The Feast of the Inebriated

It is colonial heritage. Apolonio followed the tradition of his ancestors. He butchered 5 native chickens. They were about a dozen more from 3 or so clutches of eggs that hatched in the end of winter. 5 is enough to make stew and there are more for other special occasion until December. There are some for cockfighting too. The pig was slaughtered at 4 in the morning. It weighed 80 kilos and was bought as a piglet three months ago from a neighbour who bred pigs. The neighbour had an extra weanling that Apolonio bought a week ago. That will be slaughtered and roasted tomorrow. The rice harvest was good. There’s lots of freshly harvested fragrant rice. The yam harvest was good too. There was enough to sell and extra in storage for this occasion. And because there was enough rain in the past month, the bananas, taros, sweet potatoes, cassava and vegetables growing near their house and around the rice fields were abundant. Plenty of sweet wine from the coconut flowers. The feast would consist of everything Apolonio and his family grew and raised. Some came from what neighbours grew and raised. There was even extra money from the sale of yams to buy sweet things to eat and drink. They bought the sweets because didn’t grow sugarcane. This was more than enough. Apolonio didn’t need to take out a loan. He still had enough money to put into his old age pension for the rest of the year. Enough to fuel his alcoholism as well.

The lowlanders were busy too. Lupito took out a large loan from his old age pension. At the same time, his mistress Perlita took advantage of the generous loans being given out by newcomers in the village. The newcomers ran a money-lending scheme. So even if Lupito and Perlita grew or raised nothing, it will be an extravagant feast. Even if they are still paying the loans taken out two years ago. Even if they couldn’t afford such a feast. Besides, they run a business. They have a shop in their house. The shop has salty and sweet processed foods packed in foil, plastic and tins. Perlita ate them most of the time. The shop had cigarettes and alcohol too. Perlita earned money from those. She was a chain-smoker so she took some of the cigarettes in the shop. That was very convenient. Perlita doesn’t drink so at least she gets profit from sales of alcohol. If they had coconuts they could have coconut wine everyday. But it’s not easy collecting the wine from the coconut flowers. Anyway, a good number of men in the village are alcoholics and prefer Tanduay Light.

In the meantime, Marceline is having a hard time thinking about what to serve at the feast. Most of their money was already spent on alcohol. Her husband is crazy drunk now. Six months ago she had plenty of work. Now she doesn’t have any. Her employers were generous and kind. But Marceline couldn’t stop stealing from them. She stole clothes and shoes from the shop where she worked as a cleaner. She stole money and vegetables from the public market where she worked as the vendor’s helper. She stole money and detergent powder from the couple she worked for as a laundrywoman. She has four children. Her neighbour started playing loud music. It was Eva Eugenio. Her husband started shouting and breaking things in the house. Their neighbour turned down the music so the whole village could hear her husband shouting. Everyone is used to it. But they all wanted to know what he was angry about.

Fatima Lasay, San Roque
Thursday, August 15, 2019

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