“Ay wada ka assa?” (Are you there?) the voice of a neighbor/friend snaps me out of my daydreams of tranquil lakes and fishing boats. For a moment, I wondered if my mind just made it up in order to shake me up from my near slumber.
“Jani, ay wada ka assa?” the question was repeated, louder this time banishing my hopes that it was just a figment of my imagination. I smiled inwardly. Part of me wanted to remain prone in the couch and I was tempted to keep quiet in the hopes that the person outside would assume I wasn’t in and leave.
Maybe I was too good a person. LOL.
I stood up and crossed to the door.
My friend stood in front of our house, a lazy smile on his face.
“Ay wada ikak-am?” (Are you doing anything?) He asked, knowing the answer.
“Enta ad Kin-iway.” (Let’s go to Kin-iway)
“Ta?” (What for?)
“Basta.” (Generic term that is synonymous with a shrug)
I wondered if I should just make a reason to stay in but decided otherwise. I was bored half off my wits. Maybe its better if I went for a walk. I asked him to wait and informed my mom of my intentions.
We walked in relative silence for a few kilometers, small talk mostly and he gave no clue as to where we would be going.
We reached the heart of Kin-iway and he turned towards the direction of Payeo.
“Umayan ta no?” (Where are we going?”) I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me.
“Enta ad kenda auntie”
“Ay ta?” (Why) My mind was now on overdrive, wondering why we were going there. There must be an event there, I surmised, but as to what, my mind came up blank.
“Kasar kua” (It’s someones wedding) He answered matter of factly.
“Ahh” Now I know. People have been talking about a wedding for the month. I thought it was later – my cluelessness was a sign that I haven’t been going out lately.
I laughed sheepishly, embarrassed at my ignorance.
“As wakgat enya?” (It’s tomorrow right?)
As we neared the place, more and more people joined us. I exchanged a few greetings and smiles. Small towns like ours, everybody knows everybody (and for strangers… eventually). We all shared the same destination.
We found the place teeming with a group of people.
It being the day before the wedding, people go to the brides house to help with everything. Some were there for the gossip (LOL) or to just be seen or to do ‘usyuso’ (put one’s nose in the pot, so to speak), or to help the family of the bride and groom prepare for the big day.
We squeezed ourselves through a group of women and girls paring potatoes, cutting cabbages, Baguio beans and carrots.
“Ay kaanu kan tu pay abes ay makiasawa?” (When will get married too?) More than a few old ladies questioned as they saw me.
“Darasem abes ta menpadawak si inam.” (You do it soon so that your mom will host a wedding too.)
“Ta waday rason si entako madagupan as baey u” (So that we will have a reason to visit your house)
“Sak ited nan essa ay baboy.” (I’ll give a pig)
“Wada san talaken ko ay baka. (I have a cow)
I just gave them a big grin as each of them said what they wanted.
We finally reached the area where the men were busy butchering a few pigs.
“Sipay amam?” (Where’s your dad?)
“Engka man saludsoden ken inan tudi nu into mangikabilan isnan naay natadtad.” (Go find his mother and ask where we are going to put the meat?)
“Ene, gegen-am, Ay kega pay maid pigsamay.” (Hey, hold it properly, You have strength don’t you?)
On the side, a group of men have already set up the big cauldrons where a lot of meat cuts are already set to boil. Before there was just one kind of meat dish in weddings. Inanger. Which is large cuts of meat seasoned with only salt and then set to boil in a big pot. Nowadays, people are adding adobo – same meat cuts just with some soy sauce, potatoes and paminta. The veggies being cut by the women will be used to make dry pansit – which will be cooked later in the evening or early morning. Add rice, put them all in a paper plate, silopin (cellophane) or a banana trunk cross-section (I forget the local term) and you have the wedding food.
It’s a community affair, mostly.
Local relatives of the bride and groom come together to get the food prepared just in time for the wedding. It’s sort of like an unwritten tradition. Weddings rekindles bonds between people. Before, a distant relative from Tokok will probably come carrying sheaves of rice. The big pots and pans appear from storage and pigs literally come out of pigpens…
It’s often mostly taken for granted…
Only when you find yourself far from the reach of such networks do you suddenly realize how precious they are…
I’m getting married in ten days.
Instead of pigs, I have cuts of beef in my freezer which my fiancé would bake the night before the wedding. Two Saladmaster machines will replace the tens of ladies who would chit chat their way through several baskets of potatoes and Baguio beans and hired food warmers and a Uhaul truck will replace the men milling around the cooking area. A few good souls have volunteered to cook some dishes and they are a God send. The rest, however, are ours to make.
I sometimes kid my fiancé that we probably need to excuse ourselves from our own wedding to cook the food we need to serve and she says we have to stay up all night to cook everything. She does this in jest but we both know that there is a ring of truth to it…
And my thoughts go back to that time when I heard these words through the haze of my daydreaming mind.
“Ay wada ka assa?”
And wished that.