Briones: Memories of Foodarama

I don’t have the full story behind the closure of Fooda Saversmart, Cebu’s homegrown chain of supermarkets, although the news report cited financial losses.

Still, it’s sad to think the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic has claimed another victim in its 17-month run.

According to the Department of Labor 7, a total of 243 workers at its branches in General Maxilom Ave. and in Barangays Guadalupe and Kasambagan in Cebu City; Linao in Talisay City; and Consolacion in northern Cebu will be affected.

In the meantime, Fooda Saversmart “will hold a closing out sale with items at cost or below for all branches up to Sept. 22 and until supplies last.”

I don’t know about the millennials, but Fooda wasn’t always called Fooda.

In the late 1970s, when our family moved to Cebu from Davao City, it was known as Foodarama. And I’m talking about the one on Mango Ave. It was one of three groceries in the uptown area that also included Rosita’s and Thrifty Mart. Merry Mart, the one with the bump cars, came much later, I think.

I have fond memories of Foodarama. I remember at the old entrance they sold pork tapa, kiamoy and other Chinese delicacies. I was never fond of the sour prune, but I was a glutton for the sweet and tangy jerky.

I also remember that one time, no, not at band camp, I shoplifted. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve only ever done it once. Twice, tops. Okay, maybe three times.

No, I didn’t get caught. And I wasn’t paraded around the aisles as an example for other would-be juvenile malcontents. Although, in hindsight, it would have been hard for store personnel not to notice a chubby kid with chocolate-covered fingers trying to cram chocolate pretzel sticks down his mouth. You know, the ones that came in the Jack and Jill box with the drawing of two “Injun” kids with a tepee in the background.

Yeah, that one.

Anyway, when I told one of my father’s cousins who was with me at the time what I had done, he laid a guilt trip on me that was so bad it made me wish I had taken two boxes.

Hey. I was around eight or nine then, attending a Catholic school run by nuns, so I had a pretty good idea what he was alluding to. Heck, if I was going to spend the rest of eternity in hell for one box of chocolate pretzels.

Still, I was naïve and I knew what I did was wrong. So yeah, he succeeded in making me feel so ashamed that I never shoplifted again. In Cebu, that is.

Come to think of it, this might explain why I’ve stayed clear of “Fooda” since my return to the country in 1994. Perhaps I’ve always been afraid to see a drawing of my likeness inside the grocery with the word, “WANTED: SHOPLIFTER.”

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