• Mobil Smiles Reward

Jollibee…let’s do lunch, babe

Posted on Dec 10 1999

Another link in the wildly popular Jollibee fast food chain is being forged right here in Saipan. It’s not only welcome news to the kababayan, but also to folks like me who are unwilling to cook, too busy to plan ahead even three minutes ahead for meals, and who have the McDonald’s and Wendy’s menus committed to memory.

I can’t imagine not having access to fast food. When I was the Wild Economist of Borneo, searching for something to fill my belly in some remote mud-puddle of a town hacked out of the Malaysian jungle, all I could initially find was unspecified types of grilled meat from street vendors.


The flies seemed to like the fare–a blue-black entomological curtain buzzed a veritable advertising jingle. The E. Coli sauce was certainly ripe and titillating. And–bon appetite!– you could wash it all down with a delicious cup of liquid hepatitis.

I was torn between the twin perils of (choice 1) scarfing down some of this mystery-flesh-o’- death and facing certain dysentery or, (choice 2), enduring hunger pangs that pot-bellied, over-fed, spoiled Americano slobs like me are biologically incapable of confronting.

Dinner time. Daylight began to wane. Old man sun was tired, lying down now, and an angular quilt of dim shadows started to blanket the rutted streets.

I was tired, too–and, more to the point, hungry. I eventually wandered to the graying periphery of that town, the name of which escapes me now if in fact I ever knew it, and cast a voracious eye towards the mysterious creases of the outlying jungle, wondering if a coconut or two might be plied from a cooperative tree.

What the heck, that’s the kind of stuff they taught us in Navy survival school, but we were supposed to use such skills as downed pilots behind enemy lines, not as consulting economists for eco-tourism projects who wound up hitching a ride to some grimy town….

Before I reached the jungle, though, I was rescued by the Colonel!

I recognized him immediately. Which isn’t so surprising, since he is the most famous Colonel in U.S. history, a hero who has won the hearts and trust of generations of Americans.

I refer to: Colonel Sanders.

Anybody in that town who had any money at all–all 15 of them–was there at that civilized oasis, the Colonel’s KFC. It was a clean and well lighted place that even had–wow–a bathroom that had some bona fide porcelain in it.

No doubt about it, this KFC was haute cuisine for the locals (and for me), and come to think of it, why not? What’s high and what’s low is strictly a matter of context.

Whether you’re an urban dweller who needs to scarf a quick lunch on a workday, or a lost economist adrift in Borneo, fast food is a saving grace. Enough isn’t enough. The more the better. So welcome, Jollibee…and as they say in Los Angeles: let’s do lunch, babe.

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