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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, December 7, 2003

Filipino teen takes the dinuguan plunge

By Tasha Libarios

You'll never be a true Filipino until you've tried dinuguan.

What's dinuguan, you ask? Well, my dad calls it "pig's blood," and that's exactly what it is, but add to it little clumps of fat and a bit of meat of unknown origin and you get ... dinuguan.

Gross, huh? Not according to my parents. Dad practically grew up on it, and successfully sampling it was my Chinese mom's "initiation test" from my Filipino grandmother. Grandma thought if Mom could eat the pig's blood, then she would be strong enough to handle my father. But Mom actually liked it! She said it tasted like chicken.

Unfortunately for Dad — but fortunately for me — dinuguan is not good for his health, and he had to discontinue eating it. So I was not reared on this delicacy.

My sister and I were afraid of it. Whenever we went to Filipino restaurants, my dad would make a pretense of ordering dinuguan, and we'd be scared out of our pants that we'd have to end up eating it. Of course, he wouldn't serve it to us without making a big fuss that it was dinuguan, just to make it taste nastier if we did decide to eat it. In spite of all of these attempts to make me eat dinuguan, I never tried this delicacy.

Now, at 16, I'm proud of being Filipino, because it is a unique and exciting culture. Since I am attending a school where there are only a few Filipinos in each grade, my fellow Filipino classmates and I like to shout out our words of Filipino pride every chance we get.

My dad says I'm always saying that I'm a hard-core Filipino, yet I hadn't tried dinuguan. So, being the crazy girl I am, I finally decided to try the blood.

I never expected Dad to actually bring home dinuguan, but one day I found a box of something reddish brown on the table. My heart started pounding as my father came in the room with a smirk on his face.

"It's judgment day," he said with a silly grin.

I looked into the box. Well, at least it wasn't the color of blood; it was more of a dirt red, and it had clumps of something that resembled meat. "Think of it as chocolate ice cream," I told myself, as the smell of dinuguan filled the air. The room was full of all sorts of vile smells, particularly of vinegar. Dad took a big scoop of dinuguan and slammed it on my plate, on top of a measly pile of rice. I took a deep breath, held my nose and bit. ...

And guess what? It does taste like chicken.

Tasha Libarios is a junior at Punahou School.

Our teen column is a chance for teens to speak out about issues, trends, pressures and perceptions they deal with each day. If you would like to submit an article or suggest a topic, e-mail Island Life assistant editor Dave Dondoneau at ddondoneau@honoluluadvertiser.com. Contributions may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.