Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Halo-halo and Ukay-ukay

Long ago, a group of Filipino sailors sailed together with Spaniard soldiers for a trade mission to Australia. Within the woody confines of a Spanish Galleon, off they went from the Philippines and into the vastness of the southern ocean. 

They carry with them: buffalo milk, sugar, various kinds of beans like mongo and the other types that look like the modern beans. They also brought eggs and purple yams.

In the midst of their journey, somewhere in the northeast of Papua New Guinea, there happened to be a huge storm billowing over the horizon. Without an Island on sight, the captain of the ship ordered a full speed ahead towards the southern hemisphere. Despite knowing the utmost danger of the harsh waters in the Pacific, the Filipinos obliged.

But the storm had gathered in speed and size much sooner than everyone expected and it was not long until it found the Galleon floating like a sitting duck with her crews scrambling around trying to fix her bearing amidst the strong waves and howling winds.

By then, darkness has already engulfed the ocean and even the wind-proof lamps could not compensate for the diminishing visibility brought about by the mixture of a heavy rain and hales. 

Hale. That was something scarier than one’s average source of fright. For it can punch holes through the brittle hulls of the Galleon and can knock anyone out to a deep slumber. Truly, they were a devastating force for their impact alone had broken off the mast of the ship, rendering it incapacitated. Without the sails, the crew knew they are bound to a gloomy desolation. With the storm this big, all they can do is pray and wait it out to pass. 

The next morning, everything was calm. The storm has passed by. But they couldn’t believe that the strong draught had pushed them all the way down the icy part of the world—the Antarctica! And to make it even worse, their ship has run aground on a big ice shelf.  

Feeling joyful somehow for having survived the storm, they all went down to set foot on the icy continent. That’s when the captain of the ship told the men a quote that had since put up on the annals of the history of men:

“Bring forth the beans, the buffalo milk, the sugar, the eggs and the purple yams for today, we will celebrate! We shall celebrate the day that we have lived when we’re supposed to have been in the hands of death.”

And so, the Filipino men, prepared a fire and cooked the beans. They also made a leche flan out of the buffalo milk and the eggs.  Our Filipino ancestors knew some archaic recipes about purple yams so the crew made halaya out of it.

When everything was done, they set all of the foods on the table. The captain once again spoke, “What seems to be missing? We have beans, sugar, milk, leche flan and halaya?”

Without saying a word, a Filipino crew stood up, walked over to where some pile of snow hasn’t solidified yet and scooped a handful. He came back to the table and asked the other crews to fill their cups with beans and sugar. He then stuffed the cup with snow. One of the crews put a slice of leche flan and a spoonful of halaya on the mixture. 

Seeing that what they are about to make there is something of a novelty invention, the Captain poured the milk over the mixture, thinking that if it’s going to be a success, then it’s worth contributing something even with just a miniscule effort. Alas! They have made something that no one has ever done before.

And that was how, my friend, the halo-halo was invented.

But I was just kidding. I just made that story up. In Papua New Guinea, however, there is a similar kind of halo-halo being sold for less than K10 (Kina) at Kopitiam restaurant. The Malaysian chef there calls it “Ice Ka-chang.” 

One can probably just ignore the tiny differences between halo-halo and the ice-kachang. The reason being for wanting to indulge on sweets like this is perhaps to alleviate what we are experiencing from the heat of global warming. 

Contrary to my made-up story, the ice in the Ice-kachang didn’t come from the Antarctic, but instead it came from the belly of that cute ice grinder sitting next to nanay Ada in this picture. I’m not sure why it looked like a mascot, but with my tendency to over-speculate; I’d probably think that its primal reason for the disguise was to lure curious children into coming closer so it could gobble them up.

Just kidding.

Perhaps, it’s all part of the marketing strategy. Cute things tend to attract more.

Actually, before we went to Kopitiam, me and nanay Ada had spent an hour going through the displays in one of the second hand shops in Port Moresby. This shop is somewhere around the Gordons area, near the Nesa Foam. 

The Kopitiam is somewhere around the Waigani area. The shop is behind these inanimate figures. It’s also near the “tunnel,” and when we mention the tunnel, almost everyone knows where it is.  But the tunnel is somewhat a misnomer, because it’s actually a short gap under a skyway called Poreporena highway. 

Have a nice day everyone! 

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