I have always been traveling for the last fifteen years or so. And I had been brought to a lot ofdestinations, from the north to the south, the west and the east of the country. I have also been abroad, and these travels gave me new bits of knowledge and information and taught me valuable lessons. And most of the times, I learn it from ordinary people.
But one thing that really fascinates me about us Filipinos is our penchant for carrying with us a lot baggage. For instance, in my most recent trip back to Mindanao, in the check in queue, I was next to a young lady who had with her a couple of oversize boxes, a number of plastic bags, another couple of traveling bags, a number of hand-carried luggage and a backpack. Honestly, I wasworried for her. I could not imagine myself traveling in such circumstance. I always travel light. And I realize that it is common to people to travel with a lot of baggage.
But in all those travels, I have always been amazed, fascinated, and even intrigued by one sight- by people or travelers who bring along with them can(s) of biscuits. It used to be cans, but they have been transformed into plastic pails. Certainly, you have seen similar sight. When I used to travel by bus to Bicol from Manila years ago, people bought those biscuits because they sat on the biscuit cans when the buses were overloaded, especially on peak seasons such as Christmas and Holy Week. For this utilitarian reason, I could understand the phenomenon.
But when I saw people taking the boat or ferry from Manila to either Visayas or Mindanao and bring along with them these pails/cans of biscuits, my amazement grows even more. And mind you, passengers buy them from Manila, when, as a matter of fact, they can buy them at their ports of call. I even saw one passenger with four cans/pails of biscuits when he disembarked from Superferry 5 in Cebu. And I think nothing can beat this- last Sunday I took the plane from Manila on my return to Mindanao. It made my day when, while waiting at the boarding gate, I saw a co-passenger carrying three square pails of those ubiquitous biscuits. I was intrigued.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wish to make laughing stock of those people who carry those pails of biscuits. What fascinates me is that what may be in bringing that pail of biscuit that it is almost always a sight in travel points. I even propose to make an anthropological, political, economic and even philosophical study of that. Until now, I cannot fully grasp the real ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the biscuit-in-pail phenomenon. Taking it is a form of pasalubong, I am afraid, is sweeping the real meaning of the act.
And because of this, I promised to myself that, in my next ravel, I would bring with me that pail of biscuits. What I ask you- please don’t laugh at me. And I beg you, please don’t ask me why- I have no any ‘intelligent’ answer.
But one thing is sure. There is magic in that pail of biscuits, magic which is compelling enough for people to continue carrying them on their ways home.