Every Christmas since I began covering the Senate, the Christmas basket from Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has always included a few cans of Delimondo corned beef.
My first Christmas there, I wasn’t on the list of accredited media so I didn’t get a basket. (I was still a member of the media, though, just not accredited.) The next year, I got a gift basket, but it was stolen
The year after that, I got a basket, but got in a fight with the girl who was my girlfriend at the time. She had a thing against accepting groceries from politicians, and it is a valid thing to have. Our fight wasn’t even about the groceries, which I didn’t really care about (except for the cans of Delimondo corned beef).
That year, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III gave away shirts with his face on them. There are few things I like more than political schwag on the level of shirts with a politician’s face on them. It is easier to draw the line, ethically, with a shirt that has a politician’s face on it. (Actually, it is always easy to draw the line but it would be pretty embarrassing to sell your principles for a shirt, even if it were made of cotton and had a collar.)
Anyway, my girlfriend and I were on our way back to Quezon City when I suddenly blurted out, half mad with guilt, that I wanted to keep the shirt. That set her off because she had always been iffy about me being around politicians (or possibly just iffy about me) and she felt that my moral compass was losing its bearings. She said that if I wanted a future with her, I would never bring home groceries from a politician.
Indignant at the slight to my integrity (and feeling a little guilty) I walked out of her car and took a cab home. But not before taking special care to show her that I was leaving the cans of Delimondo on the curb.
We broke up a few months after. I am sure it was not because of the corned beef. It was probably because I was immature enough to want to make a point by leaving perfectly good canned meat on the curb. Also, probably because I kept the shirt.
I finally got to taste Delimondo corned beef more than a year later, with a new girlfriend whose family could get premium corned beef even when it isn’t Christmas. It was worth the wait, though, because it was good corned beef and I felt then that, “yeah, I am with someone with whom I do not have to argue about corned beef (or corned beef as an indicator of my being a good person).” Or anything, really, because we could talk each other through everything.
We broke up and I am sad about that, which is really what I have been trying not to say.