Dog Eaters

“Is it true that Filipinos eat dog?”, a British educated Indian colleague asked. “Well, some mountain tribes do… I never met anyone that do, ya’ know these things, they’re grossly exaggerated”, I answered, trying to be evasive.

Of course, that’s a lie. Because I know people and I’ve seen dogs get slaughtered, and these are no mountain tribe people nor was I in the highlands!

But did we, or do we have a tradition that turns our furry little friends into delectable cuisine?

Most Filipinos are outraged whenever they would see dogs get slaughtered. Grossed out to see dog meat. It is true that this is practiced by a minority [like the Macabebes]. Dog eating in the country are very isolated but popular in some rural communities. But when people say that “Filipinos don’t eat dogs”, then what do you call those who do?

The tradition of eating dogs was once confined to tribes and Luzon provinces that had ancestors who considered dogs as livestock. Those who grew up with it perhaps had migrated out of their rural communities and now live and work amongst us here in the metro. These are the folks here in Manila that we would occasionally hear craving for a “calderetang aso”.

We’re not going to deny them of their tradition, are we? and is it not the contention of many scholars that these mountains tribes and their traditions are to be considered  “original” and “true” Filipino? If they are, then why censure and deny such practice? Because it does not comply with what exactly?

I think it was last year, when a jeep-full of dog meat were apprehended. Raps were filed against those that were involved in transporting the meat. They were headed north. Apparently, we had enacted laws that criminalize such trade. Now, that’s suppression of what should be a guaranteed right. We don’t want the Muslim’s to impose on us Christians not to eat pork nor do we allow them to ban it in provinces where they’re a majority.

History tells us of the Igorotes that were presented as “dog-eaters” in the St. Louis World Fair. Americans had insisted that no pants be put on them. It adds to the shock value. The Filipinos back home who know what the Americans were up to protested. Such exhibit would only create a negative opinion as to the real state of Filipinos they say.

But at the time, American’s were still seeking the worlds favorable opinion on their occupation of the country. They had to sell “education”, “christianization” and “democracy” like they do now with their war on terror.

My reaction to that innocent question posed to me perhaps, meant that I was also secretly ashamed to admit that such a tradition, although isolated to some parts, exist in the country. It was a response, albeit on a much smaller scale, similar to the protest against exposing the poor Igorotes to the world. Afraid to be associated with such traditions that goes against what is considered by the west as acceptable.

This is the problem. We only want the good stuff, we constantly seek appreciation and acceptance. Anything that the west see bad, oh no, that’s not Filipino.


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