I recently saw a videoclip of the audience in the Philippine Arena fighting over boxes of Regent cupcakes. It was fascinating. There is also a companion video of these same people happily walking down the steps of the arena, carrying the huge boxes on their shoulders on their way out.
The fascination comes not from any of its socio-political implications, but from the memory it has triggered. In the mid-90’s when we were still in high school we were having an event in everyone’s favorite room: the AVR. It was our favorite because it was one of the only two rooms in the entire school that had airconditioning, the other one being the computer room. So it was a treat whenever we had an activity in the AVR.
I can’t recall exactly what the activity was, maybe some special lecture or academic competition. But for some reason, after the event, a utility worker hauled in a box full of sandwiches and Zest-O, and set it down on the floor beside the podium. These were the same sandwiches that were being sold in the canteen, so the spread was the “signature chicken spread” with very, very, very thin fibers of chicken (If we’re lucky! Sometimes there were no discernible strands of chicken at all, just tiny bits of pickles).
As soon as we saw the sandwiches, we all turned crazy and started to approach the box. My friend, Nini, the class president of St. Martin, panicked at the sight of the brewing commotion and did the only logical thing a responsible class president could do to avoid a stampede: she stepped on a plastic Monobloc chair and flung the sandwiches to the raucous crowd. We all looked up at her from afar, our hands raised, crying “Penge! Penge! Penge!” “Over here!” “Isa pa!” “Nini! Nini! Nini!!!”
Sandwiches and Zest-O’s flew all over the AVR, as Nini expertly threw them to the pathetic crowd like frisbees.
All this time our Science teacher Miss Leonidas was standing at the door, aghast. After we had ravenously consumed our sandwiches and licked our fingers clean of the chicken-flavored mayonnaise, Miss Leonidas said: “You are worse than pigs”.
We slowly walked out of the AVR in shame.