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Ah Kong, in his highland and lowland travels as Herald Express’s roving columnist for Daily Laborer, has stumbled upon a startling discovery: that many highlander and lowlander men are better cooks than women.
Re-stated in a more family way: there are husbands who cook better than the Missus. Many women agree to this surprising fact. But many however don’t, disputing and “pooh-poohing” Ah Kong’s revelation.
Finding there are men who are good cooks, he discovered another truth: many highlander and lowlander males have invented their own household chores style to make homes humming like well-oiled machinery.
As usual, whenever Ah broaches this topic to the women, some women howl in ear-splitting protest. There was one time last year when Ah told a group of women about men’s ability to cook superbly and their industriousness in keeping house clean while the Missus would be out from home.
Well, Zapanta Moliade, 33, a pretty lady from the lowlands but now stays in La Trinidad, Benguet, happily married and with that women group that time then, glowered at Ah like she wanted to chew Ah to pieces, growled, “ Apay sika Ah Kong, kanayon mo dep-depensahan dagiti lal-laki a padam. Apay madim ammo nga dagiti uri dagiti lal-laki ket kuna ti English nga poor specimen, kumpara kadagiti babae nga agkakapintas eh?”
(“Hey, you, Ah Kong, why are you always defending the male specie, eh? Know very well that the male specie where you belong is what the English words connote as a poor specimen, compared to women who are beautiful, eh!”). The women group shrieked delightedly at Moliade’s funny job at men.
But while Moliade has this fun of poking at men, she’s a firm believer in the ability of the male specie to commit to household chores without being nagged by the female specie. Moliade said later that time, “A fraction of women, don’t believe in men’s ability to cook and clean house. I hope these skeptics change.”
If to peer at the household styles of these men, it can be understood from the view of Colombo Pilasi, 42, La Trinidad, Benguet, resident. He regularly cooks for his family. He jestingly explained:
“There are two kinds of men. Men who can cook are real men who wear aprons. The other is those who think they are strong but can’t cook either for themselves or their families. These are men who wear diapers. For how else can you describe a guy who can’t even come close to cooking his own food? ”
One time of a Sunday of January early last year when there wasn’t yet a pandemic, a group of friends, sat on the stairs built within the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal at Otek Street, Baguio City, discussing the city’s current events, other topics while idly watching traffic and pedestrians as they streamed by.
Nearing 5’ O’clock P.M., one of them, Gerald Labinan, in his 40’s, and city resident, commented, “Agawid tayon, gagay-yem ta malemen, ta intayu ag-luto ken aglinis, sakbay agawid ni baket” (Let’s go home friends; already late in the afternoon. We need to cook, before the Missus arrives for home.)
One in their group, known for an attitude of believing cooking, doing household chores are below his dignity, said, “Ket baybayan tayo ta dagiti missus tayo ti agluto. Siak saanak nga aglutluto ta saan ko ammo agluto ken saan ko met ammo dagiti rikado ti panagluto.” Others in the group looked askance at their friend for his remarks.
Wooden Kalmiso, from La Trinidad, most senior in the group, and apparently pissed off by what heard, chastised their friend when he flatly said, “Saan kuma nga kasta ti panagkitam iti panagluto ken panaglinis ti uneg ti balay. Ti kita ti panagluto ken kita ti panaglinis ti uneg ti balay, awan ti al-alia na. Sika nga agluto ken aglinlinis ti mangited ti al-alia idiay kita ti panagluto ken panaglinis!”
(“That should not be your outlook towards cooking or household keeping. A recipe has no soul. You as the cook or house cleaner must bring soul to the recipe or soul to housekeeping.”)
How men treat the kitchen is amazing and going about in household chores, their styles are efficient.
Many highlander and lowlander males are crazy about kitchens. Many would rather sleep in the kitchen, than in the Sala, when drunk. Some men prefer to sleep in the kitchen after a spat with their Missus. Some men talk to themselves while in the kitchen. Some even believe they are more handsome wearing an apron in the kitchen.
Still, many highlander and lowlander men agree a kitchen is a classroom for anger management. Listen to Constancio Dipil, 45, from Mountain Province, why it’s so: “Nu adda bassit di mi nagkina-awatan kenni baket ket napudot ti ulo, mapanak laengen ag-luto. Pagam-am-uwam, awanen pudot ti ulo. (When there’s a little spat with the Missus and the head is hot, I go and cook and surprisingly your hot-headedness evaporates.)
In this pandemic time, many men even hold their office in the kitchen, and instead of concentrating on their assignments given them by their offices, compete with their children on how many times they open the fridge or pantry shelves. When their tummies get to be bigger due to overeating, they blame it on the Missus, saying, “The perks of marriage.”
If ever you have a chance or permission to peer into kitchens of known restaurants in Baguio or La Trinidad, you’ll be amazed to find out their chefs (chief cooks) are dominantly male.
It goes true in restaurants operated along Halsema National Highway, Marcos Highway, Naguillian National Road, as well as other restaurants in other roads leading to provinces in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1.
Trying to solve this trend, Ah stumbled upon a restaurant owner who refused to be identified because he doesn’t to be misunderstood by the fairer sex, but who believed men border more on the challenge of taking risks when it comes to cooking, as compared to women.
While he was emphatic in saying women are just as hardworking and dedicated when it comes to cooking, many would rather rely more on established and proven recipes handed down from generations. By instinct, women wouldn’t like to be criticized for lousy cooking and would rather want be on the safe side.
On the other hand, men who cook tend to be daring, adventurous and experimenting without any inhibition. If they fail in their experiment, they would try again, altering traditional dishes by adding something in them.
When these men do house chores, they have systems to minimize waste and movement. Here are tips from them which you may want to incorporate in daily housekeeping:
Marcelino Ambil, who says he dreams of one day having his own house and presently rents in Baguio, said, “The civilized way of disposing garbage is to organize waste and waste bags to help our garbage collectors of the city’s General Service Office (GSO).”
Short of admonishing Baguio residents undisciplined in segregating their garbage, Ambil merely said, “Nu ngay padesen tayo kuma ti sapatos da ta marikna tayo met ti rikna da!” (Why don’t we step in the garbage collectors’ shoes and realize their sentiments, too).
Wilfer Umbiyan, from La Trinidad, explains, “anything that smells – bagoong, aramang, meat, fish, and when placed in the fridge must be wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil. Left-over must be wrapped so they don’t dehydrate or get dripped by fridge water. Anything dipped in soy sauce or vinegar must be covered to avoid contamination.”
Alfo Dolmiyen, from Benguet, says ordinary napkins are excellent in wiping the burner before cleaning it with soap and water. If you’re rushing, and to save water, soap and time, wipe used frying pans, plates and utensils before washing them.
Dennis Abiles, from Benguet, says, “When the pan is newly washed, don’t dry it on the stove. Wipe it first. This way, kitchen fuel is saved.”
Marco Adileng, from Mountain Province explains that it’s more economical to boil as many eggs – rather than just one, two or three – at the same time, whether you wish these to be soft, medium or hard. Then these can be fridge-stored. To warm the boiled eggs, just place them on rice being cooked.
Samuel Malimes, from the lowlands explains that in washing rice; use about 2 cups of water for every cup of rice. Don’t rub the rice. Stir them gently. One washing is enough. Bottom line is: to 1 cup of rice, use 2 cups of water, to 2 cups of rice, use 4 cups of water and so on. Remember the ratio is always 2 to one. And you save on water.
Camilo Padines from the lowlands asserts one of the most abominable crimes in kitchen science is the sight of a wet and crumpled “trapo” or cloth left stinking. That’s very “salaula (very filthy).” A used “trapo” left stinking can reflect one’s character, Padines claims.
These highland and lowland gentlemen, having shared some of their household know-how, also shared another secret which they whispered to Ah Kong: “A man who doesn’t know anything about the complexity of a kitchen and housekeeping has no business marrying and raising a brood.”