Friday, May 06, 2005

Drinks on the House

All you residents of 112 Willow, take notice: This is about drinking. Filipinos have this thing called barcadas or drinking circles. Not unlike the U.S. but a bit more organized and instead of binges, it's more of constant thing. Days at a time, instead of a one night bender. Men drink openly in circles outside, while women often hold their drinking circles inside -- in the kitchen and out of sight. Gin and San Miguel beer are the drinks of choice.

Here's how it works: Someone is selected to be the "tandero." That person pours the shots. There is one shot glass that is passed around the circle. The tandero pours shot after shot for his barkada, or drinking buddies. All of this cannot happen of course without eating food. Pulutan -- which includes delicacies like dog meat, chicken feet and fried beetles -- is only eaten while drinking. Our version of cheese and crackers? The drinking and eating continues until the last Filipino or Filipina is left standing.

I've exposed to this bit of culture with my host family though I have not yet been invited to join a circle. I am told it will happen some day and it's a delicate thing to refuse. (No smirks from 112 Willow, please). It's a practice that is deeply embedded in the culture and refusing to take part upon invitation and without a good reason could alienate you from the group. Talk about peer pressure! Wish me luck.

Here are some additional pics I haven't posted. More to come.

This is Myles, my language and culture teacher. She is just 23! The guy next to her is Kehl, a bit of a nut.

Here is the view from a nice restaurant on the water in Los Banos.


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