What does it take to make a kid happy? In a rural Philippine barangay, a can of molasses and a wooden stick.
A day spent in Pampanga province. Throughout the morning kids gather to watch Dave work. At one point I spy a little girl blissfully licking what looks like a Slo-Poke. 'Molasses,' our friend says. 'Pure molasses.'
Of course. The Philippines is awash in cane sugar.
She procures a can of inuyat (molasses in Pampango) from a sari-sari (a tiny store selling everything) down the road - and what had been a gaggle of pint-sized observers suddenly swells to a crowd.
There's an art to making your own molasses sucker. The stuff is thick and sticky, difficult to stir and twirl around a stick.
Patience, and just the right amount of elbow grease, are rewarded with a portable sweet-smoky treat.
Still, not a few sticks are broken in the process.
Someone rustles up a spoon, and service quickens a bit.
The can is passed from adult hand to adult hand. Everyone has their own technique.
No mob behavior here. Just silent anticipation.
And finally, reward.
(By the way, you don't have to be a kid to love a molasses pop.)
Once the can is emptied pent-up energy animates the air. A fast and furious game of picture cards coalesces in a corner.
Elsewhere, sugar highs are worked off in a frenzy of leaps and flailing limbs, high-pitched yelps, and ear-to-ear grins.
Here, now, happiness is a can of molasses.