Amid the rubble and chaos, a father provides for his family and finds hope
For one man in Guiuan, the simple slaughter of a pig offers a way forward
Quickly, Salvador got to work. He scooped out boiling water and, with a machete-like knife, began scraping the outer skin and hair from the corpse. It was like scaling a fish.
The kids, half a dozen in number, squatted on their hunkers and watched intently, not saying a word. Salvador and I chatted as he worked. He and his family survived the typhoon because they went to an evacuation shelter.
But they lost their wooden shanty home. What they lived in now was all that had been able to cobble together from the debris in the fortnight since the storm. He needed to rebuild much more, he said, but he had no money for nails.
When the scaling was done, he washed the mess off the road with the remaining water. He turned the pig on its back and slit open its belly.
He cut the lower intestine and the oesophagus and lifted the heart and liver out into a black plastic basin. He cupped his hands and went back inside the abdomen, to scoop out the blood. Then he grabbed hold of the upper parts of the gut and, from beyond the pig’s tail, pulled and pulled and pulled until the whole guts came free.
He slapped them on the ground as a matador might his cape following an exaggerated pass of the bull.
The pig ready for dismembering, Salvador washed it once more before slapping it down on his butcher’s table in front of his house. He decapitated the pig, displaying the head on the table; he cleavered the torso in half, then quartered it; he removed the trotters; and then butchered it into sellable pieces.
The sun was fully up now; Guiuan going about its business . . . inasmuch as there is business to be gone about. The emergency aid teams – a united nations of helpers – were all on the move. Locals on bicycles and motorcycles, bicycle taxis and motorbike sidecar taxis, were beginning to clog up Guimbaolibot Avenue.
From an open-sided living room in Salvador’s hovel looking out at the City Hall, his mother, grandmother and brother sat watching as Salvador and some of his six kids set up shop, ready for business and knowing that tonight’s dinner – and a good few more besides – was sorted.
A good start to a good day.
I gave him 1,000 pesos, about €17. “Nails for the house,” said Salvador. “Thank you.”
Yes, he always knew that this day would be a good day.