Tuesday, May 6, 2008

New volunteers indulge in “halo-halo”

Summer is in full swing in the Philippines. A boat dish of “halo-halo” (literally-translated, “mix-mix”) is always in order on a hot Manila afternoon.

Two new Canadian volunteers are now enjoying this Filipino summer icon. They both recently arrived on month-long programs in Romblon.

Sharlyn Briones was born to full-blooded Filipino parents who migrated to Canada after their marriage. Sharlyn is Canadian-born and is now a young staff nurse in a Calgary hospital. She is a health volunteer.

Andrew Hudson is a university student in Vancouver. Unlike Sharlyn who made her own “halo-halo” on her childhood visits to the Philippines, it is his first time to sample this popular local snack. Andrew is a school building maintenance and repair volunteer.
There are many versions of “halo-halo”, depending on the availability of ingredients or one’s own imagination. There could be as many as two dozen elements arranged on top of shaved ice made even flavorful by either milk or cream. Sweetened fruits like bananas, jackfruits, young coconut meat, mangoes, ripe papayas; gelatins of all shapes and sizes; flans; yams; rice crispies; and scoops of cheese and yam-flavored ice-cream make up the “regular” versions. “Special halo-halo” needs extra special effort to describe.

One may be forgiven to think that “halo-halo” is representative of the Filipino. (Not the balut!) The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands peopled by about 150 ethno-linguistic groups. As separate units, they represent their own unique colors and flavors. Taken together, they are just one color and flavor even more unique and special.

To begin enjoying “halo-halo”, one must futher break up the shaved ice underneath all the sweets and mix everything up (hence the name) until the tall glass or the boat dish becomes a rainbow of colors. After a reasonable consistency is achieved, one is then permitted his or her first spoonful.

A hot tropical afternoon in the Philippines is also required.

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