When I left the office 20 minutes ago, I was not feeling well. Logic dictates that I go straight to bed upon getting home. Here I am, clicking away instead.
I just can’t stay away from my computer. I am drawn to it. And maybe it’s all mental, but I feel better already. No joke.
Anyhoo. My dad’s job takes him to Mindanao several times a month. He came home today from a three-day trip. He brought home yummy cheese bread sticks. Hmm, I can still smell them in my mind. They’re very similar to the cheese pies that the old SATS Women’s Cooperative Canteen served when I was a young girl. I can’t ever find those pies anywhere else in the Metro, but I did find them in Bohol when we were there last. These ‘stick’ version came from Cagayan de Oro.
This cheese pie isn’t a pie that has crust and filling. It’s more like a cheese pizza pie. Haha. It’s all cheese bread. I am not good at describing food in English. Basta, paper-plate sized sya, and you divide it like you do any other pizza. The smell is heavenly. Okay, the taste probably won’t take you to cloud nine and it’s not super special, but it’s one that I love. I’m not sure if it’s really the cheese pie, or the memories it brings back.
The thing is, anything that reminds me of the old Canteen automatically triggers memories of my Aunt Leesah too. She worked there as a cashier. In the rare times that she would let me go out at night when I was a kid, that’s where we’d usually head to just for an evening snack. I still miss her. Hey Auntie, if you have Internet in Heaven, send me an e-card! I turned a year older again!
Back to the Canteen. Each Coop member had a tab in the canteen and since all of the adult women in our family (along with most, if not all, adult females in the community) were members of the Coop, we could get anything with just a signature. Of course the cashiers knew all the kids’ parents too, so no one could really overcharge or eat on someone else’s tab. We called it, palista. Signalling the cashier to just add it to our mothers’ tab. There were even forms printed for that and we’d have to sign every time we got anything from the Canteen.
Aside from Cheese Pie, I always loved eating Guinataang Halo-halo. In fact, if it was available, they’d reserve one serving of the merienda dish just for me after I complained one time when they sold out everything before I arrived one afternoon. Hay, how can I describe ginataang bilo-bilo?
The Canteen closed down, reopened under new management, and closed again. Now, a cousin of mine rents the space and runs her own canteen. But it doesn’t give me quite the same homey feeling that it used to. It hasn’t been the Canteen I grew up in, not for a long time.
I don’t think that it was the change in management, or the change in cooks and other faces, that made the difference. Rather it’s the community itself that has changed in my eyes, and in my heart too. To be honest, nothing there really feels like home anymore. And I am sad to acknowledge that I feel this way.
Every person has to belong somewhere. Aside from my family, I thought the SATS community was where I belonged, where we all belonged. I consider it my hometown. But I just haven’t felt that way lately.