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Hotdogs and eggplants |

Arts and Culture

Hotdogs and eggplants

PENMAN - Butch Dalisay -

As a columnist for a major newspaper, I’m sure you can imagine how many requests I get from PR agents to plug an event or other. And just as naturally I can’t and won’t accommodate them all — first of all, because I think it’s a form of cheating to simply copy and foist a press release on my readers, and second because I won’t plug anything I don’t have a personal interest in.

Happily, however, I’m indulging one such request this week, from a regular Penman reader named Rene Soliman who wrote in to ask me to help him spread the word about an important concert coming up this May — no, I’m not talking about Justin Bieber, but about people who could well be his grandparents.

Remember Hotdog? Yes, the 1970s cool guys with the long tresses and tall boots and the sweet chick who melted us all with “Tuwing kita’y nakikita, ako’y natutunaw…” Well, they’re getting back together — most of them, anyway — for a one-night-only reunion concert on May 16 at the Dusit Thani Manila’s Grand Ballroom.

No Pinoy above 50 will not know Hotdog, because they started what came to be known as the Manila Sound, led off by their anthem, Manila (and its “ingay mong kay sarap sa tenga, mga jeepney mong nagliliparan, mga babae mong naggagandahan…”) And where were you and what were you wearing when Pers Lab, Ikaw ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko, Bongga Ka ’Day, Annie Batungbakal, Beh Buti Nga, and O, Lumapit Ka were no. 1?

I’ve always liked Hotdog not just for the memories they bring back (never mind that martial law — a time when I think we were all heroes except the guy at the very top — was part of that scene) but for what too many sullen, self-centered bands today lack: joy, exuberance, and ironic wit.

Rene Soliman tells me that band leaders Rene Garcia (lead guitarist/vocals) and Dennis Garcia (bass) will be joined by Jess Garcia on drums, and Gina Montes, Maso Diez, Joy Reyes and Rita Saguin Trinidad, who were all former lead vocalists of Hotdog at various times. Backing them up will be guest performer Joey Abando from The Boyfriends, and session musicians Benjie Santos, Carlo Gaa, Roy Marinduque, and Roy Sadicon. (Dennis Garcia is another Penman reader who often e-mails me his sharp commentary on current events.)

It’s just too bad I’m going to be abroad when this reunion happens, but Beng and her groovy gang-mates will be sure to be there, singing and swaying with good old tunes from Hotdog.

* * *

Speaking of requests, my recent column on why I stopped smoking must have struck a responsive chord somewhere, because I soon got a call from a friend who’s a real health advocate to ask if I could help her with an ongoing campaign to make more Filipino children eat more vegetables. Veggies? Did she say veggies?

I said yes, of course, but I felt a wave of guilt wash over me. If I’m to be the poster boy of anything, it would be for shameless meat-eating worthy of a Neanderthal; to me, the major food groups are rice, beef, pork, and chicken, and I’ve sampled some very strange (or, actually, very familiar) animals you don’t want to hear about.

It wasn’t always that way. My poor mother, having to make do with a meager budget, fed us all the sari-saring halaman around the bahay kubo: sitaw, bataw, patani, kundol, patola, labanos, mustasa, etc. I have vague and distant memories of eating them all. The mistake she made was to reserve the meat for very special days — particularly that delicacy that still tops my comfort-food list, next to Ma Mon Luk noodles: corned beef. Like that girl Scarlett, I vowed under my breath, “As God is my witness, when I grow up, I’m going to have all the corned beef I want!”

So I did. Sometimes it seems like my whole working life has been a labor to add one more can of corned beef to my Doomsday Stash. (If you think I’m loony, I am not alone — or at least I wasn’t; my good friend, the late playwright Boy Noriega, had the same corned-beef fetish.)

But wait! This wasn’t supposed to be about carnephilia (I think I just invented that word) but about eating more vegetables for your own good health. For the record, I do like and regularly consume some veggies: lettuce, cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, kangkong, talbos ng camote, bok choy, monggo, and asparagus. If mushrooms and corn count as vegetables, you can add them to the list. But I abhor cauliflower, broccoli, squash, eggplant, and anything slimy.

That said, I can only agree with my friend Josie Limson — a marketing consultant in the pharmaceuticals industry, and now a volunteer for the “Oh My Gulay” campaign — that Filipino kids can scream all they want about hating talong, but they definitely need more veggies of one kind or another in their diet in this age of fast-food burgers and fries.

Two important sets of statistics leapt out at me from among the mass of data presented to me by Josie:

“In Cadiz and Kabangkalan City, both on Negros Occidental, out of 49,000 grade one to six students, close to 17,000 are malnourished, 34 percent. But in Ifugao province, a rich source of vegetables, there is only a four percent rate of malnourished children.

“Recent research shows that only four percent of a child’s diet is dedicated to fruits and vegetables and 83 percent on carbohydrates. Children do not like eating vegetables.”

Oh My Gulay plans to change all that by engaging schools, parents, and celebrities to encourage kids to plant and eat more veggies. Stars like Sara Geronimo have already pitched in to help promote the campaign.

Well, all the best to you patola lovers out there, and I promise to double my quota of kangkong from here on.

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E-mail me at and visit my blog at

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