Payless Instant Mami--A Travel Back in Time


Payless with moringa leaves and an egg

Imagine my surprise when, finally, I could take hold of Payless Instant Mami again after so many years. I had been looking for this instant chicken noodle soup for longer than I can recall. I got four packs of these noodles, among many other groceries, from our Local Government Unit when I completed the second dose of my vaccine.

The sight instantly brought me back to the memories of yesteryears when my brother and I were high schoolers, struggling financially.  The nearest high school was almost eight kilometers away, and there was no regular transportation system at that time. We had to stay in a boarding house. On Sunday afternoons, we, along with other students from our far-flung farming village, would go to the poblaciĆ³n carrying our week’s supply of foods—the kind that would not go bad immediately, the kind that would last five days, for we had no refrigerator to keep them in. We would be carrying two gantas of rice, some bottle gourd, squash, eggplants, sweet potatoes, and the like.  On Friday afternoons, we’d go back home to our barrio in an overcrowded jeepney that bravely traversed the rough and winding roads.

And on those Fridays, when we had very little food left, my brother and I would chip in—we would collect any coin we had, even the very small ones, to buy one pack of this noodle for our lunch. I would then look inside our basket for some leftover onions. Oftentimes, I would find very small bulbs, almost rotting, the ones I rejected at first. I would chop them finely and mix them with this noodle for some added aroma. Sometimes, we had enough coins to buy one egg, and I would beat it and mix it in the instant noodle soup.

When I came home from the vaccination site, I immediately cooked one pack of Payless. I added one egg and some moringa leaves.

Some experiences in our lives are deeply entwined in our being; they can never be forgotten. Savoring the  delicious, hot, instant noodle soup brought me back to the past, albeit just for a moment.


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