If you do not believe in family planning or birth control, and/or are of the opinion that population growth is not a critical issue in the Philippines, simply skip this post and save yourself angst. You are strongly forewarned.
Did you know that some condoms are still made from the membranes of sheep/lamb intestines? How they shape the ends of such prophylactics is a mystery to me, as a longganisa type knot would seem a bit primitive, no? But stick with me a little longer on this post that melds pork sausage casings with an in-house lecture on birth control — a la Marketman. I have been wanting to experiment with our own home-made longganisa for a while, but was always stumped where to purchase reliable sausage casings. With Zubuchon’s accredited/licensed in-house slaughterhouse for the past year, I knew we could do it ourselves, but everything I had read about cleaning out intestines for sausage making seemed like a real turn-off. So while I would like to report that I overcame the hibbie-jibbies and prepared these casings myself, I most certainly did not. Totally chickened out. I asked our in-house butcher to just make me some extra clean sausage casings from a medium-sized pig instead.
We tend to have our pigs for a week or two before they are slaughtered and we control their diet, supplementing organic feed with fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Once slaughtered, the small intestines were washed thoroughly. They were then turned inside out and carefully but firmly scraped of the mucus or membrane inside the intestine. They were then washed again and again until the butcher felt they were squeaky clean, then blown up and tied and hung to dry indoors. After an hour or so, I had them dried outdoors in the sun (oddly, they did NOT attract flies). Then after two hours of drying in the sun, I had them dried high above a couple of roasting lechons, basically smoking them with some flavor hopefully. Now dried and a bit opaque but surprisingly strong, they were deflated, packed in a plastic bag with lots of natural sea salt and I brought them back to Manila and stuck them in our fridge. A few hours before using, I will soak them in water and change that water several times until I am convinced the casings are odorless and clean, then use them to make some longganisa. :)
Several of our crew members who care for the pigs, help in the lechonan, tend to our in-house crops of tanglad and other ingredients, are in their late teens and early twenties. And while they were making the sausage casings, a lot of ribbing was going on about birth control and unwanted or unplanned preganancies. To make a long story short, I decided this would be a good time to do a no holds barred discussion on birth control for anyone interested to hear it. My dad used to head the population commission in the Philippines several decades ago, at a time when serious attempts to reign in rampant population growth were underway, but efforts since then seem to have all gone downhill. At the time, Dad used to take me along to provincial sorties where we would explain the use of birth control to large groups of clueless men and even though I only did it a half dozen times (an early version of community service or what not), I can assure you it was a pretty simple yet useful thing to do. Be matter of fact, throw in some appropriate humor, and hopefully help folks who WANT to plan their families and ARE WILLING to use birth control methods to achieve their goals. Ever since those outings in my own teens, I have always felt very strongly that population is a MAJOR issue facing our country and unless we did something to slow the growth (along with efforts on education, nutrition, corruption, etc.) then we would never progress and improve our average incomes and quality of existence. That is just MY personal opinion and some or many of you may disagree, but that’s what I think. So I do take it upon myself whenever possible to make sure people are better informed of birth control choices. What they chose to do or not do with the information is completely up to them. And frankly, you would be surprised how LITTLE our teens and young adults know.
These days, I start off these information sessions with a simple fact — the minimal cost to raise a child from birth to 18 years old in lower middle class conditions that assume just the minimal caloric intake, a roof over their heads, clothing, medical care, schooling, etc. is roughly PHP1 million. ONE MILLION PESOS or roughly PHP60,000 per year in today’s peso value. If you want a more realistic figure, think PHP2-3 million given inflation et al. I know, I know, the hair on the back of some of your necks is rising with indignation, Marketman boiling down the joy of bringing human life onto this planet into pesos and centavos. But it is an irrefutable fact that if you are responsible for making them, you are indeed fully responsible for ensuring that they are fed, housed, clothed, educated, etc. Boiling it down to a peso figure always seems to wake up youngsters listening, as a careless romp now seems like a million peso gamble. To make a long story short, I explained the different types of birth control for men (with condoms and appropriately sized bananas for demonstrations). We discussed the responsibility that comes with parenthood. Debunked the myths that seem to overwhelm medical facts. And basically seeked to simply educate, with the ultimate responsibility left with each individual how they wish to conduct their own personal affairs. See what the topic of sausage casings can lead to?