I spent 3 consecutive Friday afternoons at UP as a vendor, which was the activity I chose for my JEEP insertion. Compared to my other philosophy classmates who went to public markets or took care of sickly old women, I guess you could say I had it easy.
I ended around two weeks ago, but since this blog is essentially about my life, and I like the pictures I took, I finally have the time to put the experience into writing. Plus, blogging helps take away some of the BV i’ve been feeling lately.
Honestly, it felt like I was just making tambay with my UP barkada which was comprised of Jio, Jaime, Ruth, our leader Kuya Toto and the other kuyas and ates who stopped by Vinzon hall to buy from us. But nonetheless I actually did gain some experiential learning.
I love, love, LOVE instant noodles whether it’s our own pancit canton, spicy Korean noodles or my personal favorite Mi Gorgeng from Indonesia. My insatiable appetite for it can’t count how many packs I’ve ever eaten.
But if there’s one thing that stepping into kuya toto’s shoes made me realize was that anything, even something as trivial and simple as making pancit canton, can take on an entirely different meaning when done in the service of others.
Here are 2 simple reasons why.
SAUCE: It never occurred to me that you can detect the flavor of the pancit canton from the color of its sauce. It was a helpful insight when I found myself cooking 5 cantons at a time for 5 people who had different orders. Thank you pancit canton for making my natural obliviousness apparent. It helps to pay attention to the small details.
The FACE – Which pancit canton belong to which customer? Doc Garcia, my philo professor, would be proud of me. I experienced Levinas’ face-to-face encounter where I saw and felt the proximity and distance of “the other” in the face of the customer.
In English that means that initially I saw how I was totalizing or looking at the customers impersonally. I didn’t see them as beings but just as consumers. That became evident in my confusion. I didn’t know which order belonged to who because I wasn’t taking a mental note of the person’s face when they ordered.
I’ll never look at pancit canton the same way.