Sunday, December 16, 2007

Boycotting Bogchi

To say that I have not written in a while is to understate the obvious. (How do you understate the obvious? Simple. As in the first sentence, you say something that does not need to be said and then you say it in the blandest, most boring way possible using the barest, least evocative terms, thereby pissing people off--at least, those who have enough time to be annoyed by such a simple, innocuous thing as an understatement).

It doesn't mean I have not eaten, or enjoyed eating, in all this time. It means, simply, that I have not found anything to write about since 2 months ago. I could have written about the time a couple of weeks back when I ate champorado (chocolate rice porridge) and fried tilapia while watching Trillanes and company mount Oakwood 2: Not Quite A Siege, Very Much A Blunder at the Manila Pen. But, really, what was there to write about other than it was the first time in a long time that I had eaten this not-so-strange combination? Or that the original combination actually calls for tuyo or daing (dried fish) but simple fried fish worked just as well? Seemed too prosaic, too dull, to write about, and frankly, I've had so much on my plate that I couldn't really muster the needed panache to make champorado and tilapia seem like the most exciting meal since red snapper in marsala sauce with creamy mashed potatoes. I could have written about how I ate it with my heart in my throat, eyes glued to the TV, fearing the worst for my country. But I can only lie so much. The truth was, Oakwood 2 was just another day in my life and that champorado-tilapia combo just another meal.

Alas, I feared I have become, like many Filipinos, apathetic. Which--again with the stating of the obvious--is not good. Definitely something to rail against. So when I read Mareng Winnie Monsod's Inquirer column yesterday (which can be found here...!)... part of me wanted to do something, to respond in my own way, in any way, to the injustice done to the Sumilao Farmers. To share my solidarity in the way that I can. What way, though? What to do, I thought.

Aha! The answer seemed simple enough. I decided to boycott San Miguel CorpoRAPEtion because SMC is the huge-ass company that's basically using the farmers' lands as a piggery. (I urge you to check out the Winnie Monsod column as well as other news articles about this so you can be informed about the DAR rules that have been flouted in this particular case. And, ahem, also so that you can make up your own mind.).

Boycott San Miguel. Seemed pretty simple. It's not like I drink beer so San Miguel Beer, Lite or otherwise, won't even be an issue. We use Datu Puti vinegar at home so the San Mig vinegar's not going to hold a candle there. I drink Nescafe so San Mig coffee's out too. Easy-peasy, right?

Not quite.

The second I told my sister I was planning to boycott San Miguel products, she said, "Di ba ang Purefoods San Miguel?"

Picture me with my lardy ass flat on the floor. I'm no Gandhi. Obviously.

These are the bricks that make up the San Miguel wall I am up against: no more Purefoods corned beef. Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdogs are out. This Christmas, Purefoods Fiesta Ham won't be an option. No more Purefoods "Ma-Ling" or chorizo de bilbao. And this is just the Purefoods label. Additional research has informed me that SMC also holds the Magnolia, Monterey, Gusto, and Dari-Creme labels, among others.

As you can see, I am a Greek outside the impregnable walls of Troy. This, of course, is just a fancy way of saying I am well and truly f--ked. If you've read enough of this blog, you would know how much I love processed foods. You would also know that I invariably turn to Purefoods for my canned goods cravings. To boycott SMC products is to boycott some of the foods I love to eat. The question is can I do it? Can I give up, even for a time, some of these wants in a show of solidarity?

But when I think about it some more, I realize that maybe I don't need to give up eating canned goods and processed foods. I just have to switch labels, so to speak. The challenge, I suppose, is not so much to destroy the wall but find a way around it or, to be accurate to myth, through it. The challenge is to make my own Trojan horse.

If this boycott is to push through with success, then I must be resourceful and look for viable alternatives to the aforementioned products. Already I have some in mind...

Argentina Gold label Corned Beef -- this is a great alternative to Purefoods corned beef. We actually switched to this already, so I already know that it tastes just like Purefoods corned beef but is several pesos cheaper.

CDO or Swift Hotdogs -- I really have brand loyalty where Tender Juicy hotdogs are concerned, so while I acknowledge that CDO and Swift have their own hotdogs, I think I (and also my sister) would rather just go for CDO's chicken longganisa as an alternative.

Specialty Hams -- maybe for this Christmas, it's about time my family tried something different. I've been thinking about trying those specialty hams like Majestic Ham anyway. Now's probably the best time to do so.

Fat & Thin Chorizo de Bilbao -- if and when I crave chorizo de bilbao, I might as well go for the more authentic tasting.

Arce Dairy -- great ice cream. Mura pa. Buh-bye, Magnolia.

Eden Cheese -- better low-end cheese than Daily Quezo anyway so, again, this shouldn't be a problem.

Wet Market meats -- we buy our meats at the wet markets so we don't have to go Monterey or anything.

Anchor Butter -- this is actually more expensive than Dari Creme and also Star Margarine. It's the same range as Magnolia Gold label. Maybe we don't need to do butter too much? I might just go with our usual which is Simply Canola Oil (the cheapest I've seen so far) for frying, Bertoli Olive Oil every now and then for pastas, and Top Choice Sesame Oil for Asian-style cooking.

Obviously, it's not a comprehensive list. But it makes me feel good about my decision to list things because then I realize I do have options still. And it won't be too hard to boycott SMC.

So yeah, this is what I'm writing about. My own personal boycott for my own personal reasons.

I am fully aware that SMC cares shit-all about what individual consumers such as myself do. I'm also aware that I might be going on the assumption that other corporations are stellar in the way they do business. So what do I do if, say, the makers of Argentina Gold label Corned Beef turn out be just as greedy?

Well, hoss, ah reckon ah bettah corn mah own beef.