Why is it so hard to do an act of kindness when someone is mean to you? I was reminded of this last weekend. We just had a glorious week in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I was thrilled beyond words to receive my 2 awards and be honored by peers in the industry. I was empowered with inspiration and lessons learned from fellow Filipinas at the Filipina Women’s Network summit. I thought I had enough strength to weather anything. I did not know I was about to be tested.
The day started out fine. We were at the LAX airport early morning. Our flight was delayed. We walked to the next gate. We waited. Impatiently I tapped my foot and looked around. Like everyone, I was anxious to get home.
The call to board came on. We headed to lines marked ‘groups 1 to 5.’ There were people in front and behind us. I noticed an elderly couple standing next to me, near my spot in the line. They were trying to cut me, trying to insert themselves ahead of me. No way!
“Excuse me, ma’m, but the line is at the back. You can’t cut in line. People have been here for hours,” I told this woman who dared cut through.
The woman glared at me. In her high pitch, heavy accent bellowed at me “this IS THE LINE,” and petulantly said she had been standing here for hours.
This wasn’t happening, I told myself. If you know me, you know my pet peeve is when people try to cut in line, especially in front of me.
This woman was rude and belligerent. She refused to budge. She insisted on cutting in like it was her god-given right.
What did I just learn at the Filipina leadership summit I asked myself? Clearly, I needed to call on all those life lessons, panel sessions, keynote speeches I just experienced to remind myself how to deal with this difficult woman who did not seem to understand that cutting in line was not okay.
I summoned all my patience. I reminded myself there is always someone out there who has it worse, is having a bad day, has a cross to bear. Maybe it was this woman, as irritating as she was. Perhaps she could use some kindness. Perhaps no one had shown her any compassion in a long time.
“Go ahead ma’m, be my guest,” I said to her, allowing her to cut in my space. I looked at her husband, a tiny man who looked more scared of me than of his wife. “Go ahead, sir,” I gestured pointing to the space in front.
“No it’s okay, I’ll go after you, “ the gentleman said softly, a polite contrast to his wife’s impertinence.
Eventually we all boarded, had a safe flight and landed back home in the east coast.
I could not wait to get to the house. I knew I had leftover Pork Sisig, a spicy pork belly appetizer and cooked rice I had put away in the refrigerator before we left for our trip. This pork sisig I made is Pampango in origin, made of crisp pork belly, cooked thrice in spices. We had lots of leftovers and I knew it would come in handy once we returned.
In a few quick minutes, I was stir frying the leftovers in garlic, poured in the small pork sisig bits till they sizzled in the pan and mixed in some red chili pepper flakes. Then I added the cooked rice and mixed it around. The garlicky cooking oil coated the rice grains evenly and the aroma was hard to resist. I pushed in the large cooking spoon to unearth the crisp pork sisig bits from under the rice and flung the meat onto the grains. The rice dish was done in virtually seconds. A garnishing of red onions and pepper strips completed it. The garlic-peppery aromas lingered in the air. I was home and it was wonderful.
Activating the power of our hearts to love and forgive takes practice and consistent intention. But we need to keep tapping into ourselves, into the core of our souls to bring out that energy. Everyone needs to be loved and liked. Empowering ourselves to do that little act of kindness, no matter how difficult is what makes the world better. And yes, it is hard to do. But someone has got to start. Let me be the first in line to do it. Let the next one be you. If you want to cut in line and be first before me, be my guest to show an act of kindness.
Meanwhile, relish and savor this pork sisig rice. Scoop a spoonful of the spicy, crunchy pork bits cradled by the garlicky grains of rice. It feels good to nourish the spirit through the comfort of food! I took some leftover pork sisig, made from another day. Pork sisig (say “see-seeg”) is a Pampanga pork belly appetizer that is cooked thrice, made spicier each time. I used cooked rice from another day which had been refrigerated. See my previous blog post on Pork Sisig. This is an AsianinAmericamag recipe and serves 2 as an entree or up to 4 as a side dish.
- vegetable or corn oil - 2 Tablespoons
- fresh garlic - 1 teaspoon, minced
- pork sisig - 1 to 2 cups, cooked, from leftovers (see past blog post
- cooked rice (white rice) - 2 to 3 cups, cooked, must have been refrigerated (up to 5-7 days old)
- red pepper flakes - 1 teaspoon
- sea salt - 1 teaspoon
- freshly ground black pepper - 1 teaspoon
- red onions - 1 medium, sliced thin (or 1/2 cup), for garnish
- red bell peppers - 1 medium, sliced thin, seeded, white membrane removed, for garnish
- fresh calamansi juice (or lemon juice) - 1 teaspoon, for garnish (calamansi juice, the Filipino lime is found in Asian markets)
- In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add the cooking oil. Once oil is hot after 1 to 2 minutes, add the minced garlic. Immediately add the leftover cooked pork sisig. Blend well and watch the pork sizzle for a minute or 2.
- Pour the cooked rice into the same skillet. Mix ingredients well to incorporate the garlic and pork sisig bits into the rice grains. Continue to heat up the rice dish for 2 to 3 minutes more, stirring around so the grains do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Season with red pepper flakes, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper powder.
- Sprinkle with fresh calamansi juice (or lemon juice) all over the rice dish. Garnish with sliced red onions and red peppers. Serve as a side dish or as an entrée.
- Cook's comments: the cooked pork sisig is already spicy. Omit red pepper flakes in this recipe if you want to lower the spice level.