AS part of his actual lesson on independent living, my youngest brother was sent to study in a remote school somewhere in the hinterlands of Pigcawayan, Cotabato when he was in third year high school.

It was a newly-installed, religiously-run institution where a lot of rules and regulations would make the students feel like strangled prisoners. Rules like ‘no going out of the campus without filing a campus leave, no going home more than twice a month, no absences, no smoking, no worship absences, no singing of rock music, no courting (yucks!), and a lot more of those no-no’s exist in the campus.

The school is surrounded with mountains on one side and vast
ricefields on the other side. There was practically nothing for the students to do after school. Electricity was not yet installed and at night, all one can hear is the chirping of crickets and the croacking of frogs on rainy nights.

To get to the school, one has to patiently wait for a tricycle to be filled with passengers before it will leave the terminal (popularly termed as alas-puno) and from the stopping point of the tricycle, one has to walk more than a kilometer between rice paddies under the scorching heat of the sun.

My brother only goes home twice a month to get food supplies. Without any knowledge of budgetting, he and his dormitory roommates who also hailed from different distant places would have a feast everytime they arrive from home, then go hungry the following days until the next food supplies come.

Coming to the dorm very hungry from school one noontime, my brother found that his last two cups of rice inside a bowl was overturned and a big fat hen was busily pecking at the grains. Provision day was still four days away and he was hungry.

He was furious but a delicious form of vengeance formed in his mind. Calling the other dorm occupants, they caught and killed the chicken, cleaned and prepared it for adobo.
They knew that the hen belonged to the dean of the girls dormitory, so they posted a ‘guard’ or a lookout at the door. They used the last few drops of oil, the last soy sauce, the last clove of garlic and the last onion to marinate the chicken with.

An hour later, the heavenly smell of chicken adobo wafted into the air and straight into the nose of the dean of the girl’s dorm, who immediately went out to investigate where the appetizing aroma came from, knowing that none of the students brought or owned any chicken in the campus.

The boys were ready for her, though. Somebody had already burried the feathers, the carajay of chicken adobo was skillfully hidden under my brother’s bed amongst smelly shoes and socks, unwashed clothes and a lot of other junks, all traces of cooking gone.

They of course denied cooking anything when the girl’s dean asked them. They went back to their classes afterwards, planning to eat their adobo later. My brother could hardly concentrate on the aftenoon’s lessons, his mouth watering at the heavenly feast awaiting them at the dorm.

That night, they cooked rice left from one of their dorm mate’s diminishing supplies and eagerly gathered in my brother’s room to eat. My brother dramatically pulled out the carajay from under his bed and licked his lips in eager anticipation but a surprise awaited them.

Lo and behold, the carajay was licked clean, only chicken bones remained as a sign that while they were away, the cat had been busy!

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