Ensaimada has always been the flagship product of Mary Grace. But lately, it has increasingly been difficult to get this from them. Even their artichoke and dulong dip are not available.
When we asked why they are unable to bake ensaimada, they say that it is because of scarcity of an ingredient. The wife suspects that this is Marca Piña Edam cheese which she also uses for one of her great recipes. She has been searching high and low for it, but it is nowhere. Not even in the ever reliable Killion in Orosco, Quiapo.
Several years ago, we learned that Marca Piña of Holland makes and exports its cheese solely for the Philippine market and nowhere else. Marites kaya yon? Dyed-in-the-wool cheese lovers are not fond of Marca Piña; they find it too salty and…uh…pedestrian. But Filipinos love it. Ito ang kanilang kinalakhan.
Whether Mary Grace indeed cannot get hold of the right Edam cheese is not the essential point here. For, after all, for most Filipinos, so what if you can’t get hold of ensaimada with queso de bola. Or even puto bumbong with the same pambudbod in Via Mare?
But when you probe further and deeper, it becomes frightening. Crooked government officials and rapacious businessmen who have formed cartels have practically killed Philippine agriculture, ergo our food security. They have set up a corruption-ridden system that makes it necessary for our country to import food and basic commodities. Or else there will be chaos.
Hawak tayo sa ating leeg, bituka, at tumbong.
Thus, we have to import rice, sugar, pork, chicken, beef, garlic, onions, vegetables, and even galunggong. All the ingredients – flour, milk, yeast – that go into our bread and cakes all come from beyond our shores. We may still have food going around, but the Philippines has not achieved food sufficiency. Not at all. We rely on other countries for our food.
What if there is war?
What if some autocrat’s aggressive ambition or even a jet pilot’s impulsive action triggers conflict in this side of the globe? Whether we like it or not, we will be drawn into the maelstrom. Look at what the Russia-Ukraine theater has impact on our fuel supplies. What more if our neighbors in Asia assume more combative stances.
Kahit mag pitik-bayag lang sila, apektado tayo.
What is scary is not that our young men will be conscripted to go into battle, but our populace will go hungry. Why? Because there will surely be serious disruption of food supplies from abroad that the corrupt system has forced us into.
If the pandemic has constricted supply lines – from chips to chicken, from petroleum to patis – what more military maneuverings on sea and air? Because we must take sides, we shall be at the retaliatory end of some angry countries. They could impose embargo against us. Thus, we shall lack of flour for our pan de sal, and rice for our lugaw.
And because the Philippines has been used to importing even the most basic of commodities, it will struggle. It will take time to return to soil that has been left fallow. What could even complicate this are folks that got used to the 4Ps. Somehow, due to the quirkiness of human nature, subsidies result in indolence in others.
We may not have widespread famine, because we know how to bounce back, but we shall really struggle. There shall be a period of food shortage. As a result, there will be widespread stress and strife within. The country will be weaker not just physically but in spirit.
This is not rumor mongering. This is scenario building. We must take lessons in history that powerful nations have weaponized food to subjugate weaker countries. A palace or community or a whole nation under siege is cut off from its food supply. We should be prepared for this.