Monday, May 30, 2005


How is it that my undershirts are so spotlessly white whenever I take one from the closet? They certainly aren’t always that way when I take them off after a long day in a humid climate.

The answer to that is something I usually can't ask my friends. A lot of them fall into two out of these three categories: unmarried, living with their parents, employ domestic help. Due to these things, the question on clean laundry would most likely draw blank looks.

There is no social custom to live independently in the Philippines. Filipinos don’t have to move out and find their own place once they hit 18, as American mass media seems to indicate as prevalent in their society. The Filipino income level isn’t even the dominant factor. While certainly living at home is a real cash saver, many still live with their parents even if they can afford not to. It’s not unusual for the families of married children to live in the same household as one of the couple’s parents, as long as they can all fit within the walls.

An interesting consequence is that a lot of Filipinos remain unacquainted with the worries of running a household until later in life. With the relatively low cost of labor, a significant number, not even only the wealthy, can hire people to take care of those worries for them.

It is only now that I, after a year of living away from home, can come up with some items that I would always want in my home.

Olive oil
The question of the best cooking oil is perhaps one of the most debatable. There are professional lobbyists in the US slugging it out for corn, canola, and palm oil producers. It’s olive oil for me. I love the flavor it imparts to meats and sauces and it’s expensive enough that I’d have to avoid fried foods. It’s even socially acceptable to go for the extra virgin.

Caldereta or Nilaga
Whenever I need to prepare a meal from scratch, any of these two dishes would be at the top of the list. The first reason for this is that my culinary skills are quite limited, and the list of dishes doesn’t go far past those two. The second is that they’re a great balance between ease of preparation and nutrition.

Imagine, all one has to do is:
Sear the meat.
Boil and let simmer.
Cut up the vegetables then go on with your life for the next couple of hours.
Go back and toss in the vegetables.
Get the table ready. Turn off the stove and serve.

As a bonus, these dishes even taste better each time they’re reheated.

Dental floss and mouthwash
There is always something in there. Try flossing everyday for a week and you’ll see.

All-fabric bleach and stain remover
When I first started living away from home, I never failed to visit my folks on the weekends and likewise never failed to drop off the clothes that I have given up on getting spotless. Now that I’m in another country, that is unfortunately no longer a realistic option.

Thanks to the marvel of the Internet, The International Guild of Professional Butlers, and others, I am now wiser in the ways of laundry. I always thought my deodorant had something to do with it.

I’m sure that when I truly have my own place, without administrative services or landlords who I can bug about the lack of hot water, I’ll be able to think up other things that should make up my home.


banzai cat said...

Hehe that's ironic considering you-know-who has mostly lived in Manila without their parents. For a time, they had the help of a live-in helper but most of the time, they had to do by their themselves.

Because of that, I'm also getting the hang of living-on-your-stuff. For example, I finally learned how to cut up tomatoes, garlic and onions and to cook a decent breakfast.

Likewise, sometimes my mum goes out of the country so am forced to use the washing machine. Not a problem for me.

I sometimes think it's fun doing this all on your own. However, the paying of the bills is the problem. Still too poor. *sigh*

Hobbes said...

Yes, paying the bills is something else entirely.
Still, it is a real education.

kong-chu said...

Ah yes. This is good. Keep up the good work, honey. Make sure the dinner's hot when I get home from work.

Rhochie said...

You don't have to iron your shirts, just hang them in the bathroom when you take a hot shower. That or fold them quickly when you take them out of the dryer, I prefer to take out the clothes when they're still a bit moist and hot.

I learned that while living with Rhichie in the States.

As for cooking, everything was a phone call away. Or just pull out something from the freezer and nuke it.