Conching. “He is ready for it.”
“Yes,” Julius said. “Him first.”
Noel hurriedly churned into his throat the last vestiges of rice in his mouth and straightened himself. “Oh! Yes, I am ready,” he said.
Petra heaped upon Noel’s dish a generous serving of the salad – pineapple chunks, peaches, coconut, jackfruit, apples – embellished with whip cream.
“Mmmm! My favorite,” Noel said.
“Everything is your favorite,” Julius said.
“Well, I hope you like it,” said Conching. “I almost did not make this salad. Apples have really become expensive.”
“True, Nanay,” Noel said. “We are now getting into the case of the vanishing Yuletide Season.”
“Excuse me. What?” Conching said.
Only the tinkle of Noel’s spoon on his plate could be heard as everyone fell into a hush.
“As I’ve said, po, we are now going into the vanishing Yuletide Season.”
Carlo glanced at Julius.
Lina nudged Noel’s arm.
“What do you mean by that?” Conching said.
“Oh! Nothing, Nanay.”
Lina pressed Noel’s arm.
Julius shook his head.
“No, really,” said Conching. “What did you mean?”
“Well,” Noel said. “Yuletide cannot be complete without the frills.”
“Before, things were cheaper. Grapes, apples, everything were cheaper that they adorned tables during Christmas. Everyone could afford to buy gifts for everyone. Now, everything is more expensive and there is no let up in the skyrocketing of prices.
Eventually, the majority won’t be able to afford anything anymore and will have to forego celebrating Christmas.”
Lina pressed on Noel’s arm harder.
“But Christmas is nothing else except celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Julius placed his forefinger on his lips, signaling Noel to stop his tirade.
Lina nudged Noel more vigorously.
“Yes, but with turning pockets inside out,” Noel said.
“That is foolish communist talk,” said Conching.”
“What is foolish is for us to even be singing those songs when we do not have white Christmases here. We do not even have chimneys where a Santa Clause could be sliding down.”
“Those are stupid talk. Those are the kind of ideas you get from those aktibistas. Just because, you, komunistas do not believe in
God, you want Christmas to vanish.” Conching stood up and started for her room.
“But its true,” Noel said.
“If only your parents are not my friends…,” Conching’s words trailed to vanish. “Hmmmp!”
(Publisher’s note: Rudy D. Liporada’s novel, Cordillera Red Rising is published with Amazon.com.) # nordis.net