This Little Piggy

Today is Sunday, November the 15th, 2009. It is my birthday. I am getting older (37) now. Some days I feel it and some days I don’t although I suspect that I do not consider my age anymore now than I did when I was a youth. Regardless of that consideration, I can not say that it is a year like any other. Many, many things are different on this day of days. My life, my location and my mindset among those differences.

For as long as I can remember I have celebrated my birthday with a mostly silent homage and a quiet reflection sans the fanfare that goes with such times. After all, better is the day of ones death than ones birth (Ecc 7:1) and this day has always given me the opportune excuse to be alone and emotionally digest all that life has thrown at me in the preceding 12 months. This year is different though; this year I will celebrate. I will celebrate if for no other reason than the simple fact that so many things are now changed in my life, this day also should change.

I really didn’t intend much for my birthday bash and my original plan was to venture to Palawan for my annual getaway, but with Jennifer being here I wouldn’t leave so alternate plans were made. Food is always celebrated here amongst the poverty so for me the decision was easy: I love pork, let’s kill a pig.

Unhappy Pig

Unhappy Pig

What I intended to be a simple roasting of the pig (aptly named Porky) has turned into a celebration and a party larger than anticipated. Food is being prepared, decorations are being set and people are hard at work. Really, I just wanted to shove an apple in the mouth of Porky and eat some ham but the amount of preparation that people have volunteered is staggering. It is both staggering and humbling.

This day also brings another special occasion: The Manny Pacquiao fight. Pacquiao is of course a national icon here as a world renown boxer. If you want a real life reflection of Hollywood’s Rocky Balboa, it doesn’t come any closer than Pacquiao. He went from the poverty of being a balut (fetal duck in an egg) street vendor to being the man known for, pound for pound,

Pacquiao Vs. Cotto

Pacquiao Vs. Cotto

having the most powerful punch in the world. While it would be easy to worry that the boxing match might delay my birthday party, I have no concerns whatsoever: Pacquio is going to slaughter his opponent rather quickly and then we can commence eating Porky.

I have never bought a pig much less seen a pig slaughtered so, when Porky arrived, I was quickly nearby with the camera. It’s still a bit awkward for me watching your dinner walk around and look at you but, after eating the dog, I was pretty sure I could handle it. Porky was hog-tied, held down by several people and her jugular vein was slit. Suffice it to say that Porky was none too happy to be a part of this process. I tried to comfort the female pork-chop as the blood drained but whether or

Porkchops anyone?

Porkchops anyone?

not my words had any effect is hard to say: “Close your eyes. Sleep little piggy.”

When the process started there was only a few of us present. As soon as the pig let out her first ear-piercing squeal every neighbor showed up. It was a bit comical to say the least and I enjoyed watching the fanfare. I took pictures of the bystanders as well as the cleaning/preparation of the pig. It was cleaned, shaved, gutted and moderately boiled to make the chopping easier. The amount of work in butchering a 38-kilo pig is huge, way more than I was aware of and I now have a new respect for butchers. Within a few hours we were sampling some of the animal for dinner and a pre-party celebration had commenced with around twenty people present.

At some point during the evening my Nikon D40 (which I’m VERY protective of) left my hands. Jennifer and her brothers became snap-happy taking shots of everyone in every possible pose. As worried as I was about the camera, it was impossible to not enjoy watching them trying to work it so I set it to Auto and showed them how to use the zoom. Such technologies fascinate people here and the digital pictures provided hours of entertainment. There are certainly some memorable shots in there and I’ll try my best to use the horribly slow internet access here to upload all of them to MyPlog.

Update: For those who didn’t watch the Pacquio/Cotto boxing match, you missed a spectacular event. Pacman danced around Cotto for 12 rounds while the referee threw in the towel for Cotto during round 12. Most of the time it seemed as though Pacman barely broke a sweat. Cotto appeared to have broken everything. I’ve never been a huge fan of boxing due to the lack of punching and the abundance of hugging; watching this fight was not disappointing.

I’m sure the thousands of people who crammed into the stadium in Las Vegas for the fight payed good money for their seats. It was the boxing event of the year. I sat in a metal chair in bamboo nipa hut with a dozen Filipinos surrounding a small 22-in television here in the provinces of Panay island. I had way better seats than those poor saps in Vegas.

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