Responsive Ad Slot




Buhay Pinay



Philippine News

Join us at Facebook!

Part 2 on Mario delos Reyes: Fried chicken, techie traps for a man frozen in time

02 November 2019

Mario delos Reyes enjoys first meal as a free man while waiting for his travel papers at the Consulate.

By Vir B. Lumicao

Part 2

A quarter-century of regimented meal menu in jail could have dulled the taste buds of Mario delos Reyes, a recently released inmate in maximum security Stanley Prison, that he had long yearned for fried chicken.

This craving was finally satisfied on Oct 15 when Delos Reyes popped up past lunchtime at the Consulate, escorted by three Hong Kong Immigration officers and two Filipina inmates at the Castle Peak Immigration Centre.

Delos Reyes was enjoying every bite of a Kentucky Fried Chicken meal bought for him by Social Welfare officer Elizabeth Dy as ATN staff prepared his one-way travel paper, the last document he had to secure for his flight back to Manila on Oct 21.

“Lagi kong hinihiling iyon kay Ma’am Beth tuwing dumadalaw siya sa akin sa loob,” Delos Reyes said with a giggle in a telephone conversation a week later.

He said that was his first fried chicken meal since his committal to Stanley Prison in 1994 following his conviction on a charge of conspiracy to murder.

Not that Delos Reyes was too fastidious to find prison food in Hong Kong as bland or poorly prepared as one would hear about what inmates are fed in Philippine jails. It’s just that the former Philippine Constabulary soldier had missed perhaps the best food any Filipino commoner could think of, as if nothing else is supreme to his taste buds than the flavor of crispy fried chicken, whatever brand it may be.

“Pangako ko kasi kay Mario tuwing dumadalaw kami sa kanya noon na iti-treat ko siya ng Jollibee chicken,” Dy said when asked who bought the fried chicken meal for the newly released inmate.

Dy thought Delos Reyes was alone so she sent somebody to run downstairs for a fried chicken meal. She found out later that he had two Filipina companions when Delos Reyes was already sharing his lunch with them.

Prison life has taught Delos Reyes to be Spartan. He says he eats any food. But, in the penitentiary, he learned to make some money out of his prison meals to help his wife Gigi support their children while he was behind bars.

In jail it was the prison warden who decided what the inmates ate. There were three menus for the variety of nationalities serving time in Stanley, a penitentiary for males convicted of serious crimes.

He said he fought for a western meal when he was served Asian menu because meals for the Caucasian prisoners were heavier than the lighter sets for non-whites. The other option was Indian menu meant for South Asian and Middle Eastern inmates.

Delos Reyes said he had to argue fiercely with the warden, a senior superinten-dent, in order to win daily meals of western food.

He discovered that cigarette was a currency in the prison, so he bartered his meals for cigarettes at a rate of two packs for a set lunch. He then sold the cigarettes to inmates who smoked at $1,000 for six packs. Payment was made by the buyer’s relatives to his wife’s bank account.

Through this ingenious way of raising money while in jail, Delos Reyes says he managed to send his three children through school. Later he got help from his wife Gigi who worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong and Macau so she could visit him regularly.

Back at home in Nueva Ecija with his wife and their two-year-old granddaughter, Delos Reyes says he is reintroducing himself to native food after 26 years.

Not all of these dishes, such as boiled saluyot (jute) leaves and sliced bitter melon or bamboo shoots seasoned with salted anchovy sauce may be delectable to others, but they are filling just the same for the hardy Ilocano who was originally from La Union.

For now, Delos Reyes is reinventing his life outside prison and still adjusting to do his favorite activity, writing undisturbed, in the presence of his granddaughter who is always cozying up to him.

He admits the strongest culture shock in his new world is technology – like how to navigate a cellphone he received as a present from The SUN upon his release.

But he is catching up fast, having opened a Facebook account, and is now able to communicate with the rest of the world through messenger and text messaging.

I-try mo ito, Kabayan: Kung interesado kang ma-contact ang mga advertiser namin dito, pindutin lang ang kanilang ad, at lalabas ang auto-dialer. Pindutin ulit upang tumawag. Hindi na kailangang pindutin ang mga numero.
Call us now!
Call now!
Call us!
Call now!
Don't Miss