BOO CHANCO: CHICKEN SHORTAGE DARKENS 'NOCHE BUENA' TABLES

MANILA, December 24, 2003  (STAR) DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco - If you are missing your chicken relleno from your noche buena table this evening, blame it on poor planning and decision making. We are in the midst of a pretty serious chicken shortage.

Last Saturday evening, I was doing our usual weekend shopping for groceries with my wife at Shopwise Libis. Guess what? They were rationing chicken. They had a sign at the meat section informing shoppers that due to limited supply, they had to limit our purchase of fresh chicken.

I texted Agriculture Secretary Cito Lorenzo last Monday morning to let him know what is going on out there. He texted back to insist that there is no shortage of chicken. So I texted again to tell him that he didn’t know what he is talking about because I had personal experience.

Well, he finally said he would personally check the situation on the ground. He also said that the local industry promised him there would be no shortage and that the supply will stabilize after the holidays. Is Cito the Grinch who wants to postpone Christmas? Gee, Cito, who needs extra stock of chicken after the holidays? Chicken is the cheapest meat people can afford to brighten up their noche buena table even if the per kilo price has gone up from about P85 to way over P100.

I remember that before he resigned, Mar Roxas wanted to import chicken even if only to avert any supply crisis and upward price spiral during the holiday season. Mar knew there would be a shortage as early as the time when Typhoon Harurot damaged the corn crop in Isabela used as feedstock. But he was overruled by among others, the agriculture people who trusted the local industry to behave.

You expect someone as astute and as good a businessman as Wharton-educated Cito Lorenzo would know better. I guess something happens when they take an oath of office.

Kat and FPJ

Kat Legarda is spending Christmas in Baguio but I just got her reaction to reports that FPJ prefers her as his running mate, if only because she is both highly capable and non political. Kat said she has no taste for running for any position but, like FPJ, she also has a strong sense of patriotism.

I am sure this thing about Kat being FPJ’s running mate is not going to get anywhere. FPJ’s preference notwithstanding, he must face the stark reality of politics in this country. He may not like politicians or having the political Loren Legarda as his running mate, but Ed Angara and company will read him the riot act as they explain to him the facts of life as a presidential bet. This is the first political compromise the non-political FPJ must make even before he is elected President. Expect him to swallow many more.

Loren made the uneasy situation with FPJ worse by declaring that she is Erap‘s preferred running mate for FPJ. I sensed during the interview we had with FPJ that he does not appreciate looking like Erap‘s stooge or anyone‘s stooge for that matter. Being a neophyte in the political game, I don‘t think he will have much of a choice, anyway, but to look like one.

Knowing Loren and based on what I sensed with FPJ as well as what I have heard from people who know him well, there would be little chemistry between the two. I suppose that does not really matter because in this country, we elect our president and vice president separately. Loren‘s bigger problem is not whether FPJ likes Katrina better than her but Noli de Castro running for VP too.

Christmas

But enough of politics, bureaucrats and technocrats for now! This is the season for nobler things in life. While it is true, specially for my generation, that the season is not what it used to be, it still celebrates the timeless event that has the most meaning for man: The day when God became Man to save him from eternal damnation.

Anyway, I want to share some thoughts for the season that would set us right this Christmas. And it was forwarded by Dr. Ernie E who has brightened our year with his jokes. Here it is.

There was once a man who didn’t believe in the incarnation or the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and was skeptical about God. He and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in her faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her faith and mocked her religious observance of Christmas.

One snowy Christmas eve she was taking the kids to the Christmas eve service at church. She pleaded with him to come, but he firmly refused. He ridiculed the idea of the incarnation of Christ and dismissed it as nonsense. "Why would God lower himself and become a human like us? It’s such a ridiculous story!" he said. So she and the children left for church while he stayed home.

After they left, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As he looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window. And another thump. He looked outside but couldn’t see. So he ventured outside to see. In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a flock of geese! They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area down south, but got caught in the snowstorm. The snow had become too blinding and violent for the geese to fly or see their way. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just fluttered their wings and flew around in circles around the field blindly and aimlessly. He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself, "The barn would be a great place for them to stay! It’s warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm." So he walked over to the barn and opened the barn doors for them.

He waited, watching them, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But they just fluttered around aimlessly and didn’t notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. So he started whistling and calling to them. Nothing. He shouted, jumped up and down, waved his arms. They didn’t pay attention. He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him out of fear.

He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread trail leading to the barn. They still didn’t catch on. Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them, run after them, and chase them toward the barn. They only got scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety, and shelter; nothing he did could make them enter the one place where they could survive.

Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, "Why don’t they listen to me! Why don’t they follow me! What’s wrong with them! Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm!"

He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn’t follow a human. He said to himself, "How can I possibly save them? The only way would be for me to become like those geese. If only I could become like one of them! Then I could show them the way! Then I could save them! They would follow me, not fear me. They would trust me, and I would lead them to safety."

He stood silently for a moment as the words that he just said reverberated back to himself in his mind: "If only I could become like one of them–then I could show them the way–then I could save them." He thought about his words, and remembered what he said to his wife: "Why would God want to be like us? That’s so ridiculous!"

Something clicked in his mind as he put these two together. It was like a revelation, and he began to understand the incarnation. We were like the geese – blind, gone astray, perishing. God became like us so He could show us the way and make a way available to save us. That is the meaning of Christmas, he realized in his heart.

As the winds and blinding snow abated, his heart became quiet and pondered this epiphany. He understood what Christmas was all about. He knew why Christ had come. Suddenly years of doubt and disbelief were shattered, as he humbly and tearfully bowed down in the snow, and embraced the true meaning of Christmas.

A very Merry Christmas to all of you out there!

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@bayantel.com.ph


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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