MABABA pa ang antigong bakod ng Malacañang nang dumalaw sa Pilipinas si then-incumbent US President Richard M. Nixon—at kabilang ako sa ilang daang musmos na sumalubong sa kanya, nagwawagayway ng inyong bandila sa harap ng Freedom Park, nasa isang panig iyon ng J.P. Laurel Avenue sa harapan ng Palasyo.
The Palace resident treated Nixon to a taste of basi, a suave brew from native sugar cane juice aged for 13 Fridays, sieved through silk and whipped out like a warm embrace for an honored guest.
Basi has kindled one of our nation’s initial uprisings against Spain—the colonial overseers wanted every drop of sugar cane grown in the country’s northern parts churned up as sugar for European tables and basi lovers balked at the bleak prospects of letting go of kindred spirits in a Spanish version of 17th century prohibition period. For want of a drink, the Basi Revolt broke out.
Such historical tidbit can show how much basi is cherished in these parts. Served chilled in goblets or drawn from burnay vats and taken as is, it tickles the palate with a faintest tinge of Añejo rum, glows with deep honey color akin to hessonite and teases the throat with opulent lightness of Dom Perrignon champagne.
The late President Ferdinand E. Marcos had it served anew when Nixon’s replacement – Gerald R. Ford – made a state visit here.
Isinumpa mo na nga pala ang alak. Hindi mo matitikman ang basi na ipinagmamalaking inumin ng yumaong Marcos—na tahasan ding hindi tumitikim man lang ng alak. Maliban sa basi. Iba kasi.
Mahirap itakwil ang pag-inom. Sa isang kasalan sa Cana isinagawa ng Panginoong Jesus Christ ang Kanyang unang himala: gumawa ng alak mula tubig. Sa Ultima Cena, naging sagisag ang alak sa kopa bilang dugong ibubuhos ng Manunubos para linisin ang kasalanan ng sanlibutan—naghabilin pa nga ang Panginoon na ulit-ulitin ang mga ganoong pagtitipon sa hapunan upang sariwain Siya sa ating gunita.
Ah, hindi nawawala ang sikad-alak sa pitong paraan ng pagsubok upang matanto ng sinumang pinuno ang pagkatao ng mapagkakatiwalaan. Mahirap umarok sa pagkatao kaya pitong paraan ang inilatag ng dalubguro sa pakikidigma na si Zhuge Liang o Kong Ming. Para tahasang mahubaran ng balatkayo ang mga nagkukunwa lang:
Una, ungkatin ang kanilang pananaw hinggil sa tama at mali—para maarok ang babaw o lalim ng kanilang kaisipan;
Next, exhaust all their arguments, to see how they change;
Ikatlo, sumangguni ukol sa strategy para mabatid kung gaano kalawak o kakitid ang kanilang unawa;
Ikaapat, ipatalastas na may kaguluhan at sigalot para matiyak ang kanilang tapang;
Ikalima, lasingin sila para lumabas ang kanilang likas na ugali at katangian;
Sixth is to present them with the prospect of gain, to see how modest they are;
Seventh is to give them a task to do within a specific time to see how trustworthy they are.
You have your reasons for abstaining from strong drink and switching to that sobering blend of lemon and lime, Seven-Up. We’d take that as a cultivated gesture of keeping your cards close to your chest. After all, the inebriated bloke betrays his true nature, as the Zhuge Liang text on leadership and crisis management would have it. You wouldn’t want us to see your true colors, would you? Or we’d hazard a guess—Mandarin yellow?
Ah, you had this paranoia about biochemical weapons cranked up and stored somewhere in Iraq. So you had Saddam’s territory bombed back to the Dark Ages because of those satellite photographs showing something akin to processing of substrate material to carry anthrax spores with. It turned out that such processing was part of the process for churning out whiskey. Ah, how you’ve shunned drinking after that decision of yours to quit alcohol intake. Boy, you’re missing a lot!
Go easy on your Seven-Up, Dubya. Hereabouts, we spike it with good old-fashioned Ginebra San Miguel and chew the fat with chicharon bulaklak or Texas fried chicken.
Anyway, the so few hours you blew into town will remind us of the time it takes to turn up a sumptuous dish called “Beggar’s Chicken.” It’s a version of "Pinaupong Manok."
That’s more appropriate than calling you "Nilasing na Hipon."