February 1, 2023

Visiting United States Vice President Kamala Harris has something in common with most Filipinos: she loves lumpia.
She shared this interesting fact when she had a bilateral meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte in Malacañang.
She said lumpia is a staple in every gathering at her office in Washington, D.C. “I love lumpia too. I have lots, all the time. I have many people working in my office who are Filipino-American, so whenever we have holiday parties, there is a big table of lumpia,” the U.S. vice president shared.
Come to think of it, it’s not only her but most if not all of us here have a love affair with lumpia. From childhood, we discover through our mothers or our ate kusineras the simple yet masarap na finger food. It is either a snack or a dish, and no celebration is complete without it in the table. It actually evolved from the Chinese spring rolls and they are best in Fortune, Rosebowl, and Mr. Ching in its new venue at Baguio Palace. The irony is U.S. hates China, yet the U.S. VP digs the rolls!
Usually in bite size pieces (liit, speaking of Bitoy: Bakit ang liit mo? Dagul: Kasi bata pa lang ako, ulila na ako.” Bitoy: Anong koneksyon noon? Dagul: Duh! Wala ngang nagpalaki sa akin! Hehe.), it is flour-dough-wrap stuffed with ground pork, carrots, onions, garlic, sealed with egg wash then fried. End product is a crusty, crunchy exterior, and tender interior. Take it with a perfect complement of catsup or sweet and sour dipping Thai sauce. Of course, from my favorite vendor manang Susan, the sawsawan would be sukang Iloko, paminta, onions, and siling labuyo.
They vary: lumpiang shanghai, lumpiang sariwa (fresh and best in Mario’s or Solibao), lumpiang bangus (Matutina’s), chicken, pritong tokwa, ubod, and lumpiang hubad with everything in it but the wrapper. There is also the turon (saba), which we in Boys High used to buy at the stalls in Gen. Luna now replaced by a huge mall. Of course, there is the lumpiang ampaw, all air inside the thick wrapper!
So, a story goes: While suffering the agonies of impending death, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite food, lumpia. Gathering his remaining strength, he lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort, gripping the railing with both hands he crawled to the kitchen and ate so much lumpia, dies, and goes to hell. There he finds that there is a different hell for each country. He goes first to the German hell and asks, “What do they do here?” He is told, “First they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the German devil comes in and whips you for the rest of the day.”
The man does not like the sound of that at all, so he moves on. He checks out the U.S.A. hell as well as the Russian hell and many more. He discovers that they are all more or less the same as the German hell.
Then he comes to the Filipino hell and finds that there is a very long line of people waiting to get in. Amazed, he asks, “What do they do here?” He is told, “First they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the Filipino devil comes in and whips you for the rest of the day.”
“But that is exactly the same as all the other hells. Why are there so many people waiting to get in?” “Because there is always a brownout, so the electric chair does not work. Somebody stole all the nails to sell it by the kilo.
And the devil used to be a public official, so he comes in, punches his time card, shakes hands with all the people waiting there, and then goes back home!”
And where was the lumpiang hubad in this column? Nahiya, nawala.
Sigh!