I recall very well, as if it were only yesterday, when I first moved to the Philippines in 1986. I have shared the story many times about my living with a Filipino family for one year duirng that time. I also vividly recall many things that happened during that year so long ago. The members of the family I lived with spoke English to me but when communicating with each other, they mostly spoke Tagalog. Sometimes, for my benefit, they spoke Taglish. The first couple of weeks with the family, I often heard them talking about Baboy and referring to Baboy. After several weeks, I decided to ask just who Baboy was.
“When will I get to meet Baboy?” I asked one evening during their family conversation. Everyone in the living room, who heard me, looked puzzled with my question. I added that I often hear everyone referring to Baboy and I would like to meet him or at least know who he is. Everyone burst out laughing. Baboy! Diego, one of the children, told me he would introduce me to Baboy the next morning, right after breakfast. This brought more laughter from everyone. Katrina, one of the family's daughters, told me they were not laughing at me but laughing about my wanting to meet Baboy.
That night, before drifting off to sleep, I was thinking about meeting this very important person. Baboy. I thought he must really be an important family member. Or maybe a local politician. Or maybe even a celebrity. The next morning, I woke up, showered, shaved and dressed in my finer polo shirt. I always wore jeans, shoes and socks, even back then when going out in public.
At the breakfast table, no one mentioned my meeting with Baboy. Maybe they had forgotten, I thought. Finally, Diego spoke up. “After you finish your coffee, we will go meet Baboy.” “Great!” I was ready to go.
I followed Diego outdoors and we walked down the subdivision road a bit. “This way,” Diego told me. We went down a path between two houses. We walked right up to a pen. As we approached the pen, a large hog raised its head and seemed to look me right in the eye. “Gary, meet Baboy. Baboy, meet Gary.” I burst out in laughter and so did Diego. It finally dawned on me. The family had been talking about pork all this time, not a person.
This, which I have shared with you, is only one of my many memorable occasions in the Philippines during the last 28 years. I have many more to share with you in the future.
I was reminded of Baboy this morning when I heard my wife talking about our upcoming Noche Buena menu and she mentioned baboy. For sure, pork is one of the staples of the Filipino diet, especially during holidays and special occasions.