Tikoy is China’s fruitcake. A sentence as declarative as this usually demands proof, and usually, the proof is in the tikoy, but have you actually seen anyone eat some? Not in its raw state, unlike fruitcake which can be consumed as is where is immediately upon receipt. Uncooked, tikoy is tougher than leather. It needs to be first dipped in beaten eggs then fried, after which it assumes a chewy, stick-to-your-teeth consistency that persuades dentists to finally make a downpayment on that time-share in Bora. But there the difference ends. Tikoy and fruitcake are both holiday delicacies—delicious, for sure—given in the finest spirit of the season, but sometimes, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, as what happened to a friend of mine: not only had her family not finished the fruitcake leftover from Christmas, now they have boxes of tikoy on top of the fruitcake.
What should be done then with excess tikoy? It would be a shame if all those yummies were to end up in a landfill, biodegradable they may be, and because of my upbringing, when my grandparents admonished us about the millions of children going to bed hungry, I have guilt feelings about wasting the slightest morsel of food. The solution is to make it someone else’s problem. That’s what people do with fruitcake: they pass it on so that others may enjoy it. I cannot say if there is as lively a trade in tikoy as there is with fruitcakes but just because there isn’t a market should not stop us from creating one.
I would like to send a box or two Harry Roque’s way. As apologist-in-chief for the Duterte administration, he has given glibness an entirely different dimension. He has always been good with a soundbite, a talent that we have seen him deploy when he advocated for the “comfort lolas”; the families of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre; Jennifer Laude, the transgender woman who was drowned to death in a toilet bowl by an American serviceman; frankly, the sort of people who needed help from do-gooders like Harry who was very good at attracting media and public attention to his causes du jour. When he ran for Congress as a party-list representative, my impression was that it was a logical career progression to enter politics. And then he went to work for Rodrigo Duterte.
The ease with which he transitioned from human rights activism to defending the mastermind of Operation Tokhang with its thousands of extrajudicial killings has been jaw-dropping, to say the least. Officially, it seems, he has drunk the Kool-Aid and while it is alarming that he is doing a creditable job making the public believe Malacañang, what alarms me more is that he seems to believe what are coming out of his mouth. He should be given a mouthful of tikoy so that he’ll stop talking.
If I may, I would want to send an 18th birthday tikoy to Isabelle Duterte if it’s not too late. She reminds me of the girl in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale who stepped on a loaf of bread just so she wouldn’t muddy her shoes. Like the little girl, Isabelle is pretty and partial to pretty dresses and being photographed wearing them, and like the little girl, she estranged herself from her parent, in her case, her dad Paolo, the vice-mayor of Davao city. This debutante not only failed to heed the fourth Commandment, but she aggravated her sin by dishonoring her pop on social media. (As Donald Trump would tweet—“Bad!”) As fitting punishment, her feet deserve to be stuck onto a disc of tikoy whereupon she would descend to the realm of the bog-witch. In a gesture of reconciliation, I am tempted to send a box to the Vice-Mayor but if we are to believe Antonio Trillanes, he probably has container vans full of them from the Hong Kong triads.
It occurs to me also that tikoy could be put to another use if it is not going to be eaten. Tikoy is remarkably dense and if thrown with enough force can probably hurt someone. Such a use, however, would war with the intrinsic nature of tikoy as a gift of goodwill so I would like to propose a more peaceful use: since it appears to be tougher than Kevlar, it could make effective body armor for the Philippine National Police in the new and improved Oplan Tokhang. Nothing brings combatants together like food, especially food that is impervious to bullets. A problem will arise, however, re transacting with government: suppliers will have to go through public bidding which just happens to be President Duterte’ pet peeve.
Tikoy also makes marvelous building material. It’s the secret behind the sturdiness of the Great Wall of China—hah, I bet you didn’t know that. The ancient Chinese knew what they were doing when they adulterated the bricks with molten tikoy so if you lick unrestored portions of the Wall, they will taste a tiny bit sweet. (I bet they’re using tikoy now to build those superstructures in the West Philippine Sea.) So it is in that spirit that I will FedEx Donald Trump—he popped up three paragraphs back—so he can use them to finally build that wall along the Mexican border. G