The Porkchop Pilgrimage

Porkchop, fried rice, and egg at Atoy’s Porkchop, San Pedro, Laguna

There’s always that point in one’s life when, over empty plates, leftovers and crumpled table napkins, a group of friends would broach the question: What would you have for your last meal on earth?

Some of my friends already had things in mind (truffle pasta, bacon…) while others, like me, were scrunching up our faces. Up to this day I couldn’t decide what I would like to have in that fateful day, but you know what? Maybe I’d go for a Pinoy-style porkchop.

I wax poetic at my workplace – or anywhere! – when talk swerves to food (us Filipinos can’t help but talk about food while eating, no?) and as most of the talk about food lead to comfort food, I’d always say porkchop in a heartbeat, vividly recalling each slab I wolfed down as a kid. Curiously, no fastfood chain offers one, so I settle for fried chicken.

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The woman in a dress apron

photos by A Dela Rosa

An old woman grunted that she could barely manage to stand up: she said the ginataang tilapia, whole tilapia draped in mustard leaves and simmered in coconut milk, was just too good (and too much?) for her. It’s a compliment she wanted the clientele – an interesting mix of students, bank tellers, construction workers, traffic enforcers, grocery baggers from the nearby mall, the occasional bus inspector – to hear. She gave another unsolicited remark aimed – it turned out – at me: “You know… I’ve been telling her to get a loan from a bank so she can start her own food business.” Her skill in cooking, the old woman said in Filipino, is put to waste!

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