Monday, September 8, 2008

Humor in Times of Horror

Times are indeed hard, what with bombs raining down my hometown with the regularity of my mom’s calls and text messages of panic and alarm. Recently, she asked whether it was advisable to wipe out her pocket garden of orchids to dig a fox hole where they could take cover in case the MILF attacks our place.
Before that, she was texting me no end about text messages making the rounds of Zamboanga warning people to withdraw their money from banks because the MILF will burn them. That resulted in a bank ran but the attack did not happen, not yet.
So, bombarded by my mom’s texts, I thought of making a press release to make light of what is happening there and at the same time push for my pet advocacy, the A-book-Saya book donation project.
Unfortunately, the newspapers did not pick it up because they might not have found it amusing that I was reducing the horrors in the South into a comedy. Either that or I may be speck of dust in the big cosmic world of Philippine press.
Anyway, I’m now sharing what I wrote to all of you folks who take time out to read my blog.

PRESS RELEASE Reference: Armand/Ann Nocum
August 17, 2008 09195897879/0917520801317 Tel. 7992745


A Christian and Muslim couple yesterday dared the Moro Islamic Liberation Front leadership and the GRP panel to resolve their differences through a “satti challenge’’ – the gulfing of a spicy Malaysian food loved both by Christians and Muslims in Zamboanga City in less than three minutes.
In making the challenge, couple Armand and Annora Sahi Nocum, a Christian and Muslim, respectively, said they just wanted to diffuse the tensions and accentuate the need for the warring groups to recognize what make them similar, like being Filipinos, sharing a slightly related religion, culture and culinary traditions.
“Why do have to fight over what differentiates us? Why don’t we just celebrate the similarities between Christians and Muslims in the country?’’ said the Nocums, who had put up a Halal food business to introduce Muslim food to the metro palate.
“They say food is the best way to a man’s heart, we believe Muslim food can also serve to break down bias, mistrust and misunderstanding between Christians and Muslims. Eating Muslim food is a good start in having better appreciation and respect of their culture. We have no choice. We have to accept and love each other as Filipinos; there are just not enough bullets in the arsenals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the MILF for us to successfully wipe each other out.” said Armand Nocum, who left his job as reporter to put up the satti business.
Satti is the local version of the Satay or Sate foods that are popular in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. This exotic food is eaten with grilled chicken or beef – along with rice cooked in coconut leaves – being dipped into a bowl of hot and spicy satti soup.
“It’s so spicy that it cannot be eaten in less than three or five minutes. It’s spicier than the Malaysian version and I challenge the Malaysian officials brokering the deal to join the satti challenge as well,” said Mrs. Nocum, a Tausug who used to work as a nurse in Kuwait.
The Nocums directed their challenge to the government panel led by Secretary Rodolfo Garcia and Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and the MILF officials to include MILF vice chairman Ghadzali Jaafar and MILF spokesperson Eid Kabalu.
The couple also said they would like to see sitting in one table other protagonists in the issue of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, including Cotabato Vice Gov. Emmanuel Pinol, Sen. Mar Roxas II, former Sen. Franklin Drilon, UNO spokesperson Adel Tamano, Zamboang City Mayor Celso Lobregat, Zamboanga City Reps. Maria Isabelle Climaco Erico B. Fabian; and even US Ambassador Kristie Kenny.
The Nocums said they are willing to host a ``sattihan’’ breakfast for this group in their Satti Grill House outlets in SM Fairview Food Court or at the MH del Pilar corner Padre Faura outlet.
Nocum also asked other Christian-Muslim couples all over the country to make their voices heard for the sake of peace.
“We may be the minority, but all of us have successfully shown that Christians and Muslims can live under one roof without shooting each other,’’ said Armand Nocum, who joked that his Tausug wife is more adept than him in handling .45 caliber pistols.


(The picture above is that of my daughter Ashia Marie, age 8. In 2007, she brought honor to the country by landing Top 5 in the Callaway Junior World Golf Tournament. Thus far, she has three holes-in-one under her belt, earning the name ''Muslim Ace'' from fellow junior golfers)


  1. Thanks for the email! This is Jan Ong from Read Now. My blog is and the old one is Thanks!

  2. Hi John, thanks for your reply. Let's work together for a peaceful and stable Mindanao. We are all in this boat called the Philippines and Muslim and Christian should start paddling in the same direction, right?