By on May 22, 2009


Allow me to introduce you the meal I can finally cook by heart: the humba. My good friend who was the willing guinea pig in all my attempts at recreating my father’s recipe, had finally given his stamp of approval on my fifth try. He later told me that it was a little salty for his taste, but that it was a lot bearable than the previous misfires.

My version of the dish is simple. Lightly brown the pork cuts in a pan. Add in your sauce according to taste – a mixture of soysauce, water, sugar, pepper and lemon juice extract. In low heat, allow the pork to absorb the sauce and to become tender for 30-45 minutes. Let it simmer for awhile before serving.

The last paragraph reminded me of the times when I would watch nonstop all the cook shows I could find in daytime cable television. I realized now that the chefs made it look so easy on TV. I tried cutting thin slices of potatoes in ‘chef-like’ rapid succession. I ended up with pieces that were not visually fit for the dish I was preparing at that time.

If I am not mistaken, the same good friend told me years back that cooking is just common sense. If that’s the case, I would pass off as an idiot – in every sense of the word.

But still, I could somehow muster whatever confidence that’s left in my heart just to perfect the ultimate humba dish. What I may lack in experience and talent, I made up for with sheer determination and constant practice. I could only wish that for the first few months in 2009, I had the same disposition towards everything else in my life. In between all those cooking attempts, one misadventure came knocking one after the other, seemingly like the gatecrashers in your cousin’s wedding. At the back of your head, you half-expected their uninvited presence. But at the back of your head too, you wish that for their blatant disregard for common courtesy and social graces, they would somehow choke halfway in their free meal. However, unlike these gatecrashers, you cannot politely ask your problems to leave your life.

It came to a point that I am more than thankful to be alive for one more day. It is ironic how your problems could provide a sobering perspective on what you do have for the time being. I am grateful for two more things: that I am not alone in my struggles and that I do not carry all the cares of the entire universe.

Honestly, I am surprised to find myself writing again. I asked myself: “What do I want to tell the world this year?” While there maybe too many sad stories at my disposal, there are also those that made me wonder, smile and laugh. I am humbled and overwhelmed by the thought that there is beauty in the familiar, purpose for the pain and wisdom in the superficial.

It is not my intention to romanticize the humba. But I could draw interesting parallels in the preparation of this simple meal and in what I have been going through lately. When the dish tastes horribly wrong or when your day does not make any sense at all or when your dreams take excruciatingly longer to achieve, you can choose from either two possible responses: wallow in your grief like a drama queen or slowly pick up the pieces and start all over again. In the case of the humba, I just have to remember what went right and learn what went wrong in every attempt.

Although I wanted to be like Jamie Oliver, regrettably, I may just have to forewarn you that “Baktin Corporation” will never become a food blog. You can find authentic recipes of humba and other dishes elsewhere. Watch Lifestyle Network or your local Saturday cooking shows. I cannot flaunt all my Frankenstein food experiments to my dwindling fanbase. But if there’s a dish that I prepared that’s worthy of five minutes of your attention, then you can read about it here, but not anytime soon though.

Next project: chicken curry. Any family recipes or cooking tips youโ€™d like to share?

  1. Reply


    May 22, 2009

    we are becoming lazy when it comes to blogging, aren’t we?

    try to write a li’l bit more regularly, like once a month.

    the dish i learned to cook is the cousin of the humba, adobo (sweet and sour and spicy all at the same time: adobong manok over adobong pork, for me… even did adobong century tuna only to find out there is already hot and spicy adobong century tuna in can, hahahah!) i ended up writing about it, too (especially since i learned to cook it using only the rice cooker; we have no stove in our apartment and we don’t intend to buy one).

    focus on the Banner.

  2. Reply


    May 23, 2009

    how fitting: Baktin + Humba…
    The corporation is alive, keep writing…

  3. Reply


    May 25, 2009

    val, there is an adobo-hot-and-spicy tuna now? they should come up with tuna curry soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

    thank you for the encouragement. this is my nth chance at this online life.

  4. Reply


    May 25, 2009

    LM, i will not buy a TM sim anymore. You must suffer for your decisions… the ‘surprise’ move to Manila and the books you should have sent me last time.

    i’ll probably miss ‘arbor’-ing your stuffs now.

    rock DLSU man!

  5. Reply


    May 25, 2009

    puwede lipat ka malapit sa unit ko? makikikain na lang ako sa iyo.

  6. Reply


    May 25, 2009

    atticushehehe. why not?

    magluto ka na rin. stress-reliever xa. not the emotional eating part of course.

  7. Reply


    May 25, 2009

    Hey. I don’t know how to cook. Shame on me! Hehehe. Congratulations to your “lami nga humba.” i’m so envious. hehe. But i am limiting the amount of meat i eat. Lots of fiber makes me happy. Try mo Veggie Meat.

    Veggie Meat BallsIngredients:

    * 3 eggs, beaten
    * 1/2 tsp. salt
    * 1 c. Special K cereal
    * 3/4 c. grated Cheddar cheese
    * 1/4 c. raw oatmeal (quick)
    * 2 tbsp. mushroom soup, cream or milk
    * 1 c. pecan meal
    * 1 clove garlic, minced
    * 1 onion, chopped fine


    Mix all ingredients and shape into balls. Brown in oil. Simmer in tomato or V-8 juice to cover, 1 tablespoon sugar (or less), 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 bay leaf. Simmer medium to low heat for 30-45 minutes.

    Also try veggie tocino and chicken curry. Mouth watering indeed! Hehehe.

    Good luck…


  8. Reply


    May 25, 2009

    Hi Bren! I haven’t tried cooking Humba. Probably too scared to even try…. Now I can call you one of the brave people I know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Reply


    May 27, 2009

    panyang, thank you for the recipe.

  10. Reply


    May 27, 2009

    kim, if you’ll eat one of my sample soon, you’ll be one of the brave people i know. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Reply


    May 29, 2009

    brennan eul, ive tasted your humba for two new year’s eve now.. and wla cya lami.. we will do a cooking showdown the next time ur home.. let me taste ur humba-cooking skills.. hehehhehe : ) (ate)

  12. Reply


    June 7, 2009

    Now Brennan's cooking real food here. My experiments with instant foods don't measure up. Hehe.

  13. Reply

    Heidi Renee

    June 30, 2009

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words you left on my blog. I am amazed as I look through your profile how similar our taste in movies & books are – from two people so very different in experience and location.

    Keep cooking – there are great recipes all over the web – I don't think it's necessarily common sense like your friend said, I think it's confidence more than anything. A good recipe and some confidence behind it really make all the difference.

    I see you're reading Louie Anderson, I have read that book right after it came out, and enjoyed it quite a bit – funny that I've never known anyone else who has read it before. His stories about his little brother still make me smile.

    Peace upon you.

  14. Reply


    September 25, 2009

    te, how about a crispy pata showdown?

    remember new year 08? ๐Ÿ˜›

  15. Reply


    September 25, 2009

    joemill, I guess we have to start somewhere. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Reply


    September 25, 2009

    heidee, care to exchange links? ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Reply


    October 1, 2009

    hey bren…manelle here…kinda bored out of my eye sockets…hehehe…so i decided to read through your blog (and Rino's)…this is a good write-up…parallels of life and humba…man, i miss humba…i'm a lazy bum…and…nobody can cook it (for me) quite as well as my mom…can't wait to be home…><

  18. Reply


    October 1, 2009

    ei Manelle, you should learn how to cook one ASAP. just improvise if you could not find the pinoy ingredients in your corner of this universe.

    when are you coming back? and where's the ton of odong tea you promised last time? ๐Ÿ˜‰


Brennan Mercado
The Philippines

Brennan is an electronics engineer by profession. From time to time, he gets to travel beyond his office cubicle, try new restaurants or catch up with his terribly long list of unread books. He likes museums, spicy food and talking with habal-habal drivers. For now, he's still deciding on whether to play Pokรฉmon GO or not.

Best of Cebu Blog Awards Best of Cebu Blog Awards
    Best Food Blog
    Best Creative Writing in a Blog
    Finalist, Best Travel Blog

    Finalist, Best Food Blog
    Finalist, Best Travel Blog

    Grand Winner, Visit Davao Tuloy ang Byahe Experience Blogging Competition.
    Winner, 2013 TLC Asiaโ€™s The Layover contest
Book your next travels here: