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Brother Lolo’s Chicharon and Liempo

Back in the days when I used to be part of the Brother Lolo’s President’s Council, we would find ourselves nakaray somewhere just because he needed to get out of the campus. These were apart from Thursdays, which were sacred to him. Thursday, more often than not, was for golf with his pal Hernan Billano.

There was this one time as the school year was about to wind down to a close in 2001 when the Brother Lolo – on a whim – thought we should all hold one President’s Council meeting in Pansol. He knew this place daw.

What a wonderful idea, we all thought. Although, having all been with the Brother Lolo for a while, we also all suspected that we would have no more than a balâ-balâ meeting and that the R&R was what the day was all about.

There were always those in school who thought these so-called junkets were a waste of resources; but those who have been in management will tell you that there really ought to be more of these, if anything!

In his wisdom, the Brother Lolo knew that even just one day away from the place would help those of us who worked closely with him look at the day-to-day itty-bitty problems of the organization with a better perspective.

And so, dressed casually and with swim wear stuffed into our bags, we all got into the Pregio… I was sure nobody who saw us drive away could be convinced that we were going to hold a meeting somewhere. I mean, the get-up and the demeanour said it all: outing!

In Calambâ, the Brother Lolo suddenly asked Joel the driver to pull over beside a small Lapid outlet. “Wait there,” he told us as he and Joel got out. They were out for no more than a few minutes; and when they returned, I was sure the Brother Lolo hated all of us and wanted to kill us.

He had bought ten – yes, ten – large plastic bags of Lapid’s famous pampabatâ chicharong balat! Que horror! There were just five of us plus Joel the driver with the Brother Lolo. So do your simple aritmitik and that’s 10 dedbay-dedbay 7; meaning we were expected to consume roughly one and a half plastic bags of pampabatâ chicharon each?

Before long, we were at the Laguna Hot Springs in Pansol. It was apparent that the Brother Lolo was a regular patron. In no time at all, he had stripped down to his swim shorts at parang kalabaw sa tag-araw, hindî maunahan sa paglublob! It was obvious he even knew the masseurs; and soon nakahilatâ na sa gilid and was getting a massage.

We did keep up pretences and sat down for that balâ-balâ meeting. I am sure that there was nothing important because I do not recall one damned thing about what we talked about.

If anything, I recall lunch more. The Brother Lolo had the ladies order some inihaw from the stalls outside the resort. Tilapiâ, some dalag or hitô if I am not mistaken; and if you knew the Brother Lolo, then you know there was always inihaw na liempo!

Goodness, the liempo! That was a story in itself!

Hypertensive that he was, the Brother Lolo was cautioned by his doctor to have liempo sparingly; and yes, it was alright if it was his birthday! There was this one time – he told this story over and over – when the very same doctor chanced upon him in a restaurant feasting on his favourite inihaw.

The doctor pointed at the liempo and gave the Brother Lolo an accusing look. The latter’s wit was lightning-fast. “Birthday ko!” he gleefully lied to his doctor.

To get back to the Pansol outing, boy did we feast on what the ladies had ordered! Being women, they also brought with them plastic spoons and forks which were actually no help at all. Considering we were on an outing and the food was basically ihaw-ihaw, I did the sensible thing and ate sakol.

I think we returned to the same place just one more time with the Brother Lolo. I returned a few times more, though, with other sets of fellow administrators. Always, we bought the same ihaw-ihaw lunch from the stalls outside and had poolside massages. Not to mention soaking for hours on end in the hot waters of the spring resort, something that never failed to give me heat rashes afterwards. It was well-worth the itch, though!

As we were about to leave that first day out in Pansol with the Brother Lolo, it dawned upon us that he was right in his calculations, as he invariably always was, after all! As we piled into the vehicle, the chicharon was practically tupok na. I think there was less than one plastic bag of it left for the drive home.

The way the Brother Lolo left to join the Creator years later – he drowned in a beach – was naturally a shock. The irony was stark to all of us who worked closely with him. The chicharon and the liempo did not get him.

He should have had more of it when he was still alive.

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