On Having Guests at Home and Mothering

When we were children, we would sometimes have friends at home but not as frequently as we would have wanted. Reason for the infrequency? Our house was “far”, it being in the town next to Bacolod rather than in Bacolod where most of my friends lived. How far was it? It was a  15-minute drive to school. By today’s standards that would be so near, but back then, I guess its being outside the city had a psychological effect and earned the label of being “far”. Regardless, what I do remember is that each time we had guests, they were fed – oh, that sounds like they were pigs, so let me rephrase that, they were served food. I do not recall what now. AH yes, cheese pimiento sandwich. A friend who would sometimes come then would, years later when we were adults, remember the cheese pimiento sandwich and the brazo de mercedes. My best friend L still recalls eating powdered milk at home. Read that again: eating powdered milk. How’s that? Vir, my yaya cum cook, would heat powdered milk (Birch Tree) with sugar in a pan. And it was very good.

So why this post now? Last night, son had friends over. As these same friends had not touched the dinner I had prepared for them visits back, causing us to end up with reheated food for many meals thereafter, I chose to prepare lettuce wrap (a korean dish)that we’d share if they came. Funnily enough, there wasn’t much left after husband, son and I had it. And the first guest came at 8. Son said he was sure this friend had had dinner at home, but to be sure, I asked HHA to ask him. Confirmed. Still, by force of habit and upbringing, I had two tiny choco cupcakes with raspberry jam served him. As the rest of the group came later, I didn’t bother serving them. They were here to practice.

This am, I asked HHA in son’s presence if the first guest had eaten the choco cupcakes. Only one, she said, the second was untouched. And the jam was untouched too. Son said, “See? I told you not to prepare food for them.” He added that it was guest number two who had eaten the cupcake, and not number 1. I don’t know why the boycott; so I asked son, is number one on a diet? He said yes, but still I wonder. Are son’s friends avoiding having meals here because they’ve turned shy suddenly? They used to eat what was served them heartily. Did they have a bad experience with the food here? I hope not.

Still I wanted to have the last say. After giving my spiel some thought, I told son that I would continue to serve his friends food, no matter how miniscule, because it was the proper thing to do.

I’m sure I’ve blogged how in college my friends and I went to a classmate’s house and weren’t served anything, not even candy. We were there to do a project. But I was thirsty, so I asked for water. When that classmate came to the house, my mother entertained her. And gave her fresh lumpia which Vir had just finished making for my birthday dinner that night. That friend demurred and I felt so insulted for Mama. I guess that was my friend’s upbringing too – don’t serve food to guests when there’s no party, don’t eat in anyone’s house when there’s no party? Different strokes for different folks – proof number 1.

Proof number 2: someone went to the house of his friend’s relative to do some work for the relative’s project, gratis et amore. Time of meeting: 6:30. Was he served food? No. Then friend, the common link, arrived and asked soundlessly if he had been fed. The answer was no. Friend had food brought over from her house so the one who went to relative’s house because of her endorsement could eat. Take note of the time of the meeting which ended around I don’t know what time. And take note of the other surrounding circumstances.

Citing the more recent experience, I told son I’d rather serve food to guests even if they ignore it, than not serve them anything at all – regardless of the time of day they come, their purpose. He was quiet.

I hope he got my point and lives by my “standard”.

Wait, on further reflection, maybe it is a regional thing? (Province vs metropolis?) An economic issue (rich vs. middle class vs poor – I’m sure you have   experienced seeing the last sector eating or about to eat and inviting you to join them? “Kaon ta!” – in our dialect. Even the househelp do that to us sometimes. And whenever I go to the tindahan of a former HH, she’d always give me a bottle of ice-cold soda.) Whatever. I still maintain that serving one’s guests something, anything, is the proper thing to do.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 6.43.09 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 6.43.00 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 6.42.17 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 6.42.04 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 6.41.55 AMAll clip arts from this page

Post Script: I know I talk the most in our household, so sometimes, when husband tells me to tell something to son, I’d tell him, “do it yourself”. Once I did just that and he said “but he doesn’t listen to me”. I mulled over that and realized that somehow, son also doesn’t listen to me sometimes. I told husband so. Then after some thought, I said, “But I still speak my mind.”

Now why do I do that? I guess there are at least two reasons:

a) I want to let it out

b) I hope that he’s actually listening and will learn from another of my sermons/thoughts/positions on some important matter.

Enough said.


6 thoughts on “On Having Guests at Home and Mothering

  1. I grew up in Manila but it’s a family tradition to feed our guests sometimes to a fault na because we’d usually serve a full-course meal especially if the guests will stay long (more than 4 hours) in our house. I guess this practice of feeding guests is more on how you were brought up, your family’s values.

    Ang pinaka amusing/baffling kong experience about this issue is when I was still in college I do home-service tutorials. I had a tutee who lives in Ayala Alabang Village and his family never offered me anything the whole time I was his tutor. Pag minsan uhaw na uhaw na ako ang can’t help not drinking I’d ask for water tapos they’d tell me to just get from the ref and I can see that the ref’s really well-stocked but no offer talaga even yung “pabalat-bunga”. Ay ewan. My mom says madamot lang daw that family. Hahaha

    • Hi Micah. I guess you’re right; I also was a guest in a Chinese friend’s house and was fed really well. I agree with your mom. And how funny, when you tutor you speak a lot so di ba, you get parched from all that talking? Self-service ang peg? Get from the ref? 🙂

    • Or let her eat before leaving the house. One time, no many times, a friend of my son would bring food for himself only; another time, another friend brought food for everyone. Still another time, still another friend brought food for us. Different strokes for different folks.

  2. When my daughter and her classmates scheduled a practice in our home, I prepared some pasta, and one of her groupmates said, “Tita, you didn’t have to do that. We’re only here to practice.” But I HAVE to. Parang it’s unthinkable for me that they’d go in my home and I don’t even prepare something for them. I rarely invite people/friends over, but when I do, I want them fed. I don’t know why. Perhaps because I saw my mom and dad doing it. (And honestly, I find myself a bit surprised/wondering when I visit someone and not being offered anything…I know, so assuming, right?)

    • See? I’m glad to have found a kindred soul. Is it because we grew up in the province? But maybe even more likely is that we saw our parents/grandparents do the same. Wow, the classmate said that? Hmmm… I don’t think you’re being assuming; you merely expect everyone to have good graces 🙂

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