Day 183: PAWS FOR FOOD, PAWS FOR THOUGHT: a visit to a dog meat restaurant leaves me with little taste for San Miguel
While we are waiting to do the undercover raid on dogs bound for slaughter we are off to visit a dog-meat restaurant in Baguio, north of Manila.
Don’t worry, I’m not here to shock you or show you ‘orrible pictures.
I would rather have you here on the ride with me.
Why are you off to visit a dog meat restaurant, Martin? what help is that going to do? Don’t you know I’m eating a ham sandwich??
1) If we can catch people serving dog meat illegally we can get help with prosecutions
but more importanly
2) I’m here to confront some truths. I still eat meat (less now than ever but still I do) and I still love dogs. How will I feel when I see dog meat? Should I…er… eat some? If I’m willing to eat pigs shouldn’t I get real and eat dog? No, no, no, no, don’t do it!!!
It’s a seven hour car ride in the vicious heat with Andrew, from Network for Animals, and our two new companions, Frank and Rosalyn, both also in the animal rescue trade.
These vegans, I tell you. Not only do they avoid all eggs, meat and that other animal constitute – tasty bacon – but they have boundless energy. Is it the beans?
Baguio – The Filipino capital 0f dog meat
Up in Baguio, a small hill village north of Manila that tries to hide it self in the low misty clouds, dog meat is considered a cultural heritage. Although the meat is illegal many of the restuarants openly, almost proudly, sell the stuff. And the police do nothing. Why? Because they eat meat too! It’s difficult to shift a pattern of beliefs when they grow out of the soil under your feet. There is also a Korean population here. If you are a puppy with some meat on your legs you should always worry about hanging out near Koreans.
On the drive up Andrew makes endless calls to try and secure the raid on the dog trucks that we are planning in the next few days.
‘We are waiting for help from the mayor.’ says Andrew putting down the phone with a sigh
What’s going on? Every vicinity in Philippines is presided over by a mayor , i find out, and everything has to go past the damn mayor. He has god-like power. If he doesn’t like the colour of your socks you are DUST. One local mayor subdued drug dealing by painting vast signs on the front of a suspected dealer’s house saying ‘I DEAL DRUGS’. I think the guy got done by vigilantes. Either that or he sold loads more drugs. Either the way they Mayors are a law unto themselves.
Unfortunately we need teh mayor’s go-ahead for the dog truck raid over the next few days.
Arriving at the dog meat restaurant.
There are 14 restuarants in Baguio that Network for Animals have identified as selling dog meat. A brisk trade, then.
We go to one of the the restaurants.
Kind of trashy. An old metal sign that leads down some sodden concrete steps.
Frank, a passionate videographer who has filmed baby seals being clubbed to death to raise awareness and still manages to have a sense of humour, wires himself up with a hidden camera. I take mine in openly as if a tourist. Since I am with a car load of vegans, and since there isn’t much to eat at motorway service stations apart from burgers I have spent the last 7 hours in the car both meat-free and BLOODY FAMISHED. Not a good state in which to go into a dog-meat restaurant. Don’t be tempted Martin.
The woman behind the counter- the owner – is shifty. She sees my camera and looks at me distrustingly. I smile. Like any hungry tourist would in a dog meat restaurant. The place is dingy, low light, grotty, fairly empty. We have missed the lunch serving.
We sit down in half darkness and a waitress comes over and immediately offers us ‘Chicken, beef or pulatan stew’ Each item is about 2 dollars but the pulatan has a 10% premium. ‘Pulatan’ is dog meat. You pay for the privilege – not much, after all dog is fairly cheap to source and kill but it does carry a cost for being illegal.
We try to ask about the ‘pulutan’ but the woman behind the counter loses her cool, reprimanding her waitress for offering it us before telling us we can’t have it. But not before we have the video footage on the sting camera.
A man barks at me.
Andrew then whispers in my ear ‘See that guy over there, he’s just ordered pulatan too, his stew will be out in a few minutes. Lets try and stay here a little longer’
A man two tables away is having some soup , apparently a common forerunner to dog meat. While Andrew talks to the lady at the counter I hover with my camera.
The stew comes out to the man. Guess what? The dog meat looks like….MEAT. Nothing weird about it. Course not, what would be weird? I bumble up to him in my best naive but irritating-british-tourist kind of way and ask if i can take his picture. Naturally he tells me to stick it and covers his food with his hand but not before I have already fired off five pictures. He gets up angrily and barks something at me (eaten too much dog have we?) and brushes past me.
I look at the food.
What do I feel about it?
My reaction is predictable. I feel nothing whatsoever.
Because it’s just meat. Of course it is. But that is the point. We are conditioned to accept meat – whether it is roasted, fried or sliced. Thank fully I had no desire whatsoever to try some of it but you know what? I feel kind of an arsehole for NOT eating it. Why the hell shouldn’t I if I eat pig?
But there you go. I join the legion of other irrational people that care for animals….and eat it. I’m feeling more of a fool every day.
But here is the crazy bit…
…the man who has strode angrily out of the shop then decides to turn back into the restaurant and ask for the illegal meat to be packed up… to go. Yes, that’s right, he wants a DOGGY BAG to take his dog meat home.
THAT’S HOW MUCH THEY LOVE THEIR POOCHES UP HERE.
I can’t feel angry at him.
We walk out hastily. When we are back in the car Andrew shifts in his seat.
‘See the sign for that restaurant?’ I look up.
‘I wonder if San Miguel know they are the sponsor of a restaurant that sells illegal dog meat? ‘
This is how the compassionate mind must work . It’s not all about stroking cute animals. Try and get leverage from the big brands. Mix things up a little.
Anyone have any thoughts on how we could get this message out to San Miguel??? I’m sure those animal loving Spaniards wouldn’t want to be associated with anything as barbaric as this?
Let’s try it.