Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bola... Bola

Free trade will not work in the Philippines.

So much for the proponents of GATT and the WTO. The one solid proof that open market will fail amongst Filipino consumers is the fact that until now, my favorite fishball brand is yet to be made available to consumers in Metro Manila.

Yes, for all of you who think you are fishball connoisseurs, I have bad news for you. The best fishball stalls are not in UP Diliman. They are in Bulacan. And the fact that you don’t know what on Earth I’m talking about is the same glaring proof that this fishball conspiracy to hide from you the truth is so well-organized, you don’t even know what you’re missing.

First off.

Ever heard of the brand “Popular Bola-Bola”? This is the brand I keep asking every fishball vendor I strike a conversation with in the Metropolis and yet not one of these street hawkers has admitted ever hearing about the name.

You see, this fishball brand lives up to its name. It’s “popular” because it remains a fishball which for all intents and purposes should remain in the shape of a ball, not the flat disk that those in UP or anywhere else in NCR become soonest you rescue them from the fire.

Next, they remain firm; actually, a bit tough—the right amount of toughness that struggles in your mouth as to remain there long enough for you to savor it more. The fishballs here in Manila disintegrate into crumbs after they dry and turn to starchy flakes soonest they turn cold.

Lastly, “Popular” tastes how it should—like fish. Surprised? Years of conditioning have actually made you think that fishballs should taste no better than how hotdogs should not taste like dogs. Fishballs are supposedly made of fish, okay?

For someone like me who has known one brand as the only fishball brand during his entire youth, I could not help but speculate on two things.

One… the fishball retailers I spoke to are too afraid to confirm the existence of a much superior competitor (could even be that they have been silenced by the manufacturers of the inferior brands they are retailing.) Or two… this organized cartel of fishball producers in Metro Manila have, since time immemorial, kept the denizens of the Metropolis in the dark as for each of you to think that the P0.50 price tag with which each of these bite-sized pleasures got stuck for years is to be blamed why fishball quality in NCR has no way to go but to get worse.

So the next time you travel to Bulacan, try to spot any of the local fishball vendors. Get off the car and if you’re lucky, the Manong could have just poured a fresh batch of “Popular Bola-Bola” into the frying pan. Experiment with the balls; try them just when they’ve started swelling or anywhere between that point and until they’ve turned crispy and brown.

If eating fishball has become the photo-op of choice for the rich and the famous whenever they need to show that they’re one with the masses, these same powerful class of consumers should do free trade and open market a favor by making them work for the fishball industry.

To these elite patrons of the lowly fishball, I am calling on you to write to your congressmen to legislate laws that will pave the way for “Popular Bola-Bola” and for similar superior brands available to all Filipino fishball lovers.

If you can do this, such that those who read this blog will finally discover the same joy I’ve been having from eating "Popular Bola-Bola," I assure you that, then and only then, will the Philippines be ready for GATT.


blessedlamb said...

Fishball is the only food i know that did not increase in price over the years.

>Kamusta na? -grace iloreta

Job said...

Hi Grace. Napaisip naman ako sa blessedlamb. Oo nga ano, perfect translation. Eto, nagsusumikap magpakabait. Hope to bump into you anytime soon.