By Atty. Farah G. Decano

PINULITIKANG lugaw”

The Filipinos have just been served “pinulitikang lugaw” this Holy Week.   It started with a barangay official who denied passage to a food courier by vehemently claiming that the “lugaw,” he was about to deliver, was not considered essential.

The actual apprehension of the food deliverer was captured on video which was later on uploaded on Facebook. Who would have thought that the denial of the humble rice porridge as essential will inspire so much memes and reactions from Filipinos?

No less than the National Commission For Culture and the Arts (NCCA) had to issue a statement that elevated the lugaw to a symbol of our culture. Citing the 1613 Vocabulario dela Lengua Tagala by Fr. Pedro de San Buneaventura, the NCCA said that rice porridge is among the “earliest documented food of our ancestors”

Then rice porridge issue became political when an undersecretary emphasized that “si lugaw” is not essential. The statement took a swipe on Vice President Leni Robredo who became famous for her lugaw sit-down meals as campaign fund-raising strategy.

Of course, supporters of VP Leni defended the lugaw as a symbol of a mother’s love, a food that is “warm and soothing” not only to the stomach but also to the hearts of Filipinos.  They also took the opportunity to throw shade at another politician involved in some misconduct.

Like moviegoers eating popcorn, the netizens observed, “now it’s Team Lugaw vs. Team Lewd-Awwww!”

If ratatouille was the simple French meal that brought back the staunch food critic to his childhood memories (remember the famous animated Disney Movie?),  Binolbol, the Pangasinan word for lugaw, does the same to me. It takes me back to the happy days when mama made me rice porridge with condensed milk for my snacks.

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We start the Holy Week by celebrating Palm Sunday.  We recall how Jesus Christ was jubilantly welcomed by the crowds as He entered Jerusalem riding a humble donkey. They raised palms and exalted Him as “king.”  Interestingly, a few days later, these are the same crowds who jeered and spat at him after he was condemned by Pontus Pilate.

 This Holy Week, we are encouraged to do an introspection as a nation. Let us not be this like these crowds that were easily persuaded by popularity and convenience. 

How do we behave as a crowd of Filipinos?  Do we continue supporting politicians who allow foreigners to rape our sovereignty and tolerate extrajudicial killings?  Do we turn a blind eye to transgressions of our leaders because we fear them or because we want something from them such as appointments to plum government positions, protection of businesses, or ayuda?

  How do we behave as a crowd of Filipino voters? Do we follow a good leader only when it is convenient? Do we withdraw our support when another leader bribes us with P3,000 per vote?

  It was not easy to stand with Jesus Christ at the time of His condemnation. Why, even his disciples forsook Him!   So, must we cut ourselves some slack for our cowardice and greed in times of difficulty?

  We must continue struggling.

  Let us not be like the crowds of Jerusalem during Jesus’ time who were unable to stand by the truth even when truth Himself was already in their presence. 

 Instead, let us have the courage and fortitude of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His apostle John who accompanied Jesus even up to the foot of the cross.  I am sure it was not easy for them, too. I am sure they were also thrown stones and jeered at.  

What could be in Mary and John that made them endure the persecution of the crowds so they could publicly profess their love for Jesus?  I see purity in their hearts. They have no other selfish intentions but to stand by TRUTH himself.  Applying the virtues of the Virgin Mary and Apostle John, we, as a nation, must purify ourselves from our own selfish agenda that runs counter to the interest of our country.

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