Memories in a Can

A recent trip to the grocery had me buying myself a can of Cali Pineapple. It’s not the same Cali that I used to drink as a kid but it still brings back the memories.

A shandy (a mix of beer and lemon/lime soda), Cali was introduced to the Philippine market in 1995 by San Miguel Brewery. I understand now why it was so popular when I was around 6 years old (I was born in 1991). It was perfect for adults who didn’t want to drink an ordinary soda but was even more perfect for teenagers who wanted to act like grown ups.

My dad loved Cali, particularly Cali Ice. He often bought a few cans when we did our groceries so that he had something to drink while watching his favorite PBA team, Brgy. Ginebra. If not basketball, he would watch Filipino action movies with those famous action stars and their leading ladies who were always damsels in distress.

Having only daughters for his children, he had us grow up watching those TV shows with him at night. What Papa did not know (but eventually realized) was that my sister and I would steal some of his Cali. He sat on a chair while my sister and I sat on the floor. With his eyes glued to the TV, he could not see my sister and I with our stolen can of ice-cold Cali that we made sure to pop open in the kitchen so that he would not hear the fizzing sound.

When he found out, we got scolded and we were told that it was beer that we were drinking and that it was not for kids. My sister and I felt so kick-ass that time for drinking adult beverage.

As we grew older, the household expenses increased. Eventually, Dad stopped buying Cali already. I was around 8, I think, when we stopped buying Cali.

The next time I drank Cali was already in 2017, when I was on an out-of-town assignment in Legazpi, Albay. It tasted different to the drink I got used to as a kid. Maybe the formula has changed or maybe my taste buds have changed. It’s truly more of a soda than a shandy now.

What memories shall I make with a can of Cali now?


Corn dogs and Memories

The most complicated relationship I have is the one I have with my dad. I never truly understood him and his ways. Sometimes I wonder if I did not try enough or if he never let anyone understand him at all.

I do not have a lot of fond memories with him in the twenty-three years I lived with him. I was mostly scared of or angry at him. No family is perfect and mine was far from being a perfect family.

Dad loved to eat. So, it’s no wonder that when I have to think of good memories I had with him, I end up thinking about food. Corndog, in particular.

Despite finding pleasure at eating, Dad disliked eating out because he found it an unnecessary expense. But from time to time, we went out to eat in fast foods like McDonald’s. But because Dad was more on the stingy side, my sister and I would have to share one meal. He would rip the lid of the styro container and divide the food in half. He would order a la carte for everyone except for one meal that came with a drink that he would upsize to the largest size. Then he’d ask for extra cups and divide that drink among all of us. Mom would feel so embarrassed sometimes at how stingy he could be.

So what’s with corn dogs?

When I was around eight or nine, we always went to Festival Mall in Alabang every Sunday because that is where we went for groceries. In the food court was a store/stall that sold corn dogs called Hotdog on a Stick. Nope, it’s not the Purefoods Tender Juicy stand. The store sold freshly-made corn dogs that were really yummy!

Dad never made my sister and I share one corn dog. He would get one for each of us and bought us our own drinks. He and Mom would wait for my sister and I to finish them and then we’d go to the grocery.

Eventually, the store closed and there were no more corn dogs on Sundays.

These days, it’s difficult to find corn dogs. I know Purefoods sell them in their hotdog stands but nothing could ever top that store I loved as a kid where I could watch it get prepared and cooked. The closest I could get them is from FamilyMart but it still is not as yummy as the corn dog from that store years and years ago.

I have long given up on having the father-daughter relationship that I used to wish for as a child. And these days, I do not see him or talk to him anymore. I’m still not ready to.

But from time to time, I buy corn dogs and remember the good times I had with him whenever we bought them before. I would remember him asking the store attendants to coat mine extra thickly because he knew I loved the coating. We would watch as it cooked and he would remind me to blow on it before taking a bite because it was too hot having just come from the fryer.

I have not sealed shut any door. I know that one day, I am going to have to see him again. I am not yet close to being ready for that. But, who knows? Maybe, when that day comes, it’ll be over a snack of corn dogs. Maybe, that time will also be a good time.