Friday, April 13, 2012

Remembering Tang Ben

I'm interrupting the normal IT stuff in this blog to remember my father, Tang Ben, who unexpectedly passed away last September. I'm doing this because some of his grandkids never got to meet and know how kind, funny, and inventive Lolo Ben was.

Tang Ben knew how to cook. He had several killer dishes in his repertoire, but my favorite (my wife's too), was his asadong manuk. Asadong manuk was reserved for special days -- fiestas and birthdays. He would marinate the chicken in toyo and kalamunding for a day. Then, the chicken would go through an elaborate process of sauteeing and braising and frying. 

Whenever he served it, the dish never lasted long on the table. So he would set aside a half-chicken or more for me and Data. 

Tang Ben said he learned to cook when he worked in his aunts' carenderia. I think what really distinguished his cooking style was his inventiveness. He would experiment a lot -- sometimes with undesirable results. We'd be honest with him when this happened, and he always took it in stride. His strength was learning from his experiments and doing better every time.

We used to have long lunches and dinner, with the elders lingering at the table, telling all sorts of stories. "Peace time" stories were a hodge-podge of prewar and, confusingly, war stories. One of the favorite recurring stories then was about the old toilets, which were elevated outhouses with a hole on the floor and a long stick. The stick's purpose was to push away the pig who would wait downstairs for your number 2 (gross!).  

When Tang Ben was going to school at Calulut as a kid, so he told, whenever it would rain, he had no other place to seek shelter so he would crawl into one of the open niches in the cemetery along the way.  Tang Ben used this story to explain why he was sensitive to spirits (and he had firsthand ghost stories to tell!).

All lunches and dinners would always have a round of jokes or real-life funny stories. But those are for future blog entries.

One of my earliest memories as a child were of him using a trick to make me go to bed. He would lift a small part of the kulambo, making it look like a tent, and would tell me, "Camping! Camping! Quick!" And I would rush to bed, crawling inside the hole.

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