Friday, October 15, 2004

Of beer bottles and horses

Vigan City parade Posted by Hello

Pic: Drinking is one of the national passions here in the Philippines. The famous San Miguel brew is cheap, plentiful and easily available for everyone. So much so, the ever presence of their products and advertising are plainly apparent that you can never walk around and not spot the name. Here during the Vigan Festival with calesa (horse carts) parade, is seen empty beer bottles used a decoration on the horses. Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Philippines, 2004.

Despite being deeply religious (Christianity is the leading religion in the Philippines with 95 % of the population as Roman Catholics), the people are plagued with old habits and customs that fail to be eradicated. Gambling and drinking is two of the main problems faced here. It is said that the Filipino would bet on anything and everything, from the weather (whether it will rain or not), to sports (betting booths are always open), to politics (the next presidential elect) and especially cock fighting. Even the fun fair cannot escape this passion, along with rides such as Ferris wheel, carousel, dodgems, ghost house and rides, gambling booths are always present. I was astounded as to the number and variety of gambling games that were to be found. People bet with everything from dice, cards, balls, scratch boards and wheels. Drinking too is another vice deeply ingrained in the Filipino soul. Dozens of brewery offer anything from beers, to lagers, to stouts and whiskey with the most prominent being the San Miguel brew. Beer houses and gambling houses are openly found as compared to other entertainment. Fiestas and pageants of religious devotion are never complete without both of these in the equation. The simple pleasures of drinking and betting away their lifesavings helps takes away the drudgery of their hard life.

But personally I still prefer the summer time favourite there, halo-halo. Halo-halo means literally mixed-mixed, a similar dessert treat akin to our ABC. Shaved iced is laden with preserved fruits (papayas, bananas, and mangoes), jellies and syrup, and the good news, it only costs 15 pesos (RM 1). It truly is blissful to have this cool concoction when the sun is out midday (summer is without rain for at least 3 months and its sweltering).


bayibhyap said...

Their halo-halo is really memorable and each stall selling it can offer up to sadoyan (a dozen) flavours. They have the yam flavour too. Mmmmm....saraaap.

bayibhyap said...

I had beer at a bar for less than RM2.00 per stubby bottle of San Miguel. That was good beer at a really affordable price. I could drown in happiness if I had wanted to.