The Thing about Jollibee

The #ChickenSad saga recently spurred the interest (and annoyance) of many Filipinos who consider Jollibee as their favourite fast food.

For background, here’s a story from Interaksyon.com last Friday — (On Jollibee)

InterAksyon.com means BUSINESS

MANILA – Jollibee branches in Metro Manila that shut their doors because of a computer upgrade snafu will reopen on Sunday, Jollibee Food Corp (JCF) said today.

In a statement, the country’s largest fast food chain said some of these outlets however would still offer limited menus, but will already make available its most best-sellers, namely the Chickenjoy, Jolly Spaghetti and Yumburger.

JFC earlier apologized for the inconvenience brought about the untimely suspension of operations of some branches brought about by an upgrade in its computer systems that came into force last August 1.

The fastfood giant however said the disruption is unlikely to make a serious dent on its financial results. Last Wednesday, it reported that first-half earnings grew by a fifth.

Jojo Subido, JFC vice president for Metro North Operations, said the company implemented contingency measures to ensure its products are delivered from the commissary to the shuttered stores.

“Our team has been working round the clock to catch up and put to speed our commissary’s delivery schedule to enable all our stores to open by this weekend,” Subido said.

He said JFC has continued to pay the salaries of affected store employees of the concerned branches, even during the days that it had to temporarily close.

Subido insists that Jollibee has ample food supplies in its commissary in Laguna.

“We would like to set the record straight that we do not import chicken or other meat products from China. Our chicken requirements are currently sourced from our accredited  suppliers such as San Miguel Foods Corporation, Foster Foods Inc., and GAMA Foods Corporation who have all passed our strict quality standards,” he said.

“We would like to once again extend our sincerest apologies to our customers and thank them for bearing with us during these challenging times. Rest assured that we are doing our best to offer a complete menu line-up in all our stores within this month,” he added.

True to its promise, Jollibee has resumed selling Chickenjoy, Jolly Spaghetti and Yumburger.

My experience while ordering lunch was funny though because those are the only available items in their menu. They don’t even have the cheese for their Yumburger… just the regular yum. Staples like french fries, soft drinks and pineapple juice were not available. Oh they do have regular yum – meaning they have burger patties… but the burger steak meal was also not available. Maybe they don’t have mushrooms?

That was the longest conversation I ever had while ordering from a fast food. 

It was the springboard of my conversation with officemates on our favourite fast food to get chicken. We agreed on the same thing. Just like most Filipinos out there, Jollibee’s Chickenjoy remains to be the number one choice.

In my elementary days, the go-to place for kiddie parties wasn’t Jollibee. It was the McDonald’s branch located at Tagaytay junction, because that’s the nearest and that was just less than an hour away from our town proper.

I couldn’t remember when it started operating, but Jollibee’s the first fast food in our town. I’m guessing it was high school, because that time, Jollibee actually became a hype.

When I was in high school, kids from the campus go to the nearest carinderias scattered all around the town. Meals, then, ranged from P20-60 if my memory serves me right. Whenever the school requires “packed lunch” for certain activities like intramurals, club launching, etcetera, kids from my school always bring their handy lunchbox.

Then came Jollibee. Slowly, students start shifting from their home-packed meals and get instant food from the nearby fast food, which is just across the street.

The “baon” system somehow got replaced by Jollibee and while there were still cheaper meals that cost within the P20-60 range offered by carinderias, the students always go for the best – Chickenjoy. Which meant some had to ask for additional allowance just to have that meal.

Same with my case. Back then, my allowance was only P50 per day. That’s because I live just a couple of blocks away from school and I usually had my lunch at home. When asked for “packed lunch,” our maid would prepare the food.

There were occasional moments when my mom would double my allowance so that I could get food from Jollibee. My dad, at times, also get us Yumburger with Cheese for us to eat during break time. I wouldn’t do that on my own because I’d rather buy a P20 burger, a P10 fries, and P6 Coke from a nearby snack place. That gives me more than P10 to save or spend for prepaid load.

Given this scenario, Jollibee was the only place where birthday celebrations were held. The kids usually ask money from their parents to treat their friends for a spaghetti or burger meal. Sometimes, the chocolate sundae is enough.

The same was true at home. When someone in the family celebrates birthday, we would go out and eat together at Jollibee. I still remember my favourite food. I wasn’t really a big fan of the chickenjoy then, so I always order the shanghai rolls. That time, the 39ers weren’t even on the menu yet!

Of course, there were other dining options growing up. On weekends, my friends and I would go to the nearest mall, SM Dasmariñas, to watch a movie and eat somewhere else – which actually means KFC, McDonalds or Greenwich.

Through the years, other fast food places opened in town. There was a Chowking for a while, but eventually stopped operating. There were homegrown “sisig” places and burger joints, too. Of course, Burger Machine and Minute Burger. But most of them already closed.

Back then, grocery shopping was done in local supermarkets. To name a few, we had Chavez’s General Merchandise and a so-called Shoppette (I don’t even know how to spell it).

We also had roast chicken go-to places, like Baliwag and Andok’s; and of course, a lot of barbecue places but not those that accept diners. Those that grill what they sell (hotdogs, pork, betamax, laman loob) outside and you eat those things on-stick right on that spot.

There were lots of other street food too like fish balls and quail eggs; and unbranded shawarma became one of the town’s favourite in the past how many years.

More than a year ago, a so-called “Premiere Plaza” opened its doors. It was the nearest commercial development that houses a supermarket, drugstore, gift shops, a CD-R King and of course, dining options: Hap Chan and Mang Inasal. There’s still no McDonalds in sight.

We now have the ever famous convenience stores too – 7Eleven and Ministop.

Anyway, the town is slowly developing – opening its doors to more developments. But the fondness for Jollibee never grows old. The fast food remains to be the crowd’s favourite. It was funny thinking how Jollibee satiated the Filipino cravings and how, even with the many other choices, people will still look for it and order their best-sellers because we don’t just crave chicken.. we crave Chickenjoy!

By the way.. even their coke tastes different to me!

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